I am officially back among the living again. 🙂
I never was really totally gone, unless you count the lack of productivity in my own writing.
So I had an interesting realization while taking that time off. Mary Sue is a HARD woman to kill, LOL. She shows up in the oddest damned places too. For those of you not familiar with the term, a “Mary Sue” is an overly perfect character; super popular, smart, good at everything, super model level attractive, etc… The archetype is often seen as the writer’s idealized version of themself. The male version is sometimes called a Marty Stu.
My first City of Heroes character was very much a Mary Sue. As I studied more about writing and character development, I got further away from that over-idealized stereotype and made characters for writing and games that were more balanced. Not perfect, but much better. Up till last night, I thought I’d slain the dread Mary Sue.
Then, as I’m killing time playing Champions Online with a friend, I realize that Mary Sue had snuck back into my life. This time a bit more of the idealized me than the perfect person scenario. My character “Paladin” is a power armor character much along the lines of Marvel’s Iron Man. Maybe closer to War Machine actually. I can honestly say I made her BEFORE Marvel turned Rhodey into a jet jockey though.
Side note; he was originally an army helicopter pilot in Vietnam.
So, the character is an Air Force pilot that gets into bad dogfight while taking up two rookie pilots for training in the Middle East. They get jumped by a group of Russian Migs. She gets the other two away safely and manages to shoot down two of the five Migs, but not before her plane is hit and she takes some shrapnel to her lower spine.
She’s initially told she won’t walk again. Being a Tony Stark level inventor though, she invents her armor initially as a suit to act as a junction to her legs and let her walk again. It grows into the Paladin armor over time from there.
Recapping the character’s origin story for an in-game friend, I realized that she was an idealized version (sort of) of me, and that I apparently haven’t come to terms with my physical issues as much as I thought.
I haven’t talked much about my own health problems. I want to be known for what I do (or at least write or say) rather than my issues. Some folks whine and milk their problems to death also, to the point that I think most folks are sick of it all. Just as a another side note, I do differentiate between that and those of you who blog to help others deal with similar situations. Completely opposite things there.
Anyway, I have stage two spinal degeneration in my entire back. That means degenerated (herniated) discs, and bone spurs, but the vertebrae haven’t started fusing together yet. A good portion of the herniation is mild; only a few centimeters. Other spots, like my lower back (right where I envisioned Paladin getting hit by shrapnel), is pretty bad. I have a completely torn disc in my neck also, thanks to a crap chiropractor.
The bone spurs are where the real problem is. I also have a swollen tendon on the left side of my neck, and the bone spurs tend to pinch it when my neck goes out of alignment. THAT triggers massive Cervogenic headaches. I also have a tremor in my left arm that the doctors are still debating if it’s related to pinched nerves OR early onset Parkinson’s disease. So yeah, I’m a mess, LOL. I’m still mobile though, and there are people out there alot worse off than me. Being aware of that, I thought I’d kept a pretty good attitude about everything.
Then last night it hits me that Paladin is how I wish I could fix my problems and not feel as useless as I often do. What makes it hard for me is that I was brought up to believe people should be as self sufficient as possible. My issues have derailed completely the last couple of jobs I’ve had. If I’m very sedentary, I do OK. Activity has everything popping out of joint and me in real pain. So, I’m OK if I sit around and do nothing. Blah!
That’s all the more difficult to take because at my peak I was extremely active. I’ve mentioned my martial arts training a few times. At my best, I was training 3 hours a day between two different schools, and loving it. When I was younger, my parents told me I was too much of a wuss to take classes and that I’d only cry and quit. Doing itfor 3 hours a day was a real sense of empowerment.
So, things are still more of a struggle than I’d like to admit; coming to terms with my condition and feeling like I should somehow be doing more… It even gnaws at my writing productivity. Why am I doing this when I should be finding a way to make money, etc… Even reminding myself that I intend to be published doesn’t help shut up that nagging doubt.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m in a better place than I was even a year ago. It’s just frustrating realizing how far I still have to go.
There’s also a lesson here that lessons will show up in the darnedest places and ways if you really look for them.