To Bitch or Not to Bitch
I take things too personally. I admit it. My persecution complex is very real and deep seated. We are the sum products of our upbringing, education, and influences. As an elementary and middle school aged child, I was obese before it was fashionable. Picture Eric Cartman- that’s basically what I looked like. It pains me to admit I had a bit of his snarky attitude as well. My biting young wit probably prevented me from being regularly bullied.
By the time I entered fifth grade, there was no hiding the fact I was much larger than the other kids. To my horror, I realized what this meant in terms of other kids liking me. One of my best friends just started ignoring me and said we weren’t friends any longer. Another kid who lived near me, someone I’d played with often, again just told me in no uncertain terms to leave him alone. They didn’t even want to talk to me. Just because I was fat. While that wasn’t really garden variety bullying, it hurt tremendously and left emotional scars. There is no doubt that being an overweight child was one of the influences for my book Bullyocracy.
Two incidents from my childhood formed this persecution complex within me. As an armchair psychologist, I recognize this clearly now. When I was eleven, I was an exceptional baseball player. Especially considering my ridiculously overweight body. I won the Little League batting title, and in one of the true highlights of my life, got the game winning hit in the championship game. The other kids tried to carry me off the field, but I was too fat. No one from my family was there to see it, adding to my baggage, and there wasn’t much reaction when I told them. Still, it was glorious to experience something like that. Most people never do.
At the awards banquet after that season, when they were handing out individual championship trophies, the coach (a stern, military officer, like all my childhood coaches) made a brief speech about each player. When it came to me, this guy didn’t mention my hit that won the championship. He didn’t mention my winning the batting title. He glossed over my pitching- which he stopped me from doing after the opposing teams and too many parents snickered and made comments about my weight. Apparently this negative attention was more important than the fact I was pretty dominant on the mound, too, and won him the few games he let me pitch.
This coach, in fact, treated me like a player at the end of the roster- the kind that participation rules require you to play at least three innings every game. The kind they hide in right field. He made some generic comments that could have applied to any random player, and I tried not to show my disappointment. And this coach put the cherry on top by not naming me to the All Star team. I lost a lot of my enthusiasm for baseball after that.
A few years later, when I was in eighth grade, and at my obese peak (5’1 and 175 pounds), I still had the self-confidence to try out for the Middle School basketball team. I wanted to be a Rimrocker more than anything. They held an open tryout, and again despite my laughable appearance, I dominated the scrimmage game. Every shot I flung up (and yes, I was a bit of a gunner) went in, and I scored more points than any other kid- it wasn’t even close. I even stole the ball a few times and waddled in for layups. The other players went from giggling and mocking to astonishment. A few even patted me on the back in acknowledgement of my performance.
At the end of tryouts, the P.E. teacher/coach called out twelve names. Mine was one of them. It felt surreal to walk up and get the papers from him for my parents to sign. Many of the kids congratulated me. This was on a Friday. I told my family, but again there was little reaction. But I was on cloud nine all weekend long. That Saturday, one of the most popular kids in the school rode his bike over to my house to hang out with me. It was beginning to dawn on me that this was going to change my life. I couldn’t wait for school on Monday, to receive more kudos from my peers.
But early Monday morning, the coach called me into his office. He avoided looking me in the eye as he confessed that he’d made a “mistake.” He’d actually meant to call out another boy, who had a similar last name. I knew this was absurd. He saw me walk up- and I definitely didn’t look like that kid or anyone else there- and handed me the papers. But what could I say or do? I was crushed. It was like the prettiest girl in school breaking a prom date as you pull up to her house in the limousine. It wasn’t hard to tell my family- again, there wasn’t much of a reaction. But everyone in the school knew. At least I wasn’t teased about it. I think even they knew there was something very wrong about this.
I still process these two events in my mind, which is probably counterproductive. Did someone tell the coach he couldn’t let an obese kid on the team? Did they realize they didn’t have a uniform that big? Did he fear that I would be the butt of too much cruel taunting, much as had been the case in Little League Baseball, and that this would negatively impact the team? Ultimately, it was inexplicable, but it ignited my sensitivities like never before.
The therapists tell people like me, “you’re talking things personally, and the truth is others are just not thinking of you.” That may be the case, but once it becomes ingrained in your mind, you start to notice everything. You compare how others are treated. You develop a complex. Fortunately, my immense self-confidence offsets the persecution complex somewhat. But your spidey sense goes off way too easily. When my kids were young, I started noticing perceived slights that they were subjected to. I had transferred my persecution complex onto them. I never made it much of an issue, though, because I didn’t want to embarrass them. So I just let it fester.
I achieved my greatest career goal in 2007, when I first became a published author. Not many people reach that kind of goal, and I am very grateful for it. But it opened up a whole new area for my persecution complex to wander around in. I haven’t had many negative reviews, so that wasn’t really an issue. Instead, as my notoriety grew in our niched conspiracy world, I began noticing the jockeying for position, and the juvenile hierarchal games being played. We are all big fish to varying degrees, in a pretty small pond. I don’t kid myself that anyone outside the world of alternative media knows who I am. Many inside the alternative media don’t know who I am. I’m not delusional.
Despite the unexpected success of my first nonfiction book, Hidden History, I have had to accept the fact that the most logical readership base for it- the JFK assassination research community- has largely ignored it. Several of these people- whom I’ve known in a cyber sense for many years- have deleted me on Facebook because of my COVID and/or Trump posts. When you suffer from a persecution complex, this really stings. You feel a real sense of rejection. Some of them were people who raved about my posts on JFK forums, or who interviewed me on their shows. But at least I can rationalize the JFK people, because most do not share my views on other subjects.
It’s the people who I seem to be in lockstep agreement with about most everything, that nevertheless don’t invite me back on their shows (after raving on air about how fabulous I am, and how they have to have me back for multiple appearances), that really baffle me. That just triggers my persecution complex. Or guests I’ve had on my radio show, sometimes more than once, who simply don’t answer my emails, tweets, or Facebook messages any more.
And so I wonder now, as I wondered then; what did I do? Why do people that agree with me on the issues, and who seemed to love me, stop communicating with me? With no explanation? I don’t expect people to be as anal as I am about answering emails, or liking Facebook posts. Few are as prompt in this regard as my wonderful friend John Barbour. But I don’t get never getting an answer at all. Is it entirely my persecution complex at play here, that is offended? Isn’t it rude not to respond to interview requests, or when someone sends you an autographed book? Are most people just clueless, or uncaring? Are the therapists right- they aren’t thinking of me?
I have stopped posting on Facebook, except to promote interviews or my writing. I have the maximum amount of 5000 friends, and 95 percent of them wanted to be connected to me. They sent me friend requests. Many included a note about my book or books, or blog, or interviews, telling me how great I am. But then almost all of these people disappear into a black hole on my page. No likes or comments. Ever. So why did they want to be hooked up with me in the first place? Whether I am being shadow banned, or these alleged fans just have no more interest in what I have to say, it is tiresome to get so few responses. And again, the persecution complex kicks in, and I compare myself with others on Facebook, and Twitter, whose standing in the conspiracy world is no higher than mine, and can’t help but see how much more support they get.
I am fully aware of how uncivil Americans have become in general. I guess parents stopped teaching their children to say “thank you” when appropriate. My wife and I would always be shocked at how few people bothered to RSVP to a birthday party or whatever. These were educated, middle-class people. Perhaps I have unrealistic expectations. Maybe manners are another relic from America 1.0. Is what I perceive as a personal slight just symptomatic of the general deterioration in society of empathy and politeness? Even among my “awake” comrades?
I’ve resorted to begging here, on Facebook and Twitter, on my radio show. Asking people who’ve told me how much they loved one or all of my books to please give it a good rating on Goodreads and Amazon. Since almost none of them appear willing to take the 30 seconds or so to do this, it seems highly unlikely that they’d bother contributing financially via PayPal. Others doing the exact same thing I am, and in most cases not doing as much, are getting people to contribute to their PayPals, or Patreon, or whatever accounts. I’m living out my dream as a full-time writer, but the pay is akin to working at McDonald’s. They tell me I have to mention this more, but it feels uncomfortable, and I’m obviously not very good at it. For the record, my PayPal is email@example.com.
I understand why I relate so well to Woody Allen. I basically have many personality characteristics of a neurotic Jew. Constantly judging how others are looking at me, questioning their motives. Narcissistically obsessing how things are impacting me. If I could afford it, I’d be talking to a therapist every day. Not that I’d listen to their advice, or even respect them, mind you. But I need a sounding board, like Allen, Howard Stern, and other self-absorbed celebrities who can pay for one. My ego has been stroked enough to make it swell. I can’t imagine living with an ego the size of famous actors, athletes, or rock stars. No wonder so many of them act the way they do.
But the most difficult thing I’ve had to adjust to as each subsequent book has been released, and I’ve been invited on various media platforms, or communicated with true celebrities, is the total disinterest from almost all of my very large family. Almost every day, people from all over the world contact me, and tell me how much they loved one or more of my books, or my radio show. My family members don’t even acknowledge I have books or a radio show. I stopped talking about them at all at family gatherings. Well, when there were family gatherings. Like so many others I’ve talked to, I’ve had no influence whatsoever on my relatives. Almost every one buys into the pandemic/lockdown/vaccine narrative. They know I won’t get vaxxed, and it’s possible I’ll never see them again because of that.
I came from odd family circumstances. My oldest sister was already a mother when I was born; she is nineteen years my elder. I didn’t really meet her until I was fourteen. My mother had me at age forty six, which would be like sixty six now. I was so much younger than my three siblings that I felt like an only child growing up. My parents were more like my grandparents. My mother thought everything I did was great, so praise from her didn’t mean as much. My father never praised me for anything. When I went on a crash diet between eighth and ninth grades, and lost forty pounds, no one in my family noticed. Literally. I went from Eric Cartman to being a pretty good looking high school freshman. Yet no one recognized this for the accomplishment it was; instead, I was treated the same.
So perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me that my relatives pretty much ignore my late blooming writing career. Apparently, they couldn’t even summon up a congratulations when I totally transformed my appearance as a teenager. Maybe I have a crappy family, I don’t know. Or perhaps that persecution complex kicked in then, and is still being triggered. I think I have lauded my loved ones when it’s been appropriate, but they could see things differently.
I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m indulging in self-pity. My problems are all “first world.” It’s ridiculous for me to complain about them. But I still do. One of the benefits of being a writer is engaging in self-exploration. I have a hyper critical personality. As my loved ones advise me, “give people a break.” But at least I can turn that critical eye on myself. I know my flaws better than anyone. My persecution complex is perhaps my biggest weakness.
I didn’t intend to bore readers with my personal baggage. I could elaborate on my antipathy for the rich, which was triggered at age seven by a monstrous injustice inflicted upon my teenage brother by the daughter of a powerful military General. That incident occurred on the same day JFK was assassinated. Talk about a double whammy psychologically! Two of the most significant events in my life, as it turned out.
It’s cathartic to explore these things. To understand where something originated, even though it seems impossible to combat. I am very appreciative of, and emboldened by, all the kind words of encouragement I regularly receive. We are all imperfect. And fragile enough to be stung by “the slings and arrows” of neglect or criticism. Rest assured that I am thankful for each and every one of you who take the time to read what I write or listen to what I have to say.