Tuesday, October 10, 2006

i hate everyone

I can't quite stand films about shiny people -- for me, Meg Ryan personifies shiny -- who go through predictable, narratively simple life struggles that end in happy resolutions.

So of course, I loved Little Miss Sunshine.

I saw Little Miss Sunshine a couple of weeks ago, and the film satisfied me in deep ways. It was funny, sad, well-written, well acted -- I could go on and on. Most importantly, films about broken people who find hope make up my favorite genre. And when I say broken, I don't mean broken, like a horse is broken -- I mean people with visible fissures, messy people, people who don't have "it" together, whatever "it" is. I mean, of course, people like me, who couldn't pull "it" off even if I wanted to. Okay, I do want to, sometimes. Perhaps I could handle a little less of the delightful process of self-growth, the endless breaking down and building up of spirit and personality.

If you haven't seen the film, you can get the plot summary here, but essentially, the film is about the Hoover's, one of "the most endearingly fractured families in recent cinema history." And one of the characters is Dwayne, a Nietzsche lovin' teenager who has taken a vow of silence. He occasionally uses language by writing sparse words on a notepad. At a point in the film, he writes I HATE EVERYONE. When his Uncle Frank asks, "even your family?"Dwayne underlines EVERYONE twice.

Now, I do not hate everyone. I do not, especially, hate my family. But the sentiment connected with me in some way -- enough that I searched for a movie poster online, enough that I printed a copy and hung it up in my home office.

I'm not exactly sure why I'm drawn to the sentiment of "I HATE EVERYONE," but I’m beginning to wonder if morose is some essential part of my personality, if I’m kidding myself that I can become an integrated, spiritual person with joy in my (god damn) heart. If so, I certainly haven’t honored morose over these many years of my life. (I just looked up morose, to check and make sure it was the word I’m searching for, and it does work – “having a sullen or gloomy disposition".) Is it possible, that while fighting depression for more than a decade, I’ve demonized my sullen and gloomy side?

And how have I compensated for that demonization? I married a really angry person who did hate everyone. G. has a cute saying -- the difference between you and me is that you like people and I don’t. I found it charming. I was also pleased that someone who so evidently didn’t like people was in love with me. It made me feel special. Let’s not delve into that too deeply, shall we?

Since I wisely left that relationship, I’ve found other angry people to admire (and a kind, loving, and witty L. to date). My new credo: watch the angry people on television, but don’t date them. I’m drawn to really bitter comedians like Lewis Black, for example. To the understated expression of disbelief and outrage of The Daily Show. And of course, I adore Southpark – in whose anger, biting wit, satire, and refusal to hold back about anything I find a deep, satisfying release.

More times than I can count, when people have learned that I struggle with depression, I’ve been met with flat-out disbelief – occasionally shifting to an out-right refusal to believe me. “You’re so cheerful, so outgoing, etc. etc.” I still remember what a rather bitter goth chick wrote in my senior high yearbook – essentially, “you continue to smile as the world falls down around you.” Obviously, it was not a compliment. And even then, I sighed at the enormous gap between my public self and how I felt inside.

My hopeful, cheerful, outgoing self is real. I don’t feel like I’m “faking it.” But clearly, some part of that identity is an overcompensation for my depression. And I think my tendency towards depression has made me overly wary of my morose self. It’s scary to experience negative feelings when I don’t know if I’m having a genuine feeling or if the scales are tipping towards weeks or months when I struggle to get out of bed (note: “morning” and “morose” are in the same column in the dictionary).

And let’s face it, I want everyone to like me. Mostly everyone. I’m no saint – I do sarcasm pretty well. But I’m afraid a lot. My depression makes me vulnerable. I could (and do) screw up at any time. So I better dance, dance, dance while the going is good.

I do like people, especially people who are broken and not afraid to show it. Liking people makes it hard for me to be political on a large scale – I do better with relationships, dialogue, microcosm stuff.

I think mostly, I’m tired. I’m so tired I could weep. Taking a vow of silence sounds good to me. Alas, I am a professional extrovert.

It’s my 36th birthday this week, and I’m singularly unexcited. More trying, more trying, more trying. I know I’m not alone in being tired. I know I’m not alone in wanting peace. I know my mental illness doesn’t make me special, that suffering is perhaps the most egalitarian state of being.

Maybe I just want to hang out in morose for a while. Maybe I just want to know what morose would be like in public. What would happen if I let go of being so damn happy? What if I didn’t shove down anger, if I called people on their shit more often? What if I didn’t go so far as to hate everyone, but tried hating a few people, and what if (and this is a revolutionary thought) I went ahead experienced what it's like for a few people to hate me?

If you hate me and you are reading this, send me an email. I promise not to try to convince you to like me. Ok, I promise I’ll try not to try to convince you to like me.


Anonymous said...

Again, so much you said feels so familiar.
But in spite of the recent autumnal equinox, brighter days seem to be ahead for me and, I hope, for you.
Nice dichotomy too - from I Love My Family to i hate everyone.

Anonymous said...

I HATE meg ryan too, so you're OK in my book.