A few months ago, in the middle of what I perceived as a traumatic event (a relationship breaking up, I thought because the other party wanted it to) someone made this statement to me:
“I love you, but you have to remember, it’s not always The Amanda Show.”
The person who said that does *not* love me–she knows me a little, and largely disapproves of my living a life that actually looks a bit similar to hers, but LESS self-centred–but more than that, she doesn’t even know me enough to understand how those words would hit me.
End of 2011, I went through a bad patch. By which I mean, I was past the point of wondering if I should kill myself, and planning it out as carefully as I could. In the end, a few things stopped me (as they always do, for people who genuinely want their pain to stop but don’t manage to do it): 1, I was the primary carer for my very young children, at the time, and although I was *pretty* sure they’d be better off without me anyway, I still held out a little hope that that was just my depression talking; 2, even if I *did* think they’d be better off without me, I didn’t want them to find me (I didn’t think THAT would do their little psyches any good–better for me to just disappear, rather than them finding Mommy unresponsive in a pool of blood); and 3, I wasn’t sure whether I needed to take them with me.
I know how that sounds, obviously. It’s the ugliest thought in the world, but… I mean, they were so little and helpless, and I was clearly their favourite person out of all the other people in their lives, though I couldn’t see why… so yeah, I was struggling with the, “Well it’s wrong to kill them, but they’re SO young to be without their mother, and I’m not sure how much longer I can stick around….?” –and then of course, I started taking some medication (just a basic anti-depressant and an anti-anxiety med) and within a month, less I think, I was looking back at that and thinking, “Oh Jesus CHRIST what was wrong with me, how could I have even…?????”
Fast forward a couple of years, and I’m trying to make up for lost time. On my good days, I take the kids out (sometimes spending more money than I have, further racking up debt I can just about afford to pay off in another 30 years, no I’m not exaggerating there) and we do as much as we can, before I just can’t do any more.
When I’m with my friends, it’s much the same; I will pick up the bar tab, if I can, and cover someone’s meal, if I can, and I will get my partner to give lifts and lend out my sofa and spare room and do whatever is possible, to get as many of us as possible, all in the same place, having a good time.
And for all of it, I am the undisputed *queen* of the camera phone. This year alone, I managed to fill 4 separate folders (kept on my desktop, sloppy I know) all with at least 200 pictures in them, of us all just out having normal friendship days. That’s not counting the folders full of pics of the kids; although there are probably less of those, since I’m happier to push adults to let me take pics, than I am to push my (still semi-non-verbal, autistic) children. In a number of the photos, I am front and centre, grinning a pretty unattractively toothy grin, make-up on, pushed into a good bra and wearing colours that suit me and doing everything I can, to make it look like, on that day, I was happy and I had a good time and there were people around me that love me.
Is that what’s meant by “The Amanda Show”? My admittedly unending need for people to show me signs of affection, and, where possible, to have it documented? “On this day in 2015, from approximately 21:30 to midnight, Amanda was in a pub surrounded by people she knows, who are all smiling and laughing and some are even posing for selfies with her, and even though she’s at the edge of the group and struggles to talk to more than 1-2 people at a time and she’s so drunk she’d have trouble standing if she closed her eyes, hey, she looks happy” (and even though I know that I was probably a little too drunk–I *am* drunk, or I’m not laughing and smiling, in a large group–I still feel a little better, looking at a photo like that)… is that what they mean?
Is it as simple as the fact that if I’m sleeping with someone and they suggest I sleep with someone else, I usually do it? Is that what they mean by “The Amanda Show”? But… I mean… I’m openly polyamorous, so why would that surprise anyone…? And actually, the person who made the comment has had A LOT more dick than I have, and you know what? I think that’s great, more power to them. But unfairness gets to me. I genuinely don’t understand why it’s okay for one person to have multiple lovers but not another–how can someone accuse me of being a narcissist for engaging in behaviour that they themselves engage in?
Also. I am a person who has to be drunk (are you seeing a theme here…) to get up and sing karaoke with a friend (I have literally never sung on my own, in front of people, since reaching adulthood) and this is a person who made their living on stage, for a while (not on a proper stage, I mean they did a sort of entertainer-at-Butlins style job, but even so). I mean. That’s an ACTUAL show. This person left their child with grandparents to travel around singing onstage when the kid was 14 or so–I’m currently suffering the tortures of the damned being away from my kids 3 days a week, to try to get a university degree, to eventually make my kids’ lives better–and I’m the one who’s obsessed with my own personal show?
I just don’t get it, I don’t understand. I mean, I get that the person who said it is unwell (seriously unwell, think of a bunch of life-threatening illnesses and it’s one of those) and may well have been high when making the statement (morphine is not the friend of cognition) and maybe it just sounded glib and amusing in the moment, because I *was* fairly upset over a romance gone wrong (and I have a long-term partner, and it was not that relationship that was going wrong, and polyamory is not widely accepted, evidently, even by people who practice it themselves….).
But for me. For someone who spends every day feeling useless, ill-equipped to deal with life, for someone who’s grabbing onto as many lifelines as she can (because *I* have a life-threatening illness too, it’s just that no one believes depressed people are in any real danger until they actually kill themselves) to be told that, actually, she’s taking up too much space and other people’s time and energy… I mean…
Is it *not* always the Amanda Show–in the same way that your show is the Whatever-Your-Name-Is Show, and everyone is the star of their own show, etc etc–just, how am I supposed to take that? “You have to remember, it’s not always The Amanda Show.”
What does that even mean? It means… stop talking about myself? Stop asking for help with my problems? Stop taking multiple lovers? (I was with 2 men at the time, not a hundred, not that it even matters; but if you’re stuck off uni for a year due to a registration cock-up and both the guys work full-time and your kids go to school full-time and EVERYONE is getting on with their lives except you, for the moment, it’s not inconceivable that you can give a reasonable amount of love and attention to 2 other people.)
I don’t know how it was meant, but I know how I took it. I took it as someone telling me that my entire life (aka The Amanda Show) had run for too long, and should just be taken off the air.