From this vaguely unsettling youtube video

I Write Because It Beats Drinking

Emma Lindsay
Sep 4, 2016 · 7 min read

I have had a pretty terrible week. A waking up in the middle of the night with panic attacks, crying for hours at a time kind of terrible week. I’ve gone out drinking with my friends multiple nights (which is rare for me — sort of breaks the zen precepts and all that.) I can’t tell you why it’s a terrible week, but it’s for external circumstances (i.e. I’m not having an episode of depression) and everyone I tell about my external circumstances is all like “wow, that’s really terrible.”

It’s one of those weeks that just like, happens sometimes. Over the course of your life, some of the weeks you have are just going to suck. And, there’s nothing really to be done about it except to get through them the best you can.

I don’t have a job right now, so I have like zero money, but that’s really not stressing me out as much as it should be. What’s stressing me out more is that I’m going to have to go back into tech. One of my late night panic attacks was about working with tech bros again. I don’t think I can do it.

Something I haven’t explicitly written about with my sexual assault is that it happened when I was getting drunk with an ex-coworker. In fact, I have been on the receiving end of a lot of weird behavior, which is why I couldn’t even identify my sexual assault when it happened. It is so normal for men to hit on me, awkwardly, past the point of rejection that a real assault didn’t register as anything new.

I just wrote a whole thing detailing how tech culture was toxic, and how it played into my assault, but I cut it from this piece. Maybe I’ll write about it one day. I guess I probably should, but I’m afraid it would make me less employable. I’m afraid the people who I want to be hiring me will be angry at me for explaining how the things they like hurt me. I’m afraid that nerdy dudes will victim blame me, and I don’t have the energy for that right now.

And it’s not what this piece is about anyway.

This piece is about me writing a lot because I’m having a really bad week. Writing has always been a coping mechanism of mine. I started keeping a diary when I was like, 6 or 10 or something and I produced volumes of hand written books back in my parents house. As I got older, and blogging became a thing I started blogging instead. Blogging had some downsides, mostly that occasionally I’d find out about someone who’d gotten a little bit obsessed about me. Consequently, I’d occasionally change my blog with no notice to shake out the randos. “Ugh, I can never keep up with your blogs!” my friends would complain. Yeah. That was the point.

It’s also why I don’t post videos any more (for a while, I had a youtube channel.) A little while ago, I posted a video of myself crying which I had sort of hoped would be like, all emotionally honest and shit. I figured that I could endure any sort of ridicule that came my way, but what I couldn’t endure was loads of strange men messaging me telling me what a beautiful, strong person I was. I took it down. I think sometimes, men are attracted to my emotionality because that’s what they repress in themselves but like — it’s not healthy for me to be with emotionally disengaged men. In fact, it’s very, very bad for me.

But anyway, one weird thing that happens, is when I’m writing more to cope with the terribleness that is my life, it’s more likely that one of my pieces is going to viral. Which actually happened this shitty week. So now, I got old friends and whatnot messaging me being like “Wow, I saw someone you didn’t even know posting about your piece! Congratulations!” and I don’t really know what to say, because my primary thought is “I hate my life right now.”

I mean, it’s nice in a way. I always like hearing from friends, even if it might take me a while to respond to some of them. But… having a lot of people read my post isn’t much more satisfying than having a few people read and really connect with it.

When I lived in the woods, I used to go for long walks by myself to think. I would always have this fantasy that one day, someone would walk with me, and all the thoughts I was having, I could share with them.

“Being seen” my therapist said, “that’s very important to you. It comes up a lot.”

Unfortunately, most of the time when I date someone, I feel like when they look at me they’re really looking at themselves. How pretty is Emma, how successful is she? How smart is she? What does it mean that someone like her is attracted to me? The reason my partners want me to be pretty, is that this somehow confirms to them their own self worth. When they take an interest in me, they are really taking an interest in themselves.

This is not true of my friends. Because we don’t derive our identity from our friendships the same way we do from our partnerships, when my friends are curious about me, they’re really curious. This is why I am able to have friendships that are very intimate over the long term; my friends are able to give me what I need to feel loved. And, I hope I am able to give each of them what they need to feel loved too. I do try. And, I really try to get to know people so I can find the unique thing for them that helps them feel loved.

For me, though, I feel loved when someone shines an intense, and somewhat rational, focus on me. I’ve never gotten a crush on a therapist, but I have gotten weird crushes on my lawyer, and once, an editor I hadn’t even met. In both cases, as part of their job, they had to consider what I was saying very deeply and calculatingly and like, really consider what I was going through before responding to it.

Anyway, I’ve never felt that from a partner, which is why I’ve burned through, like, 7 of them by now. I asked one of my exes why she never asked me questions about myself, and she said “I don’t know. It’s not really how I interact with people.” Which was fair. She needed a lot of physical affection in order to feel loved, and will make a wonderful partner for someone similarly matched. Unfortunately, that person is not me.

On some level, the reason I blog, is part of me is emotionally seeking that type of recognition. Part of me is always kind of seeking a connection with someone who is… genuinely curious about me. But that connection is not going to come from my blog. When people read what I wrote, they don’t see me. They see themselves, and that’s fine. That’s more than fine, actually, it’s how it should be. No one who hasn’t met me in person could ever really know me from reading my blog. However, I can feel that the deeper emotional drive that pushes me to write isn’t what gets met when I get read.

Which, I dunno, maybe is good. I hear writers who really want to get their work read by a lot of people often get writers block and stuff which like, has never really been a problem for me. I mean, I guess if it was, I’d just stop writing. However, I usually have the opposite problem; I’m actually kind of embarrassed about how prolific I am. I often don’t publish things, or just write on my computer, because I’m worried people would I think I was weird if they knew how much I wrote. I told one of my friends when we were getting mani-pedis that I wanted to write a book. “You and every other woman in her 30s” he said, like the sassy queer he is.

And I was like “Well, I don’t really care about completing a book. I just want a place to put all this writing energy I have.” I don’t really care about writing “good” blog posts, which is why I have so many typos and shit. But, I do like it when people read what I write, even if it’s not why I write. It helps me feel important, which is maybe narcissistic, but also nice because I usually feel pretty unimportant. I can’t read every response I get, but sometimes I do read a response where someone went through something similar, and I feel less alone. This was a big thing for me when I wrote my sexual assault piece, just seeing how many other people had been through the same thing really opened my eyes. And, probably changed my life, to be honest. Really changed how I thought about the world anyway.

But there’s always a disconnect. A disconnect between the person I am, and the person people read about. A disconnect between who my readers are, and what I will ever know about them. A disconnect between the writing I like the most, and the writing other people seem to like the most. And I guess that’s all fine.

It’s just… none of that makes my week any less crappy.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/protectingthecrushed/ — Twitter: https://twitter.com/SassyDotLove

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