Fighting the Avatar

March 20, 2012 at 12:18 am (Death and Dying, Disability, Living, Mental Health, Spiritual) (, , , , , )

When I think of the word “avatar”, I think of an image someone uses to represent them on the Internet. An icon, a picture, something that becomes the thing I think of when I think of that person. Now a days, it’s likely to be an actual picture of someone; sometimes, on virtual worlds like World of Warcraft or Second Life, it can be a character you portray. It is the only identity someone knows you as; you fit in a little box, on the side of a comment.


This is my most common avatar these days. This is what I am becoming.

One of my struggles is that many of my friends either live far away, or don’t have the time or inclination to seek out social interaction with me. I used to be more proactive about it, I swear, but I admit that my own depression is part of the issue. However, I go out – and try to meet new, local people – at least once a month. Sunday I went to a munch in College Park, MD. It was nice and all, but no one who didn’t already know me took more than a few minutes to say hello. I tried to be friendly, start conversations, and what-have-you, but in the end it was just another place where I felt like a outlier.

Lately, people I thought were my friends have turned out to be something else. I’m not an easy person to get to know, and anyone who really knows me well will tell you that it’s a process. I’ve been hurt in some fantastic ways, and so I don’t open up to just anyone. If you actually get somewhere with me, one of the hurdles you face is that I tend to be pretty damn honest. I have a terrible trait of actually saying what I think, what I feel, what I know. One of my sacred duties is to be the Speaker of Hard Truths, and if you spend a lot of time around me that will eventually apply to you. It seems, however, that when I tell people that they think they can handle it, but when I actually say something that cuts to the quick, they are fast to withdraw.

I can’t lie. It’s actually a geas, or sacred “rule” that I can’t break. Being the child of Loki, one of the things He demands of me is complete honesty. Now, I can choose how I dress the truth up, and if I take you out to dinner before I give it to you, but in the end, it’s as true as I know it to be. This doesn’t mean I can’t be mistaken, or downright wrong,but if you ask me a question I will tell you what I know to be true. Sometimes, this makes me an invaluable asset. Other times (and more often than not), it makes me “that asshole”. People think they want to know the truth, but really, they want to feel good.

I’ve accepted that my social circle will always be kinda small. I “know” a lot of people, but if I were stranded in Mexico at 3am with a single phone call, I have very few people I could reliably call. I figured this out when I was stranded at the hospital with my phone dying the last time Ninja went to the ER. I can’t really call Ruth, who lives in Massachusetts, to come drive me a few blocks. (Although I know she’d do it if I really needed her to.) And I have local friends who want to be there, but have other responsibilities or distractions that keep them from it.

I admit, I’m in a emotionally vulnerable place as I write this. I’m fighting with my best friend, things with Ninja aren’t perfect, I’m hormonal and depressed and work sucks donkey balls. It feels like I have a trillion balls in the air and plates spinning and I don’t know how to keep it all going. Every time I start to focus on one thing, another goes kaplooey. I’m stressed, I’m tired, and I can’t seem to do anything for fun anymore. It’s not a good place. I’m working the Coping Skills Tango as hard as I can; I’m Google Hanging Out when I can, I’m calling friends to talk, I’m listening to uplifting music and watching funny stuff. I’m meditating like crazy, I’m writing down my feelings, and next week I’m seeing a new therapist.

But for now, I feel like I’m fighting becoming my own avatar. Wherein I only exist in these ephemeral words, in emails and Facebook statuses and G+ updates. I’m losing my own sense of being flesh and blood, of having real world needs like warmth and cuddles and sex and decadent desserts. I’m afraid if I were to unplug for a week, I’d lose my friends forever. As it is, I sense the world moving on without me, and it’s painful for me.

I have this strong sense that maybe this is part of the journey towards disability and death for me; the stripping away of any investment in permanence, even in humanity. Humans have a necessity of conceptualizing the present as being reliable, predictable, something they can hold on to with both hands. I have to see everything as being tenuous, to be keenly aware that even the things I thought were solid may evaporate in a moment’s notice. It’s one of the lessons of Death – it’s a capricious and cunning thing, and it takes away the illusion that anything – any relationship, any person, any situation – will last “forever”. I really liked that illusion.

A piece titled "On the inevitability of loss"

The even stranger part, for me, as I think more on this, is that when I die my avatar will remain. All these things that I am afraid I am becoming; they will be aspects of my personality that will outlast my presence on Earth. So however much I fight becoming an avatar, in a way it’s an important step in this process; that even though I see everything as being tenuous, I’m creating a body of work that others will be able to experience once I am dead. Maybe that’s Baphomet’s plan, forcing me to write when I’m emotionally and physically raw. It would be a completely different experience of me if I only wrote positive, glowing, hippy-dippy posts about disability and death. Although if someone else did it, I’d totally want to see that shit.



  1. Ruth Addams said,

    so this is why i couldn’t go to sleep. i would try to comfort you with soft words of how you will remain in the hearts and minds of those who do not predecease you, or that i will always love you… but soft words crumble before they make it past my lips. i love you. right here, right now. when you and i are dead, i do not know what will be… if there is an after, i beg the universe to be granted the gift of those i love now… but there may be nothing. i do know that ten years after i am gone, few will hold that last bit of me, my memory, to their lips… a hundred years and there will be none to speak my name. this means little to me…i have here, and i have now. here and now i love you. i am not near you, i am states away. i can not hold you, i can not give you love in the ways i have spent decades learning how to share it. i can only offer you tasteless kisses, and unsatisfying internet hugs until i see you again. that, and the truth that His eyes are on you… and your pain matters.

  2. Earl Henry Joseph Laughlin III said,

    You are my sister. We are of the same. Same things never attract. Proud I am you are my sister. I am you and you are me. I have not nor never will forget that and have great hope for you. One day maybe, one day, but for now all is I can say is – I am sorry, Please forgive me, and I love you.

  3. longingforlove said,

    I found this piece deep and moving!

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