A related/unrelated kind of post. But first, read THIS THREAD from Rob Hart.
This has been rattling in my brain for a while, but I think he does a damn good job summarizing a lot of emotions that writers are sometimes not entirely at liberty to convey.
Anyway, my point.
Two weeks ago, I broke down.
Shit, how do I explain this in a way that both makes sense and conveys the guy I am?
OK – look, I’ve never been very excellent with my emotions. There’s baggage (so much baggage) and recent events with my mother honestly took a toll, so I did what I have always been immensely awesome at: I ignored the shit out of it. I added it to the pile of rocks I’ve been building for nearly four decades.
I didn’t ignore the actual events. I’ve been making calls and trying to sort out a window to get this woman down to Florida with family that can take care of her better than I ever will. I’m doing my due diligence, I guess. Still, it all adds up and that rock was apparently the one.
So what the fuck does this have to do with writing?
It’s a part of the whole mess. I’m still chasing little dragons on this career path while I balance parenting, being a present husband, and working a day job. Not to mention trying to be a friend to those few who would consider me that (something I’ve sucked at over the past year in leaps and bounds), and then the little health issue or two that have popped up – I’m fine, I think.
Let me be clear, I’m not looking for a hug here, but I do think I’ve done myself a lot of damage in not opening my mouth and simply stating, “Nope. I’m not entirely OK lately.”
The impostor syndrome, the stress of releasing a new book, the intense stress of querying not one, but two fucking novels while writing another. The decision to edit an anthology. The podcast (one of my few distractions, big ups to my past 48 guests for saving my sanity), the blatant racism in the genre I’m trying to break into, etc, etc, and on and on and fucking on.
I’m not even a success for fuck’s sake. I’m a nobody.
So yeah, I suck at that emotion thing. It all builds up and I’ve become a master mason – keeping them walls up real nice.
Until two weeks ago.
I have no idea why that moment was the moment, but it happened. It legitimately felt like my eyes were shedding stone (it hurt) and there I was, crying like a baby. First time in maybe a decade, just bawling and letting this raw thing bleed. It was terrifying. It wasn’t who I’ve convinced myself I am and it’s taken me two weeks to even digest this feeling – something I always considered to be weakness (and not for the toxic masculinity reasons, but merely for needing to be the rock in people’s lives).
I always needed to be a rock. My traumas and issues? Those always took a backseat to my mom’s. Every problem I had? Her’s were worse. Navigating new waters in adulthood? Well, that was a perfect time for her to remind me of what my father did to her…30 years ago. My issues were nothing and I became convinced of it. And the worse part? I fucking hate these hang ups and know I’m better than this, but I have them and I can’t shake them.
Two weeks ago I realized I’m a liar. I’m a liar to myself and to everyone around me. I realized that I’m more afraid than I ever let on and quite often, I have absolutely no idea what the fuck I’m doing. I realized that I have no idea how to be what I want or how to digest my mother’s recent medical issues in a way that isn’t sad and filled with immense rage.
I realized that’s OK. Shockingly, I’ve been feeling better, and the key to that was finally admitting these things. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks – this is me and what matters is what I think, but I can’t come to a decision if I keep lying to myself.
So, back to writing. It’s hard. It’s especially hard when life has other plans. That said, I think we need to let ourselves admit our struggles and our pains in our own ways. It’s unhealthy to bury this all in the name of presenting some bullshit perfect world for other people to see. It isn’t fair to us and it isn’t fair to our friends who maybe feel alone out there when in truth, they’re not.
We’re all a little fucked up but we’re all in this together. We need to remind each other of that sometimes.