I don’t want cruelty to crush my spirit.
The situation I’m in now is exactly why I railed so hard against cancel culture. It blows, but I’m trying to heal.
Today I drove to CVS to pick up my mood stabilizer. I was grateful to learn my new state insurance covers the price of my meds in full. That’s one relief, but my unemployment money has yet to come through. Two months have gone by since I lost my job, meaning two months of no income, meaning I’m out about $6,000 I would’ve had if still employed. My rent just went up $100/month. I sold my many AMC shares the day before they shot up to $70/share. Cherry on top of the sundae shit, that.
As I’m walking through the store, I feel a crushing weight on me. My head is spinning. I’ve got this knot in my gut like I was feeling months ago, like it’s doing somersaults while someone is knocking the wind out of me. The rapidity and disorienting vagueness of my thoughts reminds me a bit of mania. I realize I’m hungry. I haven’t eaten much today and it’s been many hours since breakfast. I feel like I need to get energy out somehow, which is what finally motivated me to go pick up my prescription. This trip isn’t doing it and I can’t go running; my knees are starting to hurt and the last thing I need is to be immobilized by knee injuries because I got overambitious with exercise.
I get in the car. I start talking my thoughts through out loud, something I’ve learned I do when I’m manic. I consider if I’m swinging up into hypomania. I decide it’s not worth exploring, and rather I should just talk. So I do. I get home and pull into my driveway, still talking.
Then I start crying. Then I start screaming. Then I start pleading to god to make the pain I’ve felt for months go away, to give me strength or to make the stalking and false accusations stop. Every day I wonder if the person stalking me contacted my employer and had a hand in my now unemployment and two months without income. I try to not dwell on it, but it’s a question that stays under my skin. I push it out of my attention until it crawls back out and I find myself like I am right now: sobbing and screaming in my car, wishing this fucking mood stabilizer could make me emotionless enough to remove the pain of this situation. I realize as I’m talking, even if that person did not contact my employer, what they did do is cause me so much emotional and physical distress that I took two days off of work. Absences which my former employer cited as a reason for their decision to end my at will contract early, with no warning, after having extended it an additional year only a few months prior.
I keep thinking of my psychiatrist telling me I needed to tell my employer about my ADHD diagnosis and new treatment to protect my job. I keep thinking of how I should’ve told my psychiatrist sooner that I was getting depressed again instead of ignoring the signs and trying to push through, that I needed her help to get me a short term disability leave because I couldn’t function at work.
I didn’t like the job but I needed it. I needed the money and the insurance. That job was soul crushing. It was menial and for most of it I had to provide admin support to the people who were trying to crush the union efforts of my boyfriend and his peers to get paid enough to cover the cost of living in this insane area of the world. In the mornings before work, I’d drop off my boyfriend and all our sound equipment at the strike. I did what I could. I’d cry almost every day on my way to work back then.cI felt like a failure and I felt caged, but we need money to survive, and I needed health insurance because of my illness.
Ultimately getting out of that job is what I wanted, but I feel too stuck to make anything of this opportunity. I feel completely frozen.
Two weeks ago I got so angry I threw my kitchen chair across the living room and screamed at the top of my lungs about this batshit insane situation. I’m not built for this. I am a sick person, and for a while my sickness was in remission. Now I am hanging on by a thread most days.
This feeling of paralysis and hopelessness, the fear and the helplessness, this is why I wrote about “cancel culture” and accountability spectacles. This is the pain I felt in 2017. This is the pain I never want anyone to feel. When I look back at my writing from the last year, I wonder who it was that wrote it. I feel shattered. That person, the wisdom and conviction, it feels far away. I don’t know why I still after 27 years expect that there will be softness from people, or that when there is cruelty I will be able to stomach it and not be debilitated. It’s naive of me. I am too sick for this.
We have as a society normalized this spectacle and turned either a sanctimonious or nervous blind eye to the devastating consequences. It happens to so many people and it seems minor to onlookers. It isn’t minor. We assume if someone has egregious accusations of ideological or moral transgression waged against them that they must be true, and thus they must deserve whatever is happening to them. That is a thoughtless fallacy. People can be and have since the beginning of human history been wrongfully punished for a crime they did not commit.
When it comes to these online cancellation spectacles, which can have major psychological and material consequences on a person’s life, there is no due process. There is no recourse. There is no court of law that will do shit unless you’re rich and high profile. Corporate social media platforms are not legally obligated to determine if information is true or defamatory, and with no legal support or money to afford it, you are literally defenseless. There is no playbook, there is only pain, prayer, and pushing forward. I believe that public humiliation is unjust in general, but I most passionately believe when people are publicly slandered and defamed for things they evidently did not do—to me, that is a whole other level of unjust.
In a way I set myself up for this, I guess. I went in guns blazing against this monster of a cultural moment and I didn’t have enough 1-ups to survive unscathed mentally. And my experience is small potatoes compared to what many have gone through, including people involved in this. But even still it has shattered me.
People tell me to ignore it and just keep creating, writing, fuck the haters etc. Even my mom tells me I need to give people more credit; most people can see through such blatant nonsense. I wish I could be the type of person who just bounces back effortlessly from cruelty. I’m not. I guess if I were I wouldn’t write how I do or come to the conclusions I have. Maybe I flew too close to the sun or whatever because I refused to accept that I’m a sensitive bitch. Maybe I just don’t have enough support, meaning a wide enough safety net to have faith or security in myself or my future right now. But the psychological cruelty of calculated sabotage, seeing that disgusting dark potential of humanity, god it is existentially harrowing in a way I haven’t been able to yet communicate. It’s disturbing on a deep visceral level.
It may not sound like it, but I swear I try not to dwell here. Honestly I’ve been ignoring it more than I have been dwelling. My rage overflows suddenly without warning when my distractions stop working. So now I’m thinking that all I can do is open myself back up enough to write through the pain and the fury so I don’t keep breaking down in my car. I don’t have a therapist right now and I’m not sure I can find one given my situation. So maybe writing can help as it has before. But perhaps less politically analytical and more personal and reflective.
It’s always a seductive position to fill the role of firebrand. Something draws me to being loud and “incisive” and saying the thing everyone’s thinking but is too afraid to say themselves. I’ve been like that since I was a kid. But how I’ve been doing it online is unsustainable. Everything about how I’ve used (truly “used”) the internet this past year is unsustainable.
Maybe it’s time to outgrow the impulse to cause a fiery blaze that destroys overgrown forests and work on building a slow-burning fire that warms a home. That sounds impossible and out of character, but so is throwing a chair across my living room because of some loser online.
Through all of this, as I fell apart, I have chosen to focus my daily energy into my health. It has been wrecked by this, so it’s back to basics. Which is good because honestly, I was neglecting those basics to numb the anguish of my job for a long long time anyway. I’m working on rebuilding a sober relationship with food. I’m getting back into running so long as my knees can hold up to the task. I’m thinking a lot about death and longevity as I observe and learn from people older than me.
These internet arguments aren’t worth the stress and the risk of destabilizing my health. They are endless and fueled by corporate bottom lines simply by the nature of the algorithm and the platforms on which we engage.
I want to live to be old and happy. I want to one day raise children. I want a house. I want to spend a lifetime with my beautiful, endlessly loving partner. I want to swim in the ocean at every opportunity. I want to write and vlog and make people have eureka moments and move them to tears and laughter. I want to fight for what matters and what is within reach of my influence. I want to cook delicious, nutritious food and share it with as many people as I can. I don’t want to hate myself. I don’t want to hurt myself. I don’t want to have posting addict brain and run on the hamster wheel of hot takes forever. It’s not a life, it’s a sickness. I’m tired of being sick.
There is much to look forward to. My best friend is coming to visit me tomorrow and we are flying home together. It will be the first time I’ve traveled in almost an entire year, the last time being when we escaped wildfire and went to Tucson. I miss traveling. I loved exploring Tucson. I miss road trips. I miss flying. I daydream about going back to Prague or the west coast of Ireland, my two favorite places in the world. One day I will. I’m going to see my best friends and my family in a week. I miss them. I will meet my new nephew. I will see my niece who I haven’t seen since she was a baby. I’m signed up for a 5k with my family while I’m home. I am spending my days crafting new recipes and learning about topics that fuel me and support my goals. I am going to build the life of my dreams, because I already lived a life of my nightmares and I refuse to go back to that place. And because I want as much joy as I can get.
This world is corrupt and broken but I can’t fix it and I see no one with whom I want to try accomplishing that feat right now. Maybe one day. For now, back to basics.
Here’s to getting well but never squashing my fire. This is the first thing I’ve written in two months, first fully public writing in longer. I am hopeful that this might help break my block and I can get back to being publicly creative again. I miss it. I miss you guys. I don’t want cruelty to crush my spirit. Thanks for sticking around if you do.