To-Do: Self-Actualization

I met with a college advisement counselor today who advised me to meet with another advisement counselor. The first one, an elderly man with a warm smile, was checking off classes on a list, writing down programs and semester names, chatting about how education is truly the greatest profession.

I smiled. I nodded.

The whole time of course I’m thinking about how long it will be before I can finally get out of this school and start teaching. How much out-of-pocket and scholarship money it will take to complete a teaching degree. How many more semesters of my life I will be sitting in classrooms being lulled to sleep by teachers–not counting the years my own students will be lulled to sleep by me.

I’m thinking about how I don’t even want this career. I just want to write, write and be heard and accepted; write and get all these freakin’ stories out of me. Write and maybe help people. Write and get paid to do what I love, write so I can find some meaning for myself.

I’m thinking about how I don’t even care about life most days; it’s just one foot in front of the other, dragging and scuffing and stubbing my toes. I assign meaning to a college degree: when I have my BA, I will be happy. I will be self-assured. I will be successful. I will be okay.

I’m not at a place yet where I can just be happy, but I feel I should be. I think I can take some of the pressure off by reminding myself that I may never reach true joy in this life. Mostly I’ll just keep stumbling along doing my best, and sometimes not even that. And that’s okay.

So when I attend the advisement appointment tomorrow with this newly recommended adviser, I’ll tell myself that it doesn’t matter how many semesters it takes me to finish this degree.

At least I don’t have to worry about keeping self actualization on my to-do list.

And for those of you looking for some oh-so-slow music to help you keep some perspective, I suggest Low, one of my dad’s favorite bands. This song is about recognizing that even when the band members go deaf from their rock and roll days, there will be lots of perks.

So they rock out.

Poetry Friday: Relationships

Relationships

I’m the lopsided door the wind can’t open,
the chipped cup in the beggar’s hand,
the snow that becomes dirty ice in moonlight
and the scattered leaf pile you spent hours raking.

I’m the car crash burned in your eyeballs,
the purple marks from endless sleepless nights,
the knot in your stomach that never surrenders
and the bile you wipe from the toilet seat.

I’m the tear-stained pillow you sleep with,
the permanent mark on your living room couch,
the spidery cursive in the letter you burned
and the monster gasping under your bed.

The Tag Line

Disclosure: I have serious issues. I am way self-righteous. I’m a total pansy and afraid of life. One time I realized I have stigma against mental illness. I can be so freaking ungrateful and entitled. I’m pretty sucky at relationships, I tend to be suicidal, and I just can’t let some things go. Plus, just a whole lot of other stuff.

So check my tag line hiding up there above the peaceful fern thing: “average, sincere, mormon.” I stand by that. I’m totally average. I mean what I say, but I realize that a lot of the time I’m wrong. I’m Mormon (LDS) and I’m happy about it. So mostly what I’m trying to say is I’ve got lots of problems and I recognize it. Trust me, it’s hard to forget.

A Letter to the Editor

Dear Maney,

We, your humble readers, have a few thoughts to share with you. We’ve been following your blog for some time. We feel that we know you. We feel that you have adequately expressed to us your sorrows and weaknesses. And we have something to tell you.

When you write about how sad you feel, we suffer with you. You don’t know this, but we’ve had a fair amount of suffering as well. Some of us have also lost loved ones–parents and children. Some have suffered abuse, verbal and physical and sexual. Some of us have been broken by divorce, misplaced trust, war-torn countries. Some of us have been in the army and our PTSD is far more severe than yours. You complain because you feel sick when you see life flight helicopters? Some of us become incapacitated when we see children. For some of us, our life or the lives of our loved ones has been severely limited by disease, poverty, addiction, enslavement, and more and worse. But we’re sorry you cry alone sometimes.

And, Maney, we were shocked to hear about the explicit rap. Thankfully you dusted your shoes at the door with your little comments about how proper your sinning was. It was a relief for all of us hardcore, real-life sinners. Some of us are still struggling to forgive ourselves for past wrongs, but thanks for throwing salt in the wound by flaunting your obviously spotless record. We appreciate the comparison. On days when we wonder if we might actually have atoned for our sins, we think of you and realize just how much longer we have to go.

Dear, dear Maney. Would that we could fix your problems. We would go to any lengths to make you more comfortable, for we love you so. However, because of your pride, we cannot give you this simplest of cures, the very thing that would fix you up and shut you up, so we can worry about our own very real problems–ones that can’t be swallowed away with medicine. So in your anguish, please keep in mind that most of your struggles will end with a little blue pill. And this very cure is what you are angriest about.

Grow. Up.

Love,
Several umpteen readers you keep in your head

(P.S. I started taking happy pills again. I feel sick now but maybe in a few days both my stomach and brain will feel better.)

Congratulations

If you see me driving alone in a car, ruining the ozone with my selfishness;

if you see me crying on someone else’s shoulder, letting them hold me;

if you see me buying  wind-chimes, books, chocolate, or paintings;

if you see me making eye contact with the person I’m talking to;

if you see me flirting with boys I haven’t known all my life;

if you hear me laughing with life instead of at it;

if you hear me singing, for any reason,

congratulate me.

This is evidence of a battle won in the war against mental illness.

We’re All a Little Crazy

These are things I tell myself when I feel an anxiety attack coming on, which happens about once on good days.

  • You are invisible. People who look at you can’t really see you.
  • Humans can smell fear. As long as you don’t act afraid, they won’t hurt you.
  • Name off as many words as you can that begin with C but make the S sound. Cistern, circular, celestial…
  • Notice people’s shoes.
  • Count in Binary on your fingers. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…
  • Don’t step on the cracks.
  • Sing happy songs. “You Are My Sunshine,” “Danny Boy,” “Into the West,” “If All the Raindrops…”
  • Make believe you’re someone else, someone who’s normal and happy.
  • Hide in the bathroom until your brain stops humming.
  • Crying in bathroom stalls is allowed. Just get quiet when other shoes shuffle inside.
  • Hugging yourself is allowed.
  • Don’t smile unless you want to. They can’t take that choice away from you.
  • Don’t speak.
  • Pretend you’re safe.
  • This isn’t real life. Real life is much better. You’ll get there someday.
  • There are other Maneys out there. They understand that people can get broken.