“Touch me again and I’ll drown you, you bastard” Mrs. Doubtfire

Got an email today from one of my cabaret ladies that upset me to the point of ruin. I think we managed to hash it out but it’s still clings to me. When did I become the bitch that nobody likes? Most of my life I was a people pleaser, how can I help? That burden looks heavy, here let me carry that for you… And then a few years ago I realized but the people I thought where my friends at the time absolutely drained me and couldn’t even remember my birthday even when we shared it. The birthday is not important but the fact that it was a one-sided relationship. I had a lot of friends but when I took inventory of who would step up in my time of need should I need anyone, my answer was crickets. So I began doing things by myself and for myself. Now I have a small cultivated, tolerant handful of friends. I’m not mean. I just put myself first more than I used to.

But this email made me realize that the alienation I’ve been feeling was not entirely in my head. People were put off by my sullen attitude but rather than asking what was wrong, and I may or may not have admitted to anything, they just kept letting it rub them the wrong way until I was alone in a corner at rehearsals and the last show. Again, I think with a bit of communication on all of our parts, we can get past this but it still ruined my day.

No, more than ruined my day. Left me sick to my stomach wondering if I should quit. Maybe they wanted me to. Maybe everyone would breathe a little easier if I tapped out. I was going down that rabbit hole. And of all people, Robin Williams popped into my head. Now aside from the clinical depression, I don’t for a minute draw a personal comparison to the humor and talent that man had but my point is, here is a man who is successful, and beloved by most of the world. And he killed himself. We assume often I think that someone kills themself because they are lonely. True, it’s difficult to connect. But I think there is an irrational voice that tries to convince us not only that we are not loved but worse, we are not LIKED.

It’s difficult when you feel like you have no one close enough to talk to, and if you did they wouldn’t understand, or there are certain aspects of your job and the day to day war that you can’t discuss. I met with my VA psychiatrist for a biannual follow up a couple of months ago right after C was killed and she asked if I needed to speak to someone and I combusted and nodded. She said she would put in a referral to the social worker. That was two months ago and I’ve heard nothing. But I even suspect the VA social worker is too burned out to give a damn about my problems. And I’m probably not high-risk enough to warrant a speedy appointment. But really, I don’t want to talk to someone that I feel can’t relate. Or worse, doesn’t LIKE me.

Back to war tomorrow. Next weekend I will be punishing my body in an attempt to heal my spirit hiking a few days around the Cascades. I’ll be with retired Army and retired Marines. And there probably won’t be a single war story between us. I’m looking forward to it.

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“I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, John…”

“…but did you have to stick your finger up my ass?” (Let’s Go to Prison)

Too late to take an Ambien, no Xanax to be had, Pinterest pictures of nail polish and funny cat memes weren’t doing the trick to decompress and disconnect. The rest of the world was asleep and I was having a meltdown. So I text the Veteran’s Crisis Line.

I wasn’t suicidal. Just desperately, at that moment, needed a live person to pop a mental zit. Shhhhhh! But Don’t tell my Uncle Sam!

My dancer’s legs are scarred with what look like mosquito bites but they are from my fingernails digging into my flesh. It’s a nervous habit. I used to pick at my face and pluck out my eyelashes like some people gnaw at their fingers. Still do sometimes. But I retrained and redirected my attention to my exposed legs. My face healed up but I wonder if my legs ever will.

Sometimes you pick a path because it’s familiar only to rediscover it’s a dead end. As I got turned around on my way from work to class, I wondered if that was foreshadowing my career choices. I’m flirting with returning to the organization and the job that I left last year. I’m told the regime has changed, “the bad guys are gone” but I’ve heard that before. In my experience, they can return just like I can. And what happens in a year when the regime changes again?

Like my experience with the Army, I’m not making a blanket statement that “the Army sucks”. My command sucked. It was corrupt all the way to the uppermost level of leadership. And while the VA may be a worthy mission and I know many folks who love their jobs, I suspect the regional office where I was recently hired may represent everything that’s wrong with the Department. From the attitudes – “What’s in it for me?” and “That ain’t my job” – to emphasis of quantity over quality and underwhelming leadership. I expected the inefficiencies and bureaucracy but this place may be a repository for the intellectually and socially inept.

I’m reminded of something another blogger wrote, A Fractured Faith, who admitted recently that “I am a Christian, but I don’t like people”. Me neither! I don’t dislike ALL of them but I dislike most of them. Those few that I do like, the few that came in with bright ideas and sincere smiles, are no longer smiling.

But the stable job is a prison sentence and going back to my “ex” feels like defeat.

Am I a failure if I go back? Am I a quitter if I don’t stay here?