Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day - aka Amateur Night

I want to write a Valentine's Day blog.  I want to have something to say about Valentine's Day other than how much it sucks.  Once again, a holiday designed to make you feel like a loser if you don't have all the appropriate gear.  Starting with a lover.

Even when I was married, I didn't like Valentine's Day.  Too much pressure.  Is anyone going to live up to the plans we make for them in our heads?  Wouldn't it be great if x and then perfect if y.  If he could intuit my fantasy and make it happen without a word between us.  Destined to fail.  Unless you date yourself, it's not going to be exactly the way you want it.  And even then, you're kind of hit or miss.

I have the unique perspective of having had pretty much all the different Valentine's Day scenarios there are.  I was the kid in second grade, making valentines for all the kids in the class but forgetting one boy.  They passed out a list and I lost it.  Sorry, Bill.  It didn't have candy in it so big whoop.

Then I was in high school, no boyfriend, scorning all the Valentine's Day shenanigans because superior.  More like smug, actually.  I was probably getting high in the smoking lounge (can you imagine having something like that today?) before heading off to Honors English.  I had range but no boyfriend.  No magic on Valentine's Day or other day.

When I finally did get a boyfriend, Valentine's Day was nothing special, although I vaguely recall an erotic drawing, maybe of me, maybe of the previous girlfriend over whom he was not yet.

I started dating my ex three days after Valentine's Day, so we had a whole year before Valentine's Day reared its ugly, awkward head.  Privately, I though it would be cool if he proposed, but he didn't, so that was yet another disappointment.  After we did get married, he would dutifully bring home flowers and we would go through the motions, but by then I was so disinterested in him that it felt like a chore to muster up the appropriate responses.   I had set impossible hurdles to jump over that we couldn't have afforded even if he had thought of them, weekend trips to the wine country, or his and hers massages and an hour wrapped in towels with cucumber slices over our eyes.

Please let me tell you that all of these perceived deficiencies were mine and mine alone, and before you begin a sermon about being glad for what you have, let me hasten to add that I was grateful to have a partner to perform these rituals with, with whom I had what passed for love.  I even felt it most of the time.

Then there was the Mother-of-the-Year Olympics, with each mother trying to outdo the rest with elaborate valentines for the class that they had clearly made themselves, because calligraphy was not one of the electives offered in kindergarten.

So now I have come full circle, having the first real Valentine's Day without a lover in 30 years.  Once again, being alone on a holiday doesn't bother me as much as the perception that other people have of how sad I must be and how pitiful it is.  So they assuage their consciences by including me in whatever they have going on.  Valentine's Day is the worst for this as you might imagine.  It's a day and more importantly, a night when people worry if you're okay, which you totally are until they ask you (thank you Schroedinger or is it Heisenberg?)  Which is why I'm going to spend Valentine's Day with 135,000 of my closest friends on Facebook, jamming to good music, pulling up our chairs and having a simply lovely time being Nutjobs together for Flirtation Friday, and far more important, pitchers and catchers report to start spring training.

I'm all about priorities.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Worst Thing About Depression

The worst thing about depression is knowing that it will never really go away. Even if it subsides periodically.  Even as much progress as you think you're making.  Even as much progress as you really ARE making. It's always been with you. It always will be with you.  It's like looking down the tube of your life and knowing that you are always going to feel this way. This too shall pass?  I’m sorry, that’s incorrect. This too shan't pass.  It never has and it never will.   Nice try, though.  Good guess. Thanks for playing.  We have some lovely parting gifts.

When it gets really bad, there’s the familiar response.  Wanting to curl up as small as possible. Under my bed.  Under my desk at work.  Tucked away in the furthest recess I can find. Backed up against a wall in the corner.  Please.  You don't see me.   I take up no space because I’M NOT HERE.  I don’t want to die, exactly.  I don’t want to kill myself.  I just want to NOT BE HERE. Marking time till the next thing I dread is over.   So I can just please stop. Stop thinking about everything I fucked up simply because I was there to fuck it up.  My kids, my marriage, my husband’s life.  Ruining everything for everyone.  

All my kids' memories will be bad ones.  They will go to therapy and talk about all the things I did that made them feel horrible about themselves.  All the things they learned from me that are fucked up, measuring other people with the same impossible yardstick I use on myself, hating other people because I hate myself, making fun of them because ultimately I am the most ridiculous thing of all.  

The Gamer:  Mom, why aren’t you coming with us to the party?
Troubled:  Mom won’t go to the party because she hates people.
Me:  Hey, I don’t hate people!  I just prefer them when they’re not around.
PreMed:   Good thing we got Caller ID because this way, at least we know who was calling when Mom didn’t answer it.
Me:  Let them leave a voicemail!  Who talks on the phone, anyway?  

Remind me to tell you about the time a pushy acquaintance that I never liked wanted to see the progress on the remodel we were doing on the house.  How I let the call go to the machine (this was back in the day).  How she left three messages in the space of an hour, are you home, can I come by?   Finally, and I don’t know how people have the balls to do stuff like this, she just showed up, turning her minivan into the cul-de-sac and pulling up to the house.The kids and I were in the great room. They were watching TV and I don’t know what I was doing.   But I saw right away that it wouldn’t be enough for me to go to my room and hide, my first instinct, always. She would see the kids in the window and ask them to get me and then what?

I’m not proud of what happened next.  “Get down, get down, come over here, hide behind the couch with Mommy,  Jennifer’s here but I don’t want her to come in, let’s pretend we’re not here.”    I hid from my friend like Anne Fucking Frank and I made my kids hide with me until she got back in her car and drove away.   We laugh about it now.  But WTAF.  Grist for the therapy mill if ever I saw it. My mother, the narcissistic misanthrope.

Though self-taught from a young age, and even with a natural aptitude,  I can't seem to get this depression gig right.  Depressed people talk about not being able to get out of bed.   As much as I would prefer to crawl back under the covers in the tight little ball that I covet, I simply cannot.  I can't stay in bed because I'm petrified that my complete and utter failure will be revealed.    I can’t stay in bed because there would be yet another example of what’s wrong with me.  I can’t stay in bed because I have to get up and do more, try harder, be better.   I can’t stay in bed because my superego is a harsh mistress and the switch she wields is swift and sharp.  I can’t stay in bed because panic, masquerading as hope, pretending to be courage, compels me, propels me, and I hurtle out of bed, already exhausted before the day has begun.

Even though I understand that the universe finds me flawed at the cellular level, I like to think that I that I hide it really well.   How arrogant is that!  People tell me all the time how clever I am, how witty.  How I express what they are feeling in just the right way. How much I've helped them.  I always joke "that's a tragic and near-fatal case of the blind leading the blind."  I'm thrilled that anyone gets something out of this nonsense.  But I'm also dismayed.  I'm a sham.  How have you people not seen this yet? Your failure to recognize my failure diminishes us both.

It's so much a piece of me that I have never thought to question it. Only in the last few years has it dawned on me that other people don’t live this way.  Other people aren’t just waiting for time to pass until it’s over or wishing they weren’t here or fantasizing about putting a revolver in their mouths or driving off a cliff.   I have started at least a dozen times to tell someone, anyone, that I feel this way and realize just in time, “Hey, Self!  That’s suicide ideation which means 72 hours that you just can’t spare right now! And who knows how many more days, weeks maybe, after that?”   

So, no.  That’s crazy.  Who would do that?  Not this Nutjob right here, my friends.  Uh-uh.  Not me.  No way.  I’ll just keep plugging away, writing this blog, listening to music, cracking wise on my Facebook page, and looking down the tube of my life knowing that even when I’m feeling good, better than good, magnificent even, I’m always going to have this thing, this depression, this horrible self-loathing that has grown, in the cruelest of ironies, into the most profound friendship I could ever hope to have.