That could have been me.
I watched a couple of Saturdays ago, ironically the weekend of the tenth anniversary of me spending Memorial Day weekend in a psych ward, as CNN reported on the shootings near the campus of California-Santa Barbara carried out by a male teenage virgin frustrated at emotional and sexual rejection by girls, and I had to think about my own mental frailties when it came to women. There have been many killings over the years by people who were pushed over the edge by the treatment of others, but this and the Columbine killings spoke directly to me. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were bullied and punished daily by high-schoolers who felt they didn't fit in, and the result of that was Columbine, and I almost got their names tattooed on me when it happened because I could identify. I don't necessarily condone killing people who make you feel bad, but like Chris Rock would say, "I understand." The same goes for Elliot Rodger. I don't condone stabbing guys and running over random people before opening fire on more random people, but I get it. Rodger felt like the last guy in the world that girls would desire, and living with that thought was too much for him. Nobody gets that more than me.
Even before the situation with "Karen" made me decide to check myself into a mental institution in May 2004, I had thoughts about women and society and rejection that could have morphed into me going homicidal if I wanted access to firearms. I can't pinpoint where in my childhood I went off the rails, but I still remember the names of my kindergarten (Laurie), 1st grade (Petra), 2nd grade (Margaret), 3rd grade (Kyra), 4th through 6th grade (Lisa), junior high (Tammi), and young adult crushes, all unrequited, and how disappointed and angry I got when I didn't get what I wanted. I've learned from the media coverage of Rodger that there's a name for what I was feeling--Entitled. Funny, I never felt like I was entitled, but if the experts say I did, I guess it must be true. Anyway, I endured puberty with the raging hormones and active imagination of many males my age, but I also had obesity, a penchant for overdramatizing, a lack of class, and an obvious desperation, probably stemming from losing my mother at age ten. So it's not surprising looking back that I wasn't successful. But the pain of being what Rodger and certain chat room occupants of his ilk would call "InCel," or involuntarily celibate, hurt very badly.
I didn't have a manifesto exactly, but I have a black folder of poems and songs and short stories that I wrote over the course of my twenties, when I was coming up with writing ideas and being creative, before gambling and depression and everyday living sapped me of the energy. Here's a small sampling of the anger and resentment of women that pumped through me back then:
Thought you were a nice girl
Then I saw you drunk
Thought you had good taste in men
Then I saw you with that punk
My Last Endeavor
...Why do so many feel the need to hurt me
When all I'm looking for is hope?
If I open up to many more users
I may reach the end of my rope
This is my last endeavor
I can't take much more pain
This is my last endeavor
Think I'm gonna go insane...
...I discover that women are brought up with the notion that the intelligent kid with the innocent qualities and physical flaws is the worst available. Beat up women? More desirable than me. Do drugs? Smoke? Hey, that's sexy today. Have a horrible personality but work out? You can't keep the girls away from you. Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a parallel universe. This world makes no Goddamn sense.
What's It Like?
What's it like to be beautiful?
To look good and be adored?
What's it like to receive attention?
I'd like to know
What's it like to be with someone?
Someone who is there for you?
What's it like to have an actual partner?
I'd love to know...
They say you must love yourself
Before anyone else can
But they don't say what it's like
When no one else cares
When you don't matter
To the rest of the world...
Self-Loathing: The Remix
...Where's my soul mate, where's my love
Women want to use me and then drop me from above
Step on my broken heart with their six-inch heels
And no one else in the world knows how it feels...
And there's so much more: The rape fantasy short story about a woman who rejected me in real life (she falls for me and has real sex with me at the end), the outline for a longer story, or maybe a novel, called "The Greatest Summer Of My Life," which was about a fed-up young man seeking out every woman who scorned him and going on a killing spree...yes, it was that bad in my head for a long time. I haven't actually found any of Elliot Rodger's manifestos or videos and watched them because, frankly, I'm frightened at how much like me he might sound. I don't need to be confronted with precisely how sociopathic I might have been at the apex of my anger at the world. I'm legitimately surprised at how much of my writing was just that angry. I mean, I knew obviously, but I didn't realize to what extent.
Again, I'm the guy that blew a gasket at a woman secretly running a sex club even though I was cheating on her, so my irrational anger at women is already very well-documented on this here blog. There are other recountings of my dealings with girls and women through the years, but I don't want to list them on this post. My point is, if you didn't think you knew of a man carrying the kind of nuclear hatred that it took for Rodger to do what he did, look around. You may be surprised. And if you're male and you didn't think other guys understood your struggle, well, most of them don't, but I do. And I've come out the other end of that shit to tell you that eventually, believe it or not, no matter how lonely you are, it turns out alright.
Ignore the fact that I'm married to a sweet, intelligent woman who's way out of my league in terms of how good she is. It started to get better before I met her. Going back to my blog postings in 2006, after the "Shelley" experiment in which I dated the most vile, mean woman in the world just to see how long she would treat me like shit, I was showing signs of figuring out that whole "Love yourself" thing that I referenced in the above poem "What's It Like?" That was the whole key. I had to finally realize that I have to take care of myself in this world above anything else, and if I meet someone along the way, fine, but that's not the purpose. In other words, the pussy ain't worth the struggle. Now, figuring that out came at the same time as passing age 30, which now, at age 38, sure feels like I passed some threshold where my testosterone has dropped off drastically and took the edge off. So perhaps it goes hand-in-hand with mentally coming to grips with the fact that no one else was going to give a fuck about me. But I know this: From puberty to about that same age 30, I was a ravenously horny young man, willing to screw anything that moved, and my pursuit of sex consumed me and made me make some incredibly shitty decisions, and that cut off after "Grace" the one-night stand, which happened two weeks after my 30th birthday. I must admit, I don't miss feeling like getting pussy is the beginning and end of my existence.
But I actually feel terrible for the guys who are still sort of prisoners of their own cocks, unable to see their lives past the asses of the girls walking in front of them. It sucks. From what I've heard of the guys who got laid regularly, it still sorta sucked because without meaning, it was a series of empty endeavors. My problem was, once I got a nice run of empty endeavors, I put meaning behind them where my partners weren't necessarily looking for that. So what would I suggest for the young men who feel like me and like Elliot Rodger?
This three-step process: First, no matter how hard it is, tell yourself that they're not worth it. If you're being driven crazy by ladies choosing other guys over you, I empathize, but you need to stop. Women will do what they want with their bodies and their hearts, and if you do what you can to persuade them and it doesn't work, that's not the be all and end all. It's their loss. Some will even use your lust of them against you and tease you. It's okay. You're going to listen to your lovers and please them in and out of bed and treat them as well as possible, and if you keep striking out, that's just a long list of females that missed out on an opportunity. Second, you have got to keep steppin' and do your thing. I had to talk to myself in a mirror for a full hour in order to start the process of living my life for myself and not for the pursuit of pussy. Whatever you have to do, do it. But at the end of the day, you have to come to the realization that there is a world out there chock full of things that bring you pleasure, whether it's sports, art, music, food, television, movies, or sitting in a park looking at petunias, or cars, or the clouds, or whatever. You have your career, your education, your health, your living space--you have a plethora of things on which to focus and improve yourself and be the best you can be. The pussy almost definitely will come once you focus on those things--"love yourself"--because people are more attracted to those who are not desperately seeking love. Seems a little cruel and unfair, but that's how it works. Third, there is a media assault on libidos for the sake of selling things, and I think if you're frustrated by girl problems, you should avoid images and news that throw it back in your face. It's in our nature as men to find beauty in women, so it's very difficult to take our eyes away from them, but you may have to. Use the information that men respond to visual stimulation to your advantage and avoid that stimuli. Nothing drove me crazier than seeing couples walking around because to me it was a gaggle of women choosing someone other than me and telling me to fuck off by parading in front of me. They weren't doing that on purpose, of course. But if it hurts to see hot women because you want them so bad, then don't look at them. The knockout in your classroom every day that gives you a hard-on just walking through the hall? You control your eyes, not her. Look somewhere else. The porn star in your dreams every night? If you're starting to obsess, find a new hobby. Can't believe Kim Kardashian married that prick Kanye? Don't go to TMZ.com looking for the latest updates. That red-headed hottie in the car commercial? She's there to sell cars, dumbass. She doesn't care about you. It's not easy to avoid beautiful women, but if they're driving you nuts, then they're not worth the short-term pleasure of looking at them.
And finally, you can add this as a last step because it's made a big difference for me: Stop caring what women think of your thoughts and desires. You're never going to arrive at a stage of enlightenment until you're honest with yourself about what you're going through. I hid a lot of my frustration because I was afraid of what women would think. I didn't hide all of it, but I've only let two people sift through that black folder full of my innermost rage--an older woman who acted as sort of a surrogate mother, and my wife. I felt shame for years and years. I felt like I was the only man going through these issues. Only now that I'm older do I realize that if I had spoken more openly about my feelings, I would have found others wanting to have a similar dialogue, and by talking more, I would have rid myself of some of the rage that made me write those hateful things. When I think of where I am now mentally, it's so much different than it was back when I was Elliot Rodger's age. I'm telling all you guys feeling like him, hang on. Life gets better. Navigate those tough waters, as hard as it is and as long as it takes, because life does get better. Even if I were single today, it would still be better.