Friday, April 27, 2018

Out with the Old, In with the New


Every so often in life, I appear to arrive at a kind of... social crossroads, for lack of a better way to describe it. At first, I just find I have trouble relating to my friends groups to the same extent I once did. Then I start noticing myself becoming actively irritated with individual members of those groups, usually because something they do, say, or think seems immature or unreasonable on one level or another. Then one day I just wake up in a state of active disgust with nearly everyone I know from that group and just want to be permanently rid of most of them.

That gradual process of disillusionment is what eventually caused me to realize I'd outgrown the friends I'd had throughout my teenage years, as well as most of my core family. It's what made me want to jettison myself from the online art community years ago, not to mention cut ties with almost everyone that even remembered I used to make digital art. Now it's officially happened with that group of LiveJournal people I used to be so tight with. I'm just sick to death of how petty, and gossipy, and childish they all are.

These are feelings I'd been aware of for quite some time. However, the whole David incident was what really dragged them out into the open. I'm not the sort of person that takes kindly to another person's decision to ignore my wishes and just hop right over any boundaries I might have set, but that's exactly what David eventually decided to do. Right after I removed and blocked him on every social media platform I could think of, he went out of his way to track me down and tweet me on Twitter, the one place I'd forgotten he had an account and failed to enforce a block. Then at some point yesterday, I got another message from him basically begging for another chance at friendship. I had previously responded to the tweet with a brief explanation as to why I didn't want to be friends anymore, but I didn't dignify yesterday's follow-up message with a response at all. I'm only going to tell you once.

I was later unfriended by another mutual friend of ours, I assume because David decided to complain to the rest of his friends about my lack of interest in rekindling our friendship and this chick wanted to kiss up to him the way she always does. This other person had been on my last nerve for a while as well, so it didn't really bother me, but yeah. All this implies that there's been all sorts of behind-the-scenes talk about me and my decision not to be friends with David anymore. That's just ludicrous, as David and I have never met or hung out in real life. We haven't even really interacted online all that much in recent years. I get that I was exactly the type of person David usually seeks approval from, so I'm sure this was a blow to his ego, but that's about it. He really doesn't even know me.


So I really got to thinking: Who the hell goes out of their way to contact someone they know for a fact doesn't want to hear from them instead of simply respecting that person's decision? An even better question would be: Who the hell does any of the things some of these damn people have done over the years to make me start feeling this way and what does that say about the kind of "friends" they are? Seriously, most of these people are complete fucking losers. They're chronically unemployed, unable to cultivate healthy romantic relationships, unnaturally attached to their parents in many cases, and perpetually dealing with one personal crisis after another. These are people that have tried to hit me up for jobs, for money, and certainly for my personal seal of approval on whatever dumb-ass decision they're about to make with their life next. 

All that was one thing when we were all still in our 20's or even our early 30's. Now though? We're all well into our 30's (at the youngest), in our 40's, or even older (50's in David's case). These people should be showing some measure of personal growth by now -- some improvement in their ability to control their damn impulses and certainly to respect other people's boundaries. David literally spat on mine as soon as possible and then did it again when he felt enough time had passed that I "should" be over what happened and ready to be friends again. Don't even get me started on these other tools. 

At any rate, I'm pretty worn out as far as these people go and I'm way ready to be done with them. I'm astonished at the fact that I didn't reach this point years ago. I also think it's time I start thinking about who else from that crowd I want to get rid of because they're entitled, petty, immature, or just plain annoying. It may even be time to finally delete my LiveJournal, as it's my final remaining tie to a large portion of that crowd. I just don't know how many ties I even want anymore to the people I used to know there or to the person I used to be back when I still considered them friends.


As far as happier news goes, I found out a little earlier in the month what the theme for this year's online TCM course is going to be -- musicals! In other words, it's the best theme it could possibly be as far as my getting excited goes. Seth and I both love classic musicals, but we don't know a ton about them from a film studies standpoint. There are also many important musical films one or both of us have yet to see, so we're looking forward to filling in some of the blanks. Class starts at the beginning of June and I'm eagerly looking forward to it.

I also finally bought myself an actual grown-up URL the other day (shannonhilson.com) that I currently have forwarding to this blog. I may also open up a Blogger blog for my business that may double as a sort of professional website at some point and have a second URL forward to that. My new workout habits have really made 2018 a productive year for me so far and I've been having fun embracing ways to keep that going, both personally and professionally. "Out with the old, in with the new" is definitely my motto in a big way right now.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

On Growing Up and Its Consequences


So I cut ties with a couple of friends this week. Sadly, it seems that the more of my own issues I resolve and the more growing up I do, the more I start to see some of my so-called friends for the losers, eternal victims, and rotting garbage people that they are. As far as how I feel about that? On the one hand, I'm really pleased to realize I've grown enough as a person to finally assess such situations accurately. But for someone that really hasn't had many close friendships to begin with, growing up can also be a really lonely process. I definitely feel like I lose friends these days at a much faster rate than I make new ones.

This time, the people in question were a middle-aged male friend I'd known online for years and his female partner of about a year whom I was only just getting to know. (We can call them David and Terri for the sake of this post.) David is of the age where people that haven't really taken very good care of themselves over the course of their lives start having serious health scares and something to that exact tune finally happened to him maybe a month or two ago. He's also been struggling with some pretty serious depression and anxiety lately, some of it probably related to the health scare and some of it not.

Now David has always been a little bit stunted as a person. Like many people I've known online, he sees and presents himself as one thing when actually he's another. (No real judgment on that front. We've all been there, including me. Hell, especially me.) Like many people in that boat though, he claims to tell it like it is and to be all about brutal honesty, but only when he's the one dishing it out. When someone else is serving it up -- even if it's someone he claims to respect -- he handles it with all the grace and dignity of a toddler. That's not actually the reason I cut ties with him though. That happened because I decided I could no longer tolerate the way he treats people, particularly his partners. 

The night before last, David initiated what would eventually evolve into a 24-hour meltdown on Facebook -- one of many he's had, but much worse than usual. I won't get too much into the gory details, but suffice it to say he flippantly decided to dump Terri without even telling her first for reasons that are still unknown and was using Facebook to be what I can only describe as cruel, abusive, and sadistic about it. He also kept baiting his friends the entire time, apparently as a test to see who cared enough about him to put up with his behavior. As if that's not enough, it came out at some point that this was not an isolated occurrence, but something David has made a habit of doing to Terri ever since they've been together. We apparently just hadn't had the sublime treat of seeing it play out on Facebook before.

David's toxic mood eventually exhausted itself and he (of course) decided he wanted to get back together with Terri at that point, so a half-assed apology was posted to all their friends. David blamed his depression and his meds for the outburst, expecting that to somehow make everything OK. Terri's obvious hurt and confusion at the situation though, as well as David's apparent enjoyment of it at the time, was... really triggering for both Seth and me. We've both had experiences in our younger years with people that treated us exactly that way -- like we were toys to be played with instead of people with actual feelings. Saying those experiences were traumatizing is putting it really mildly, David's behavior (and Terri's later decision to defend her abuser) was just the last straw for both of us.


I'm a pretty low-maintenance friend and I can overlook a lot of things, because honestly, my friends have had to overlook a lot of bullshit on my end over the years as well. You can be a victim. You can be an adult baby. You can be someone that sadly lacks any sort of self-awareness. You can be a complete drama queen that sucks at life. (Although don't expect me to be all that close if you are those things. I'll probably just hang out in the corner praying for you and hoping you eventually get your shit together until you eventually do.) You don't even have to be a particularly good or attentive friend to me. 

You can't be an abuser or give me any reason to think you enjoy being intentionally cruel to people though. Under any circumstances. That's where my hard limit is and it's a hanging offense. I have no interest in knowing someone who's like this. And if you use your mental illness as an excuse for whatever unspeakable thing you did? Expect me to be doubly bothered. Seth and I both struggle with similar issues, but we don't take our issues out on others like that or use them as excuses not to take responsibility for any poor choices we do make. Ever. 

Now neither of us told David or Terri off before disappearing from their lives. We just quietly unfriended and blocked, the better to avoid drama, because David at the very least is the type of person that can't not make a big fuss about such things. But the fallout as far as mutual friends go was still pretty much what you'd expect it to be. David has built himself a pretty cozy echo chamber full of nothing but fellow victims and card-carrying yes men, so it didn't take long for people to start telling him and Terri everything they wanted to hear -- that we weren't "real" friends, that we clearly didn't "understand" depression so our exodus really didn't matter, and all sorts of similar soothing lies.

But the thing is... we were real friends. We do understand mental illness, probably better than anyone. We are loyal, compassionate, and forthright as well. We might not be the friends you want 100% of the time, but we are the type of people that will always be the friends you need. And David lost us. He fucked up and pushed good people to their absolute limits the way he always does sooner or later. It's just a matter of time before Terri gets tired of being treated this way the way David's numerous other exes also have and walks away as a result.

For Terri's sake (and for the sake of her child that's completely stuck in the middle of all this), I hope that either David gets his shit together or she sees the light and walks away before too much real damage is done. I can't worry about that though. It's sad that I had to walk away from yet more friends when I already feel like I barely have any, but it is what it is. That's life and all that. Thank God I have the wisdom to do so instead of clinging to damaged people that have no interest in self-improvement and outmoded situations that no longer serve me.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

On Figurative Spring Cleaning


I don't know where the time goes, but it's definitely that time of year again. Lent is over with. Easter has come and gone. The weather is warming up and Seth has officially had to add tending the lawn to his rotating to-do list again because it's green and actively growing. I'm busy managing my business as my clients begin to make their usual post-tax season plans for their content needs. Collectively, we're starting to think about the warmer months and the different possibilities they bring with them.

As far as how I'm doing personally, I'm happy to report that I'm still doing an A+ job of keeping up with the workouts I promised myself I'd stay serious about way back in January. When I first started, I don't know that I expected to see much of a difference in how I looked or felt after only three months, but I've been pleasantly surprised. I've lost a few pounds for sure. I'm also feeling stronger, healthier, and just better all around. A lot of the issues I simply blamed on getting older before have even noticeably improved (i.e. less energy, lower moods, and lower sex drive) much to my great relief. I feel a lot less "old" as a result.

I've been feeling a lot more motivated in regards to other things as well. Just knowing I'm being proactive about my health and watching my physical state start to move in the right direction as a result has helped me with my depression and made me feel more optimistic about certain things. Knowing that I'll only continue to get slimmer, and healthier, and more comfortable in my own skin has found me getting excited about maybe actually "doing things" again in the near future -- going places, working on personal projects, and -- most importantly -- actually recording my life again. My thoughts, my experiences, and my adventures.

That said, it recently occurred to me that it's about time to streamline my online presence again and let go of some dead weight. Although I never thought I'd see the day at one point, I really no longer post on LiveJournal or even check in there with any consistency. When I do feel the need to share something about my life, I tend to do it on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter instead. When I want to actually flesh out some of my more complicated thoughts by journaling the old-fashioned way, I tend to come here -- to Blogger and to this particular blog. I'll probably leave my LiveJournal account open for now, as I do have a handful of decently close friends that still post there. I also very occasionally still feel the need to blog behind closed doors. 

I've backed up and unpublished my other three Blogger blogs for now though. I realized that I haven't updated any of them in well over a year (almost two in regards to a couple of them). I can't say I feel any real desire to revive them anymore either and I dislike allowing dead accounts to stay live once I know I won't ever be back. These days, when I'm in the mood to write actual informative content of any kind, I tend to want to capitalize on my efforts and sell it to third parties instead of just posting it up somewhere for other people's free consumption. Any time I feel like writing about those topics on a personal level, I can easily just do it here.

So that is where I'm at and that's where my other blogs have gone (on the off chance anyone actually cares or was wondering). I figure it will be easier to actually blog more consistently if I'm able to focus all my efforts on just one narrative. It'll be easier for those that actually do want to keep up with me to know where to go for any news as well. Stay tuned.