Friday, March 20, 2015

On the habit of overthinking

So when I was a kid, I was a messy-red-haired freckled skinny thing with a single-mom who worked nights as a bartender, who wasn't exactly the world's most empathic mom. God help her, she tried, but she was a bit on the broken side in many ways. We lived a very difficult life, and as you grow up you can say "wow, more pain for me as an author to write into the stories" but when you're a kid and the little mean girls in the school are calling you names because you catch the school bus in front of the town's gay disco (lime green, and obvious) those "write the pain" lessons don't mean much.

So bullying: yeah. I get it. And it gives you this habit of overthinking everything. I don't think you ever entirely get over being bullied as a kid because you are over sensitive as an adult, you examine every damn nuanced thing and wonder "Is this when it starts?" Because you're always expecting it to happen again. You learned those lessons, that it takes one second to go from hanging out and being friends to being punched in the arm every day. And adults either seem to not get it (perhaps because they were never bullied?) or not believe you that it's really painful. "Oh, really? She just stole your hair tie? That's not the end of the world, get over it." And I'm an adult now and I can see that-- it really wasn't the end of the world. But oh, it felt like it. And you're always waiting for that shoe to drop again. For the glint in the eye of the natural born bully to start up. And sometimes it does... adults can be just as vicious.

Sometimes, it makes you say the wrong thing. Trying to fit in, which you never really learned how to do, you will say something cruel yourself. Trust me that when that happens, the overthinker doesn't ever forget it. The person you might have said it to or about might have long-forgotten it ever happened but it is going to keep you up at night.

It sounds kind of ridiculous as I write it out. And you might be wondering what the point of this rant is, then.

Overthinking is what gives me the ability to write. To imagine how a character might be feeling in a situation like that, to wonder what the sound of a ghost in her very worst moments, trapped for eternity, might sound like. To visualize the joy of finding a friend, even then. To hear the sound as the wolves circle you, growling low in their throats, as a lion chuffs your scent over her powerful glands and smells you delicious.

So, on those nights when I'm explaining to my oh-too-sensitive daughter why sometimes you just have to push through that pain, and I know that one day, when she is older, she will be able to write like nobody's damn business, and yet as a child of a really ridiculous childhood I know that the pain she feels because a teacher once ate a popsicle in front of her without offering her a bite is nothing compared to my own being homeless and/or almost being killed and/or harmed in other ways as a child---- pain is pain. Overthinking it, over analyzing what that meant-- that's my superpower. And I'm gonna keep on keepin' on. Just fair warning to anyone who wants to push something rocky and pointed my way: you might end up in one of the stories, cleverly disguised but there. And you might just be having the worst day of your life, eternally, as the Author laughs and laughs. The last laugh, indeed.


  1. "...sometimes you just have to push through that pain..." Is there any better, or more valuable, lesson than this? I doubt it.

  2. Prolly not. That's a great lesson. And when you are on the other side of that pain, you shine like shiny diamonds. :D