Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The difference a day can make... or maybe an attitude...


Last week I was ready to crawl into some anonymous hole and stew in my pain. Angry at the world because I was suffering, I ended up adding maudlin drama to my misery. All bets were off – I hurt and so every other thing in my life must be crap too, right? Where were my narcotics when I needed them? So I ate instead and drank far more than was either prudent or healthy. Did it help? Not one frickin' iota. What I desired was a diversion...something or someone to rescue me from my miserable existence... so that I could completely abdicate my responsibility for my own life.
My mood, in one shape and form or another, has been echoed throughout this address. The home-front has become a place of physical, intellectual, and emotional stasis. Dreams deferred. For us here life has not gone as intended. For some this involves financial matters – employment opportunities have dried up in this broken, overly politicized economy, forcing us to reanalyze our aspirations and reevaluate the means by which we will earn a decent living. Physical limitations have constrained others to the point of despondency. Years of schooling and a lifetime spent in professional service seem negated by the ravages machinated by a momentary slip on the ice or the subversive effects of autoimmune anarchy.
For a few it is the idiosyncrasies of romantic love that blinds them to their potential, holding them bound to lost loves and fabled romances that have long been declared dead. Unwilling to accept the realities of necessary reciprocity, they languish heartbroken and dissolute. For them the world appears in 256-grayscale and nothing from without can appease their sorrow. Yet each morning they manage to awaken and move forward – tenuously attempting a semblance of real life. Our collective helplessness is neither endearing nor charming and futility stifles the air forcing all of us into emotional hyperventilation.
Yet in the midst of this wreckage we are still required to function – and function we have, albeit limping along rather visibly. And there is something almost magical in sufficing, especially if you take a moment to realize exactly what is going on. We run on autopilot, but that isn't always a bad thing. Autopilot allows us to coast when we are simply too out of breath to self-propel. While stasis is never pleasant, slipping backwards is inevitably more disheartening. As long as one is treading water, they're not drowning. It was this realization that catapulted me out of my doldrums and into this blog. For once I appreciated the instrumentality of lassitude in anchoring one to the status quo and preventing retrograde motion. Research has provided evidence that the most dangerous period of depression arrives after someone has regained enough emotional energy to propel themselves into suicide. Emotional torpor in this case can be life-saving. And while I have no immediate desire to off myself, this conclusion was almost epiphanic because up until just a few days ago I coursed my stasis with everything in me. Now I am apt to look for ways to shorten those periods of time spent languishing in emotional and motivational paralysis, so that I might be able to reclaim a bit more time in contentedness. And I am beginning to acknowledge that my periods of depression usually recede at about the same time as my overall emotional energy returns and I end up accomplishing a great deal in their aftermath.
However, although I am hurriedly trying to raise my own anchor, I am aware that others here are not quite ready to hoist theirs and I am desperate to find the words to communicate to them exactly how important it is to realize that their recalcitrance may well be saving their hearts and souls. How do I tell them that holding still is far superior than slipping back? Tell them to relax and look inward to discover what their stasis might be telling them they need to address? SIGH. Actually all I can do is work on my personal issues and stuff and rely on the fact that my taking my emotional vacuum out of this space might free up enough energy to help them move forward as well. It takes one drop of rain to start a thunderstorm. Years ago I entered group therapy under a counselor named Carole DuBerry under the auspices of my wanting to change how the other people in my life were behaving. Within only a few sessions she informed me rather brusquely that the only one I should be there to fix was me, and that my “issues” with everyone else would take care of itself. She was right.
Now some twenty-one years ex post facto I find myself attempting the same old crap and hoping it will produce a different result. Yet the laws governing the overt control of other people's actions and emotional states are as immutable as the laws of physics – it simply cannot be done from without by someone else. What I can do, and what I am in the process of doing, is to untangle myself and my emotionality from the collective and take responsibility for my own feelings, actions, successes or failures. I have been told by those closest to me that I have a nasty tendency to say f*ck-it and give up when I become exasperated at someone's intransigence. They too were right. I am exceedingly proficient at passing the buck and laying blame, but for all my talent in that area, it hasn't amounted to a hill of beans as far as any useful movement on the part of others or myself. It is a flawed and failed strategy and one I am committed to ejecting from my repertoire of reactions.
So I am left with the recognition that I must act as if I am the only actor upon the stage and allow others their periods of both forward momentum and stalled futility. As much as I hate it, there is simply no other way to proceed. Sometimes it truly is about biting one's tongue and closing one's eyes. I am ready to move forward – to leave the languor of the last three months and reclaim the territory I abdicated to overgrowth and neglect. There is much cleaning and pruning to be done in my “secret garden” and not a moment to spare...

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