Sunday, November 6, 2011

Decreased Expectations

It's hard for me to believe it, but in August I was walking with my father at the Presidio, and we were talking about my plans for Medical School - how best to finish up my pre-medical requirements as a post-baccalaureate student. I was going to apply to Hopkins and Goucher, and my fallback was the excellent University of Maryland system. I'd be living near my friends even after I left my undergraduate life, and I'd be independent. I was so excited.

Now? I still don't have a degree, and may not have one for several years. My father's trying to convince me to get a paralegal certification, so that I'll have an employable skill that will enable me to live independently in "a few years, when you're more stable." My head knows that it's smart, that it's a way to get some job security (after all, even if I never got a job as a paralegal, I could get secretarial work). But my heart?

I can't believe this is what my life looks like. I'm scared of spending my twenties, the years which should be the freest and most independent of all, living in my parents' home, dependent on them for food, shelter, and the medical care I evidently need, with no friends in the area and of course no boyfriend or girlfriend, because how can you really date as an unemployed sometime student living with the 'rents in suburbia, with no car? It never happened last time, that's for sure.

Maybe this sounds entitled. Life never happens as planned, I know that rationally. But there's a big part of me that feels... cheated. When I was a kid, I was usually the smartest student in the room. Teachers would take me aside, tell me I was going to be so successful, that I could be anything I wanted. When I was teased at school my father would comfort me by telling me that one day I'd be the judge sentencing my bullies to jail time - a little over the top, I know, but you get the picture. What I'm trying to say is, I thought that part of the social contract was, if you work hard and you're smart, you'll have a good life and be rewarded for your efforts. But it isn't that simple if you get sick or for a whole lot of other reasons, like poverty or debt or bad family life.

I dream a lot about running away and escaping. I fantasize all the time about winning the lottery (though I don't buy tickets - I know they're a bad investment when you haven't got any money!) and using the money to move to Greece or travel the world. I think about money all the time, in a way that makes me feel low and mean. I feel a bit like Lydgate, from Middlemarch, shocked that such petty things could drown out my thoughts of philosophy! and science! I even fantasize sometimes that maybe I'm not really bipolar, I've actually got some bizarre parasitic infection that makes me seem crazy, but when a doctor figures it out, they'll cure me and I'll be sane for the rest of my life.

The last time I wrote, I was very fragile. I was trying to process a scene from the movie Margin Call, where a trader flirts with suicide on top of a skyscraper before deciding "not today". And I ended up triggering myself instead. In fact, I spent the night in bed with my mother - something I hadn't done since I was a very small child. The next day was my first appointment with a psychiatrist from the area, a peculiar man with a bow tie and a penchant for profanity. I didn't like him, but I'll try him a few more times - I was half asleep the first time I saw him, and that didn't help matters. He prescribed me benzodiazepines for sleep, which I am not going to take - insomnia isn't a huge problem for me right now, it's waking up in the morning that I have trouble with, and I'm scared of habit-forming substances. Petrified, actually.

I'm okay. I actually enjoy a lot of things about my days - I saw redwoods today! Huge beautiful trees that you could stand inside of, one that was forty-five feet around. I saw sea otters playing at Elkhorn Slough in Moss Landing. I saw a beautiful rainbow after the storm. But I also cry a lot, I think a lot about what I've lost, and I'm lonely a lot of the time. Things are good - for now - with my parents, and I hope it lasts, because if that goes I might get desperate again, and I make poor choices when I'm desperate. But for now I'm okay.

1 comment:

  1. As a philosopher, consider the idea that the modern "self" is an illusion.

    You are a philosopher because you are one (i.e. you do philosophy) not because you have some piece of paper (bought and paid for) that proclaims you are. If you ever saw "The Graduate" (plastics!) --you know that people can have crises after they graduate too... suddenly they are supposed to be learned, you know, "the experts"-- and the graduate does not feel that way at all, he still feels like a child in his parents home.

    I am old school and wish I could give you a nice bold dose of LSD, with a good guide, out in the woods, yoga, drumming circles, all that shit. An intense session, like the one Cary Grant had, where he realized there was himself and then there was "Cary Grant"--this persona he had created and then clung to for security. The illusion. As he aged, he realized, it was time to let it go, and he stopped making movies.

    You are a beautiful person, and I wish you all the best. Speaking of alcoholic mothers (I am one myself, and had one too, saints preserve us), my heart goes out to you. I found this book to be helpful, but the most helpful thing was moving 650 miles away from her. ;)

    Good luck and love to you!!! xoxo

    Love ya. Be strong and beautiful.