Kind of a more personal blog this week. Kinda feeling it. Been a weird road the past few weeks.
All my life I’ve always struggled with self-esteem issues – from the beginnings of my non-infant childhood to the present. Coming from a broken home where things got too intense. I discovered all-too-early that my family wasn’t even conventional from the start (well, non-conventional for the late seventies). By the time I was three I found out my dad was really my step-dad, mainly because my real bio-dad was coming to visit. I remember bawling because I didn’t want it to be true.
From that point on, my life would always be… off. Growing up, I would find that my family dynamic had a name to it’s often less-than-pretty face – dysfunctional. Though I was a Latch-Key kid growing up and was shouldered with responsibility at an early age, there were way too many times in my life when I wasn’t allowed to enjoy my childhood. And though I was smart enough to be put in the then-fledgling Gifted program, I found myself all too often alienated and made to feel like I was inferior. It drives it home even worse when you come home to the same.
So, I spent my school years constantly feeling like I was a nobody. Constantly bullied, forever snubbed and avoided. Even the group of friends I had worked hard to fit into – fellow Gifted members – would often go off on their own and leave me to my own devices. If someone had to get left behind, it was always me. I was the Screech of Cranberry Jr./Sr. High. And I hated it.
My only solace were the few friends I could manage that never judged me. I even made friends with my teachers. But the comfort and belonging I received from them never seemed to quench the thirst I had to be somebody to the cliques and groups I thought mattered. My fatal mistake, obviously. I didn’t want attention. I just wanted to be noticed. There’s a fair distinction. It seemed like no matter where I was, I didn’t fit. I felt alone. An outcast.
Meanwhile, home life – which should have been an escape from the unhappiness that visited me daily in school – wasn’t much better. Always made to feel like a screw-up despite how hard I tried, it was an uncomfortable situation visited upon myself as well as my younger siblings. Though there were always moments of bliss and wonderful happies that other families got, it was always over-tempered with days and nights of tears and sometimes bruises. I dunno what was worse – the psychological, emotional, or physical. Or the even worse.
Between the only two worlds I knew growing up, neither was a sanctuary. One was only a temporary escape from the other – but that was like saying that getting on the rack was a nice relief from having to stand on hot coals for hours. More and more I was neglected until I did something wrong or was integral to someone else’s need to feel superior to someone else in front of the world.
Early on, I found only one means of escape – fiction. Movies, television, books, comic books, video games, music – all of this was my world to hide in. Somewhere in this vast land of action, adventure, horror, romance and comedy I could finally be at peace. I could live vicariously through these mediums and finally find some happiness. It helped that often both my parents worked, which afforded me with plenty of time to myself. Over time I found myself withdrawing from the real world more and more. No one was paying any attention to me anyway, so no one really noticed when I was gone.
When I finally left those formative years behind and became an adult, I thought for sure that things would be different in Grown-Up World. I figured everyone had matured with me, so I could be myself and come back out to a reality where I was finally accepted.
I was wrong on every count.
I’ve found that most of the world still continues to ignore you unless you have something for them. Then they take it and got back to pretending you don’t exist. Other times they continue the hot trend of making you feel like an outcast, or that you aren’t as good as they are. It’s unfortunate when I think about all the young kids going through school now. I realize that of all the crap they are going through right now, a lot of them will still have to face at least most of it when they grow up. It’s disheartening, especially when a lot of them are trying not to draw attention to themselves so they can survive their adolescence and head for the door to adulthood with the hope that it gets better.
And that’s where I’m at now – still struggling. Trying my hardest to succeed on any level, with any endeavour – love, career, with my friends and peers, with my own internal demons. Sometimes I make a step forward. More often I take a leap back. And oftentimes I find myself making a small step (or even a leap back) look like a leap forward – all in an effort to create the appearance that I’m doing better than I am. But at the end of the day I know – I’m not as far ahead as I make myself appear.
And at the core of it all is that engine that continues to pump despite the constant loss of esteem. I feel like I’ve been given a quite smaller portion of it than the rest of the world, and I have to figure out each day how to budget it and stretch it to make it last and carry me through each day. And for every time what little I have takes a hit, that divvied amount is gone for the day, until by the end of the day I’m barely functioning. Then each day, that limited portion of esteem I’m allotted gets replenished, and I have to start the struggle of budgeting all over again.
And yet – I still manage to wake up every morning to sort it out. Granted, I managed to cheat for ten years by riding on the borrowed esteem of looking like a certain fat, bearded, Kevin Smith character. Trust me, it’s a million times easier to coast through life when you look like everyone’s favourite stoner in an overcoat. No worries about getting noticed then. Everyone wants to be your friend. Everyone wants to get to know you. Every female is practically throwing herself at you. And every opportunity is thrown your way – some you can cash in on and some you can’t (for legal reasons).
But despite the wild ride those ten years were, they were tiring. And after going out on a high note courtesy of Jason Mewes himself, I thought it was time to hang up the Mooby hat and stop riding someone else’s overcoat tails and try to revisit my own persona to see if any of that esteem rubbed off.
But here I am – back to rebudgeting what small portions of self-esteem I’m granted at the beginning of each day. Shouting out in a small voice in a crowded room full of loud people just hoping to be heard. Every once in a while the room quiets down just enough for someone to ask “Did you just say something?” Seizing my chance, I try to reiterate just in time for the decibels to climb again, and my vocals are lost to the over-chatter.
So, at the end of the day… what else is left when you slump on the couch, exhausted emotionally because the world used your soul for a colostomy bag? The fictional world created by movies, TV, music, books, video games, and comics? It’s there where it’s always been – a rabbit hole providing a means to escape from the gears of life that run you down. But in the end, that’s all it is – an escape.
So what else is there?
Hope. Always hope. I’m a sucker for hope. Dunno why, but I always have been. It’s gotten me through the last thirty-something years of my life. I dunno how, especially after what I’ve been through. Maybe the methods of escape I have used over the course of my life have taught me that.
Maybe they served to be more than a means of escape after all.