The Shoes Dropped

September 27, 2009

It didn’t feel like the “other shoe” dropped today, it felt like the whole pair.

I’ve been doing so well. So well, in fact, that last night I had the conscious thought that I like myself, I’m happy, I’m even happy single, I’m not afraid of the future, and I’m actually not afraid at all. It was bizarre.

Then I went to teach a workshop today. On my break (10 minutes) I got a voice mail in which a teenager I mentor who’s in serious trouble cursed me out, an email from my ex-boyfriend telling me he’s dating someone, and a message from a friend that basically informed me that another friend was excluding me from the evening’s activities. Then I had to go back and teach for two more hours. I made it through the class and cried all the way home.

The kid who’s in trouble – it’s not surprising at all that he did this. He feels out of control and angry and self-destructive and he’s trying to push everyone away. That makes sense. And yesterday I would have said, quite calmly, that there was a good chance that something just like this would happen. But it devastated me. I love this kid. I’ve known him since he was 8 (he’s 14) and I’ve seen the shit that life (and his family) has thrown at him. I would do anything I could to help him, but he won’t let me, and apparently I’m safe enough to release anger on.

The ex-boyfriend – it’s been over a year and a half since we broke up. I fell like this shouldn’t bother me. But he was my best friend. And I still miss him, even though I know he is not good for me, at least right now. Somehow I can’t convince my heart that he’s not good for me, even though I know it quite well in my head. Also, he’s found someone and I haven’t. So all of a sudden, I’m afraid of the future again. I’m afraid of being alone. Last night I wasn’t – how did it change so fast! All of a sudden, I’m afraid I’ll never find anyone, I’ll be alone for the rest of my life, I’ll be old and senile and have no one to take care of me – I’m terrified.

I don’t want to still miss him this much. He’s the one I wanted to call with all this stuff. He’s the one who is still my automatic first call – except I stop myself. I have a lot of friends, but today, there was no one. Everyone I tried was busy – family, time with husband, out with friends, etc. There’s no one who I come first with. That really is the heart of it. When we were dating – and even during periods after – I came first for someone. If there was an earthquake, I would have been the first one he looked for. Now there’s no one. I have very very good friends who are like family, but I’m not first. I might be a high second, but their own family would come first. That has always been something that is hard for me. I want to come first in someone’s life. And don’t say I come first for God because that doesn’t count, since everyone comes first for God.

And the friends. We are in our thirties! And there are two people (a couple) who are mad at me about something that is unclear, petty, and that they won’t talk to me about. I’ve actually been trying pretty hard to be patient and not tell them that I think they’re immature idiots. But they’ve now progressed to pretending I don’t exist. That doesn’t work for me. I’ve spent too much of my life wishing I didn’t exist and trying not to exist.

It’s a reminder that I have a really hard time remembering my feelings. When I feel good, it’s hard to (and I don’t want to) remember the bottomless despair that can slam into me. When I feel bad, I really truly do not believe that I have ever or will ever be all right again. While I know in my head that God hasn’t totally abandoned me, I sure do believe it in my heart. Today, all three things happened within ten minutes. Or rather, I found out about all three things in my ten minute break when I was teaching.

It seems cruel. Literally twelve hours before I was crying on the way home, I felt better than I have basically in my whole life. I felt free from fear – at least the horrible crippling fear. I felt like hopeless despair wasn’t going to swallow me whole again. And while it could be much, much worse, I don’t want this feeling. Not even a little. I don’t want to feel like God is waiting to smack me down if I get content.


Candlelight and Sad Songs

September 24, 2009

I used to not be able to be in a candlelit room. Something about the light level and the quality of the light made me sad. Not a little bit nostalgic and weepy, but despairingly sad. now, from a different perspective, I find it a little bit fascinating that the human brain is so strongly affected by so many different factors. At the time, though, I just learned to be afraid of low light levels.

One time my college roommates wanted to have a fun candlelight dinner. The ugly table was set beautifully and someone had found candlesticks and candles. She turned off the lights and lit the candles and I ran to my bedroom and sobbed. I don’t know if I’ll ever know why, but the candlelight broke something inside of me.

There was a type of music that did that to me too. Any sort of sad-sounding or even just quiet and slow female singer could set off the depression that was barely under the surface. Nina Simone, Jewel, Natalie Cole, Norah Jones, and a whole slew of unremarkable and surprisingly similar female artists would trigger me. (Nina Simone is neither unremarkable nor similar to anyone, just for the record. She’s amazing.) Again, not just a feeling of nostalgia, but more like despair. Falling into a black hole, and always thinking that this time there might not be a way out.

I still prefer bright lights. I will always turn on all the lights in a room and turn them up as high as possible. There’s still something inside me that feels wary, like if the light dims, my guard goes down and the horrible monster that is depression can sneak up on me. But it hasn’t lately. And mostly I’ve just gotten annoyed by Norah Jones and the like. But there’s that sort of muscle memory that doesn’t go away. It’s similar to the fall weather – it’s putting me on edge, just a little, reminding me of how bad things can get.


Autumn

September 20, 2009

Green Day has a song called “Wake Me Up When September Ends.” I don’t like September either. For that matter, I don’t like October or November. I would rather be woken when autumn ends completely. I don’t know why, but autumn feels bad to me.

I don’t have anniversaries of deaths in the autumn. Or anything else that I can think of. It took me a long time to figure out this pattern; I’m not sure why, since it happened every year. At least once I figured it out, I wasn’t so blindsided, but I never found a reason.

Maybe it’s the days getting shorter; I’m sure that has something to do with it. But then, why is fall harder than winter or early spring? It’s something in the feel of the air. The smell of fall – which so many people love – starts to panic me because I’m used to it bringing despair. Fall foliage, which is so beautiful, feels like a beacon of depression. It’s more than sadness; it’s loneliness, despair, dread, and hopelessness – but for no apparent reason.

This is the first year I’ve felt better at this time of year. I’m hoping that the autumn doesn’t end that. Or that my dread of what autumn brings doesn’t end that.


Kleenex

September 8, 2009

I realized today, as I have a cold, that I don’t have any Kleenex in my car. I used to have a box of Kleenex in my car at all times. Because I would so often cry – sob – while I was driving, when I got somewhere, while I was waiting… I would have to pull over because I was crying too hard to drive. Often, I would just keep driving even though I was crying too hard to drive, because who knew when I’d be able to stop. It might be hours. I had fallen in the pit and who knew when I’d be coming out. I’ve heard people say that you can only cry for a couple of hours. Not true. Hours and hours. So long that even while I was sobbing like I would never stop, I’d have to keep doing mundane tasks – cooking, cleaning, working at the computer, driving, laundry – because otherwise my life would stop.

I haven’t done that in almost a year. Part of me is so thankful to God that he has apparently healed me (with the help of medication, which I’m fine with). The rest of me is so angry that I ever had to go through that. How dare God let me feel that hopeless? That kind of despair? It was more than I could handle – and don’t try to tell me that God doesn’t give people more than they can handle, because I couldn’t handle that. I survived, but it was too much. I have scars. How can a loving God let someone suffer that much – in a silent hidden way that other people can’t understand?

Fortunately, I can ask these questions, even if I don’t get answers. I haven’t been struck by lightning yet, so I doubt it will happen. In the meantime, I’ll keep wrestling with God, even if he dislocates my hip. (Or whatever that was that he did to Jacob).