I’ve got grief, wanna see it? or Personal progress
March 18, 2013 § 6 Comments
I wrote this ten months ago in a fit of insomnia, sadness, unemployment and some surprising 4am clarity. You know what it proves? That what we call personal progress is slow and circular. We make concentric circles in our efforts to be better people and we come back to the same stuff, the same issues, over and over again. Beautifully frustrating.
I would describe it as a mental health week. That’s what it has been, this past stretch of days. We like to name sequences of time so that we can remember them or feel like we’ve learned something, made the most of it, or maybe we’re just self-absorbed. So while I was busy being so aware of myself it happened. My mental health week crept in through the backyard even though I had been watching carefully from the front porch, thinking I’d see it strolling down the street and get ready for its arrival. Five or six days later and there it is, boozing and smoking it up on the back patio, like I had been entertaining it on purpose. It was taking up space without my even knowing it. Although, that’s why I’m writing this. I know it. And it’s real. And once again, I have to face myself, my situation, and say, yes I have a mental…I live with mental…I have a low grade depression called…this is who I am.
I am unemployed. My job ended because the company ended. It was a loss. I have to force myself to type that. I have to force myself to think and say and feel the words, I have experienced a loss. It was a break up, a death. It is grief. I have to force myself to admit those things because I am inclined towards hyperbole, secretly, at night, when I can’t sleep. I like to exaggerate even though I give myself a hard time about it. I like to pretend I’m really cool. Cool as in a cucumber lounging at a wellness spa, or a refreshing swim in a lake that you have all to yourself on a hot summer evening, not cool like I think I’m James Dean or one of those women who uses a cigarette holder. I tell myself, this tragic thing has happened, but it’s not about you, it’s about something much larger than you so you must take this well, you must face this and cope with this and put it to bed like an infant full of promise. When that shit doesn’t work out, I realize that I am having some mental health challenges. I say this to myself in a sterile gown, ready for surgery inside my own head. I am unemployed and I will have trouble coping with loss. It might be more difficult because I am mentally ill sometimes.
This isn’t about my job, my apparent “career pause”. It just isn’t that simple. It is but it isn’t. It isn’t what it is or it is what it is. Either way FUCK THE SUMMATION. Let’s dig into this. You are mad at yourself. You are back to the idea that you have wasted precious time by allowing yourself to be sick. You want to delete these thoughts, yes. You want to tidy them up. You can’t stand the mess of such weakness, such cliché avoidance of vulnerability and pain. So instead of accepting the pain, you get angry and kick yourself in the stomach over and over again. You think of shitty things that you can’t control, you wonder if you’ll ever get over it. You wonder if you’ll ever “be happy”.
The thing about being depressed is that you cannot ever think of happiness in the same way you did before you got severely depressed. You might say, of course, that makes sense. But it doesn’t make sense. No. My sense of it is that if you’ve wanted to die and give up completely because you have no faith or hope for yourself or the future, you would think that once you gained even a teaspoon of clarity you would want very desperately to know happiness or make it up or appreciate it while it lasts. This is not how it seems to go. At least not so far. No, the thing about happiness after depression is you don’t trust it. You don’t trust yourself with happy because happy feels like an old lover you know is very bad for you but when that lover breezes into town for the weekend you fuck like animals anyways. You don’t care if it will hurt later, you don’t trust the gorgeous liar but you douse yourself in the pleasure of now because you know that lover will not be around later. Old Happy. He’s a love ‘em and leave ‘em kind of guy. Am I being unfair to myself? Should I be more gentle with Happy? More trusting? I don’t know how.
You are feeling sorry for yourself, I hear someone say. It’s my “responsible adult voice”, lecturing away up there on the podium. I am always so bloody careful not to be a victim. I would say it is one of my more annoying traits. I must remember that next time I take one of those personality quizzes and the topic of how I’d like to change myself comes up. That’s a good one. My announcements about how it could always be worse, it’s not that bad, I’m grateful for my experiences, they’re fucking irritating. After years of trying so hard not to victimize yourself, it’s a sad-sack kind of day when you realize that you may as well just put on a bustier and tie yourself to the train tracks. It would be so much more efficient. The performance is over, tough bitch. Put the old gal out of her misery. She wants to sob in public, climb a coffin, shout her self-pity and out-mourn even the most tired martyrs. I’ve got grief, wanna see it?