Looking at how long I’ve struggled with this project, from 2010-now, but mainly 2012 to 2015, I’ve had to recognize things I had no knowledge of, however much I hunted and gathered all the information and needed help. When I found that traffic graph in 2013, figuring out what it meant I looked over months of silent readers and was completely stunned. That’s when the grief cycle began. I use the old model for the five stages even though many of us are aware that those stages are not absolute. Some patterns are added or two will be weaved in. So, all of that hard work and laughter and I’m hearing nothing for ages from a silent audience?
“Denial is the first of the five stages of grief. It helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. We try to find a way to simply get through each day. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief.”
I’ve held on to this denial for some time now. It doesn’t make sense to me nor any of my newest supporters that so damned many people could enjoy my work and not want to express that with more than being a number, a like-clicker, or just a lurker. People share they’re work, in most cases, for communication on it, unless they’re out to make money. Fanwork usually makes no profit whatsoever. It can’t. The only gain is the knowledge of what was enjoyed.
People who enjoy anything in the arts and entertainment like to discuss what they enjoy with someone else. Pen pals express their hobbies and favourites in streams, as well as who they are. Why? Because they’re looking for those of like-mind they will get along with and enjoy the discourse of letter-writing with. (Some people are happy with the idea of “friendship” and that solely, which is why social networks provide the lazy-style of comfort they need for approval. They can simply assume who cares and who that person is. The rest of us don’t work that way.)
With this my stage of denial still lingers even now. How could you not want to discuss what I’m creating with me? As my newest friend has stated, “It’s natural to want to talk to someone or express what was enjoyed. What is wrong with these people?”
“Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal. There are many other emotions under the anger and you will get to them in time, but anger is the emotion we are most used to managing. The truth is that anger has no limits. It can extend not only to your friends, the doctors, your family, yourself and your loved one who died, but also to God. You may ask, “Where is God in this? Underneath anger is pain, your pain. It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned, but we live in a society that fears anger. Anger is strength and it can be an anchor, giving temporary structure to the nothingness of loss. At first grief feels like being lost at sea: no connection to anything… The anger becomes a bridge over the open sea, a connection from you to them. It is something to hold onto; and a connection made from the strength of anger feels better than nothing.We usually know more about suppressing anger than feeling it. The anger is just another indication of the intensity of your love.”
I think my rants and aggravation has been seen many times by my readers and listeners. What choice was I left to? No one was helping. No one was showing they cared minus Helena but she stepped in 19 months after that silence happened and we maintain our friendship to this day. She went looking for stories to enjoy and expressed herself naturally. Why bother with something for that long if it doesn’t mean anything to you?
I went to investigate why this happened to me and I found a ton of dirty laundry out there from Dark Shadows fans. It ain’t hidden either. Type in a search engine for pairings of Barnabas/Julia or Barnabas/Angelique and you’ll find plenty of stories that aren’t often true to the characters with many people upset at Barnabas for not being in love with either of these women, or having done them wrong. For Barnabas and Maggie or Josette fans looking and then finding that kind of thing? They’ll have doubt cast on themselves and they’ll also feel badgered and hurt. They won’t want to reach out. They won’t even want to look anymore. In fact, they have to hear this crap from people who approach them. Was finding that out going to piss me off? It sure was! I didn’t pick who Barnabas loved. I looked for a relief series and couldn’t find one. Did I care about who loved who? Only in as much that they weren’t reaching each other on the program. My first hurt was Tony & Carolyn.
As far as I am concerned now? They’re fine.
What the hell do I care to throw insults at a miserable vampire for not loving some broad? What mattered to me is he loved Josette, and she him, and I saw Maggie constantly struggling with feeling lost about herself, among other signs. I care about the characters and requited-loves finding harmony in reaching each other. I’m the same with real people.
Again, I started all this because of Sam Evans, that was the final straw, but in for a penny in for a pound.
So yes, I’ve been very angry. I’ve been angry at the silence and I’ve been angry at what caused that silence and I’ve been angry at the people perpetuating that behaviour to continue. It took years to find out that fans of this pairing for Barnabas were being kept away from each other in almost the same way as the couple itself. They don’t want to “take-over” or whatever the idea is with so many of the other fans. They want their own small corner of the world to enjoy each others company and heal their hurts together. And that’s been treated like a crime or some world-domination idea. Barnabas and Josette were planning to run away to Boston together. As far as I’m concerned I’d be happy to meet all the fans of this pairing right there! Perhaps a nice little coffee shop out of the way somewhere. (Not a massive crowd of supposed Dark Shadows fans. In the majority for them? I have not been impressed.)
“Before a loss, it seems like you will do anything if only your loved one would be spared. “Please God, ” you bargain, “I will never be angry at my wife again if you’ll just let her live.” After a loss, bargaining may take the form of a temporary truce. “What if I devote the rest of my life to helping others. Then can I wake up and realize this has all been a bad dream?” We become lost in a maze of “If only…” or “What if…” statements. We want life returned to what is was; we want our loved one restored. We want to go back in time: find the tumor sooner, recognize the illness more quickly, stop the accident from happening…if only, if only, if only. Guilt is often bargaining’s companion. The “if onlys” cause us to find fault in ourselves and what we “think” we could have done differently. We may even bargain with the pain. We will do anything not to feel the pain of this loss. We remain in the past, trying to negotiate our way out of the hurt. People often think of the stages as lasting weeks or months. They forget that the stages are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we flip in and out of one and then another. We do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion. We may feel one, then another and back again to the first one.”
Bargaining, if I haven’t gone through this one back and forth? I have no idea what else happened. I have bargained like crazy. I went from rants to apologies to “What will work best for these people?” I care about them and I care about myself. Maybe they only have phones. Well, suggest a smile-face or something. Hmm, well maybe they’re disabled, try other avenues. Maybe I could reach out to fans in the other fandoms. That actually worked quite well! Try other fan work sites. Hmm… okay, well, let’s make the show in audio and make it the best I can, that’ll get people talking. Not really… Care package plan? Better. Let’s try tumblr… whoops! Wow, there’s a WHOLE lotta arse-holes there…
until I found The Addams Family crowd, weeeeeee!
Well, the people listening like-click as if there is no tomorrow. Maybe I can just find book club types, or college radio geeks, or just radio geeks and they can do the talking? Oh boy… even hundreds and hundreds MORE numbers. But discussion? No dice! (Actually, over the years I’ve had a few people step up to the plate mainly to say, “I didn’t really listen to it, but this and this and this was wrong and here’s some more advice even though I didn’t pay attention.” Ummmmm…. okay…. 😛 )
I believe the list of bargaining for me is too long to relate here.
These last two stages rather melded together. What happened is about three people came forth recently and said strait up how good the work was, how much they were enjoying it, one even said she felt guilty she wasn’t paying and could I please open a donations account. (There is a plan in the works for that.) Another got all thirteen episodes reviewed and commented on in less than a month! For Episode 10 “The Kids Are All Right” he added,
Your adopted people are growing well and their numbers are as well. So is channeling like having multiple personalities? Just asking if we all need to warn your husband… You have done a remarkable job in this and your hard work is liked. People as you have said seem to not want to either do more then “like” or just be a number. I think social networks and such have done a great injustice to all. Before we would say we enjoyed or thank you. Now press like or share! This, I think, is the greatest wall with your followers. We have yet again been further removed from reaching out to others. Well I, for one, stand with you.
May they see that “like” does not say enough. It is robotic. A non committal response.
Another new friend has been completely livid at the treatment I’ve received since we found each other. How could someone with this much skill in writing, talent in acting, and versatility in creating the audio and being so giving with so much get treated like dirt?
That was when those last two stages arrived for me:
After bargaining, our attention moves squarely into the present. Empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level, deeper than we ever imagined. This depressive stage feels as though it will last forever. It’s important to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness. It is the appropriate response to a great loss. We withdraw from life, left in a fog of intense sadness, wondering, perhaps, if there is any point in going on alone? Why go on at all? Depression after a loss is too often seen as unnatural: a state to be fixed, something to snap out of. The first question to ask yourself is whether or not the situation you’re in is actually depressing. The loss of a loved one is a very depressing situation, and depression is a normal and appropriate response. To not experience depression after a loved one dies would be unusual. When a loss fully settles in your soul, the realization that your loved one didn’t get better this time and is not coming back is understandably depressing. If grief is a process of healing, then depression is one of the many necessary steps along the way.
It’s true. It happened. I have been treated very badly as well as harassed and insulted by those I was never looking for.
Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened. This is not the case. Most people don’t ever feel OK or all right about the loss of a loved one. This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality. We will never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it. It is the new norm with which we must learn to live. We must try to live now in a world where our loved one is missing. In resisting this new norm, at first many people want to maintain life as it was before a loved one died. In time, through bits and pieces of acceptance, however, we see that we cannot maintain the past intact. It has been forever changed and we must re-adjust. We must learn to reorganize roles, re-assign them to others or take them on ourselves. Finding acceptance may be just having more good days than bad ones. As we begin to live again and enjoy our life, we often feel that in doing so, we are betraying our loved one. We can never replace what has been lost, but we can make new connections, new meaningful relationships, new inter-dependencies. Instead of denying our feelings, we listen to our needs; we move, we change, we grow, we evolve. We may start to reach out to others and become involved in their lives. We invest in our friendships and in our relationship with ourselves. We begin to live again, but we cannot do so until we have given grief its time.
For I? It is the loss of potential, what could have gone faster, been better. Not an actual person, but an entity of creation and the creativity to go along with it. Being misled, as well as misunderstood in a wild array of patterns I’d already seen before in my family life, institutions, and so-called friendships that came before.
I’ve been told things I knew were either untrue or wrong and told persistently as a way of others covering up their own guilt or personal-shortcomings. So what? You spent just as much time defending ill-actions by one’s self and others when that time could have been better spent in simply looking over the work and getting to the task of discussion. It took one man 20 days to get through all thirteen episodes and answer the discussion questions. It’s not like he wasn’t “busy” too. But others are still saying, “I’ll get to it.” after over a year. Do you feel guilty about that? Stop. Solving a problem takes less time and gives you more in return. We all know this. Condescending me about it just makes the wound even bigger, for you and for me. And then when the people who make that effort come forward? Who do you feel better for? Me or you?
In The Pit of Ultimate Dark Shadows problems are solved with the help of outside communities. What happens when that takes place?
Further opportunity to achieve, solve more, enjoy your time being alive & well, or at least content. The people of Collinsport are better off because others pointed things out they could use to improve their circumstances, or simply stepped in to keep harm from being done to the point the Collins clan began doing it too.
As I move through the original series once more to find what problems are coming up? Well, Adam is no longer in my series. His troubles were sorted with long ago. Victoria and Peter have less to worry about being with Gomez, Morticia and the rest in their home. The tides turned and there is still loads to solve, but the same people are finding their strengths and moving forward, even Willie Loomis who is wrestling with giving himself more credit as others are showing him how.
So even with my stages of grief, which will never eliminate what has happened to me, I still look for solutions to continue. I know I’ve been treated quite horribly, even by family and friends from before, some of who swore they would try to help, and a few very slowly do. There is no form of gas-lighting or dissuading me that this isn’t true. I’ve been through all the tricks and I know better. On top of that I look for people who hurt to try and help them in whatever way I can. If others would like to mock that aspect of me we shall wonder at them and what purpose in life they could have.
All I wanted was 25 people and 5 perspectives per episode, that was all. I’ve looked everywhere, because of the people who can’t talk, to find those 5 and so far I’ve only found about 3 for the whole after all of this time and struggle looking. And the downloads continue daily, have been since Episode 13 was released last Christmas. I can’t do much more than wait and keep going now. Promotion and advertising has seldom done much for this. The talkers usually approach me first.
As for myself, I like the small band of chatty types I’ve found. The people who love Barnabas flaws and all, who love his happiness in “Margaret Josette Dupres” after watching his hurt, the people who saw Maggie as the reincarnation of Josette but couldn’t put it into words. We have a lot of healing to do together, and lot of things we need to talk about, both in horror and in love. So it’s starting and I pray that continues. Maybe that old quote I found at a bus stop will finally ring true again someday.
By the way, I snapped this picture with an old camera in Seattle. I’ve seen my view stats and Sea-Tac is hitting me big time looking for more. So, guys? I’ve been up there. I know for absolute certain you have the chat in you. You live in gloomy weather with shining smiles for it. Stop lurking, Washington. Start talkin’. 😉