Saturday, August 1, 2009

Failing and succeeding

I'm failing miserably at plain ol' life at the moment. The frustration and anger that came with something very simple, something for someone else that I managed to selfishly turn into my own battle (I lost), caused me to grip so hard on to my mobile phone that it bent and snapped in my hand, little pieces of glass going into my fingers. Just tiny pieces - it sounds far more dramatic than it actually was.

Pain in the ass really. It was a good phone and was part of an upgrade package so that one failed moment is going to cost me a lot.

Somewhere very early in childhood, I convinced myself that real life was too hard for me. And I've been living to that idea ever since. I don't know where it came from, how that happened.

So I live in my head and pretty much always have.

But here's the thing that has just occurred to me today - my head is an absolute bastard. I have close to no memories of my childhood. But what I remember vividly are the nightmares. I remember nightmares as far back as when I was three years old and remember them like they are happening right now and yet no real memories at all.

My head was a dark, scary place. Not some pleasant escape. I would retreat in there and end up tormented. Why? Like some sort of battered wife syndrome?

Even now, my life on paper is pretty good. The times when I feel wrong, tormented, unable to cope, it's entirely from within. And yet that is where I spend most of my time.

Those who have read my blog for a while know that my particular interest in animation and my work is in shows for young children, usually very young children. Sweet, innocent, happy work. I love it. More than that, I'm good at it. Even right now, while I'm having a hard time with the mundane in life, I'm involved in a project that is going to absolutely rock and I'm pulling the whole thing together and doing it damn well, even if I say so myself.

I've often told myself (and others) that it's because I work for the child I once was. I still think that's true.

But where I think I may have got it wrong is here - I thought that I was creating work that the child in me loved and thrived on. And now, I'm beginning to wonder if it's actually that I am creating work that may have gone some way to repairing that child. To, in some way, balance the dark thoughts. Maybe even overpower them.

I don't know.

I do know, as far as work goes, it's a strength. It's odd that it matters little what the state of my life is like or even my psyche - if I am doing the right work (being on the creative end of a show I believe to be good for children) - I can do a really good job. I am a success. And I love it.

But, as for the rest of my life, that is where I fail. I wonder if it's possible to fix that while not losing the strength in my work? I hope so.


susan said...

Good morning Bitter. Happy Saturday.

i don't know what to say. I am wiping away tears on my nightgown.

Did something trigger this episode?

I think a lot of children come to the same realization as you did about real life. They go into fantasy life and grow up to be artists, musicians, writers, and yes, animators. Or Willie Wonka. (grin).

you aren't alone about living in your head and thinking the thoughts that come out of there are the stuff or can be the stuff of nightmares.

You are indeed probably right in healing your child by doing your great work-and i am sure you are very good at it.

I am also sure that in your personal life you are a good man, if your parents are still alive you are a good son, and if you have a wife or partner, a good partner back, and if you are a father- you are probably the coolest dad in town for making those neat drawings.

Heck, you are one of my favorite bloggers for said drawings.

All i can tell you when the black dog bites, be good to your self. These things work for me- long bubbly bath. (does that work for guys?). Trip to the book store, music store, software store, something fun and just window shop.

Treat yourself to chocolate or ice cream. Or beer. But do something nice for your inner child today.

Take care Bitter.

Bitter Animator said...

Thanks Susan,
I really appreciate the kind words. I can assure you I'm not always a good man, husband, father or son but, well, I could be worse I guess. But I try. Certainly I try to be a good father.

As for a trigger, I don't know. I don't think so. Possibly an overexposure to this -

Somebody call 911, shorty fire burning on the dance floor oh-oh.

Krystal said...

If it helps, I admire your work and way of writing. You seem like a very interesting person, and I look forward to seeing one of these projects you talk about :)

Red Pill Junkie said...

I know how you feel, brother.

When I was little, one of my favorite pastimes was to create this little house made out of pillows, cushions and stuffed animals. I would build it inside my room, between my bed and a sofa, using my blankie as the roof.

And I would sit in there. For hours. Comfortable in the knowledge that I was safe inside my little pillow fort, and that no harm would come to me.

What aches the most is that, of the few things I do remember about my childhood, most of them are painful moments; embarrasing moments; moments that left me a scar. Many times they come to haunt me, as if there was something inside my own mind who wishes to torment me.

Or maybe I'm wrong?

Carlos CastaƱeda wote in his books that the moments that torment us from our past are events in which we lose a lot of vital energy; and that in order to regain this energy —that we need in order to become free spirits— one needs to perform what he called "recapitulation". It means you would need to revive every single one of those moments to the last detail; although his explanation was esoteric in its base, my reasoning tells me it also makes sense psychologically.

As for your work, I do feel that you have taken on to yourself the mission to grant children a better childhood than the one you had. And the way I see it, there's no greater kindness that the act you make in benefit of someone you will never have the chance to meet.

I know you feel you're not the greatest of fathers/spouses/men; but I suspect that this has more to do with you judging yourself more harshly than what most people are used to. You do this with the rest of the world, its flaws and defects plainly visible to you; and you despair, as do I.

You do the same thing with yourself, because you are just.

But just remember: we're only human.

And another piece of advise (one I should also follow myself): Let each day carry its toll of trouble; focus on the moment, and don't worry about what may or may not come tomorrow.

Have peace.