So let's do this!
In a text to my wonderful girlfriend today, I said something to the effect of "it's like a cloud of lousy has been hanging over this whole week."
And it's the truth, we've both felt that way about our respective work weeks. But that also makes me smile when I reflect on just how much higher the floor is for "lousy" than it used to be in my life.
Looking at the calendar, today (May 26th, but my typing carried over into the 27th) is actually the 9 month anniversary of my divorce being court official. It's like Facebook official, only much legal-er! We were "only" married 5 years, together for 7 and change, but it was still the worst thing I've ever been through in my life. Even when you know it's the right thing to do, there's still a really heavy emotional soup to swim through. I didn't want to come out of it resentful...but I ultimately came out of it resentful. Though even resentful has a new definition - I don't wish her good, or bad. I just have no wish. Why is this you ask? The money, the house, her...meh, I can easily move forward from those. The only lasting wound - I got cut off from my three dogs. After she said she'd never do that. That's a microcosm of the relationship - a lot of talk, little execution. Reminds me of my father.
There's a lasting image in my mind from July 19, 2021, which was the day I moved the rest of my stuff out of the old house and into my new one (I love my new house btw). I had stopped back over to feed the dogs on my way out of town for work, and as I was about leave out, my Siberian husky, my baby girl, flopped down in front of the front door and raised a back leg in her standard "pet my belly" posture. I'd left the house plenty of times before, and she had NEVER done that. It was like she knew I was leaving for good and was saying "Don't go!". No shame, I cried for half the drive to Minneapolis. It's a 6 hour drive btw. Have not seen baby girl or the two boys since that day. And I asked multiple times.
One of the things a person learns quickly in codependence recovery - a codependent is drawn to what's familiar, even if it sucks. My ex-wife was very insecure and frequently nagged me about petty stuff, much like my mother. And as mentioned before, she promised, or ranted, or threatened, to do this that or the other, and never did. Much like my father. But... recovery! Why didn't I see this? Because we got together in 2013, and my recovery journey didn't start until a year later. By that time, I probably felt somewhat pot committed, but more relevant, I wasn't immediately ready to acknowledge that people in my life were hurting me just as much as I had hurt them. There were probably about 720 distinct invitations to break up. But my mindset at the time was that I could work on myself and lead by example. It clearly didn't work. But that's OK. I understand why I thought I could do it by myself at that time.
So yes, I make for a good study in a psychology journal, but what does this all have to do with comics? Well, if anyone has seen my recent sales threads, you're aware that I've started to lose my passion for collecting while maintaining a strong passion for the hobby. Somewhat oxymoronic, yes, but I can honestly say I still can't wait for a show once I commit to attending. And flipping through the raw back issue boxes is still a blast. But buying the plastic off the wall, then storing it in the comic closet, next to the readers I never read...can't I do something better with that money?
The simple answer is yes. In the past 6 months, I've been on five vacations. In the past 5 years prior to November 2021, I'd been on one. And I have had infinitely more fun. Seriously, no scale can capture the level of fun of these past 6 months in comparison to the prior 60 months. And a big part of that fun - the people. I've been surrounded by great people, and great settings, at every turn. I can finally be me to the fullest, not constantly tiptoeing around someone else's multitude of triggers.
Focus Matt, comics. Yes, comics. The overarching point - my collecting went back into overdrive in January of 2013. Not coincidentally, that was right around the time that I went through a really bad break-up, which rolled into several really dull dates, then led to hurting a really wonderful woman because I was a total mess of a human, and ultimately led to the relationship with my ex-wife. And from January 2013 to January 2021, my collecting was always rotating between spots 1-3 of my favored escapes. Hell, let's just call it my list of priorities. Collecting was a big help in keeping me distracted from the harshness of a reality I wouldn't acknowledge - the relationship wasn't working.
So, when the fact of divorce finally became real in the throes of last year's winter, I started to realize that I had a bunch of...stuff...accumulated. Some valuable stuff, sure, but still stuff. And I had to ask myself, "what is all this stuff really doing for me?" I started downsizing. The initial stuff was easy, save for maybe the JIM 85. But that's only because it hasn't stopped appreciating in value haha. Yet I still trucked a good amount of it to my new house, and I sort of started accumulating again. I didn't think I needed the distraction, but looking back, maybe I still did a little. I was on my own (for the first time ever!), and comprehensively, the happiest and healthiest I'd been in quite some time. Which only accelerated after I adopted my new husky.
But there was a lack of people in my life. I bonded quickly with one set of my new neighbors, but I had lost most of my rolodex of friends in the course of the failed marriage (another casualty of my ex-wife's insecurities). And my own family was out of the picture (a result of my own choices, zero regrets or regerts there). Essentially, I was missing someone that I could lean on when I did need it. Two times when that fact really hit home -- night #2 in Vegas, when I was sitting alone in the Irish pub between the Luxor and Mandalay Bay, and on Christmas. Christmas has always been a bitter time for me - it was a chore with my parents, and they'd fight like clockwork. And then my ex-wife turned it into a competition. "You only got me x, and I got you x, y, and z!" It's a wonder I didn't have any Christmas nights like in Step Brothers - "You smell like scotch and cheesecake." Probably because I don't like cheesecake!
2021 was the first Christmas I was completely free. And football was on. But I was still bitter. Football on TV says, "Merry Christmas, from our family to yours." I'd respond, 'F YOU!'
So ultimately...comics! Since 2013, I had never made them a financial burden (prior to late 2007 though...), or a hoarding kind of obsession, but they have been my security blanket throughout large portions of my life. But there's no shame in that. My counselor proudly says that alcoholism saved his life by making life bearable until he got into recovery. And comics did much the same for me. They were my escape from situations that I found unbearable, until I had developed the tools to make any situation bearable.
Life isn't just bearable though anymore; someway, somehow, I'm enjoying the heck out of it. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. My passion for collecting may have lessened in the process, but I'll take that trade off any day of the week!
Leading to today, and this week's cloud of lousy. I dislike my employer. I want to leave. Everyone in the office seemingly wants to complain to me. For whatever reason, I don't want to hear it this week. And this wonderful woman in my life isn't yet here with me every day. And she's having her own work issues. And FaceTime is a meager substitute for a long, tight hug when you both really want and need it.
There was a time long ago when I would have let this turn into a never ending downward spiral (at least until some temporary fix came along).
BUT...there are still many positives at work. I'm not just going to up and quit, because that would be idiotic. And maybe other opportunities are on the horizon, we will see. But more importantly - soon, very soon, she'll be here with me. And when late December of 2022 rolls around, I fully expect that I'll probably come home one day to find her in the midst of beer number three, trying to gift wrap the cat, while our dogs look on in sheer perplexity. And I'm going to lose my damn fool mind laughing.
It's not a never ending spiral. Lousy is only temporary. Tomorrow is always a new day.
Thanks for listening