I thought about posting straight to Facebook on this one, but it’s going to be long and rambly and very blog-like and so I thought it would be best to put it on the “blog”. Smart, right?
So, if you’re reading this you probably already know that we didn’t hit the USA Today bestseller list with the boxset ‘Hero Undercover’. I found out Wednesday afternoon after spending most of the day refreshing the site, and then the URL format changed and I was able to view the results for week 27 and I looked for us. I probably went through each page of the list ten times before it finally sank in that we’d missed it. We may have missed it by a tiny bit, hitting #151 instead of #150, or we may have missed it by a mile. The issue is that when it comes to lists like this there are only two outcomes, black and white, completely binary – you are either on the list, or you are not.
We were not.
Just kidding, we all know I’m not fine.
It’s not that I hadn’t thought about the possibility of us missing the list. Going into the “live” sales week our numbers weren’t where they needed to be, and we knew that. We were so far behind in fact that it felt impossible, and I got discouraged, but I talked with people far wiser and more experienced than me and worked out a plan of attack for release week.
If we went down, we were going to go down fighting.
And that was where I made my mistake.
People close to me in my life constantly talk about my Type-A personality. My tendency to work myself to death, to always have more on my plate than can actually fit, my obsessiveness with over-achieving and succeeding and doing the things that seem impossible. I admit, it is a huge point of pride in my life. I thrive in this exhausted, stressed-out, mildly insane space. I am successful in this space, and it makes me feel good about myself. It’s how I define myself… by this ability to do everything even when that is a ridiculous expectation.
My brain is as binary as success and failure, there are no gray areas.
And when I’m successful, when things are going well, when I’m checking things off the list and nailing it and getting shit done. I feel great. I love myself, I’m proud of myself, I celebrate internally.
The problem with defining myself by my success is that when I fail, I can’t just shrug it off, and I know this about myself too.
Before we even went into the live sales week I could feel the internal struggle to throw myself into the boxset with the excessive fervor I do other things in my life, and I tried to tell myself not to. Mostly, because I knew how risky it was for us to even hit the USA Today list, and I knew exactly what would happen if we didn’t make it. I could see it yawning in front of me like the huge black pit it is. There was a thin, golden bridge over that pit that 100% relied on us making the list. Everything else was a black, yawning hole filled with all my demons – and it’s been a few months since I was down there with them and so they were waiting. They’ve missed me. They told me to try, to throw everything into making the list.
They whispered in my ear that I could do it.
So, I did. I spent time, money, and effort doing everything I could think of to make it happen. And many, many other people did too. Other authors in the set, readers, friends, our publisher – but when we missed it the only thing that mattered in my brain was that I didn’t make it. I had failed. Missed the goal. Slipped off the golden bridge, and fell into the pit.
I wasn’t surprised. In the odd out-of-body type of way I watched myself lose it, and knew it was going to get worse before it got better. I went home after the day job and poured a large glass of wine and shared my discovery with a few people in the boxset, and some close friends. The Dom and I were supposed to go see a play that night, and I told him what happened, and he felt the risk in the same way I did. Knew exactly where I was headed, but neither of us could stop it. He asked me not to hurt myself, and I told him I wouldn’t.
“I won’t hurt myself. That’s your job, right?” I asked, holding the phone and standing in my dark kitchen drinking wine like it was water in the desert.
He laughed, because our humor is always relatively fucked up, and confirmed. “That’s right, it’s my job. I’m on my way.”
When he got there I was already losing it, in that high-pitched anxiety ridden freak out mode where all I want to do is scream and rage about how fucking useless I am. The demons had opened their arms and caught me, and I was completely theirs.
Worthless. Failure. Useless. Stupid.
Why did I ever think I could make the list? Do I really think I’m special and unique?
It was pathetic how hard I’d tried for something I never deserved in the first place.
As if the world was trying to cinematically support my breakdown, a thunderstorm of Texas proportions kicked up and canceled our attempt to go see the outdoor play we’d originally planned. All for the best, really, since I was already pretty off the deep end into hating every aspect of myself. We tried to drive down to the play, gave up when the lightning was constant and the rain was hard enough that even with the wipers on full blast we were having to drive 40mph on the highway.
To be honest, the storm made me feel a little better.
But as soon as we got back to my apartment it all hit me again. I grabbed for the wine like a lifeline, and the Dom stood there in silence for a minute as I finished one glass and clumsily poured another with shaking hands. So close to a full-on anxiety attack that I could feel my ribs aching as I tried to contain it. He had bought us dinner, and wine, because we were supposed to be having a celebratory picnic while watching Merry Wives of Windsor on the lawn of a Dallas park, but this was not a celebration any longer. He said I had to eat. I said no. He reminded me that ‘no‘ was not an option when he gave me an order. I promised to throw up on him, he said he’d take the risk, and that I had to eat half the sandwich he’d brought if I was going to drink. When I stood there, borderline hyperventilating as the world crashed in on me, screaming failure failure failure, he sighed and asked me what I needed in the same way that you’d talk to a feral animal you’re trapped in a room with.
I told him I wanted him to use the belt until I couldn’t feel this way anymore.
So, we made a deal. I had to eat half a sandwich, I could drink wine, we would do cigar service on my patio and watch the lightning, and then he would belt me, fuck me, and put me to bed. All on his terms, and I didn’t get to ask for more of the belt than he wanted to give me.
And we did all that. I’ve got bite marks and bruises and welts, and they help. I like to lean against them, dig my thumbs into the ones on my thighs to feel that spike of pain, internal punishment for being such a fucking failure.
I was late to work Thursday morning, and the Dom tried to get me out of bed, but I was deep in the pit and there was no more anger, just emptiness. The void. I wasn’t worth being angry at anymore, wasn’t worth hating. I was just worthless.
And worthless people don’t get out of bed.
Eventually, he convinced me to go. I shouldn’t have, it was stupid. I spent hours at work on a project, and then the program messed up, and I lost all of the work. It was mid-afternoon, and I stared at my computer screen trying to believe that I hadn’t just lost ALL of the work I had done.
But I had.
At least by that point I was already empty, no more anger to happen, so I just got up and left work. I think I’ve walked out of work without telling anyone a handful of times in my life, and yesterday was one of them. I took xanax when I got home, grabbed a pillow, went into my closet and slept.
I slept a lot yesterday, and last night. I talked to a few people (including the Dom) who tried to pull me out of this in their own way, but the problem isn’t reality. Logic isn’t the issue. It’s me. I’m a mess.
I hide it really fucking well, because (remember what I said at the beginning?) when I’m doing well, I’m feeling great. I feel invincible. I feel fantastic. I look like I have everything together, mostly because at that time I do.
And I’m getting better today. I was able to get up with my alarm, and shower, and come to work. I still haven’t eaten yet today, but I’ll feel hunger at some point. The Dom will harass me until I eat anyway, and the bottle of wine he dropped off outside of my apartment is contingent upon me eating food, with protein. I know in the out-of-body way that there is nothing more I could have done to hit the list. I did everything I could, spent an irresponsible amount of money on promotion and giveaways, dedicated a ton of time to it.
I know this.
The problem is my brain doesn’t care. My brain is black and white, pass or fail – and I failed. This is the downside to being the type of person I am. This is one of the reasons I’m such a twisted masochist. I like being hurt, it makes me feel better. I have another session with the Dom on Saturday to try and fix this.
I want to pull out of the pit. I don’t want to listen to the demons. I don’t want to hate myself as much as I do right now. I know it’s ridiculous. I know that it’s hard for people to understand. I know that for others it’s as easy as shrugging, acknowledging that they did their best, and then moving on. It’s not even that I have a very good chance of hitting the list in August (with another boxset).
None of that matters to my brain.
Normally I’d just stay silent about this fucked up side of my personality. I’d keep quiet about all the not-fun-darkness that seeps in at the edges of my life, always waiting for me to slip up, make a mistake, fail in some way so it can swallow me whole.
But I’m lucky enough to have a lot of people who care, a lot of people who are worried about me, and a lot of people who don’t understand why I collapsed in on myself this week. Why I have all the feelings.
So, if you wanted to know, now you do. I’m working on digging myself out. I’m a real mess upstairs, but I appreciate all of you more than I can say.
And until I feel better, I have xanax, and wine, and I won’t hurt myself because that’s my Dom’s job. <3 So you don’t need to worry.