Friday, January 10, 2014
I have come to know my place
All this is to say that, when it comes to depression, I'm not un-self-cognizant. It took me a long time to recognize a need for help, and even longer to accept it. I'm not proud of my tendency toward do-it-myselfism, but realize it's a battle I fight continuously.
On Wednesday I had a counseling appointment with a new counselor I started with late last year. Before and after I left for the appointment I took out my aggression that had been building for months on the three dogs I love most, hitting one with a book, pushing another down the stairs, and kicking the third. I was devastated by this behavior and am so ashamed of myself that if I was suicidal I might consider it. None of them was hurt, although all three looked surprised, which is of course being hurt, and like an abuser I tried to make up for my behavior immediately. But it didn't do any good for how I felt about what I'd done.
This is not to make too big a thing of it. I know every animal lover has done something in her thoughtless moments that he regrets and I know that this is really no different. But one thing I've prided myself about is the immeasurable love I have for my animals. But my depression makes them fair game, I know, and my wife just a few weeks ago said she was sometimes anxious about leaving me alone with the animals in winter, knowing that I could take my anger out on them. I told myself if that happened I needed to make a serious change.
So here is the change I'm making.
It's really not a big thing, more a recognition of something in front of me all along. For decades I have tried to be something better than I am, socially and economically. I have gotten several degrees and trainings--I hold two masters and a master of fine arts, and I've trained as a chaplain and a minister. I was a college teacher for a decade and a part-time minister for another decade.
But those are middle class ambitions and I didn't come from that. I am a lower-class prole straight out of Orwell who lucked into those positions and now, in the current employment market, cannot find a way to make lightning strike twice. The market may not be right but it is what we live with and I have come to hear it loud and clear: it does not want me to make my way as a professional. I must make it as a minimum-wage employee.
I have gotten above myself and have been suitably punished for it.
As a result, I renounce my desires to be a minister or chaplain, as I more or less gave up my desire to be a teacher any longer, and starting Monday I will look for any full-time job within ten miles I can find. Keep in mind where I live, deep out on the rim: the best I could hope for around here is work as a machinist and I don't have that kind of training.
Is this a reaction to both my depression and my acting in a way I'm ashamed of? Perhaps. Probably. But I feel lighter as a result of making this decision. For the first time in a long while I feel less like a victim of economic forces and more like someone who's accepted his fate.
This doesn't mean I intend to give up ministering, as I haven't really given up teaching. I've just given up the hope anyone will pay me a living wage doing it. I've come to recognize my place, and it's behind a broom or a cash register, not a lectern or an altar.