I loved The Princess Bride. The movie at least – I never read the book. While my daughter was growing up, quotes from that movie littered our every day interactions. “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”, “Let me ‘splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”, “You just wiggled your finger! That’s wonderful!”, “Have fun storming the castle!”, “Do you think it will work? … It would take a miracle!”.
…”Inconceivable!” … “I do not think that word means what you think that word means.”
I heard that word, in Vizzini’s voice (played by Wallace Shawn), in my head this morning. I was trying to “conceive” of a way to pay my bills without depending on my unhubby for money.
It is not inconceivable that there IS a way to pay bills without someone else’s money. I can even imagine and fantasize about doing that myself, with a real job, or a new business. What is inconceivable is HOW I’m going to get from where I am now, disabled physically, and mentally a little… ummm…well, let’s just say a little wacko. In addition to pain, my brain is fuzzy and chaotic and it’s VERY hard to focus on anything, let alone put one mental foot in front of the other to make any real progress toward long term goals.
And I need to make progress. I keep trying to wrap my mind around the inconceivable, because I have to. I can daydream, and sometimes even plan, ways to get a job or start a business. But my reality is SO far from that reality, that I find it impossible to imagine it with any sense of…realness.
I simply cannot make myself BELIEVE that it’s possible for me to get from where I am, to where I need to go. I need to find a way to believe that I can…or at least let go of needing to believe that I can.
When Wanting And Trying Aren’t Enough
I’ve been struggling for years, trying to figure out how to make money. Once my daughter was old enough that working more than part time seemed feasible, I really wanted to go back to work full time. I wanted to have a career…to earn money and contribute and take that load off of my husband’s shoulders. I wanted HIM to have a chance to figure out what he wanted to do when he grew up – not just have to work to pay the bills.
So for the last 10 years or so, I’ve been struggling with this question. How do I work and change my day to day life, when my body and brain are so dysfunctional? I’ve been so stuck for so long!
In the past, the answer mattered, but it was not a life or death kind of situation. I had backup. I had a partner. Now, though? Now, it should be different. I have no backup, no partner.
Somehow, though, it isn’t different. My body and brain still won’t cooperate. The cycle stays the same: I end up dreaming, maybe even taking action for a day or two or three…only to end up back in bed for days, or weeks, or months due to pain. Or anxiety. Or depression. Or all three.
Always ending up in the same place: Dreaming and wishing and hoping and being SO determined that I can get a job, or start a business, or sell my art, or…or…or…SOMETHING, only to flail about and then crash.
Years, with no progress. YEARS when even the career I had (hypnotherapy), collapsed under the weight of my physical and mental “issues”. Yes, the irony of THAT does not escape me.
Years of being trapped in my own skin. In my own disintegrating, pain-ridden body with a mind that loops between anxiety and depression like a record player that has reached the end and just spins and spins and spins. Years of wishing and hoping, desperately wanting OUT of the loop. Wanting to live and work like a “normal” person. Wanting to make money and contribute to life and have friends and be social.
Still Crazy, After All These Years
This morning, once again, I find the notion of any appreciable progress toward that goal inconceivable. I can’t grasp it – can’t feel it as a REAL possibility. I have ideas…SO many ideas. A plethora of ideas…different ways I could take control of my life and make money so I could pay my own bills.
But all of my dreams require a functional body and mind.
I dream that I could just wake up tomorrow and somehow, magically, NOT be in pain. NOT be trapped by my own mind. Be ABLE to get up and do what I need to do to move forward. To change my experience of life.
I keep taking steps, but they don’t seem to be getting me anywhere. I’ve been “taking steps” for years. First, there were lots of doctors, until I gave up on the doctors because I kept getting worse instead of better. Then, there was “just do it” – WILL my way through it. That REALLY didn’t work.
There were herbs, there were meditations, there were cleanses and different diets. There were lots of things. When the “thing” didn’t work, I’d give up. Then, after a while of giving up, I would pick myself up and try again, or try “something else”…but the cycle just kept being a cycle, and I just kept ending up back in the same place…usually worse for wear.
Don’t Worry…Be Happy
Then there was STOP trying – don’t worry. Let someone else take care of me. Let go, and just try to enjoy the moments that I could, as much as I could. Go to nature and love my child and hug the cat and laugh and find joy with my hubby. Just live, and FIND some joy and grab whatever happiness I could, and don’t even TRY to work. Just trust and be “OK” with being dependent on someone else.
That even kind of worked. I was at least some version of happy for a few years. Cooking and cleaning when I could, doing art when I could, walking in the forest as much as I could, communing with the ocean and the animals and just focusing on whatever joy I could find, whenever I could find it. I had happy days, and I convinced myself, for the most part, to let go and just TRY. For my kid’s sake, for my husband’s sake, for my own sake.
I settled into that life, knowing it wasn’t perfect, wasn’t really ME…but accepting that it was my life, now. We were even making progress financially. Getting “back on our feet” after years of really bad financial decisions.
Then it all blew up.
I Was Never Totally Happy Being Dependent
Every few months, even when things were good, no matter how hard I tried to “just let go”, I would cycle through trying to find a job. Or trying to start a website, or sell my art, or do “graphic design”, or write this or sell that. I have been flailing for a really long time, trying to drag myself through the quagmire of my own mental and physical “challenges”.
Knowing that being dependent was NOT what I wanted. Knowing that “unhubby” wasn’t happy. I could feel it. The drain he felt from being forced to have a job and pay the bills. The irony being that I would have LOVED to be the one doing that, while he stayed home and did everything else. That just wasn’t the cards we were dealt, and I chafed against the chains that bound both of us.
Then, he blew a gasket, we moved here (to Buffalo, NY), and everything just fell apart. My delusion of happiness was too fragile, and his was non-existent.
So now, the present is this: Once again, I am struggling to find a way to earn a living. Only this time, there is no reassuring backdrop of “well, if you can’t, you can’t…we’ll get through it together”. Nope. This time, there’s just a big, black hole on the other side.
I HAVE To
So now…now I simply HAVE to find a way. Of course, there’s nothing simple about it: I wake up most days desperately trying to pretend that I can force something to be different. That my circumstances will get through to my own body and brain, and allow for the changes that need to happen. My brain will come back “in line”, or my body will magically heal itself because it has a REASON to.
I’m on my own and I don’t have back up. That will HAVE to make things change, right?
My body and brain have to let me work now…right? Because I have to…because what happens if I can’t?
Apparently “Have To” Doesn’t Change Things By Itself
Having to hasn’t changed it. Every direction I look, I can’t conceive of how to get out of the hole that I’m in, and land on the other side. I keep trying to take steps forward, but I’ve been slogging through mud for over 3 months now, and I have not made any real progress.
Still not making any money. Still haven’t really landed on a good, feasible, dependable solution to my problems. I still have no real faith that I’ll be able to find a way. Not finding a way is unacceptable…I mean, what happens? When I try to think about NOT finding a way, it’s just a big blank. A desert in a sandstorm. I can’t see a thing.
I even try to force myself to imagine going on welfare and living in government housing…but I literally cannot imagine that for me. Being homeless…also not something I can really see. I know what this inability to see it means. It means I won’t let that happen. It means that sooner or later I will force a solution, and I’m not resting easy with what that solution might look like if I am not of “right mind” when I find it.
It means I will end things, rather than live THAT life. There have been times over the last 20 years when ending things seemed like a viable solution even though I DID have support and back up. Hell, a couple of times I barely escaped myself with my life.
So if I literally can’t imagine me surviving living on the street, or alone in some slum somewhere with nothing and no one…then I can’t trust that I will pull myself back from the edge if that ends up happening. One of the realities of living with mental illness – if you know yourself well enough, you know that things CAN get worse. You have to plan for it, so you can live through it.
I Do Have A Plan…Again
I do not suffer from a shortage of ideas. I have more ideas than I know what to do with. Ideas for how I could use my art skills to pay the bills. How about my writing skills? Communication – I’m pretty good there. I’d probably do really well in a human resources capacity with just a little bit of education. I can try to make money with my writing. Maybe freelance, maybe start a different kind of blog – one that makes money!
All of my ideas need one crucial ingredient: They need me to be functional.
How do I change the reality of my physical and mental situation enough that I can change the reality of my financial situation? Conversely, how do I do what I need to do when my body won’t function and my mind is a mess?
There would be lots of options, if my body were not in so much pain and my brain were not so fried. I’m smart, I have skills and knowledge, and if healthy, I could easily gain more skills AND more knowledge. With a healthy body and brain, moving forward would be easy.
But I don’t have a healthy body…or brain.
So I’ll just have to figure out how to move forward with the brain and body I do have.
I am currently measuring progress in weeks, rather than days. If I did SOMETHING that moves me forward last week, then I can consider it a success. It feels pathetic to think this way…but it is the only way I can keep myself facing forward. Most weeks I get done in a week what I used to be able to do in a day…sometimes half a day.
Last week I did two things in one day, and it pretty much broke me for the rest of the week. Then I had another day of “doing things” last Friday…and it DID break me for a few days.
This week, I’ve done ONE thing. Yesterday, I went and got x-rays done.
Next week, I’ll take another step. Then the week after that, another one. Then maybe I’ll be able to take two or three steps in a week. Then, maybe someday, I’ll be able to start measuring progress in days, rather than weeks.
Or I’ll die, and then I won’t have to WORRY about making progress. LOL
(comedic relief…yes, it’s a joke – it’s OK to laugh at it)