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Self-indulgent tripe

June 29, 2011 7:56 am

This will be short, because I have to go home and pee. Why do I tell you that? Because I enjoy saying things that people shouldn’t say in polite company. Because I think it’s funny. It’s funny because it’s true. And inappropriate.

Much of what I have to say is short-sighted or self-pitying or self-indulgent or exaggerated for the purposes of entertainment. This is performance. When I write blog posts, as when I write songs or poems, everything is excused on the grounds of free expression. Is this valid? Depends on whom you ask. Do I think this is valid? I’m beginning to re-examine that.

The problem is not that I am self-indulgent on my personal blog. I write and publish here because I enjoy writing and publishing. Ultimately, I won’t change what I write for anyone, although I can’t pretend to not care at all what you all think. I crave validation, sometimes more (when I’m not feeling secure), sometimes less (when I have been able to cultivate some serenity). This is human. But so are rape and murder, and neither of those are excusable either.

The problem is that I have difficulty distinguishing between the appropriate forum for performance, self-indulgence, exaggeration, drama, and fora that call for simple, genuine honesty. My relationships have suffered because of this, and so has my recovery from mental illness and addiction.

Sunday, when I delivered a mini-lead at a meeting, I was not so subtly accused of “whining” by one cantankerous old drunk. I did not intend to whine. Only to deliver my honest experience, strength, and hope, setting forth the relevant facts of my life, saying what I needed to to stay sober and “carry my message.” But I have been second guessing myself. Did I dwell too much on the negative because it made a better story? Was I dishonest with myself, convincing me that I have less positive experience, less strength and hope than I do? Drama is one thing–it’s place is on the stage (or “the stage”–or is that a vague cop out designed to extend its legitimacy into everyday life?). Telling lies to oneself so that one can lie to others, convincing oneself of one’s hopelessness and tragic fate … well, I guess it does a disservice, or something worse, to everyone involved.

The answer touted by AA is to turn outward. Navel-gazing leads to nowhere good. I’m thinking of this as I contemplate creating a daily podcast that would consist of my improvised monologues and musical selections first thing in the morning, when I am sleepy and discombobulated. Do I think I have anything useful or important to share first thing in the morning? Not really, but it sounds like an interesting experiment, and I was thinking that surprisingly good things might spring from it, as a secondary product of the process, maybe one person in a similar situation will not feel so alone, or maybe something helpful will jump unbidden out of my mouth. Or, this is just an excuse for further navel gazing.

Remember: The unexamined life is not worth living. But then again, the overly examined life can be pretty fucking pointless. What do you think?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 29, 2011 8:46 am 8:46 am

    I think that your posts here are wonderfully written, and give an insight right to your core – alcoholism, BPD, plus the man behind the diagnoses. The lover, friend, acquaintance. The writer too.

    Is it self-indulgent? In the most literal, non-perjorative interpretation of the term, I suppose so. But seriously, what kind of personal blog isn’t? That’s exactly what they are intended for, in my view. In terms specifically of mental health and trauma, that indulgence of the self can also be cathartic, especially when you garner support from the medium. I hope you do get at least some support here. I don’t comment that often, but I read every post.

    In short, my view is to keep doing exactly what you’re doing, until such times as you no longer wish to. I think this blog is great as it is 🙂

  2. June 30, 2011 6:00 am 6:00 am

    Just do what feels right. Express yourself in any manner that conveys how you are feeling. 🙂

  3. July 2, 2011 4:12 pm 4:12 pm

    I’m not going to say that it sounds like you’re at a turning point because that will probably freak you out and make you want to turn right back – that’s what it does to me at least.
    Besides, it’s probably not true.
    But it’s interesting what you see when look at things from a different perspective, it adds some stereo to your vision.

  4. July 16, 2011 9:05 am 9:05 am

    Thank you all tremendously for your support and kind words. It’s really validating and I appreciate it all greatly, and I feel the same about you all & your writing, although I don’t visit as much as I should/want to.

    And, Lo, I’m choosing not to believe in turning points at the moment. I think they are narrative structures imposed upon the fairly picaresque sequence of events that constitute our lives. But as much as I’ve thought & said about storytelling as a mode of organizing and even steering (most of the time in a blackout, not knowing what we’re doing or where we’re going) our lives, “turning points” may as well be real. Or maybe they really really are real, and I just don’t want to accept the responsibility they imply. Nihilism is very comforting, in its own way. I shall have to contemplate. Let you know if I come up with anything.

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