Breakdowns/Breakthroughs

 

I let this make me feel bad for a little while.

A friend of mine seemed to be having some sort of psychotic break, or “social media meltdown” as I heard it referred to which, unsurprisingly, is a real thing.

Apparently some sort of traumatic or inferred-as-traumatic event caused her to begin going on a massive Twitter and Facebook rant that lasted for days, literally, without sleeping, going off much in the character of the things posted above, about “rich white people with penises”, smoking “rainbow blunts”, ranting at the CIA, Barack Obama and, perhaps most strangely of all, Judd Apatow in an attempt to have all of her political anti-male/society rants as some sort of case that she should be hired to help him explore “#FemaleComedy”.

Of course, I was fucking stupid.

This had been going on for days when I first saw it (and as far as I can tell is still going on). It seemed clear to me that this was some sort of psychotic-break, some sort of Charlie Sheen-level of lack or disregard for self-insight. What’s more, as the internet is prone to do, people were fueling her rage with re-tweets and likes and sympathetic comments. She even called out people who would try to message her or text her trying to help her or talk her down.

Which is why I thought it was a great idea to publicly write on her wall, trying to gently call her out on her behavior and tell her I was worried about her.

Dumb, I know. This whole thing was a social media rampage from which making yourself identifiable to the government by tweeting at them about your drug use was not enough to calm her down, why would I be able to?

“Well,” My pops said when I showed him over an iced coffee. “It’s always attractive to think that you’re the one person who can reach somebody.”

Truth.

I did just want to help this girl, as I wanted to help myself. She was a friend, someone who’d I gone through traumatic experiences (not her fault) with before and she supported me when I had gone through similar, mostly non-social media fueled rants based on my anger at authority figures. I also wanted to not see this anymore, the stream of information brought to my face by Twitter and Facebook by this person off-the-rails. As my friend John Beamer would tell me “I’m addicted to hating it” and I was until I finally stopped following her, stopped looking, fearing I was just playing in to whatever was hurting her.

Which this might too, for all I know. I defended her from my friends when they belittled her, because she obviously seemed like someone who was sick to me. But in posting this am I feeding into the frenzy? The obvious answer is yes. But this person has already chosen to put this out into the world and the internet. We’ll see what harm posting this will do. It’s just that I haven’t yet isolated how to feel about all this or how others do. Is this what Charlie Sheen’s friends think before they disconnect with him? Is this what I think when people tell me things about my sister? Is this the work of a crazy person who cannot be helped until she comes down, or some sort of crazed inside joke as she so frequently claims it is?

It struck me at the wrong time, anyway.

I had just been turned down by yet another lady, who had made me very excited via our obvious mutual nerdiness and the sense of excitement/electricity we felt talking to each other before an improv show. Too sweet, it would sound except it fulfilled my fears when it turned out whatever I thought wasn’t real and even asking her out to dinner was a step too far. I struggle frequently with my own sense of “creepiness” or “unattractiveness”, the sense that girls want me at a distance, fine to talk to, but any move I make is unwelcome. It’s this sense that keeps me tentative from making strong romantic moves, having confidence in myself or feeling good or hopeful when I meet someone. It’s a sense founded in my own history and one which I feel many people struggle with and find ways to overcome with booze, pot or experience.

Getting turned down for dinner was, of course, something I did appreciate since it was a clear move that told me to back off, rather than the once-upon-a-time “oh you don’t like me, six months in?” but of course, the value of that honesty (appreciated) is always tagged-on-the-end with that sense that you are unloveable.

Which is what lead me to text my ex, when I was downtown one day and wanted to get coffee. It wasn’t that I wanted to “get back together” with her, though I still miss our times together. I just wanted the sort of friendship I had often mocked among my friends who kept their exes close; the sense that even if there’s not something romantic going on, there’s still that part of you that cares deeply for the other person. That doesn’t want to see them hurt. There’s still all that knowledge and love, somewhere there. Not all the things you once shared, but something. A reminder.

I saw her and I didn’t find that. We caught up and talked a while about what our friends were doing, our families. It wasn’t a disaster and I didn’t try anything stupid. But there wasn’t that informed interest anymore, an excitement at familiar things, but no connection. I tried to make myself vulnerable, telling her about stupid things I’d done, my family, even asking her as we left if she still thought of me, thought of us, at all.

“Well, I mean. I remember you.” She said. “You are in my thoughts.”

But that wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear.

I broke down crying the next day in therapy, wondering if she’d ever loved me, if I’d ever been loved.

And then, of course, I talked to Rob who has his own complicated relationships and friendships as well.

“Of course she loved you.” Rob told me. “Anyone could see it, see how close you were. Maybe because of that, she was afraid to be close to you.”

“Don’t take this the wrong way,” Rob continued. “But maybe she thought if she made herself vulnerable to you or showed affection, you’d take it the wrong way.”

Rob was right, of course. Even if I hadn’t, it was a legitimate fear to have. A man desperate for love seeking affection in his life can run mistakenly at what’s in front of him, as I’d done so before.

“But also don’t take this the wrong way.” Rob said. “But you’re also a lot cooler now than you were then, Nick. You kinda woke up, grew up.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, towards the last two months before the breakup, whenever anyone would ask you howsit goin, you would give them a list of everything wrong in your life and then just list Eva as the only thing right. But there was so much more going on in your life than that, so many other good things.”

“It changed you after that. You started cheering up a little. It’s nice to see, frankly.”

With that, Rob provided the insight I hadn’t had in so long.

In the wake of my first meaningful relationship, I’ve felt a lot of nostalgia and longing and pressure to find that sort of happiness again, an edenic vision of something that I had lost.

But the reality is that I was so caught in remembering how I great I felt, that I missed that I really felt like shit back then.

So to Nina, who is still there on the internet, ranting for all I know, stuck in some place of disconnection from reality, this is what I say to you:

Find your friends, find the people you trust, the people with beards (if you’re me) or whoever in your life cares about you. Just check in with them, be honest.

Because it’s easy to waste your time feeling angry or sorry about things that have no relationship to reality, the truth, and the possibility of really kicking ass in this world.

That night, I wrote my first new web series episode in 5 months, full of Matt Chao beating me up on crutches, a party where I drank too much and insulted filmmakers and a conversation with Rob where he sets me straight over the internet, while talking about Shelly Long from Cheers.

Everyone enjoyed it and, even if they didn’t. the writing group happened, we drank and we talked about movies and caught up.

We went to the Odessa Diner, because Rob wanted a good grilled-cheese sandwich and I drunkenly ordered some Chicken Parmigiana that ended up being surprisingly good.

Crispy and crunchy on the outside.

Some good cheese, some good pasta, a nice waitress who tolerated the circus of a bunch of film kids coming at 11pm and gabbing drunk-loud about whatever.

I felt good about my life.

And didn’t tell anyone, anything else.

***

ODESSA DINER

Chicken Cutlet Parmigiana (w/pasta upon request)- $13.95

Avenue A bet. 7th and 8th. St, near many homeless people.

6 to Astor Pl, F to Lower East Side, 2nd Ave. L to 1st Ave.

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4 Responses to Breakdowns/Breakthroughs

  1. jenn says:

    love your writing. would like to link my blog to you once I get it back up and running. Also, if you ever need a graphic designer, let me know.

  2. TLM says:

    Thank God you had that moment with the ex! That’s exactly what I was talking about. Now you can move forward, be open to new people, and live your life.

  3. jsheaobrien says:

    I like this line: and gabbing drunk-loud about whatever.

  4. phoebe100 says:

    I’m proud of you! Don’t go back to that place. Float on top.

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