Trigger Warning: suicidal ideology.
This is going to sound arrogant as hell, but I’m going to say it anyway. There is something special about me. I’m not sure what it is, some sort of charisma or likability. Maybe it’s because I look like the human equivalent of a Care Bear — whatever it is. I am the kind of person that people want to believe in. People want to think that I’m a good person, they want to credit me with a higher level of decency than most people.
It took me a long time to figure this out, I think partly because I was raised by a mentally ill mother with addiction issues, partly because of the horrors that I experienced in foster care, and partly due to other unpleasant experiences I had as a child.
You know how, like, you’re in the middle of a nightmare and you realize that you’re dreaming? And you stop, and think, okay, if I’m dreaming, I can figure out a way to make this less scary? That’s what a lot of my childhood felt like. Like, strangers trying to molest me, my little brother being kidnapped and then dying, going into foster care and enduring not only shock and grief and loss but horrific abuse — and me, in the middle of that, figuring out how to steal a measure of control over my own life.
I wish that, once my life leveled out a bit, that I’d been able to relax. My life would have been so much better if I could have enjoyed any of it. I wish that I could have learned to trust people sooner and trained myself to know that love is scary but worth it. I wish that I could brush off intentional cruelty and forgive myself for unintentional cruelty. I wish that I hadn’t wasted so much time with my mom resenting or fearing her. I wish that I could have understood her when she was alive the way that I do now that she’s dead.
I quit my job in September, and damned if I can force myself to get another one. I finally signed up with a temp agency but I’ve only been sent out on one job in the past month-and-a-half. I should be upset about that, but instead, I’m stressed over what’ll happen when I get another gig.
I am not who I used to be. I’m not angry anymore. I think that my major motivation throughout most of my life was defiance, a determination to prove that the few people who treated me like shit were wrong. That I have value, that they didn’t break me. I’ve squandered so much of my life focusing on those shitheads instead of the people who genuinely liked me.
Until I got to Flappers, and then there were so many people who had so many nice things to say about me that they drowned out all of the cruel phantoms floating around in my head. I think that if the business of comedy was as pure as the art form, I might have been cured. Instead, I was promoted. And I became the thing that was wrong with the world.
That’s why I left, or so I told myself. The truth is that I confused virtue with naivety. Also, it had taken me almost forty years to find a community of people who liked me, and I was afraid that if I couldn’t be the cheerleader who gained their affection in the first place — if I had to be the hard-assed disciplinarian, the one who said no — that they would change their minds. I couldn’t risk that, so I walked away with the illusion of my integrity intact.
I was so proud of myself. So arrogant and judgmental and so much better than the person They had asked me to become. What an asshole. This is what I do — poke my head out of my shell, find out life is complicated, and then pull my head back in and congratulate myself for refusing to be corrupted. But my soul isn’t pure; it’s atrophied due to lack of use.
So, what now? I have about three months of rent left on one of my credit cards, and if I haven’t figured out how to support myself by then, I’m out. I’ve done a good job of distancing myself from the people who would care the most. I’m sure they’ll blame themselves; it’s what I would do. But, honestly, unless something changes within the next three months, I can’t see a future for myself.
That sounds grim, but I’m not actually unhappy. I have been writing a lot, and the writing is going well. I’m the closest to creating a readable draft of a novel that I ever have been. If I live long enough, I think I’ll actually finish it and maybe even figure out a way to get it published.
I’m also trying to figure out how to do craft fairs and farmers’ markets or how to sell the stuff that I make online. I haven’t given up, I’m not just waiting for the sand to drain from the hourglass. I’m in a race against time, like all good protagonists. I just don’t know what the end of my story is going to be, or when.
Three months goes by quickly but a lot can happen in that amount of time. I have hope that I can turn things around, and I have hope that I can start being the best version of myself again without feeling like a fraud. Or maybe, accepting that I can still be loved even if I’m just an okay version of myself…maybe?
If worse comes to worst, I’ll leave. It’s not anyone’s fault, except mine, really. I don’t know if I’m strong enough to thrive in this world. And I’m so tired of merely surviving. I guess we’ll see in three months, which of us is stronger, me or the world. Stay tuned, gentle reader. And stay strong.