Six Month Update

Slowly but surely, I am putting myself back together. I’m learning how to be creative again without being afraid of creativity. You see, creativity is what got me into that whole mess to start with.

Ok, ok, I know that’s not true. But that’s what my internal hecklers are screaming. “If only” I hadn’t been so wildly imaginative as to think that something so preposterous would actually work out, none of that would have happened. I wouldn’t have been so totally humiliated and crushed. I would be somehow, some way, better off.

Honestly, that’s neither here nor there. What happened, happened, and now I get to deal with now. With me. With who I am and how I am. I am a creative; I can no more stop being that than I can stop breathing and expect to live. The relevant issue is: how am I going to be creative now?

Yes, I still hurt from the utter collapse of my world. I still have pieces to pick up and decide if I want to keep. I still have longings that are unfulfilled and dreams that seem impossible. So what am I going to do about it?

First, the practical. I give myself permission to be a failure. A spectacular failure, even. Every great person ever to live failed wretchedly at least once, even if history somehow neglected to record it. We’re all human, which means we all fail. None of us is perfect, and it’s high time I stop expecting myself to be what I cannot be.

Failure often leads to the desired results. Not the expected results, of course, but what we really wanted all along. Happy accidents are how we come up with some of our most brilliant insights, our most amazing advances, our most penetrating insights.

I sat on a bench, weeping rivers of shattered dreams into bitter winter air, and saw myself so clearly. I saw who I could be. I saw who I would not let myself be. I saw the agonizing struggle I would need to make in order to get where I needed to be. Because of that insight, I did not die that day, not in any sense of the term. Oh, I hurt. I was numb for months. I still need “rehab therapy” to deal with myself. But I did not give up. I did not give in.

More than six months later, I can stand upright and look around. I can forgive myself for whatever I did or didn’t do. I can allow myself to fail, to have failed. I can permit myself to move on and try again.

Second, more practicalities. I’m not yet able to live on income from my creativity, so I’ve secured a Day Job that pays something and am angling for a promotion to something more. It’s not what I want to do. I sort of like doing it, but it’s un-creative work. The salient points are that it pays and it keeps me active. Much needed at this juncture.

Third, internal work. The first two actions I did basically on auto-pilot, without much consideration on the conscious level. After the facts, yes, I did put thought into them, and that’s where this step comes into play. Facing pain is perhaps the bravest thing any of us can do. When Christ faced the cross, He didn’t just endure torture so cruel it required a new word to describe it: excruciating. He faced the pain of being punished for something He didn’t do. He faced abandonment by the One who had never before been apart from Him. It was the cruelest betrayal, and Christ did it to Himself.

Granted, His self-inflicted damage was far more noble than anything I’ve managed to do, but work with me here. He knew how much hurt He was in for; I didn’t. However, during and after, we both had to decide how to handle the agony. Christ arose a victor. Because of Him, I can do the same. It’s going to take me a bit longer, though.

I’m facing my wounds and examining them. I’m letting go of many, many things. I’m easing back into the creative flow. I’m trying again.

Fortunately, the manuscript for “Fall Through Space: Space & Time volume 2″ went to my publisher long before the fiasco, so it got published without extra input from me. That helped wake me up a little; I needed to schedule a book signing and start working on volume 3. I’m happy to report that I’ve completed the first editing pass-through of V3, and I’m actually excited about releasing this book. It’s gratifying to see how much I improved as a writer from V1 to V3.

Despite myself, I make progress.

I’ve been lurking online and found a few interesting short story opportunities. I’ve gotten a fair bit of work done on two super-hero shorts and started thinking about another that will feature a certain Yerbran Lady who likes to tinker.

I’m not yet ready to dive back into serial writing. I have to admit this and learn to be ok with it. Thus far, I’ve had a huge sense of obligation to keep writing even when I couldn’t. On the one hand, it’s a good discipline. Life won’t pander to us, and we need to put on big-kid undies and BIC-HOK. On the other hand, we need to recognize when we’re pushing ourselves too hard and back off.

I hate missing updates. Hate it. It’s a failure. I’m a failure if I miss an update. (Didn’t I recently say something about failing?) Note to Self: I’m not a machine. I’m not capable of churning out products without rest. Given all the internal cleaning I’ve been doing and still need to do, I can’t make myself push through certain points. I have to step back, admit that I’m not perfect, and let myself come at it from another angle.

Fourth, Doing Stuff. I’m still working on writing, I’m still learning how to act, I’m still pursuing job opportunities in performance. I’ve had almost no luck, but I’m still getting myself out there as much as I can. I don’t live anywhere close to a market for actors and models, but I’m keeping myself available. I’m not giving up on my dreams, however impossible they seem. I’ve no earthly idea how they will come to pass. I don’t know how I will be able to move to a place where I can get paying performance work. I don’t know how I will compete with the tens of thousands of others who want those same jobs.

I’m doing stuff. Small stuff, big stuff, any stuff. I’m coming at my goals and problems from different angles. I’m regrouping, relearning how to be me. My life doesn’t look anything like what I wanted it to. I’ve had disappointments, setbacks, and catastrophes. I’ve had victories and perks. Most importantly, I’ve had do-overs.

I’ll close this rambling with a recap of the beginning: I’m putting myself back together, and I’m letting myself do so slowly. Not everything that broke will fit back in. Pieces I didn’t know about have settled into place. I admit, I’m frustrated. I want what I want. Today, however, I’m being myself. Unique, creative, me.

Six Month Update

Slowly but surely, I am putting myself back together. I’m learning how to be creative again without being afraid of creativity. You see, creativity is what got me into that whole mess to start with.

Ok, ok, I know that’s not true. But that’s what my internal hecklers are screaming. “If only” I hadn’t been so wildly imaginative as to think that something so preposterous would actually work out, none of that would have happened. I wouldn’t have been so totally humiliated and crushed. I would be somehow, some way, better off.

Honestly, that’s neither here nor there. What happened, happened, and now I get to deal with now. With me. With who I am and how I am. I am a creative; I can no more stop being that than I can stop breathing and expect to live. The relevant issue is: how am I going to be creative now?

Yes, I still hurt from the utter collapse of my world. I still have pieces to pick up and decide if I want to keep. I still have longings that are unfulfilled and dreams that seem impossible. So what am I going to do about it?

First, the practical. I give myself permission to be a failure. A spectacular failure, even. Every great person ever to live failed wretchedly at least once, even if history somehow neglected to record it. We’re all human, which means we all fail. None of us is perfect, and it’s high time I stop expecting myself to be what I cannot be.

Failure often leads to the desired results. Not the expected results, of course, but what we really wanted all along. Happy accidents are how we come up with some of our most brilliant insights, our most amazing advances, our most penetrating insights.

I sat on a bench, weeping rivers of shattered dreams into bitter winter air, and saw myself so clearly. I saw who I could be. I saw who I would not let myself be. I saw the agonizing struggle I would need to make in order to get where I needed to be. Because of that insight, I did not die that day, not in any sense of the term. Oh, I hurt. I was numb for months. I still need “rehab therapy” to deal with myself. But I did not give up. I did not give in.

More than six months later, I can stand upright and look around. I can forgive myself for whatever I did or didn’t do. I can allow myself to fail, to have failed. I can permit myself to move on and try again.

Second, more practicalities. I’m not yet able to live on income from my creativity, so I’ve secured a Day Job that pays something and am angling for a promotion to something more. It’s not what I want to do. I sort of like doing it, but it’s un-creative work. The salient points are that it pays and it keeps me active. Much needed at this juncture.

Third, internal work. The first two actions I did basically on auto-pilot, without much consideration on the conscious level. After the facts, yes, I did put thought into them, and that’s where this step comes into play. Facing pain is perhaps the bravest thing any of us can do. When Christ faced the cross, He didn’t just endure torture so cruel it required a new word to describe it: excruciating. He faced the pain of being punished for something He didn’t do. He faced abandonment by the One who had never before been apart from Him. It was the cruelest betrayal, and Christ did it to Himself.

Granted, His self-inflicted damage was far more noble than anything I’ve managed to do, but work with me here. He knew how much hurt He was in for; I didn’t. However, during and after, we both had to decide how to handle the agony. Christ arose a victor. Because of Him, I can do the same. It’s going to take me a bit longer, though.

I’m facing my wounds and examining them. I’m letting go of many, many things. I’m easing back into the creative flow. I’m trying again.

Fortunately, the manuscript for “Fall Through Space: Space & Time volume 2″ went to my publisher long before the fiasco, so it got published without extra input from me. That helped wake me up a little; I needed to schedule a book signing and start working on volume 3. I’m happy to report that I’ve completed the first editing pass-through of V3, and I’m actually excited about releasing this book. It’s gratifying to see how much I improved as a writer from V1 to V3.

Despite myself, I make progress.

I’ve been lurking online and found a few interesting short story opportunities. I’ve gotten a fair bit of work done on two super-hero shorts and started thinking about another that will feature a certain Yerbran Lady who likes to tinker.

I’m not yet ready to dive back into serial writing. I have to admit this and learn to be ok with it. Thus far, I’ve had a huge sense of obligation to keep writing even when I couldn’t. On the one hand, it’s a good discipline. Life won’t pander to us, and we need to put on big-kid undies and BIC-HOK. On the other hand, we need to recognize when we’re pushing ourselves too hard and back off.

I hate missing updates. Hate it. It’s a failure. I’m a failure if I miss an update. (Didn’t I recently say something about failing?) Note to Self: I’m not a machine. I’m not capable of churning out products without rest. Given all the internal cleaning I’ve been doing and still need to do, I can’t make myself push through certain points. I have to step back, admit that I’m not perfect, and let myself come at it from another angle.

Fourth, Doing Stuff. I’m still working on writing, I’m still learning how to act, I’m still pursuing job opportunities in performance. I’ve had almost no luck, but I’m still getting myself out there as much as I can. I don’t live anywhere close to a market for actors and models, and moving isn’t currently an option, but I’m keeping myself available. I’m not giving up on my dreams, however impossible they seem. I’ve no earthly idea how they will come to pass. I don’t know how I will be able to move to a place where I can get paying performance work. I don’t know how I will compete with the tens of thousands of others who want those same jobs.

I’m doing stuff. Small stuff, big stuff, any stuff. I’m coming at my goals and problems from different angles. I’m regrouping, relearning how to be me. My life doesn’t look anything like what I wanted it to. I’ve had disappointments, setbacks, and catastrophes. I’ve had victories and perks. Most importantly, I’ve had do-overs.

I’ll close this rambling with a recap of the beginning: I’m putting myself back together, and I’m letting myself do so slowly. Not everything that broke will fit back in. Pieces I didn’t know about have settled into place. I admit, I’m frustrated. I want what I want. Today, however, I’m being myself. Unique, creative, me.

Back in the Saddle

This hasn’t been an easy year. Given the past several years, that’s saying a lot. If you don’t know me IRL, then you’ve only gotten glimpses of all that jazz, but trust me on this one. It hasn’t been an easy year.

In January, I made an abrupt announcement that I would be on hiatus, and then I vanished from internet land, reappearing only in shadowy, furtive movements. I needed that time in so many ways; I’ll try to summarize the salient points for you.

I think we all hit breaking points in our lives, and these can be bad or good depending on what we do with them. We can shut away the pain, create a game plan to move forward, and never learn from what we went through. We can allow ourselves to fully experience the trauma, accept that it is what it is, and work through and with it to heal and grow. Perhaps you can think of a few other ways of dealing, but those are the two I’m most familiar with. Ignore or allow.

I’ve had experiences that shattered me, as a mirror dropped on concrete. I’ve been on the metaphorical edge of the internal abyss, one relaxed muscle from dropping into the invisible darkness waiting to consume me. This time, it was as if all my internal fortifications turned to sand and sifted away in the wind.

Mental breakdowns can be poetic at times.

After the initial storm of WTF passed, I was hollow inside. You may have heard that term before. I thought I knew what it meant. I learned new depths of emptiness in that time. I did things because there were things to do, but they meant nothing to me. As an actor, I could easily fake interest and enthusiasm for the events I participated in, but as soon as everyone turned away, I was blank again. I became a “whatever” activist, doing “whatever” was in front of me.

Thankfully, I didn’t do anything stupid or regrettable. In fact, most would (and have) applauded the things I’ve done. I got a new Side Job with much better hours and conditions. I’ve helped friends in tight situations. I’ve continued going to church and leaning into God. And due to the hiatus, I appear to have given up the ridiculous notion that writing or acting make for “real” work.

The events that caused this latest retreat from reality (which I won’t go into now but may or may not in the future) were so painful that I, like many victims of severe physical trauma, went into a kind of coma because I couldn’t handle the agony. Sometimes, the body and mind shut down in order to protect the self from the injury.

Moreover, I became afraid of my creativity.

Creativity is part of who I am, and I felt I could no longer trust that side of myself. Some of the wounds came at the words and actions of others, but it seemed so much of the hurt was my own fault. If I’d just been practical; if only I’d not been so foolish; how could I have been so blind? I couldn’t trust myself, and I was scared to trust God, Who had made such use of my creativity. Such was my soul’s tenderness that I couldn’t even read a book, because that required too much thinking, too much imagination.

Every time I went to church, I bawled my head off at least once during service. It was weeks before I could talk to God, even in moaning screams. I went because somewhere in the depths of my torture, I knew it was better than isolating myself, better than cutting out a part of my heart again. You can only shut away so much of yourself before there’s nothing of you left. I didn’t understand WHY, I didn’t know WHAT, I couldn’t grasp HOW I was supposed to deal with everything. With anything. I was empty. Empty of knowledge, understanding, critical thinking, creative flow. I had nothing but the abused belief that if I were going to find help, I would find it in God’s arms.

Toward the end of March, I began to feel as though I might be able to think about writing again. The idea wasn’t quite so wrenching, though I wasn’t there yet. This past weekend, I attended a conference at church which, combined with our old friends Time and Distance, helped me take the steps of healing necessary to climb back in the saddle.

I’m still very “sore” from my experiences. It will still take time and “rehab” to get myself back up to speed. I don’t know what my creative process will look like. I have no projections for the future. I do know that I am going to start writing again, start dreaming again. The idea of it hurts enough to bring tears to my eyes, but I’m going to give it my best shot. I can’t promise a start-up date for my serial, “The Water Feline,” because I’m still learning my strength and endurance. I can’t promise a schedule. I can only promise that I will be making the effort.

Your patience and support over the past months has not gone unnoticed. I appreciate each and every one of you. Please continue to bear with me as I relearn how to be myself.

 

~str

State of Things

Though I’ve mentioned it before, I don’t often talk about having depression. For one thing, why feed the beast with attention? For another, I still feel the social stigma of having “something wrong” with me. Also, I’m very proud and want to be seen as “ok” and self-sufficient.

The past few weeks have made it abundantly clear that I’m not nearly as self-sufficient as I think I ought to be. In case you don’t keep up with me on other social networks, I got a small scholarship to go to the New York Film Academy. I applied for financial aid, prayed a bunch, and flew up to NYC at the beginning of the month. I left a few days later in tears and absolute dejection because I did not get the financial aid and could not stay.

The crushing defeat more than slightly broke my mind. I was sure I’d misinterpreted something, done something wrong. Could I trust myself? Could I trust God? My world was gone, and no amount of platitudes, Scripture, or advice would bring it back. This, friends and neighbors, was raw emotion. I had no intellect left.

No, I was not suicidal. No, I was not in any danger of hurting myself. Please don’t worry about that.

I’ve always prided myself on being smart. Smart is all I had to be proud of. Any other skill or talent I had was incidental and not really worth much; smarts was where my value lay. Now, my intellect had betrayed me. I had examined the matter from every angle, applied every lesson on faith and trust I’d ever learned, asked God for guidance and listened carefully, and none of it had worked. What I thought was affirmation that the money would be there did not make the money appear.

Did God betray me? Did He lie to me? Was He once again pulling my chain so that He could laugh at me? These were just some of the thoughts running through my mind. Well, stampeding at light speed through my mind. What was left of my mind.

Nothing made sense. All I could do was cry and be angry and broken. I had no logical explanation other than I was an utter IDIOT for thinking that I could do something so STUPID. There was no logic, no reason, in flying up to NYC on a hope and a prayer. What made me think that I could do any better than the tens of thousands who never make it in entertainment? How dare I waste money and good will and time and effort on something so PATHETIC and POINTLESS?

The flights back were terrible because of delays due to equipment and weather. All my luggage went ahead of me while I got stuck overnight in Dallas, still miserable, still crying, still heaping so much hate on myself that I could barely breathe. I did make it back to my parent’s house and collapsed into bed. I’ve spent a lot of time there in the weeks since.

I haven’t been completely idle since this fiasco. That overnight in Dallas resulted in me meeting a couple of women in town for a business conference, and I spent over an hour explaining how science fiction does not contradict the Bible or God. Ah, irony; there I was, bleeding to death inside, giving words of life to a drunk woman. The next week, I spent several days as an extra for a movie being shot in the area. I attended church and Bible study and gave Scriptural advice to some friends who needed it.

I’ve gotten good at pretending to be ok. I’m an actor, after all. But this time, I couldn’t make myself fake it. I had to admit to everyone, including myself, that I’m not ok. I don’t know what happened or why. I don’t know what I’m going to do now. I don’t know. That is my stock answer for everything these days. Any question you can think to ask me, the answer is, “I don’t know.”

I’ve avoided and suppressed my emotions all my life. It’s family tradition, after all. Emotions are bad and should never been shown in public. Public consists of any time any person can observe you. Which means that you can never be certain you’re in private, so don’t ever bother having emotions. Someone might walk in at the wrong moment and catch you at it, you naughty, wretched thing you.

This breaking of my mind meant that I couldn’t hide there any longer. All I’ve had are my emotions, and I don’t have a damn idea what to do with them. They’re there. So?

A word of advice: if someone is going through an extreme emotional time, DO NOT offer them logical advice. That is entirely inappropriate, offensive, and insulting. Offering up logic to someone whose emotions are in control effectually devalues those emotions and tells the person that their emotions are invalid. Emotions are not logical. Applying logic to emotions will only serve to damage your relationship with the person who’s dealing with them so intensely.

I’m letting myself learn to accept my emotions. I’m working, day by day, moment by moment, to give them a proper place in my life. Humans are meant to have both mind and heart, and each have their place. It’s a mess to sort out when you haven’t been doing proper maintenance all along.

Where am I today? Still not knowing. I’m going to take a few weeks off from writing to give my mind time to heal. I may apply for a part-time job somewhere to give myself something outside the house to do. I’m going to start an exercise class this week, if the weather permits driving to and from. I’ve got a counselor I trust and I’m taking some supplements that really do help balance out the brain chemicals.

I don’t know why things happened the way they did or what I’m going to do going forward. All I can do is go forward and see what happens.

Out of town

Sorry no updates this week. I’ve had a family emergency come up, and I’m very busy with that. I may not update again until after Christmas or in the new year.

Thanks for understanding!

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