Of Loss and Longing

The soldier I dated briefly in February for one glorious month, who deployed mere days ago, said to me that he thought we should just be friends.  I never asked if he wanted to break it off, or if he felt obligated to because he knew (the same as I did) that our odds of staying together were slim after he left.  The hole in my heart misses him and wonders if there’s a chance in heaven that we’ll be able to be together again when he returns.  If he returns.  I’m torn between keeping that hope alive and squashing it flat–because what if he decides to forget me?  What if he comes home and looks at me as a complete and total stranger?  Or worse–what if I hold on to hope and he shows up with a lady soldier on his arm?  It’s foolish to hope.  We knew each other barely three months before he left–and he’ll be gone for six.

I’m lonely.  I have been for a while.  It’s a familiar ache, one I’ve felt since high school, as I, the wallflower, watched the high school sweethearts fall in love.  I’ll be twenty-seven in August, and people tell me I have plenty of time.  They say this as they kiss their husbands and bounce their babies on their knees, and they gloss over my suffering as if it is trivial.  They say this as my baby cousins get married and start families of their own.  They say this as my younger brother plans his proposal to his girlfriend of three years.   They say “you have plenty of time” as I attend wedding after wedding alone.

As I struggle to make peace with the aches of my heart, I’ve realized that I can’t talk about how lonely and lost I am.  No one seems to understand, or want to understand.  I’ve been told that I’ll look back on my time of singleness and wish I’d had more of it.  I’ve been told to wait, that “it’ll happen someday, when you least expect it.”

I went to a baby shower on Sunday for one of my dear friends.  At one point, I left out to be alone with my grief.  I’m going to be twenty-seven in three months.  I thought I would be happily married by now, with a family of my own.  And even though I’m trying to celebrate the lives of others, the growing pain of loss and longing is starting to tear rents in my very soul.  The only peace I’ve been able to make is accepting the damage and understanding that it will continue.

Write What Hurts

Caught between pain and guilt, I started keeping a journal. I wrote every doubt, fear, and painful moment within its pages.  It’s starting to be filled with ink, the bleeding of my heart on pretty purple-lined paper.  It’s cathartic, but only in the moment of writing; my doubts and fears return to me after a brief rest, unsatisfied with their inky expressions.  I wonder, if I could somehow perfectly articulate the barbed storm within, would it finally subside?

I tell myself that my journal is not shameful, that I am merely attempting to capture the human experience.  The truth is that I am mortified at my own brokenness.  I hide and hold it within, like a child clutching the broken pottery pieces of their mother’s fine china.  The difference is that the child will be found out, scolded and forgiven.  I could hold my brokenness forever, and no one would know if I did not tell them.  And, because mental illness and internal struggle is not seen as heroic–though succeeding despite self-doubt and panic is the most heroic thing I have ever done–people do not care to be reminded that those they love are suffering.

I don’t want to be a burden on anyone, and though I am more than willing to share the burdens of others, I do not hand off my burdens to those I trust.  I’m a pack mule; I carry the baggage of the entire traveling party and endure the heavy weight with little complaint and a trusting expression.

I always said that I would be able to unburden myself if I ever found someone supportive enough that I could trust them with everything.  But that is putting the responsibility for dealing with my issues on another person–a childlike damsel-in-distress fantasy that I have long outgrown.  There is no hero coming to save me.  I shall have to unpack myself.

So, I have started journaling.  I’m writing what hurts, in an attempt to patch up the cracks in my soul.  I have several saddle-bags full of broken pieces.  I’m not sure which ones are mine and which ones belong to others, but maybe I could make a mosaic of the barbed edges, and maybe it could be beautiful.

In which I begin writing again because I have no other refuge.

WELL. Here we are. How long has it been? Years? Too long, you say.

Anyway, the question I pose is this,

What do you do when your last online haven is your unused WordPress? I have no where else to run to in which I can be my unadulterated self without fear of judgment or of causing undue duress. Normally tumblr is my refuge in this, but I screwed up and now too many people know about my tumblr. So this is the last vestige of space that is wholly mine, in which I know none of you people in real life. (With a few notable exceptions, who love me unconditionally enough that I don’t care if you see this. Love you guys!)

Geez, this is getting negative quickly. I didn’t think I was this rusty. I’m an English major, for Poe’s sake. I should be able to do better than this terrible, whiny garbage. ANYHOW, it’s been a few years. That’s my point. I became a teacher, had several mental/emotional breakdowns, and wound up with no free time because I was too busy trying to get my shit together. Things seem to be stabilizing now, so I think that maybe it’s time to pick up this old blog again. I’m going to write about the human condition, about what I’m seeing everyday, and just observations about my life. That’s the plan, anyway. When I started this blog, I just wanted fame/glory/internet goddess status. Now I just want a place to collect my thoughts. I think that’s a much more realistic goal, and so I find it more likely that I’ll stick around this time.

Unless my life gets turned over on its head again. If that happens, all bets are off.

An undiagnosed whatever.

I don’t know why I’m writing this. On some level, I realize it probably won’t help me.  But I am falling into a downward spiral and I’m clinging to anything and everything because I don’t want to go back to that place again. 

I thought I was strong enough to handle something and I wasn’t.  Now I’m spiraling into depression and I’m scared.  

It started off slow. I asked for criticism.  I got it.  I then couldn’t let it go.  Now the thoughts are burrowing beneath my skin, piercing my heart, stabbing my lungs.  I’ve added all my own criticisms of myself to what was said.  It’s like a dark, looming shadow is swallowing all my happiness.  I’m fighting it, but that means I’m fighting myself–and even if I win, I lose. 

My mother sat me down and listed all the positive things about me she could think of.  It was a long list. Why doesn’t that matter to me? It used to matter. Why doesn’t it matter anymore? 

My brother, bless him, didn’t tell me I was stupid.  He hugged me, grabbed my shoulders, and asked me “What would help?” I feebly said I probably needed to laugh.  We then spent the next hour in stitches watching the British version of “Top Gear.”  

Band-aids on a gaping wound.  I love them for trying. 

I’m giving myself a month to drag myself out of this.  If I can’t, I’m seeking help. 

P.S. Sorry for not posting ever.  I’ve been unemployed and then gainfully employed and have been in a state of constant flux and transition.  This probably is affecting the above depression spiral.  

In which I live.

I recently took a job I knew I would hate.  

It was a decision based on the terrible job economy, incoming bills, and two months of unemployment after being sacked by my old job.  

I’m not quite ready to talk about the sacking.  I’m still seething in a bitter, angry pool of unstraightened emotions.  I’m not honestly sure how I feel, even though it’s been almost four months.  

I feel like I’ve been living in a sea of misery.  Before, my job bored me and I was miserable because I knew that, if I stayed where I was, I would be doomed to a mediocre existence.  Now, my job drains every speck of energy from me (and then some), I never have any free (because I’m always working) and I am constantly challenged (to the point where I feel completely inadequate).  

What am I doing?  

I’m teaching. 

I can tell you that the expression “those that can’t do, teach” is completely inaccurate.  I can also tell you that my superiors are less concerned with my knowledge of my subject and more concerned with my behavior management skills.  I’ve realized that teachers are superheroes and deserve every penny of their pay, every day of their three month vacation, and then probably more on top of that.  

I feel like a fraud.  I’m wearing my superhero costume, but the shoes are too big, and the cape is too long.  It doesn’t fit me.  

I’m enrolled in something called the “Beginning Licensure Teachure” program.  All of us are 1st, 2nd, or 3rd year teachers.  Many of us are lateral entry, which means that we haven’t got any educational license or training.  We’ve got basic degrees (B.A. in English, in my case) that qualify us enough to get a probationary license to teach our subject, with stipulations that we must obtain full licensure within three years. This program is supposed to grow us from little overwhelmed frazzled masses of miserable into our new teacher superhero outfits.  It’s supposed to help.  

I hope it does.

I’m going to start keeping a file of all the good things that happen to me in the classroom.  They do not outnumber the amount of bad things that happen to me, but perhaps, if I keep a good record, I will realize that the gems are worth putting up with the pebbles.   

Flaming Hot Ice Guardian of Tacoma

I’m here on the other side of the country  (Tacoma, WA) for a week to visit my best friend.  It’s been magical so far, and I’m really really sad that I’m leaving in two days.  The forest here is beautiful.  Apparently this area was where they filmed Ewoks: The Battle for Endor.  I suppose that would be neat, except I’ve never seen the movie, which isn’t surprising really because it wasn’t all that popular or well known.  And there’s a volcano in the backyard.  An icy, snow-covered one at that.

Mt. Rainier! It will kill you if it gets a chance.

(photo courtesy of the national park–click the pic for their site) 

Mt. Rainier looms over the whole place like some sort of silent ice guardian.  Which is completely awesome, except for the fact that it is also a very active volcano that is just waiting to blow up.  There are volcano evacuation signs here.  I kid you not.

We drove up the mountain to Paradise, a base camp of sorts complete with a visitor’s center and a lodge.  Nothing was open because everything is still completely buried in snow.

Closed due to obscene amounts of snow.

Closed due to obscene amounts of snow.

We got fairly close to the top, but we couldn’t see it because the snow and the sky all seemed to blend together.  It was like standing in a great vast field of whiteness, some sort of great circle of oblivion that would wash you white along with it if you weren’t careful. We watched the skiers and the hikers with their gear and decided that this mountain was unforgiving.  Our cells had no service and one wrong move in the wrong direction would leave us stranded with nobody around to hear us.  It was raw beauty, fascinating, dangerous, and terrifying all in one.

We would never survive here.

We would never survive here.

In the visitor bathrooms (mercifully left unlocked for us), there was a notice asking people to keep an eye out for a group of missing hikers or their equipment.  They’d been missing for over three months.  Sometimes it’s easy to forget that nature is perfectly capable of crushing us dead.

Snow River

Which is why I like going off into semi-safe places in nature.  It reminds me that we’re painfully mortal, but that we can be pretty persistently amazing too.  People scale to the top of dangerous places and make it down alive.  I get so comfortable in my own safe little nest in the world that I forget how wildly dangerous and beautiful the rest of it can be.

With Age Comes Wisdom and Understanding—and also the knowledge that everyone is hideously hypocritical and judgmental.

They say that your life is your own, that you make your own choices.  I question the truth in that idea.  I have always been bound by the expectations of others, I’ve never felt truly free to make my own decisions.

I must live my life.  I must stop letting my family dictate what I can and cannot do and start letting my own heart and mind choose for me.

I decided (finally) that I was an adult and could look after myself, thank you.

But that creates another dilemma…

Because now that I am choosing my path, I feel compelled to keep it secret.  Because I still feel like I need the approval of a bunch of Southern Baptists who get offended so easily over the most stupid of things.  Because I need the love of a demographic that is hateful and judgmental and I just don’t know if them being my family will cancel out that inbred need to have the perfect Christian family when I choose to do something they don’t like.

I’ve watched the community that has been with us for nearly two decades turn its back on my brother because he’s going through some stuff right now. I’ve watched family turn their back on him, say things like “I don’t want my child going over to your house because he’s there.”  He’s been skipping school and drinking on the weekends. There was also a little pot involved.  I’m pretty sure it isn’t contagious, and I’m also sure that none of the drinking or smoking happens here at home.  Do you think that your child will somehow become an alcoholic and a stoner at ten years of age because she was within ten feet of my brother?

My cousin can’t find a church to go to because all of them house people who look down on her for the mistakes she made when she was a teenager.  Her own parents have cut her off–they won’t even help her get a loan so she can go to college.

This is conditional love, guys, and it’s not right.  Newsflash: ostracizing people when they make mistakes isn’t cool.  I’m not saying you should waltz up and say that drinking and smoking illegally are wonderful life choices.  And I understand that you may be nervous around the people making these mistakes.  But just because their choices scare you doesn’t mean you get to be douche-nuggets about it.

All this happening around me is making me worry for my own future. How the hell am I supposed to live my own life in the midst of all this two-faced judgment and shame?

It’s like the only reason I’ve gotten this far in life is because I’ve toed the line and done what was expected of me.  One wrong move and BAM!  There goes all the support you’ve relied on your whole life.

Sigh. It’s complicated and simple and the whole thing just reinforces my growing belief that at the end of the day the only person you can really count on is yourself.