Monday, September 11, 2017

You All Suck (Exhibit #12 - The Drug of Empathy)

Yes, the Overlord has been absent, but with a good excuse: he's going about his life and trying to live for today and tomorrow, but some of you can't help but rub yesterday in his face. He understands that you mean well, but it's been 16 years, already, and you can stop now.

Unless you live in a cave somewhere, you are aware that today marks the 16th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on New York and the Pentagon, and the 5th Anniversary of the Benghazi attack.

The Overlord, being a survivor of the first incident, is also well-aware of it, thank you, and the constant reminders have done little to either to erode his awareness, or made the day any easier to bear.

It's been the same for 16 years: as we approach the date the phone starts ringing.

"Are you okay?"

"How are you holding up, Buddy?"

"Do you still have any feelings from back then?"

"Tell me again, what do you remember? Where were you, what were you doing?"

"Is there anything I can do to help you?"

These folks mean well. They do not have any intention of hurting me, they wouldn't in a million years dream of doing so, nor would they intentionally want to inflict grievous mental stress or harm upon me. They care. I get it. I appreciate it.

I've also asked you to stop. Often repeatedly.

But the phone calls and the e-mails and the Facebook messages keep coming, anyway.

This is not a good day for me, and I would imagine it's not a very good day for thousands -- tens of thousands -- of other people, too. We all deal with our experiences in different ways; mine is to wish to be left alone. I don't want to talk about it. I fact, I'm sick to death of talking about it.

Some want, maybe they crave, the attention that comes with being a victim, but I don't want any attention -- especially the kind attached to such a despicable event -- and I don't wish to be seen as "a victim" (unless there's cash in it, for the Overlord may be a lot of things, but stupid ain't one of them).

Wallowing in the idea that you're "a victim" is a destructive and useless activity.

For my new audience, who may not be familiar with the story, it begins with the first plane crashing into the World Trade Center , and ends with The Overlord surviving the rain of debris from that impact, and then eventually falling deep into a pit of mental illness. Ten years later, the Overlord emerges, perhaps wiser, perhaps stronger, but in any case determined to break the depressing cycle of continuously re-living the events and submerging himself in the frigid quagmire of feelz that results from it.

But there's...people. And they can't let it go. And we're not talking about other survivors or witnesses, or people who lost family members, we're talking about people who weren't there, people who don't know what it's like.

I don't what it is; perhaps we've all been programmed by modern life to believe that we have some Cosmic Duty to become a part of something "bigger than ourselves" by any means necessary, even vicariously through association with someone who's suffered the consequences. My really good friends have gotten the message, for years now, that The Overlord does not get a call on 9/11.

I thank them for their restraint and their consideration.

It's the acquaintances and not-so-really-good friends who need a fucking beating. Because not only do they make this a yearly ritual (for some, it's the only time I hear from them all year), in recent years they've been making this pilgrimage to the Connection By Association earlier and earlier, so that the phone calls and voicemails start sounding like this:

"Hey, you know what next week is, right? How are you holding up?"

"You know that PTSD and Agoraphobia you used to have? Does it get worse at this time of year?"

"Hey, I know it's 9/11 in a few days and I won't get you until after, but, umm, give me a call. I'd like to hear the story again."

So, I'm going to make it absolutely crystal clear, for the last time:

I do not want to talk about it. Ever. I'm tired of "explaining" things; of reminiscing; of you asking questions about the sights, sounds, smells, impressions, and whatnot. I am sick to death of your hypothetical questions "If I ever found myself in that sort of situation, do you think...".
Asshole, I've watched 3,000 people die. I've watched them burn to death, leap to their deaths, or be crushed inside a collapsed building. It's not a happy memory, and frankly, I defy anyone to watch that sort of thing and emerge from it ready to give an after-dinner speech on the benefits of pre-terrorist attack survival planning.

I'm worn out with expressing my feelings on this issue. I did nothing but for 10 years, and all it got me was stagnation -- personally, professionally. Your feelings are a fucking anchor, sometimes, and the best thing to do is just cut the chain. I've cut the chain. Please stop trying to give me a new anchor.

Quite frankly, I find some of you horrendously morbid, and honestly, quite obviously emotionally needy. You call not so much to express perfunctory concern for my well-being, I think, as you do to hear the gory details, and then to swim in a pool of empathy. You WANT me to know you understand; you want me to FEEL you understand.

Guess what? You don't fucking understand. You never will. I could explain it all to you 15,000 times, and you will never, ever get it. Nor will having been regaled with the tale 15,000 times give you a sense of "connection" to the event. For fuck's sake, if I have to hear the words "I feel like I'm connected to 9/11 now" one more time, I might have to choke a bitch.

You're not connected in any way; what you really want is to be able to assert an association with the event --even if only vicariously -- so that when the conversation around the water cooler starts, you can chime in with "My friend, who was there, and survived says ...", as if you can score points against others who weren't also there.

Somehow, I get the feeling that much of it is gratuitous. This is how we're expected to behave, these days, and the thought that perhaps the person on the receiving end is just not up for it means nothing. You're determined to make that call, send that text, whatever, because some unwritten rule says you have to express empathy and sympathy 24/7/365.

I guess you're Virtue Signalling, which ought to be considered for the next Olympics, considering how prevalent it's become in recent years.

So, let's sum up:

1. I don't like to be disturbed on this day. I turn off the TV to avoid the all-day funeral-like atmosphere; I avoid the internet (I'm going to shut the computer off right after I post this) because the Conspiracy Assholes come out of the woodwork to annoy the fuck out of you; I don't answer phones, for obvious reasons.

2. This is a day of quiet isolation for me. That's my coping mechanism. Others have their own methods, but mine is solitude. You don't have to respect me, but at least respect my coping mechanism.

3. You don't know. You never will know. Unless it's happened to you, you can't know, so stop asking. If you're so keen to find out "what it's like" or "what should I do?" or "how it feels", then might I suggest a short vacation in Syria where you can experience all the terrorism you can stand?

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