My Psyche, My Enemy?

When I was a mere young lad my German grandmother used to take me on a long journey to the corner store – which was across the street from her apartment building. Fittingly, it was located on the corner and was run by two German gentlemen, one of whom was named Hans.

Hans was a towering gentleman with hands the size of oxen and a quiet, almost painfully-stern, disposition. He wore a crisp white apron and was rarely seen without a broom in his hand. On rare occasions Hans would engage in what he would no doubt consider an act of madcap joy;he would reach into the cooler and give me a free ice cream sandwich which I would devour with childish glee until my face was covered in ice cream and soft cookie bits.

One day, while I was covering my young face in ice creamy goodness I heard my grandmother discussing current neighborhood events with her compatriots; it seems Hans had confronted a thief. The normally reserved shopkeeper became unhinged at the thought of someone stealing from a business he broke his back building… so he threw the would-be thief out the door.

To be clear, Hans threw the thief through the actual door of his shop. I asked my grandmother why Hans behaved in such a violent manner and her answer perplexed me.

“He is two people, Bobby. One man is nice and gentle with you, the other is still in the war and always will be.”

I was gobsmacked. Hans was two people? One was civilized and the other battled criminals? There was only one explanation that satisfied my still-developing brain.

Hans was Batman.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking:

  •  “Hans wasn’t Batman, Hook! The Dark Knight wasn’t German.”
  •  “Your grandmother called you Bobby?”

To both of these I say… shut up.

Hans was obviously dealing with PTSD long before we called it that, but I remain fascinated by the duality of our psyches. And now I will tell you why.

There are far too many moments these days where I feel as though The Hook and Robert Hookey are actually two separate individuals.

Does this mean I have to pay twice as many taxes, Justin Trudeau?

 

My sanity in a nutshell…

 

Kidding aside (since I suck at it anyway) a strange thing has been happening lately. One minute, I’m a happy-go-lucky-yet-balding, forty-year-old guy with a gorgeous wife, an exceptionally-bright teenage daughter and a beyond-nutty dog. The next minute, I’m a ridiculously-depressed, middle-aged guy with an ever-expanding gut, IBS and an ever-increasing feeling of dread and failure. At first there was a wide chasm between these mood swings.

But that gap is growing smaller ever day.

As Robert I’m a happy guy. I mean, I’m not doing cartwheels or anything – my knee injury has ensured that’ll never be a possibility – but overall, I’m good. Sure, my daughter is suffering terribly from Interstitial cystitis, the dog recently suffered the canine equivalent of a herniated disc and my wife spends all her time worrying about both of them, but things are tough all over, right?

Robert’s mortgage is paid, he has no debt weighing him down and he’s gainfully employed.

Hell, they just announced that minimum wage in Ontario is going up in January, so Robert’s doing better than ever in the cash department.

Of course, that cash comes from The Hook, who often has to do the hospitality equivalent of a trained monkey dance in order to convince travelers to drop a few coins or bills into his hands. This arrangement has existed for twenty years and up until recently, it’s worked out pretty well. The Hook and Robert have merely been two halves of the same coin; two sides of the same man-child’s personality.

But more and I feel like two separate people in one rapidly-decaying body.

The Hook rarely feels the full effects of IBS as he’s traversing the halls he walks daily but Robert is up for at least an hour straining to have a decent bowel movement. Every. Single. Night. (Sexy sentence, right, ladies?)

Robert’s life really hasn’t been too adversely impacted by the Great Sawhorse Debacle of 2014, as it’s referred to in the Hookey household, but The Hook feels it when the weather is damp enough. A throbbing knee is not exactly conducive to a successful career as a bellman, kids.

The Hook has almost two thousand followers on Twitter. As an adult, Robert’s friends are all too busy to socialize, so his colleagues/brothers-in-arms are his social circle.

Robert put his name a self-published book once. It was a total disaster.

The Hook’s adventures were chronicled in Robert’s book. It was still a total disaster.

Filming a trailer for a web series focusing on The Hook’s hotel misadventures is Robert’s greatest dream at the moment. But without resources or a location or any assistance beyond some good friends who have volunteered to be his actors, he’s completely out of luck. This has left both The Hook and Robert in a funk from which there is no apparent escape. 

Robert’s daughter is up almost every night reeling from the effects of the aforementioned Interstitial cystitis and there is absolutely nothing he can do to ease her pain.

One of The Hook’s longtime colleagues is wrestling with serious health issues and this crisis weighs on him terribly; Robert feels that weight and more on him at night as sleep eludes him.

The Hook’s many posts centered on Murdoch Mysteries garnered Robert two invitations to the MM set. Neither invitation actually materialized. The same has held true for the dozens of unrealized 5x5s The Hook is waiting on. A “yes” doesn’t actually mean anything these days, friends. Of course, people, especially professional types, are busy wrestling with their own challenges theses days, so they can’t be expected to jump though hoops for an insignificant blogger most people assume is either a fisherman or a Canadian pirate.

Not that it really matters anyway; a busted creative engine means The Hook’s 5×5 offerings are going to be less than stellar.

Depression, if that’s what this is, is not the amusement park thrill ride the media promises, kids.

The weight of the world will break you if held for too long, friends. It will render your creative engine inert, incapable of producing posts, forcing you to blog about an identity crisis that may or may not even exist.

Still, it’s just another challenge to deal with, another mountain to scale.

Wish me luck won’t you?

See you in the lobby, kids…

About The Hook

Husband. Father. Bellman. Author of The Bellman Chronicles. Reader of comic books and observer and chronicler of the human condition. And to my wife's eternal dismay, a mere mortal and non-vampire. I'm often told I look like your uncle, cousin, etc. If I wore a hat, I'd hang it on a hat rack in my home in Niagara Falls, Canada. You can call me The Hook, everyone else does.
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38 Responses to My Psyche, My Enemy?

  1. shimoniac says:

    Life sure sucks after the warranty runs out doesn’t it. You might want to talk to your family doctor, assuming you actually have one of those, about anti-depressants and/or counselling. The right medication can help even out the swings and keep you closer to happy, or at least content. Much fun is made of people who seek help from mental health professionals, but it can literally save your life. Counselling won’t make the problems go away, but a good counsellor can and will help you develop coping strategies. Sometimes it’s just enough to talk to someone about what’s chewing on your brain.

    As for me, I’ve got incipient sciatica in my left hip, a persistent muscle knot in my right shoulder that sends shooting pain into my neck, and a factory job that requires me to lift things from waist to shoulder height; I’m living on naproxen.

    I’ll sympathize with you if you sympathize with me. 😉 😛

  2. I’ve got nothing to give you. I’m searching for a puff of positivity but it eludes me. Maybe I’ll join you on the crapper.

  3. Mark Myers says:

    Sorry, my friend. Some tough situations and I hate that you have to deal with them. I hope you can keep plowing on. Give me a shout if you want to talk. I’ve had some rough times of late and a big shoulder and two ears. Hugs, my friend.

  4. Victo Dolore says:

    I am sorry life sucks right now. I sure do enjoy your posts an awful lot, so there IS that, for what it is worth.

  5. I do wish you luck coping with disappointment. I think if you keep being you and keep producing the best you can, the things you want will come your way. If not, at least you have quality work as a legacy.

  6. umashankar says:

    How beautifully you fuse two half-lives! How sad is the music of middlescence! O Hook, you have cleft my heart in two!

  7. davidprosser says:

    Robert, you’ve done well at fusing together the two personas you live with but it would help if you could accept it’s just one person and perhaps you need some support. Your doctor can help you find that.

    He can’t help you find success with filming or with writing but as with many other things, hat could be down to timing. Th book you struggled with before, may be more successful now. Your filming, maybe you could do a ”Fundme’ to raise enough to do it, though that doesn’t guarantee success either.

    If you could accept yourself a a good husband and father, and know you play a starring successful role as that, maybe the prominence of the Hook as a separate entity won’t be needed and you won’t be looking for success on too many fronts.

    Always happy to chat if you want to email me my friend.
    Hugs

  8. Welcome to the world of middle age…

  9. Oh Hook. I feel for you. Depression sucks, whatever brings it on. Maybe a chat with your doc would help, meds may in the short term help you get to grips with everything getting you down.

    In the depths of my despair, my savior was My Boss of all people. She got me in to see the doc, supported me along with him when I needed it, and I never had to worry about losing my job. The doc told me to concentrate on something I liked about myself and build on that. I did, turning to my music and ever grateful for owning an electronic keyboard with headphones. It took time, but I got out of it.

    You have a lovely wife, exceptional daughter, and a charming dog. Three mega pluses. Stick with it. Vent in your blog. Your readers understand and will support you too. ❤

  10. Tara says:

    I’ve got nothin’. I’ve been feeling the effects of middle age more acutely since I started a new job and the pressures of change have me battling with the two sides of me I’ve always known – Ms. Everything-little-thing-is-gonna-be-alright and Ms. I-will-bitch-slap-the-next-person-who-pisses-me-off. I’ve always said I don’t suffer from depression, but I gotta tell you – these last two months have had me wondering if I do have a bit of it, and I don’t understand.

    There are many times I feel like I’ve “arrived,” so to speak – being middle-aged brings a sort of mature sense of “whatever” in that we can see what’s really what, what’s really important, brush off bullshit, know people’s problems have nothing to do with us, and turn off the don’t-give-a-fuck meter, and laugh at the ridiculous.

    Keep on truckin’ “Bobby”…. we’re all in this together and you’re not allowed to get off this crazy train.

  11. Kay says:

    I am past middle age and am here to tell you that you will get through this. Remember what Jenny Lawson (whose blog I also follow) says – Depression lies. Be thankful every day for your blessings, keep getting help for your medical issues as well as depression and remember that there are an awful lot of people who care a lot about you via your blog.

  12. Kay offered reality and sensible advice.

    Part of what may be wrong is being stuck indoors with life swirling around you and thinking remaining time is drip drip dripping away no matter how you try to hold it in your fingers – it flows away. (Boy, now that’s depressing thought)

    Before meds (and therefore buying into the idea that only a prescription can make it better), try B 12 vitamins every day, getting out in the sun every day – 20 min ( difficult in your climate, but Maria Montessori was firm that sun light was critical for good mental and physical health – much ahead of her time in so many ways) and exercise – 20 min walk anytime of day/night helps. Get outside and see the sky – stars.
    We are all out of balance from living in little boxes and crowded areas – far from what humans were designed to do.
    Volunteering in a children’s hospital – bringing them little art/crafts projects – even coloring pages – singing silly songs, telling jokes to distract them and their families for a few moment …a humbling experience.

    You’ll come out so grateful for how your life is. This is what evolved from our efforts here: https://www.texaschildrens.org/patients-and-visitors/patient-and-family-support-services/radio-lollipop. The original was in the UK, then in Australia- I’ve met founders from there. You need one in your city – and you and your daughter could be the ones to jumpstart it (http://radiolollipop.org/?page_id=113)
    Walk away from yourself and find yourself. Use your misery to lead the way. HAHA

    Hang in there Hook. It’s not over unless you give up. (And what would be the point of that? We know you. You’d get bored. Smiles and encouragement sent as sunshine is difficult to package and ship) (and I’ll go sit quietly in my corner now – sorry about the length)

    • Oh, ok, not being quiet…
      Besides B complex vitamins and outdoor exercise, please have your doc do two things:

      1. Check thyroid function which may be out of whack about your stage of life and with anyone having deaths in family, health issues, stress. Depression is one of the signs. Thyroid controls so much of body function. Don’t settle for the shallow easy testing – do the full spectrum.

      2. How about prescribe light therapy lamp(phototherapy) for Seasonal affective disorder? (maybe help with cost if prescribed) Depression is also a major symptom. (and some get it in spring/summer not always winter). Your story sounds a great deal like my brother’s.

      Listen to MamaMickTerry, too

  13. It’s a struggle to maintain both personalities – I know firsthand.
    I have been off line quite a bit because I don’t want to write anything that is less than true…nor, do I want to write when I’m feeling more than blue (crappy poetry, right?)

    Instead, I’ve been reading, meditating, exercising, practicing in-your-face gratitude and spending energy in different places.
    You will totally come out of this, Robert – Hook (and all of his and your friends) have your back. xo

  14. Doug in Oakland says:

    Depression is common in people who perform for their jobs, and yes that includes servers and bellmen. Interpersonal connections are tenuous, the more so when they are basically random interactions between people who don’t know one another, and can add up to below the surface stress when your income depends on them.

    None of us get out of this alive.

    I used to battle with depression for years, but oddly enough, I haven’t had much of a problem with it since my stroke in 2008. I think it may be that my habits and routines all got healthier then out of necessity, but who really knows? I’ll take it, however it gets here.
    May you be feeling much better very soon.

    That’s my best shot at an Irish blessing, and I did drink a toast with it; it was strawberry soda, as I don’t drink alcohol any more, but I drank it just the same.

  15. Dave Ply says:

    All I can offer is a reminder of the famous quote, “This too, shall pass.” Although I’m not sure how comforting that would be while in the throes of IBS.

    BTW, I suspect, should your fantasies come true, that the Coen brothers or Wes Anderson might make an interesting hotel movie…

  16. curvyroads says:

    Robert, I am so sorry you’re suffering even if it’s only half of you. 🤤 And I’m even more sorry about that bad pun. Seriously, there are so many of us that care for you and are here for all the venting you can blast at us. Please do see the DOC, and count your blessings when you can. And keep us posted please. Hugs.

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