Posted by: jt | August 25, 2008

sifting through

I have this picture in my head. I’m sitting on a South Carolina beach that I remember well. The weather-beaten houses are empty for the season, the sky is grey and there’s a cold breeze off the ocean. It really shouldn’t be this cold.  My hair is stringy from the salt-scented wind and I can’t get my hand through the tangles.  Instead, I’m filtering sand through my fingers, looking for something.

I don’t know what.

I’ve been struggling lately.  For the last few weeks I’ve dragged myself out of bed fighting back tears with the thought in my head, This is depression. I think the only reason I’m still (mostly) functioning is because I’m so damn aware of it.

I’ve been here before and I know this place. Parts of it are really comforting – it’s easy to sink in and stay a while. It’s safe inside my head, until the self-loathing takes over and I’m clawing at my brain to let me do something. Change something. Be something.  Something.

I don’t know what.

There have been some heady possibilities in my life lately. They’re still just possibilities and I can’t write about them yet, but they’re profound and exciting.  Normally, the “real” version of me would be bouncing off the walls, barely contained. I would be sketching plans, brainstorming potential, researching details.  Instead, I’m filtering sand through my fingers, looking for something.

I’m looking for me.

I’ll get there. I know that.  I’ll find myself again. I’ve been a lot lower than here, which is comforting.  I know where I am, which is huge.  Part of this is circumstance – being lonely in this city; having to collaborate with some relentlessly negative outside partners at work for weeks on end; month after month of confronting, or being close to someone who is confronting, loss and grief. There have been some shitty circumstances.

But the other part – a bigger part – of this is intentional.  I sought out a therapist to push these buttons; to tear at these wounds.  I knew they were here, I just wasn’t sure what was inside.  Whatever it was, I wanted it out – out, so I can heal, dammit.  For all of my confidence (there’s a lot) and for all of my success (there’s a fair amount of that too), there’s an innate lack of self worth that I’m sick of.

The pieces are coming together (or coming apart), but it’s an ugly process.  It has to be.  If therapy is easy, I think you’re doing it wrong.

I took solace this evening in words from Dooce.  Actually, they’re not Heather’s words, but she’s smart enough to quote them.

My friend Leona gave me some really profound advice last night as we were talking about how much better our thirties are compared to our twenties. She said, “No matter what horrible thing you’re going through, when it’s all over it only takes three seconds to sum it up. Remember that.”

I took two things away from that post – hope that my 30s will be better than my 20s (which makes sense, since my 20s were better than my teens) and, damn, it really does just take three seconds to sum up horrible things.

I started to try listing out a few horrible things in three seconds, but it was difficult for me to come up with them.  Not difficult to keep it to three seconds, but difficult to create a list of horrible things.  They’re there, for sure.  Life is drama, right?  But…listing the bad things, even in three second increments, just isn’t what I do.

We’re gonna resurrect the 5 Things list.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted one (though not since I’ve made one), but it’s time.

5 Things I’m Grateful For:

  1. Therapy and having time to do it.  It’s truly self-indulgent for me to take 50 minutes each week to focus on my mental health.  Perhaps we’ll call it a success when I reach the point where that 50 minutes isn’t self-indulgence, but self-care. Because I deserve it.  Because I’m worth it.  We’ll get there.
  2. Having a boss who can look at me and tell me, honestly, that she’s really excited for me when I tell her I’m complicating things – again.  I’m a pain in the ass, I know. And it’s awesome to be supported in spite of it.
  3. My new team at work. I’m finally in a position where I’m working with someone who wants to collaborate, who wants to learn and who wants to work with me.  Finally. There’s been a big shift in staffing at my office and it’s nice to have colleagues again, not just coworkers. So nice.
  4. I’m going home for a bit this week.  What will start as a work trip will end as a family trip, which feels a little overdue.  I haven’t seen my grandparents since Christmas and it will be good to bring them a fresh face. And I love getting to see my sister and brother (in law).  A little family time and lots of hugs…it’ll be a good weekend.
  5. Michelle Obama’s speech tonight.  If you didn’t watch it, you need to.  It’s not up yet, but I’ll give you a link once there is one. I love the Obamas. There’s such an authenticity to both of them that is painfully rare in our politics and leadership in general. Michelle Obama fucking rocked tonight…and really, she kinda always does. I’m guessing the only speech at the Democratic Convention that will top this one will come from another Obama.


  1. One of my friends who’s in his 30s wrote recently about how the 30s are much better than the 20s. Less angtsy, more sure of yourself, more shit figured out. I’m looking forward to it!

  2. I know! As much as my stomach flips at the thought of that three decade mark…getting older is cool. I’ve been working with a lot of 21/22 year olds lately and even just the 6/7 year age difference and experience difference is profound at this point.

    I definitely have a degree of comfort in my own skin now that I didn’t have then, so…yeah. Looking forward to my 30s. How many people say that! :-)

  3. […] had another moment last August. Within days of writing this post about feeling completely outside myself, I snuggled up under my comforter and tried to pretend that […]

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