Horror and Heartbreak

I’m thirty years old. I’m mostly privileged, I won’t deny that. I’m a middle class white male, although we grew up mostly poor my mom always did a good at making sure we weren’t really aware of that. I’ve suffered the same traumas in my life that are wont to happen as time crawls on: death of friends, family members, sicknesses and hurt, your friends or family in a pain that you can’t explain.

So I’m thirty years old and life is going along pretty smooth. I have a supportive job, I started this site and it’s introduced me to a lot of incredible people, I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been. Then, a little while back, my wife left me.

Now, this wasn’t a Hollywood cataclysm. It wasn’t an affair or created from a place of abuse or scorn, she just fell out of love. It happens; I honestly hope it never happens to any of you, or even my worst enemy, because for the first fews days it is an unimaginable pain. Imagine someone reaching up through your rib cage, gripping your heart, and instead of squeezing it until it explodes or plunging their claws into it, they just hold it. A painfully accurate precision where it still beats but it hurts to expand, it’s still connected to the vital pieces but it feels isolated, like if you took too deep a breath, it might explode.

At first, nothing really meant anything. I couldn’t focus for more than a beat. Couldn’t read, didn’t want to write, movies were pictures and audio but it wasn’t a fluid, coherent thought. Just noise. Hell, I stepped down as the editor of this site because it felt like the happiness that I once so eagerly wanted to champion was gone. I wasn’t sure I had it in me anymore. So I started letting my passions slip through my fingers. Site? Gone. Stepped down from a group I had helped create, over 7000 people strong, because I just didn’t care.Yet, the writers of this site, they wouldn’t let me go. Sure, they let me step down. “But it’s temporary,” they told me. Uh huh, I agreed robotically because they could say that all they wanted, it didn’t mean it would happen.

They all have my number. My writers are my friends, they’re basically family at this point, so if I didn’t check in on our group chat, I would get texts from them. Checking in. Offering advice or supportive shoulders to lean on, listening ears. I started checking back in on the group. While they were selflessly in contact with me, they were still having the conversations I loved to be a part of. Nat was discussing any and all things Puppet Master. Ian was watching some batch of nearly never heard of horror films, Megan and Rachael were still peppering us with info from Sundance, Kieran detailed us with the ludicrous Christmas horror films he was covering for his podcast. A flicker was reignited.

Slowly, I tried to stoke the fire. I started opening up to the community I had become so entrenched in, when people would reach out I would tell them what had happened. This little corner of the internet that I had so willingly embraced was embracing me back. Writers, creators, sometimes even idols, they reached out to me to offer up their ear, their shoulder, their words.

But why? What had I done to merit such endless acts of gratitude. It was then that I realized that it wasn’t what I had done. It was what I had loved. If our lives are all giant puzzles, these amazing people and I all had one piece in common: horror.

I had never met these people in real life, we shared our lives 140 characters at a time. We had shared opinions about Carpenter and Craven, about King and Bradbury, about Flanagan and Peele. We shared pictures of ourselves decked out in Universal Monsters, our houses covered in blood soaked murderers and sweat covered survivors. We had shared our passions. See, I had made a mistake. I had been sitting in the dark, trying to reignite a flame but was fanning the flames by myself. I had forgotten that Sid didn’t do it alone, she had Dewy and Gale.

It wasn’t any certain movie that brought me back from that seemingly endless darkness. It was horror. Not as an idea but as a people. It’s funny, sometimes when people think of horror, they think of blood and guts and terror. Of murder and mayhem, mask wearing serial killers and tooth and fang monsters. Why? Why do you watch these movies?

Because they’re about overcoming tragedy. They’re about triumphing over chaos. They don’t paint adversity as a hurdle you can jump over. It hurts. It cuts and it stings and you’ll come out the other end bloodied and bruised and broken. But you will come out the other side.

It’s strange because my whole life people have questioned why I love horror so much. That’s easy. Because, horror showed me that sometimes when you love something enough, it loves you back.

Op-EdRyan LarsonHorror