.journal 2000.12.19
More midnight thoughts, on trust and betrayal and happiness.

Now listening to: Tori Amos, To Venus and Back: Orbiting
Now reading: Poppy Z. Brite, Wormwood
Now playing: Final Fantasy VII (Playstation)

No, the insomnia hasn't ended yet, thanks for asking. This time it's something else that's got my head spinning, though, and I'll get to that later.

First of all, I wanted to let you all know that I know the site's been down a fair bit of Monday, and I'm not quite sure why at this point. I'll contact Interland in the morning and see if I can get them on the case, although it doesn't help that the site seems to be fading in and out with no trace of regularity. But I paid good money for this site, and I'm going to make sure it stays up here for you all to read.

Anyway, while talking about server problems is very soporific, it's not going to fix what's wrong with my head, so maybe writing about it will. Although it didn't seem to help the last time I tried it. But I still feel like this is something I have to do, so I'm gonna do it.

Talking with my father about work-related issues recently, he finally realized something about me that should have been pretty bloody obvious to him for some time now: I am, as he so astutely put it, "not a team player." Dear old dad wanted to know why this was, and he started rattling off how necessary it was to be a part of the team and blah blah blah and I probably wouldn't do well at one of those trust-building get-togethers. Leave it to father to stumble onto the answer in the midst of one of his endless rambles.

Because, you see, when all of us at that old private school I went to ventured up to Camp Innisfree in Michigan when I was 12, one of the activities we did was that old trust-fall exercise. For those of you that haven't been initiated to that little hell, let me describe it to you: you go up some six or eight feet to a ledge, turn your back to it and fall. The idea being that the "team" below you will catch you in their outstretched arms and you'll learn to better trust your classmates or workmates or whoever.

Now, I'm sure most of you have figured out what happened already, but let me just say it anyway: I fell, and they didn't catch me. And while I was pretty heavy even back then, the team had previously caught both instructors, both of whom were much heavier than I was. And when you're falling blindly some eight feet to the ground, your other senses have this wonderful way of heightening themselves, and I quite clearly remember not feeling a single hand touch me as I splatted on the gravel road underneath. Mind you, none of the other kids got in trouble over it, probably because they had enough sense to wait until the instructors were out of earshot to start laughing at me.

As you can guess, an episode like that has a tendency to do things to you, psychologically. And after that little incident, I guess I haven't really been what could be called a "team player" in that many things.

Not that I didn't have my share of bad incidents with classmates before that, and I certainly had many more afterwords (although in my later years it was really the faculty that loved to stick it to me more than the students). But I think that incident was really where my general hatred of most of the human race began, and I don't think I can be blamed for it. Because just as the name "trust-fall" suggests, the exercise is all about trust, and from that point forward I guess my trust in damn near everyone has been shot to hell.

I think that was the point where I started becoming Little Miss Rebel. It all started with an ill-fated rap fanzine I published within the school, before I finally moved onto the more vast and controversial world of politics. And it was all about me, not some stupid team, it was my butt on the line and mine alone. Nobody ever wanted to make me a leader of anything, so I appointed myself leader of my own little endeavours and I've been quite happy doing that ever since.

As you can guess, that doesn't exactly make me all that great a person to work with. I don't have a problem deferring to someone else when I'm faced with something I don't have much experience or knowledge in, but when I'm the most qualified person to make a decision, I make that decision and I don't shut up about it. And if a superior tries to overrule my decision, I will fight tooth and nail about it.

Admittedly, this has posed some problems. Earlier this year I launched my own Website design company on the side so I could start doing things my way, only to be faced with the ugly reality that I really wasn't that good at finding clients on my own. Not having that blasted college degree played a good part in that, to be sure, but when it comes down to it I am a Website designer and programmer, not a salesperson, and at least right now I need someone else to handle that end of things for me. So I folded my company (rather I will as soon as I pay the taxes next year), and I'm back working for dear old dad, and while the sparks continue to fly between us at least I'm working. And working. And working. And ... well. You get the picture.

And I was thinking about this today, when all of a sudden I was confronted by a couple of old ghosts from the bad situation I left about five weeks ago. Sadly, I found the two fit like hand and glove.

I still don't really feel comfortable talking about the situation, since it's still having a profoundly negative impact on my life even now that I'm more than a month removed from it. But suffice it to say that I was in a leadership-like role in the situation, but there was someone else above me who could still overrule my decisions. Looking from an outsider's perspective at it, I'm now beginning to see what a recipe for disaster that was, but in practice it hadn't really posed too many problems until the end when I finally had to walk away.

I was making most of the decisions most of the time in the situation, and so things generally worked out. I was working with what I thought were a good group of people, some of whom I considered friends, and in my capacity as leader I tried to "rally the troops," as it were, around some common concepts and the vision for the situation as I saw it. And for a while, things were fine. I made some incorrect decisions, and we all had our stumbles, but we were generally able to pick ourselves up off the ground, dust ourselves off and move on.

But things started to go bad for all of us at a certain point, and that's really where it all started in terms of what caused me to sour to it all. It is generally considered the best test for a leader to lead his or her team through tough spots like the one we were encountering, and I did my best to try to get everyone through. More than out of my own role as de facto leader in the day-to-day operations of things, I really felt like a lot of my team members were friends, and on a personal level I wanted to help them all out, because it was tough for all of us and I wanted to make it better for them.

And once again, things all began to boil down to a matter of trust. And the people who I had trusted were my friends, betrayed my trust. Rather than believe in me to help get them through the rough spot as best I could, they all were more concerned with some quick fix, more concerned with their own petty concerns than the greater problem that was facing all of us. Support for my decisions faded into nothingness in the blink of an eye, and my own team had effectively made me into a lame duck leader.

I think ultimately it was that realization of personal betrayal that made the decision to leave that much easier for me. It still wasn't an easy decision for me to make, since I'm still getting over that horrible tendency of mine to cling to painful and hurting things like a baby to a mother's teat, but thankfully the situation became a chance for me to shake that tendency a bit. Rather than accept the anger and contempt of others, I moved on and started doing things for my own personal happiness.

And from that desire to do things to make me happy, this site was born. Some people have asked me if this site is a form of therapy for me, and while certainly there are parts of this site that are therapeutic to me, it's not really like that. Like I said before, I started publishing my opinions on things not long after the trust-fall incident, first from the crappy printer that hooked up to my Trash-80 and then from my father's photocopier before this little invention known as the World Wide Web started making things a lot more cost-effective. I believe I was born with a message to give to the rest of the world, and while my music is my preferred vehicle for conveying that message, I like using other mediums, such as this, as well.

But at the same time, I knew that this site would continue to make me a target. Things with the situation got to the point where I had to pull the best disappearing act I could, pulling up my tent stakes in the dark of night with no advance warning and getting the hell out of town before the sun rose. Ultimately the only way I could have done a 100% complete job in that would have been not to launch this site, but my loud mouth and desire to share what is good about my life, to try to help others who may be recovering as I am, won out and so I carved out these new forty acres for myself, knowing full well that some day I would be discovered by some of the people from the situation. I just hadn't planned on being discovered as soon as I was, and believe me, when I was discovered I found out quickly enough. (Any of you ever bother clicking on that planet picture at the bottom of my homepage?)

I had expected as much, though, and so it didn't bother me too much. Even if they were intruding on my world when I didn't want them in it, they weren't going to pull me back into theirs. So when that failed, I had those ghosts I mentioned at the start of this entry visit me, and what they essentially did is they carried a slice of their world with them and made me experience it, namely what my former team members were saying about me in my absence.

The person who I'd probably considered my second closest friend from the situation is now so upset with me that he can't even bring himself to mention my name. The one who had the power to overrule my decisions is now unjustly accusing me of criminal behaviour. And a whole lot of the other team members are saying it's my fault that things have gone to hell in a handbasket because I didn't stick around for them, and acting like I committed some act of personal betrayal.

And you know what, maybe I did betray them. But considering they didn't stick around for me, and betrayed my trust, I don't see as they have any right to complain about me doing the same. You know that old saying, "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me?" Some of those people fooled me for three goddamn years, fooled me into thinking they'd befriended me when they only really considered me a tool for their own personal gain. And for a while there, I just didn't notice, or maybe I noticed and just didn't care because I'd been conditioned to believe I didn't deserve better than that. But not anymore.

Just like those kids that didn't catch me on the trust-fall exercise, though, the thought of revenge makes my mouth water, no matter how juvenile or infantile the steps I take to exact it. I have to fight that, though, because that is petty and spiteful and not the kind of example I want to set, for myself or others. But by writing this just now, I guess I have already admitted some level of defeat and acquiesence. Now that I've admitted that, though, I have to try to make things as right as possible, and that means behaving as maturely and responsibly as I can.

So since I seem to have positioned myself on their precipice already, let me give one final message to them, as polite and concise as I can possibly make it.

You wanted me out of your world.
I left your world.
I'll thank you to stay the hell out of mine.
I didn't invite you here.
And I don't want you here.
Kindly leave and never come back.

So it is said. I can only hope it will come to pass.

So here I am again, on the edge of a cliff, just as I was a dozen years ago. But this time I don't have my back turned to everyone, I'm looking right down into their faces, and I know I cannot trust them. And I will not fall back down to their level, I will simply walk away.

And where do I walk to? I guess despite my tendencies to be independent and self-sufficient, I've still tried all these years to convince myself that all people are not bad, that there are people whom I can put my trust in and receive trust back. The situation was a harsh lesson in how badly I can be betrayed. But at least I can say it has made me wiser in that regard, and I'm going to be a lot more careful now.

But I know I can trust my family. I trust L. enough that I would put my life in her hands if she so asked. And I have Jeff, and now that I'm getting better at not shutting myself away from the rest of the world I'm making all kinds of wonderful new friends, who are opening me up to all new worlds where I'm finding more enjoyment than I could have ever dreamed of when I was in the midst of the situation. I am getting better, and I will not allow myself to deviate from my recovery.

Good people are still hard to find on this planet. But I believe I'm one of them. And I will fight to find others of my kind, and no longer allow myself to be subjected to the cruelty of the others.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get some sleep.

- Sean