Um, alright… Blog post. Life update. I forgot how to do this. How do I do this?
Use this mic?
Is this mic on?
*tap tap* *screeech*
HELLO CAN ANYONE HEAR ME?
2017. IN A NUTSHELL.
Best to start off with this, as it was the impetus for pretty much everything else I’ve been doing this year. See, near the start of 2017, I was in bad times. A family member had had a heart attack, I was rolling in poverty, I had writer’s block, my crappy book had failed to attract readers… “Time to go!” said my body. “I don’t wanna!” cried my mind.
And my mind, being but a mere instrument of my body, did as was ordered and marched out to a silent park on a twilit afternoon in February. I sat down on a park bench, closed my eyes, and let drowsiness wash over me. It must have been nearly zero degrees. If I dozed off now, I could… I could…
MY LOVING LITTLE SISTER.
She just popped into my head. Her face, in tears, screaming in horror as I marched towards a kitchen knife. This wasn’t some random thought, some distant illusion. This event had really happened, and little sis had been the only one to make that reaction when I’d announced I had had it with all the bullshit.
I won’t bore anyone with the details. All I’ll say is that my sister kept me hanging on. Where family, friends, and even fans failed to give me hope in that dark moment, it was the thought of her suffering that made me get off my ass and decide to make a change. Forget being a good son. Forget being a good coworker. To hell with being a good writer. And fuck having friends.
A good brother. That’s it. I just need to be a good big brother, and my life would have some pitiful semblance of meaning.
It’s all excuses, right? That’s what some of you are thinking. Those of you who, in my dark moments, would tell me to “man up,” to “buckle down,” to “grow up”—to basically do some esoteric shit in some arbitrary direction. Well, I don’t give a damn what you think. I’m still alive and kicking. That’s all that matters. If you have a problem with how I did it, solve it on your own time.
Tl;dr: If you don’t like it, bite it!
OH YOU SO WEAK.
Now here was a thought. Am I strong or am I weak? I’m so crushingly alone, I must be strong not to have kept myself chained down by depression, right? But then again, what am I even depressed about? A student loan? A self-published book? Not having anything interesting to say during a group conversation?
This was the thought that always plagued me for years prior to that episode, in those moments when my energy was mysteriously drained and I was visited by a constant stream of thoughts that had never RSVP’d. Words like “coward” and “hack”—low-hanging fruit on the Scrabble tree, you know what I’m talking about. These thoughts still visit me, because these thoughts are all based on facts.
I am broke. I do lack confidence. I lack social skills, my writing sucks—Pastor, it’s all true.
But these thoughts really took a hard backseat after that episode. Like, so what if it’s true? Doesn’t mean I can’t change. That’s what it means to be human: to fuck up routinely, then change until you fuck up less.
CHANGE. CHANGE. CHANGE.
Problem is, change isn’t so easy. My mind says “lose weight,” my tongue says “need pizza.” My mind says “write,” my hands say “think first.” It’s a literal war between these two entities, so much so that it’s hard to imagine that both halves are all me. Where was the breakdown? Why couldn’t I just change if I made up my mind to do so? What was this ominous…resistance?
READ. READ. READ.
Boy, lemme tell you, I read sooo many books. I read psychology books, I ready psychology books, and on the side I read some psychology books. Where was the breakdown? That was the mystery I sought in books like The Power of Habit, Flow, Brain Rules, Homo Deus, Thinking: Fast and Slow, and just a laundry list of other titles that I skimmed through in my hunger to unravel the finite truth. I found it, somewhat. Modern research has uncovered a lot about why our intentions and our actions often contradict each other. But more than found, I’ve acted on this information. Armed with techniques now called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy long before I even read about what it was, I’ve implemented a consistent strategy to get my body and mind to cooperate with each other once and for fucking all.
CHANGE. Rest. CHANGE.
It’s all about action. That’s the language that “body” speaks in. See, the mind speaks with words, but the body doesn’t get that. It remembers not the rules of grammar, but physical pain, heartbreak, anxieties, depressions. If I wanted myself to change, to get more energy and befriend more people and do more things with my damn self, I had to say it in actions. Actions, and then more actions.
One action was a single word. Multiple actions, done consistently, became full sentences and paragraphs.
I changed my habits. No more video games and anime into the middle of the night. Fresh air every day. Sleep as often as possible. When the bad thoughts came, breathe, flush them out, proceed. Make eye contact with people. Speak up. Or listen. Don’t let myself be affected by the negativity of others, and don’t let my own negativity bleed out like a fountain.
And when I got tired of doing all that, when the loneliness set back in and the realizations hit that I hadn’t made a lick of progress and no one loved me and I still suck and, AAARGH… Accept it. Breathe. Weep, if so.
Hey, when’s the last time I posted a blog like this? I haven’t rambled this much since the U.S. presidency actually meant something. Almost sounds like I’ve changed or something.
Now, I’m still broke as hell. I still have no friends. It’s not cool, it’s not okay, and it makes me sad all the time. But I just wrote 7,000 words of my next novel last week, and a few days ago I picked up a girl’s number for the first time in nearly 3 years. (Let me down gently, guys, please.) At the end of the day, it’s progress, no matter how slow it seems. When your whole life is stuck in such a complete and utter rut, doesn’t that count for something?
Why, yes. I think it rightly does.
The part of me that I never liked is the part of me that’s human. Of course it won’t go away. I’ll forever keep being a fuck-up because I’ll forever keep being human. But what matters is that I don’t dwell on it, and that I consistently try to fuck-up less. One push-up at a time, one word at a time, one conversation with a total stranger and job interview at a time… I’ll accept myself, as I am, perfectly and imperfectly, today.
*drops the mic*
*the curtains close as you all rise in applause*
*curtains suddenly part as I run back on stage and pic up mic*
Wait, wait, I almost forgot!
*you all stop clapping and mutter confusedly*
This lovely woman. This lovely woman right here. Ksenia Anske has all my love, all my praise, all my thanks for getting me back in front of the computer screen and setting my fingers to task. See, about a month ago, she reached out to me to thank me for being one of her Patreon supporters (which, let’s be real, are an elite group of human beings far above the rest of you who shall be ushered into Valhalla by the ravaging valkyries of Ksenia’s mind). This outreach turned into a dialogue, and this dialogue turned into a few deliveries straight to my house. They consisted of a postcard smacked with lipstick and an autographed book brimming with inspirational quotes. It wasn’t anything special; she’s probably delivered dozens of these things by now, to many poor souls just like me. But to me, it meant the world that she reached out. Someone actually cares.
So thank you, Ksenia. I wrote 1,429 words today.