Introversion Introspective

 

There is no such thing as a born introvert. I may not be able to point out a specific research article or anything to back me up. But I do have my story. Maybe that’s enough.

 

All of us remember singing or dancing with exuberance as children. An awkward home video of a child singing not very well, what did you expect, not all of us are the next Taylor Swift. I my case it was a magic trick involving a camera cut. I stood there wobbly on my uncooperative ankles. A big flashy toy weapon hung in my hands. The camera cut on cue. I hid said sound weapon in a cardboard box. The camera started again with me holding nothing. A trick of the camera disappeared a toy thing.

 

Other memories of my singing along of ABBA for some ungodly reason. Dancing around with my sister as she spun me around by both hands. Listening to a ton of the Beach Boys, I had no idea what they were singing about. Something changed when I was around other kids my age. I clammed up and became shy. My parents never discouraged that behavior or modeled something different.

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Some traumatic event or more realistically a series of such events leads to introversion. The science suggests nature and nurture contributes to the continuum. I was always the smallest, weakest kid, so very few people were always nice to me. This initial trauma forced a tight limit on the number of friends that felt good. For, me that grew into focusing on a few close friends with the general exclusion of others. This started out well and good. The reality doesn’t sink in during childhood. Without exception these first dozen or so friends moved away, and I never saw them again. That’s a traumatic experience if it happens again, again, and again, and I almost forgot again. These friendships were all from my first elementary school.

 

The last two-thirds of sixth grade were in a new school. Unlike my old school, there weren’t many black or brown students let alone teachers, wah wah wahh. Let’s say some people didn’t like me very much as the wheelchair bound Indian kid. One kid, Mathias was showing me the lay of the land. Five dollar mechanical pencils were the equivalent of Letterman jackets. I didn’t really feel like investing in one such meaningless mark of social status. I had the cash but didn’t go there.

 

It was probably stupid considering what I did next. I got a broken Pilot G2 pen from Johnson, fixed the sucker, and never took it out. Then I asked the class jokester to see his whatever mechanical pencil. That kidder told me it was on his desk and I could look at it. Mathias stood right beside him giggling like the funniest thing was happening. I should have seen it as duping delight. That wasn’t on my mind because everyone was so nice. They always looked happy to see me, said Hi insistently, and were really friendly. Like a sap, I cruised down the really long hallway back to the classroom and looked. I was mad. There was nothing there.

 

I’m not trying to make an indictment here. That single event struck a fissure already deeply ingrained from everything before. Mathias and I became friends. I ignored Mr. Joker from then on. I also think the timing had a lot to do with it.

 

Just as the Fates turned on me, six months later they saw me back into their good graces. The school district boundaries changed and my middle school wouldn’t be the general vanilla of Osseo. The relative cornucopia of Brooklyn Junior was my future. That’s when my anti-social period began.

 

I wasn’t looking for friendship any longer. I hit the books for really the first time. I made a few loose friends but no one expect me valued those friendships. My mind turned over this intrinsic human need of companionship to my imagination.

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I watched everything and I mean every single thing going on. Using these observations, I storied their lives as I saw them. As flawed and isolating as this was, it created the components I now use to write. A few interesting characters were Harry, Gwen, and Veronica.

 

Harry was Mr. Cool. I felt he was really struggling in Honors. Basically, Harry was hitting above his average. His wardrobe needed work but the girls loved him as a friend. I could never really talk to girls throughout middle school or high school. Harry was my hero in that way.

 

Gwen was someone I always felt a connection to. I never worked up the courage to say a single word to her. The news got around to me through the usual ways. Did I mention the fact I hear like a bat. Eavesdropping was my skill that sometimes helped but usually kept everyone at arm’s length and gave me enough to feel a connection without interacting. Gwen was in the school play. Years later, I found a lot of similarities, more about that later.

 

Veronica was this person in all my Honors classes. I can probably still describe a ton of things that contributed to my story of her. I thought of her as a girl ahead on the maturity front, more open than most, a social butterfly, and a good person. This has no basis in truth, but I like to think it does.

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Now the part where I un-learn the lessons from all bad stuff delivered my way. I wasn’t that easy, in fact it was the hardest thing I had done up to that point. A few things motivated me to turn back the damage and try again. I lost the physical ability to speak. Very few people know that but there it is. I had stopped going outside and living some time before. The 20’s depression so many millennial’s have, had just ended with the beginning of my fiction writing career. I knew that marketing would be a big part of my future. I needed to escape the cage of my own creation.

 

This reclamation of my social self began with the common social medium of my generation, the attention trap that is Facebook or fb. I friended anyone I recognized from High School and on back, including everyone I imagined knowing. I didn’t recognize a few. This changed nothing because either the request is accepted or ignored. No friend requests are ever declined.

 

Then rejection therapy. I said hi to every single accepted friend. It was an internal battle each and every time. After the first hundred rejections things became a tad easier. I found a few people to talk to.

 

So I’ve exposed the possibility of rejection and faced it en masse. The next step was to learn the social lessons I passed over. I fb messaged like an awkward new-born. I talked about anything that worked. Each message ran a laundry list of worries through my head. Did I say the wrong thing? Should I apologize? This one I agonized over for days and weeks at a time. I projected my conscious into a shade of this friend and searched this new soul to understand what my friend was going through. I agonized, literally agonized this question. I’m not a nice person or a mean person. It isn’t possible to bridge the gap from being okay to being nice with an apology. I spent years ruining friendships thinking I could apologize my way to being a nice person.

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In time, by that I mean years later, I was ready to break through years of social anxiety with a final Karate chop. I made a list of secrets I had always been terrified to share with anyone. It was the usual stuff like bad experiences and the things you cherish the most. I forced myself to type them out and send them like clandestine missives, all on the very brink of a panic attack. My friends are the greatest, and I hope everyone can say that.

 

I went from a child having fun and not knowing better to a cynic with too many bad experiences. Now, I’m a speculative optimistic trying to get back everything I denied for years. People need friends. It might be easy to say forget them. If they can’t appreciate me, it’s their loss. I might be easy to say my friends love me. Do they really or just the part you show them. We all can have epic, radically honest, complete friendships. All we need is the motivation, the guile, and the bravery to confront the possibility of loss. Without that, what is the point to this maddening, meandering, mess we call life. There is no life in a vacuum.

 

Take life into your hands and make it your own. This is one story of my life. Take anything helpful and ignore the rest.

 

GK

Sucker Punch, Behind the Action.

(This contains spoilers.)

 

Sucker Punch is a psychological thriller starring Emily Browning (Babydoll), co-written and directed by Zach Snyder. Basically, the story was about a girl locked up in a psychiatric hospital for killing her sister. Her step-father bribed an orderly to get her lobotomized, so she couldn’t tell anyone he tried abusing his step-daughters. It seemed realistic considering the story was set in the pre-1950’s. In order to cope with her horrible situation, Babydoll hallucinated a different situation to still function and find a way out.

 

I have a nightmare along those lines long before watching Sucker Punch. I see something bad, like say a murder. When I tell someone about it, they accuse me of being crazy. There is no evidence other than my word and I start believing it. Then I’m stuck thinking I’m crazy and having a lingering paranoia that the murderer is following me. What’s really scary is never knowing if it actually happened or if it’s all in my head.

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I’ll start with a dissection of the plot and the reasoning as I see it. The asylum is a converted theater. Dr. Gorski uses the disused stage for reenactment therapy. Babydoll imagines another situation that is slightly better, a dancer and prostitute. I think it’s slightly better than being sane in an asylum. Some undeniable elements of her reality still carry through.

 

I read through a long discussion on IMDB from user aliciabaldelli that shows a different perspective.

 

The narration at the beginning and end were interesting, I mean thought provoking. This is a transcript from an Internet search that sounds about right.

 

Everyone has an Angel.

 

A guardian who watches over us. We can’t know what form they’ll take. One day, old man. Next day, little girl. But don’t let appearances fool you. They can be as fierce as any dragon. Yet they’re not here to fight our battles but to whisper from our heart reminding that it’s us. It’s every one of us who holds the power over the worlds we create.

 

We can deny our angels exist, convince ourselves they can’t be real. But they show up anyway. At strange places. And at strange times. They can speak through any character we can imagine. They’ll shout through demons if they have to, daring us, challenging us to fight.

 

Now for me this means someone is looking out for you. This person can take many forms, hurt or help, all to show you the way forward. These angels make you into the person you’re supposed to be. They echo with something deep inside of us and that’s how we change. Belief in this isn’t a contingency, but this is how life works.

 

Babydoll is, in reality, stuck in a mental asylum. She imagines being in a brothel. And sometimes goes into another level of abstraction as an action hero. Each of these imagined constructions tie back to something in reality.

 

Each time Babydoll dances, she is remembering something painful from her past. I like to think this is enough distraction to get the things she needs to escape. When she dances for Chef, it doesn’t really make sense. He wouldn’t be interested. That discussion post from IMDB offered a different explanation. Those action sequences are actually when Babydoll used her sexuality to get what she needed to escape. More about that later.

 

I wasn’t ready for that interpretation. I used to think each action sequence was a representation of a session with Dr. Groski. The first sequence was Babydoll fighting three clay soldiers. Before you are forced to tell an uncomfortable secret, three things happen. Each soldier represented an internal enemy. The first soldier had a long nose like Pinocchio. Lies are the defense. What secrets? Nothing happened. It meant nothing to me. Then comes anger and finally fear. Why aren’t you believing me? Just listen to what I’m saying. Don’t believe me. Fine be like that. I can’t tell. He’ll find out. I can’t tell you anything. Will you protect me? Can you protect me? Then you finally start talking.

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Clay soldiers before the battle.

The next action sequence was fighting against clockwork zombies in the trenches, literally WWI trenches. My thoughts drew to this being about the death of her mother. How everything that happening in Babydoll’s life somehow reminded her of the people she lost. Every turn brought the loss back, painful as ever. Every turn in the trenches brought more zombies.

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A glamor shot.

The third one was a castle siege to steal the crystals from the throat of a baby dragon. To me, this felt like survivor’s guilt. Babydoll felt responsible for the deaths of her mother and sister, mainly because she lived through it. In this action sequence, Babydoll killed the baby and mother dragons.

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After killing the baby dragon.

Unlike every other action hallucination, the last one happened in the kitchen. Dr. Gorski wasn’t anywhere to be found. My idea this was a representation of a therapy session didn’t fit. I’ll change just this one into a sexual distraction so her friends could get a knife from Chef. What she imagines serves as motivation. She needs to live for everyone she lost.

 

The action sequence is about stopping a high-speed train carrying a bomb. Their failure very closely resembled what happened the night her sister died. Babydoll lost someone trying to stop something bad happening. The bulb matched the city exploding. They get what they’re after.

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Abbie Cornish as Sweat Pea, last action sequence.

At the end, we return to the asylum. We now know everything she imagined at the brothel actually happened. She went through with the lobotomy because she wanted it. Living with the pain of accidentally killing her sister while trying to protect her, was too much.

 

The end narration transcript is again from the same site.

 

And finally, this question: The mystery of who’s story it will be. Of who draws the curtain. Who is it that chooses our steps in the dance? Who drives us mad, lashes us with whips and crowns us with victory when we survive the impossible? Who is it that does all these things? Who honors those we love with the very life we live? Who sends monsters to kill us and at the same time sings that we will never die?

 

Who teaches us what’s real and how to laugh at lies? Who decides why we live and what we’ll die to defend? Who chains us? And who holds the Key that can set us free?

 

It’s you.

 

You have all the weapons you need.

 

Now Fight.

 

I think this means something along the lines of people only have the power over you that you give them. Something is not inherently good or bad, it just is. Beauty and grotesquerie are in the eyes of the beholder. What you think makes something good or bad. An example is death. It’s generally accepted that death is bad. But aren’t there a few good things too? Fear of death makes you live more. We want to make the most from our limited time. When we reach near the end of something there’s this pressure to do everything we continually postpone. There won’t be another time. The choice becomes now or never, and there is no later.

 

In the premise of Sucker Punch, this applied to a pre-frontal lobotomy. This procedure scrambles the seat of conscious thought, basically psychological death. This is generally considered a bad thing. Can it not also be good? Take for example the situation Babydoll found herself in. She has nothing left. All the people she loved are dead. The last of whom, she killed by her own hand. Isn’t psychological death the ultimate way out? If that’s your mental place, wouldn’t a lobotomy fix the issue? It adds some other difficulties, but you’re no longer there. Self-sacrifice means nothing if another isn’t saved. That’s what happened.

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Before lobotomy

That quote goes on to say all the weapons are your own, so fight. First, let’s accept the conclusion thoughts determine the bad or good qualities of anything. So the question becomes if something thought to be bad is coming and there’s no way out, how can you defeat it. The first option is always to escape. That isn’t available. Neutralizing enemies never works, because there are always more. If you have one bully that you chase away, another is always waiting. If there’s no bully, then it’s something else. You can face your enemy and win by turning the bad into good. So fight against your own precepts or established beliefs. Find some way to make the inevitable acceptable.  Take for example facing death. Force your thoughts to the good. Think of everything you’ve done. Think of everything you won’t regret.

 

It’s a sobering message but it matches the world of Sucker Punch. I told you what happened but the movie wasn’t done justice here. It bears a semblance to reality, but that’s up to you, the viewer. Tell me what you think. Later.

 

GK