Saturday, January 15, 2011

Lost and Longing

A brief sojourn in the hospital. Already home again. My forearms healing from the most recent savaging, though I am haunted by urges to enact further, deeper, more permanent damage. Now I have to come to terms with this new collection of angry, red scars, as well as with my decision (though “decision” sounds too rational, too much like I am at peace) to go on Long Term Disability and give up my teaching job. Of course, this has been two years in the making as I have landed in the hospital each semester, missing classes, trying, desperately, to hold myself together for my students.

Now? The great fear is that I will be faced with an empty future, flail in a great, cavernous purposelessness. I have always defined myself by my ambitions and my ability to achieve exactly what I set my mind to. After all, I was the girl who believed that she was Wonder Woman: I slid on my mother’s silver cuff bracelets, lassoed a jump rope to my hip, and vaulted off the top stair of a long, steep staircase, believing I had Wonder Woman’s magical vaulting power. Of course, I landed on my arm, fracturing it, was confronted with the obvious fact that my powers were confined to those of an ordinary, extraordinary human. Enough hard work, maintain consistently high expectations and I could achieve everything I set my mind to: straight A’s, an MA and PhD in six years (taking 3 classes a semester while teaching 4 classes and waitressing at a nightclub), tenure-track job, perfect teaching evaluations, published book, awards and accolades, exuberant children, a good marriage, world travel, dogs and cats and horseback riding and running and a perfectly skinny body, no excess, all untoward desires tamped down, controlled. Everything exactly as it should be.

And then my brain became unhinged. Or rather, it became impossible for me to conceal the instability, the craziness, the obsession that possessed me. IT hijacked my life; IT made it impossible to live peacefully, contentedly. IT demands penance, payment, pain.

All weekend I’ve been trying to stay even, trying to remember to smile, to feel joy, to be grateful that I am at home with my family. But I keep slipping, get swept up in intense, self-directed rage and loathing. Can only feel my failures, and they feel colossal. How do I recover from IT’s insanity? Can I recover from IT and reclaim my life? I need to find my way back to the surface, back into light and the healing power of love.

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