So Long, Farewell

I started this blog on September 18, 2012. I had just been diagnosed with avoidant personality disorder. I had recently gotten sober and was trying to finish college. I was overflowing with things to say and had no one to say them to.

I don’t know if I can really say I’ve made progress since then. My life is very different in some ways, and exactly the same in others. I don’t particularly feel like going into the details anymore.

That’s one of the reasons I’ve decided to say goodbye to WordPress. My posts have grown pretty infrequent anyway. I’m kind of busy now, and since I’ll be starting grad school in the fall, I plan to be even busier.

Huge thanks to everyone who ever read this blog. It’s been fun. I’ve just run out of words.

<3, toujoursgai

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The Worst of Me: A Tribute

I found out about Elliott Smith a little late – the first song I heard by him was Needle in the Hay on the “Royal Tenenbaums” soundtrack. I immediately ran out and bought his self-titled album. He had already played at the Oscars by then, but his music still felt like some kind of secret to me. Some songs connect to you so personally that it’s hard to believe other people can even hear them. I was fifteen or so, and I had never heard my own loneliness or self-loathing explored in such beautiful depth.

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Like a Person

The change happened so suddenly. I cleaned my apartment. I read a couple of books. Like incantations, like potions, these things made me better.

I’ve been feeling very human lately. I’ve been talking to people, getting some writing done, even making travel plans for the end of the summer. I don’t know how a person can just blip into existence after weeks of barely being there at all, but sometimes it happens.

Managing alcohol has been a huge part of it, I think. There have been long stretches of days when I didn’t drink at all. It’s not as hard as it used to be; I’m really getting the hang of going to bed without a buzz. It feels normal, even. People live like this. I can too.

This is what treatment is for, I guess. It doesn’t keep away the bad days forever. But the good days seem to be coming closer and closer together for me. I think I’ve gone years without feeling like I do now. Not fantastic or immortal but just…like a person.

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Here’s my goal right now: it’s less about actually being healthy or happy, and more about keeping my defects as contained as I can. It’s strange how long the fear of being shamed can endure, way past the point where you’ve stopped caring about wasting your life or taking care of yourself. I worry about work because I want my co-workers to see me as competent and sane. I worry about spending time with my family because I don’t want them to be judgmental or alarmed. But that’s as far as my concern goes right now.

I think I’m keeping the spillover to a minimum so far. My clothes are clean enough, my hair is combed. I can talk to people and laugh at their jokes. I do worry about how much longer I can keep this up, though.

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My apartment is becoming pretty gross, and I’m not doing anything about it. I could wash dishes and take out the trash and clean the litter box, but not tonight. Cleaning has become A Thing, where “A Thing” is defined as “a minor and physically simple but also impossible task.”

I’ve finally figured out that depression is not a binary state. At its extreme end it’s obvious enough. When I’m sad or numb all the time, avoiding all human contact, and daydreaming about death, I feel comfortable enough calling that depression. It’s trickier to label when I’m feeling reasonably confident, making it to work, and enjoying myself sometimes, yet still. Still there’s a sink full of dishes and trash piled up. Still there’s a little tugging in my chest, a little helpless stain.

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A Tiny, Drifting Family

When I am on retreats, each afternoon I walk and wring my hands, saying to all the mental health patients of the world, “You don’t have to wring your hands today. I am doing it for you.”

– Marsha Linehan, DBT Skills Training Second Edition

I was driving to work this morning, thinking about nothing, just letting memories come and go. I thought about a young man I met six years ago, when we were in an intensive outpatient program together. He was sweet and very quiet. I remembered the way he would suddenly start talking, calmly and softly, about how badly he wanted to die.

That’s how it always goes. I’m minding my current business and suddenly there they are: the people I’ve met in hospitals, therapy groups, and recovery meetings. Mostly people I haven’t spoken to in years. That’s the bizarre thing about such settings. You gather daily or weekly to discuss your worst memories, share your triumphs, untangle the knot of your neuroses together, and then it’s over. And then you just…drift.

Whenever they pop up in my head, I let the memory sit for awhile. It seems important to hold on to that one time, that connection. In full magical thinking mode, I imagine that my concern can help them stay afloat, stay clean, stay safe.

To the kind, witty woman who was the first to befriend me when I flirted with AA. To the only other atheist in my rehab program, with whom I could vent about all the “It’s not religious, it’s spiritual” bullshit. The young girl in the hospital who cried about her mother, the fellow queer who took me under his wing, the woman who saw so much of herself in me, and on and on, I remember all of you. I think about you often.

I will wring my hands for you today.

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Nights and Days

It’s bizarre how different my mornings are from my evenings.

Mornings are a time of sleepy competence, when I may not want to be up but I can still make coffee and get dressed on time. Sitting in my car or drinking more coffee at work, it’s easy to plan the day. It’s easy to decide that I won’t drink or smoke too much today, that I’ll be productive and pleasant, if not happy.

Something else takes over my brain when I get home in the evening. I can’t quite believe the change. There’s a certain nagging sadness like a little angry worm in my chest. Last night I drove to a book store in the midst of quickly alternating sorrow and panic. Bookstores are a heady experience in that frame of mind. So many stories just sitting there, calling out. I wandered around trying not to cry. I left without buying anything.

I don’t entirely understand how I can be both of these people, Normal Morning Person and Broken Evening Person. Something about sunset just sets me off.

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