Am I OK? Part Deux

So, a bit over a year ago I wrote a piece for RUOK? Day, talking about what had been going on with me. My wife recently mentioned she’d be curious about a follow up, so here I am. How am I doing since then? Better. Not great, but a lot better than I was. Let’s begin…

Not brilliant, but thanks for asking graffiti near work!

I’m working and happy about that. As jobs go it ain’t glamorous, but there’s been some benefits (that aren’t money):
An increased knowledge of fine art (From looking for jigsaw puzzles of them).
Fitness. I know, try not to be so shocked. I’m doing 20,000 plus steps most days and while Zedtown still leaves me ragged I’m feeling a lot better about myself – numerous people have commented I’ve lost weight.
Something in my arms called, I believe, muscle. It’s new. I kinda like it. My wife’s still adjusting – she put her arm through mine a few months back and recoiled in horror, all but screaming “What the fuck is that? That’s actual muscle, where the hell did that come from?” I’m not trying to overtalk it, the Rock has nothing to fear, but given I’ve had twig like arms  practically all of my 37 years, anything is an improvement.
I’ve been there almost a year, and they seem to want to hang on to me. It’s probably a measure of my nervousness that compliments from them still feel weird, much in the same way that people playing my games without knowing the content is still fucking terrifying. I’m glad to be working though.

As true at 37 as it was at 18.

On the whole, my brain’s a lot brighter. I’m out and about a lot more, though my schedule is still nothing compared to my wifes. I’ve been running a regular Star Wars campaign, and despite a litany of missteps on my part, my players still seem to be enjoying things. My GM’ing style is best described as ‘incredibly easily distracted’ and that frequently shows. Still, the moment in a recent session when they thought Darth Vader was in the same room was wonderful. The tabletop I ran at Sydcon a few weeks ago was well received (It felt great to bust out the terrible French accent again) and the LARP I run (Set in the world of the Conan the Barbarian stories) has a small but dedicated audience. I’m even treading the boards again, of my own free will.

But it isn’t always bright, and I’m sure it’s that way for everyone. There’s days when I can recognise it and take steps to help it, by, for example, skipping past Iron Maiden’s ‘Tears of a Clown’ and listening to The Bugle instead. Some days all is great and I feel I can conquer the world, others where the vast wonders of the universe are a bleak formless mass. The Black Dog still howls and reading the news is increasingly horrifying. There’s days I kick myself for not starting the post apocalypse LARP I’d been writing pre American election, but it felt not so much too close to home, but already hiding in the cupboard ready to leap out and attack when I least expect it, much like certain childhood nightmares involving snails. I hate snails*.

If I have to deal with a Black Dog I’d rather it be this one.

My relationship with my wife has also improved – I’m not always easy to deal with, and I’m still completely shithouse at actually following through on my ideas/self improvement, but that’s the struggle. Well no, it shouldn’t be a struggle, but my knack for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory continues. There’s frequent temptations to drop back into old habits (I’m a recovering Games Workshop addict and Necromunda is returning soon), but so far the old demons are mostly at bay. But feeling like I’m contributing to bills, and being able to buy Metal Hammer magazine on a regular basis again has brightened my world like the pyro at a Maiden gig. It’s not that I don’t think doing household stuff isn’t contributing (Far from it), but being able to look at something and go “Yes, I can actually buy that” cheers my mood immensely. I believe it’s called pride.

She asked me a couple of months ago what I wanted out of my life and career, was there anything I cared about enough to do, to work for.  What do I want? It’s a dangerous question I grant you, but in that context didn’t so much invoke a cold sweat as a full blown Lovecraftian lurking nightmare. That’s one of the most terrifying questions I’ve been asked, and it’s power to unnerve hasn’t lessened over the decades since I was first asked it. Because I don’t know. Never have. I’ve generally been content to shamble along, stumbling into things as they come – that’s how I got into TV all those years ago. Should I have a plan by now? Fuck, I’m almost 38, so it sure seems like I should. I’ve a long and inglorious history of abandoning things that took effort (I’m not proud), so what would make me actually work?  Should I keep shambling along? What would make me put that effort in? Fuck, can I?

I miss Vir. RIP Stephen Furst.

It’s alway been easy to retreat back into myself. There’s the struggle of being someone who loves physical touch in a family that doesn’t hug, but had no fucking idea how to get it. Making friends took work, and what did I have to offer to others? It took a lot of work in my late 20’s to deal with that (Thanks hon!), and it’s still something I have issues with. It’s again with the terror of thinking inwardly, because when I do I don’t tend to like myself much. I mean, I don’t think I’m a monster, but I looking in the mirror ain’t fun sometimes, not just on the rare occasion my beard get’s trimmed.  There’s days I’m tempted to seriously trim both my hair and beard, but I’m not sure what sort of sign that is – an overdue evolution or a cry for help? Whatever it is, it’ll need to be done in stages as A: my marriage is beard dependent and B: virtually no-one I’m in contact with (Bar family) has seen me with short hair and heads may well explode.

It was this or the bit from Scanners. You know the one I mean…

I haven’t seen the shrink in quite a while, as he wasn’t working for me. I should try to find one that works, as there’s frequently things I’d like to say to people, but am unsure as to how. Commmunication with my wife is improving, that’s what started this after all, but there’s still things I’m nervous about telling her, no matter how much she reassures me that she wants to know what I think. It’s almost as if I want a social media network that doesn’t know anyone I do, so I can vent about people I know, but they don’t. Actually, that strikes me as hellishly unhealthy. Besides, if I can’t let that petty shit go, what hope is there for me?

DI65me2VoAA2UbO.jpg large
The Eternal Struggle.

Anger’s still something I have trouble dealing with. Not in a *tiny issue* “I’ll fucking cut you!” kind of way, but the way that bottles up everything inside and refuses to admit what’s wrong untl it explodes. Anger, while it’s a fine motivating force, can be dangerous. I’m far from a violent man, but over the years I’ve had more than one person joke about taking bets on the body count when I snap, a joke I find a lot less funny now than I did at 16. At a team building event shortly before I left a previous job I regret not saying I wanted to be less angry, because my default response to finding an upreplaced loo roll shouldn’t be to want to find the lazy shit who never replaced it and introduce them to the pointy end of a sword. I’m glad I’m not there anymore. I still have the urge to flip the bird at the building whever I go past.

I still wonder just why I hang on to that stuff – there’s stuff I can remember like it was yesterday in my head, but I’m likely the only person who does. I almost can’t help but carry grudges – thick fetid hatreds, loathings so intense they could power small nations. There’s people I went to high school with who’s graves I hope to piss on and I’m pretty damn sure that’s not healthy. Even more so, given I can’t remember what most of them look like. Sure, not letting go of ancient grudges is a proud family tradition, but some of those traditions should be broken. It’s another reason why I’m so proud I don’t drink, but that’s more of an issue with the predominant culture in this stupid hellpit of a country than anything else.

I’m not sure if I should have posted this. I’ve not slept well the last few days, and that tends to cloud my mood. I’ve been writing and rewriting this for almost a month, deliberating whether to post it. I think posting it’s the better move. So, what’s my situation? Still up and down, but the ups are a lot higher and the downs aren’t as down, which is cause for celebration. Thanks for reading. I’m not sure there was a point to this, but either way I’m glad to get it out there. And remember, if things are rough, then talk to someone. Please. Don’t be afraid to talk.

Be seeing you…

* No really, I loathe them beyond all measure. Them and slugs. The boggle eyed slimy freaks have terrified me since I was a kid and the mere thought of eating them makes me want to heave. We all have our fears.

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