Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Loss of self

I am here in Fun City on a whirlwind visit to my friend M. It's been great to see him - we have such wonderful talks. And last night went out, at my request, to dinner at a restaurant I just love - with another friend of his I just love. And today bought myself two fab pieces of clothing at Awesome Department Store that I Can Only Access in Fun City. And tromped about with him, to his office at the uni and through snowy city streets. It's a great, if short, time with him here.



He told me something important when we were talking about my job situation and about how unhappy I am - how I feel like my unhappiness has turned me into Shriveled Heart Person, emotionally distant and feeling-less, and most of all, completely estranged from myself. He said he watched (well, listened to) that happen...he could feel my personality change. He said that when I called him from Home City over the weekend, leaving a message on his answering machine, he heard "me" - as a person who can be light and relatively bubbly - for the first time in months. He'd been only hearing me become more and more shut down, ever since I arrived in Scary City with Potential. This is interesting because I didn't realize how incredibly poorly I was projecting...I thought I was covering it up admirably. Apparently not. (I think of how my TA said to me, about 6 weeks ago, "You seem really unhappy...If you ever want to go out and talk about it, then I'd be more than happy to..." (This is more appropriate than it perhaps sounds, since she is a couple of years older than me - it's not like she's a twenty-two-year-old fresh out of her undergrad...))



Well. I don't know what to do with this information, right at the moment. I want to apologize, retract myself. That doesn't make any sense. I suppose I want to "be myself" again, so that M - and others - see and hear me again when they call. So I can hear myself again.

9 comments:

What Now? said...

Does it help to have people echoing back to you what you'd been suspecting about yourself? I find that it's easy to get slowly more and more unhappy, and that I tend not to really notice this change until someone essentially holds up a mirror to me in the way that Mr. M and your TA have done.

I hope this month at home helps you get yourself back.

Maggie said...

My therapist would say: "This is your soul speaking to you. Please listen."

I hate it when she's right...

Andrea said...

You don't have to do anything about how you have been projecting yourself..that was your truth at the time and your friends will accept that. BUT it is telling you that your perceptions of your experience were accurate and if you don't like those perceptions you need to make a change...and that making a change is important not indulgent.

dbm/gaa said...

Confirmation of what you already knew, from a source you trust. Two things to do: make your life as it exists a place where you can flourish as best you can, and take steps to move on. That sounds easy, but it probably won't be smooth sailing, however working on these two things will probably make more space for the 'real you' as well.

medieval woman said...

This is a wonderful post - I love the way M characterized the change he perceived in you in a way that really struck a chord with you.

And I agree with the other commenters - this confirms what you already know. It seems like you do need to get out of that place without guilt or feeling any failure (not that you would). Will this make it easier for you to be there, knowing that you might be taking proactive steps to rectify the situation?

I'm thinking of you lots, m'dear.

On an entirely different note, my security word for this comment is: "gixmagmy" - this automatically appeared to my brain as "chix magnet"! :)

Earnest English said...

Hilaire, I'm so sorry. When your friends confirm that you're unhappy, you know you're unhappy. At least you suspected it. Once I had a friend who told me that for years I seemed to have some kind of chip on my shoulder. Of course I got totally miffed about that for a long time before I realized she was right.

Damn it! Why is getting a decent job and having a happy life so damned difficult?! I mean, we already wrote the dissertation. Surely making it through that should mean we get a couple of decent years. Is that too much to ask? I'm thinking of you.

Thoroughly Educated said...

I've been coming back to this post repeatedly over the last two weeks and keep meaning to comment, but I've just been appreciating how deeply this resonates with me. For the last semester and then some, I've been feeling, I don't like who I am when I'm here, and I've heard, as through a dense fog, how I sound to others when I try to talk about how life is going. Several months ago I tried to make a resolution to adopt a positive attitude and talk positively to people about where I was, but it didn't work as planned. I found myself blurting things out all too honestly when people asked me how things were going, and then bursting into tears. That didn't make me any more comfortable to be around for friends (and former professors and random strangers) who were just trying to be polite, but in the end it was a lot better than trying to interact as zombie-me. This winter I think I've finally got to the point where I can respond honestly about where I am without having a meltdown, and I can see my friends thinking, "Whew! She's back!"

Hilaire said...

T.E. - It is *so* hard to know what to do with yourself when you see people and you are unhapy in this particular way. Me, I figure on this trip - when I am seeing dozens of people who want updates on my life - that I shouldn't lie. So I say, in the most chipper, fricking Stepford Wife voice possible, "Oh, I don't like my job at all. I'm really unhappy." And then try to change the subject. People are understandably taken aback by this; I can see it.

I'm glad you're finding yourself again!

Hilaire said...
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