"Ordinary life does not interest me. I seek only the high moments. I am in accord with the surrealists, searching for the marvelous." ~Anais Nin

18 January 2017

Joy? No Joy. Joy?

Aurora over Kansas by Lane Pearman,  A rare occurrence indeed.
So, no joy results from my interview a couple Fridays ago.  Too bad.  I can't say I wasn't expecting it.  Though I can't say that I'm not massively disappointed either.  I wanted that job.  I really, really did.

Oh, well!  Moving on.

Today, shortly after receiving the dreaded email of rejection, I was called for an interview.  Yay.  Subdued yay, because the job is low paying, possibly part time (though maybe not), and not anywhere near the "professional" position that I need.  Applying for it, I couldn't help but think that I was giving up.  That they called me so quickly, I can't help but think that this job, and jobs like it, are all I'm ever going to get.  There seems to be an inevitability in this, you know?  It's work that I have been trying so hard to get away from, work that I spent tens of thousands of dollars on my education to avoid having to do, and yet . . .  This is what I'm most likely to get.

It's fine.  It's fine.  It's fine.

I need the money.  Desperately.  I'll have to continue working at the library, which is a pity, but, right now, it can't be avoided.  I don't mind the work itself.  I actually kind of enjoy it.  What I mind is what comes with it: low pay, crappy hours, the disrespect masked by the assumption that you're uneducated/stupid/too lazy to get a "real" job, etc.

Blah.  I'm being too negative.  I'm actually grateful for the chance this job brings, and a little bit happy that they've called.  I was beginning to believe that I was completely unhireable.  Two interviews in as many weeks goes a long way to prove that thesis wrong.  So, yay!  Maybe I can find a job after all.

And here's some big silver linings about this job (if I get it):

  • Health insurance
  • More money!  Along with my library job, I'll be able to:
    • Pay off most of my debts, especially my credit card!
    • Buy a new bed!
    • Get some new clothes!
    • Do things, like, go out to dinner!  Or even a movie!
    • Rebuild my savings!
    • Buy new bookshelves!
    • Get a new phone!
  • I can dye my hair some funky colors, which is something I've wanted to do for YEARS now.  Seriously, the hair is a big thing for me.  Check out Ursula Goff's website to get an idea of what I'm wanting to do, especially "galaxies," "oceans," and "jewels."
If I'm able to get at least something of a set schedule, then maybe I'll have some free time.  That's not guaranteed, of course, but a girl can dream.  I just hope that I won't be roped back into going months without a day off.  That way lies madness.  

So, this is a good thing.  Maybe.  If I get the job.

Once I get my debts paid off, I'll think about quitting the library.

I'll have to make time for both writing and studying.  I'll have to prioritize it.  I've been wanting to make a living writing forever and haven't ever really believed I could, but I'm not doing too good a job making a living any way else either.  Now's as good a time as any to really follow my dream.  Maybe I won't have to get a "grown up" job after all.  Maybe I'll be able to transition to writing with the help of this job possibility.

That would be good.

If I get this job, then I'm going to dye the crap out of my hair for my birthday.  And maybe next year get that tattoo I've been wanting.  (It's a simple compass rose).

Bright side, bright side.  I'm feeling good!

15 January 2017

To Ponder & Forgive

I got this picture from Pixabay.  Nice, right?
My mother once told me that depression was anger turned inwards.  I believe her, and not just because she's my mother and I love her so much that I've practically deified her, nor because she has a psychology degree, but because it makes sense and I am so very, very angry with myself.  Almost always.  Sure I feel sorry for myself sometimes, but mostly there's this simmering anger focused on every mistake I ever made.  And I have made a quite few mistakes, some so monumentally large that I'll feel the effects of them for years to come.

I've been thinking about this, and have come to the conclusion that I need to give myself a break.  I'm not perfect.  I can't be perfect.  I can't make the correct decision all the time.  I'm doing the best that I can now, and I did the best that I could at the time.  I need to let it go.  I need to forgive myself.  I need to stop obsessing about things I cannot change.  I cannot change who I was; I can only work on who I am and who I will become.

So I got fat.  So what?  I did it, there's no denying that I did it.  I can't go back in time and not get fat, but I can work to lose weight now.  I can work to get back in shape.  Sure, it would have been easier if I'd changed my eating habits and started working out again back when I first started to gain weight, but that didn't happen.  Instead I ignored it as much as I could, then I wallowed in grief and self pity, then, when I tried to change it, I'd grow frustrated with how difficult it was to do things I once found easy like run, or dance, or aerobics, or yoga, so I'd quit and go back to wallowing.  It was incredibly self-indulgent, and it resulted in me gaining more weight.

I quit dating 15 years ago, give or take, and that was a mistake.  It was a conscious decision on my part.  Or, at least, it started that way.  I needed time to get over both heartbreak and a bruised ego.  Then heartbreak again, as my friends left with my lover.  I needed a break, time to heal.  I should've newly single time to better myself, to fix the things I wanted to fix about myself, like the aforementioned weight gain, but I didn't.  Maybe I couldn't.  I don't know.  It would have been better, easier, if I hadn't lost all my friends at the same time.  What can I say?  They liked him better, and they weren't very good friends.  But I lost them too, and so I withdrew and indulged and wallowed.  I didn't know how to ask for help, or truly recognize that I needed it.  I dealt with being abandoned by my friends by withdrawing further.  I should have been braver and stronger.  I should have said, "Fuck them!" and gone on to make new friends, have new lovers, but I dealt with it the way only way I could at the time.  I survived.  

Getting a Master's in Library Science was a terrible decision.  It was, there's no denying that, but I didn't know it at the time.  I thought it was . . . safe.  It wasn't what I wanted to do, but I didn't have a clear picture of how I wanted my future to turn out.  I knew it was something I'd be good at, and I'd had several people, including most of my family, telling me for several years that it was something that I should do, and I thought, Why not? I could be a librarian.  And I could, except I can't.  I didn't know that library jobs would dry up.  I didn't know that a million other people had the same idea I did, many of whom have much more passion for the profession than I.  I didn't realize how hemmed in I'd feel, how desperate, when I couldn't find a job.  I didn't even think not finding a job was a possibility.  I just wanted something steady, something professional, something wherein I'd be treated with more respect than retail.  Who knew that it'd make me feel more miserable and more worthless than retail?  Who knew that I'd spend years applying for every full time library position I heard about in the Northern United States, including Alaska, and that those ~1500 resumes and carefully crafted cover letters sent, and applications filled out would result in a grand total of three interviews, and zero offers?  I didn't.  I couldn't.  So I did the best I could at the time.  I really did.  That it didn't work out is not my fault.  Not really.  It was just a conspiracy of bad timing.  I really thought that I was making my life better.

I don't know where I go from here.  I have no real vision of my future, but I've got to forgive myself for the mistakes in my past.  Those mistakes make up the foundation of me that is my past.  They can't be undone.  I have to forgive myself.  I have to, in order to heal and live.

I don't know where my life is going.  I don't know what I'll do next.  What I do know is that I need to stop being so angry with myself.  I need to stop being so self-destructive.  I need to forgive and grow and learn and heal.  One foot in front of the other, these are the steps I need to live.

11 January 2017

Drama, drama, drama

by Pieter Lanser from The Netherlands [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Yesterday I got into a limited argument with one of the women in a private Facebook group.  I feel bad about it, and need to write it out.

For the most part I stay away from Facebook, signing in at most once a month.  I stepped back from most social media sometime during the summer after the epiphanic realization that it's all manufactured drama, exaggerated happiness (a.k.a. lies), and kitten pictures.  Can you guess which of those things I actually care about?

Anyway, this Facebook group was started by one of my very best friends as a way to pull together all her witchy friends.  As you can probably guess by the adjective I just used, the group is vaguely New Age.  Most of us follow different spiritual paths, but there's a lot of metaphysics thrown around in there.  It's actually rather refreshing.  Very little drama and a lot of good thoughts and pretty pictures.  Plus, we're all women and all of an age, so many of us have gone through or are going through the same sorts of things.  It's a good place to go for a bit of support.  And that was the intent.

Now, again, it's been weeks and weeks since I even signed on to Facebook, and probably months since I've contributed to the group, but two days ago my friend who started this group messaged me wanting to know if I'd seen the latest thread in the group.  I hadn't, but decided to go check it out.  It seems that our newest member had left a post asking for book recommendations pertaining to magic and witchcraft and where to begin.  A few other members of our group answered, and then someone decided to start lecturing.

Not just lecturing.  More like a roundabout, rambling way to tell us that we're wrong and ignorant and not as, I don't know, enlightened as she is or something.  I don't know.  This woman, that's kind of the way she is.  Well, that's totally the way she is.  I've known her for years and have always found her to be almost unbearably abrasive.  She's certainly very intense.  I like her well enough when she forgets that she's supposed to be so much better than everyone, but for the most part I've observed that no matter what–it could be your birthday, your baby shower, whatever–she always finds a way to dig at the people around her.

She's like the witchy-fucking-hipster: she only into the really exclusive schools of spirituality, and works only with the very best teachers, and "Oh, you like that school of though?  Yeah, I was into that for a while, like 20 years ago, when I didn't know any better," and the like.  She's argumentative and abrasive, and completely unable to listen to or empathize with other people.

I generally don't interact with her because of this.  It's easier, and given half a chance she'll drag you into her drama.

Now, you'd probably think, reading this blog where I spew all my insanity into the great void of the interwebs, that I thrive on drama.  I don't, not really.  It exhausts me.  I have a tendency to panic and shut down.  I can deal with emergencies, but that's different than drama.  An emergency has a limited shelf life, drama can go on forever.  That's actually a nightmare of mine.

Anyway, I gave my recommendations (books, authors, websites) to the new baby witch and let it go, but I kept an eye on the thread.  What can I say?  I was looking to be entertained, and drama can be entertaining if you're not caught in the middle of it.

Then this woman started–well, it seemed to me–attacking my friend with more lecturing and what seemed to be really disingenuous questions.  I've seen her do this shit before: badgering the other person into submission, getting a token "well, I don't know as much as you" comment, and the like.  Hell, she's done it to me before.  And it's so irritating, and I just couldn't sit there and watch it happen yet again.

Since I met this woman–over a decade ago now–I could count on one hand with fingers left over the number of conversations that either we've had, I've witnessed in person, or read online that she's had with people that have not followed the pattern of:
person: I think this.
woman: You're wrong.  [Launches into a long screed about why they're wrong, all while misinterrpretting what person said]
person: No, that's not what I said.  I meant [rephrases their point to clarify]
woman: [Continues screed about person's wrongness.  Throws in some references to some famous spiritual teacher that woman claims to have studied with for years]
person: But, that's not—
woman: [Continues screed, references some esoteric knowledge to back her claim, then tops off with pseudo-eastern thought that has nothing really to do with the subject person was talking about]
person: But—
woman: [Continues screed, throws in terms "unenlightened" & "where you are on your soul's evolutionary journey"]
person: Whoa, um, I don't think I said what you thought I said.  And you're being kind of harsh.
woman: [Continues screed, knows she's being mean because she says things like, "I'm perfectly reasonable" (meaning the person is overreacting to her obvious abuse), and "This is just the way that I interact with people," and "I don't candy coat my words for anyone, that's not how Wild Women grow" (an excuse to be mean), and "You need to learn to interact with people from a nonreactive space" (meaning you shouldn't try to stand up for yourself," etc.]
person: You're right.  I'm sorry.

But here's the thing: the woman is smart and knowledgeable, and when she's not acting like an utter bitch she can be fun to interact with.  She can be someone that you can learn something new from, and I always find that fun, but she doesn't know how to people, you know?  Usually I have more patience, or I don't even bother interacting with her because I know how she is, and I have some insight into why she is that way.  She's had an extraordinarily shitty life, especially her early life.  I think she legitimately doesn't know how to people.  She's overcome a lot and her life has gotten a lot better, but she doesn't really have the foundation that most other people have.  The story of her childhood, teens, and a good chunk of her twenties is one of the worst I've ever heard, and I've heard some bad stories.  It wasn't Dave Pelzer, but it wasn't that far off.  So usually I just ignore her because I can't deal with her and the abuse she deals out.

And I don't know, maybe because I'm dealing with my own separate issues right now, maybe because I'm just so sick of having to jump over the missing stair that is this woman in our group, but for whatever reason I just couldn't ignore her.  Not this time.

So I did what I never do: I engaged.  I stuck up for my friend, so I'm proud of that, but I fought as dirty as the woman does.  I met her condescension with condescension and topped it.  She pulled her esoteric references, so I pulled my own and added a bit common knowledge.  I told her that I was only speaking because I felt like she was attacking my friend.  I apologized, but in a way that made it clear that I understood entirely what she was doing.  I reminded her without flat out saying it that I am as smart as she is and probably more well read.  When she pulled the "I hope you can let go of your irritation."  I let her know that I felt the whole conversation was irritating, and I that I knew she was going to try to continue it anyway.  Then I disengaged because I knew that that would drive her crazy, not having the last word, and not being able to impart her "wisdom" to me.

It took about four comments to shut her down.  Now I feel psychically dirty, and I'm not sure it was worth it.  Because I'm good at this sort of thing, working words, drawing blood without a knife.  Especially when I'm writing.  Talking in person is a whole other game, I've a tendency to go awkward there.  But writing?  Yeah, I'm good at it.  I read people well, and know words, and when I have a chance to think in an argument I know I can be devastating.

I don't like doing it.  Though I usually don't, I can throw my intellectual weight around with the best of them, but it makes me feel like a bully.  Plus, I don't really like arguing.  I try my best to avoid in-person arguments like the plague.  Seriously, I once had to lie down while arguing with an ex-boyfriend because I got so shaky that I couldn't stand up any longer.  Literally, my legs wouldn't hold me.  I just laid on the floor while he continued his argument.  We broke up shortly after.  Off topic.

The woman quit our group.  I have mixed feelings about that because of her past and her issues, yes, but also because I had a part of driving her away.  No one deserves to be bullied, not even bullies themselves.  So this isn't really a satisfactory end, (not that this is really the end, I believe she'll be back in a few months like she just took a vacation or something) but I don't know what a satisfactory end would be.  Well, that's not exactly true.  It'd be nice if she stopped tearing us down to stir up drama and, I don't know, feel better about herself or something.  It'd be nice if she learned how to people, then we could happily people together.

And I think I need to work on my patience.

09 January 2017

What's the worst thing about depression?

Three pictures of the same Nō 'hawk mask' showing how the expression changes with a tilting of the head.
by Wmpearl [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I was asking myself this earlier today when I had a thought that my random bouts of deep sadness were the worst thing about dealing with depression.  I thought this because I was in one, and it was something that I wish I could have avoided.  When I had this thought my immediate response was to question it, because those random bouts of deep sadness are not, I think, the worst thing about dealing with depression.  I'm not really sure what is, truth be told, because there's so many things that depression brings that are the very worst.  For instance:

  • Rage: the white-hot anger that burns through me–again, randomly–and is mostly triggered by the unfairness of life, petty injustices.  The fact that I can't find a job or support myself in any way, after years of working multiple jobs and going to school, getting TWO degrees, and spending most of my free time applying for jobs.  Getting rejected again and again and again and again.  I'm mad at myself and I'm mad at the world, and sometimes that just bubbles over.  It's often followed by Deep Sadness or Utter Exhaustion.
  • Utter Exhaustion: when I just can't move or do things.  All I want to do is curl into a ball and sleep, sleep forever.  If I had to make an effort to breathe, I probably wouldn't.  Though Utter Exhaustion often shows up after Rage or Deep Sadness, it sometimes visits on it's own.
  • Deep Sadness: the best I can describe this is as an endless pit of tears.  A well so deep as to be bottomless.  For me, it is often triggered by babies or children and happy new mothers.  At least, right now.  I've always wanted to be a mom, and I don't think I'll ever get to be one.  Also triggered by couples, people with successful careers, and job searches.  
  • Stupidity: brain misfires, the inability to think, a lack of concentration, losing words and names.  I'm smart.  I am.  Gifted is what they called me in school.  I was just one point off from getting a perfect score on the ACT in high school.  I remember almost everything I read.  I learn quickly, needing, in general, just one pass at any task to be able to do it again.  And yet, there are times when I can't think.  I just can't.  I can't think, I can't remember, I don't know.  I can't string words together to make a sentence.  I can't read.  I can't understand.
  • Physical Pain: this one doesn't happen very often, but any of the symptoms above can and sometimes do trigger migraines or muscle cramps/spasms.  Sometimes I just ache.  Sometimes I just hurt.
None of these are pleasant.  All of these are the worst while I'm dealing with them, you know?  When it's bad, all of these show up at once.  And it sucks because I still need to function.  I can't hide like I so very much want to.  I push through.  I work, I live.  Sometimes I even laugh, and I die a bit inside. But I have customers and coworkers, friends and family, and none of them want to know.  So I don't let them see, and that, truthfully, is the worst.  The constant lies eat away at you and cause much of the Rage and Sadness and Exhaustion.  The never letting anyone know what's going on with you because you did that once and lost all your friends, your lover, and caused your family pain.  You never wanted to hurt anyone, you just wanted a little bit of comfort, and maybe a hand to help you stand up and move through what was supposed to be a temporary sadness.  But you were pushed away, abandoned, and blamed.

So you took that lesson to heart, and you learned to lie.  You swallowed your emotions, your pain, your sadness, your anger.  You swallowed them all and forgot how to feel.  Except sometimes, when it all became too much for you to bear, and then, sometimes, you cried or you raged or you wallowed, but only when there was no one around to see.  Only when you were alone.  And those times were refreshing, the only bit of freedom you were allowed.  So you found a way to make those times longer, you kept yourself apart from others more and more, and you forgot how to interact with other people because you didn't want to wear that damned mask.  You didn't want to lie.  And you relearned how to feel.

Of course it couldn't last.  You get lonely when you're always alone.  You need work and friends and you always wanted a family.  So you step out in the world and try to live your truth, but that truth includes your pain and others still don't want to see.  You bring the mask back, but it chafes.  You're healing, you know you're healing, but it's not happening fast enough, and you're still so fragile.  The lies make you weak, but they make you socially acceptable.  Every time you laugh when you want to scream it's like opening a vein.  There's only so many pints of blood that you can spare, and you lost those pints long ago with a wound that's never fully healed.  The mask keeps it open, you see.  The mask makes you bleed.

It's harder now than it once was, to wear the mask I need to wear to function in the world.  I think it's because I don't have stable footing right now.  I keep slipping and my mask falls, and they see this bleeding, tired creature desperately grasping for a little bit of normality, a little bit of stability, just trying to stay upright.  I bleed from a thousand tiny wounds, a thousand cuts of worry.  I bleed, but I can't let anyone see it.  I'm punished when I do.

But showing it, talking about it, feeling it?  That's how I heal too.  That's how I let the mask go and find the bandages and antiseptic that I need to cleanse the wounds caused by the jagged edges of the mask.  That's how I know I'm human still.  A bloody creature, maybe, but one that can learn and grow and, yes, heal.  That's how I remember that change is possible.  And, gods, I need a change, and the change I most want and worry about is in my job situation.

Right now, my big worry is money.  It's so hard because I'm less than a paycheck away from losing everything I have.  If I lose just eight hours of work a month . . . Yet, I think the slips of my mask make it harder for me to get a job.  Would you call that irony, or just plain bad luck?  I need a full time job and the money that the job would pay me.  I need the money and the stability the money will buy me.  I need the health insurance and the psychiatric care that health insurance brings–mostly in the form of antidepressants.  I need a little breathing room, time and room to heal.  I need to pay myself back, pay off my debts, and rebuild my savings.  That would be the first of many steps, of course.  I've a long way to go before all's said and done.

06 January 2017

Interview post mortem

I had my first non-library interview today.  My first interview in over a year, in fact.  I think it went well.  I know better than to count my chickens, or to even count on anything before it's in hand, but I do hope I get this job.  It sounds super interesting, something that will push and grow my skills, you know?

I think the interviewers and I had rapport, which is good.  And I think that I answered most of the questions they had for me well.  Though, I may have fumbled a bit at the end.  The library thing (the fact that I have a library degree, and am not looking for work in a library) came up, and I know no good way to answer that.  Not without sounding angry and desperate.  Then they asked what in my career would they not go back to, and I don't know how to answer that either.  Everything I've done is open for redoing.  I'd hoped that I wouldn't have to go back to retail work with it's low pay and crappy hours, but it'd be different if I owned a shop, so that's not exactly true either.

I can't quite make myself believe that this is going to work out for me.  I'd like it to, but I can't count on it.  And I can't believe it.  If I end up being offered the job, I'll just have to be pleasantly surprised. Because I can't expect and then not get it, you know?

Man, but it'd be an interesting position.  I had assumed it would just be a receptionist, which would be a fine if boring position, but no, it's a growing gig.  I'd be receptionist, yeah, but I'd also be involved in quite a bit of the administration of the department.  I'd be able to define the role.  Which. Is. Awesome.  Responsibility and room for growth?  Forget about it!  It'd be a dream.

Which, of course, is why I'll probably not get it.  Why expect this to go my way when I've had years of nothing but bruises?

So, back up plan, back up plan, what will be my back up plan?  I'll keep applying.  I'll apply and apply and apply, much like I have been, and hope that something sticks.  And I'll ramp up my writing.  Not here, not right now anyway, but creatively.  I've let that slack.  I've told you.  I have a short story in the works right now that I think I could sell to one of the major magazines.  If I can finish it and polish it up a bit.  I've got a couple of others bubbling and brewing.  And there is always my novel, which I haven't worked on in a while, but I've been thinking about.

Something's got to give soon, right?