‘The Other Me’
I resubmitted the manuscript that had been chosen as part of the Program, but it was rejected, the publisher feeling it was strong, but didn’t have a specific market. The manuscript was then rejected by all the other publishers I submitted to, although some were glowing about it. A smaller publisher accepted it, but had a contractual clause I couldn’t reconcile, so that turned into a pass. But I did get an agent, which was a huge accomplishment after all this time.
I continued to write, almost obliviously, but also thought about its place in my life. It had developed a therapeutic value, letting me interpret what was going on around me and inside my head, whether it was through writing fiction, nonfiction, or blogging. The hunger to make it dimmed, until it was no longer all-conquering, especially as I worked in the industry, and saw how many great writers struggled futilely. The certainty I’d once had that I would make it evaporated.
My role at work gradually increased to full-time, and as the following year came to a close, I found my own place. The shift should’ve evoked the anxiety, and while it chatted away at me, I just continued to do what I needed to do. The anxiety didn’t shut up, but it didn’t seem as vocal, like living next to a train station, and growing used to the sounds of trains. The only times it bothered me was when I let it get back inside and focused on it.
A lot of people don’t understand anxiety. They compare it with being nervous about something, or the natural trepidation you face whenever you do something new. Yeah, it’s like that, if that nervousness and trepidation had a megaphone and shouted in your ear nonstop, every minute of every hour of every day, the symptomatic manifestations of the anxiety itself blown out of all proportion, and often debilitating on so many levels – intellectual, emotional, physical, and spiritual.
There are plenty of stories of people who think they’re suffering heart attacks rushing to hospital only to learn they’ve had a panic attack. That’s not normal fear or trepidation. It’s something that’s not only overpowering, but innately you, so it becomes impossible to extricate yourself from it, to address it, and do something about it at its worse, because you’re facing something where you and it are one and the same.
Similarly with the depression. It’s not just sadness. Or being down. It’s not something you can be bumped out of by going out and having a good time. And you certainly don’t snap out of it simply because somebody says to you, ‘Cheer up!’ It’s a total loss of enthusiasm that robs you of all motivation, that dulls your interpretation of everybody and everything around you, and robs you of your ability to see any hope or positivity or joy in the future.
Now, I moved forward into a new world, minus Allie (who’d been such a big and motivational part of my adult life, one way or another), minus my naïve and youthful aspirations, and minus the safety net of years gone past. It’s possibly the first real time that the future has been open and totally unscripted, that it’s become mine truly to write.
The neuroses, they’re like my leg – a lot of damage has been done. And it’s now not about trying to heal to a point where things were like they were before – I can remember that in regards to my leg, but not in my regards to my head. This has always been me – the other me, who’s bullied and badgered and nagged and frightened and intimidated me and grown and grown and grown over the years.
But you learn things. You’re always learning things. And I’ve learned that instead of wishing it hadn’t happened, it’s what makes me and my outlook unique, just as everybody is unique, but it’s also in many ways stripped away the affectations that sometimes colour our judgement and our decision.
It’s never going to be a smooth ride and it’ll never, ever be perfect.
But it’s gonna be my ride.