Blogging has never come easy for me. I’ve started and stopped a half-dozen times. This is largely because, I am sure, of recurring bouts with depression, and during these bouts, it is hard enough to even get out of bed, let alone write. So, what am I depressed about? I have an adoring, brilliant, and much younger husband whom I love more every day. I have three children who, while they struggle, are fairly healthy, not into drugs or crime, and who all finished college. I have a roof over my head, food on the table, and a warm house in which to live. So, I shouldn’t have these horrible bouts with depression, which can last as long as three or four months. Depression which I could put down to a lot of things. About being stuck up here in the middle of the northern version of the backwoods of Appalachia. About having listened to the wrong people and getting two and almost three pretty much useless degrees, About having a chronic illness for which there is no cure. About being 55 and pretty much too old for anyone to even consider me for an academic position, especially since we moved to this backwater area of New York State. About being 55 and being told I am “over-qualified” for any position outside of academia. About dashed dreams. About just not being good enough. For anyone or anything. But, especially, not being good enough for myself. How everything I’ve attempted to do to raise myself up, has instead, many times, seen me dashed to smithereens upon the sacrificial rock of society—adding up to just one word: Failure. In my own eyes.
I think that a lot of us face disappointment in ourselves to one degree or the other, quite possibly more than we face disappointment in the eyes of others. For me, attaining for and reaching my goals– for which I put my so-so life at great risk—were to be a means to an end: get the hell out of a life where I was spiritually and emotionally suffocated. Or take the risks that would bring me to the disappointment I am forced to deal with today. Because life after the risks hasn’t been a piece of cake; I haven’t been able to taste that pie in the sky. But, really, is that the point of taking risks? So much of what we do to better ourselves, to change our lives, to follow a different path, to shake us out of inertia, comes with the warning: proceed at your own risk.
Because this is the thing. This is what keeps me plowing through depression, as hard as it may be. Although I still wonder how to get myself to the point where I am good enough for ME, I know one thing that makes even the periodic and troubling depression worth it. And that one thing is I took the risks. I didn’t settle for mediocrity. I didn’t settle for emotional abuse. I didn’t settle for making the best of a bad situation. I didn’t settle for so-so. I didn’t settle for staying safe. I set goals and some of those goals I did not meet. Some did not work out. Some did. Some knocked me flat on my face. So, while, yes, I am disappointed in myself, I am angry at ME, I have to struggle with periodic depression about certain circumstances being what they are, I am still better off than I was before risking everything. When I traded security for reaching for something better. When I realized that I could be depressed AND suffocated, or I could do something about it. So, now, when I suffer through these bouts, I know they will be self-limiting. I took those “leaps of faith” and jumped off the cliff with no safety net. I was bruised and battered when I reached the bottom of that cliff, but I was ALIVE. Some things were better. A few were worse. But, I experienced life rather than just allowing it to proceed while it numbed me into acceptance. I chose to BE, not just to be.