Patron Blog #3: Keep Creating

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It’s been a little while.
I’ve been trying to write this post for about a week. And by trying, I mean psyching myself up to write it and then never doing it.
See, on an almost daily basis, I think about what I want to write, and then sometimes I actually get excited and decide that yes, I am in fact going to sit down and write that. And sometimes I even get things all set up: I clean the room, I get some tea, or coffee, or soda, and I sit down in front of the computer, I stretch and I’m ready to begin. I turn on some nice piano music to help me get into the mood to write. Everything is perfect, everything is ready.
And then I just don’t do it.
And it goes on for days and days.
And there’s so much I’ve wanted to talk about, so much I’ve wanted to tell you, so many new things I’ve wanted to create, but it’s all just been passing me by, as far as writing about it goes.
I’ve learned some things about what writing does for me. In the first place, it gives me hope. That rush of endorphins that you feel when you’re a child, and you get to go somewhere that you love, or play your favorite game, or see your favorite cousin? I don’t really feel that much as an adult, and the depression and anxiety see to it that I’m actively incapable of feeling it some of the time. The best I can usually hope for is quietude and maybe solemnity. Sometimes peace of mind. But rarely do I actually feel what you could call joy, hope, excitement, readiness for the future.
Writing does that. Well, actually, thinking about writing does that. Actually writing does it too, but I find that one thing that motivates me to keep moving throughout my day, and gives me a rush of hope, a feeling that I can have a life worth living, it’s the idea that I’m going to write. It’s funny, because I don’t think I really noticed it until recently. So often just THINKING about writing helps me feel better.
I constantly keep notes. It’s been going on for years. It used to be in an actual notebook, then it moved to the notes feature of my iPod, cell phone, anything that I could write in. I write down all the abstract ideas, the more the better, and I can choose later which ones to keep. This makes it incredibly difficult to organize them, and organizing my notes is a mammoth task that I’ve still been unable to completely accomplish.
I have mountains of ideas for blog posts, stories, my novel, everything. And sometimes I write in tiny pieces, things that a character might be saying, or I actually write a few paragraphs of a scene, and often times I have quick one-liner quotes pop into my head and I write them down even though I don’t know who is saying them or entirely why. I just write it all down.
Turning those notes, that coagulated, quivering mass of ideas, into a solid creature, is difficult. Because my notes are like my mind: they scamper from idea to idea, from music to fiction to autobiography, to religious observation, to book and movie reviews, to political opinions, and there’s so much happening that I don’t know where to begin.
So often times I just don’t.
The best place to start right now is to talk about what’s happening in my life. So here it is.
I’ve moved. I’ve talked about how I ended up where I am before, but put briefly, I’ve been jumping from home to home since I was a teenager. My mom has a penchant for kicking out children when she gets angry with them, she’s done it to myself, my brother, my cousin, anyone who she’s allowed to. And before she could legally put me out, she threatened to give up on me, to send me away to boarding school, to boot camp. As a teenager I laid my head on the pillow of my own bed or of a friend’s bed, and I didn’t know where I might be laying it tomorrow night.
The complete lack of anything resembling a home has had a deep impact on me, I think. My mother’s constant psychological, emotional, and on occasion physical abuse, has resulted in my becoming an adult who is mostly a quivering and terrified child, grasping for love or safety, and stumbling into a loud and overstimulating world with no safe place to hide, and no firm hand to keep me stable. I’ve lived with friends many times in my life, and at many ages.
After making me homeless and forcing me to live in a hotel room for a few days before moving in with my boyfriends at the time, my mother ultimately allowed me back into her house when that living situation didn’t work out. She was quick to remind me that she could pull the rug out from under me at any time, that if I didn’t watch my step, she could and would devastate my stability or my emotional fortitude. I was becoming desperate. I was running out of stamina. I wanted to die.
There was a day when I thought about how I might kill myself, I decided I might drive to a bridge, about half an hour from my family’s house, and jump. It was a beautiful scene, but the fall probably wouldn’t kill me and it would probably be painful. I thought about the bridge I used to live by when I was an early teenager, an old abandoned railroad trestle that rose high above the river. I wasn’t sure if the fall would kill me or if I’d drown.
Ultimately I did nothing, because I was just too exhausted to get out of bed. I was too tired to move. I didn’t want to move. I just wanted to sink into nothing, and be gone.
I told a friend.
I told a lot of friends, actually, and I think that every single patron I currently have are friends from a group of Amanda Palmer patrons, which we sometimes refer to as “the Sloth group.” The sloths are people who have saved me many times and in many ways. One sloth was Zack. I told Zack briefly about my mother, about how afraid I was of being kicked out, and how tired I was of living with her, and how broken and unstable I was. He told his husband Robert, and they offered to help me.
I’ve talked about this before. In a nutshell, they saved my life. They brought me into their home, which was four hundred miles from South Carolina. They gave me a room, and a bed, and clothes, and food, and medicine, and resources. But they also gave me a home, a family.
The thing that I never expected was that I started to go through a kind of emotional withdrawal syndrome, similar to when you come off of a drug like a narcotic and your body is unable to cope without it. It’s good for you to get off the drug, but it can sometimes nearly kill you to do it. I don’t know how I’d coped for so many years with my mother’s abuse, but I guess now that I was safe, my walls could come down, and when they did, it hurt. I found myself in an emotional meltdown every day or so, reduced to a sobbing mess on the floor, afraid, and broken. I just kept saying “Please don’t make me back there, please, I don’t ever want to go back.”
Zack would hold me and say “I promise, you won’t ever go back.” I was safe.
Over time these meltdowns became less frequent, until one day I suddenly realized I hadn’t had an emotional breakdown for maybe a month. And I also realized that maybe I’d been having breakdowns like that my entire life, and never known anything else, so I never found it odd. Now that I was safe and stable, and provided with love and support, and not constantly living in fear, not constantly being abused, I was capable of standing without cowering in fear.
I lived there for a year. A few months ago, when a particularly unpleasant job wasn’t working out, I decided to take one of my mother’s many offers to come and stay with her again, while I got on my feet, dealt with my Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis, and started school. It’s not that I thought I could trust her, but it started to seem like anything would be preferable to working full time in a pawn shop in the bad part of town, sandwiched directly between the homeless shelter and the liquor store. I packed everything, had a tearful goodbye with Zack, and drove down, but immediately realized something was wrong. I knew I’d made a mistake. After a couple of days I asked if I could come back home and Robert and Zack allowed it.
I stayed for another few months. I wasn’t able to hold down a job. I’d promised Robert and Zack that no matter what, if my job didn’t work out, I would leave. Not because they wanted me to go, not because they didn’t trust me, but because I’d genuinely used up all their reserves of extra resources they could afford me. They’d accepted me into their family, but even in a family you have to pull your weight. You can have all the support you need, but you still have to contribute. I was trying, but I was failing, and whose to say what was at fault. It could have been my anxiety, or my depression, or it could have been that I just wasn’t able to try very hard anymore. For whatever reason, it wasn’t working out, and so, for now, I had to go.
It was very sad. We all cried. A lot. Zack took it especially hard. He and I have been pining after one another since the move like two lovers separated by an ocean.
My relationship with Zack and Robert is the only relationship, the ONLY one, in my entire life, in which I have ever felt completely secure. I don’t second guess my feelings, I don’t question our dynamic, I don’t feel that anyone is being lied to, and I don’t wonder if it will fall apart.
That being said, even though I know that I’m safe inside, because I will always have my true family, Zack and Robert, to support me, wherever I am, it doesn’t mean that I don’t feel shaken up being so far away from them, and even being here in particular, where I’m currently living, at my mother’s house. My sister is here, and she’s a good resource, but she’s also fifteen, and I lean on her a little, but I try not to do it too much. After all she has her own things to deal with; being fifteen isn’t easy for anyone, and especially not for her, she’s been through a lot in her life.
The first day I was sad. Deeply sad. I went to bed early, I pulled my mom’s dog into bed with me and held her tight, and cried, and fell asleep. The second day I was angry. I was so pissed off at everyone and everything. At myself, at my family, at this house, at life, even at Zack and Robert. I was mad at everything. And I just kept crying.
Today… I don’t know what I feel today. Just that I’m ready to write, and I’m ready to start moving forward now. I have to find out what the next step is. My mom has offered to help me find and pay for an apartment of my own. That is a very good first step. I’ll have to make sure that she’s obligated legally to keep her end of the bargain, because I can easily see her (and can virtually guarantee it) saying something along the lines of “If you don’t do what I say, or respond how I want you to, I will stop helping you pay for your apartment and you can find somewhere else to live.” It’s her way. She is not to be trusted.
Not that she hasn’t made an effort. Yesterday when I got so angry, I lashed out at her when she commented that I wasn’t going to be staying here permanently. I asked her, “Does that mean you’re going to kick me out as soon as you get mad at me?” She seemed genuinely shocked and asked, “Why would you say that?” This exchange happened over the phone, and when she came home she asked me to hug her, and said that she was shaken up by that, and that those kind of things were in the past and she wants to move forward, and that she just wanted to make sure I was alright.
They are pretty words, I know. They sound like something a loving mother would say. But when you’ve spent your entire life defensively protecting your emotions from her sporadic stabs, you learn that she is not an enemy to be bartered with, treated with, or given any ground on which to stand. Existing in the vicinity of my mother is a battle, and even if I wanted to lay down my arms, I cannot, and I would not.
The situation is far from perfect. But it isn’t the worst it could be, either. Thinking like that doesn’t usually help anything, if anything the “it could be worse” model is almost always used to shame people with anxiety for feeling anxiety, as though we have control over it, rather than having our brains ravaged by a disease. But, as it stands, it is as good a situation as can be managed with the given materials.
I don’t know where I will go. Right now, the best course of actions seems to be to find a job at which I know I’m suitable (meaning: not in restaurants or retail, and hopefully in an office, I’m thinking of trying a temp agency), and to find a reasonably affordable apartment. I have an acquaintance nearby who is also looking for a place to live, so it’s possible that we could be roommates. I don’t honestly know if he’s trustworthy or what it’s like to live with him, and I don’t know if it’s a good idea, but it’s at least worth talking to him and seeing what he needs.
I don’t plan to be here for long. If anything, I’d like to start saving money so I can move somewhere else, either back to Delaware to be near Robert and Zack and continue my life there, or to Michigan where another friend wants to help but is unable to just now.
So, that’s where life is for me, right now.
I haven’t posted much on this Patreon, and the reason for that is that I wasn’t sure WHAT to do with it. I started it with the intention of using this platform to write my novel, and I still plan to do that, but I’ve also found that I just want to use it as a sort of extension of my blog, where I know people are actually invested in reading what I have to say.
So for now, I’m going to just be posting whatever I’m writing: blogs, poetry, fiction, autobiography, reviews, and more. There are segments I want to try out. I want to try one which I’m tentatively calling “Spotlight” or maybe “Song of the Day,” where I pick a song, or an artist, or an album, or a television show, or a book, or ANYTHING I want, and just write about it as a prompt. Not necessarily a review, just a jumping off point to talk about the memories I have attached to the thing, and what I think about it, and maybe just go off on a wild tangent about something else entirely. I also want to write a book about my experiences with religion, and rail against Christianity, which has had a profoundly negative impact on my existence. I want to, of course, keep writing my fantasy novel, and maybe try out some other story ideas.
Right now my system is going to be to post whatever I’m writing about with a quick parenthetical notation in the title describing what it is (i.e. fiction, essay, poetry), and go from there. I’ve also changed the patron subscription from “per thing” to “per month.” I initially went with “per thing” because it was what I was used to seeing, but also because I didn’t know that “per month” was an option. It’s probably a much better idea because I’m not sure I like doing “paid posts” anyway, I never know which posts to charge for, and I feel pressure to create the KIND of post that seems like it deserves to be paid for. Ultimately I think that the “per month” model just works better for me, right now.
I also want to take a moment to apologize to some of you who may be following if I subscribed to your Patreon and then cancelled my pledge. This came about because I got very excited and decided I wanted to support all of my friends all at once, but quickly realized the amount I was pledging was more than the amount I was getting paid with Patreon, and I’m not sure what my income is going to be like while I’m in this process of relocating and reorganizing. Currently I’m still subscribed to a few people, and I’m sure that I’ll be back for those others for whom I had to cancel my subscription, but I just wanted to explain that in case maybe you thought I was fickle, or just decided I didn’t like your work. It’s probably a good idea for me not to putting out more than I’m taking in.
So that’s where I am. In South Carolina. I almost said “back in South Carolina,” but I’m not back anywhere. This is not the past, and I am moving forward. I have changed place in space, not in time.
I have to keep moving, I have to keep hoping, and I have to keep writing.
Keep creating.
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