“I’m just scared to let that part of me go, you know?” I said.
I could have been talking to anyone for all it mattered.
Because for years, I’d been holding onto what was essentially an angry, selfish, insecure and deluded mess of a personality.
That was who people more often saw in my writing than not.
Not the joyful, confident, selfless and totally put together person who I often put forward in my day-to-day.
(And if you can figure out which one I’m pretending to be, then kudos to you.)
Everything that was under the surface.
Insecurity, anger, depression, anxiety just lying awake, right under the thin veil of humanity that masked it all.
I started to get emotional when I thought about letting it all go — what would that even look like?
Would I hide everything?
Would I delete it?
Would I just stop writing all together?
And then I began to cry.
It was an identity that I had erected over the past three or so years — writing every day.
Millions of page views, thousands of email subscribers and dozens — if not hundreds — of angry emails later.
Just spewing anger and insecurity and rage, onto the paper and out into the vestibules of the Internet.
And I had grown fond of that — when you create a personality, even if it isn’t an accurate reflection of you, it grows on you like a Siamese twin.
Or, in some cases, a cancer.
And now I was considering cutting it off.
So as I toggled my cursor over the delete button on another post on Medium, I wondered what life and existence might look like following that proverbial death.
Just fucking delete it! I thought.
The old me, creeping in one last time.
Sometimes it takes just one person, face-to-face, to tell you that you’re an asshole for it to finally click.
You are making yourself very difficult to employ, he suggested.
Whatever, I thought. I won’t ever need a job!
(Joke will be on nobody but me if and when that time comes!)
You’re putting future business partnerships at risk.
Hmm, good point, I shrugged and I looked down into my watery coffee.
And you’re making it increasingly complicated for new women to enter your life.
Most of the women you’re attracted to, they have options.
And I could just feel the panic button hit red-alert, then.
Oh fuck! Oh fuck! Oh fuck! I thought.
And I wanted to attribute all of my recent failings or mishaps or so on to everything that I’d written, even though that was probably only partially true.
Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!
Just red-alarms, bells and all sorts of other maniacal shit, going off in my head.
And then I started to reflect back on some of the stuff I’d written about:
- That I still (often) thought about my ex-girlfriend.
- That I recently had blood in my stool.
- A story about a family-member being groped.
- My uncle’s funeral, and my selfish and complicated emotions during and after the procession.
- Awkward and sometimes damaging sexual experiences I’d gone through as a child.
And so on.
FUCK! FUCK! OH! FUCK! I thought.
“Well, at least I got it all out, you know?” I said.
Both of us laughed but there was an uncomfortable tension just hanging in the air.
The death of the old you.
Edging out into the passenger cabin, she says, “Today is just the first time you’ve crossed this particular line.” Leaving me naked and alone, she says, “Don’t forget to lock the door behind me.” Then she laughs and says, “That’s if you want it locked anymore.” — Choke, Chuck Palahniuk
I’m having a tough time letting this one go.
If you navigate to my website, you’ll notice that a lot of my old writing is just gone.
Poof! into the ether.
That’s not a mistake — I’ve hidden a lot of it from the public’s eyes.
The same thing with a lot of my content on Quora and Medium — poof!
It’s been an extremely complicated process for me — part of me wants to keep everything online because I feel that those things accurately reflect how I feel and how I’ve felt.
But I don’t think they accurately portray just what I’ve learned from those experiences — how I’ve learned to move on or what’s changed or that I haven’t remained this angry, awful individual.
That I’m much happier now — that I have as clear a direction as anybody could reasonably hope for in life.
(Which is to say, just enough.)
That, even in spite of the fact that I haven’t found love in my personal life, necessarily, I’m not necessarily resentful for that.
I’m making peace with it.
I think if you’d read anything in the past few months you would have sensed a deep disturbance.
You’d assume that I’m brooding or suicidal or worse.
Certainly, at times — more often than I’d like to admit.
But my norm feels, especially these days, to be happy.
(Anxious, certainly, but also happy.)
The problem is, happy is difficult to write about.
And it’s challenging to relate to — so I always focused on the shit.
Because anger and hate are addicting, like carbs.
It’s easy to get people to care about something when that something is fueled by rage.
People gobble that shit up.
So, over the next month or so, I won’t be writing and sharing anything publicly.
I’m taking it off.
Time to reflect and really identify just what I want to get out of writing.
And really, I want to continue to share things — I plan on maintaining the same level of rawness in my writing.
Just less unmitigated anger — less shit.
More, aha, moments.
I think, at some point in life — probably writing, too — you recognize that all of the boxes you’d set yourself in were always arbitrary.
That you didn’t need them — that you were probably relying on them as a crutch.
Because familiar feelings will always be comforting, even if they’re negative and horrible.
Because all of those limitations you set for yourself were probably more damaging and self-destructive than you could have ever imagined.
The old you — its death is sometimes drawn out and difficult, but it’s often peaceful, too.
Quiet and without bluster.