Spring appears to be over, though I’m hopeful for a cooler day here and there. I think today’s high is 94 F. Hubs and I took a brief walk around 9:15 and the sun was merciless. Since I’m not a morning person, any walking will have to take place after 7pm. I see pool exercises in my future.
Tailbone still sore. I can really feel it on an uphill climb. I’ve lost a frightening amount of muscle tone just in the past 4 months. It’s awful and scary to be so weak. 7 years of my diagnosis would seem like an excuse, but I see laziness and lack of motivation winning here, and it rankles me. I tried in vain to get more sleep this morning, I’m feeling sleep deprived and low energy. Alas, thinking of my entire life being a battle between doing/achieving and laziness/lack of motivation pushed me out of bed.
In high school I had a Hungarian friend whose father escaped the Hungarian Revolution and genocide. He had harrowing tales of being shackled and marching with broken toes, the family he never saw again, and how the French Underground enabled him to reach America. He worked for Radio Free Europe and was a freelance writer. He didn’t mince words and bluntly said that in spite of how bright and talented I was, I would never get anywhere because I was a dreamer… a nice way to say “Lazy and unmotivated”. Later, my favorite teacher ever (Humanities – she was brilliant and wild to the bone) signed my yearbook with, “Please, save you from yourself.” I shrugged that off, thinking I might figure it out someday, but I never really did. If I got it, I ignored it. Laziness wins! Or more likely, airheadedness, inability to prioritize, and taking the easy way wins. It makes me think this behavior hasn’t done my health any favors.
Over the years I’ve been tripped up by emotional ropes. Unlike those who throw themselves into work, sport, or hobbies to channel that destructive energy, I’d wallow in misery. I’d fall back on a safe path, moving back and forth from north to southern Cal, taking mundane government jobs in the process. I had a few adventures with friends, true, but I never accomplished anything very meaningful in those years. I just drifted along, going to music festivals, drinking quite a bit, and generally wasting time. One could argue I was making the most of a simpler time, but one could also say I blew it – I could’ve done so many things without a care in the world. If I could go to the Portland Microbrewery Festival every year, why couldn’t I go to Spain or Scotland or Japan? Same thing, just a bit more costly, and isn’t that what credit cards are for?
It takes motivation and planning to mount an overseas trip. Not too much of either, I’ve since found, but obviously I was an airhead and it was fine to drive to Berkeley every weekend and camp out on my brother’s couch (actually my couch in my brother’s flat). We’d go to raves and scooter rallies and Mod events, eat Vietnamese food, read all night, listen to jazz and Northern Soul, drink more espresso than I can imagine. When put that way, it doesn’t sound half-bad, actually. It sounds like fun, which it was, in spades. Okay, so maybe I did some cool things occasionally, but in between I was a government drone… stuck in my little life, writing out endless journals, like these.
So why am I berating myself now? What’s the point? I don’t know – lost opportunities, I guess. Most of us aren’t destined to greatness, of course. Well, greatness defined as success leading to money, influence, fame, the usual stuff. Mothers might say they achieved greatness by raising their families. Some will say they achieved it by touching the lives of many in need, etc. I’m not a mother and I think I’ve only touched a few people’s lives… not in any sense I could relate to greatness, anyway.
Is it purpose I’m missing? Is that what I’m looking for, a sense of purpose? No, I think it has to do with that whole, “Those who are mad know the truth and aren’t afraid to say it” thing. My brother slung some insults my way last time I saw him, and it sounded like his mental illness kicking in. But on closer inspection, it’s somehow true. When did I turn into such a wuss, or is that the curse of the middle child? One could say my brother caved in to the pressure of parental expectation and went off the deep end — I often think that. It was sort of an insidious thing; all three of us essentially rebelled against it in our own way. We resented being constantly taunted that certain careers were the only way to survive, resented the lack of support (outright discouragement) for other endeavors. There was quite a bit of negativity in those days, for reasons of disappointment, disillusion or whatever – but kids are impressionable in so many ways and it’s heartbreaking to have talent in all the fields your parents say will lead to inevitable starvation. Imagine hearing that you’ll never succeed at anything in the arts, humanities, liberal arts, etc., that only a career in science will put food on the table. Imagine being denied extra-curricular activities with, “Will (fill in activity name) get you a good job ?” While most kids were being pushed to do as much as possible, we were discouraged from doing anything but study. It was maddening. Literally, in my brother’s case.
JK Rowling said in her Harvard commencement speech, “There’s an expiry date for blaming your parents for how you turned out.” While that’s true, one is largely formed by their values and conditioning, and sometimes it’s hard to get away from the knee jerk reaction one develops to pressure. I think mine has been to blow things off. It seemed to me that after all that hard work and constantly staying on top of things, they didn’t seem to be having very much fun. That’s not what I wanted and as many teenagers do, I made a mental note to go the opposite direction. That’s oversimplified of course, because I can now see all sorts of dynamics at play then. But the damage is done – I’ve picked up some of their worst traits and added my own to the pile. I’m indecisive AND unmotivated and scared. I stress about money AND I procrastinate dealing with issues that have to do with large sums of it. Rationally we all know to get the ugly stuff out of the way so we can all move on, but I can’t seem to do that with my own things. It’s hard, and maybe my inability to deal with things right now has to do with not feeling very well, but when I do feel well, I still don’t deal… I’d rather put up an arbor for the climbing roses, for example, than figure out if my brother needs an LPS conservatorship.
Actually I’m dealing alright with my dad and brother’s situation. I just can’t get the nerve to open the frighteningly tall stack of mail from the insurance companies/hospitals. They’re bills, I just know it, for thousands of dollars. The thought of opening them makes me want to throw up, then curl up in a ball and cry. Hubs and older sister don’t offer to open the envelopes to see what they are. No offer to help with any of it, or maybe with getting my medical records sent to UCLA. Nope, they just push the pile off the dinner table so they can eat. It’s maddening.
Maybe I should check myself in.
Before I do, a very big THANK YOU & MUCH LOVE to all who’ve left me kind words and support thus far. It means the world to me, and I apologize for not replying to each comment individually right now. Please know your thoughts are like rain in the parched desert of my soul these days. May hope spring anew once more.