It may well get better, but first it gets worse

Today has not been an easy day for me.  I've had a headache since yesterday (possibly eyestrain from my still-healing eyes, possibly after-effects of the flu that I had last weekend); the article that I so hopefully sent out for review (the first in three years) came back with the usual confusing mix of comments ("great scholarship, but unpublishable in its present form"); I've missed practice for a full two weeks now thanks to the flu and, last night, the headache; and I don't have any excuses anymore for not feeling loved.

Yup, it (life, you name it, everything) sucks.  If I had had time to work on this post earlier today (or, rather, had allowed myself to skip working on my translation or going to campus to meet with students), it would have been called "Suicide Note" and opened with something about how if you saw me after reading it, it just meant I hadn't done it yet.  Don't worry, I'm already in therapy.  But.  But, you know, I'm just not feeling any better.  And now I can't even binge or shop myself into feeling better, never mind work.  Because it won't work, I know this now.

Which, in itself, is a good thing.  A very good thing.  I feel more comfortable at the moment in my body and with my eating than I ever have in my life.  I'm still working on being at ease with my tendency to shop (there's a post lingering behind this one on the coat I bought this week).  And I did work on my translation this morning and I have time set aside next week (a.k.a. my regular writing time) to try to answer the readers' criticisms about my piece.  So why do I still have this crushing headache to go with the terrible demon inside of me that screams, "You're worthless.  You're better off dead.  Everybody would be better off if you were dead"?

Right now what I'm mainly feeling is the headache, but it was the demon that was uppermost as I was walking the Dragon Baby into campus and wishing I could somehow step out of my life into another one.  I am so very tired of being me.  Why can't I just snap out of it?  Think nicer thoughts?  Know that I matter, that I am loved, that someone, anyone would notice and care if I were gone?  I said that this hadn't been an easy day for me.  It's not that I'm "fat"; it's not that I wish I had a house; it's not even my job anymore.  But something is still missing and I can't tell whether it's all in my head.  That's what my sister would say: I just need to adjust the way that I'm looking at things.

Which I have (see above).  The irony is that now I don't have any excuses, no big "if onlys" to shield me from the angst (which, come to think of it, is probably why I developed all those If Onlys in the first place).  Now, if I don't feel loved, maybe it's because I'm not.  Not because I'm fat, not because I'm a failure (or not enough of a success), not because I don't have enough things to take care of (me).  But just because I'm Me.  This is not an uplifting thought.  If there's nothing I can do, nothing I can fix, nothing I can change so that others will love me, what then am I supposed to feel or believe?

My husband would say, "Fuck 'em.  You don't need them anyway."  And maybe he's right.  It is possible, I realize, that one of the things making me so unlovable (if I am) is my tendency to try to be nice, so desperate am I to feel loved.  But, as I've realized, this never works; it just makes you everyone else's punching bag.  Nor is it realistic to expect others, all of whom are equally flawed (because human and, therefore, themselves anxious about being loved), to invariably (if ever) be there for me.  More to the point, nobody is going to love me unless (guess what?) I first love myself. 

I'm really not sure where to go with this last thought.  It came to me (I can see it now) as I was crossing the street a few blocks from campus, just as I hit the bleakest, blackest pit of my self-pitying musings on death and how nobody in my life had really loved me (other than my dog) and if that were true, how was I ever going to feel anything other than worthless (I'm going for realism here, but I'm having trouble recapturing the exact stream of thought), when I realized that, indeed, my worth as a human being is not dependent upon others' ability to love or understand me, quite the reverse.  That was a rhetorical move just there, but it's about what I thought: nobody feels loved, not in the way that they wish that they were.  And suddenly I was flooded with a terrible sadness and overwhelming compassion.  "It's not all about me.  This is the way everyone feels."

It didn't last.  Because, you see, I'm simply not convinced yet that all of those apparently self-confident people are walking around with the same weight of angst that I am, otherwise how could they function?  Are they all at home writing their blogs about how despairing they feel?  Or did they somehow escape having their self-esteem irrevocably eroded by their family and friends as they were growing up such that now they lead well-adjusted adult lives full of meaningful relationships and satisfying work?  Okay, right, that's why my therapist is nearly out of a job (not!).  But still, is it true?  Is it true that I am the only one feeling this emptiness, this aching despair, this longing for connection that never quite satisfies, this desperate need to feel special, unique, irreplaceable, adored?

Okay, you're right, I doubt it.  But I don't feel it, not fully.  I feel alone in the midst of other people's friendships, alone in the midst of other people's priorities, alone in the midst of other people's love.  Disposable.  Replaceable.  Unloved.


  1. Hi Professor Brown (though I knew you as Professor Fulton),

    I just wanted say as a former student, from students' perspectives at least, you were/are loved and appreciated and respected as one of the best history professors out there. Certainly the best that I've ever had, even if I may not have been your best student. I've been following your blog for a year or so now and enjoyed very much reading your reflections (as have many of my friends who have never taken any of your classes but still think that you are awesome).

    So, watching your progression through self-realization and associated unhappiness, I thought you should know that you are loved and appreciated - even by those who may graduate and go on and never quite get a chance to thank you properly or stop to say how awesome we think you really are.

  2. I find it extremely ironic that I read this post immediately after publishing my own post fantasizing about how life would be perfect if only somebody would love me. You are so not alone! Chin up, girl. Someday we're both going to have a spiritual epiphany that makes us feel God's love and we are going to write about them in blog posts within hours of each other. I've been feeling the same deep depression for the past few weeks. I've had to miss fencing practices, too; which basically translates into my life has lacked the one thing that gives it meaning (slightly hyperbolic). You really, really, really, are not alone in this. So. If that makes you feel any better.

  3. Bless you, Emily! It means so much to me to hear that you have been reading along with Fencing Bear through her journey this past year! I know this, that no matter what else I feel, I have the best students in the whole world! You all make every day worthwhile, in ways you can't possibly imagine. Bless you!

    And, ladylechuga, I just read your post minutes after posting my own and marveled at the serendipity. It felt as if I was reading my own hopes in your fantasy, knowing so much where you were coming from. God is out there for us both, I know. But He can be very elusive with the lessons He teaches. What is wonderful how, if we are honest about what we are feeling, He comes to us in ways that we never expect--for example, for me, reading your post and knowing, indeed, I am not alone! I believe, too, that we will write those posts, maybe even sooner than we realize!

  4. "Great scholarship but unpublishable"?
    Definitely the most ridiculous and self-contradictory comment I've ever seen...


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