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March 13, 2009

Sleeping With The Past

I've been feeling introspective lately. I think part of it is that I recently realized I'm six months from turning 40. That would make anyone angsty, I suppose. I joined Facebook too, and am encountering a lot of names and faces from the past, stirring up memories and feelings that have been laying dormant for a long time. That's not always a good thing. I've also been seeing promos for some new TV show that seems to be about a woman who gets sent into her own past to solve her old problems and fix her life. I don't remember what it's called or what channel it's on and I am too lazy to go look it up. Still, seeing the ads really hit me where I live.

I'm an infamous dweller-onner when it comes to my past. I used to get into these melancholy, emotionally self-abusive moods from time to time and spend days rehashing my past and thinking about all the things that I wish were different about it--decisions I wish I'd made differently, people I wish I had spoken to, jobs I wish I'd had--and beating myself up over everything I thought I had done wrong. I would think about how my life could have been different if I hadn't stuttered in high school, or if we hadn't moved in 1985, or if I had gotten that job, or dated (or not dated) that girl, or whatever else I could come up with to use to flagellate my emotions. Truth is, I probably should have spent lots of quality time in a therapist's office sorting out my volumes (I used to tell people, "I don't have issues, I have volumes."). I never did, though, and my volumes have continued to live, festering and Gollum-like, in a dank little cave in the back of my mind, bubbling to the surface now and then to make my life miserable.

I built up some huge emotional walls over the years. My teenage years were...unpleasant. I came out of them emotionally crippled in some very significant ways. By the time I started working on my major in college my self-esteem was all but nonexistent and my self-confidence was shot, which led directly to a rash of bad decisions during the early 1990's that have populated my volumes ever since. My walls have been coming down slowly but surely over the last few years, but I'm still not the confident, fully emotional person I'm capable of being. I doubt I ever will be, to be honest with you--my walls were high, y'all. I don't think they'll ever come down all the way. I've come a lot further than I ever thought I could, though.

One of the biggest sources of dwelt-upon regrets about my life is that I've never cared for the arc my career has followed. I like my job, don't get me wrong, but I really can't stand the field I'm in. I never wanted to be a "computer guy" and it's bugged me for years that I made decisions during and after college that got me stuck in this field. Over the last couple of years, though, I've finally come to realize that the things I always wished were different about my life don't matter. I'd rather have a family to love and support me amidst doubts about my career than a job that truly satisfies but no one at home. If I had done things differently in 1992-93 I might have a more satisfying career, but Sage would never have been born and I would never have met Darlene and her kids. Whatever else may be screwed up in my life, having those people to love me and to love in return has been the best cure for toxic nostalgia that I could have ever imagined.

It's also helped that I've written a lot over the last year. I think I wrote more words in 2008 than in any other year of my life. Between losing my job last spring and the havoc it wreaked on our finances and Darlene's mom's recent health issues, I've been under a tremendous amount of stress for near on a year now and I haven't always handled with it with aplomb. Along with a loving family, though, writing has been the best therapy I could have asked for. Blogging has helped a great deal. Just knowing that I could express myself at any time by just spilling it all out on the Internet has been a fantastic outlet for me, even if I didn't take advantage of it as much as I should have. My noveling has been a source of inspiration as well. I spent many late nights last summer getting my mind off my increasingly futile job search by writing about Khan and Elaine and Tazzeter and the other denizens of Raelan. Last November the bills were still piling high as I learned my new job. NaNoWriMo helped me keep my head above water as I journeyed through my developing nation of Sov with Declan Combe and his army. Even now, as the light at the end of tunnel is turning out to not be an onrushing train after all, I find myself turning ideas for Silvershield revisions over in my head. It's time to get started on that. It's time for the next step in my recovery.

I've been feeling introspective lately. I'm looking back again, yes, but not with regret, not any more. Life is good. I like where I am. I just have to get used to feeling that way and everything will be OK.

1 comment:

Rake said...

Wow. That's a really good job of digging deep inside and touching the emotional past.

I think this could help a lot of people. I know one of the biggest things I need to do as a parent is build my daughters self esteem. All people are special and need to know they are loved and have a place in this crazy world.

kudo's to you.