That’s what a lot of life is about, anyway. I figured it out on my way home from work. It’s all about appearances: you can be having the most horrid thoughts imaginable, walking around thinking “oh my God, I SUCK”, and yet nobody sees what goes on behind your eyes. All they see is another human being, doing the 9-to-5 thing just like they are, and they have no idea that you suck…..nor do they care.
Actually, I don’t REALLY suck, at least not as a human being. I’m just not catching on at this job—for a lot of reasons—and I’m never going to be good at it. It’s too complex, it’s too hard on me both physically and mentally, and I can’t envision a time when I’ll ever be at a reasonable level of understanding, let alone comfort. I didn’t expect to be proficient at it yet, but I’m 2 1/2 months in and I don’t know any more than I did when I started…..except what I DON’T know.
I can’t even feel too bad about it, because I had no idea whatsoever that it was going to be this difficult or that I would be so overwhelmed so early in the game. I’ve maintained my professionalism and struck the right chord in taking responsibility for my own learning, and that has earned me some respect. But now that I’ve realized I made a mistake, I’m beginning to panic because there’s no Plan B. I can’t go back to nursing, and I sure as hell can’t do this. What’s next? I mean, besides sticking it out until Home Depot or Target calls me for an interview?
Thank God for medications that mask the suckage. I love it that it’s entirely possible to have a conversation with the gal in the next cubicle about what to have for dinner tonight, or to gaze admiringly at another girl’s pictures of her kids, without their having the slightest knowledge of the thunderstorms that rage inside my head. I can feel the anxiety building up day by day, just like it did last year around this time when my assisted living job—and my life—was in the process of going to hell. The only difference is, I’m better medicated now than I was then, and I’m a LOT less resistant than I used to be to calling Dr. Awesomesauce when I’m in trouble.
This, however, is not something that he can really help me with (although he does fancy himself to be my job coach as well as my psychiatrist, cheerleader, and personal stand-up comedian). It’s not really a mental-health issue; what it IS, is an existential crisis that wonders what I really want at this late stage. And I think what I really want is a simpler, less-cluttered life.
You know things have reached a boiling point when you fantasize about taking a mindless job that pays the bills but little else, because when you have money, everybody wants it and you won’t have any left anyway. My daughter was just talking to me about going on disability, which would—besides plunge us into poverty—free me up to focus on my writing. But while there’s something of a romantic illusion to that, the reality is that a) the last thing I need is to sit around feeling sorry for myself, and b) I’m just not sick enough for that. (Thank God.) I’ve never even been hospitalized, and when Dr. A and I had that conversation a year ago, he said he would never sign off on any disability claim unless I went totally tits-up, and it was his mission in life to make sure I didn’t get to that point.
So far, he’s been as good as his word. For my part, I am decidedly uncomfortable, but it’s not necessarily pathological; everybody goes through times when they’re not on solid ground. And sometimes, even people with mental health issues have normal feelings of inadequacy and cluelessness.
That’s what I think the good doctor would say, anyway.