Friday, March 06, 2009

9 Days In

I feel like I'm weaning myself off painkillers. Like, I've been taking painkillers for so long, I forgot that I have something wrong with me. Pain is a symptom of a bigger problem, so in order to correctly diagnose and treat the problem, you have to allow the pain to flourish, so you can follow it, see exactly where it's coming from, how it progresses, learn from it.

Overcoming addictions is a similar process. Kicking your drug of choice brings back all the pain and anguish that clouded your judgment and led to your taking it in the first place.

What was my drug? Office work, oddly, was a big one. As long as I had a classy office to go to every day and spend the majority of my day there, I had a reason to clean myself up every day. A good reason to keep my personal issues under the rug. An excuse to invest in nice clothes. That 1980's glamour of being a yuppie worked magically for me.

Yeah, I had other drugs, but this is my last one. I'm calling it a drug because it never led to anything. Remember - I was a temp. No 401k, no paid time off whatsoever. The lowest menial wage - most people could never live on it. I've been floating on a lily pad for... I was about to say 4 years, but in reality, it's been 12 years. I temped in hospitals, then got a permanent job that lasted 1 year. Then I temped in corporate offices, and got a permanent job that lasted a little over 3 years. Then I temped for 4 more years. My second permanent job got me a 401k which, miraculously, hasn't been affected by the economic turndown (knock on wood), probably because the balance is too small to get attention. But other than that... I have no money left from those jobs, because I only made enough to survive on, paycheck to paycheck. I have a lot of life experience, which doesn't pay the rent.

Every office job I've ever had was temporary, even the permanent ones. That's pretty common in today's world, but there's a difference here I'm trying to get my hands around... Painkillers wear off after 4, 6, 12 hours. My jobs ended after 4 weeks, six months, a year.

Man, does it feel good to wear nice office clothes. It makes me feel legitimate, like I'm someone who matters.


So, I haven't been able to wear my costumes or huff office air for two months now. I'm not exactly bored. I'm alone with my thoughts which, all my life, has been dangerous. Even when I'm cooking, practicing piano, cleaning the house, going to the gym, working out, grocery shopping... None of that helps.

I talk to myself out loud while I'm doing these things. I pretend someone is with me, usually a friend. Sometimes I go off on tangents. I'll start out explaining why I'm grinding my cardamom spices instead of just cracking the shell and using the whole thing. After a while, I'm in a fight with this person over something. Yep. Sometimes, even my imaginary friends are judgemental, picky, snotty bitches.


It's people. Why does it always boil down to people?

In every office I've worked, there's a crowd of new people. There's always one or two that I really like, who make me laugh, who I am friendly with while I'm there. When I leave the job, I never see or hear from them again, sometimes even if we exchange phone numbers and email addresses. But it's always the people I look forward to seeing. The work is almost always menial.

Christ, has this been a substitute for real relationships?


There's something more to this.

I've been doing this all my life. When I was growing up, I went from show to show in community theatre. I remember the way we'd all cry when the show was over, because we were going to miss each other so much. These were the only friendships I had for years, and they were shallow friendships. They ended when we stopped doing shows together. We didn't call each other after the show closed. In between shows I was as alone as ever. Sometimes I'd do two or three shows with the same girl, and during the first show we were the best of friends, and in the subsequent shows, she wouldn't deign to speak to me.

It was, really, just like school. You might be best friends in grade school. Then in high school, some kids are cool, and the rest aren't. Freshman year in high school, I was so excited to see some of my old friends from grade school. Then I realized that they were now fashionable, and I wasn't, and they were cruel to me. Whatever friends I thought I had, they were now gone. I had to start over.

Just like going from show to show.

From job to job.

I like to bar-hop. I don't like to stay at the same bar for more than a drink or two, unless there's a good live band.

I never lived in any one apartment for more than two years.

I've had three husbands.


No wonder I'm committment-phobic. Nothing has ever really lasted for me, even when I wanted it to.


Which brings me back to the problem I've been aware of for years:


Well, all this typing. What did I learn today?

Nothing I didn't already know.


I don't know exactly why, or how I got this way, but this is, I think, the key.

I want more. I always have. I'm not satisfied by what most people are happy with. I need things to be real. I need life to be fulfilling, not just reasonably successful.

And I've always felt this this was a terrible thing, that I was a greedy, spoiled, selfish, demanding, ungrateful brat.


I'm not.


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