The writer’s greatest ally beckons their greatest nemesis: attachment.
The magic (or skill set) that a writer uses is best summed up by the notion of creating attachment. This is true in a simple form where a writer strives to create a character that people will feel attached to and see themselves in, but it goes beyond that.
A writer also attaches ideas to the character and story that have real world relevance. And then people take those ideas and types and falsely attach them to real people, stereotyping them, casting them, trapping them in a form that isn’t who they are. You might call this process conjuring up the shadow side or nemesis of the ‘true’ writer: invoking the gossiper … and their money-making counterparts the yellow journalist, the advertiser, and the propagandist.
If there is any difference between a writer and their shadow nemesis, it’s this: a writer doesn’t believe in stereotypes as real while the gossiper does. A writer tries to break the mold of the stereotype and get people to shift toward seeing something deeper or more fluid. The gossiper uses the same techniques with an opposite goal. They want to fool people into believing the stereotype. Why? Simplification of the complexity of human experience? A feeling of power that they are controlling the perceptions of others? Or is it really that they are so wrapped up in narcissism that they don’t see themselves for who they are? This leaves them projecting their shadow-sides on others, attaching what they don’t want to see in themselves or their ‘soulmates’ onto other people. Then they gossip their lies and feel like a puppet master as others believe them.
What the gossiper counts on is that intelligent people will ignore coincidence and not listen to their heart. This is also exploiting ideas of attachment. A person who is generally kind hearted or wants the best for others has a hard time believing that someone is purposefully lying or purposefully causing harm to others. And when it comes to spelling out coincidences, it sometimes sounds a little ridiculous. I’ve tried to make a list of coincidences that led to me seeing the truth, and it sounds surreal. Yet, I find if the coincidences stick in my mind or keep piling up and I can’t let them go, they have meaning beyond just random events. If people are scared of the truth or don’t want to hear the message, they can always find ways to block it out and fill their minds with something else.
The coincidences that piled up in the local hiking group ended up metaphorically screaming at me about what was really going on. Then people started screaming at me about things, as if trying to outshout the truth or misdirect me or even keep me safe (e.g., it’s none of your business!). I’ll get into that a little deeper in part three of this series, but suffice it to say that when I look back now and see where the coincidences were pointing, I realize that I became part of the problem, part of the denial, and part of the enabling. I started throwing away some of the emotions I saw as crazy, but they stuck with me, and eventually I saw a true story that I wasn’t willing to accept at first. I don’t think I deserved to lose my friends. I wish I had been able to sit down with people and talk some things out, but in the end things could’ve gone much worse.
At one point I blamed myself, and maybe I still do. Most of the other people seem to be caught in a fog of sorts, and one of the people, who became the embodiment of my writer’s nemesis, may even have some level of a dissociative schism. Knowing what I know now, that she was ‘dating’ a car thief while a kind soul she screamed about with bigotry had been involved in some strange hit-and-run car wrecks, I became scared for my own safety.
The writer’s mindset—those skills I learned to discern truth—seems both a blessing and a curse. I feel like I see things that others miss, but I end up feeling isolated and alone because other people cling to their fog and name it mental illness, or understandably just want to move on to the next good times. I suppose it makes life easier to attach a false narrative to events and ostracize the messenger, but ultimately the false attachments have to be broken because the same problems will keep coming up, leading to emotional breakdowns and rehab. Kicking the can down the road doesn’t work, and the next thing you know we end up with players as leaders.
By the time people have worked through their issues to see how the nemesis played them, I’m already gone.
It’s all part of The Writer’s Journey.