Sunday, June 20, 2010

Rock Bottom

Note: This post is very long and very personal. If you are my friend, I am going to shamelessly beg that you read it all the way through. If you're just someone who stops by because you like my essays, however, you may wish to skip it. I'll be back to the regular writing soon, I hope.

I've recently become enamoured with the blog Hyperbole and a Half, by the very funny and inspiring Allie Brosh. One thing that immediately drew me to her blog, aside from the hilarity, was the fact that she is so open and honest about the troubles she has in life, with ADD, depression, unemployment, and major health and family issues. Two things have become immediately apparent to me from reading her blog:

1) I really want to be an at least semi-professional blogger, meaning I need to write more regularly, and
2) My creativity comes to a grinding halt if I am not being open and honest.

Unfortunately I have not been able to be open and honest since my mom died, because I have been too afraid of being a failure. Specifically, I am terrified that I will be the person someone points at when they say "unschooling can fail". This has been exacerbated by the recent media storm around unschooling. But since this blog is my main outlet for ideas, thoughts, and feelings, the result is that I start bottling shit up. And when I'm swimming around in my emotions that I can't let out, I sure as hell can't find a way to write about anything else. So I've got to let it out. Please, if you are stopping by to read this, take it only as a reflection of me, not my parents or how they raised me or how anyone else is raising their kids. I'm willing to own my failures, but I am not willing to own any derision cast upon others because of them.

For those who don't know what's been up with me, here's a recap of the last several months:

October: My mother has a heart attack, is in a coma for the longest week of my life, and then dies. I am left penniless, unemployed, and alone, in a house which I suddenly am now entirely responsible for. Lots of people are super nice to me and give me money and buy me groceries and let me show up at their houses unannounced just so I can cry.

November: People are still super nice and feeding me and taking me to Tennessee and stuff like that, even though I haven't managed to start up a job search yet.

December: I find a job at an hourly daycare center, but get fired, for unknown reasons, three days before Christmas. People are still super nice and give me Christmas presents and stuff.

January: I reach some kind of weird breaking point where I decide that it has been too long and I cannot ask other people for help anymore, because I have probably exhausted their patience and I don't deserve any help because I got fired. I spent most of the month in a dark stupor, brightened only by some friends visiting for a week in their RV.

February: I apply for several jobs that sound really good but don't hear a peep back from any of them. Instead I get a job at the mall but I am let go three days later because they are not getting enough business. This is about where I reach the point of "system failure" on my job search efforts. I also find out my dad is alive, which is more depressing than exciting, because it means he has not seen fit to contact me for three years.

March: I have a minor nervous breakdown at the Autodidact Symposium, which I make monumental efforts to hide because I don't want to ruin anyone's fun, so the only people who even know I'm upset are Maria and her kids. I become overwhelmed and terrified by the sheer volume of people there who are accomplishing amazing things while I am sitting in my house eating ramen and reading webcomics. On the way home I decide (this is something I had given thought to before) that I will go through with selling my house and purchasing an RV.

April: I run out of money and have no electricity except in a small shed which is on a separate light bill. I am basically rendered incapable of doing anything toward looking for a job so I just spend the whole month cutting down weeds, playing my DS, and eating baked beans that I have microwaved in my shed. I tell almost no one about my living situation out of sheer terror that people will think I am asking for money, because I do not want to be trouble for anyone. (It was not as bad of a month as it sounds like, though I desperately missed hot showers.)

May: My electricity is back thanks to a relative helping me out. I spend most of the month making house-selling and RV-purchasing plans and writing a shitload of blog posts. The problem here is that my month of solitude had slipped me into some sort of emotional fantasyland where I have lost touch with all reality and am capable only of thinking about the distant future, not my immediate needs. I become a bit delusional about how quickly I can pull all this off. I also become very irritable and lonely, because due to a car license tag fuckup I cannot leave my house for almost the entire month.

And here we are in June. I am almost out of money again, with no job prospects and the depressing realization that summer is rapidly slipping away and I have no idea how I can make it to NEUC, which at this point is the light at the end of my tunnel because I will get to see my friends and feel encouraged and loved again, and rediscover the joy of travel. I don't know what I'll do if that light gets put out. I have already been gradually sinking deeper into a pit of despair, losing interest in RVing and basically everything else as well. I spend all my time alone, partly to conserve gas and partly because I have convinced myself that the people who have given me money all secretly hate me now because they wasted it on a person who cannot get her shit together. My brain's response to this, rather than to helpfully stir up the energy I desperately need, is to start asking existential questions such as "Do I really believe in God?" and "What does it mean to be a woman?", which is the psychological equivalent of stepping real hard on the gas pedal when your tank gets close to empty. So I turn to books like Barbara Sher's Wishcraft and Patty Digh's Life is a Verb, hoping I can gather some strength from these. They are uplifting, but being uplifted a little while buried in a mile-deep hole still doesn't get you up on ground level.

And then I reach the point where I'm sitting alone in my dark, cold room during a thunderstorm, sobbing over this PostSecret and playing "Beautiful" by Eminem on loop and feeling even more stupid because now I am the sort of person who cries while listening to Eminem. And my dogs are whining because I ran out of dog food three days ago and haven't been able to drag myself to the store, so I've been feeding them cat food and leftover chicken and stuff, but now I'm out of cat food and people food too, and I'm a terrible person. And I start whining incoherently to Justy, and I try writing, and nothing is helping. And I'm hungry, and all the food left in the entire house is potatoes and canned tuna, and I feel like I want nothing more in the world than to go to the grocery store and spend all of my remaining money on ice cream and donuts and frozen pizza. (Please do not leave comments telling me why this is a bad idea. I am perfectly aware of that.) And I become aware that I must face my autism and the challenges it has always brought me which I depended on my mother to help me deal with, and the fact that piling depression on top of that is like trying to function with an elephant standing on my back. And I am hit in the face with the horrible realization I have been desperately avoiding all along:

I need help.

I don't mean that in the "I need counseling" sense; though it would probably be a good idea if I could afford it. What I mean is that I can't do this alone. I need people. If it means admitting I am almost 25 years old and still cannot function as an independent adult, then I must admit that. If it means risking being a burden and having everyone hate me, then I must risk that. Books will not save me. Encouraging websites will not save me. I need real people to help me. I have no idea what I need them to do, I just know I need them. Because my only alternative is to slip farther and farther into my own brain, until I become unable to leave my house or do anything except stare at the walls and wonder who I am. As comfortable as that sounds right now, I know it will not get me anywhere and I will end up hating myself even more.

I feel like a lost child who has wandered off from her mother in a department store, only her mother isn't ever, ever coming back. And I have no idea what to do any more than that child would. I only know that, whatever it is, I do not have the capacity to do it alone. . Throughout this entire time, I have been exceedingly proud of the fact that I have never directly asked anyone for help, instead waiting politely for help to be offered. Proud of the fact that I have kept up a cheerful facade and seldom let on that I was suffering. This, I now realize, is the reason I have not been able to move forward. I need to learn to admit to my pain. I need to learn how to ask for help.

I am hurting, and terrified, and alone. Please help me.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bonnie,
This is an EXCELLENT post. Please email me, we need to chat.
Shannon Rose
shannonroselive@mac.com

Jess said...

This seriously gives me chills. Wow. My heart really goes out to you, I hope you know.

The first thing I can do for you is pray, and ask everyone I know to pray for you as well. I don't really think it matters if you believe in God, or some superior being, or the forces of the universe, or even nothing. I see prayer as that thing that binds all life together.

Secondly, I want to let you know that I have faith things will work out for you - and in much more beautiful ways than you can ever imagine. I feel in my bones, Bonnie. It's coming.

Right now there isn't anything I can do directly to help you, as far as I know. But I will keep my whole self pealed... peeled... I don't know which one but I will be whichever one is correct. :) I LOVE YOU and I am so honored to know such an amazing person and writer.

~Jessica

Ramona Teasdale said...

Bonnie,
I attempted to post a comment yesterday when you first posted this. I don't see it here so I was obviously not successful.
I read this to the end and cried. You have been so very brave and you just did the hardest and bravest thing that you have done so far. Asking for help. I know how hard this post was for you to write.
As a mother this is especially heartbreaking because no mom wants to think about leaving her kids behind. Hannah fortunately has a large family to draw strength and help from were anything to happen to me but she is much like you in that I believe she would have a hard time reaching out for help. I am so glad that you did and we want to answer that call.
Please message me on facebook or call. Hannah sent you our numbers last night on facebook. We want to help and we can talk about what form that help can take.
Most importantly we want to be here for you Bonnie in a solid and real way. Not just words but whatever we are able to do.
Call us, write us, or leave us a number where we can call you. We are here for you Bonnie and we care! If it were Hannah in this situation and I was gone...well I cannot do less for you than I would want someone to do for her.
Our love and support to you Bonnie, Ramona

De said...

I have a group of unschoolers gathered on Facebook just for this purpose! It is called Helping Unschoolers Group and I would love to talk with you about it. Please contact me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1073164716 or by e-mail BiggWylma@aol.com

Sending big (((hugs))) your way!!

Peace,

De

Debbie said...

Bonnie,
I don't know what I can do to help right now, but here is a virtual hug.
I know that Idzie has sent you a number so you can call us without paying long distance if you want to talk. As I think of more concrete ways to help, I will contact you. Sending love and hope your way.
Debbie

Netzi said...

I really want to help. If you need anything, you can message me on Twitter or Facebook. I wish I could do that and much more. If it weren't for money and situation limits, I'd be happy to meet up and contribute (Who knows? Maybe that might happen. ;) ).

Ronnie said...

"Specifically, I am terrified that I will be the person someone points at when they say 'unschooling can fail.'"

I'll share something that unschooling moms remind each other often: It's not the unschooling. People who are traditionally schooled have difficult times, too. We experience grief, unemployment, depression, and discouragement. So definitely let go, if you can, of the idea that you have some sort of responsibility to the unschooling community to "do better." You do not. Unschoolers are going to have all the usual range of life experiences and human emotions.

I'm glad you're asking for help. Definitely talk to De about HUG; it's a ready-made mechanism for unschoolers to help each other.

陳隆 said...

Pay somebody back in his own coin.................................................................

慧萍黃 said...

Poverty tries friends.....................................................................

美恭美恭美恭 said...

成熟,就是有能力適應生活中的模糊。.................................................................

王名仁 said...

人有兩眼一舌,是為了觀察倍於說話的緣故。............................................................

JasonBirk佳琪 said...

人生是故事的創造與遺忘。............................................................

云依恩HFH謝鄭JTR安 said...

我來湊熱鬧的~~^^ 要平安快樂哦..................................................................

惠桂惠桂 said...

沒有經過反省的人生,是不值得活的人生..................................................

玉苓玉苓 said...

相逢即是有緣~~留個言問候一聲,祝您平安順利............................................................

郁雯郁雯 said...

這麼優的部落格,不踩一下不開心............................................................

江淑如 said...

u are so kind to post so good artical! i like it!............................................................