Friday, July 19, 2013
MISSION SIX: Raising the Bar
I celebrated five months of being on drugs this month.
I realize that information may seem less than uplifting to the average person, but I am damn proud of it. Five months: still high as a kite, still going strong! In terms of my illness, I have even become a little arrogantly oblivious. I pat myself on the back consistently, reminding myself how I beat the tar out of my depression and left it's corpse-- which had been violently pummeled by the righteous force of my vengeful fists-- dying in a pool of its own blood behind me. Sometimes in these visions, I heroically ride into the sunset on horseback; other times, via motorcycle. It all depends on my mood and the movie I watched most recently.
Sadly, this victorious delusion is just that. While my mood and general mental processes have found an appropriate and even superior sense of equilibrium, there is still a great deal of collateral damage left over from the "not-so-happy" times. The "life sucks" times. The "I am a gigantic piece of garbage that should be six feet (or farther) under" times. Oh, sweet memories of youth... While I can proudly say that I have been attacking my life like gangbusters and getting so busy that I am loathe to even find time to sit and write this brief article, I have noticed one prominent and quite appalling issue that I will have to add to my list of things to do (over)-- My version of Me. What that even means, I don't know.
My self-opinion seems to be totally fine. I am here, I am just, I'm a decent person, and I accept myself for who I am. Go me. (I'm not the cheerleader type, so I didn't use an exclamation point there). I'm happy, and life is good. Yet, therein lies the problem. I have accepted life as merely "good." I expect nothing more. I spend time with awesome people, I indulge in multifarious passions and hobbies, I work my ass off trying to make something of myself, but at the same time, I don't see any payoff nor any finish line after any of it. I simply do for the sake of doing. Somewhere along the line, I stopped believing that anything is possible-- 'anything' being the basic necessities of life that make it worth living. I can't quite envision myself receiving the proper rewards that come to someone who, I dunno, drove herself to the point of exhaustion in the quest for some kind of socially beneficial contribution. Whereas in the past, I lived only for tomorrow-- kicking my ass for emergence into that sacred light at the end of the tunnel-- I now have a tendency to just lie down in the middle of the road and count the pretty cars that roll over me. I mean, it's cool. That's life. I accept it. I'm just happy to be here. Nice transmission, by the way.
Thus, the most present challenge in my day to day attitude is learning, to be frank, how to ask for more. I don't know how to do that. What exactly is that? Do people really cultivate some kind of itinerary or make those weird vision boards in order to accomplish their, what are they called again... goals? Heck, I can't even look in the mirror and say an affirmation. "I am awesome. I deserve to be hap-- Bahahaha! No ya' don't! Come on, let's go to work, silly." My current mental and emotional state actually represents a very strange contradiction. I think I'm a good person, but I don't think I deserve any sort of, shall we say, "elevated" experience of being. I exist. I'm impressed enough by that. So, I'm not super-duper happy. So, the unexperienced notion of pure joy remains unexperienced. Beggars can't be choosers. Why aim high when you can slum it at the status quo?
For example, I daydream about backpacking across Europe-- grabbing a beer in Berlin, having my daily shot of caffeine at a Parisian cafe, and stopping for gelato in Rome. I may even swap continents and check out the Sphinx. Ride a camel. Who the Hell knows? It's exciting to think about, but I don't expect to actually go to these places. I indulge in the pleasant thought of such a voyage, but then I get back to work, because this is "enough." Who am I to ask for more? Want more? I continue my various writing projects, I enjoy them, and they make me feel good. It would be nice to receive some sort of attention for them or maybe even be published some day, but I don't expect that to happen. I'm not a fool! I imagine finding an occupation that affords me equal parts intellectual stimulation and financial compensation. I like the idea of having money to actually, ya' know, save, and I entertain the thought of maybe having a sweet pad of my own some day. It's a vague image, but then I keep it vague, because I don't expect it to take shape in reality. No harm; no foul.
This is the state of my oh-so-exciting life. I feel the best I ever have, but I have to admit that I also haven't made that much progress. I'm still standing in the same damn spot of surrender, only this time, my feelings of unworthiness have camouflaged themselves beneath my general good humor. The sunshine tends to distract me from the fact that I secretly still nurse feelings of self-resentment. At least, I do until somebody confronts me with a slew of futuristic questions: "What do you want to be when you grow up (again)?" "What is your ideal job?" "How do you feel about marriage?" "Do you want kids?" "Where do you see yourself in ten years?" Oof, that last one is the worst. I was literally asked that zinger by my therapist the other day, and I went completely blank. I honestly couldn't conjure one picture, one color, nor one shape to identify how I wanted my life to look. And not just in ten years, but tomorrow! Here in Meredith world, to borrow the words of Trent Reznor, "every day is exactly the same." That is my version of joy and accomplishment. When I realized this sad fact, well... Suffice it to say, it was not a good feeling.
But how does one raise the bar, or even set the bar, when one's great ambition has for so long been to merely make it through the day, and this hopefully without falling down dead from the mental exertion it takes to simply pretend to be quasi-human? After years of emotional nullifying and the conditioning of suppression, I seem to have eliminated all forms of expectation. I still have desire-- there is no getting rid of that-- but on the road of life, I have acquiesced to taking the bus instead of driving my own car. I mean, I haven't even tried to get a license, and even if I did, I would probably drive a stupid Honda instead of a Spyder (that runs on rainbows). Turns out, this frame of mind is not acceptable. Life shouldn't be good; it should be great. It should be amazing. F--- me...
The problem is, my bar isn't even low; it's plain absent. I couldn't even army crawl under the stupid thing, so I just stare at it thinking, "Wow, what a pretty stick." In trying to energize myself and, for example, seek out a career that could more appropriately benefit the person I am and the limited/specific intelligence I possess, or otherwise obtain a promotion/raise that would better represent the amount of work I do and likewise make me feel like a genuine, contributing asset to the workplace, I find myself very lost. I remain stagnant in my ever-muted headspace. I don't know how to ask for the things I want; I don't know how to demand the respect I've earned, not just as an employee at any of the jobs I've held, but as a human being. I don't consider myself a viable human being let alone an adult, and with my abysmal insecurity, even asking for the smallest things from others feels greedy: family, friends, employers, strangers, lovers. Come on, "people are starving in China," and I want someone to validate my existence? Those are white people problems.
Mission six, therefore, is learning how to become the "squeaky wheel" that gets the metaphorical "grease," in whatever form I choose to seek it. Most particularly, I want to become the architect of my own life instead of the sorry fool who gets stuck constructing someone else's dream house, because I don't need anything that flashy and I could use the cash. While it seems the exact opposite of a Dickensian moral, I've realized that I have to replace "need" with "want." What do I want? I have no idea. It's like craving a very particular flavor of ice cream that hasn't yet been invented. It's the ultimate tease. It is living as Tantalus. My want, which is my hoped for place in the world, is on the tip of my tongue, but I can't articulate it, and I don't know how to ask for it. I sometimes feel close to the discovery, yet I remain powerless beneath the mystery. It goes without saying that the resulting frustration of not yet slamming my conquering "Mer flag" into the ground is driving me right back to crazy.
All I can do is keep throwing darts and hoping to hit a bulls-eye. Keep investigating. Keep trying different things. Keep tossing around ideas and watching where they land. Maybe I'll figure "it" out one day... No! Eff that! I will triumph [she said with much force, sticking her crooked finger defiantly in the air]! I mean, I used to be totally ignorant of Graeter's Black Raspberry Chip, and now I can't live without the stuff. If there's anything better than that delicious goodness in this world, it's worth the extra, agonizing effort one must take in finding it. There is a time and a place to get selfish, and it's called, "Set-go!"