.journal 2001.04.23

Now listening to: David Lanz, Return to the Heart
Now reading: Poppy Z. Brite, Courtney Love: the Real Story
Now playing: NHL 2001 (Playstation 2)

Last week was incredibly rough for me. My grandfather finally passed away Tuesday afternoon, and as his condition worsened, things around the house got tenser and tenser. Up until the very end my father was insisting that I had to go up to see his father one last time, but that just wasn't possible, and as a result things between myself and my father are perhaps as rough as they've ever been.

What didn't help matters is that my father apparently went through this online journal of mine about a week ago, and was not too happy with what he read. He came home and really laid the third degree into me, talking about "airing my dirty laundry" and how I was being "disgraceful" and all that. To be honest, when he gets like that I just let whatever he says roll off me, because I've learned that he and I simply have two different views of the world, and neither of us are going to change. He won't change because he's too stubborn, and I won't change because I know I'm right. Although I'm certain he sees things the other way around.

Honestly, though, that's not what's hurting me the most right now. What's really getting to me is that I ran into J. online Tuesday night, and she ended up saying something to me that just cut me to the core, that hurt me perhaps more profoundly than anything else that had happened during the week. The worst part is that I know she wasn't trying to hurt me at all, but because of what she said, and when she said it, it just tore me up inside and I'm still real sore about it, so sore that I can't even bring the subject up with her. Hell, I'm even avoiding her online, I just don't have the ability to cope with it now. And it's not even that I'm upset with her, it's just that because of what I've been through this last week, I lack the strength to be able to confront her with what happened.

Because of everything that's been happening recently, I've been thinking about myself and my own recovery. Not necessarily my artistic recovery, but my recovery as a person. I have a reputation for being a very depressed person, but I think it tends to get blown out of proportion by people who don't really know me. Yes, I have a very melancholy disposition, but that's just the person I am. Maybe it's just something natural in me, or perhaps it's caused by my environment and how I grew up, but whatever it is, it's there and I don't question it. As a matter of fact, I don't know as I'd ever do anything to change it, because I think it's that part of me from which my best songs come from, and songwriting to me is more important than anything, anything in my life.

Depressed? Well, yes, I do have depressional tendencies. I attempted suicide when I was in early teens, and have had suicidal thoughts as recently as a year ago. Thankfully I'm far enough along in my personal recovery that suicide is no longer an issue for me, and I don't get as depressed as I used to. That's not to say I don't ever get depressed, because I certainly do. And after my grandfather's long struggle with prostate cancer, and all the lightning storms it kicked up with my father's side of the family, I am depressed now, and all things being equal I think I have good reason to be depressed.

But I'm not always going to be depressed. Over these past ten months I've developed coping mechanisms for my depression that enable me to get past it much easier than I used to. That's not to say that I become this happy, perky, chipper person; I'm never going to be like that, no matter what happens to me, at least on the outside. But I am a lot better now at focusing on what brings me pleasure inside, what makes me happy, and doing those things and not doing things which only contribute to my depression. And just like I've done in the past, I'm sure that I'll be able to cope with the pain I'm feeling now, and move past it. That's one of the reasons I'm writing this now, because I like this little journal of mine, and I like seeing the positive change it has on some people's lives.

Still, though, I can't help but go back to J. and what she said to me last week, because I don't think I'm going to be able to move on from this until I resolve things with her. At the same time, I'm not in a place yet where I can talk with her about this, talk about the specifics of why what she said hurt me so much. And I really can't think of anyone with whom I can share the specifics of the situation comfortably - not even L. or C., and certainly not here in a public forum like this. Perhaps I need more time to sort everything out in my head, and then I'll be able to chat with her, but patience has never been one of my strong suits.

This really all boils down to a matter of cosmically bad timing, though. I'm sure if I had been in a better frame of mind when J. said what she said to me, I would have already dealt with it right now, but because of her timing, it hit me right where I was most vulnerable, most sensitive. And I'm still too sensitive about it to be able to speak with her about it the way I'd need to; I think if I tried to confront her now, the words wouldn't come out right and then I'd hurt her and our friendship would really be in trouble. I just lost a grandfather, I don't need to lose one of my better friends now.

I suppose it's this sensitivity of mine that's really on my mind right now. Back before I started this site and I was hanging out with all the wrong people (at least wrong for me), I was led to believe by these people that I was too sensitive, that I needed to "hang loose" and "chill." Some went so far as to prescribe my "problems" (as they saw my general demeanour) to my decision not to drink alcohol or do illicit drugs. But all the people around me were saying I needed to relax, be more happy-go-lucky, not be such a touchy-feely person.

And back then my thinking was muddled enough that I took their advice and ran with it. I masked that part of me, although it would still resurface every now and then (and often times in a very raw and explosive form). But I did dull my own sensitivity, and even after I left that crowd I was still out of touch with that side of myself. The end result of that came earlier this year, when I was too abrasive with C. for her liking and I almost lost her friendship, all because I was out of touch and didn't understand her sensitivity towards the things I was saying on an almost unconscious level. Believe me, that was a smack upside the head for me, and I began to understand that part of my recovery from the bad situation I'd been in had to be to get back in touch with that part of myself. After all, I don't hang around those people anymore, and I won't ever do so again because I realize what a bad influence they were on me (in this way and many others), so why should I keep heeding their advice?

What really got me about that crowd, though, is that there were some people there who were just doing me so much harm, and I didn't see it. Reading The Artists' Way helped me realize how much harm some of them were doing, but even before I started my recovery I should have known some of these people were just plain bad news. What these people would do is they would ridicule my depression and belittle the causes of it. And it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that belittling a depressed person is the absolute worst thing you can do to that person. If you have done any research on treatment for depression (and believe me, I've done my fair share), that is the first tenet you come across. And the worst part is, I would point this out to these people, and it didn't change them a single bit. I should have known then what kind of people they were, but I guess it took me longer than it should have to realize.

That's kind of been a problem with my father as well. Not that I ever seem to able to get anything through that thick skull of his, but I keep trying to explain this principle to him and he just refuses to understand. That's one of the most bothersome things about my father, is that he just gets these ideas in his head and there is no getting them out, no matter what you tell him, show him or otherwise. One of the most insufferable moments I had with him was when we both went to our new dentist and on the way home he was trying to tell me that he knew how to the dentist's job better than the dentist did. And he's the same way on a whole lot of other things as well.

What is worse, and I think this really goes back to what he read of this journal, is that he simply refuses to take responsibility for anything that goes wrong. Often times this house will be in need of a repair, and he'll do a temporary little patch job and then never get back to it. And the patch job will eventually break, of course, and when we go to him with this fact, does he accept responsibility for not doing a proper repair job? No, he turns around and blames the rest of the family for supposedly mistreating the patch job. It's like he's expecting us to treat everything in this house like a Fabergé egg or something, and it infuriates the rest of us to no end.

It's the same way with how he treated me as I was growing up. He screwed me up in a lot of ways, and the more I understand myself and who I am, the more I can see how detrimental his treatment of me was. But when faced with this, he insists that if he did anything wrong, it was not treating me harshly enough, and if anyone deserves blame for me being so screwed up it's my mother for how she raised me. And again, this goes back to him being so stubborn, because he has in his mind this idealized view of what his offspring should be like, and because I don't fit that mold it upsets him. Quite honestly that's his problem and not mine, but so long as he takes the opportunity to grill me on every aspect of my life at every opportunity he gets, he's making it my problem, and I don't appreciate it.

So he thinks that me talking about him like this on my site is "disgraceful." Again, I'd say that's his problem and not mine. Maybe these aren't comfortable subjects for him, and I'm intruding on his sensitivity. And if I'm doing that, well, I'm sorry. But this is the only way I have to work through these problems; internalizing these things was what made me borderline-suicidal in the past, and I don't ever want to go back to living like that. And beyond that, I know from the feedback I've gotten from visitors to my site that what I am doing is helping them, and it is for that greater good that I continue to do what I do. I try not to harm anyone with what I do, but almost every action you take in your life is bound to hurt someone, no matter how indirectly. So everything I do is an act of pure conscience, I do nothing in my life that I do not believe, in my mind and in my heart, is the right thing to do. If I step on someone's toes along the way, then I apologize. But at least now I can go to bed at night with a clear conscience, which is a lot better than when I was living my lives for other people - the people at school, the people I worked with, or the people I lived with.

And if anyone has a problem with how I choose to live my life, well, I'm sorry, but that's your problem. I wish I could get my father to understand this, but I've given up hope of ever really being able to communicate with him. The worst part is that when I was growing up, he always used to tell me, "Do whatever you want with your life, you can even be a bank robber, just so long as you're happy with what you do." He repeated that "bank robber" bit so often I could time the end of the speech to it. But now that I've grown up, and I don't think I'm doing anything as insidious as robbing banks, it seems like whenever I find something in my life that I enjoy, that brings me happiness, he can't help but tell me over and over again how much he dislikes it and how I shouldn't do it. So I guess he was just paying me lip service when I was growing up; it was never a matter of if I was happy with what I did, it was a matter of if he was happy with what I did, and because he's not happy with what I do with my life, he harasses me about it to no end.

Maybe he doesn't think that he's hurting me by this continual harassment, this constant abnegation of who I really am versus who he thinks I should be. All I know is that I've tried to explain it to him too many times in the past, and he simply won't listen or make an effort to understand. I don't think he would ever intentionally try to hurt me, but after telling him that his actions are hurting me time and time again, and having him continue on with those actions as stubbornly as before, I don't know if that's maybe the same thing. What I do know is every time he hounds me about not being the person he thinks I should be, he hurts me. And I won't allow myself to be hurt ever again. Not by him, not by the rest of my family, not by the people I used to hang out with, not by my friends, not by anybody. I've endured enough hurt in my life, and if I can possibly avert any more hurt in my life, I am going to do so.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I need to get in touch with J. here.

- Sean