It’s a hard conversation to return to, leaving it dangling as I did in March. These days I’m thinking incoherently about so many connections that I can’t unjamble, can’t articulate, can’t let go of, unable to view hardly any one thing as clear and separate. Or perhaps I don’t want to see the separation between thoughts and things and ideas. Connections and layers of connections. Spider webs, like dreams I had in my twenties of being hung upside down in an earth-size ball of sticky-soft webbing slinging me here and there, offering the impression of flight and freedom. I am lost in a jumble, but I think I like being lost. The situation is grave but I’m digging it.
I heard a snippet of Nick Drake’s voice on NPR this morning and think: I must write about the suicide years. Those beautiful men and women who sang lyrical koans and then overdosed in the angst of not belonging. Of not being able to live up to our ideals, to change themselves into the gentle, loving, unselfish beings they believed in because the world itself destroys the unselfish among us. The sixties. The seventies. Then in the eighties, slaughtered by guns and AIDS. Years when death became too real to imitate. The way war has wrapped itself around our lives all of my life, and endlessly as far back and as far forward as my mind can travel. We have never lived without war, may never live in peace. And I so often think of our lost musicians, think: Where would I be without their music, which lives on without them? The tender moments of peace they bring to my shattered life.
[I too cannot tolerate not making a difference sandwiched between irreconcilable slices of fury and nihilism. I mourn my loss of innocence and longing for death. Death will come. That’s what they didn’t know. It’s as if that is all they didn’t know. ]
Are you thinking I’ve lost my mind? A friend reminds me that this is the 10th anniversary of my one serious emotional breakdown, which occurred when I was in the same stewpot that I soak in these days: Love my work; hate my job. But that’s a slogan, the deeper truth is that I envy writers and musicians who can say whatever they think without wondering if they will get into trouble, maybe lose their job. I want the freedom of thinking what I think, feeling what I feel, and knowing what I know. I am feeling persecuted for my contrary ideas, my essential anti-authoritarian stance, my hatred of rules and regs, my simple desire to have some input into how things are done.
A friend calls this very morning to say she left her job, couldn’t stand it any more. Her supervisor acting threatened and retaliatory, punishing, bringing her to tears day after day. So she quit. The sense of what is possible is refreshing once you let go of what is unbearable. What is unbearable to me is working so hard while trying to learn the ropes of aging, not being able renew my health and wellbeing through my own actions, being told that I am part of a team, while being shown that I am at the bottom of a hierarchy, working with women while feeling like I’m working for the man, general themes such as being lied to and having critical information withheld. Also: not being able to get to a yoga class or write a blog faithfully. But most deeply–being shamed into conformity when conformity has always been my most foul enemy.
Oh what shall I do? I took a new antidepressant for 10 weeks during which I gained 10 pounds. And so I had to stop taking it. On the eighth post-drug day, I was sitting at this computer, trying to assemble my work-day, and couldn’t get onto the program I needed. After some weeks of tamped-down responses, I broke out in a fury of rage. I thought: And this is what I was supressing? Is that a good thing? Is becoming able to cope with what I hate a worthy goal? I don’t know. I saw a therapist this week. I started yet another drug. The truth is I’m doing everything I possibly can to avoid a showdown at work.
But folks, I must say, I’m not too hopeful about that. But I will hold hands with my lost friends, the comfort of writing, the promise of being authentic. Even if it kills me.
>Quit the damn job. You are one of the most talented people I know. You will find another: whether clinical or writing. You will never starve for lack of work. Be done with that place. It restimulates the past. Who needs it? And the fact is, I (and others) need you.