This is going to be a rather long, rambly post--possibly with a good deal of cursing. If you don't feel like actually reading it, I understand. If you want to be able to pretend you did, give me virtual hugs on facebook and commend me for my effective use of Firefly quotes.
Those of you who want to stick around, you might want to grab a chair (who am I kidding... only crazy people read on those treadmill desks).
Some of you have known me for most of my life. Others for several years. And others barely know me at all. But those who have known me from any time before 2011 have been well aware of... changes in my personality. Over the summer last year, I blogged about my battle with depression, so that isn't really news. The fact that I'm still fighting it might be, and I've recently started to pull out of things enough to take a good hard look at what sent me into the brain-chemistry spiral-of-doom.
Short version for those of you bored already is this--I took some major self-esteem hits and the after-effects trickled into everything. Shit started to spiral like a whirlpool and sucked me down into the deep. Once I was down there, part of me decided drowning was easier.
Long version for the rest of you...
About a year ago, great things were happening, I was on top of the world. Sure there were little things going wrong (when aren't there?), but overall things were good. Then, in about a 2-3 month period of time, several things happened that knocked me down hard. We're talking blows to my self-esteem like I haven't dealt with since elementary school (and for those who have known me "forever," you know that was a pretty severe low point in my life confidence-wise). Can I sit here an pin-point exactly what those things were? Some of them, but not all, and I really don't want to re-hash them to be quite honest. Plus, the ones I do remember came from friends, and I'm not going to throw people under the bus. (I'm prefer to assume that they didn't go in with horrid intentions. Sure, it's possible, but I prefer to think better of people than that. So for my own well being, I'm going to pretend they meant well.)
But in each of those particular cases, the stuff that was said or done made me start to question pretty much every fucking aspect of my life. This isn't just about the writing. We're talking writing, appearance, family, friends, children. And what little wasn't directly under fire soon came into question as the spiral of doom sucked me down.
I didn't just worry about the book I was writing, I worried about the ones that were out. The ones I hadn't written yet. I worried about the non-writing things that I was doing that could be detrimental to my career.
Had it just been that, I think I would have been okay. After all, I liked a good chunk of the stuff I was writing at the time. But because of some of it, I questioned every friendship I had. Not only from the perspective of whether or not they actually were my friends, but even more whether or not I deserved friends... at all. I started to believe that I was this horrible person.
Thankfully, my kids are out of the "mommy, I hate you" stage, because they and my husband (even though I questioned their love at every turn) were one of the big things that kept me from drowning when this first got out of control. They kept me marginally sane, but I still spent every day questioning every friend, every conversation, every word, every decision.
How would it affect my friendship? My marriage? My career? My sanity?
I started drifting away from social media. I posted less, and what I did post wasn't me. It was this shell that all my questions had left behind after I reached the conclusion that I was too abrasive, too loud, too snarky, too brash... too everything. Friends who I used to talk to every day were almost avoided out of fear. Fear that they'd notice the changes and not want to stick around. Fear that they'd prefer me this way. Fear they wouldn't notice at all.
Quite frankly, I'm surprised a lot of people didn't just take their toys and go home. I mean, quite frankly, I wasn't any fucking fun anymore. But most of them stuck around. A few even stuck by me hard-core. And those are the friendships that have helped slowly pull me out of this dark place. The funny part is I didn't even realize how far I'd gone until a few days ago when I said something (I don't remember what it was, but I do remember wondering if I should say it) on Twitter, and Nat (Wicked Lil Pixie) said something to the effect of "You sound more like you."
It was like a slap in the face--the good kind.
For the first time, I looked at what I'd been doing for the past year, because I knew it had been going on that long, even if it hadn't shown at first. What I realized was those self-doubts, those hits that had made me question everything, had turned me into someone who played it safe. I stopped balancing on that high-wire that separates too-much from not-enough and jumped into the net on the not-enough side. It was safe there. Nobody gets offended by the person who avoids pushing buttons.
The problem is nobody really gives a shit about them either. I'd made myself invisible to everyone but the people who really cared about me. And I'm pretty damn sure every single one of them was well-aware that I haven't been me in a long time. And more than my author photos with the ample cleavage, more than my semi-outrageous behavior at conventions, more than any snarky, borderline offensive thing I could say online, THAT would be what killed my career.
A year ago (and longer than that), I prided myself on the fact that I was always "me" online. What you saw was what you got. No reservations (other than not identifying my kids). When I tried to become a "good girl" who "followed the rules" and "did what I'm supposed to," I killed that fun, free part of me. And really? It sucked. Every. Single. Thing. About. It. Sucked. Ass.
I don't want to be her. She's a boring bitch. She complains, but she's never funny about it. All she does is work. And it feels like work.
I remember writing where it felt like freedom and truth and what I imagine being high feels like. I miss it.
I remember talking on Twitter and saying whatever crazy thing came to mind. Not that I mind doing that while chatting with Katee, but I miss doing it with everyone else.
On my website it says my motto is "No worries, no regrets." I fucked up and forgot that for too long. I don't want to be safe anymore... I want to be me again. For better or worse.
So, I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it. I just need to remember how to be me again because I seem to have forgotten a little bit. On the other hand, I know what the problem is, and that means I can kick it's fucking ass because "Knowing is half the battle." (Yes, I went with the G.I. Joe quote. It'll help me identify the people who didn't bother reading this shit. Because that's how I roll :P)
And to my husband, my kids, and my friends who have stood by and not let me completely forget who I am... thank you. From the deepest, blackest recesses of my soul, thank you. There is a special spot in hell reserved for people like you--namely the head table at my debutante ball. I <3 each and every one of you.