Tuesday, July 07, 2009

the key to joy

(and why i've been a miserable lump lately)

i prefer to keep my negative emotions a secret. in part because i feel selfish when i lay all my worries and hurts on the table (especially in front of people with their own worries and hurts to deal with), and in part because often it's just easier to throw those worries and hurts to the way side.

chin up, smile the blues away, la-de-da.

i also like to keep negative emotions locked away for preservation of character. i place great importance in being liked and respected by others. i do whatever i can to be kind and am always thinking of others (putting others before myself). i work hard and try to keep a positive exterior to earn the respect and affection of others. when people think of me, i want them to think positively.

but the price of keeping everything under wraps (pretending to be happy jolly katy) is starting to take its toll on me. the other night, while working at two brothers pizza, i began to fall apart. the clock ticked by slower than ever, the tickets kept coming, it was hot, i was angry and sad and self pitying. my ill mental state soon manifested in the physical state of shaking, vomiting and crying (all of which no one working with me seemed to notice... they all just assumed i was hot? tired? what?). by 10 of 10 i couldn't take it any more. i asked someone to finish for me and clocked out.

before going home i curled up in a ball in my car and sobbed. i was paralyzed with unhappiness. after 10 or so minutes, i muscled up and made it home as fits of rage and depression washed through me.

i got in the door, fell to the kitchen floor and dialed by boss, jimmy, who i'd just left without much of a word. though i'd given in my two week notice and this was my first of the last four nights of work there, i completely broke down. the call was to apologize for leaving the work place dirty still, and to tell him i was finished.

really finished.

what followed was what one looking in from the outside might title a panic attack (that's what ryan called it). what it felt like was the shattering of bones. the compression of organs. i could barely breath between uncontrollable sobs. that sounds melodramatic and writing about it feels false, but there was a complete breakage of being last night that i need to acknowledge.

i didn't just break, i'm still broken. i'm fragile and fatigued and just... well... unhappy. and although ryan doesn't want me to... i can't help but feel guilty, selfish and at fault for all my unhappiness.

my grandfather passed away not long ago now. the funeral service was a nice closing statement to his legacy. but it was that very funeral, whenever anyone said the phrase "better place", that i had my suspicions confirmed. i do not believe in life after death. i've heard so many people talk about it, feel it, know it, but i've never had to believe it myself until this loss. i'm not dealing with the loss well because i cannot believe that there is anything more to him now... what he had was amazing. he fought, loved, lived. he was an amazing character and a wonderful man, but he's just dust now. dust inside a pretty box. having realized this... maybe what i'm going through now is similar to what a child goes through when she first realizes she isn't imortal afterall. it's like crying because you see blood coming out of your knee even though it doesn't really hurt. the blood is proof that she can die.

i've tried to react positively to the news that we all die, that we don't come back as goats or bees or princesses or ghosts or angels. we don't come back. my rational reaction then, is to live this life to the absolute. i want to live, to accomplish, to be happy and healthy and vibrant. and i want to make this life the best for the people around me too. i'll have a cupcake if i want one, because this is heaven. saturday, i'm going to eat a cheeseburger from white hut and ride on the best rollercoaster in the world. i'm going to live. and i have a life partner who feels the same way, which should make it easier.

problem with this? yeah... that bit about making life better for everyone else... it overshadows the bit about me living.

i worked at two brothers for two years. i worked there fore three months too many. i should have put in my notice when i got back from japan. but i felt selfish feeling upset there (a terrible circle, i know, and i'm coming to realize this). i hate to give up, to throw in the towel. i'm apollo creed in his match against the russian. and two brothers sucked all the life out of me, all the fighting energy. maintaning a smile there... impossible. i had to give up. i just didn't do it soon enough and ended up making a fool of myself.

i made a fool of myself... stupid thing to say. i broke down. how is that foolish? well... i guess i let it get to that point in the first place, but the truth is, everyone is allowed to feel sorry for themselves once in a while right?

my grandfather's death, working hard at a shitty job with little reward and a lot of bother... those aren't the only matters at hand.

there's school too.

this thesis i'm writing is the hardest thing i've had to do. the hardest part is though, that i know if i set myself to it i could do it in a couple days and be done with it. so the actual work isn't the problem. the problem is this wall i've built between the real world and myself. i'm so scared of finishing school... so petrified of graduating. but why? self doubt maybe... fear of leaving the nerf envirnment supplied within these grey walls of the university? yeah. and fear of having to answer to someone, the fear of making real mistakes. those fears out weigh the potential for making a real world difference, for being successful.

thinking about it yesterday... even though it was for a class, i did actually make $1,000 for the animal shelter, and i could easily do it 100 more times. there's so much potential out there for me (within me), but i'm a nervous wreck about stepping out.

i don't want to be finished with school. but at the same time, i want to. i want to build a cook book of all my favorite recipes. i want to paint bird houses and hang them up on all the trees in my back yard. i want to write a graphic novel with my brother. i want to write grants. i want to blog and write poetry more. i want to live without the burdon of a paper and meetings with stan.

so what the hell is stopping me? fear?

i think about this all the time... this irrational fear that i can see through, but can't walk through... then i get frustrated with myself, angry at myself, and i shut down. i cry, i sleep, i waste days in front of the watch-it-now netflix que on our xbox 360... i waste a day and then i get even more upset at myself. the vicious cycle.

i get so mad, so scared, so unhappy that it makes my stomach hurt. that's when i try to supress it all, try to cover it all up and put on a smile. that's when i appologize to my friends for being tired or stressed, but smile and listen to their woes anyway. really, sometimes, i just want to explode, but i carry on for the better of those around me.

and it's not doing me any good.

but i still don't know how to be happy... i still don't know what the key is or what it unlocks. not yet anyway.


Anonymous said...

Is thát why..

getting to know you as a writer on WET - a cool, sexy poetess - I wondered what happened to her?
There's now a girlie housewife obsessed with weight and loss - nothing cool or sexy anymore - where's your life ?

arch.memory said...


One of the things I dread most is this: having something as significant as this happen to a loved one, and me not even knowing about it… And with the overload of “connectedness media” these days, it’s ironically all too easy to happen…

I’m sorry you’re going through such hard times, dear; I know the feeling and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. (Ok, maybe a select few, but certainly not you.). And I wish you would stop trying so hard to be nice to everybody (as much as I love you for it) and just be a bit nicer to yourself. But I know from first hand experience it’s easier said than done when it’s so ingrained in us… It maybe my biology undergrad speaking, but I do believe in the natural balance of our systems, that we shut down just when we need to. And in that sense, I think it’s a good thing that you broke down; you’ve been bottling up for too long.

But please don’t beat yourself up when your down; there’s nothing ridiculous or embarrassing about breaking down. In a way, there is something sublime about it: I think we are rarely as beautiful as we are at our weakest. I’ve always had that thing for vulnerability: it’s what I cherish in people, it’s what I think makes us most human… But, you are going through a lot, so please cut yourself some slack. Your grandpa’s death alone is tough enough. I was lucky that my grandma passed away the week after graduation; I frankly don’t think I would have been able to go through my thesis if she had passed away before that… So I’m glad you left that pizza job: it wasn’t good for you, and I think you’re better off without it. (I know money is always an issue, but I think you’ll figure out a way to manage.) But I am sure much of it is just grief… Heaven knows it expresses itself in the weirdest ways and at the most unlikely times. I remember once, in the weeks after my grandma passed away, I broke down while making salad—just because the smell of basil reminds me of her.

So, take it easy on yourself, dear; allow yourself to be down. And please, don’t ever hesitate to share any of this when you need to. Heaven knows I’ve done more than my share of crying on your shoulder, and I am sure you have been there for so many other people when they needed you, because that’s just who you are. So please feel free to reach out and vent out as much as you want; we may all be busy with our little lives, but we care. Very much.

And don’t worry about happiness for now. It’ll come when it comes, when you’re ready for it… For now, I think blue is your color ;)

Big big hugs,