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I spend my time and resources exactly how I want to because I deserve to have that freedom as payback for all the crummy years of my childhood.

Today is the first Wednesday of September, and because of that special occasion, I'm once again taking part in the Insecure Writer's Support Group. For more information on that, click on this link HERE.

This month's question that we participants answer is: How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

This question is actually pretty easy for me. My life isn't as full as some others, either because of choices I've made in life or through a lack of distractions due to my own personality. I think I do really engage with people, but I engage with them in non sexual-tension-filled ways (not my choice...believe me...I'd love to be the flirty one that gets all the attention). For example, I'm the person that people always go to in order to solve a problem (which I actually hate) but they never go to when there's something fun to do.

In other words I just emanate a general aura of "Oh...Mike is uber responsible and will never drop the ball...but...yeah...we don't want him at the party because he's uncool. If he wants to PLAN the party...that'd be great...." And just so you know, I'm 45 so this is a far cry from teenage angst. It's how I actually feel as an adult, and it's based upon decades of behavior that I've analyzed in an attempt to answer the question, "Why do I feel that people just want to assign me unpleasant work to do?"

But to be fair, I'm quite capable of self-criticism. On the subject of "spontaneity" (and my lack thereof) it's something I will own up to (you will never see me use my iPhone to make cute videos filled with laughter and warmth). It's hard for me to cut loose and dance and to be comfortable in my own skin. However, I think its fair to say that my ability to be cute and fun loving was destroyed by years and years of psychological and emotional abuse that made my childhood kind of a living hell, but at the same time it inoculated me to the harshness of the world. In a way, my father and mother simultaneously managed to be the worst/best parents (if that makes any sense) that they could possibly be. And just to be clear, I would never wish the kinds of things I went through on anyone. However, the "emotional skin" I grew in order to deal with the psychological abuse made me able to deal with life in ways that I could never have imagined. Events that absolutely crush/devastate people (that I know) are barely ripples to me on the Sea of Fate, and I actually love that. But the side-effect is that I don't naturally cuddle with dogs and talk about how new babies smell and take selfies with everybody. I wish I could do these things comfortably and naturally, but they always feel awkward to me. What doesn't feel awkward is scrubbing toilets, because for the longest time, that's how people treated me. I was the person people always called upon to scrub the toilet and clean out the garbage.

So needless to say...I don't have people banging down my door to do "Happy Fun Time." And with no partner, this leaves me with a lot of spare time after work and on weekends. I fill that spare time with whatever I want to do. It could be an art project (which I started this weekend) or perhaps it could be another writing project. When I get bored of one, I go and start another. So yeah...I've got the luxury of time...and I know that's just not something that most people have an abundance of. I truly wish I was one of those people with such a full life that I had to juggle everything. As a caveat though, I also guard that time like a zealot. Allow me to explain.

I've got used to saying "No" to people. Believe me when I say, there appears to be an endless supply of people knocking on my door with the goal in mind to put some brown-skinned single Asian guy to work doing some shitty task they don't want to deal with (the "scrub my toilet!" theme fits nicely here even though that's not what they want). A lot of people consider that the "bar offriendship" when it comes to me. "Hey I've got something shitty that I don't want to deal with. You're my friend...I could use you to help me out with it!" Unfortunately for them, I don't share this viewpoint on life. I think true friendship is deeply reciprocal and is built upon a foundation of immense respect. If I knew a task was even remotely unpleasant, I would never foist that on a friend. If I did ask for help, I would compensate them monetarily with hundreds of dollars (that I toiled very hard to get) or not even ask. Friendship is to be treasured and not exploited. Maybe that's the Japanese in me...a belief that one "honors" friends and keeps all the unpleasant things in a closet to deal with on my own time.

Some don't take my "No's" very well, and verbally attack me, pointing out (obviously) that I have resources that could help them. There's no arguing that fact at all. So I make it very clear that I'm saying "No" because I am choosing not to help them and am perfectly happy with that decision. Of course, this really pisses some people off and causes them to throw all sorts of insults at me (which I don't deserve but it happens anyway). It's almost like people are punishing me because I have a lack of blessings in my life, which seems ironic if you dare to look at it from my point of view.

The way I see myself, I'm a survivor/former victim of incredible psychological and emotional abuse. As a result, I'm abrasive enough and uncharismatic enough (in real life) that people only seek me out when they need help with something (no "Happy Fun Time" with Mike). If they do seek me out, they are sure to crowd enough other people into the hang out time that spending emotional time with me is vastly diluted. So (essentially) I have a lack of fun activities planned by others to fill my hours with (but I sure can get people interested in "Happy Fun Time" activities when I organize everything and do all the work) when the "average person in America" has the blessing of a house of children, a partner, a spouse, etc. to help them deal with life. Admittedly, a lot of those things happened because a person was born the right race, the right religion, the right politics (and world-view), the right sexual orientation, etc. to be "attractive" to peers to bring on those kinds of invitations (and had the emotional well-being to survive a society of narcissists). They were born into bodies that had very little challenges (as far as disabilities go) and into families that genuinely loved them and gave them trophies for participation and actually "valued" and would talk through their feelings one on one. Again, please know that I'm not complaining (because I sure as hell know I could be a lot worse off). Rather, what I'm trying to do is explain to you (the reader) why I have so much free time outside of work. The answer is simple: a life-history of a lack of inclusion.

On that earlier topic, I guess what galls me the most is when I get verbally attacked for saying "No" to a person's request to feed at the trough of my resources is that I know that the other group of people (those with children and partners) can say "no" and the person asking smiles and easily understands the rejection. But when I say "no" I get verbally attacked. These are "facts" in my mind, even if there's no way for me to prove them. However, it is very interesting that the guy who has probably suffered the most trauma is the one that continues to get assaulted by people who see him only as a problem solver...as a resource to be used and abused in their tool belt...because life is too difficult for them to deal with and they think (because I have things together) that it must be easy for me and therefore it's my duty to help others. To say it a different way, "the guy who lives a pretty miserable life (by average standards) is the one whom miserable people choose to use as a punching bag."

Anyway, this has been a long, emotional post, but I think it explains a lot about me that I wish more people knew regarding how I manage my time, and to some extent, the resentments I feel toward people who do nothing but try to take (instead of give). And yeah, I have no problem at all saying "No." It's time for someone else to scrub the toilet because this guy is not going to do that (for others) anymore.

I hope that if you take one thing away from this post it is this: it answers the question of "How do I manage my writing time in my 'busy' life?" And the fact is, my life really isn't all that "busy" due to intentional design. I spend my time and resources exactly how I want to because I deserve to have that freedom as payback for all the crummy years of my childhood. If I choose to spend that time writing or drawing, then it's because those activities make me happy. Would I rather spend those hours with a person who appreciates having me around? Yes, yes I would. But as I learned a long time ago, "You can control all the things in your life except love. There is no force in the universe that can make someone love you." And in this sense, the word "value" can also be used interchangeably with the word "love" and still ring true. It is my frustration to this truth--which then leads to acceptance--that (for me) is perhaps the greatest motivating factor behind my creativity in any form. It's why I write, I draw, and I read. At the end of the day, this world is cruel and mean and filled with a lot of nasty people (I know there are a few good ones), and my mind wants to seek out better worlds where I feel respected, wanted, and loved. Stephen King wrote:

"Writers remember everything...especially the hurts. Strip a writer to the buff, point to the scars, and he'll tell you the story of each small one. From the big ones you get novels. A little talent is a nice thing to have if you want to be a writer, but the only real requirement is the ability to remember the story of every scar. Art consists of the persistence of memory."
My memory holds a lot of scars and most of them aren't pretty, but at least I know who I am.

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