This Life is Not My Own

This photo was taken last summer while out on a trail run with my running group.   I wonder if this is paintable.

Here I am back in this dark place.  When is this darkness going to lift?  I am beginning to believe the lies my depression is telling me.  I’m a loser.  I will never be happy.  No one cares about me.  I will spend my “golden” years destitute and lonely.

Somehow it seems I have backed into a life that does not seem to be my own.  I am not enjoying my job.  I am not enjoying my home.  I am forcing myself to go out and be with friends, but when I am with them, I cannot wait to come home.

The instant relief that used to come with helping others seems to have vanished.  I feel like the life is being sucked out of me by a woman I sponsor.  Every day she calls to cry, complain, freak out – over things that seem enviable to me.  Her husband loves her, her parents are still alive, her brothers are available to her, she has the ability to make a living without lifetime commitments.  I have grown weary of trying to care – about someone who will not make one move to change her frame of mind, so firmly entrenched in her misery.   This is a woman who has “worked” the steps repeatedly and absolutely nothing has changed in nearly 7 years of sobriety.  I have never seen such a thing.  Never.

Other women I sponsor have “moved on” I guess.  They don’t need me, therefore don’t call or even return my calls.

Meetings I attend are all about “self-esteem” and not the old message of “don’t drink – no matter what.”  And they DO drink.  And some of them die.  But if you share a message of recovery, you are scorned and derided.  It is somehow CRUEL to suggest to someone that they might try not drinking.  No, you are supposed to pat them on the back and say, “it’s OK.”  and the one I really love “We don’t shoot our wounded.”  No, we bury them.  Rather than tell them the truth, we would rather let them die.  And we can feel good about ourselves at their funerals because we were always “nice.”

Thank God for the one lifeline of my old homegroup.  Thank God.

All of my grandchildren are in another state at the summer home of my ex-husband.  He is “retired.”  He has been “retired” since long before retirement age – since about the time he married a very successful attorney.  I miss them.

My job – oh my job.  My boss called me yesterday to tell me that my file names need to be changed.  Oh my God.  A 32 year old telling me what to do on this level of detail (micro-detail) is appalling.  I talked to a co-worker who is LOVING the same job.  She loves it.  Her nature is to blow off the criticism and just do what she wants to do.  I am not built that way.  I wish somehow I could change my entire personality to LOVE this job, but frankly it is just a bad, bad, fit.

And why am I doing it?  I could retire now with 40% of my salary – for the rest of my life.  However, I cannot live on 100% of my salary with my current lifestyle.  And I cannot figure out how to change my lifestyle.  Cancel cable?  That’s an entire $65. a month.  Stop getting my nails done?  ~$50.  Stop getting my hair done?  – not even thinking about that one.  Stop having lights and electricity?  Crazy-town.  Stop watering my lawn?  nope.  Stop taking vacations – yep.  I am going to see my sister this summer.  No fancy hotels.   I think I need to start thinking about getting rid of my home, and maybe my car.

I could retire now and get another job.  A simple job.  But when I really NEEDED to retire, I would be left with the 40% – which I don’t think will ever be an income I can live independently on.

In my mind, I have all the intellectual solutions.  All the spiritual solutions.  I am long-practiced in living by a set of spiritual principles.  I never thought I would end up in this dark, dark place after all these years.  But here I am.  I know I am beyond even pretending today that I can turn this around.

So I will do what I have done.  I will surrender it to God.  And be grateful that I haven’t been indoctrinated into the “prosperity” gospel.  I know that God causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust.  I know that this absolute despair may be a gift from him – I don’t know for what reason, but then I don’t pretend that I can understand the mind of God.

So, it’s time to put on my blue skirt and black lace blouse.  My black heels.  I’ll bathe and lotion myself.  I will curl and spray my hair and put pretty clips into it.  I will put lipstick and a smile on my lips.   And go out and face the world.  I will make every effort to think more about others than myself.   And try to get to Mass at lunch.

Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.          ~~ Joshua 1:9

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14 Responses to This Life is Not My Own

  1. Dave U says:

    OK.
    So once we’ve stopped drinking and learned how to remain spiritually fit, where do we go from there? I know I have to maintain that and keep moving forward, but in reality, I need more to work on. For me, that might be self-esteem. It might be feelings. It might be learning how to alter my perceptions. But I must have something to work on.
    Just sayin’….

    I am sorry you’re feeling the way you are. But you and many others have taught me that This Too Shall Pass. I bet that also applies to you, my dear.

  2. Mary LA says:

    That sunflower would make a great painting. I’m sorry to hear about the depression and I really hope the job gets easier.

  3. luluberool says:

    I hear your sadness.. frustration?…here. Nothing to say, except your vacation is much needed. I would say it’s NOT a luxury…but a necessity. I truly pray it helps.

    • It’s depression Lou. It alters my perceptions of reality. I am afraid my vacation is going to be more of the same – a week with my sister is challenging under the best of circumstances.

  4. sherryd32148 says:

    I know you don’t believe in medication but when I read that you’re in this dark, dark place and that bitch, depression, is refusing to leave (because she is an awful, evil bitch) I can’t help but wonder why? Life is so short. I just want you to feel joy again.

    I’m praying you find your way out of this and that you kick her ass.

    • I never said I didn’t believe in medication. I have, in fact, been taking antidepressants (2 of them) since the beginning of April. They just aren’t working.

      I would much rather not take them, and normally I can “manage” my depression with extremely good self-care. But not now.

      • sherryd32148 says:

        Oh this must be so frustrating for you! I will continue to pray that you find some relief. Sorry about the misunderstanding.

  5. Marie says:

    When my program doesn’t bring me peace of mind, I know it is time to call my dr. for help. “there are those too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders…” that is me. Would I refuse chemo if I had cancer? No way! “We have to stop fighting everyone and everything” – I had to surrender to that which I have no control over – depression. And surrender for me means either get help or die.

    I don’t understand why people have such an aversion to psychiatric medications. But, I don’t have to understand. I can only share my experience. It is a medical condition that incapacitates my ability to cognitively, physically, and mentally work my program in an effective way.

    4 years ago when I hit the depths of a major depressive episode (in sobriety) my sponsor told me I shouldn’t go to a counselor because I was thinking about myself too much and that I should get out of myself by helping others more. She didn’t understand and couldn’t help me because she has never experienced depression (kind of like a non-alcoholic can’t usually help an alcoholic.)

    I could hardly take a shower or eat daily let alone help anyone else. Needless to say, four months later I ended up in the hosptial and 6 months after that I tried to kill myself, all because I thought I wasn’t working my program hard enough.

    Fast forward to now…. I am happy to say that my spiritual life is the best it has ever been after 2 years of medication changes, major lifestyle changes to reduce my stress, and one year of intense therapy, all put in place perfectly by my HP in his perfect timing. He truly did for me (and of course, still does) what I couldn’t do for myself. I pray that you, too, find relief before it is too late (no matter how you find it.)

    Love and blessings,
    Marie

    • Marie, I worked in a psychiatric hospital for 17 and a half years. I understand the place of psychiatric medications. Any sponsor who would enter this debate is a fool.
      See above comment… I am taking 2 antidepressants. They just aren’t working.

      • Marie says:

        meds not working sucks! I feel for you. Hopefully, it is too soon to tell yet or … they will find the right combination that does work (I have a friend who calls that gruelling process “medication roullette” 😉

        Oh, and my ego thanks you for calling my ex-sponsor a fool – lol. take care.

  6. Pam says:

    It is so damn hard to just “be” when “being” if so painful.
    I’m hoping that the change of scenery when you go to your sisters will give you some momentary relief. I’m praying for you my Mary.

  7. Syd says:

    Depression is a terrible thing. I watched my mother suffer so from it. But she did find relief through medical treatment. The vacation may be a good thing. As for the job, I don’t think it’s worth my mental health to stay at something that brings so much pain. I know that I have a high tolerance for the intolerable though. And that is something that I have to inventory over and over.

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