1507 Mistakes Were Made.
It should be noted, or maybe I’ll just make it clear for those of you who aren’t very good with parsing out things like this, that Carol is telling her story from the perspective of her past self, a self she no longer is. She wants him to understand why this seemingly unimportant childhood slight, or series of slights, had such an effect on her. A lot of emotions got tied up in that time in her life; weaving a complex tapestry of feelings about her family. Some of them are unresolved. The thing is she knows that the story has more than one side, she just wants Thomas to be on her side.
Everybody has stuff like this. I can remember insults that I got when I was in my teens that cut me to the very center of my being. Things that still make it difficult for me to form relationships with other people, particularly women. I carry those words around with me and they echo from the dark places in my mind when I’m stuck in similar situations. Issues with our bodies, existential angst, all of the things that make it harder to make connections pile up over time. They’re like planets in or emotional solar system coming around again and again. I’ve never been able to talk about my body issues with anyone. Not in a meaningful way, and I’m not going to start with you guys, even though there are some of you who would understand. The specter of all the others may as well be sewing my mouth shut. The feeling that you are malformed twists you into knots and, for me at least, makes me feel like I’ll never be good enough for anyone to love. It’s real, and it’s crippling. The way my brain is wired I almost never give anyone a chance to make that call for themselves. I guess what the outcome will be based on their behavior and make the choice for them. I’m not sure if never being loved is worse than being rejected, but I know it stings a lot more in the moment than the constant waves of despair loneliness brings. It a choice between being broken with a hammer, or worn down by waves. Unlike me Carol got a reprieve. She eventually became, more or less, what she expected. She got tempered by the flames of inadequacy though, which gives her a perspective that allows for easier kindness. I’m not sure I have that. I’ve never been out of the fire.
This stuff about Carol and her sisters is some of the earliest stuff I ever wrote for the comic outside of the original script. It’s been rattling around in my head for a decade. As a single individual realizing my vision is much harder, and takes much longer, than I’d like. They say if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. I’ve gone a long way alone, slowly. I can only guess how much farther I may have gotten if I’d been able to go together.
Im sorry to hear that those kind of things have happened to you, i myself have been told things that make me despise myself, even by the people closest to me now. Sometimes or at least with how my brain is, it just takes the right kinda effort to make yourself look outside of your emotions and find out what really is there, those insults and things ive done or lived through will probably always be remembered but i don’t let myself get down by it. I only hope you dint either and that you can find a way to deal with what haunts you. This is my first time commenting on your comic but ive read from the beginning and loved it all the way. Have a good day please
Thanks for reading the whole thing. I know it’s a lot to get through. Hopefully this isn’t the first and last time you comment. XD
My first comment here. Don’t have much to say but what you said there…just gives me the feels. Wish you the best and great comic.
You’re very kind, thank you.
I second ChristianD. I thoroughly enjoy your comic and your insights in the commentary. I have body issues that will probably never truly go away, even though most of them are tied to weight and that is theoretically manageable. On the flip side, I recently met another woman who decided to trust and confide in me precisely because of those issues and the way I’ve dealt with them. It’s so much more difficult to make somebody who has never felt as though they are broken to even have an inkling of the emotions involved. But to be able to be there for somebody who is struggling with feelings of inadequacy… that is healing me far more than time alone.
I feel that your webcomic is allowing you to at least share some of your pain and allowing your readers to empathize and relate to your pain. Hopefully this will help, even if it’s only a little bit.
Thank you for writing, drawing, and growing.
You’re welcome, and thank you for taking time to read it. Making this is certainly as close to therapy as I’m likely to get, and hopefully enough people are getting something out of it to make it worthwhile. A few people are deeply committed to this rambling tale of 20 somethings.
This is precisely why I make a point to read nearly every page the day it comes out. Your characters show that other people have the same insecurities and feelings of inadequacy that I do. Sometimes that’s all I need to realize that I’m not alone, and that helps a lot. So I echo Surka’s sentiments. Thanks for opening up the door and allowing us into your world.
Been there, suffered through that…
People who, one could say, live a “perfect” or at least an “ideal” life, who have never copped that emotional whipping from their peers (possibly because they were involved in dishing it out, or at least hung around those that were), do not realise how negatively something like that can affect someone. They pull out the old “sticks and stones” mantra, which is just a “polite” way of saying “suck it up, buttercup”.
Of course, the human psychology can only take so much of that, before it reprograms itself. Depression, self-loathing, suicide… and worse. Apathy and antipathy can really cause havoc on your mental state, and it is taking its sweet fucking time to get over that.
“Voted most likely to save the world … or destroy it.”
I assume they actually meant humanity, and I’m still undecided, which at this point means probably neither.
“Voted most likely to save the world … or destroy it.”
Well, sometimes you have to do B, in order to achieve A.
Sounds like we’ve got a disciple of Ozymandius (from The Watchmen).
What you wrote here really got to me Jackie. I have a lot of the same problems you do here. I was picked on a lot back in Elementary school, and though it mostly ended by high school, it’s still stuck with me for along time. Only two real incidents still stand out in my mind though. One was when a new student arrived in class, and two of my, well, I might as well say bullies, basically took her aside and began giving her lessons on how to abuse me. I don’t remember who they where really, but I remember one of them being a girl who had a majorly witchy reputation even then.
The other was when a friend of mine (I did have friends) suddenly changed over summer break. When the next school year started he was for some reason hanging out with the guys who picked on me, and now he was one of them.
I admit, in hindsight, that some of the stuff done to me was meant as harmless joking. But it was the stuff that wasn’t harmless joking that really got to me, and it colored all the other stuff that was done.
I don’t really think about it much anymore, but when I accidentaly do something stupid or run my head into som low lying wall extension (it’s happened) and you begin to hear the laughter in your head, well, that can really make you feel bad, even if what has happened is meaningless.
Some day I will write an autobiography. For now, please know that your words of “dark things echoing” rings very close to home for me.
To tell my whole story would take more time than I have at any one moment, but for now please know that I was “the mistake” child, something that I would never wish to have anyone have told to them, especially at a young age. I’ve never quite gotten over it, just as I never quite got over being told to sweep it under the rug and act normal to my mom. What hurts more that I am the oldest, the others were my brothers, and despite their wildness to my willingness to obey I was not… Loved….
It pains me. It pains me more what happened in school, the teasing and the out right bullying or that no one cared about the abuse that had gone on at home. They wanted me to be quiet and endure it all, because otherwise I was a distraction… Is there another side? Did they see my brothers being wild and assumed that my outbursts and tears were a prank? I don’t know.
I don’t want to think that I deserved it, but the terrifying truth of what my childhood was for me, what my first marriage was, of having people who I loved and did my best for abuse me, torture me…. My children…. My daughter, lost, to the hands of a person I trusted and considered my friend. My sons now far away to be protected by that tragedy and from their father and grandparents trying to get their own hands on them….
I have someone now. A loving man, good true friends, who care about me. They tell me I’m loved, and awesome, and appreciate me for who I am. A family to replace what I lost and never really had. However, those pains and echoes stay, and make me afraid to explain what’s really bothering me, why even in the simplest of times I am still alert and afraid. Why looking I the mirror is difficult.
I’m trying. However I can’t help but worry, I was told for so long to sweep it deep down that maybe everyone thinks this way and I should just keep quiet or risk people getting mad at me again, and I really can’t take anger or inference.
:: sigh ::
Anyway, I know a bit how you feel.
I read the whole thing, too, Jackie.
I also have this sort of past that has never quite gone away. My present is not much better because my boss is one of Those People and is always riding me. A few people have pointed out that I am getting quieter and quieter at work, but what else is there to do?
Good for Carol, for surviving that, and for having her head on straight (if on a curvy body).
(* sigh *) Sorry you had to go through that. I can empathize — through my first ten years or so of school, I was the little fat kid. Add to that I had a short temper and actually had a brain, and you’ve got a bullying target for years.
You might be surprised how common such feelings and experiences are. It’s nearly universal, to one degree or another. No one is completely “well-adjusted,” we all carry scars (some entirely imaginary) from our growing up. And as we get older those events get integrated into who we think we are, overlaying who we ACTUALLY are. It is possible to clear away those barriers, though it is not necessarily easy or without its own (brief) pain.
I somehow told myself, probably when I was about 11, that I was a “lonely person” and lived my life with that sadness for the next few decades. When I took a weekend-long seminar (“The Forum”) I discovered that it was a lie I’d been telling myself, and that the evidence didn’t support that lie. My day-to-day life didn’t so much change at that point, but my own REACTION to my life shifted, allowing me to enjoy it as it was. Since then, things have only gotten better, since I can seek out other lies I’ve told myself (I can’t draw, I’m too fat, women are scary, etc.) and put them behind me. Of course, peeling away one hangup has often made another, more buried, visible. As I said, these revelations and transformational shifts are sometimes wrenching but all survivable.
It pains me to see another person in distress (an empathy that years ago I didn’t have much access to) and I read your remarks sometimes with concern that I can’t do something for you. Sharing my experience here may be all I can do at a distance.
Man do I ever know that feeling. The people in my hometown think I’m the scum of the earth and I’m never going back. But there is always the thought in the back of my mind that they were right.
Keep this in the back of your mind, too: you’re only the ‘scum of the earth’ if you did something to someone else out of spite, for your personal benefit or their detriment.
Well, I’m certainly the scum of the earth by that standard.
I think it’s a bit more complicated than that. Life usually is.
The only time it’s that simple is when it comes to rapists, pedophiles, and the sort of person that would punch a pregnant woman in the belly.
I understand what you mean by having things follow you in the dark places of your mind. The unfortunate thing is that they are part of what make you, you. As much as you’d like to rid yourself of them, they are as much a part of you as your arm. You can try to cope with them but that is harder than most people believe.
I was initially going to share some of my experiences, my wounds if you will. I got through typing it all out and realized that there are things that i don’t want to share, even with the anonymity if the internet.
I don’t fault you for not wanting to open up to us, as understanding as most of us would be. Laying hidden parts of yourself bare for the world to see is hard and while it might help it also opens you up for new injuries. I much rather you stay yourself instead of taking a gamble on getting help or getting hurt
I have three sisters older than me that would tease me for having a smaller chest. We all fit into the same sizes but when I would try something on, there was always the comment “oh let me try it on and see what it looks like with boobs!” Well years later, they are all jealous of me now haha It did bother me at the time, cause its a thing out of my control.
Oh god, that’s brutal. I wish id heard it before I wrote this. I wasn’t nearly mean enough to come up with that.
Heh, I´m lucky then. I remember my brothers and sisters chanting madly: “…the poor kid is hungry…the poor kid is hungry! (bis)” to me when mother was putting the table, sitting around. I was small, thin and sickly, very frail. Kids can be cruel at times. I think they were jealous somewhat of the attention I needed at that time.
Fortunately, this is only an old memory today. There were worse things, like the disdain sometimes the people can use to refer at hearing impaired people (such as I), just out of mockery or simple ignorance. That is very jarring when growing up.
How hearing impaired are you if ou don’t mind me asking.
Well, one ear and half, I´d say . Jokes aside, I only have one ear (the right one) more or less in working condition now (with the help of a hearing aid), the another one while not completely out, cannot be of much use, because the hearing I´ve had has had sudden losses from time to time, not too drastic, but noticeable. Corticoids (pills…) have helped me keep the hearing condition from being a complete loss. They diagnosed completely the problem about when I had three or four years old ( that´s when they recommended me the hearing aids).
Sorry for the late response!
No worries, thanks for telling me.
It kills me that you have to deal with those kinds of self-image (and by extension, relational) issues. I know the same struggle, and if it meant no one else ever had to feel the same, I would resign myself to being lonely even when not alone.
Long story short, I have a seizure disorder, and certain treatments caused life threatening allergic reactions. Steroids, puberty, and an overly cautious approach to vigorous activities meant I got husky…which I took as the obvious reason I couldn’t get any girl’s attention. Once I figured out I could safely exercise, I became a compulsive exerciser, so I might have stunted growth. I’ve learned enough to know my neuroses are the real problem, but distorted body image is hard to undo. About all you can do, short of counseling, is share that burden and feel less alone. Thank you for being brave enough to do that, and for making art that also gives a sense of hope.
I hated being young. Young people can be so heartless. Heartless Monsters cutting you in the gut and up out of your throat with every cruel word. You are forced to be there with them. There is no escape. Public School was a childhood hell for me as well, so I sympathize with your plight and the memories that won’t stop cutting. All you can do is hold on, and hear the voices of those that do care about you. I hope those voices drown out the voices of your childhood demons.
I have that too. I still cannot get over what everyone used to tell me growing up to make fun of me. Never mind that some of it is true and that I realize that it’s physically appealing, it still bothers me. It’s something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get rid of in my mind even though my husband tries. (I was always told I was ugly, fat, had a big butt, look like chewbacca or a man…never mind I don’t look like a man and when I tell people they don’t understand how I would ever let it bother me when it’s not true…well it does).
I wonder one day if we will all get those taunting thoughts out of our head. I hate it. I have such an insecurity in my appearance that I still cannot get rid of
Hey, this is my first time commenting on this site. I found this comic a few months ago and have been obsessively catching up whenever my crappy wifi lets me ever since.
I’m really sorry to hear that you hate your body, and I hope one day you can learn to love it. But at the very least, even if you that never does happen, I hope you can at least love your mind, and after reading this archive of comics you’ve created, I honestly think your mind is truly beautiful. There are a ton of slice-of-life comics about people in their 20-somethings, but yours has a unique quality, an emotional sensitivity that never lets a person be just a punchline. Everyone is a complex emotional being, and they all come together at the end of each arc to form a really pleasant crescendo. Your quiet humility comes through in the comic’s lovely pace and tone, and now I can’t imagine the internet without it.
Well that is exceedingly nice of you to say. I’m glad to know you’ve enjoyed the care I’ve taken with everything. Thanks very much for reading.
Siblings can be quite cruel
Jackie, do you mind if I quote part of your description on tumblr?
What part? Also, what description? What are we talking about? I’m so lonely and confused…
Sorry, sorry. The doobly-doo? From your text under the comic (I don’t know what to call it for webcomics). Specifically;
“I carry those words around with me and they echo from the dark places in my mind when I’m stuck in similar situations. Issues with our bodies, existential angst, all of the things that make it harder to make connections pile up over time. They’re like planets in or emotional solar system coming around again and again.”
Yeah, sure. Go ahead on.
Spiffy! Thanks much.
I was quite moved by your essay, Jackie. Yes, siblings and other children can be cruel and said cruelty is a product of their ignorance, anxiety, low self esteem, desire for acceptance and personal fears. I was plagued with a weight problem in my youth and, being the ‘fat kid’, I was often ridiculed and socially on the outside looking in. It hurt at the time, but I never let it show and let them win. A hitch in the military changed me physically and mentally and I emerged a much different person, much better equipped to confront the world on my terms. It has held me in good stead ever since.
I ascribe to the old saying ‘Renuo illigitimi carborundum’=’Don’t let the bastards grind you down’. :D