Friday, December 12, 2003

Dark Night of the Soul (v2)

Reading down this page, it has occurred to me that I am going through a dark time lately... my topics tend so towards the negative, my tone sounds rather unhappy, all sorts of unpleasant things seem to happen to me (illnesses, changes from without, minor catastrophes of various types, etc.) and I seem to be doing unpleasant things to myself. It makes me wonder if I am depressed, or if I am sliding backward into old negative thinking patterns, or if it's just a coincidental collection of events and influences gathering together.

Whatever it is, I just don't feel particularly satisfied with my life. I am not happy, nor even contented. And I can't quite put my finger on the problem.

I find that I get angry very easily of late, especially with those people in my daily life, my coworkers and my Grandmother. I think of friends often, I plan phone calls and letters in my head, but don't do anything to get in touch with them. I have all these ideas for my room, a desire to have a tidier and more serene environment for myself, but just can't seem to bring myself to actually pick up anything and move it. I intend things that I never follow through on, calling my sponsor and going to the gym and vacuuming my car and getting my dry-cleaning done and so on and so forth. I seem, in short, to alternate between severe self-criticism and atrocious self-sabotage... I put immense pressure on myself to do things and then stubbornly resist actually doing them.

I'm struggling to be positive, struggling to see the opportunities instead of the discomforts, struggling to sort the causes and the effects and the reactions one from the other so I can see what I'm really working with, struggling to find the lessons in this seemingly endless barrage of little disasters, struggling to grow from the pain. And I usually succeed, too... I am learning and growing and finding the lessons. But they don't seem to be making me feel better, they don't seem to alleviate the problems. They just add to the list of things I ought to be doing but am not.

I have prayed for the strength to do what I have to do, I have meditated on the lessons I'm learning, I have done everything I know to do. But in the end I still just feel like shit.

I don't quite know what to do with myself. I don't know how to change things, or even which things ought to be changed.

I guess maybe I am depressed. But is it chemical depression or circumstantial depression? Maybe I've just taken on too much, taken on more responsibilities than I can quite handle and which cannot be laid aside. Maybe I have so many things that I have to do for my various committments that I am exercising some sort of "control" by sabotaging the things I need to do for myself. Or maybe the magnitude of what needs to be done has cowed me into a state of immobility, like a deer in the headlights, and I can only manage to achieve the things that a dread of consequences compels me to perform.

I don't know. I just don't know. I don't know what's wrong, I don't know what to do, I don't fucking know.

No, wait, I think I do know: I have to let go of everything, I have to change some more and more and more, I have to work harder at being a different person. And I just don't want to. I'm tired and I don't want to.

A big part of me is considering deleting this post. Another part is tempted to write up some bullshit positive conclusion. Yet another part wants to ask for help. And since none of us can agree, I'm just going to stop writing for now.

Thanks for listening.

PS: Saturday, 1 p.m.

After eight hours of intensive cocooning (bucket of rice pudding, heating pad on the feet, collection of new Sherlock Holmes stories by various artists interspersed with various televised Agatha Christie mysteries) followed by ten and a half hours of sleep, I am feeling much better. I'd neglected to mention in my rant that I had slept very poorly the night before, so my feeling of hopelessness was largely due to sleep-deprivation.

But despite my temptation to delete the whole faintly embarassing thing, to minimize the negative feelings, and to pretend it never happened, I am leaving it up. It's what I was feeling yesterday, and it's a valuable lesson to me about my own feelings (again with the lessons). I usually don't write when I feel like that, you see, and so I have no record of how I feel when I'm really down. I've never sat down when I was feeling okay and read my own words of nearly-hysterical ranting.

I guess the answer, if an answer I must have (and I do, I crave symmetry and resolution in all things), is Don't look behind you. Take each hurdle in the road as you encounter it, but never look over your shoulder and see the runaway freight-train or ax-weilding maniac or angry mob of villagers or herd of stampeding elephants that is bearing down on you. And when you're climbing the side of a vertiginous cliff or crossing a friable rope bridge over a bottomless chasm, you should never look down.

Like my dear Anonymous Sympathizer commented, the best perspective is to take one thing at a time. I know that, I really do. But sometimes I do that stupid thing that those irritating people in suspense/adventure/horror movies always do: I look over my shoulder, or look down, and am paralyzed. And the next thing is to just screw up your courage and take that next step, pull on that next rock, jump that next hurdle.

I find, though, that sometimes I start taking things far too seriously. I don't know what causes it, but I sometimes get very emotionally upset at myself and others over really quite trivial things. But, as my sponsor always asks me when I go off on these self-criticism/sabotage tears, "what would happen if you didn't do it?" What would happen if I didn't do these things that I resent doing, didn't do these things that seem so hard, didn't do these things that I believe (for whatever reason) I absolutely have to do? It's something to think about.

In the meantime, I have to go now and chip away at my mountain... the Christmas tree is coming today, and the living room will need to be rearranged to accomodate it. And of course the Grandmother will want to wash the windows beforehand... if you think I'm loony about the things I can't accomplish, you should listen to her for a while (and I'm beginning to suspect that her influence in these matters may be damaging me... something else to think about).

Again, thanks for listening. And have a lovely day!

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