South Park Self

breaking up is hard, but keeping dark is hateful

So, it's been this torrid, ten-year, slightly obsessive romance. It has required enormous amounts of my energy to start a relationship from nothing: woo the other, learn their ways, keep the interest going, make it work. I wouldn't say it's a break-up, precisely, but I'm realising, more and more, that the relationship is not healthy: I'm feeling these interactions as demands on me, and I'm starting to resent them to a quite disturbing extent. I'm not saying it's over between me and the SCA, but it's no longer satisfying for either of us, and at the very least I need a time out.

I have, of course, been moving towards this for the last year or so, during which the melt-down in my career has taken a quite inordinate amount of my mental energy: now I have a new job, which is not only demanding but is not quite the job I want, and which still takes ongoing mental negotiation to keep me from hair-tearing and the wringing of hands. I'm still not in a space where I can say I'm where I want to be, or have achieved most of the things I need to achieve. I am serious about keeping up the research and writing on top of an admin job, and that's going to take a lot of energy. I'm also horribly conscious of the fact that the lack of success in my career is at least partly because I've always given so much energy to things like roleplaying and the SCA. They've been truly wonderful experiences, but I should have been more moderate. There is also a truly sad corollary that that kind of hobby does me an active disservice in the eyes of my academic peers: every time I'm in public in garb, I find myself dreading an encounter with a colleague. Insecurity is an awful thing.

The problem with the SCA is that I was a founder member of our Shire, and have only really been absent from officer positions in the last year or so: I relate to it in terms of an ongoing sense of responsibility which leads me to volunteer to do things when I know I don't have the time or energy. (The consciousness of being a gosh-darned Pelican really doesn't help with this). We're a tiny group so the organisational work habitually devolves onto the shoulders of a few energetic people, and I beat myself up with extended guilt trips about the added pressure on everyone else if I opt out. This means it's a no-win situation - either I get involved and feel resentful about it, or I don't, and resent the bad feelings I inflict on myself.

I've stepped back a bit from the SCA lately, but it clearly hasn't been enough: stepping away entirely is, I think, a necessary thing to break these negative patterns, but it's going to be horribly hard. The local SCA crowd are among my closest and most valued friends, responsible for wonderful experiences and memories, and I already feel that my reluctance to involve myself is on some level a betrayal of them. Half of them are cheerily managing careers and young families on top of their SCA activities, and it makes me feel particularly useless and feeble to say "I can't do this." But I honestly can't. I can't seem to stop myself from volunteering, so I need to not be taking part at all, at least for a bit.

We have this big March event with overseas visitors who are particularly dear to me, and I shall do my best to fulfill my obligations for that. After that, I'm packing up and moving out, muttering things about "clean break" and "when I have my head together". It's going to be a horrible scene, probably with me in tears. I hope the SCA doesn't throw things.

Last Night I Dreamed: diverse and confused things. Trying to rent a house from someone's particularly mad and demanding mother. Being at a large partyish thing and carrying around someone's rather cute baby boy, occasionally upside down or in the bottom of my handbag. Rescuing people from a burning skyscraper, in the middle of which I was also trying to help a couple of confused academics interpret mystic Chinese semaphore, and realising that I had to go home to change because I was not formally enough dressed for the wedding. Possibly I shouldn't eat a portion of Bubbling Chocolate Tar-pit Death just before going to bed.
  • Current Mood: sad sad
  • Current Music: David Bowie, Aladdin Sane
I can relate. I've been a compulsive volunteer in my time, and as much as one may enjoy and value it, sooner or later one also feels resentful and trapped. The best thing for it is a clean break. You've been doing this sort of thing longer than 10 years (back to early CLAWs at least) and unplugging/rebooting for a while will probably be very healthy.

I don't think the SCA will throw things. If it has any sense at all, it will cry, wish you well, and hope you come back sometime as a friend.

Bubbling Chocolate Tar-pit Death

Now I want that for breakfast...
I understand, oh, do I understand. I went through this about 2 years ago. I had taken a full-time job out of necessity, which involved a commute of close to 3 hours each day. Two months after I started, I got my first novel contract.

i struggled to keep all the balls in the air for a few months, but eventually I had to accept I couldn't do it all--and, in fact, I couldn't do some of it at all. After a locally run Kingdom event, we went out to dinner with friends who tried to convince me to hold a (admittedly small, but still) Kingdom office.

The next day, I told Ken I had to step back from the SCA entirely. I was unable to do it "just a little bit," I was unable to be happy going to an event and not being a part of the event, not helping out, not volunteering for something (not volunteering for bigger and bigger somethings)...

I turned off all my lists, I went to no events or workshops or, gods forbid, meetings. I still saw SCA friends, because they were still my friends, but not in an SCA venue.

Six months later I went to an event again, one that's local and very near and dear to my heart. It was good to see my friends. It was okay. It was even good.

That was two years ago. I'm not working that horrible job with the horrible commute, but my writing still has to be my focus. Thanks to my back problems and inability to drive at night coupled with Ken being essentially away for a year and a half, my events have been limited to local ones. I volunteer a tiny bit. I struggle constantly with truly desiring to do more.

Yes, some people will be upset at you. Yes, sometimes you'll miss it. But take the time you need. Step back, step away. Your true friends will stay with you. And, in time, you may find you want to return. Or not.

Best of luck and many hugs. If you want to talk about this more, just let me know!

It's actually a huge relief to know that I'm not the only one who has this compulsive, all-or-nothing approach to things like the SCA. Sometimes I wistfully contemplate what it would be like to simply take part without feeling the need to get stuck into the organisation - as you say, needing to be part of it. It's good to know that a break worked for you.

This new job is making me realise how much of a control freak I actually am, which is really the problem with my whole disfunctional relationship with the SCA. Memo to self, aspect of self Need Work, I really fondly imagined I'd learned to delegate...
You're right, of course. You're right in everything you say. No throwing. Much sadness.

If we're not to see you though SCA stuff, then we'll need to construct occasions when we *do* see you.
I didn't really expect things to be thrown, it just seemed to fit the break-up cliché... :>. You are all my friends, and have always been understanding above and beyond the call of friendship with regards to my messier dysfunctions. And, yes, was thinking exactly the same thing - more dinners! more lunches on campus! more general hanging out! Only not for the next two weeks, on account of madness.
Do what needs doing, take care of mental health first is the rule. No things will be thrown. Know how you feel.
I also tend to indulge in guilt orgies over having to limit the things I take on, when I can look around and always see half a dozen people who seem to be doing more, working harder, *and looking after small children* (the bastards, they just do it to make the rest of us look bad). But screw it, comparisons are odious. You know how much you can do, or not do, and that's what you have to stick to. V sensible.

Also, where can I get some Bubbling Chocolate Tar-Pit Death?

Interestingly enough, I'm very near to being in exactly the same place as you are (I'm still in the cutting back stage, but I can foresee a time when I may do the same). While I'm still seneschal, I'm barely doing anything else at all. Local events only, no real arts stuff happening in my home, and I can't even drum up enthusiasm for teaching these days.

My philosophy (as you know) is, "if it's not fun anymore, don't do it."

I must admit, however, that it's extremely hard to apply that philosophy to myself.