“Gee, Molly, tell us something we don’t know!” you say.
To which I respond, “that’s not very nice and you should listen before being all snide and judgy.” To which you then reply, “You’re talking to yourself again.”
I’ll stop that before it gets creepier and I still have your attention.
I am depressed and despite the normal all-day-long/each-and-every-day depression I am used to, this particular bout of depression is more insidious. I haven’t realized it was there until now though you wouldn’t have to be an expert to figure it out at all. The guy at the corner store noticed but I think he’s some sort of Svengali who commands my immediate, unstoppable urge for Snickers and Lays potato chips. He very well could be reason for my depression as it’s his Snickers that packed on the extra 30 lbs I’m carrying around, therefore making me more depressed, therefore causing me to combat that depression with Snickers and Lays and repeating the cycle. He very well could be funding that ’86 VW bus I see him smugly driving about town with my daily $3.48.
I’m sure you don’t and I’m not buying that excuse, either. He did notice, though. He noticed it enough that he said something about it and the look of concern on his face was enough to shock me and make me take notice.
While I was surprised by its intensity, I’m not surprised by its appearance. It’s ugly and cold, deceptive and manipulative, and whether the nature of the mental health disorder contorts what you can see or the nature with which you are born allows for it to continue, a depression such as this one has a design to fuck you hard. And dry. And make you pay for your own cab ride home.
The terrible insidiousness of this almost alien, outer-body, existential being of an emotion is that it hinges on something that your normal, every day, -oh, sigh- kind of depression does not. It surrounds and wells from an actual reason to be sad: regret. The co-mingling of clinical depression and true crisis of character dovetails perfectly into a quivering mass of nerves and alcoholism, i.e. the perfect storm.
I’m not going to wax philosophical about it because there’s nothing really philosophical about it. It’s hard-and-true fact. I fucked up. I would like to be kinder to myself about it but there really isn’t anything to say that can relive the past. It was my mistake. My failing. I always thought there’d be another chance. I always counted on my life spilling further and further out into some dreamt up ideal of becoming the adult I thought would just “happen”. It doesn’t, though. It doesn’t just happen. And laughing about other people worrying so much about it along the way certainly doesn’t make it ever happen. I hated being told to plan out my life, do the things society deems respectable and expected because they say so, just so that one day I won’t turn 42 years old and realize I haven’t really done anything. So I didn’t. I stuck my middle finger in the air, acted a fool, and one day realized, “I’m 42 years old and I haven’t really done anything.”
Sure, I can tell a funny story, present example excluded, but besides the people I’m sleeping with, lying to and/or plotting with, no one’s really hearing them. I have a love for and inclination towards art but keeping anything I’ve ever done in a box on my desk is not catapulting me towards the Guggenheim. Or wherever because I don’t even know if they have contemporary art there and I could look it up but that will take me out of my reverie and pity-party I’ve cultivated here. One thing at a time, greedy reader.
I was reminded tonight about a poem by Stephen Spender through a conversation with someone who is far too kind and good. Despite this person’s kind demeanor, I didn’t have the courage or had too much regard to even start describing what it is that is bothering me. Because at this stage in life, how could they know? They did what they were supposed to do. At this stage in life, and only now, do I realize those things I made so much fun of, regarded as sheep-thinking, while stiffly regarding myself as smarter, more responsible, better at the life-game than everyone else by denying them, really had some merit. At a newly minted 42, I’m not any more of an adult than when I was 19, the age when my development arrested. The age when I thought, and I did, I had a lifetime of responsibility and time ahead of me so not a need to worry now, the now that is still then instead of today. I didn’t do what I was supposed to do. I never thought I wanted to and, now that it’s too late and pregnant with regret and self-pity, changing my mind is not an option. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I fought, tooth and nail, against a future that was never guaranteed, certainly not inevitable, to find out I did this to myself to begin with. Where on earth did I get the idea that it was?
What I expected was romance, respect, getting rewarded for my efforts and settling down. What I expected was for these things to happen to me, that they were inevitable. That I needed to party now because that was going to change and I’d have to be the adult that I assumed I would transform into. What I expected was “the story.” What I didn’t expect was that I would find out none of that was true. And that I would find all of this out now.
Stephen Spender wrote it better.
What I Expected
by Stephen Spender
What I expected, was
Long struggles with men
After continual straining
I should grow strong;
Then the rocks would shake,
And I rest long.
What I had not foreseen
Was the gradual day
Weakening the will
Leaking the brightness away,
The lack of good to touch,
The fading of body and soul
—Smoke before wind,
The wearing of Time,
And watching of cripples pass
With limbs shaped like questions
In their odd twist,
The pulverous grief
Melting the bones with pity,
The sick falling from earth—
These, I could not foresee.
Some brightness to hold in trust,
Some final innocence
Exempt from dust,
That, hanging solid,
Would dangle through all,
Like the created poem,
Or faceted crystal.