Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Where Have All the Brutal Women Gone?

One of the things that bled out of me after I got sick was all the rage and anger and angst. Oh sure, I get upset at things still, but I no longer get worked up into a blind rage. Whenever I start getting worked up, it hits a certain pitch and then it all bleeds out of me, like water. This is unfortunate for a lot of reasons, among them being that anger, despair, and self-hate drove a lot of my motivation. This came up a lot in my personal life, where folks told me that in order to be happy, I’d need to cut out the self-hate. At which point I said, “Well, yeah, that’s great, but… what does that leave me with?”

Not a whole lot, apparently. I find it very hard to get worked up or passionate about much of anything these days. It does come and go sometimes. My writing has finally crept back a bit, after a year-and-change book depression when GW got canceled by the prior publisher. I find a lot of pleasure in writing book 3 these days, primarily because I’ve done that thing that writers do – gave my protagonist a similar issue to tackle. She recently came back from the dead, got a whole lot of extra time… and now she’s not really sure what to do about it. 

Mortality can be like that. 

I got sick four years ago… you’d think I’d be over it by now. You’d think that’d be enough time to go through the grieving process. But I suspect there are many stages of grieving, and when you have a full life with a lot of other, immediate feed-and-clothe-and-medicate-myself things to tackle, you don’t spend a lot of time working through your “Holy crap I’m a cripple now” issues. 

I very nearly gave my protagonist a chronic illness in book 2, just to see how she’d deal with it. But as I worked through that version of the draft, I just wasn’t buying it. Not only because it felt far too Mary Sue-ish but also because, well… I enjoy writing the Nyx books because I get to write about a physically powerful and capable female protagonist. When you take away her physical power, she’s just another woman. Just as vulnerable and frail and potentially weak and fearful as any other person (not just women, but I know my aversion to making her physically weak has a lot to do with her sex. Lack of power is especially terrifying to women, and certainly to me). And, you know, that’s just not something I want to spend my time writing about. I spend a lot of time living it. Why stay up at night writing about victims?

Because that’s what it feels like sometimes. It feels like somebody took a shovel to the back of my head. Just got right on up behind me and swung before I could even turn around (of course, if I’d turned around, I’d be dead. The fact that I came so close to dying – and that dying is so much easier for me now than before – is something else I deal with).  There is nothing you can do to prepare for illness, for disability. With violent attacks, we like to feel that we have some kind of power. That if we just trained hard enough, ran fast enough, hit hard enough, that we could avoid violence. Violent attacks, at least, we can pretend we have some kind of fighting chance against. It’s why I started lifting weights. It’s why I started boxing. I wanted a body I could control. After a lifetime of hating my body, I found some peace in knowing it was very good at knocking over a 200 lb punching bag with a good right hook. There was some comfort in that. 

Getting sick was like starting all over again. Suddenly all my worst food addictions weren’t in my head at all – there were tangible, physical symptoms of my need for immediate glucose (symptoms like convulsions and eventual death). Food had been the enemy for so long, for me, and now it was both the enemy and the cure. Sugar’s too high, your body slowly rots. Sugar’s too low, you go into a coma and die. 

Better figure out the balance, lady, or you’ll die. 

It’s frustrating, and exhausting, to be so aware of your personal care. Your own mortality. I get sick of it sometimes. Sick with my own mortality. 

In that way, I’m not sure how much of my current malaise has to do with being 30 now and how much has to do with simple stress and my poor eating habits over the last year, both of which affect me much more strongly now. Some people might be able to shrug off the effect of stress and food on their health, but when you can measure its effects with a glucose monitor, it’s less easy to brush it aside. 

I should have died back in 2006. I’ve had four years of extra time to mull that over. But when I look at it some days, it just feels like Nyx out on her porch at the coast in book 3, pissing and drinking and fucking her life away. Sure, a lot of life events have happened. Good, wonderful, passionate things. 

But most days, life doesn’t feel as big and bold as it once did. It feels closed and exhausting and unimaginative. Dull-eyed. 

I know what I need to do. That’s the rub, there. My recent A1c was deplorable. My eating habits have degraded to the point of farce. I am tired all the time and when I get excited about anything at all these days, it feels very surreal. 

I would like to live a big, bold, passionate life. 

I’m just so tired all the time. 

And I know where my feeling of power and health comes from – it’s from lifting weights, and boxing, and those horrible, horrible, deplorable, teeth-gnashing 3-mile jogs I was doing on the Chicago waterfront.
I know I need those things to feel better. But I no longer have the self-hate to drive me to do them. 

Just a lot of extra time. 

A lot of fucking and drinking at the end of the world.