I'm back. Much sooner than expected. And for good this time.
Last week, I had an attack of despair. As usual, it came out of nowhere, for no discernible reason: there is nothing in my life remotely deserving of such a black emotion. Nevertheless, these attacks come on with disturbing regularity. All the happiness drains out of my world as if somebody pulled a plug. If if it goes on long enough, other things start to swirl down the drain as well: motivation first, then energy, and eventually, in a very real sense, my consciousness: I start living on autopilot, barely engaged with the world around me, with little sense of how I got so low and even less sense of how to climb out. And yet I always have climbed out, aided by kind words from friends.
I shouldn't need kind words from friends. Nobody should need them, and I loathe myself because I seem to. Even more so since they have a half-life of two or three weeks...even less when I sense rejection on any front.
I understand that happiness, energy and consciousness are self-sustaining in normal people. I wish I knew why they aren't in me. I suspect it's related to other things I am missing, namely direction and purpose. Why THOSE should be missing is something I've been circling around in this blog for the better part of a decade.
Oh, there have been many other reasons for writing this blog: to refine my thoughts on life and love; to share unorthodox views on both; to write out quotidian stress. But figuring out where my motivations lie, or indeed if I even have any, has been the unspoken raison d'être of the Breadbin since May of 2004.
Probably not a good idea to let my despair kill the Breadbin, just when I need the Breadbin most.
That attack was a bad one. Not the worst I've suffered--I had one last summer and another in February that were existential--but bad. And starting to get worse. I wasn't just going to shut down the Breadbin; I was trying to figure out a way to delete my Facebook account as well, without attracting undue attention. Like I say, I loathe myself when I get like that, and the last thing I want to do is go pity-fishing. Oh, here comes Ken around for his monthly ego-stroke. Like he's even got any reason to be depressed. What a whiny, needy waste of space that man is. It's strange, because deleting Facebook would rob me of most of my social connections...surely not a reasonable action for somebody feeling disconnected. But then very little about depression is reasonable.
As ridiculous as it sounds when the sun is shining, isolating myself completely comes with its own logic when the black clouds descend. I already feel isolated, so isolating myself is only stating what I feel to be true. And nobody really needs the burden that is Ken, depressed. I'm better off in a hole somewhere.
I even wrote about this the last time I wrestled with it. Rereading that, I can see the tendrils of my disease gripping between the lines. August was a bad, bad month for me.
I was struggling, trying hard to grasp positives, when -- as usual -- this time around it was a friend reminding me
you must realize there are people who love you and people who need you in their lives
that gave me a foothold in the murk. That's phrased as an imperative ("you MUST") and it reiterates the connections I have, connections that seem so tenuous when I can't see through the fogs.
Then I had a couple of great shifts at work, where my efforts were praised and promotions were spoken of.
See, the thing that has masked my drift over the years is that I am internally motivated, at least when people are paying me to be. I don't do anything different in terms of work ethic at seven bucks an hour less than I was making two years ago. For the first time ever, I find myself working for a company that has noticed this and seems ready to help me exploit it, rather than exploiting me instead.
Now I have to fill out what appears at first blush to be a daunting Individual Development Plan. I admit to a fair bit of apprehension here: I'm pretty good at defining where I am. I've spent eleven years writing that out. I'm much less comfortable writing about where I want to go.
You see a lot of past in this here Breadbin. Quite a bit of present. Not very much future. Futures in my life have always been hidden. As a kid, I moved so damned often that I eventually couldn't look much past next Friday; I took a dead-end degree without any thought if what it might do for me, then dropped out in disgrace when I first got caught in the endless now of the internet. I aspired to stability--no more and no less.
I've got that. I've had that since I met Eva in 1999. We've been through and continue to go through life upheavals. Through it all we're building...something. I'm not sure of its final form, only that it will have one, and it will be multifaceted, because that's what both of us are.
But stability without strategy is stasis. It's like that woman who had sex in a swamp, did you hear about her? She's apparently six months stagnant now.
Having achieved stability, I was happy for many years, with only minor nigglings of what now? that I forcefully suppressed. If I was thinking what now, it meant I wasn't happy with my lot in life, right? And I was. Very much so. What would I change? We were living comfortably...not ostentatiously, but we'd gotten to the point where we could afford a real vacation every other year or so...just perfect for curious people who are nevertheless homebodies. Keep me in books and internet and my material comforts are pretty much taken care of. I've always felt as if I had much more love to give, and even that has begun its own process of being addressed. Until I lost my last job, life was damn near idyllic.
Of course, there's a straw man in that paragraph. It is possible to be perfectly content with your situation and still want more. More responsibility, more chances to make a difference. And not to put too fine a point on it, more remuneration. The perks of my current job are exceptional; the pay is very, very ordinary.
And I am anything but content with nights, as I have said. While it's true that they're only as isolating as I let them be, it's also true that the amount of effort required to overcome that isolation is often overwhelming. You live on a different, darker plane of existence from everyone else.
I'm told I'll have to live with nights for a bare minimum of another eighteen months to two years. That's fine. My first career goal is to get myself to a place where I can afford to take the dollar an hour pay cut that foregoing nights will cost me.
The more I work in this environment, the more I feel I can bring to the table as a manager. Most of our staff are treated like five-year-olds and only a few of them deserve to be: I think it's a contributing factor to an insanely high turnover rate. I would be different, because one talent I have is recognizing people's strengths and weaknesses: playing to the former and working with people to address the latter. And I have found numerous opportunities for departmental improvement that have not been addressed by my superiors, probably on the grounds that I'm still green.
But I'm not. While I'm new to this company, I have many, many years of running my own department under my belt: even though 'manager' has never been a part of my official title, I've thrived under managerial responsibility. I know what works and what doesn't.
And if there's any way I can work this
into my professional development, I'm going to try to do it. My store manager is Québécois: that can't hurt.
A promise to my faithful readers: If I go a long period without posting, it will be because I am busy living, not busy being sulky. I am seeking pharmaceutical help, to that end.
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