When I Need A Pick Me Up, by my friend Ryan King

Friday, April 18, 2008


(Since I couldn't stop responding in the Comments section, I turned it into a post)

Scott don't be surprised, my friend. I have nothing to excuse myself and I didn't make a slip of the tongue, I just didn't want to think of myself as lacking the nutrient. I want to be self-sufficient, muscular, handsome, sexy, confident, funny, masculine, rich, and some other things I haven't thought of yet. I could accept going to a therapist for my own emotional upsets, but not that I might have a chemical imbalance. (I also hate that I have a pot belly that is turning into a cauldron). I could accept what I think is a weakness in someone else, but not for myself. It's wrong. I idealize too much. I acknowledge that.

But I'm relieved the rest of your response is a support to me because it means you haven't written me off for this flawed thinking. That's what I care about. You're a friend that can accept my mistakes.

It's more than possible--maybe probable--that the feeling of "expertise" in mental health has become a great deal of my identity and there wasn't room for that chink in this armor.

But I've spoken to my therapist and she gave me some references for psychiatry, so next week I'm going to see someone and hopefully start taking some meds. No matter how wrongheaded I thought about it, I'm getting what I might need in that department.

Today was my first visit to the Convention (I shall have pictures) and you know what I saw? I saw Geek Girls. Of all variety. Black ones, white ones, young ones, costumed ones, thin ones, round ones. At least two of them were friendly to me, enough to make me feel the slightest comfort and encouragement to return the friendliness. And the greatest fact was/is that we were all the same. None wearing the t-shirt, but they didn't have to. This was our element. It was implicit that I was not going to reject them for being there, and they were not going to reject me for the same. One of the girls, I had an honest in with--I had already met her at Geek Central, online. In person, I found her comely.

I won't over-dramatize my reaction to these golden opportunities. Suffice it to say that I did nothing past the "Hello" and the smile I offered. As usual. So here it is, the right type of people, and I got nothin'.

I hope others have felt the thing I'm about to describe, and comment on it please, but this is what happens...

I look up and notice it's a "she" as we brush against one another politely in the throng of people. She enunciates in the clear, clipped tone of the genius geek, "Excuse me." and I do the same. I find her few words are an iceberg tip, full of promise and possibility. I say, "Yeah, no I'm sorry," and I smile because I liked her voice, and that she's here and that she's cute. And I think of how to make this last a little longer, or how to put a bookmark in it for a later return, and then a spike of fear pulses in my chest like Barry Allen's symbol and I continue my walk. We're going in the same direction, but I know I'm done. I'm not going to say anything else. No, "Is this your 2nd NYCC?" no "Did you score any goodies?" or a whole host of normal conversational rejoinders that would not have hurt me in the slightest to say. And as the immediate crush fades and the people meander out of the clutch we found ourselves in, she walks off to nowhere and I do the same. I glance back and see that she does not. And on I go.

That pulse of fear caused me to turn around the first time I saw one of my podcaster buddies at his podcasting table in podcasting alley where at Geek Central he practically begged everyone to come by and see him. I could have just walked up and said "Hey!" the first time, but I couldn't. I turned and walked in the other direction until my heart stopped racing. Then I approached from the opposite direction. He had no idea I had hesitated. For a half an hour.

My Hero didn't come to this convention, but his two runners-up did. The heroine who stood with him at the show's conclusion was at her table in Autograph Alley and was offering big smiles to passersby. There was no line to contend with. I could have walked right up to her to say, "My Hero sends his regards!" I could have walked right up to her and said a thousand things. And she would have greeted me with the same smile, or maybe something even more familiar since last year I worked the line for her and My Hero. But I said nothing. I kept moving. My mouth was dry and my heart was doing that wonderful little staccato it likes to do.

This? This is irrationality. This is a social anxiety. I can't think of any other term for it. None of those people mean me any harm. I am in good standing with at least two of them and no doubt attractive to the third. But my heart goes, "No!" and before its finished my head goes, "Yeah, no, dude get outta there!"

And those were the people I did meet, to say nothing of the people I wanted to meet.

I did eventually manage to fight through some of that fear and actually initiate a conversation--but it was with a guy wearing a costume and I wanted to take his picture, and he let me, and then I was gone.

Scott, Ned, it is fear of rejection, apparently, but is my reaction to that fear a normal one? It doesn't feel like it. It feels like my animal self is taking over WAY out of proportion to any actual threat.

And now I'm finishing this post on a Saturday morning (started it yesterday) instead of going down to the convention on-time to meet My Friend The Doctor and his brother because I'm thinking of how miserable its going to feel to want to be somebody else all day long, instead of being able to enjoy my-fuc&ing-self for a change.

And if I hurt Tom because of my being an asshole in that original post from whence cometh this one, then I all the more wish I were somebody else, because that is SO not ever what I wanted to do. Tom, if you would post back and tell me I'm an asshole and accept my apology, that would be really great. Please.

So I'm going to take meds and see what happens. I've tried everything else (including blogging) short of alcohol and illegal substances. It can't be any worse than this.


Scott said...

Alan, I wasn't mad or offended at your reaction to the thought of taking meds, only surprised. I can understand why you would feel that way, and it's no reflection on you as a person. It's just your fear manifesting itself.

When I was single, I met a girl that worked in a Santa Cruz bank. I lived fifty miles (or so) away in Sunnyvale. I bought a new mountain bike and she saw me at the ATM and was so excited about my purchase, and the way she looked up at me I will never forget. Her eyes were... so inviting. There was a connection. It was a moment. A moment that I let pass. Later I tried to get it back. I waited outside the bank and saw her come out, so I got out of the car and walked by her. She gave me an emphatic "hi", and I pefunctorily gave her the same and kept walking. Then, like a total idiot I opened an account there and tried to talk to her, but by this time she pretended not to even remember me.

So yeah, I know what it's like. It's called chicken-shit, to put a blunt edge on it. And it's a killer. When I met my wife-to-be, all that came into play--that experience and others like it. I didn't pull any punches; I said what I felt and let the cards fall where they did. It worked out.

Chalk it all up to learning, Alan. You are human, and you are a normally functioning human. Some people are gifted with great looks and ear-bending charisma, others have to work a bit harder. Believe me, Alan, there is a girl out there for you, one that will appreciate every idosyncrasy about you that makes you feel unlovable. I have to say though, a comic book convention sounds like a great place to let your guard down.

The Neighbor said...

You sound like me in more than one way. I get too wrapped up in what I think people thin of me to actualy be present enough to have genuine interaction - it's second-order vanity - I'm vain about being perceived as vain. Anyhow, that's the joke, but5 the reality is sort of like that - too wrapped up in obeying the rules to actually play the game.

Anyhow - it is totally normal, especially if you grew up geek and expect to have a negative or jeering react5ion to your inner geek. Rejection stings, but the most important thing is that we are very rarely rejected for what we are - more often for what we are NOT. And it is almost never personal - almost never about us.

But it still sucks. Especially, imo, when they're really nice about it. What to know what I've been doing? Giving out random Better Cards to girls - no names or number on them, just the word "Better," and I smile or wink and make real eye contact - it's great fun, first, because I get a lot of fun out of flirting with them so directly, and second, because I can just imagine their WTF???? look when they try to figure out what it means, and third, they just might remember me next time I see them.

I don't have good advice, Alan, I'm still battling my cracklike need for sitemeter. One of my friends is now solidly in favor of me reinstalling it. But you only need meds if you believe they will help you, because that's the only way they work - sitting back and waiting to feel better won't do it - you have to move forward regardless, meds or no.

Alan said...

Scott and Ned, lets take it to the next post. Thank you, my friends.