Someone I cherish called to check on me yesterday. First question, “How’s your fourth day of freedom?” Social convention dictates that I respond positively, because the dominant paradigm considers for-pay employment a form of captivity (*a subject for another day). However, as I have resolved to stop acting my way through life, I answered honestly, “I don’t know.” Because I don’t.
I don’t feel free. Right now, I don’t really feel anything. Without the distraction of work and other professional responsibilities, I am unmoored. When writing my bio for this blog, I had to resist the urge to make my job title my primary descriptor. It was reflexive, pure muscle memory. My sense of self is tied up in my career. I identify first by my job, then by my social labels—wife, mother. Although I am on a break from my job, it is still how I principally define myself. Despite the unpredictable schedule, my job gives my life rhythm and structure.
The ritual of my daily working life is suspended and I am struggling with that. Am I recovering on schedule? Am I making progress fast enough? Will I ever be perceived as reliable in a professional setting again? Absent the political and social capital that comes from my position, who am I? Would anyone listen to me if I was anything other than what I am professionally and/or socioeconomically? Although people may celebrate me for my transparency, when the time comes, will they trust me with their professional capital? These are a few of the questions ricocheting around my brain right now.
Instead of free, I feel detached and set adrift. What I’m working on, at the moment, is sitting with that sense and finding an authentic way forward. I’m floating out in space, looking for the lights I know are out there, the ones that will guide me to a safe harbor.
Song playing in my head right now: Do You Realize?? by The Flaming Lips.
I think that has always been one of the biggest problems with our industry. You are so much more and if you need me to give you a list, I can, but the biggest one is friend. You are amazing and I know you will win this war with jerkbrain. Rocky and I send our love and are here if you ever want someone to talk to or fall on you…
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Your beautifully written words hit me hard, your story, deeply. I am a “recovering survivor” of depression. When I was five, it reared its trauma. My father verged on bipolar – dramatic mood swings and a lot of anger.His Middle Eastern heritage (his parents immigrated from Beirut through Ellis Island). I believed for a long time that the lack of serotonin inherent in my culture was to blame – that’s been debunked. The memory that stands out during my childhood is that of mealtime: every bite literally stuck in my throat. I couldn’t swallow. One night he grabbed the pistol, put it up to his head and threatened to kill himself (in front of my mom and me). My self worth was shattered as I watched him like a hawk when he was around. I felt it my responsibility to “make it right, to try to make everyone happy.”
By the time I reached Sweet Sixteen, I had a bleeding ulcer and no sense of self esteem.
My sister and I struggled for years – and even now – with our experiences and our own predilection to depression. it’s taken a grave toll on us.
I’ve never shared before what I have here with you. Your honesty and courage have already had an impact on me and I am very grateful.