Friday, January 12, 2018
Let It All Burn
Welcome to the post holiday blahs. For me the tree is still up but the lights are off. It will come down this weekend. Currently the white death is falling outside, or at least that is what the TV forecasters frame it as: Snowmageddon, Snowpochalypse, or the Great White Death Storm, although that last one sounds more like a white supremacist metal band if I think about it.
Lately my posts haven't been as visceral, they've felt more like assignments that I have to get done. This happened to me before when I was working on my first book. It's not surprising that as I contemplate my second book I'm feeling the well running dry. However there is more to the story than that. When I committed myself to writing each week, I was recuperating from heart break due to the ending of a core relationship in my life. In the past three months, I've parted ways with several people and I've not talked about it on here. I didn't want to air my dirty laundry for the world, but in suppressing my feelings my creativity has similarly suffered.
I tend to love my friends fiercely. I think this is due to the fact that growing up I had few if any friends. Being generally liked was never part of my experience. It still comes as a shock when random people are kind to me. So when I forge a friendship I am loathe to give it up, because of this I tend to quietly put up with a lot more bullshit than most people do.
I had a group of friends I would get together with for fun and games. It had been going on for a few years, but for the last two I found myself existing more and more on the periphery. I'd go to gatherings and say hello and I'd barely get a word in. I'd be talked over, around, or simply ignored. I sometimes left with less than a paragraph of actual dialogue between myself and others. I started to bring other people to the gatherings so I wouldn't feel so lonely and it worked for a short while. I was ignored while people checked their text messages, twitter, and Facebook. I started noticing that the rest of the group was out together at a movie or other event when I got online and saw their check ins. For a while I rationalized this, maybe it was a spur of the moment thing, but it kept happening.
This went deeper than not getting enough invites. After a decade of trying to get my artwork out into the world I was in two gallery shows this fall. Nobody from that group came to either of them, they barely acknowledged I had something important happen. When I published my book not a single one of them came to my first local book signing which literally took place around the corner from their house. They never attended any of my events (which were free). In short, they had no interest in my life. I was their mascot. Something to trot out like a curiosity. This was shown to me clearly when I sought out a secondary group to get my gaming fix met. This second group made me realize how unhappy I'd been, because they cared not just about me but about everyone in the group. They showed up at my openings. They talked with me and with each other. They put their FUCKING PHONES DOWN!!! It was this shining of example of engagement that demonstrated how much I didn't belong in the other group.
I decided I would slip away quietly. I just wouldn't be available to the faux friends as much. So I began to reel my energy back in. Well they must have felt it because they latched onto some drama to pull me back in. I will sum it up. They wanted my help to attack someone online for the ignorant thing they'd done. I refused. They attacked me. Another friend intervened letting them know I had been upset with them. They promised to work on it so they could fix the relationship. It was ending prior to this blow up, but in my mind it was officially over the moment they publicly attacked me. I did give them a final chance and went to one last gathering. It embodied everything I had felt in the past year or so, nothing had changed. Before the drama explosion I had known the truth, there was no place for me there. The drama just hammered the point home.
This is probably the most detailed personal rant I've given. Let me be clear I don't hate anyone in the group that I left, I just didn't belong there. This is not the first time I've found myself in the center of a group I didn't really belong in. I've seen this pattern repeat every so often for about two decades. Each time though it has gotten less intense. The first time it happened I nearly died, because I hung on to the group identity long past the time when it turned toxic. I tried to make do with people and I let myself be hurt in the process. What was interesting about the pattern this time was that the initial decision to disentangle came from seeing the example of something better. I almost got out of this situation drama free, and I tried to be adult about it. I didn't add anything to the drama except my frustration that their had to be any in the first place. I let others do the heavy lifting when it came to tearing down the structure. I just lit the match once the debris pile was ready.
Why am I telling you this? Well to be honest I needed to vent, but I also realize that many of you are in similar situations. Many of you have stayed in hurtful relationships or situations because you just didn't want to bring it all crashing down. In staying though you have lit a beacon for all types of disrespect and abuse. I just let myself be numb to it so I could have the illusion of belonging. I was lucky enough to have true belonging come to me whilst I was still partially engaged in that illusion. Most of the time we don't find anything until we let go of what we stubbornly are trying to hold onto. We worry about being cast as the one who burned the bridges.
So how about you? Where are you sticking around long past your welcome? Are you miming the part of belonging even though it is slowly draining your life away? Are you afraid of going it alone? Well in the words of Aerys Targaryen I say, "Let them all burn." You are not the ones who hosed the structure of your relationship down with noxious and flammable materials. You are simply the one with the matches. Be like the cat in the picture above, riding the unicorn of righteous fury, delivering the rainbow, and breathing fire. Sometimes you have to raze the old structures of your life if you want fertile ground to plant new dreams in. Don't let fear stop you. Let all the false things in your life burn. What's left when the ashes fall away is what matters.
Peace and Blessings,