It has been quite awhile, has it? I have been doing much better since making room to breathe and clearing myself of undue outside influences. Time alone, and with friends that give me the space I need, has enabled me to reset my baseline and stop feeding into the cycle of anxiety and overthinking. Freedom from being smothered, from having my head fluffed and fellated, from having everything done for me, from violating my personal space and trust. Perhaps on the surface these things appear to be helping me but, in fact, they create an environment of dependence where I am sheltered from any consequences for my actions and stifled from personal developments. These things do make me dependent on you. That is not healthy for anyone. I am partially at fault for perpetuating this codependency. There are no evil-doers or archvillians in my story, only flawed people doing what they think is right. A line was crossed in the most intimate and damaging of ways that cast everything in a foul light. I did my best to honour a promise, but could not. Old wounds were reopened, that I thought were healed, but were not. I am not stupid. If I were a person with no conscience or shame I would have carried on as if nothing happened. I would not deliberately close off my main support. I would not burn a bridge that might be important to my career. My mistake was trying to make amends with, and to resurrect the past. That is on me. Not establishing and enforcing better boundaries. That is on me. Boy howdy, have I learned much in the last year. But I am taking care of myself first, and if that makes me an asshole, or makes my life more difficult, then so be it. I can finally move forward.
I have finally learned to forgive so I can stop carrying this pain.
Forgive myself, and forgive others. Flawed people.
Recently I was thinking, and I realized that all of the friends most active in my life now are new bonds formed since moving here to Saint Paul. Unburdened by baggage or ghostly incarnations of me, they are also the healthiest, most positive, reciprocal, and egalitarian relationships I have ever had. They treat me like a regular person; not a special snowflake, or a fire-breathing demon. And I believe I have been a net benefit to their lives as well. I no longer feel lonely, and have had a tremendous lifting of my spirit — along with a sense of contentment and peace like I have never known. The phrase, “The ones that broke you can’t be the ones to fix you,” remains with me as I re-examine my ill-fated desire to right the past. I did not know how to forgive or to let things go. That is on me. And with this fulfillment I have found, yes, my drive to work myself to the bone has softened. My artwork is no longer the be-and-end-all of my existence. You know what I find more rewarding than drawing comics? Holding my friend’s kid’s hand and walking him to the restrooms at the movie theatre, or buying him a snack. Watching him jump around while he excitedly babbles at me about Minecraft. Yes — I have lofty goals — but I am not going to sacrifice real life for them. I am not satisfied with my output over the past year. But I also rebuilt my entire life, and work an exhausting full-time day job with a commute so I do not starve. I will get there when I get there.
But you rest assured, I will fucking get there.
I am happy to advance my careers when and how is right for me. I am happy for my real friends. I am happy with my day job. I am happy with my home. I have a small potbelly and stretch marks, but I am happy in my own skin. I am only concerned with the opinions of the people I love. I am happy.
I found myself mutually swept away in another brief, but intense relationship, of which the romantic portion ended quite amicably. While incredibly painful, it was also a transformative experience, helping me to heal and work through many deep-rooted issues and come out better for it. It is the closest thing I have ever experienced to what one might call a soulmate connection. Mutual bluntness combined with no defensiveness or pretensions, along with innate ability to see through each other and communicate well, created a foundation to learn what we each needed and wanted. He made me feel accepted, safe, and loved like I have never known as an adult. He made me unafraid to love and to trust men again. He made me unafraid to be myself. I will not profess to speak for him, but I believe he experienced growth and a new perspective as well. I am grateful for every second with him and hope we remain friends always. We will walk the path that is best for each of us, in friendship.
There is no room left in my heart for anger, bitterness, guilt, jealousy, regret, or shame — from myself, or from anyone else. If you have a problem because I am attractive or unattractive, that is on you. If you have a problem with my makeup or how I choose to manipulate my own image, that is on you. If you have a problem because I enjoy dancing and singing, that is on you. Believe the worst about me — one-sided stories and lies, if that is what you need to do. Throw stones and curse me from up on your crosses and high horses, if that is what you need to do. I have only ever spoken the truth as I perceived it. I am genuinely remorseful for those that have been hurt along my journey, but I refuse to apologize for caring about someone, for being imperfect like everyone, for speaking my mind, or for challenging someone to improve. I am beginning this new year in a healthier place mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually than I have ever been. Any noise you make attempting to drag me down will fall upon deaf ears. Go pound your fists upon the sand. I will be here, same as always, chugging along at my speed, refusing to give up.
Life is more than awards, comic books, conventions, or the Internet. One day Sol will become a red giant, and reduce everything humanity has ever known to ashes. If you choose to waste your precious, fleeting time on this planet gossiping about what Jin Wicked has done wrong now, that is on you.
I will be here, same as always, refusing to give up.