When I think of past mes, I feel detached from them. I examine them as if I’m an anthropologist or sociologist or, quite frankly, psychologist rather than me looking at me. I don’t recognize any of them, and they certainly don’t feel as if they are a part of me. I feel a lot of compassion for them, but I don’t feel connected to them in any way. Yeah, I know how that sounds, but it’s the truth.
I don’t like myself. I never have, and I don’t know if I ever will. However, there are parts of each of the past mes that I actually admire. Let’s go over them quickly.
Minna 1.0 (0-5) was fearless and brave by all accounts. My mom used to love to tell the story of how my brother was being bullied by some kids, and I chased them away from him. I was two and he was five. Another story my mom would tell (and confirmed by other relatives) was how I would jump off the coffee table in the living room and yell, “Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!”, displaying my early love for performing. I don’t remember this me at all except we were at Disneyland (that’s the one in CA, right?) watching some ice-skating Animatronics-like figures, and all I could see was the grooves in the ‘ice’ and the mechanical spikes moving the figures around. I was disappointed it wasn’t the real thing.
I wish I remember Minna 1.0 because she sounds like one badass girl.
Minna 2.0 (5-10) had a troubled childhood. I realized I was going to die when I was seven, and it’s all been downhill since then. Not coincidentally, my depression started at the same time (not for that reason), but, on the positive side, so did my creativity and love for the written word. I apparently taught myself to read at age four (another part of the badassery of Minna 1.0), and it was my escape ever since. I was first bullied when I was in first grade, and it didn’t end for the next twelve years. I escaped by reading every book I could get my hands on (in the days before Kindle and the internet because I’m an Old), and I started writing poetry. That was how I coped with hating life, and while it wasn’t the best coping method, it did keep me alive.
Minna 3.0 (11-20) is the one who brings out the most compassion in me. Oh dear. What can I say about her that is positive? Honestly, not much. Those years were by far the worst of my life, and I can’t remember many having many happy times or victories in life. I will say I got my first boyfriend during this time and we dated for two years. That relationship set me up for many of the dysfunctional romances in my life because I was not mature enough to relationship well. It was also the beginning of my eating disorders, which I still struggle with now. I can’t help thinking how if I had gotten a good therapist when I was in this period, my life might look seriously different now.
Minna 4.0 (21-40) is probably the most interesting of the bunch and the one who accomplished the most. She’s also the one who experienced a really traumatic experience in a relationship in a foreign country, and that’s another thing that shaped my romantic/sexual history. I didn’t deal with that well at all, and I’m still handling the ramifications of that ‘relationship’. Not coincidentally, I did a lot of sexual experimentation during this time, which is not an uncommon reaction to sexual trauma.
Many moons ago when I was mired in a deep and chronic depression, I was contemplating suicide. I didn’t talk about it much, but I did mention it to my BFF. I’ll never forget what she said, though I haven’t quite followed her advice in the meantime. She said, “Don’t kill yourself yet. Give yourself a year to do whatever the hell you want and then see how you feel about it.”
Of course, she wasn’t advocating that I kill myself–far from it. She was trying to reframe the depression that had me feeling like complete and utter crap on a daily basis. Her point was that if I was going to kill myself (and, again, emphasizing that she was not advocating for it in any way), I should go out with no regrets. Her suggestion was that I make a list of all the things I wanted to do, do them for a year, and then see how I felt then.
Unfortunately, I was too far into my depression at the time to actually follow her advice, but I find it on my mind now that I’m in the midst of another depression. It isn’t as severe as the last one, and I’m very aware that it’s external rather than internal, but it’s still rather debilitating. There are several small things I need to do (new glasses, tire change, get a new insurance card), and I keep saying I’ll do it tomorrow, next Monday, etc. Rationally, I know that each one is no big deal, but they seem almost insurmountable in my mind.
I’ve written before how much energy it takes to do anything, let alone anything outside of my comfort zone. It’s easy to think someone with depression is lazy, but that’s because it’s hard to gauge the energy depleted from the outside. When I go to taiji, for example, I start thinking about it the night before. I remind myself when I’m leaving after running through my agenda for the day in my mind. Then, the next day, I have it in the back of my mind the entire time I’m doing whatever else leads up to the actual departure. Then, I get up at the assigned time, go out for a quick smoke, get dressed/shower/brush my teeth/go to the bathroom/do what needs to be done before leaving. I grab my weapons bag, my water container, my canvas bag (for the co-op), and my purse. Then, I place everything in the car just so, pull on my sunglasses, put on some lip goo, before finally opening the garage door.
There are few phrases that send me over the edge as quickly as this one and any of its variants. I’ve covered this before, but it’s still something that bugs the shit out of me, especially during this time of #MeToo. I keep thinking about how much of the focus from some people* is on how hard we’re being on the perps. Or to be more precise, how hard we’re being on them by extension of being hard on the perps.
“This is gonna make it harder to meet women,” they whine. “I’ll be too afraid to even come up to a woman and flirt because she’ll scream sexual harassment!”
First of all, if you consistently have women saying you’re sexually harassing them, well, you’re doing flirting wrong. If you have to worry about your technique coming across as sexual harassment, then you’re also doing it wrong. If the general response from women you’re flirting with is, “Get the fuck away from me!”, you’re definitely doing it wrong.
Side rant: Women do not have to be gamed into fucking/dating you. Well, you in particular, maybe, because you (from two paragraphs up) have a poisonous attitude that women can smell a mile away, but in general, women are on the same sexual spectrum as men, which means ranging from asexual to ‘can fuck three times a day and still be horny enough to masturbate afterwards’.
That is another post for another day, so I’ll hew back to the main topic with difficulty.
I was raised evangelical Christian. There was the usual hell and brimstone bullshit, and the ‘forgive your transgressors’ bullshit that accompanies many religion. I was pissed as hell at Christianity for many years after I left, and then it faded away with difficulty in time. I got to the point where I didn’t care about it, and if someone wanted to believe, it was fine as long as it didn’t infringe on my rights and personhood.
I’ve never cared for the word forgiveness, but when it was accompanied by true contrition on the part of the perp, it was acceptable. But, to me, the underlying idea of pressuring someone into forgiving makes me supremely uncomfortable. It’s for the forgiven and for the audience, not for the forgiver. Or, to put it more plainly, it’s for the perpetrator, not the victim. It’s to make his (and it’s usually a him, but not always, of course) life easier because America loves a good redemption story.
And patriarchy, of course.
Here’s one of the insidious side effects of any ism–the narrative is centered around the majority and not the minority. That’s why it’s worse to be called a racist than actually be one, for example. That’s why anyone who is a minority has to be excruciatingly conscious about how they voice their objections. They know that they are going to get pushback that is outsized compared to what they actually said.
Taking this back to the concept of forgiveness. I don’t know if this is a specifically Christian attitude, but pervasive in this country is that someone who doesn’t forgive a perp in X amount of time is actually worse than the perp. I think it’s a Christian attitude crossed with the love for redemption PLUS the need to keep the status quo as is. It’s similar to families in which there’s one relative, let’s say Uncle Joe, who is an absolute asshole in behavior and words. He’s sexist, racist, homophobic, classist, and everything else, and everyone knows he’s going to say/do something awful at every family get-together. Yet, when Cousin Susie speaks up and says something to him, she is the one who is scolded and pressured into smoothing things over for the good of the family.
It’s the missing stair theory, which I first saw at the Captain Awkward website but originated at Pervocracy. Everyone works around the asshole and everybody knows they’re working around the asshole, but they don’t ever think, “Hey, maybe we should fix the asshole instead of working around him.” They try to warn new people about him, and they make sure to keep an eye on him, but god forbid they ever mention it. And, if someone else does, that person is often ostracized instead. The status quo is a powerful drug, yo.
Also, no one wants to feel complicit in upholding a sick system, and that’s what we have when it comes to sexual harassment/rape culture in America. There are a million different ways we tell women that they are there for the gratification of men, and we punish them for daring to speak up when all this goes terribly wrong.
To loop back to dudes who whine about not being able to flirt with women now–my dudes. #MeToo may be a relatively new movement, but the sentiments behind it aren’t new by any stretch of the imagination. Most women have been groped, cat-called, sexually molested, harassed, or raped at least once in their lives. The sheer volume of stories coming out during #MeToo isn’t because it’s a new thing that just started to happen in the past few years; it’s because women are finally feeling comfortable speaking–and still getting a hell of a lot of pushback for it.
I can’t stop thinking about Louis CK. I’ve written about him before, but he’s the one who’s stuck with me because I really liked his comedy. I’ve quoted him ad nauseam, and he was one of my favorite comedians before the revelation. Once I heard it, though, I dropped him from my lexicon like he never even existed. I felt conflicted about it for some time, but I knew I couldn’t in good conscience continue to reference him like nothing happened. In addition, the revelation made me feel sickened in retrospect by some of the stories he told in past stand up specials that made me laugh. He made me feel complicit after the fact for condoning what I would have considered questionable behavior in real life, but that was fucking hilarious in the context in which he presented it.
When he was confronted, he admitted he’d done it and said he would step away and spend a lot of time listening to other people. It was the one thing I actually respected him for (among a lot of disgust for his behavior and how he wielded his clout and power), and I hoped he would get his shit together at some point and become a better person in his absence. I wasn’t going to go back to supporting him, but I wished him well. Fun fact, I just realized I was still subscribed to his newsletter and instantly unsubscribed.
Anyway, about a month ago, roughly ten months after his revelation, he crashed a comedy club and did a set without warning that included a rape joke.
There is so much wrong with this that. First, that he was allowed to do the set in the first place. Yes, I know he’s Louis CK and that even now, having him perform will probably boost a small comedy club. However, there were women in the audience who were uncomfortable and even afraid while he was doing his set because there were many men who were applauding him and shouting encouragement. I can see myself in that situation being frozen and wondering what the fuck I should do. Hell, I have been in a similar situation. I was at a Dana Gould show (comped ticket), and he told an incredibly gross rape joke that had me frozen in my seat. I wanted to leave, but I knew that would be making a scene. I stayed for the rest of the (unfunny) set, and it was not a pleasant experience.
With Louis CK, I would like to think I would have gotten up and walked out, but I can’t say for sure. I know I would have felt violated and triggered by seeing him, though. And as a paying customer, I would have been enraged and never gone back to the club. Not only that, I would have spread the word on social media to inform everyone where it had happened so they could avoid it as well. That tipped my ambivalence about Louis CK into disgust. It was incredibly slimy of him to do that, and it was clear that he had learned jack and shit. There was some comedian on Twitter, Michael Ian Black, I think who said even though it was unpopular, he thought that Louis CK had done his time, so he should be allowed to perform again.
Yeaaaaaaah. There was plenty of backlash, and he finally ended up seeing the light, but it took a lot of work on the part of beleaguered women who patiently and not so patiently took away every one of his reasons for saying what he did. They rightly pointed out that Louis CK spent no time, still had tons of money, and made no amends. He did not express remorse and went so far as to make a rape joke during his set. In addition, he did not have the balls to set up his own show and perform–no he stealth-bombed a club, knowing he would be accepted because he’s fucking Louis CK, man. The fact that Michael Ian Black was so concerned about another man’s redemption story, with heavy emphasis on man, is wearying, but also not surprising.
It’s what’s behind all the ‘we can’t even flirt’ bullshit that’s happening now. It’s funny, though, because my reaction to these men saying they won’t flirt at all any longer is, “GOOD!” It’s a hollow threat, of course. They’re going to keep being assholes because they’re unwilling to look at their own behavior, and that’s what I hate about the current bullshit over forgiveness. Demanding a victim forgive their perp without demanding anything from the perp (as in the case with Louis CK) is putting the onus on the wrong person entirely. It’s saying the initial transgression doesn’t count nearly as much as the lack of forgiveness, which I find to be rampant in evangelical Christianity. I found this article by a woman who was sexually abused by her father in a very fundamental Christian household, and I can relate to everything she’s said. I admire her for having the strength to take him to court and the strength to resist after he was released from jail all his attempts to manipulate her into having a relationship with him again. The last two paragraphs in particular stick with me:
There are things about my abuse that I can forgive, but the list is short and circumstantial. I can forgive my dad’s untreated mental illness; I can forgive my dad’s alcoholism and drug abuse; I can forgive my mother for feeling too stuck in an emotionally abusive relationship to risk standing up for me. But I cannot forgive the act and I will not forgive him.
I don’t feel guilty about this. And that’s the best healing I’ve experienced so far.
I feel the same way about forgiving certain people. I don’t think I need to forgive them, and, indeed, I find it offensive when told I do ‘for my own good’. I included the Kelly Clarkson song above because it’s similar to my own feelings about forgiveness–you don’t have to do it to move on. It’s clear that Kelly hasn’t forgiven, but she’s built a better life without her father in it–which is better than empty forgiveness.
I hate the word forgiveness because of how loaded it is these days and how forgiveness is often touted as the only way to ‘heal’, whatever that means. For me, there are some people I will never forgive. What I have done is let go of much of the anger and moved past it. I’ve made those people less important to me than they used to be, and that’s really all I care about. I don’t care why they did what they did or if they’re better people now or whatever. All I care about is that it doesn’t affect me the way it used to, and in some cases, it doesn’t affect me at all. And, like Monica in the article I linked above, I don’t feel guilty about it at all. That’s healing for you!
*Men. Let’s be real. It’s men. Specifically cis het men.
A few months ago, my taiji teacher and I arrived at the studio at the same time. The door was already unlocked, which was weird. We went in and there was a guy doing something in the corner. It’s a kettlebell studio, and he presumably was a teacher if he had a key. Or someone who was in a position of trust, anyway. He had KQ blasting (classic rock station), and he didn’t stop when we went in. My teacher informed him in a very icy voice that we had a class, and he said he would be done soon. Which he wasn’t, btw. He did magnanimously inform us that we could change the music to anything we wanted. My teacher told him we didn’t use music in our class and turned off the radio.
As I was watching the exchange, I was thinking, “I wished I had a tenth of his confidence.” I mean, he never even questioned that he had a right to stay there during our class which takes a hell of a lot of chutzpah, but that’s one of the hidden benefits of being a white dude in this country*. What you want, think, do is the norm/acceptable, and you don’t even have to think about it. As a weird example, most medical studies are aimed at white dudes. That’s a gross simplification, but it’s basically true. When I tried sleeping pills, for example, the low end of the standard dosage was still too much for me. One pill knocked me out for fifteen hours, which, as you can guess, was not optimal. I cut it in half, and it didn’t help. A fourth, and it still kept me asleep for more than twelve hours. I finally gave up. I still haven’t found an answer to my sleeping problem except taiji, and that’s a long-term solution.
I was listening to a Dr. Nerdlove podcast about who has the power in a relationship/dating, and one of the points the good doctor brought up was how some men** whine about women having all the power in dating because we get to say yes or no to being asked out. We are the gatekeepers, and we can cruelly break their hearts by saying no for no good reason!*** Why can’t we just give them a chaaaaance? They think they need to figure out the code to unlock the dating lock we’ve wrapped around our pussies, and it’s one reason PUAs have such success when they claim they know how to gamify dating (and by extension, women). If you’ve never gone down the rabbit hole that is the PUA mindset, consider yourself lucky.
When I was in my twenties, I used to joke that I was attracted to the exact wrong person for me. Gay men, straight women, anyone who was taken, or someone who was simply not interested in me*. If I walked into a room with 100 people and 99 were eligible dating partners, I would inevitably beeline towards the one who wasn’t.
In my late 20s/early 30s, I declared stridently that I didn’t want to be in a relationship. I was an independent woman, damn it! I didn’t need no (wo)man to make me complete. Of course, underneath it was my terrifying hunger to be in a relationship. I was told all my life it was the only thing that mattered, well, along with squirting out children, of course. It was confusing because I was also told I WOULD go to college, but at the end of the day, I better be married and have children.
Side note: When I turned 26, my mother started pushing me to have children. It reached the point where I began dreading talking to her because she would bring it up. Once summer when she visited, she mentioned it every goddamn fucking day. Her comment when I turned 26 was that she had my brother at that age. My immediate (internal) response was, “I’m not you, thank god.” I have been fortunate that I realized fairly early (21 or 22) that I did not want children. It was such a relief when I finally truly realized I did not have to spawn, I nearly cried. My mother did not stop trying to get me knocked up for the next fifteen years. I only relate this to underscore how much pressure I felt to marry (implicit in the preggers convos) and have children. The only time I ever had an impulse to have children was after my mom had been nagging me for days about it, and I thought, “I should have a kid just to shut her up.” Fortunately, I came to my senses and realized that having a child to please my mom would be a recipe for disaster.
I want to be clear. I was not a great girlfriend back in the day. I was too clingy and too eager to merge into one being. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of social support for a woman offering endless emotional support without receiving any in return, especially twenty years ago. In addition, there is the idea that you’re supposed to be the ‘cool girlfriend’ who is ‘chill’ and doesn’t get upset about, well, anything. It’s a neat way of keeping a woman firmly in her place (in a het relationship). Still. I fell into many of the traps of het relationships of that time, and I was not my best self in those relationships.
Many times, I was just desperate to be in a relationship, any relationship, because my self-worth hung on what my partner thought of me. I put up with a lot of shit that I shouldn’t have because I thought I didn’t deserve better. It was a vicious cycle, and I didn’t know how to get out of it. Hell, I wasn’t even aware of the problems for a long time. Once I became aware of my own issues, it was hard not to see it in myself all the damn time. I worked hard on it through a lot of therapy, but some of the issues are so deep.
I’ve been struggling with FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) lately, and it’s making me uncomfortable. Amazing things have happened to friends of mine, and I’m ecstatic for them because they have worked hard and earned the amazing things. That’s not the part making me uncomfortable, obviously, but it’s the following mental thoughts that I’m loath to admit.
Let me backtrack just a little bit. I’ve been feeling stuck for–well, my whole life, but especially the last year. I’m painfully aware of how quickly time is slipping away from me, and the years are piling up at an alarming rate. I don’t give a shit about my age as a number, but the fact that I went from thirty-seven to forty-seven in seemingly a blink of the eye. I’ve been having a hard time accepting that I’m now an Old and have become even more invisible* in general society. I see people in their early thirties that I find attractive, and it’s sobering to realize they probably view me as a mom-type. There is a group I belong to on Facebook in which I feel like the Solicitous Aunt (or as the RKG boys call it, Agony Aunt) of the group. I’m sure I’m old enough to be many of their mothers, and it holds me back from fully participating. Not just because I’m an Old (and a woman to boot), but because I simply cannot relate to much of what they ‘re talking about.
Side note: I’m not a video game enthusiast as much as I’m a Dark Souls enthusiast. In addition, I don’t like playing on a console, and most of the people in the aforementioned group are dedicated console players. I hate hand-helds for many reasons, and I really can’t see any reason not to game on a PC if you can afford it. I know a PC is more expensive than a console (though it doesn’t have to be exceedingly so), but games are much cheaper because there are ever-sales on Steam, whereas games on the consoles rarely go on sale. When they do, they even more rarely go more than 50% off. On Steam, you can get games for a buck on the regular. Granted, not Triple A games, but it makes it easy in theory to dabble in games that are interesting, but I don’t want to spend a ton on.
Spoiler: I don’t want to spend more than fifteen dollars on any game because I’m cheap. There are a few exceptions, such as I will buy any FromSoft game at any price at this point. Well, within reason. I would love to play Deracine, but I’m not buying the PS VR to play it. Not only would it be the only game I would play on the PS VR, I get violently nauseous with VR. It’s a shame, though, because the game looks lovely, and I would play the hell out of it if it were a non-VR game.
Recently, I received two compliments from two women I admire and respect (my BFF and my taiji teacher), and I was really taken aback. For some background, I grew up believing that I was a toxic presence who had to earn my right to live on a daily basis. I believed that every day, I started with a negative number (never could ascertain what that number meant, exactly, but it wasn’t good), and I had to do good enough to get to zero and have no effect on the world around me. Then, I would go to sleep, and the counter would reset. Why? Well, that’s a story in and of itself.
Part of it was childhood trauma. Part of it was being Asian in a very white world. Part of it was family dysfunction, and part of it was culture expectations taken to the extreme. In Taiwanese culture, it was heavily frowned upon to say anything even remotely positive about yourself lest you look as if you were bragging. In the white cultural, I was ugly, weird, and a freak. I’m still a freak, but that’s beside the point. In my family, I was taught that my only worth was what I could do for others, and I had no intrinsic value in and of myself. Add to that a deep depression and an impressionable brain that twists everything into a negative, and it’s not surprising that I ended up firmly believing I had to earn my right to live.
In addition, I had all these elaborate rules as to what counted as a positive, and it was extremely hard for me to make it to neutral. I don’t think I ever did, actually, because I rigged the game in such a way that I was bound to fail. When I talk about it in the past tense, it’s clear to see how ridiculous it is, but at the time, it felt as real as the sun on my face. I was miserable because I was constantly failing, and I just wanted to die. I spent much of my childhood well into my thirties wishing I had the courage to kill myself.
I hated myself. I couldn’t find anything about myself that I liked except my hair and my intellect (though I saw the latter as a curse oftentimes). I couldn’t believe that anyone would like me for any reason when it was obvious that I was pure toxicity. I’m not saying it was reasonable or rational, but it governed my thinking for longer than I care to admit. I truly thought I was a worthless human being (while at the same time having an exaggerated sense of the impact I had on others around me, which is common with people who have low self-esteem), and I was miserable every day of my life.
Then, sometime in my thirties, I slowly started shedding this idea. I’m not sure how or why (probably because of taiji and therapy. I attribute most of the positives in my life to taiji with a shout-out to therapy), but a few years ago, I realized that I no longer had that mindset. I didn’t think I had to earn the right to live, but I wouldn’t say I had a healthy self-esteem, either. I still didn’t like myself, and I still didn’t like what I saw in the mirror (literally and figuratively), but at least I wasn’t actively thinking of ways I could passively allow myself to die.
Before we start, the four advice columnists I regularly read were featured in a column in Buzzfeed about life as an internet columnist. I was legit excited to see all of them in one place, but I was sad that none of them were people of color (as far as I know). It was a good read, and I thought I’d share it with y’all.
Now. On to the post. I have several things I want to do in the new year. So many things. All the things. It’s the story of my life. I’m not satisfied with anything. Wait. That’s not completely true. I am satisfied with writing 2,000 words a day. I could do more, but it’s a good base. Other than that, though, I am dissatisfied in all areas of my life. I know I need a therapist, but I don’t have wherewithal to find a good one. My last one came recommended, but I don’t have anyone I can ask this time around. Also, I really appreciated my last therapist, but there were a few glaring issues. One was concerning race issues. She wasn’t cognizant of the nuances, or rather, she had a hard time with stepping outside the American way of thinking. It’s the same issue I have with advice columnists, come to think of it. Any time race comes up, I just cringe. Even if the columnists themselves do a decent job with their answer, the comment sections are a mess (at least the three I read. I don’t read the Dear Prudence comments because they are a hot mess and not moderated as far as I know). It’s simply different for someone from the dominant population, no matter how many friends, lovers, family they have who are minorities.
The problem with finding a therapist of color, however, is that I live in Minnesota. That’s the first problem. Secondly, finding an Asian therapist who is also amenable to queer issues makes it even harder. Let’s face it. I’m a freak in so many ways, finding a therapist who is empathetic to all the issues is a fool’s errand. I know some of this is self-defeatist talk, but it’s also the reality of being a weirdo. In addition, I have to have a therapist who is intelligent enough to call me on my bullshit. Because I know psych lingo and because I have brains, I can run rings around many therapists. I’ve done it in the past even when I knew it wasn’t to my benefit. My defenses are so ingrained, my impulse is to protect my neurosis, much to my detriment.
Publishing my book
Or rather, a book. Any book. Which book? I don’t know. Or rather, I have a few ideas, but I’m just not sure which one I want to push. I have a trilogy I started sixteen years ago, and I’ve finished the second book in the trilogy. The first book is on my fiction website right now, but I may pull it down if I focus on publishing it. I really like it because the protagonist is unlike any other I have written. She’s brash, confident, and gives no fuck about other people except in a very basic moral way of treating everyone with common decency. She cares about very few individual people, and even with them, it’s limited.
In the second book, she’s aged sixteen years, and while she’s older, she’s not always wiser. She has the same friends she did from the first book, and she relies on them when she gets in trouble. It was fascinating to me to write her sixteen years later, and I look forward to another sixteen years later when I write the third book.
The other option is the current trilogy I’m writing. Yes, I like trilogies, so sue me. I write mostly mysteries, and I think that the series drag on for too long. I’ve decided that seven is the maximum any series should go, but does anyone listen to me? No. My current trilogy is an urban fantasy mystery, and the protagonist is pretty similar to the protagonist of the other trilogy I mentioned. Pragmatic, not very emotional (though she has more of an excuse as she is not human), and not much of a people-person.
It’s time to admit it–I’m depressed. Not just the low-level depression that I always carry in my back pocket, but full-blow depressed. It’s not as bad as when I was chronically almost-catatonic depressed, but it flirts with that end of the spectrum more often than I care to admit. The one saving grace is that I know it’s outside of me, but that’s not always enough to stave off the demons.
It’s hard because good things are happening for my friends. That’s not the hard part. I am ecstatic for them as I love it when good things happen to people I love, especially when it’s the fruition of their diligence and perseverance. The hard part is looking at my own life and finding it empty in response. Or rather, stagnation. I feel as if I have nothing to show for my life, and that feeling only increases with every passing year. It especially poignant around this time because it’s the start of a new year, but also because two of my friends are experiencing really big changes.
One of them is going to affect me. My taiji teacher is taking over some of her teacher’s classes at her home studio, which means she’s ending one of her classes at the Northeast studio where I study. She’s adding another class in a few weeks at the Northeast studio at a different time, and it’s going to be for a shortened amount of time, but even with that, it would only be twice a week. I used to go three times a week before I got sick, and then I just stopped going to the Friday night class at her home studio. It was two hours long rather than an hour and a half, and I didn’t like that studio for a variety of reasons. In addition, the drive felt twice as long even though it was roughly the same time, and I had to deal with highway traffic jam traffic, which was not my favorite at all.
Here’s the thing. If I go to the Monday class at the home studio, it’s an hour earlier than the class at the Northeast studio had been. That’s not great, but I can deal with it because I’ve shifted my sleeping schedule to be earlier than it used to be by several hours. Although the past few days, it’s been creeping backwards again. Ugh. I try to be in bed by two, which is approximately four hours earlier than I used to go to sleep. The new class starts at 11:30 a.m., which would have been unfathomable two years ago, but is doable now. It lasts an hour and a half, and then there’s an hour-long sword and sabre class which my teacher is also teaching. I could finally learn the rest of the saber form!
Here’s the problem. Or rather, problems. One, two-and-a-half hours is much longer than I can do in one go. Two, I don’t do well with new people. I would know some of the people in the classes, but it’s still not enough to dampen the anxiety–especially as one of them is a woman I have an aspirational crush on*. Another is a woman who has no concept of boundaries and thinks we’re souls sisters. I am not good at erecting and maintaining boundaries, and my impulse is just to deflect and avoid until the end of time. If I have to interact with this woman, I’m going to have to tell her to back off at some point.
One of the worst things about my depression is how it makes everything at least twice as difficult. I am my own worst enemy, as I have noted time and time again. For those who have never experienced depression, it can be difficult to comprehend just how time consuming it is. A small example: when I have to go out, say to taiji, I first have to convince myself that I will go. Even if I want to go, the idea of driving fifteen minutes to get there is daunting. On my worst days, it seems impossible. It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve done it in my past. It doesn’t matter that I can do it in my sleep. Every fiber of my being does not want to do it ever again.
It used to be that way when my BFF and I used to go out dancing. Both of us suffer from depression and the overwhelming desire never to leave the house. We’d talk about how we both had to stop ourselves from cancelling, and we always had a blast when we went out. Not only was it difficult to make myself leave the house (my leaning towards inertia is high), but I would imagine everything that might possibly go wrong while I was out. Again, even for something as simple as going to taiji, I ruminate about will it drain me (not completely invalid when I’m sick), can I put up with talking to people for that long (an hour and a half. Not exactly earth shattering), etc. I go to the co-op afterwards, which brings with it a whole new set of worries. Even something as banal as talking to the cashier can tie me up in knots.
I mention this because there are two things I really want to focus on in 2019. As I’ve written before, I am not big on resolutions, but I do like to set goals for the upcoming year. The difference to me is that goals have steps with concrete actions that seem achievable. By the way, I hate ‘actionable steps’. I know what it means in context (something you can actually do as opposed to a theory or an idea), but to me, actionable means something that you take legal action on. It’s a personal pet peeve, but it sticks in my craw every time I read it.
All of that is explanation as to why I tend to have the same goals every year, even if I have concrete steps I can take to actually meet the goals. I have to overcome my inertia to even get to the point of doing something about it. Then, I have to deal with the negative self-talk. No matter what I’m doing, there’s a voice in the back of my head saying, “What’s the point? Why bother? Nobody cares.” Some days, it’s better than others, but it’s always there. It’s happening as I write this post. Most of the time, I can ignore it enough to get what I need done if it’s part of my routine. But, if it’s something new, then it’s much harder. Or if it involves driving. Which is one of my least-favorite activities in life.