Invisible Box

The one word that means the most to me is loyalty.

Loyalty is what I’ve built my whole life on. It’s something that I seriously mean to the complete extent of the word. If I’m friends with you, or I’m on your team, there’s literally nothing that I wouldn’t do for you. Maybe it’s a small thing like just emailing you to say thank you. Most of the time it’s a big thing like taking on extra work that means I give up sleep, or flying across the country to be there for you like when I turned up for the Blindspot press room at New York Comic Con. When I let people into my life I make a commitment.

To me loyalty is part of being a friend and a colleague, and loyalty is doing everything I can within reason to support the people I am loyal to.

Recently I’ve become more and more aware that many people don’t think that way. I’ve gotten my heart broken, gotten pissed off, and been taken advantage of because of my loyalty. It sucks, and it makes me want to throw my hands up and walk away. But I can’t because that’s not the person I am.

Instead I end up putting myself into what I’ve termed my “invisible box.” That’s when my loyalty pressures me into making myself absolutely crazy. By the time you read this I’ll have been stuck in the box for almost a week. Wednesday was the massive Chicago Crossover event that was also the series premiere of Chicago Justice, as well as the season finale of Suits, and today is the formal premiere of Justice. Since Tuesday I’ve been scared to death about getting everything exactly right because of the people I care about.

Chicago Justice stars one of my best friends, Philip Winchester, and co-stars two other friends of mine, Joelle Carter and Monica Barbaro. On top of that as I mentioned in a previous blog it’s a project I truly believe in. So I’ve been on the verge of throwing up for the last couple of days because I had to make this happen. I wanted Philip to have my best, even if it meant I wasn’t sleeping right and tripled up my workload. Our friendship means that much to me that I was willing to sacrifice myself; in fact I felt like I had to or I’d be letting him down.

Finally on Thursday I was able to breathe a sigh of relief. If you were watching Chicago Med you’ll have seen the new Justice promo that features not one but two quotes from me in it:

My other quote from the new 'Chicago Justice' promo. Nice, huh?
My other quote from the new ‘Chicago Justice’ promo. Nice, huh?

After I spit my soda across the table in surprise I can’t tell you how much weight was lifted off my shoulders. Seeing that was like saying, I got mine. Maybe I’ll never get to walk behind Philip holding a file, but all that work I’ve been doing and all those late nights made a difference.

That’s what I think a lot of people don’t get about me. They don’t understand exactly how much I give up when I say that I’m loyal. I am loyal to a fault, where it is physically and emotionally taxing, and I’m staring at the TV after days of getting hardly no sleep on the verge of tears because I now know it’s all been worth it. Do you know that scene in The Cutting Edge when Doug tells Kate he throws up before every game? That’s me, except I can’t ice skate.

But when it’s worth it, man, there’s no greater feeling in the world. I actually talked to Philip on Friday morning and I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to have him in my life and to know I’ve played some small part in his success. I heard from someone in New York that he was looking for me at NBC’s press day even though I wasn’t there. And as we sat on the phone together, and he asked me how I was and reminded me that Dick Wolf has actually quoted my words back to him, I was reminded again that this is why I do what I do.

As he said to me this is an industry full of some great people. I may never get to be on screen with any of them but I do get to stand by their side and help them reach their heights. I can look at these quotes and the ones that were used for The Player last year and say I’ve done something that helped Philip. I look at the newly bronzed ball from the WhirlyCruz Cup on my desk and I know it was worth flying all the way to Chicago to play with him, and share some genuine time with Colin Donnell, and have at least five different people snag me because they remembered who I was.

Make no mistake about it there are times when loyalty kills me. I cried my eyes out in January and I spent about four days in absolute depression wondering what the hell was wrong with me. I don’t enjoy the panic attacks and the constant second-guessing. And I’m wise now to the fact that sometimes you shouldn’t go out on that limb.

I’m packing my bags for New York in two weeks in which I’m going to spend four days as far away from work as possible and make some big decisions about what my life needs to look like. I’ve been beaten up physically and emotionally and it’s time to make a change. It’s not going to be pretty, but it’s time.

But I also know that I’m probably never going to get away from that invisible box entirely. That’s just who I am. I believe too much in what I’m doing, and there are too many people I enjoy doing it with, for me not to get worked up when they need me. For me not to put something on the line. I freak myself out because it matters. Maybe I can choose who to be loyal to but I can’t choose not to be this loyal. That’s not how this works.

Just let me out of the box when I’m done.