How Do You Get Over a Tragedy?

Something happened to me years ago. Many years ago now; so many that most of my important adult life has happened since then.

And now here I am looking at the tragedy.

Make no mistake, it was a tragedy. A terrible and epic tragedy.  I worked and dreamed of something for twenty years. I failed and failed and failed and then suddenly succeeded. I succeeded and became famous. I became talked about and admired. My opinion was sought. My work was good. I was hot. I was good. I was important. I was good. I was cutting edge. I was good. I was a name, a brand, an idea. I had taken the step beyond simple personhood to the rarefied world I’d wanted. And it was better than I’d imagined. Far better. I was me and me was more than me.

And then I lost it. Not right away but by a Chinese Water Torture of bits. First my book didn’t sell. Why? There are several reasons, but what matters is it didn’t sell. My editor, the one who sought me out for the book was fired. Fired. My fault. Maybe not my fault but hers for championing my book. My book was a colossal failure. Colossal. They lost their shirt. It was as they didn’t yet say then: an epic fail.

I went to a book signing and no one showed up. You can’t imagine what that is like. You just can’t.

And then what I had worked for and achieved began to fall away by dribs and drabs. Each month I’d find I’d lost a bit more of my sources of income. They were turning to others. The money was drying up. I lost my job because I had made myself hateful in the eyes of my boss. Oh, sure he was a douche but I was to blame as well. Actually far more.  I out and out screwed with his livelihood. I did things that made me deserve to get fired. But I didn’t get fired. I got laid off, or pushed out.

Suddenly I was temping for $15 an hour, trying to work 80 hours a week and do my other work so I could keep an income going that could support my life. It was insane and utterly horrifying. I drank myself to sleep at night rather than face the world I’d made.

More and more I lost my income. My wife grew more and more worried. I felt more and more guilty, still slaving away at my dream, finding myself hating it more and more, realizing I’d far and away lost the touch I’d had, lost the spark I’d had. I was done, a fool. I was playing my part rather than being it. I hated myself and my work yet I kept doing it because I needed the money, little as it was becoming.

To be continued…

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