When I told Karen a few years ago that I believed in creating my own story, I had no idea that I'd end up sitting weeping in the front row of an auditorium a few years later while she spoke, those words of mine projected on the screen.
I knew I'd meant it when I said it, the morning I originally told her some fragments I could remember of what had brought me from all the places I'd been to that Chicago lobby. I thought it was true then. So maybe that made it even more upsetting when I saw it so big in front of me and knew that if this was the story I'd put myself in charge of creating, I wasn't sure I'd done that great of a job.
That didn't feel very good.
Some of it I can't tell you. Some of it I'm not even that good at telling myself yet. I know whatever this is this time that it's big and impossible and existential, that it has to do with the roads I drive and the places I go every day, a life that doesn't feel like it fits that well at all, even though I've done the human dance of adaptability and forced myself into a barely functional mold to make it look like it does enough hours of the week to get by.
I know that it's hard to see families and compare them to my life of fractured time with lots of people, on the fringes of everywhere, never going home to anyone or waiting for them to come to me. That's sad, I know, but it's just true. I was telling a friend last week that I look around at other women my age and I feel like there was a point where something happened for everyone else (gross generalization, yes, and "everyone" is hyperbole) and that it did not for me, even though I tried.
And I know that even worse than that, even beyond the preemptive grief for babies I'll never have and maybe even any kind of family life, who knows, that I could tolerate this chasm of a feeling so much better if I felt a stronger drive to do anything, really. It would be nice to have some sense of mission or purpose beyond the grind of groceries and gym and social activity.
I would like it if I liked what I did, for the most part. I would enjoy feeling competent again. It would be nice to be in a place where people actually came over, maybe. Community, that would be good.
It would be useful if within the world of opportunities and possibilities I know exist, that I would have the capacity to choose one, a few maybe. That I would not constantly look even through my third eye and see nothing but a swirl of too much, and have no idea which way to go. This kind of confusion shorts out a brain quickly, it turns out.
I don't know what I ever dreamed, if I dreamed, because a lot of times I wasn't about big dreams in the way that I usually hear people talk about them. I more trusted that something good would happen, something basic and cool and maybe even worthy of comment. I never wanted too much, just enough, to be it, to have it, to exist within it. And whatever that was, I know it wasn't this, and I can't explain to you the chaotic, horrible, silent nature of that feeling. I know that I wasn't meant to spend so much time alone, or to live my life in its current structure. I wonder what I'm paying for, sometimes -- what gift I've wasted or god I've shamed. I wonder what wrong corner I turned, what debt I left unpaid besides all of the ones I know about.
And yeah, I do think, shamefully, a lot of the time, that it's no fair. I think of good intentions and hours of brain-splitting work, of parking lots and pizza trays and faith and love and trust. I think of pointless hours on the elliptical and karma and time spent invested in other people's well-being, of people invested in me.
And then I know that's wrong, immediately. You can't count beans or dreams or people. It was all just what it was.
I don't know how you put so many broken pieces back together.
I'm two weeks in to getting better, again. I'm two weeks in to taking the pills and walking the walk back from this place, because a month or so ago I crashed again and it's always ugly when it happens but it takes some time and trauma to wake up.
I went to the doctor. I sat half-naked on the paper on the table and told a stranger who was looking at a laptop instead of me -- new computer system, damned thing, have to input everything as we go -- the bare minimum of what was wrong, and got bored advice about what to take, and none about who else to see. She didn't know. No leads. So I called a person I thought might be able to help me, using my own bush league clinician's brain to scan through lists of MDs and LPwhatevers on a website. And when I called, my office door shut, my mantras shut down, a bored receptionist told me that I might be able to get in in July. I repeated July back to her as a question, told her that wouldn't help me and hung up.
I wondered, if I gave up after one call, what people did who didn't speak the language well? Who were even more fucked up than I was? Who were old or truly alone or permanently terrified, beyond my ability to snap into functional for the three minutes such a loathsome phone call takes.
I went to my yoga studio again, instead, where the oms flow and so does a fountain, where I contort myself silly in 90-degree rooms and feel peace like I don't have anywhere else. I went to work. I shot a big job. I took the little pink pills, willing them to work faster, apologizing to myself again for quitting the last time, when I felt better, when I got my cyclical attitude about medication, my stubborn aversion to things that work, that seem just the slightest bit easy. And as I felt the chemistry start to right itself again inside my head I was able to do some other stuff, the things I find impossible when I'm in the bad place.
It's mostly nothing big. I cleaned my refrigerator. I did laundry. I picked up most of the clothes off of the floor of my closet and hung them up, categorized by the part of the body they cover. It's still a wreck in here, mind you. Vegetables keep rotting faster than I can eat them. Blouses fall down wispy from the hangers. But I try to stay a step ahead. I even shut the computer down sometimes.
I envy you, you know, the people who are able to do this without assistance, who can just...do this, all of the time.
I haven't been writing though, because when I do I ramble. And I'm afraid of what it means to talk about this, and for me lately, this is all there is, pretty much. I'm afraid of what it means to talk about anything these days, honestly, but I'm not sure it matters so much if I do. I'm pretty sure it matters if I don't.
It's not like this story hasn't been told ad nauseum, both explicitly and in millions of desperate, flailing words that dance around it, so many things said instead. The truth of this is tricky. And the thing is, if you run into me tomorrow, after I've forced myself to get out of my bed that I love and want to live in, made myself get dressed to go to somewhere that works for me on no level to do something I don't like, I'll be okay when we talk. It'll be the usual non sequiturs and wisecracks. I might even offend you, probably accidentally.
I probably won't tell you then that this chemistry is a low-grade kind of hell, and that two weeks ago, again, I couldn't see my way out of it. And now, today, I can, just a little, the slightest bit of enough to think my way around the hypothetical failure of my story so far.