I May be Done with The Walking Dead

Since it began, The Walking Dead has been one of my favorite tv shows. A couple of years ago my grown-up daughter stopped watching it. I’m more sensitive than she is, so it’s been strange to her that I continued to tune in to every gut-wrenching episode, recovering and decompressing with Talking Dead after. But I hung on and enjoyed the storytelling and the acting, even if so much of it made me avert my eyes, and so many times made me want to avert my heart.

I’m not a lover of everything zombie, as a lot of fans are. I appreciated the realistic study of humanity under intense pressure. Yes, for those genre-haters out there, it is quite possible for a story set in the zombie apocalypse to delve deep into what makes us do the things we do, and how the person we were before informs who we have to be today — that is, if our former selves don’t just disappear.

I always looked forward to this show, but I don’t know if I can watch it anymore. Talking Dead isn’t even helping me feel better tonight. The way the panel keeps telling me this Negan guy is a great character, chills me to the bone.

I love Jeffrey Dean Morgan as an actor, but his character reminds me of bullies I’ve unwillingly looked in the eye at various times in my life, bullies I lost to and am probably too cautious these days because of. Those bullies nearly drained the will to live out of me. Morgan played that kind of bully so well in tonight’s season-ending episode, that I felt like his fist was in my throat. My stomach churned so hard, my jaws tensed so tight as he spoke. I thought I might be sick. And through all his scenes I felt such post traumatic stress, like I was thrown right back into my own real life horror show. I don’t think this character is fun. I find his “sense of humor” painful. I don’t need to experience him to learn that the zombie, or any other, apocalypse can make a person hard, maybe make a hard person into a monster. Some horrible things may have happened to this character before we met him. I already get that.

If my life wasn’t so tangled up now, in desperately needed ends not meeting, in government-induced WTF, and the high emotional price of feeling things too deeply, well maybe I’d want to see what happens next and root for the characters I came to love. But I don’t expect to be happily married next season or to have made a loving nest of new friends here in Chicago who would buoy me up while this show knocks me around. I just started crying again while writing this. Tonight the shit hit too close to home.

My daughter wasn’t a wuss when she couldn’t take it anymore. I’m certainly not a wuss for giving up now. And yes, I know it’s just tv. But that shit still hurt. I can’t be the only one feeling like this.