Ed. Note, Part I: I have decided to take an internet-communication-free day starting from when I get up tomorrow (or go to bed tonight/this morning) until I get up Saturday morning/come back from Taiji). Why? Because. I am posting a new entry before I take my mini-hiatus, but I will not be replying to any comments tomorrow night (as I normally would do). *
Ed. Note, Part II: This entry will be about my last therapy session, not about committing triage on my flaws. I will return to that topic on a later date–or not.
When I was depressed, I didn’t think about my future because I didn’t think I had one. As most of my regular readers know, I thought about killing myself on a daily basis back then–there was no room in my head for hope.
When I slowly and painfully started clawing my way out of depression about two years ago, I started thinking of the future. I still wasn’t sure I had one, but I thought, “Hey. Just maybe.” I still had it in my head that I wouldn’t live a long life (55), but that would still give me about eighteen years of life left to live. Plenty of time to do something.
I started thinking about getting my own place. I wanted my own house, I thought. The problem was, I couldn’t picture what that entailed at the time. I knew I wanted something with enough space to keep my cats happy, that I wanted two bedrooms (one as a den), and that I wanted one full bathroom. I love Spanish Missions, but we don’t have many of those here in MN (lots of Tudors and Ramblers (Ranches)).
In addition, my desire to move was more about just getting out of THIS house. In other words, it was a reaction. I wanted to get away from my parents physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Non sequitur: My father’s sister died. My mom emailed me to let me know. She had cancer, and her decline was very rapid. I didn’t know quite what to say to my mom. I mean, I have met this woman a few times, and she loathed me. She didn’t have one nice thing to say to me, and she always looked like she was sucking a lemon when she looked at me. So, I don’t have warm feelings for her, and I don’t really know her. She is my father’s favorite sister, so he’s devastated. There are five siblings on that side, and only my father and his second oldest brother remain (my father is the youngest). My father’s family is terrified of death, so they don’t talk about it. Anyway, my mom told me to pray for the family (I have told her I don’t pray, but I let it go). I didn’t know what to write, so I finally just said I was so sorry and to share my condolences with the entire family or something like that.
I felt like I should say something specifically to my father, but I didn’t know what to say. And, to be perfectly honest, I still don’t want to talk to him. I briefly talked to him when my mom called him from the airport as we (she, my brother, and I) were waiting for her plane. He cajoled me to admit that I was looking forward to having my privacy and not having someone watching over my shoulder and telling me to pick up my room. When I cautiously said, “I will enjoy the freedom”, he laughed and said, “I knew it. I know you.” It was strange because he got that right about me, but he was also trying to drag me into the middle of a longstanding argument between him and my mother. I have no doubt that she nags him the same way she does me. I did not want to get caught up in that.
But, as usual, I digress. I felt guilty for not saying anything specifically to my father. Honestly, though, I didn’t have anything to say to him. And, I felt guilty for that, too. The idea of what I should do keeps colliding with what I actually do (or don’t) want to do, and I keep thinking how horrible I am because I’m not doing anything to alleviate his grief at this time. Yeah, I know, but it doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty.
Anyway, back to my session. So, even when I started thinking about my future, it was in a very general way. “I want to have a house, to perform, and to be published.” There were a few specific goals like start my blog, but the bigger goals were very generic. This got me through the next year or so.
It’s only been in the last year (roughly) that I have actually started asking myself what do I really want as opposed to what I think I want or have been told I want or think I should want. As I said in my last entry, I thought about home ownership. I clarified in my therapy session that I don’t mind mowing and shoveling; I just have no desire to garden, weed, mulch, etc. She said I could have a very simple lawn and not plant a garden. I said, “What if there is all that shit there already?” She said, “Tell the owners to take it with them.” I said, “Or, I could give the shrubbery and plants to my friends. They would like that.”
My brother is my real estate agent, and we’ve argued before about location and other issues such as the kitchen. I don’t cook. All I need is a microwave, a fridge, and a toaster oven. My brother goes on and on about how an updated kitchen with granite countertops will cause the value of the house to go up, blah blah blah. I told him I have no intention of moving once I buy a house, and I don’t want to spend more money on granite countertops as I will never use them.
The funniest example of this, though, is that when Kiki and I were talking about me buying a house in her neighborhood, I said I didn’t need much furniture. I listed what I needed, and she added, “And a dining room table.” I said, “What for?” Kiki: “In case you want to entertain.” Me: “I don’t entertain.” Kiki: “Well, in case you date someone and you want to have a nice dinner.” Me: “We can eat in the living room on a coffee table.” Kiki: “You can have sex on the dining room table!” (She knows me too well). Me: “I can have sex on the dining room floor.” Kiki: “Well, I am not eating with a plate on my lap when I come over.” Me: “I’ll bring out a card table.” Kiki: “I’m buying you a dining room table as a housewarming gift!”
I was flummoxed as to why a dining room table was so important, but my mom agrees with Kiki that one has to have a dining room table. When I brought it up with my therapist, she said maybe it was Kiki’s way of saying she wanted to spend time with me in my house. I thought about it, and it made sense. Kiki has urged me to move into her neighborhood so we could be like Mary and Rhoda. I rarely have people in this house for many reasons, but I would feel more comfortable having someone in my own place. It felt kinda nice to know that Kiki wanted to spend time with me in my house.
Then, my therapist and I talked about the bartending thing. I looked it up, and there is a school in Minneapolis. It only requires around 20 hours, which really isn’t much of anything. I told my therapist that it was strange because instead of talking about generalities in terms of what I want for my future, I am thinking specifically of what that future is going to look like. As my therapist said, I am putting myself in that future and being an active participant instead of reacting or just letting things come to me.
Back to bartending. I actually thought about the pros and cons of being a bartender. Pros: Flex hours, night hours, can leave whenever, casual interaction with people, getting to meet the freaks. Cons: Loud noise (earplugs), crowds, getting hit on by drunken guys. I took into account my own personality (I HATE loud noises and I have a hard time standing for that long of a time. I am good with people and draw them out. I am a good listener. This would give me good grist for my fiction mill) as I thought about how practical it was for me to be a bartender.
It’s a bit weird to be thinking about the future in concrete terms. As I said, I just assumed I’d be dead by this time, so any thought as to a future seemed futile to me. Now, when I start filtering out all the shoulds, I’m left with the wants. What do I want/need to make my life a full one?
My whole life, I’ve struggled with the expectations of what I am supposed to do with my life. As I have written before, I caved in when my parents talked about what a shame it would be for me to waste my education and my skills by being a server or a barista. The only time I considered having children was during a particularly intense period of my mother hectoring me/guilting me about them. And, I realized through an incident with my cats that had I had children ten years ago, I wouldn’t have been strong enough to stand up to my mother, and I would have let her steamroll over me in how she treated my hypothetical children. For the most part, I respect my brother’s unspoken edict that I don’t talk about my non-religion with my niece and nephews. However, I know that if I had kids, my family would not have afforded me the same courtesy. They would have preached at Minna Jr., telling her that Jesus died for her sin and she would go to Hell if she didn’t believe. I would have seethed about it, but I wouldn’t have said anything to my family, or I would have exploded and screamed–which doesn’t do anything to help the situation.
I couldn’t be who my mother wanted me to be, but I wasn’t strong enough to be my own person, either, so I ended up being nobody.
I’ve been having a really tough time since my mom left. I’ve slid back into some bad behaviors, and I’ve had suicidal thoughts. I whined to myself about how haaaaaard living was and how lost I felt right now. However, after my last therapy session and in writing this blog entry, I see that I am light years ahead of where I was in my deep depression. No matter how much the demons whisper that I’m in the same place and that I’m the same person, and no matter how convincing they sound, they are simply wrong. Oh, they are very seductive and know my weak points so when I am in a low, low mood, they almost make perfect sense. However, when I can pull back from their siren song, I can start deconstructing their cobweb of lies.
Five years ago, I would never have used the web to make really good friends. Five years ago, I would never have flown out to NC to meet Kel and her family–not to mention letting her take nude photos of me. Five years ago, I was too scared to start this blog. Five years ago, I thought my friends only put up with me because–just because. Five years ago, I was one of the walking dead, simply playing the part of a living person. Five years ago, I felt–nothing. My body was shut down, and my mind was all too active but in all the wrong ways. Five years ago, I was frozen (not in the good way) and numb. Five years ago, I was shrinking my world to make it as small as possible because everything terrified me. Five years ago, I never would have said yes to Lei’s invitation of performing with her. Hell, five years ago, I never would have been on Facebook (if it existed. I’m not sure how long it’s been around). Five years ago, I was doing nothing for myself spiritually. Five years ago, I never would have went to Julie’s party and met a bunch of really awesome people. Five years ago, I never would have commented on any blogs because I didn’t think I had anything worth saying. Five years ago, I never would have admitted how important certain things were to me (performing, for example). Hell, I never would have admitted how important certain people were to me. Five years ago, I couldn’t fathom getting any cats. Five years ago, I never would have been able to have raw conversations with my mom about my childhood. Five years ago, I never could have told her how angry I am for what she did and didn’t do when I was younger. Five years ago, I was ready to die without a fight.
Now, I am writing regularly, for the most part, in this blog. I am commenting daily on various political blogs and seeing that people want to read what I write. I have a cadre of friends who are fierce in their love–and what’s more, I can feel their love. What’s even more, I can even sometimes see why they love me. I can have conversations with my mom that are uncomfortable and painful, but that ultimately help forge a new path for us. I have cats without whom I cannot imagine my life. What’s more, I can actually see a specific future that has me in it.
Now, I’m not going to blow smoke up my ass. One, I’m not that flexible, and two, I’m not that optimistic. I know that I have a ton of work to do and a really long road to go. I’m not fooling myself into thinking that all the hard shit is behind me. However, I am trying not to let the demons insist that I haven’t done anything differently lately and that I am still the same person I was five years ago. This clearly isn’t true; I just need to keep it in mind when they start hammering at me again–and they will.
On that note, I’m winding this up. Night.
*Of course, this is assuming that I can actually go the whole day internet-free We shall see.