There was a time when all of this made sense, but it was terrifying. It was so terrifying, I lost my grasp on reality. Did I lose my mind? If anything, maybe I overused my mind or I lost control of my mind. The problem is, I’m not sure if I’m referring to then, now, both, or none. When something happens that severs your tethers on reality, it also demagnetizes your compass. I keep seeing everyone talk about their purpose or finding their joy or whatever, but I do not understand it anymore. Especially right now, there’s a lot of people saying to find your purpose now or go within and…I just don’t see the purpose because the only thing making me unhappy right now is I feel like I don’t have a purpose or a goal. It’s that whole suffering the suffering thing.
I’ve always had a goal or a purpose. I always had my mind set on something. Whatever I had set my mind to, I would ultimately accomplish. When I realized that, my world changed, then it went upside down, then it collapsed completely. I remembered how I realized then that I would spend years studying trying to figure out how I could do something spontaneously. It would be a huge waste of time and I would hate myself for it, and I’d do it anyway. And I was right!
I read The Alchemist on Monday and it was like someone took the last 3 years of my stupid brain and wrote a metaphor that finally got me to remember I was wasting my time. (Because dammit, I thought all my thinking about shit was getting shit done!) it took a beef stroganoff to remind me that reading all the recipes in the world won’t cook dinner, and lot of time studying is also a lot of time not making. There’s merit. If you don’t know how to make a stroganoff, it would be a kindness to learn how (if not for you, then the others eating it) For some, a recipe is a necessity, and for others, it’s a guideline. And for me, basically, everything is a suggestion that I will end up doing my own thing. (and as with the stroganoff and life – it will be done with beer.)It’s how life works. We all want someone to tell us how to do it, but more often than not, no random people pop up out of nowhere to help you along. Except when they do. (If you’re open to the help/not to busy asking for help/not to busy talking to yourself or thinking about help)
It’s gone on for years. Instead of recipes, I’ve studied spirituality, philosophy, psychology, etc. But yesterday, my horoscope said I had to become an expert at something and it made me feel a kind of way. For years, I’ve been trying to find my purpose again. The same old question I’ve always asked “What am I gonna do with my life? Why am I even here?”
When a worldwide pandemic barely changes your life except to take pesky things like “taking people places” and “finding good reasons to avoid people”, it’s an interesting feeling. My attire, my day, my lifestyle, whatever have barely been altered because I don’t really like people all that much and I do my best to avoid a lot of them. (Unless I wake up on the extroverted side of the bed, then ALLLL THE THINGS! until I exhaust myself and go back to hibernation).
I have always been a goal-oriented person who needed to do a lot of shit, do it really well, and show you how amazing I am so you can tell me how amazing I am (because secretly, I’m just telling myself I’m a piece of human garbage who should die! But look at MY A’s!!!!!!!!)
When I was 18, I was going to be a lawyer and eventually, POTUS. When I was 19, I got pregnant, dropped out of college, gave the child up for adoption, re-enrolled in community college and became a bank teller.
When I was 21/22, a dude at a bar asked me what my favorite ocean was. I said the Meditteranean. He asked me why; I said because I have always wanted to see it with my own eyes. I wanted to see Italy and where my people came from. I wanted to go from Italy to Greece and see how beautiful it is. He laughed and asked me what my major was. I said I was going for Liberal Arts because I didn’t know what to do just yet. I was originally going to be a lawyer but I fucked it up. He laughed and said I had no business being a lawyer anyway. He told me to become a Marketing major because “With a mind like that – if your favorite ocean can be one in your dreams? You belong in Marketing. You’re too creative to be a lawyer.”
So, I changed my major to Marketing. I didn’t really think about it, I just did it. Some dude at a bar’s idea was a hell of a lot better than my “I don’t fucking know” and subsequent depression I had going. It just made enough sense to do something more than nothing. I hated being a bank teller because I hate dealing with people. I hated customer service, and I wanted to make more money. I applied to be an Executive Administrative assistant at a start-up company. I got a 15k raise and ended up being 22/23 years old making more money than my own mother. As I progressed with my degree, I got promoted to Marketing Associate and got to go to Vegas for the first time at a tradeshow.
I’ve wanted to move to Nevada since I was a teenager. My best friend and I always talked about it. It was a joke we had, we were going to move to Vegas, sell underwear and be phone sex operators. I don’t even know why. We were just very bored and perverted suburban kids. I could write a lot about all the shit we learned on Mayo Health. But, like the Meditteranean was my favorite ocean because I dreamed of seeing it, Nevada was a place I knew was home, even though I had never really seen much.
When I got to Vegas, I had chills. Nevada felt like the coolest place in the world, but I knew immediately I didn’t want to live in Vegas. Later, when that same best friend and I went to Vegas to see Avenged Sevenfold, I stood in our hotel looking at the Wynn and wished again that I could live in Nevada *Anywhere but Vegas tho. I, like most ill-informed, kind of knew Reno existed and assumed it was like Vegas. It never crossed my mind as a place to dream of. It never crossed my mind a place like this existed. I just dreamed Nevada, but not Vegas. Now, 13/14 years since I first went, I live in Nevada, not Vegas. I live in Reno which is the land of the dreams I didn’t know I have. If someone asked me to list all the shit I liked to do and liked to see and threw it into one place, you’d call it the Biggest Little City in the world, Reno, and my new home.
Going back, I changed jobs after I had my son because I realized the startup was not family-friendly enough. Despite my high salary, with a new kid and no raise for years, it wasn’t feeling worth it anymore. I divided out my 40hr work week annual salary by the numbers I was actually working and realized I was netting about 8 dollars an hour.
I got a new job at a company with way better benefits, a nice salary bump, and a boss that I knew immediately – we would get along. The thing that has always made me successful at work was not my skills. I can learn skills easily. It was my ability to get along with people (despite not liking them). Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been good at every job I’ve ever done. It is that if I set my mind to it, I can do it thing. If I’m gonna be an administrative assistant, I’m gonna be the best goddamn administrative assistant y’all ever seen. I got a lot of promotions, a lot of raises, and I ended up at this company for a decade. When I became an asst, my next goal became “become an Account Executive” bc those folks made bank. The goal was really to be a superwoman. I wanted to be an amazing mom, make insane money, cook, clean, be perfect, etc.
Within a few years, I got what I wanted. I also got 50-60 hour work weeks, travel, 3 kids, and ultimately a nervous breakdown. Guess you can’t have your cake and eat it too, huh? After I started getting sick, my boss made a department for me. I’m not exaggerating, it was a department for me to do things I was really good at. Research, lead generation, analytics, managing the database we all used, training, etc. All the skills I had learned through the years kind of rolled up into a special role for me. That all grew and took on new life, it became a real department, and I found a whole new career path – quality control, data analytics, system administration. Didn’t even know I’d care about that. It was weird too, because this all started when I said “I don’t know what to do next, and I just need someone to help me figure out what to do in my career” and there it was.
But then, something funny happened. Not just that my marriage imploded and I was now a single mom of three working full time and trying to keep my mental and material ends meeting, but I realized I was dying. It wasn’t a new or profound revelation. I just forced myself to see that I was trying to kill myself. I knew, but I didn’t really know. I had let the secretive bulimia, functional alcoholism, etc. spiral out of control now that I was “unsupervised”? I could hide and lie a lot from my husband, but without my husband, who was I hiding from?
When my hair started falling out and my vomit contained blood, I remembered a wish I had made in 8th grade. I wanted to be a writer. I hadn’t really written in a long time. After my first or second mental hospitalization (who can keep track, really) I started journaling which I hadn’t done since the adoption, probably. Even then, it stopped and started. The one thing I seemed to do with any kind of occasional frequency was writing on blogs. I’ve had so many. So, I started doing that again.
A few months later, the psychosis happened. It also ended up being the end of me working for now. I’m still in recovery, I guess. I don’t know what you call it. If Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall, and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again, what is Humpty? Because whatever you’d call Humpty, you can call me (Humpty…pronounced with an Umpty…Yo ladies, I know how to hump thee)
But that’s been years now. And for whatever reason, I can feel this synergy between 2017 and 2020. The psychosis and now. Is anyone else feeling that? Like the circumstances may be different but they feel weirdly prepared? Or something?
I spent months convinced I was gonna die. That everyone was going to kill me and my family and it was all my fault. I was convinced no matter what I did – literally every decision I made – I would have all the different reasons and ways why this was wrong, stupid, evil, whatever. It drove me crazy. Like the crazy I was always scared of being, but didn’t understand til I went crazy how crazy thinking I was crazy was… (what?)
A homeless lady told me in the mental hospital that I needed to stop trying to write about all this stuff. (Yet another addition to the “Words I never thought I’d combine in a sentence”) She told me I was going to go crazy if I tried to put what was happening to me in words. She asked me if I understood what made comedians funny? She said it’s because they’ve been through hell and it’s too hard to describe it so they just make you laugh anyway. She said I’m supposed to just be funny.
Funny note, this woman didn’t know me, and I didn’t know her. She had just been brought from the street and was my bunkmate.
Like the guy who told me about Marketing, I believed her. But, she also told me that I was going to waste a lot of time til I listened. She was right on that too.
I’ve spent years trying to get back to then. I’ve written about it a lot. I’m writing about it again. But the thing is, I keep remembering or re-learning or having random people tell me: you gotta do it. There was something so special about “then”. And the only thing I can say is that I was just writing. I was just being myself. I had no purpose – I was just breaking farts and writing about shit. I had no goal. It was so terrifying. It’s been that way this entire time. Nothing changed except I kept trying to figure it out or figure out how to do it when the only way is to just do.
I always thought I had so much control… The realization that setting my mind to something caused it to happen made me terrified of myself and my mind. Which made the psychosis go the way it did because hooooooly fuck is my mind scary! The “good” things I set my mind to were way, way, way out shadowed by all the “Holy fuck, what the actual fuck were you thinking?!” But at the same time, all my wishes and dreams do come true. So there has to be something to it right?
I’ve wished a lot of good and bad shit in my life. The bad shit helps me appreciate the good shit and also makes me smarter, more talented, funnier(?), definitely more twisted and corrupted…. I don’t know, it made me who I am, and I’m kind of seeing I’ve always had help along the way. Career suggestions at the bar, prophesies from the mental hospital, miracles or things I can’t explain that put me where I am supposed to be – regardless of what I think about it. Sometimes, I seem to agree with myself and here I am in Nevada, other times, I seem to be at war and HOOOOOLLY shit have there been some doozies.
It’s like… I kind of feel like this virus really isn’t a threat because I’ve survived myself. If you can survive trying to kill yourself constantly, maybe it’s just easier to understand death is a knock at a door we all must answer? I think staring a surprise telephone pole in the face at 60mph helped me accept I am gonna die, and it’s going to be an interesting story, and I hope to god it doesn’t involve a toilet (or butt stuff).
I used to crave death. Or I guess…I craved anything that wasn’t feeling so completely dead inside. I mean, I’ve been dead really for most of my life. I just was some kind of shitty program that did whatever I thought people wanted me to do. It sucked, I sucked, I was such a miserable unhappy person and I made so many miserable unhappy decisions that made others miserable and unhappy too.
Right now, I feel alive. I feel like there’s this part of me that exists beyond anything and it comes to life when I speak, write, or create. There’s this part of me that’s so beyond all the crap we think is important and that’s what makes life “worth the candle” as Alan Watts would say.
All of my goals helped create more misery because they weren’t actually me. They had nothing to do with me. The most wisdom I have known is when I was a child. When I just wanted to do whatever and have people leave me alone. I wanted to play, I wanted to imagine, I wanted to write. I wanted to listen to music and dance and ride my bike. I didn’t care why. Every time I created a why I became miserable. If I rode my bike to lose weight, I hated bike riding. If I rode my bike because my mother said to get out of the house and do something and that something was better than nothing, I was free. Walkman, headphones, Pearl Jam, and the “open road”
It’s that same crap that keeps me trapped in my broken mind. And it is broken. I don’t see how it can be anything but broken because almost nothing really makes sense when you clear the emotional reaction. When you can somehow find space to feel what you’re feeling and question the shit out of it, it never makes sense. I get how right now can be so weird without structure, goals, etc. but I tell you, sometimes it’s that destabilization that is needed to make you see how completely and utterly full of shit you are anyway. Losing “everything” showed me I didn’t have anything anyway. Everything that makes me me…everything that makes my life the way it is, or even writing or humor…none of that exists in a way we can put in words, learn, teach, etc. It’s all something that happens when you just do it (not think about it) and it also happens whether you’re looking for it or not. I would say looking for it makes it harder to find because the most fundamental, best decision I’ve ever made were’t really that thought out. Changing my major, random homeless women, impulse gut decisions that just felt too right to ignore, whatever. No amount of reading made them happen, yet they did tip me off to understand.
It’s so hard to understand that everything is happening as it’s meant to be whether or not you agree. I blamed my broken mind and broken compass, but it seems like I just keep listening to or looking for the wrong thing. But even if I listen to the wrong thing, I still stumble on the right path, but I only ever see that after it’s happened. Unless I look now, with no purpose, no why. If I put a why, I keep trying to be accepted, or liked, or successful, or rich or whatever, and over and over: I’m still a fat kid hating her bike ride which is crazy when I could be a fat kid, on her bike, rocking out to Pearl Jam for no reason at all.
And the nice thing about right now is I get to see it’s not just me who’s crazy (or going to be a fat kid on a bike)