March 29
Over the years I've discovered that inspiration is very much like being struck by lightning. The wonderful thing ... is that it strikes again, and again, and again.


JULY 29, 2009 7:00PM

Man Stuff

Rate: 12 Flag

New Man

I am supposed to be stronger than this. 

If my father saw me now he would once again have to suppress thoughts that his son was not acting like a man.  ‘Having girlie problems.’  ‘Men don’t cry,’ he said.  ‘Men deal with their problems and find a way.’  I’d listen to him talk about people as we watched the news or discussed things happening to friends and neighbors.  He liked to talk at the dinner table.  Never had a lot to say otherwise, but he had lots of opinions at dinner. 

My father loved me. He loves me still. He cared deeply for his family and his children.  He was always there, and he set a fine example.  My father was a man's man and he wanted me to be just like him. (I thought you could hit better than that’ he said.)

He was an only child and his father died when he was very young.  He had to be the man of the house for my grandmother and my great grandmother for a long time.  He knew better than to talk about things like feelings and sadness. That was weakness. Men didn’t share things like that.  Men deal with their problems and find a way.

My friend suggests that I may be suffering from depression.  This is not the first time that she has said this.   I think depression is her ‘go to’ diagnosis for her friends with problems.  Depression is her hammer and she knows just enough about depression in men to make every fucking thing look like a nail.  (What does she know anyway?)   I think she is still suffering from her own broken marriage, which is so sad because I care about her a great deal. But she was damaged… and I think she sees me as damaged.  There’s a sick kind of logic that suggests that we should be able to get together and lick each other’s wounds, but I would not want to live like that.   I just want to stop hurting.  (I expect you to be a man…’) I want to figure out what my problems really are, deal with them, and find a way.

I have a few more things to add to my list.  My list allows me to be very efficient, so that when I go out… it’s simply a matter of running all of my errands while I am out.   I will admit, however, that I don’t go out very much anymore.  I am so sick and tired of my neighbors always saying, “We don’t see you anymore.  Have you been traveling a lot lately?”  No, God-damn it!  I’ve been right here.  I just haven’t had any place to go.  I just don’t feel like it.  

But I am dealing with things. I see people. I had an old girl-friend come here to visit with me just the other day.  It was a great excuse to clean up my place.   The real surprise was that she just didn’t have the same sexual appeal that she has always had.  Maybe she’s gained a little weight or something, but I just wasn’t into her this trip.  She was a real sweetheart though and she seemed very concerned about me, but here we freakin’ go again.  (‘What are you crying about?’) Why is everybody so damn worried about me?  I’m just feeling a little sluggish lately.  I’m probably not eating like I should… but that isn’t major.  I understand me better than anybody and I will find a way. 

It’s just so damned hard.  There are times when I really don’t like the choices I’ve made or where I am right now.   I was supposed to have my project at work completed by this point.  I was supposed to be riding high and contemplating a whole new world.  That didn’t happen. (‘Get over it.’)  That’s probably my problem.  I’m just disappointed that it didn’t happen according to plan.  I can deal with that. 

There’s gotta be a way.     

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Man, this hit home. I don't know what else to say so...
When I'm feeling "down" I just write, no set topic, I just write from the gut. Its not a cure all but it does help. I hope this post was a helpful outlet.

Hugs, :)
I sat here with my mouth open. Glad I read the tags. This was so "opposite" the voice of confidence I generally expect here on your blog. Secondly, the following lines were a punch:
"He was an only child and his father died when he was very young. He had to be the man of the house for my grandmother and my great grandmother for a long time."
This was my dad from age 12 on... The problem was, or so I believed,
I was born a girl. He had no one to encourage to "pick it up and run."
This could be about me - I have been in that spot too many times, which is to say, you hit the nail on the head for realism in a character.
Very interesting observations Harp. I always know I'll get some of that when I read your posts.
You fished me in once again just because you do it so well!
"Telling my whole life with his words..."
Hi all. Thanks for going along with me on this. It truly isn't about me. I wanted to write a piece about depression and thought it would be that much more powerful in the first person. The hardest part was going forward with the graphic that I used since he just looks so completely vulnerable and much more than just physically naked in that photo. I still think it's the right photo to complete this composition.. but it feels so completely unlike me that it was hard. Thank you.
Glad I read the tags that this was not about you.
Interesting post Harp. At first I thought it was you but then I felt it wasn't. I think if you were depressed you'd go deeper, because with you there is an in your face bald honesty that this touched on but skimmed across.

I especially liked the interactions because for me that was the key, particularly how with women your character could be angry or sad or disinterested and apathetic, which is the hub of depression, that deep void or reaction that is beside the point, rather than the deeper emotion...responses that blanket the deeper profound sadness.

I liked this very much. I almost feel that here on OS, it's like a class where we support and we crit too. So I hope this comment didn't say too much or say the wrong thing because if there's one thing I'd want you to know it's that I believe you have "the gift" and that you're a dazzling writer.
great writing. you capture the ambiguity of depression. rAted!
When I hit the part that reads "why is everybody so damned worried about me," I thought how that line is like a clue to the backstory. Something fell apart for this guy & his problem is much deeper than he's letting on. He's writing about "being a man" & how the "crying" worries people, but my impression is that he's in denial of how serious his depression (or his lack of interest in anything) is -- he doesn't even want sex & tries to blame it on the girlfriend's weight, even though he's not sure she's even gained any weight. And he keeps going back to his father, to his childhood. Nice match-up to the picture. This guy is one bad break away from losing it.
This character is the epitome of what I have deemed an, "Iron Marshmallow."
This is a texturally intricate and emotionally spot-on fictionalization of depression denied.
American males are socialized to deny the very biological processes intended for emotional purging and healing. Tears contain a chemical, that when released, decreases grief and sadness. American males are shamed into suppressing their own healing tears for fear of appearing weak. They are however, encouraged to rage and threaten and beat the living s--t out of each other. Crazy society? You betcha!
I always attempted to encourage my emotionally repressed male clients by pointing out that it takes remarkable STRENGTH to allow one's self to appear WEAK.
Look how your powerful fiction tapped into MY emotions, Well done, Harp!