Friday, January 11, 2008

Black holes

This week has been...interesting. I felt like I'd been slammed with a two by four. By yesterday afternoon, walking home from the bus stop in the 5 o'clock dark, I was so stressed I had a little bit of a breakdown. Breakdown is probably too strong a word. But, it's worth noting that I haven't been able to cry for months - this is one of the ways in which I have become completely emotionally detached and estranged from myseld. And since I let loose with massive, wracking sobs on the snowy street...seemingly out of nowhere...a little breakdown in my everyday actually seems like an appropriate description.

I cried really hard. And then I was basically okay. Was pulled together by some seemingly invisible hand. The suddenness and randomness of this felt freaky, to me. It was like for twenty minutes, I slipped through a black hole that opened onto a terrifying, true world. That truth being the utter emptiness of me. I thought of how Maggie said, in a comment to a recent post, that her therapist speaks of moments when your soul is talking to you. I like that formulation. It is the best way to describe what happened yesterday.

The scary truth I was encountering? It's that right now, I don't care. And this me who doesn't care is not someone I've ever seen, and she scares me, and yet I can't help but wonder - constantly, these days - if she is really me.

I try to hold on to the fact that I have cared. That I do this job well. That I saw five - five - of last year's students over my time in Home City. Because they like me, because I made a difference in their lives, because they keep in touch with me, and ask to have dinner or tea or "watch Margaret Cho videos" with me when they know I'm going to be in town. I try to hold on to the fact that I am - or have been - gifted at this work, somehow. That I came back to Scary City/Uni and found a card from one of my fall students slipped under my office door, which said, "Your class was great but the reverberations will be even greater." That should be enough, all of that. It should be enough to make me care. But I can't - and that's very alienating.

Y'all don't need to respond to this...it's not necessary to affirm me or anything. I just like this forum for working stuff out, and I feel as if a lot is being worked out right now, so I feel like putting it here. I have many thoughts on this, as well, that I do feel are relevant to larger questions about gender and about the academy - and not as self-indulgent as this. But I just wanted to say, you know?

10 comments:

Psychgrad said...

Hey...just wanted to say that I'm thinking of you. I don't have any great advice. But I hope that what you're going through now leads you to a happier place (geographically and/or emotionally).

squadratomagico said...

Hi... just checking in. I wanted to let you know I hear you.

I'm sending warm thoughts. Have courage!

Maggie said...

I hear you, too, and can completely understand the breakdown moment.

heu mihi said...

Sending good thoughts your way.... We're all here for you. You'll get through this. And breakdowns can be a good thing, sometimes.

What Now? said...

Sorry to hear about the incredibly rough week. It does sound like you're working through a lot of stuff this year -- personal, professional, vocational -- and breakdowns probably go along with this sort of work, which doesn't make them any less disturbing.

Blessings to you.

Andrea said...

I was in a period where I was emotionally detached for about a year. It was first out of phd and unemployed and didn't kow if I would ever get a job and who am I now that I am not writing a diss...but of course I soldiered on and keep doing what I was supposed to and basically detach from those emotions. And I used to break down crying periodically for no reason. I felt like Holly Hunter in Broadcast News. I think it's because you cannot keep your emotions locked away and deny them, they will come bubbling out like a percolater. That may not be what's happening with you, but I think that's what it was with me.

adjunct whore said...

i'm sorry hilaire....transformation is so painful...i'm thinking of you.

mouse said...

Breakdown is good! Feeling is better than not, right? This sounds like a good sign to me.

And we LIKE to affirm you, so you're gonna have to deal with our affirmativeness, sorry to say. Just don't forget to affirm yourself, along the way -- as you do so well here.

Hugs!

Hilaire said...

Thank you to all. You are exceedingly sweet. Sometimes lately I have thought, "maybe I should stop blogging because all I do these days is barf up angst, and that's embarrassing and I fear it gives a terrible impression of me." But why would I ever give up this wonderful community? You rock.

Andrea, I think you're quite right - this is because my emotions are coming bubbling up after so many months of repression. As a friend pointed out, this can only be a good thing. And that's what heu mihi and Mouse are saying, too. Yes - feeling is good, breakdowns are good. In fact, because I normally am quite in touch with my feelings, it has been very disorienting not to feel as if I have any! And I am starting therapy this week, and no doubt that will also be good.

The thing that was so freaky about this episode is how much utter emptiness and hopelessness and apathy it revealed. That's the thing. It has happened several times since that night, too. But I feel, as Adjunct Whore says, like it's transformative - so I try to remember that.

Endless hugs to you all. Really.

medieval woman said...

thinking of you and sending big bear hugs...