And I've got something very special planned for you..."
-Stiv Bators, "Evil Boy"
I'm about to take you to a very dark place. I'm going to attempt to describe to you a facet of my personality that I don't care for very much; a version of me that I don't like showing to the world, but which, in certain given circumstances, flashes to the surface like a buoy being forcibly held under water and suddenly released. It's the part of me that drives people away, that sometimes scares people. That sometimes scares me.
In a matter of moments that night, I went from the elation of watching my beloved Phillies clinch their fourth consecutive National League Eastern Division Championship to the depths of an OCD-fueled depression, over a broken link. There are a number of outlets through which I advertise each new blog post, and whether it be Twitter or Facebook or wherever, I dutifully link to the newest post. Mondays, of course, are NW4NW days, and I am grateful that so many folks have told me how they enjoy those posts and look forward to them. So yesterday, after publishing this week's installment, I posted links in all the usual places.
My workdays have been extra busy recently, so I did not have the opportunity throughout the day to check my stats to see how much traffic was coming in. I usually repost the links in the afternoon to catch the crowd who isn't around to see them in the early morning, and this I did yesterday as well. Then I settled in to watch the game, having not checked blog stats at all. After the game, I checked the posted link, and saw that it reported 0 clicks. "Hmm, that can't be right..." I thought, so I clicked the link myself - and was promptly met with a "Page Cannot Be Found" error. The link that I had been advertising all day was a bad link!
Embarrassed, I corrected the link and prepared an apology post, and that's when it struck me: No one had informed me the link was bad. Even on the Fanpage and the blog's Twitter site, there was nothing. Had no one even bothered to try to read my post? I pulled up my stats for the day, and there, mockingly, sat a great big zero. I did the math: 100 people follow the TWIWGTS Twitter site. 1400 follow my personal Twitter account. There are 200 on the Fanpage, and 500 on my personal Facebook page. Over 100 follow through Networked Blogs. I've never claimed a humongous readership, but out of all those people, not one bothered to try to read my newly advertised blog post? What the fuck?
(Psst - this would be a great time for me to recommend subscribing using the email form at the upper left of this page so that you never miss a post and never have to worry about bad links. Go, do it now, I'll wait...OK, great, let's continue.)
Sure, that all makes perfect sense now, but I've talked here before about my OCD and my constant anxious paranoia that everyone is secretly trying to set me up for embarrassment, and how cunning those beasts are as foes. They grab onto any tiny shred of anything that could be twisted to validate their existence in my brain and go immediately to work. This wasn't a simple, explainable anomaly that was really my fault to begin with for posting an incorrect link. No sir, this was an affront on me personally! An obvious attack, and clear evidence that those lying liars never read my blog! They don't think I'm a good writer! They don't care about the things I write about!
And, if anyone happens to be around me or interact with me while this process is happening, they are met with that part of my personality I mentioned earlier - the part of me that I hate. As fate would have it, one person did interact with me right then, through Twitter. Luckily, my obsessive thought-spiral hadn't spun out of control yet, and after a few somewhat coarse, chopped exchanges, I apologized for being "in a mood" and logged off. Had she shown up a few minutes later, however, she would likely have encountered Evil Bryan.
It is not pleasant to feel that out of control, and there has never been a time when, after the storm has passed, I haven't felt immensely remorseful and apologetic. Over the years, I have learned to recognize when that side of me is surfacing, and have learned to remove myself from other people. It has the same effect as starving a fire of oxygen: the flame tries to continue, but quickly sputters out. If Evil Bryan is starved of people to lash out at, he sputters away to nothing relatively quickly.
And so it was Monday night. I logged off of Twitter and Facebook and went to bed, and Evil Bryan never showed up. I got up the next morning thinking the storm had passed and all was well, and went about my work day. Pretty soon I noticed a shadow looming over me. It was a shadow I hadn't seen in a long time.
I was excited because a group of us had planned to get together to create a local writers' group on Wednesday. I've been trying to get past some rough writers' block recently, and I'm lucky to be in a city populated with excellent writers. Some interaction with them my have been just the thing to get the words flowing again.
I didn't go. I hid behind my standard "I don't drive so I can't get there" excuse - even though rides were available had I asked. Truth was, I didn't want to be around anyone. I'm catching myself hermiting; I'm watching myself push people away; I'm feeling myself fight to fend off the demons.
So I suppose this post is, in addition to being a bit of "physician heal thyself," my way of saying to those of you who I have been pushing away, I'm sorry. And also saying to those of you who understand, thank you for being there. As for the rest of you, I beg your indulgence when I need to post such things as this - don't worry, we'll be back to our regular programming in no time.