Friday, October 28, 2005

Secret Origin of Cap'n Neurotic pt.8 - Beginning of the end

This is it; this is the one I've been dreading; or, more accurately, the first of several I’ve been dreading. Trust me, there’s been a lot of dread floating around out there. Re-reading my journal for this time-period you can't imagine how many times I've wished I could travel back in time and slap the #*$@# out of my younger self; please try not to think less of me as you read the next few entries in my Secret Origin.

Thanks to my journal for Honors Comp. II, I can pinpoint the exact date that everything went to Hades in a hand basket: February 8, 1995. Things weren't exactly perfect before that; there's one entry from several days earlier chronicling friction between G'ovich and myself; it was apparently the beginning of the psychological torture phase of our friendship, where everything I said was contradicted or shot down by him in a way that made me feel like the dumbest man alive. But it was the events of Feb. 8 that proved that all of the progress that I had made in the previous year was only held together by spit and scotch tape; the least push was enough to bring it crashing down around my ears.

The incident revolved around the preponderance of couples in my group of friends; by this point Clans G'ovich, Stoneheart, and Flunky were all headed down the path that would lead to wedded bliss. I didn't begrudge them their couple status, but I had started to feel that I was being edged out of everything due to my single status; I was suddenly not only a third wheel in my friendship with the Doc and St. Flunky, but also a third, fifth, or seventh wheel, depending on how many of the couples were around. On this particular day I was sitting in the Parker Living Room with the G'ovichs and Stonehearts when I noticed the Doc lean down and whisper something to Rocket, who then called Pooh over and said something to her; Pooh in turn walked over to Zinger, whispered something to him, and then all four of them disappeared. Such a small thing, but as I sat there, suddenly alone without even a word of goodbye from any of them, the thought manifested itself: I'd just been ditched. Even then I knew how ridiculous it was to let it bother me, but that voice in my head wouldn't stop; I headed up to my room to do some reading, but couldn't focus; I would head downstairs every so often to see if someone had reappeared, but the Living Room was deserted. Until, that is, right after curfew, the magical time when members of the opposite sex were no longer allowed on the 2nd-5th floors, at which point I ventured downstairs and saw several couples sitting around the tables. My inner voice of doom did a silent cheer at being proven right; they were obviously all avoiding me until forced out of their rooms by the curfew.

Yes, I know how insane that sounds; believe me I wish more than anything that I hadn't been capable of such thoughts. But the sad truth is, I was; the situation wasn't helped by St. Flunky being the only one to say hi when I came in, adding to my feeling of being unwanted. I sat down, and stared into space vacantly, trying to quiet the gloating paranoia in my head, so I'm sure my demeanor wasn't conducive to others trying to talk to me, not that that fact could have registered to me at the time. Gradually, everyone ventured off to bed, until it was only Doc, Rocket, and me; it may as well have just been Doc and Rocket, since they weren't really acknowledging my existence. I sat there for a while, in my patented passive aggressive manner, before finally deciding I should just head upstairs. As I got up and headed towards the elevators, The Doc finally spoke: "Todd, are you going to bed?"

Now, in a perfect world, I would have replied in a civil tone; in a perfect world, I might have even rethought my decision to go upstairs and lied through my teeth, saying I was just heading to the water fountain, and then come back and tried to strike up a conversation instead of just sitting there like a lump, waiting to be noticed; in a perfect world, I might have done a lot of things differently.

But, this is far from a perfect world, and I was far, far, far from a perfect person; instead, that voice inside my head was screaming at me: "Disposable friend! Only good when nobody else is around! They'll drop you like a hot potato as soon as someone else shows up!" And so, brainwashed by my own doubts and insecurities, my only response was to reply in a very regrettable tone "Why not?" and slink up to my bedroom. Of course, as soon as I got to my room I was overwhelmed with remorse and guilt at how I had responded, and wanted to rush back downstairs before they left to try and explain myself; but how could I? How in the world could I explain how such a simple series of events had reduced me to a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown? Y'know, I shouldn't even say "man"; I was still a boy at that point. A scared, nervous boy who had thought he had finally found a place where he belonged, and now was convinced that it was all slipping away from him. And the more I tried to grab onto these things, the more I tried to analyze my actions and see what I was doing to drive everyone away, the more self-conscious and defensive I became.

In the long run, that evening wouldn't be much more than a single drop in the ocean of my neurosis; if it wasn't for my journal, I don't think I would have been able to place exactly where in the grand scheme of things the event occurred. In my mind, it's just one of a series of slights, real or imagined, that contributed to my downward spiral; it's only by viewing its description in context of its surroundings that I can see that it was the first in a series of escalating freak-outs on my part. The Outsider Complex had returned with a vengeance.

As I was reading through the journal, I found myself constantly wanting to scream in frustration at my younger, idiotic self. Every neurotic entry ends the same way: "If this happens again, I'll have to talk to so-and-so, and let them know how much such-and-such bothers me." But of course, I never did; or, rather, I would occasionally talk to somebody, but I would never reveal the true extent of my inner turmoil; every entry about my discussing a problem with G'ovich or St. Flunky would include something along the lines of, "but I didn't tell him how much it had really bothered me, or for how long; he doesn't really need to know just how messed up I am." Always scared to let down the guard, always worried what they might think, always doing exactly what I promised myself I’d never do again. Makes me want to puke.

Once again, despite my rampant paranoia, things were not all bad that semester; there were many good times as well, with most of my delusions meeting some sort of resolution of one sort or another, and by the end of the school year I had somehow managed to not totally alienate everyone and wound up renting a house with St. Flunky, Dr. G'ovich, Wrath teh Berzerkr, and The Old Man. I don't recall exactly how that all came about; I do remember G'ovich being a little put out at one point because he felt like he wasn't being fully included in the process, which I found highly ironic at the time.. So, I moved into the house with my four friends, never thinking that there's a world of difference between living in the same dorm with someone and living in a house with them. More fool I.

I think the worst part about all of this is realizing just how much that journal helped me sort my thoughts out that semester; if not for it, the self-destructive behavior might have taken over much earlier. But after moving into the house, I was too distracted by a new job and new classes and new paranoia to keep up the journaling process. If only I had kept the journal out to remind myself of all of the resolutions I had made to change my behavior; if only I had used it as a guide to reinforce my positive thoughts and not my negative ones; if only I had memorized those sections where I recorded conversations with St. Flunky where he persuaded me that I didn't have anything to prove to him or anybody, or the conversation I had with G'ovich where he told me that he counted me among his real friends; if only, if only, if only. Regrets are worthless, dwelling on them even more so. And yet . . . do you know how much it hurt to read that last thing? To know that I had there, in black and white, confirmation that once upon a time G'ovich considered me a real friend, and yet I allowed all of my issues to wreck it; to wreck it so badly that about five years later during a Parkerite gathering we were located in the same house for roughly 3 or 4 hours and only words exchanged between us were “hello”; how messed up is that?

Of course, even trying to remind myself of our former bond probably wouldn’t have made that much of a difference; the issue wasn't so much that I thought we were never really friends; no, it was much more insidious and hard to dispel than that.

2 comments:

Flunky lover said...

I've been waiting in anticipation to see what you would write about me. How I stole Flunky's time or perhaps something even worse. Although now that I think about it, you and I have had very little interaction with each other although spending a significant amount of time together. I'm not sure why that is but I'll give it some thought.

Cap'n Neurotic said...

Y'know, while reading through my journal I actually came across the record of a couple of interesting conversations that we had had that last semester in the dorm, but I agree, overall, despite being around each other a lot, we sure didn't interact much. It was kind of the same with Rocket and me; of course, in her case, our lack of interaction led apparently quite a few people to think that I hated her guts, a fact that shocked me when I first heard it, and caused me great amusement years later when I realized that I could carry on long conversations with her with no problem, but was managing little more than "hey" or "later" when talking to the Doc.