We Should Get To Know Each Other

I suppose I should introduce myself properly. M.T. is not what I’m called. It’s the one I’ve chosen to go by, solely because my real name is only about one step removed from John Smith in its ubiquity. I considered Empty, but apparently, that’s a Dick Tracy villain, so the name is taken.

At points in my life, I’ve been a malignant narcissicist, a shut-in, a sufferer of extreme depression and an alcoholic. While I’d like to think the first one is behind me, since my opinion of myself has long since deteriorated, and the second one is debatable now that I’m married, the latter two are still very much in question.

I have two step-kids, both adults. My wife is a touch older than me, but absolutely wonderful and in my eyes, one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever had the privilege to know, both physically and as a person.

We’re very much a part of the cornfield, though neither of us is what I’d call a yokel. I would refer to us as crazy cat people, as our combined accumulation of felines is larger than many extended families.

We both work in telecom, as does my stepdaughter. We’re pretty mutually fed up with it. For those who haven’t worked in telecom, consider yourself lucky. I’m not sure there’s a worse industry in which to work. Maybe janitorial. There’s fewer industries less despised. Maybe weaponry or fossil fuels, but at least there, the pay is better.

(For the record, I’d never work in either industry. I have a healthy dislike of guns and believe fossil fuels should be phased out at the first possible opportunity.)

Obviously, the hope here is to write something resonates enough to allow me to do it full time (and hopefully, allow my family some flexibility to explore other options as well).

I’ve spent a great deal of the last seven years exploring self-help books, which has moved me beyond them and back into a more spiritual realm. I’m particularly taken with Buddhism and Taoism, though I don’t ascribe to any of the religious aspects. The practical part and relevant theory is what’s important. The mythos is irrelevant.

I’m a major comic book nerd, the big two as well as more indie projects. Genre fiction (sci-fi, horror, fantasy) turns my crank, though I’m by no means opposed to more literary genres. Philosophy and psychology are also passions of mine. Opening worlds, whether that means exploring the Marvel universe or exploring some new theory of human behaviour, is my jam.

Perspective is everything. My biggest issue growing up was that I couldn’t see beyond my own nose. I’d lock onto an idea and everything that happened around it would be met with hostility or reinforced by confirmation bias, depending on the situation.

And the thing is, I’m good at finding problems and understanding how to fix things (from a psychological, structural or behavioural standpoint – my ability to perform home repairs is still a nascent work to which I’ve only begun to apply this open worlds concept). The problem was, for about twenty-three years, I refused to apply that same skill to myself. The assumption was that I was a genius of pure awesomeness; it was the world that was unfair and didn’t recognize it.

As much fluff and BS as self-help books can be, the process gave me one thing: it turned my bullshit detector inward.

And man, was it piled high. It still probably is, but I realize now that I am no genius. I am a work in progress. An imperfect creation seeking to improve.

Of course, I had to go whole hog the other way first and reach a point of feeling utterly worthless. I still regularly fight off bouts of depression in which I repeatedly remind myself that I am, in fact, the worst, and that I have wasted my life with no possibility of reclamation, and that for the things I’ve done, I deserve every tortured moment of it.

And that’s where we are now. Lowest point. Trying to apply the precepts I’ve learned about presence and focus and empathy and compassion and self-awareness and willpower to digging my way out. Does it get worse?

Who knows? Probably. The fatalist in me likes to point out how the universe hates me. The universe itself likes to send me reminders that it’s largely indifferent and could go either way.

I like to think that the closer I get to peace, to exorcising these demons inside me, that a bit of synchronicity kicks in. Karma chances to pay me back for doing things the right way, the gentle, present way, the way of connection and focus and compassion.

I see signs here and there.

Like I said, work in progress.

I like to think it will all work out in the end, but the more time I spend thinking about what may come, or dwelling on all the ways I’ve failed in the past, the farther I get from my goal – being happy here now.

So, that’s me, roughly. There’s lots more to it, and I have plenty of embarrassing takes to make yet.

Hopefully, they’ll get better over time.



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