Here are a few examples...
Identity-Defining Statement #1: I am a writer.
Fiction-wise, I haven't written diddly-squat in months. More importantly, I don't really feel like writing. I don't have the urge, the drive, the afflatus. It's not writer's block, it's writer's indifference. Blog-wise, I not only have very little drive to write, I have very little time in which to write. Working nine hour days with an aggregate hour of commute, having to schedule a ten-hour block in which to get eight hours of sleep, and then needing an hour's prep in the morning and an hour for dinner in the evening, I only have two hours in the day in which to unwind, and I usually end up watching TV. So I don't write. And where does that leave me as a writer?
Identity-Defining Statement #2: I am a drag queen.
I haven't been in drag since September, I didn't really want to do it then, and I hadn't done drag for two months before that. What is surprising is that I really don't miss it. I mean, I feel a certain obligation to go to shows and events, but the very thought of putting on makeup and a wig fills me with a sinking dread and a sour resistance. I simply don't want to do it. I can't buy new clothes and jewelry, and I have discovered that I relied on new clothes and jewelry to inspire my performances. And now I have nowhere to get dressed, so I either have to put on my face in the car (an interesting experience, to say the least) or make use of whatever facilities are available at the venue; I had no idea how much I had come to depend on using the office to get ready for shows. And so I make an excuse, send in an apology, let my nails get into a perfectly disgusting state, let my eyebrows and arm-hair grow wild, and am just not a drag queen. So what am I?
Identity-Defining Statement #3: I drink coffee all the time, all day, every day, whenever I feel like it.
I know this is a pretty weird one, seemingly rather petty; but every day I have to remind myself that drinking too much coffee contributes to the deterioration of my bipolar disorder and that I am happier and healthier sticking to two cups in the morning and maybe one cup at work. And I do feel better now that I've cut down. But when I'm in a restaurant or hanging out somewhere, I am startled to realize that while I don't particularly want coffee at odd times in the day, I have no idea what else to drink. Especially since I'm trying to stay away from sugar as well. I can order decaf, of course, but that is just as weird to me as not ordering coffee at all. It wasn't all that long ago when I was quite vocal in my opinion that decaf is for pussies. Does that now make me a pussy by my own definition? Or does my definition of a pussy have to change? Either way, it's not what it was and I don't know what it is now.
Identity-Defining Statement #4: I Shop, Therefore I Am.
Of course my extended period of unemployment reformed my shopping habits to an extreme degree. And yet when I started working, I went hog-wild purchasing new pants and shirts and ties to flesh out my professional wardrobe (and to wardrobe my increased flesh, more on that later). But I am getting very little joy out of shopping, and am more often being stymied by not getting quite what I want... I see a shirt I really like but it doesn't come in my size, I see shoes I really like but the soles are too hard; further and worse, I have lost every single eBay auction I've bid on in the last two weeks. I haven't been bidding a lot, but everything was something I really wanted, and I was invariably outbid at the last moment. That never used to happen to me... it was always I who outbid others at the last moment. I'm beginning to think that Someone might be trying to tell me something. But in the meantime, while it's a good thing that I am not frivoling my precious few dollars away on jewelry and furs when I really need to be digging myself out of debt, I feel quite disconnected from myself by this consumer impotence.
Identity-Defining Statement #5: I berate myself for being fat, but I'm not REALLY fat.
I have slipped over the border of "a trifle pudgy but still on the slim side and generally passable" and am now dwelling square in the middle of "that's really not very healthy, not even for the huge pink pig that you now resemble." Not only have I had to buy all of my new business-pants in a size-36-waist because I can no longer get into my collection of size-34-waist pants, but I now have an actual, inescapable, and thoroughly disgusting Middle-Age Gut. The waistbands of my pants and my underwear fold over as soon as I put them on, which is not only uncomfortable but also ruins my waistbands. I can't even suck my gut in, and if I try to suck in (such as when passing the cafe where the very cute boy works), I pull three or four muscles in my back; catching reflections of myself in doors and windows is an ego-crushing horror. I weighed two hundred and twenty-five pounds last time I got on the scale, five pounds more than I did the last time I got so disgusted with myself that I was able to go on a diet and exercise regimen in order to get back into shape. Ten of those pounds have come to stay since I left my old job.
And here's something that makes all of the above rather more confusing: is it because of my change of job, or because I've started taking Prozac? I mean, the non-writing dates from when I started meds, not from when I left my old job nor when I started my current one. The coffee weirdness is due entirely to my treatment and has absolutely nothing to do with work. The weight-gain is a common side-effect of Prozac; though I am eating a lot more now that I'm working (I eat lunch out every day, and those afternoon snacks have been keeping me sane), I am also getting a good deal more exercise than when I was loafing about the house, so it should balance out a little... but maybe the Prozac is keeping it uneven.
So a lot of this feeling of displeasure and disconnect can be blamed on the drugs; and I seriously would rather have the displeasure and disconnect than the mania or the depression.
Nevertheless, I have come to a point where I really miss my old job. I didn't realize how much I depended on its peculiar circumstances for my happiness... the flexible short schedule, the ability to do mindless things while blogging or writing (I'm able to write now because I'm doing a great sheaf of data entry that doesn't require any brain-space, so I can think about what I'm going to write while I'm inputting and then write it quickly in between every ten invoices), the use of the space on the weekend, the time alone... and perhaps most importantly, the beautiful sensation of knowing how to do everything.
I am instead embarked upon a new adventure, a very exciting and potentially rewarding adventure; but I really wish I had a more secure sense of self to take on the adventure with me. This is a little scary, a little uncomfortable, and a little sad. I don't know who this new person I'm turning into is, I don't know what he's capable of doing, I don't know whether or not I'm going to like him. We shall just have to see.
In the meantime, I am going to rejoin the gym and at least get rid of this gut. I can't stand it. It makes me cry... hell, darling, it makes me want to puke... and bulimia really isn't the solution (and I can't afford lipo until I get my credit cards cleared up and Grandmother's loans repaid).
So anyway, I'm going back to my data-entry, and leave you with this inspiring sight (it certainly inspires me... those rippling abs, that mythical pelvic definition, the dimples and whatnot... mmmmmmmm):