Item: A Letter.
Soundtrack: LCD Soundsystem.
“I’m wishing we could talk about it, but then, that’s the problem. With someone new I couldn’t start it, too late, for beginnings.”
Things build on each other. Taken as separate instances, they don’t matter so much, and they are easy to deal with, but eventually they grind on you. My grandparents were immigrants and of simple, peasant stock. They drank milk from the cow and slathered butter on everything. they wouldn’t recognize most items in my diet as edible, much less real food. They came to Canada and kept their old country ways, carrying on with full-fat everything and lots of it, and both successfully managed to block their arteries and endure about 3 heart attacks between the two of them. I am not a stranger to what is happening here. My bad habits are slowly getting to both of us, one bite at a time and both our hearts are aching.
I try and tell myself that this is a minor setback to better things. Some of the most brilliant minds of our time were failures first, no? Maybe I’m just carrying on with tradition. I was branded “gifted” in school — whatever that means, if anything — and it’s not unusual for those kids to be failing their classes, not because they’re stupid, but because they’re bored. It’s not that I lack for things to do, but I’m not all there and I don’t care anymore. I can’t even find motivation in the thought that maybe doing well and sticking out “paying my dues” will put me on an upward trajectory somewhere in this organization, because I don’t think there’s anywhere for me to go.
Every single day I struggle trying to figure out how I feel about the company and the office and the people I work with. A lot has changed and I feel schizophrenic in my opinions on dynamics and politics and roles. I resent new bodies coming in and trying to assert themselves as everything to everyone and constantly overstepping without having any real understanding or appreciation of the things that came before them. It’s irritating to be subjected to the over-the-top praise of some, and the overzealous desire for status and acceptance of others that really only results in my own marathon of eye-rolling and a general discomfort in the workplace.
I hate being patronized and micromanaged by the person who essentially caused the decimation of things as they used to be (and they used to be easy and fun). On the one hand, if she wants to prove she can do everything and she’s better than me, fine. That’s less on my shoulders and no one thinks I’m capable of doing what’s asked of me anyway. On the other hand it’s insulting to be treated like you have the mental capacity of a third grader who can’t be trusted to bring her homework to school in the morning. Didn’t I prove myself at least a little bit when things were falling apart? I was still there all those weeks by myself, trying to keep everything afloat. We all managed and survived and I don’t think I did quite that terribly, did I?
I’m so exhausted with the act. I’m so tired of pretending everything is great and everyone is wonderful and there are no issues between us. I haven’t rested, I haven’t taken any significant time for myself since then, even though I probably should have — who knows, it probably could’ve helped. I finally talked with her about how I felt about her coming back and taking what seemed like day after day of time off after claiming she wouldn’t, and she responded by telling me that you pushed her and insisted she did. It surprised me to hear you allegedly pushed her to vacation when, of all the things you could push with me about, my auto-reply of “no, I’m fine” was easily accepted. And even while I probably cause more harm than good while I’m here, some time to recharge would have been nice.
Maybe this is the wrong place to throw this in, but I need to say something about it: Though it didn’t matter to me so much in the beginning, it kind of kills me that after everything that happened I’m still sitting where I am. Maybe that contributes to poor performance — it’s a silent acknowledgement that no one actually thinks that I’m capable, so what motivation is there to do well? There’s nowhere for me to go (except that there is, in fact, a very specific place, you’ll just never move me). You expect me to perform at an exceptional level while you’ve got me sitting in a place that has a completely different set of associated duties and task and demands less of me, both in capacity and mentality. I don’t know whether to be insulted that I’ve been asked to do this thing I was never meant to do and do it well but without any of the perks of status that would typically come with it, or to be embarrassed that everyone silently agrees that I don’t deserve a space of my own with a door to close. I suppose it still doesn’t matter all that much, except that it is tiresome and ineffective to try and hide your face with your hair when you’re trying to hold it together at your desk. The constant stream of traffic and the people who hover and stand around talking to you “just because” are distracting and they expect you to be ever-pleasant just because you’re in plain view. It’s frustrating.
“It comes apart the way it does in bad films”
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I wish I could be content with keeping someone else on track and filing papers and being boring. More than anything I wish I could’ve graduated secretarial school or become a librarian or found purpose and pleasure in collating. I wish I could be pragmatic about dating nice, bland boys who offer me stability, friendship, support, understanding, and a big outing to the movies once a week on date night — everything a sane person would want! Instead I reject the safe route again and again choosing to be with people who don’t care about me, don’t do me any good, and with whom there is no future. I wish I could be happy staying in one spot instead of year after year making the same resolution when the clock strikes midnight “I will stop always wishing I was somewhere else.”
I am starting to realize that I’ve really never dealt with it — any of it. I have no problem spewing off my life story and entertaining questions from people who want to know the nitty gritty, but it’s all very surface-y. I am procrastinating on dealing with it and it’s starting to show. It always comes up at the worst possible times and I blink really fast and take a few breaths and force myself to think about something completely banal and it usually goes away. “Just get home”, I tell myself, “you can fall apart in your bedroom”. But the moment has usually passed by that point, and I’m cheated out of a round of catharsis. But can you really be numb for 3-10 years? That seems excessive, and I don’t feel like anyone will believe me or treat it as legitimate grief. “Surely you’re over it — your facade is so flawless! You are ‘remarkably well-adjusted’, isn’t that what you always say?” It’s easy to miss someone spiraling out of control when they have you convinced they’re practicing pirouettes
I talk about how I’m not easily fazed. I still do think that’s true, for the most part. Given most of my major life events, you might say there’s not a lot that can faze me. But I am also exactly half a secure person and being told I’m less than tends to have a pretty profound effect on me, even when it’s over something that doesn’t matter to me. And it does matter, to an extent, because I hate looking stupid and this isn’t rocket science. But I can’t get my head around the details because it doesn’t grab me. I used to know the details and schedules of boyfriends past better than they did, but you’re not my boyfriend. And since I’m going there, I don’t know what to do with that conversation you like to pretend we never had. I feel like you’ve said aloud what remained unspoken and while on the one hand, it’s not a big deal and I can easily go on as if it never happened, I feel like you’ve thrust this thing on me and expect me to do something with it when, truthfully, what’s there to be done? And why is the onus on me? I resent having to factor that in now in every interaction, as if because I know this now I should respond differently than I used to. I should be better, or something. Hah, like I should be acting like I’ve memorized my boyfriend’s schedule and to-do list. But that’s not this relationship. That is not our relationship.
And you need to understand that when I leave, I’m not sticking around. Maybe I’ll just end up chasing windmills, but it won’t be here. Thought how can I justify wanting to extract myself from the real world right now? I should be settling, not uprooting again. I should stick with a job for more than a year and I quake at the thought of having to pack up and move again, even if it was just one room instead of a house. I’d say I’m barely over the last move, but to say I’m even close to over it would be generous. There are too many things to try and reconcile and too many things to do and it’s all at once, all the time and, as ever, I’m not enough.
And it keeps coming, and it keeps coming, and it keeps coming till the day it stops.