Thursday, January 27, 2005

Hoboken?! I'm Dying!

The above is the last line in one of my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons, where Bugs helps a lost penguin find his way home... and after many picaresque adventures, he finally manages to reach Antarctica, whence penguins as a species derive; and as soon as they arrive at the South Pole, the little penguin finally offers the information that he comes from New Jersey, right across the river from where they started, in Brooklyn. It's a classic cartoon, absurd and hysterical, with a lot of memorable lines ("peng-a-wins is prac-tic-ally like chickens") and one of the weirdest running gags ever (Humphrey Bogart turning up in every third scene asking "Brother, can you spare a dime?")

I'm not sure why that came immediately to mind as I thought about a title to a post for this morning... I'd only come in here to post a quick note to say that I'm thinking about you but I haven't had the energy to write anything. My cold is still holding tight, lingering like a bad smell, and my depression is riding the cold like a stallion... I feel like utter crappy crapulous crap, and for some reason my brain doesn't work very well when my nases are clogged with mucus.

But as I think about it now, writing this post that's already longer than I thought it would be when I started a few minutes ago, I think I see a connection.

I have been feeling, frequently of late, that I am being bled dry by the people in my life. I have been feeling oppressed by the number and needs of people who rely (perhaps too heavily) on me, accompanied by a feeling of being unable to rely on anyone else. Now, normally I derive satisfaction from helping people and being reliable... but sometimes, mostly when I'm depressed, I feel like all these people who rely on me are in fact taking advantage of me, sucking my life out of me bit by bit.

And when I realized that I felt this way, I discover another reason behind my fear of new people, especially newcomers to AA... because I find myself afraid of people's needs. I fear that any new person I take on is going to steal more of my life than I'm willing to give. And behind that fear is the fear that if these people rely on me, I will fail. Because I think that is the real problem here: not that people rely too heavily on me, but that I fear I haven't got the energy and ability to live up to those expectations.

Nevertheless, I do feel the need to have someone on whom I can rely as much as other people rely on me. But I am even more fearful of relying on other people than I am about other people relying on me, because what if they fail? I fear falling more than I fear being fallen on, if you see what I mean.

Well, speaking of reliability, I have to go to work... I am supposed to be there before eleven, and I have nattered on here long enough that now I'm going to be late. So I'll post now but finish it later.


2:55 p.m. Okay, so anyway... what was I saying... oh, yeah, everybody sucking me dry. I was telling my sponsor a couple of weeks ago that the only thing worse than not asking for help when you need it is to ask for help and not get it. And that has been my experience: I have worked very hard to be as self-sufficient as possible, and take pride in what self-sufficiency I've achieved; and when I have been so worn down that I am forced to swallow my pride and ask for help, I have for the most part not been helped at all... in fact, the situation is often made worse.

There's that old saw about "once burned, twice shy"... and I have been burned a lot. But it's not like nobody ever helps me, plenty of people have given me a much-needed boost over the years, but never when I have asked. People frequently (but not always) volunteer themselves when they see I need help, but nobody comes when I call out an SOS... or worse, they come to the call and offer to help, but don't actually help, or they try to help and just make things worse... I end up at the South Pole instead of Hoboken. And so each time I feel overwhelmed and don't think I can do something, I become increasingly distrustful of asking for help.

It's like this dating thing... every time I have been particularly interested in a man, he invariably was not very interested in me; every time I've "put myself out there" and looked for love or at least a little romance, I have failed miserably; whenever I have directly asked a guy out or expressed an interest in him, I have been rejected. The only people I've really dated are people who made the first effort and expressed interest in me, and all of those relationships were complete and utter failures as well.

And so with that kind of a record behind me, it's perfectly natural that I find it very difficult to open myself again to the possibility of further failure and rejection. Because, you know what? The things that don't kill you don't necessarily make you stronger, as the old adage goes... some things cause lasting damage that further weaken you. And my foundations are pretty well termite-eaten by now, damage has happened that may never be undone or even recovered from.


I'm not going to draw any conclusions from all of this whining and moaning. I mean, I know that I'm emotionally scarred and psychologically damaged, and that many of my incomprehensible and/or irrational behaviors stem from this scarring and damage; but I also realize that it is the depression that is casting this damage in such sharp relief. The thing is that you can't get through life unscathed, and I don't suppose I have been all that much more scathed than your average Joe; but when I'm depressed, it all seems so much bigger and sadder.

I have been self-medicating my depression with vitamins, a one-a-day-type multivitamin formulated for active men with ginseng and lutein and whatnot, and it's worked exceptionally well... when I remember to take the pills, anyway. Remembering to take pills has always been difficult for me, just as it's difficult to remember to brush my teeth or remember to pray and meditate every day.

But when I do remember, the vitamins make a world of difference. I remembered them today because I talked about it with my sponsor yesterday (she suggested putting the bottle inside my bathroom waterglass, which I drink from every time I go to the bathroom) and it was fresh in my mind; and now in the middle of the afternoon, aside from my stuffy head and a generalized gray-day malaise, I feel pretty good. I mean, I don't feel quite so weepy, and I don't feel like the simple act of standing up and walking across the room is an Herculean and self-defeating task, which is how I've felt all week.

In fact, all of the things that I know will ease my depression and fatigue are simple, easy-to-do things: pray and meditate, talk to my sponsor and other friends about my feelings, take my vitamins, eat well, get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, and so on and so forth. But when I get depressed, I don't want to do any of those things. I want to watch television, hide alone in my house and not talk to anyone, eat cookies and chips and ice-cream, and otherwise wallow around in my depression like a pig in its own shit.

What I need, I have decided, is a staff. In fact, what I want is a Jeeves: someone who hangs around the house all day doing what needs to be done so that I can cast my mental energy towards worthwhile pursuits, who reminds me to take my vitamins, who does my laundry and lays out my clothes, who serves me meals and answers mail and otherwise keeps track of my life for me. I want someone to take care of my every need, who can do for me all the things I can't seem to do for myself. Is that so much to ask?

Anyway, that's what's going on in my world today. Thanks for listening!

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