I've not been in the best of mindsets lately. Part of it stems from the parents visiting. They don't even have to do anything overtly damaging. Mom isn't so bad. She understands to a certain extent that A) I'm an adult and B) she can't force herself into my life if I don't want it. Dad on the other hand is completely oblivious to the emotional needs of the people around him, to the point where he doesn't get that a supposed joke he might find funny is in fact rather insulting. Any extended period of time around him is a serious risk to my self-esteem long term. Unfortunately, my situation is such that I can't actually remove him from my life. Not yet.
After they left recently, I began work on a couple of chores around the house that I can't actually accomplish while they're around. It isn't anything to do with privacy or trying to hide things from them. It's a matter of them absolutely consuming every last free second I have. Ironic considering my dad admitted to my mom that he made the conscious choice to spend more time dealing with work than his kids when we were growing up. He recognizes he made that choice and regrets it. Does he try to change course and actually make a gesture towards starting over? Does he say such a thing to me as he did with mom? No, absolutely not. Because a man doesn't talk about his feelings.
He's just stayed the course, preferring instead to spend time with his best friend, the television. It's frustrating and disheartening, and I've tried to disconnect myself with any feelings of needing to please him. It's terribly difficult to do so when you still live in a house he owns. The first step towards having a healthier relationship with him will be establishing myself in a living situation where he is not attached, a place where I can restrict access so that no family may visit.
Unfortunately, before I can take that first step is I need to be gainfully employed, long-term, and making enough to actually cover any and all expenses that are incurred due to just being alive. The job I had previously got me somewhat close, but not quite there. It's been a year and a half since I was last employed. I've been rejected so many times I've lost count. I don't have just the most remarkable resume and my writing experience is erotic... not something that I can really talk openly about or use as a portfolio to get a job anywhere that has to do with writing.
Last month, my sister offered to pull a string at a company she used to work for. She has a friend there and told me to forward my resume to her so she could send it on to him. She also linked me to a position at the company in question for me to apply. I did so. She forwarded my resume on (both after she helped me spice it up a bit because it was pretty sad). One week later, I got a call about the job. A little over two weeks after that, I got an email saying I had been rejected.
Even when I have an in, I'm still un-hireable.
That was a pretty stern kick in the crotch. I had even gone to the trouble of buying a new sport coat so I could wear it on a potential interview. I knew I shouldn't get my hopes up. I had even begun telling myself that it had been far too long since last I heard anything meaning I had not been selected (and I was right). I still got hurt. This is the kind of shit that makes someone believe it's foolish to hope. It's also what makes someone believe they have no value or worth as a human being.
We put so much importance on what we do for a living. We let it become our identity. When we go to parties or events or just meet random strangers out in public, one of the first questions is "What do you do for a living?" and we proceed to judge one another on that. In the interim time since I was last employed, I've been writing as much as I possibly can. I've been selling on Amazon, I took a bunch of commissions last year. I've not taken as many this year because I've been contending with potential burnout at every turn. So I do have a little money coming in. It's been enough to limp along, but not enough to cover my expenses proper.
Because writing is my primary source of income, I've been trying to figure out how to monetize as much of it as I can, because that's how I determine my value anymore. I have to eat. I have to be able to put gas in my car. I have to be able to pay for my car insurance--I can't afford health insurance. I've seen some progress on my Patreon. I've seen somewhat okay sales on Amazon. The market I'm selling to just isn't very big. How do I know this? Well, recently I published a commission over on SoFurry that isn't something I would have written ordinarily. The commissioner had nothing but praise for it. The story itself has garnered almost as many favorites as the only other story with a higher favorite count. And that story has been on the site for over a year. In a week it's nearly passed the most popular story I've written to date.
You would think that would be cause for celebration, I've written something a lot of people like, and it will draw in more readers to see the rest of my library. Maybe that will make them want to buy my stuff on Amazon. Maybe they'll want to support me on Patreon. But there's a problem there.
They liked the commission. It's a story I would not have written if it wasn't for someone asking me to write it in exchange for money. The material I write for myself doesn't even come close to the degree of popularity this story had garnered. The other story it's set to pass in very short order was fairly well liked initially, but not like this. The sequel to that story hasn't gotten near the response the first story got. The commission is popular because it's not my usual material.
People like it better than my other material. People don't like my usual work as much as they like that one commission.
It's so hard not to take that personally. It's so hard not to look at that reaction and be baffled by it, given that I've been writing since 2002. I can't help but feel like I've been wasting my time. When I put forth my commentary on the matter, people respond with "Oh but I like your other stuff!", which may very well be. Unfortunately, it feels like they didn't find the other works nearly as worthy of commenting or favoriting as the commission. That was the one they decided to speak up on.
I recognize I have done the same thing in my own way to various artists. I should get into more of a habit about commenting on works that I like. It's why I both like and retweet posts on twitter that I do enjoy. I'll even comment on occasion. But we all know what kind of dumpster fire twitter is. I can boost and promote and scream and shout as much as you like, but either the artist already has a big enough fan base they don't need my enthusiasm (which ends up just looking creepy a lot of the time anyway) or my efforts are largely ineffectual because of my own meager following.
I feel like no matter which direction I turn, I can't seem to make any headway. I'm just spinning my wheels, wasting time, energy, resources, and breath. Darker thoughts start to seep in and I have to do anything and everything I can to stave them off. My parents don't help on that front. They will shower me with false praise which I can't trust because everything they say is found to be an absolute lie when put to the test in the real world. It comes to a point where any praise they offer just makes me angry. Then there's the fact that dad is a bully and will often "joke" because *he* thinks something is funny, when really it very much isn't. So when I try to defend myself, he gets mad at me as though it's *my* fault that *I* am offended. He's even told me to my face that I'm too sensitive. Sure. I'm too sensitive.
*"None of these people have lives. None of them are married."*
Well, gee dad... I'm not married, and I don't have a life... now I know how you really feel about me. Also, you only say that shit about nerds, and I'm a nerd. So now I know you hate nerds too.
False praise and bald-faced insults directly in front of me. Yeah, the parents don't really help me with my self esteem. And they don't understand why.
So, I have to turn to friends for some kind of assurance that I'm worthy of... well... just fucking existing. Problem with that is that the only people I have regular contact with are online. There are a handful of people I spend time with off the internet, but it's so infrequent I could got months between seeing them. I see mention of them going and doing things, things that sound like they might be interesting or fun, and I am suddenly very aware that I wasn't invited along. I've dealt with people who take that and weaponize it, make it out to be the other person's fault. I don't do that. I look at it and think "I don't do enough to make myself visible or memorable enough for someone to think of me when things like this happen" or even worse "I've done something that has made them not want to invite me".
And then, in the rare moment when someone does think to invite me, and I even make plans to attend, something happens that prevents me from going. There was a birthday party recently. One of the two people it was for sent me an invite well in advance. I didn't want to commit too early for fear my family might decide to intrude into my life without even bothering to ask if I've got something going on. They don't ever ask. They always assume I've got nothing going on. And yet somehow, they manage to pick the exact time when I'm planning to do something to jump in and screw it all up. You might ask "Why don't you just tell them you've got something you've been planning?" and I'll tell you that I do tell them. Sometimes they let me out of my little cage of familial obligation. Most times they demand my presence and guilt me into obeying. There are times they will actively block my car from being able to leave, though I question if it's malicious or just pure ignorance. Either way, I can't help but *feel* like it's intentional.
So, while I'm so tied down to my family's demands, short on funds due to lack of employment, and a not insignificant distance I would have to traverse--or they would have to--my friends tend to plan and execute activities while I am left to sit here in this house that constantly reminds me of my failures and inadequacies.
I can't help but wonder if there's something inherent in my personality that makes me repellant. I want so very badly to understand, to know what those I spend time around think of me in case I've offended or upset or annoyed them. I'm a deeply flawed person. I know I've got a *raging* temper that I just can't seem to get under control. With the current political climate being what it is, I tend to get overly screamy online. I used to be part of a group in one of the popular chat programs where members could share links to news that we all feel we should be kept informed on. I'm no longer part of that group. I took my leave after an especially embarrassing and unnecessary tirade. I don't think I'll ever go back, partly because I doubt I'd ever be invited back. The two or three people I've had contact with outside the group never approached me to discuss what happened. I just left the instant I realized I didn't belong. I was only causing trouble and found myself completely unable to contribute to the group in any meaningful way.
I feel like this is kind of how things go for me, the cycle I go through. I join a group because someone thinks I'd be a good fit because they've only spoken to me from time to time and only one on one. Then when I join the group, I make an ass of myself utterly and completely. It may not be immediate. It may take time. The incident I mentioned took a couple of years to finally boil over. Then, as soon as I've come to my senses and realize I've just been an utter twit, I just leave. I don't need anyone to tell me to, I know they don't want me there. So I just go. It is never spoken of again, which only serves as confirmation that I should not have been in the group to begin with. I imagine there are people who are relieved that I'm no longer present. And if that is the case, then good. I'd rather not be present than make someone uncomfortable.
You see how that can lead to the whole "no one wants me around so they don't invite me" mentality can come out of that, don't you? Sometimes even *I* don't want me around. Then comes the inevitable step of me writing it all out in the hopes of getting it out so I can let it go and move on. A couple of people read it then come messaging me telling me how wonderful I am and how they don't think I'm as bad as I think I am and it all just feels so... hollow. I feel like I just exhaust the people around me with my "antics" as someone once put it. I'm high maintenance and that's likely part of the reason why I don't have near as many interactions out in the real world as I would like. What few people still interact with me I feel only offer my an sort of consolation because they feel obligated to somehow.
I just don't want to feel so broken. I want to like me. I want to be able to look in the mirror and not see someone I want to punch half the time. I feel like such a loser.
I need therapy, but that's fraught with problems on its own. I've been to different therapists and it hasn't helped. And since I don't have insurance, I can't afford therapy anymore. Hell I'm not even sure I deserve the opportunity to go to therapy. I just feel like I'd be taking up valuable time that someone else could use so much more than me, someone with serious issues that requires professional help. Me? I'm just a nobody with self-esteem issues. Poor little white boy hates himself, oh boo fucking hoo.
John Green spent time as a chaplain at a children's hospital in Columbus, Ohio. There, he saw some really awful stuff. He went through some awful stuff after it. He had a 'breakdown' and had to go move back in with his parents after he and his then-girlfriend separated. He had serious issues that left him unable to function. He was deserving of professional help because he actually contributed to society in a meaningful way and was deep in a mire of depression.
Me? I'm just sad. I haven't had any major traumas. I haven't done anything truly meaningful. I haven't really been much of a contributing member of society. I've been a shitty friend to several people. I'm afraid to spend time around my niece and nephews because I don't know if I'll yell at them or... dare I even imagine such a thing... do something worse just because I'm angry. It's even getting to a point where I don't want to be around my friends because I've convinced myself they don't *actually* want me around. They may forget that they don't just ever so briefly, but then it comes roaring back in a hurry once they're around me.
It's easy to convince yourself that no one wants you around when you don't want yourself around. You pick out all your flaws and imperfections and they seem so massive to you. You even resolve to try and fix them and either they're so difficult to fix that you can't find a way to make any headway, or it's actually just you chasing the idea of what you think everyone else wants you to be.
I used to do that. A lot. In elementary school, middle school, high school, hell even to a certain extent in college, I was so obsessed with figuring out what other people wanted me to be so I could just be that and they would accept me. I started realizing down that path lies madness so I just started trying to be myself. But I didn't like myself. I still kind of don't. I try to remind myself of the things about me that I do like, but it's so hard to when your mom forces your dad to hug you and demands that he tell you that he loves you and *mean it* and his response is to say it like he's god damned Bozo the fucking Clown. Why? Because he thinks it's funny.
I went for a drive after my parents left and I had done my chores. I wanted to go somewhere. I didn't know where. I didn't really care where. I just wanted to go away. I drove in a giant triangle, due west through one of the suburbs out into the ranch land, then turned north along a major interstate, then turned south as soon as it came to a junction that would take me back to my home. The whole thing took over an hour. It had started just after sunset and I didn't get home until it was terribly dark. When I got home, I didn't feel any better. I hadn't figured out anything to do about my situation and I had burned through a fair amount of gas. I can't even go for a drive to clear my head without wasting gas and adding to the air pollution of a big city.
My trouble is I'm a fucking coward. I'm afraid of everything. I'm afraid of making a mistake. I'm afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. I'm afraid of breaking something. I'm afraid of wasting time or money. I'm afraid of ruining something that might otherwise have been perfectly fine. I'm afraid to try anything new. I'm afraid to go somewhere new. I'm afraid to do anything.
I'm tired of being afraid all the time. I don't know how to stop being afraid.
I just know I'm going to fuck up. And eventually, that fuck up is going to be so massive, there will be no coming back from it. Hell for all I know, I may have already hit it. Getting fired from my job was a pretty big fuck up. I'm pretty sure everyone at that office was pretty fucking glad I was gone, including the two people I was friends without outside of the office. There's a reason why neither of them have bothered to contact me hardly at all, one of them not at all. I'm sure he's a lot happier since I'm not around near as much anymore. He's got his own group he spends time with. He doesn't need me.
All I can do anymore is just sit here and write, and my confidence in that is pretty badly damaged, and for the stupidest of reasons. I wrote something that's pretty popular and I'm upset about it. Ridiculous isn't it? How can anyone take seriously a person who gets upset about creating something that's popular?
I think I'm becoming my dad; someone who can't be happy, someone who always has to have something to fuss about, someone is so wound up about the stupid things in life that he drives everyone in his life away.
I can't help but feel like I deserve to be alone. That way I can't bother anyone.