Hey, we'll be in Portland in August for a few days. A friend is getting married, and it's my birthday, so hope to see you then!
We'd love to see you! Seems as though you two have gotten the nomadic bug lately -- cool! I've got a bad case of wanderlust myself, but no chance to satisfy it just right now...
You are terribly, terribly tough on yourself.
I know you have your flaws. But I wish sometimes that you could see yourself through other's eyes, set against the backdrop of the rest of humanity. Maybe that's why life surrounds us with so many people - so that we have something to compare ourselves to, to see how we're doing.
To me you've always seemed laike a great person, beautiful and smart and always full of wonder. And that's all I've ever heard anyone else say about you. It isn't that we're all blind and you just know the dark parts of yourself. We're not all stupid and we're not all wrong.
No, it's that we are comparing you to the rest of humanity. And in context, you come out looking pretty great.
Life isn't trivial. It is an ongoing messy chaos in which nothing is ever resolved. Nothing is ever stable, but it is possible to get dynamic balance - ongoing motion without too much toppling over.
You have a vision of perfection, and you are painfully aware that you never live up to that vision for long. My wish is that you may also develop an honest image of yourself, and how good you look to the rest of us. Between those unresolvable opposites - perhaps that's where your dynamic balance exists.
Re: those other people around me...
You are absolutely, unequivocally, indubitably right. As usual. And that is why is so imperative that I come out of my self-imposed exile and GET A FRIGGIN' LIFE! Namely, by not holing up like a wounded animal, snarling at anyone who approaches too closely -- I need to get back in contact with the people in my life, who give shape and meaning to my existence on this plane. My people. My family. Like you, and your darling wife, who kept me sane with her lifeline of letters while I bemoaned my hardships during vet school. Like my friend Chuck who drove down from Washington to have lunch with me today, and who was a life-raft down at Ross during my divorce (he'd just been through the same thing). Like the wonderful friends, far and near, who have been brave enough over the years to see past my shit-screen to the real me in here, and who have still been audacious enough to keep calling.
Enough with the solipsism, already! I embrace the world, and all the delight it holds in the eyes and arms of friends!
Cat...I wish you had shared some of this with me, but understand how hectic things get. Time for email or even a journal slips right on by. I know what you mean about having a good mentor and feeling a lack of confidence in your abilities. I, too, have been there...and faced work with dread. Especially when I worked almost the last 5 months totally by myself. Thank God for great techs. I owe a lot to them. BUT....what I figured out is I know way more than I give myself credit for. I usually knew the answers....
As usual, and even in school....you were always hard on yourself. You are beautiful and talented...extremely smart. This is how I see you. Now, are you going to let me down? :o) Life is too short to be unhappy, stressed and dealing with bullshit. Time to pull yourself up by the bootstrings! I'm glad you quit that hellacious job. Good step in the right direction. I have been listening to a series of motivational tapes by Anthony Robbins. I highly recommend them for helping you to take control of your life. By the way Brent deserves YOU! He married you for a reason...don't forget that. By the way, I'd like to think I qualify for one of those good things that came along! Much Love.
Thanks, darlin'. Well, I'm beginning to get it... the picture is being delivered from so very many friends...
I'm waking up! I guess we all beat ourselves up to varying degrees... I need to not take it so personally, to feel that I'm so all alone. If I'm alone, I've most certainly done it to myself; it's time to change that. So the somnolent torpor that descended on me 2 summers ago, the total inertia of a fly trapped in amber, is finally lifting. Life is getting better! I'm excited to move forward, upward, onward.
And you ARE one of those life-changing good things! :-) And continue to be, dear.
My love to you, far, far away.
Thank you, Dana.
You know how a wounded pet will hide, cutting itself off from those who could help it? I guess there's always been a bit of that in me. The help I needed has always been all around me; I only needed to ask for it. I really don't know why that has always been so hard for me.
Thank you for being there for me, always. I love you.
Oh Cath - I have tears in my eyes reading this! I love you so much, and ~I~ am such a shit. You called, you invited me to a weekend festival, and I never called back to give you an answer! God how can I be such an ass. I wish we were closer to Portland, but it's a long way and we are in the working all the time to make up for playing all the time last year mode now. Anyway, busyness, excuses, beating myself up - we're related, what do you expect? ha.
This is a very insightful entry, and I think you ~do~ need to ask for help - god isn't that hard? Our family has some really stupid and weird stigma applied to getting counseling - very lame. Your mom had it, my parents had it. We are tribal creatures, troupe monkeys, we need help from time to time!! We are not ~meant~ to go it alone (whether you take that on an evolutionary level or on a more spiritual level - same same). I swear, most of my best friends are on Prozac, or something similar! ha. I'm not a fan of chemical treatment, but what I'm saying is that the people I love, find the most inspiration and joy and insight from being around, are all pretty much nutjobs!! hahaha. Otherwise they wouldn't be nearly so much fun :) So, welcome to the Monkeyhouse, Cath! Nurse Ratchett over there will fix you right up! oh, wait, no, THAT's not a good image... hahaha.
What I'm trying to say through all my jokeyness is, of ~course~ you've failed to heal. You didn't give yourself any time. And there's nothing shameful in that, nothing shameful in not healing, nothing shameful in still needing to grieve years later, nothing shameful in asking for help. It just is. We all deal with tragedy in our lives in different ways - smothering it with busyness is a perfectly normal way to deal with it, and it works, mostly. But nothing works completely, because we never truly heal or "get over" important stuff that happens in our lives - we just learn to integrate it better into who we have become. We learn to work with it. Live with it. Allow it and go ahead and be happy anyway.
I whole-heartedly agree with other friends of yours who've posted here and said nice things about you. You ARE amazing - really incredibly intelligent - brilliant, even, funny, talented - omg - so talented. And yes, beautiful - absolutely beautiful. and you are also all the other things you know you are, too - always needing assurance, never feeling good enough... enough. Enough. Maybe that should be your mantra - enough. "Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and, dog gone it, people like me!" he he. Seriously, though, Al Franken's act aside, "Enough" is a powerful mantra! On so many levels. It's hard for over-achievers and stars to be happy with simply "enough" though, isn't it? But that is so self-defeating, because then there ~never~ can be enough.
I'm going to continue this in the next comment because I was 700 characters over the limit - damn limits!! I have things to say!! ha.
To Be Continued....
Your work situation mirrored my experiences teaching middle school a few years ago. I haven't worked since. I'm damaged by that experience. The best compliment my principle ever gave me was that "no one complained." Great. All the teachers I know said I was given an impossible task (2 grade levels, six preps, first year in the classroom), but I felt I should have been able to do it, and instead I went to work every day burdened with the impossible weight of my own inadequacy - I've never felt so completely UN-empowered, so inadequate, so alone and isolated and unsupported. It was hell. People always think that when I say I had a hard time teaching middle school that it was the students - not at all! They were what kept me coming back, day after day, week after week. I couldn't bear to think what would happen to them if I quit. They were wonderful, and complete buttheads at the same time, but that's what middle school is. I didn't take it personally - I knew they liked me as much as I liked them, and their behavior was just what they did because of their age and stage in life. It was the system that dragged me down - I refused to be "another brick in the wall" and I couldn't do what I was expected to do by the school, the district, the state, and the federal government. Could Not Do It. No amount of self-confidence would have helped me do it. I need to "get back on the horse that threw me" I know, but I'm just not that interested having finally seen what the system is like from a classroom teacher's perspective. I love teaching, love kids, love learning, but I think I'll stay an informal educator, thank you very much.
I only share that to re-affirm your decision to leave your job. You need a supportive environment, and I do too. You need to be appreciated for your talents, skills, knowledge, dedication, humor, wit, all of it. Go out and find it. And let it be enough.
And I'll try to follow my own advice, too - now THERE'S a challenge! :-)
I love you - and I am glad you are back online (I've missed you!) and lifting up your head and looking around - it's a good feeling, even if a bit scary. I'll see you around!
Wow. I've always been amazed at the fortitude of teachers, having the willpower to go at all, given how the system fights and impedes you all every step of the way. I've often wondered whether The System perhaps ought to fail, since it's so desperately beset by bureaucratic humbug that it's barely functional at all? Wipe the slate and start over. And I agree: there are some sacrifices that are not worth making. Why do we expect ourselves to do the impossible, given no tools to accomplish this? This was my first real year in practice; I said, up front, that I wanted and needed guidance, mentorship, to acquire the skills needed to practice the way I want to be able to. I don't like trying something for the first time without an experienced hand to guide me... having WATCHED the thing done is not the same! I'm cautious, because I hate and fear failure.
I got thrown to the wolves at that practice. I was expected to cope, based on what I could get out of books, with no one to back me up except my frantically busy (but ever-supportive) colleagues. Part of it is probably my fault: I should have said "I'm interested in learning this procedure; could someone scrub in with me and guide me while I do it?" One of my bosses was furious with me for not having the capabilities to succeed with a complicated surgery; the spirit was willing, but I did not have the skill. Nor did we have the equipment, nor technicians who had been trained to assist with it. I bit off way more than I could chew, had no one to bail me out, failed horribly, and felt so awful about the whole thing that I was ready to quit veterinary medicine. Then the same boss who didn't back me up on the case beat me up over it in his office for 2 hours; I was having a crisis of confidence, and he wanted to punish me. Every interaction we had after that point was about punishment. I put up with it for 4 months, even though I dreaded working the days he was around -- he'd always find something to yell at me about, and wouldn't be satisfied until he'd reduced me to tears. At one point, he told me (trying to convince me to charge double for an ultrasound by scheduling it in-house) that my time was worth being charged for, and in the same conversation, he was angry with me for not coming in on my day off to learn a surgery from him! The breaking point was when, due to an interaction that a colleague witnessed, I realized it was personal. So I quit. No fixing that. Here's the thing: I kept getting evil glares even after I gave notice, like he was angry with me for bailing on the practice! At least the yelling stopped. I will miss my colleagues a great deal; they were family, and terrific mentors, and really bolstered my confidence. I'll miss my other boss, too, who had a great and gentle way of teaching, an easy way of suggesting things that helped. But when I get back on the horse, I'm going to question its pedigree a great deal more closely, and choose one with a comfortable gait and temperament; after all, it's going to be a long ride. If I'm ever going to get over my fear of failure, I need to be supported through the inevitable nonsuccesses until I can be satisfied with failure as part of the learning process. I need to learn to be satisfied with having done my best (and doing and redoing, until success is achieved). I need to learn to accept Enough.
You have always been so very good at teaching, at infecting your students with your enthusiasm for learning and love of your subjects, at meeting them on their level and developing a rapport with them; that's a priceless skill set. There has to be a teaching position that will recognize and reward you for that, will see you as a precious asset to be courted and supported. Maybe it's outside The System. There's a niche for you, I know it. There are students desperate to learn, who just need someone interested in teaching them -- need someone they can connect with. Have you thought about the community college level, perhaps?
Anyhow, I'm rambling. I love you; I'm sorry you had such an ugly year, too. That which does not kill us... makes us bitter old people! Heh -- just kidding.
Thanks, Deed. I completely sprang a leak reading your wonderful comments... guess you always did have the mainline straight into where I live, didn't you? But that's one of the reasons I've always followed in your footsteps, as your namesake: in many ways, we are a lot alike. Light half, dark half, always journeying, never arriving. I crave stability and then stagnate in it, craving change...
And things are definitely changing. I'm finally shaking off that solipsistic summer somnolence that trapped me in amber two years ago, starting to surface like the dreamer from the deep water of the unconscious. Time to go out in the sun! Maybe I just needed the unconscious processing time to get through it -- kind of a hard time to pick to do so much professional growth (but then, life is what happens when we're busy making other plans).
I love you, Deed. You're definitely one of my favorite monkeys in the monkeyhouse, and you've reminded me where to look to get the help I need -- it's all around me. I just needed to ask.
BTW, there will be bluegrass at other times, and I can understand the urgent industry that must needs follow a year of travel; I don't blame you for it. The week after we bought the tickets, I turned 39 -- THIRTY-NINE! -- and threw a great party; I wish you could've come. Brent and I will be road-tripping to Yellowstone this coming week, to see Josh and Nikki, and show Brent my old stomping grounds (he's never been). I'll post pictures, if I can manage to organize my mess of a website and photo library.
Anyhow, thank you so much for the reminder, and Bishop's not too far away -- there will be other roadtrips, and my goal is to make them in the direction of the people I love and miss. Salvation is a journey of a thousand miles, and I've taken that first step.