Blue Monday

The Butcher has decided that he might start looking for a new job in a couple of months.  My dad has started a subtle, yet effective, campaign to get us up to Illinois to see their new house. 

I get tired of how easily the same old shit sneaks up on me.

Today, I stumbled across something that had my name and “Age: 32” on it and I was like, my god, maybe I’m too old to be still living like this, like I’m still waiting for things to start.

You know what I hate most about me, aside from the crippling insecurity?  It’s that I think I feel terrible things much more thoroughly than I feel the good things.  I’m terrible about good things.  I tuck them away, like one might put a beautiful butterfly in a box, only to take it out later and find that it crumbles to dust when you touch it.

Last year, I worked on something that meant a lot to me.  I worked my ass off on it and when the time for accolades came, I didn’t get any.  Which is fine, in some regards; it’s the nature of my job.  And I don’t know how to graciously accept accolades anyway.

I don’t know where I’m going with this.

To speak in vague terms, something else good is happening with this project and I had to set aside some time recently and draw together the materials so that the person who’s facilitating this good thing–getting some shit you’d think would be on the national historical places list already on there where it belongs–could have some maps and photos she needed for her presentation.

I invisibly facilitate other people’s successes.  I’m good at it because I like to see people succeed and I have no ability to imagine myself as successful in their place; I don’t get in the way of the work I do.  I’m good at my job because I accept my place as being invisible.

Sometimes I have these moments that feel like I feel when I’m up too high.  When I’m up too high, I literally cannot make my body move.  I can’t hear anything; it’s like the noise of the world just turns off.  It’s like the terror makes me deaf.

Ha, it’s funny.  Sometimes I get so mad I can’t hear either.  I wonder if that’s a form of synesthesia?

Anyway, I have these moments where I just want to go ahead and fling myself into fear and doubt.  I’m suspicious that, if I could just give myself over to it and let myself work through it, I could get over it and get on with things.

But there’s no one here but me to keep things moving.  And so I don’t.

I do wonder if I could learn to start invisibly facilitating my own successes.

Here’s what’s bugging me.  I don’t feel different than you.  I never have.  I feel like I must be just like everyone else, except less sure of myself.  I can remember when Shug’s cousin took me aside and said “We’ve never known anyone like you.  You’re not like anybody else here.”  The weight of that “we.”  Or when my grandpa told my cousin I was a very weird girl.

Maybe that’s why I never really rebelled–I was always on the outside, somehow.

I don’t know.  I say things aren’t different, but they are.  Writing makes them different.  I used to be able to write wallowing posts where I’d sit here and cry and exorcise all my demons and it’d be hard, but god damn, it’d feel better.

I don’t write like that any more.  I don’t know if there aren’t any big demons left to slay or what.  Or if we’re just beyond the things I recognize as being problems and kind of drifting out into uncharted territory.

I’m afraid I’m too weird for you.

I’m afraid I’m not good enough for you.

And I’m afraid in saying that that you’re all going to rush in and say nice and supportive things and I won’t know how to respond both because I don’t know how to experience the full weight of good things and also because what’s fucked up in me you can’t fix, even though I really wish you could, and so kindness from others is kind of beside the point.

I didn’t like the cathartic posts, but I liked how they helped me feel better once they were out–like cutting out something rotted.  This is more like trying to stab at bugs with a fork.  There’s no great revelations, no catharsis, just me and this anxious feeling that I’m doing it wrong.

And I worry that doing it publicly makes it less likely that you will love me.  But I worry that, if I don’t do it publicly, I won’t have the guts to do it at all.

So, there you go.

I should probably get a hobby, like drinking myself into a stupor or pressing flowers.

10 thoughts on “Blue Monday

  1. Want me to say something bad so you don’t have to be gracious?Forget pressing flowers. Your new hobby is making films about sock puppets, the Butcher, and Mrs. Wigglebottom. I think you should cast her as Godzilla in your next film.

  2. Pressing flowers would drive me to drinking, so skip that step. If nothing else, your admitting your "fucked uppedness" normalizes my own, at least in my head. Others might not see it that way.

  3. I tend to sabotage myself. Good means bad is around the corner, as I have demonstrated in my actions time and time again.I will push back, you know, if people really get to know me, because I’m scared they will find that I’m weak.And we can’t have that.But I can’t press flowers because flowers make me sneeze, I can drink to excess on occasion but that only solves things for a couple of hours (but what great hours they are), and so I read other people’s blogs who have similar tastes and find some solace that I’m not the only one.Your not weird. Fortunately for me at this advanced age of (Jesus Christ! I’ll be 41 in two weeks) that weird and eccentric is comforting to me.

  4. Have you *seen* all of us who hang out around here? (Of course, if we don’t comment often, perhaps you haven’t.) Anyway: You’ll never be too weird for the likes of us!

  5. You’ve exactly identified why I ended my first career as an editor. While I enjoy facilitating other people’s success, I got tired of the always invisible nature of my accomplishments. I’m still no good at accepting accolades; to wit, it’s been nearly a month since I won the writing prize I told you about and I still haven’t notified my department because I don’t feel that I merit the fuss. Ultimately, I’ve been able to use my early history of professional invisibility to my benefit — I write to please myself because I have learned to evaluate and trust the worth of my own work.

  6. It looks like to me you just described "being a writer" very nicely. Always a bit on the outside, looking in and watching. Trying to take cues from other people who seem to know how to do it better. Thinking that these other people who are "on the inside" have a secret that was never told to you. Not able to believe that you may be worthy of praise and that praise is actually due you for your vast behind-the-scenes efforts. From what I’ve been able to figure out over the last year or so:1. Everybody is fucked up. But the non-writers–those on the "inside"–are too busy worrying about staying on the inside to admit it to anyone else. Only writers are brave enough to act as scribes for the totality of human experience. To say "I feel fucked up" and "I feel like no one else is." Since everyone is, you look like a prophet. 2. Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. Growing up with TV makes all of us think that we need to be doctor-lawyer-indian chief to matter as people. So we look at our lives in our dead-end jobs in our thirties and feel like we’ve failed. We’re not Mary Tyler Moore or Marcus Welby. Personally I think that’s why Grey’s Anatomy is such a successful show. (A writer) has exploded the myth that doctors are these perfect people above reproach. It brings comfort to those of us who work in the shadows of aggressive people. 3. Praise is hard to accept. If it’s easy for a person to accept praise they may have an ego problem. 4. When you mention pressing flowers it sounds a bit too Emily Dickenson. At least do something edgy and Thoreau. Take up camping. 5. People like you. I like you. Not in spite or because of the things that frustrate you. Most often the things that frustrate you in the dead of night are not that big a deal in the light of day. And many times you at least have the good sense to be frustrated by the parts of life that are frustrating to everyone.

  7. Mostly I just want to enthusiastically endorse Ms. Coble’s point #5, especially the part about how horrors at night turn out to be about stuff that’s very small potatoes. But also, there are two ways you can go with the "I feel like I’m waiting for things to start" thing. You can say "obviously this feeling tells me I’m doing the wrong job, and I haven’t achieved anything like what I should have, and I’m not living as I ought." That’s a powerful set of feelings, and sometimes they are correct, and they’re worth examining to see whether they come from you or from what people (family, society) tell you you should do and want and be. (And if they come from you you can go on to figure out how you ought to be living, and try to do it.) Or you can say "obviously I feel this way because I know that as a human being I will be changing and experiencing new things and taking on new roles my whole life, and I’m so aware of that right now that I keep waiting for the next step." Which is another powerful set of feelings, and they’re worth examining to see whether you are in fact internally going through some changes that make you ready for the next step, or whether you’re just starting to be aware of what you are and wondering what the next step should be.And I think that if you take up heavy drinking and *then* get into pressing flowers you could create a new art form.

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