It began, as it always does, with Florida–the nation’s phallus. Around 7:30PM on November 8th, I paced around my mom’s kitchen eating ice cream and praying to whichever God likes girls who stress-eat ice cream while pacing around their mother’s kitchens.
When Florida went for Trump, I started sobbing. I know that I tend to exaggerate in my writing because it’s funny and makes me hate myself less, but I actually sobbed. I hugged my mother and cried about how scared I was for the future and how violated I felt that this man–this avowed sexual predator with minimal intelligence and negative empathy–would now most likely be the President. I have been sexually assaulted multiple times, and the nation’s President likes to sexually assault women because it’s fun. Awesome.
In the aftermath of the election, my anxiety spiked. I planned on running an underground railroad, helping immigrants get to Canada where the Prime Minister is attractive and also apparently has a soul. I also planned on calling my representatives nigh on every day. And I wanted to start a protest group focused on undermining the presidency. I had Big Girl Plans.
But then it got harder to get out of the house. The only call I made was to my shitty Republican Senator Cory Gardner, urging him to oppose the appointment of Steve Bannon. That phone call took twenty-minutes of psyching up for a thirty-second conversation with an aide that did not give a single fuck. I never scheduled the final meeting with other activists. I began to disappear.
There was a light in this tunnel of depression: I was teaching at my alma mater, at the place where I wanted to teach for ever. I scored an interview for one of the high school english openings for the coming year.
Oh man, I was so excited. I almost cried several times that day during the various interviews because just talking about the things I wanted to do and the ways I could see the school growing was exhilarating. I met with the Principal after my sample lesson, and he told me I did a great job. I was flying high.
Then weeks passed. I knew they were interviewing a lot of people, but I also knew that I was the most obvious choice: I’m an alum, I’ve been teaching there for two years, I have a masters degree in my field, I run the literary journal, I’ve subbed for nearly everyone, I’ve taught my own course, and I’ve covered a maternity leave that went long and a paternity leave that was spread throughout the year. Add on to that my three more years of teaching experience and my willingness to learn things on my own, and I figured I was set.
But I waited. And waited. And soon couldn’t leave the house for my anxiety, unless it was to work out because I’m still a bro, even when I’m so anxious I can’t drive to the grocery store five minutes away.
The principal told me things got “political,” and I started worrying. He called me to his office, and told me I didn’t get the job. Oh, I was great and they love me, he said. But it just wasn’t enough.
I managed not to cry until halfway through the conversation, but the second I left his office it went from “pretty-one-tear-sliding-down-the-cheek” to “full-on-ugly-crying.”
Do you know what’s mortifying? Crying in front of your coworkers and your students. Do you know what’s even MORE mortifying? Crying in front of your former teachers and a former classmate whom you haven’t seen in ten years. Know what makes you feel so inept and used that your knees buckle on the way to your car? Having full knowledge that you will be back at the school the next week to teach for the entire week and have to face the people who decided that you weren’t good enough.
Oh man, that was a day. I ate pancakes with my mom right after and cried to those I know. I sulked at the gym like the kid who gets picked last. And even that simile isn’t right–because at least that kid got picked.
Everyone said, “Everything happens for a reason,” which is something people only say when it all goes to shit. No one says that when you win the lottery or get the promotion you want, because if they do, they’re probably psychotic.
Then I fell deeper into my depression. I stopped hanging out with anyone other than my mom or my boyfriend. Weeks turned into a month, and I called my psychiatrist and upped my meds and thought, finally, maybe I’ll be happy again.
I applied to other jobs. I applied to a teaching residency that would give me my Masters in Education. I made it to the final interview knowing that their English cohort was full, and that I could be accepted and defer for a year.
Then I didn’t get that position either.
Let me tell you: nothing knocks you on your ass faster than seeing the future you imagined for yourself continuously destroyed by outside forces. Nothing makes you feel less worthy than knowing you’re good at something but not getting to do that thing. I felt my whole childhood that I wasn’t good enough, and had started feeling, finally, that perhaps I was. And then life gave me the biggest atomic wedgie.
There’s a lesson in here somewhere. About perseverance. About courage. About gracefulness and gratitude and patience and adventure. But all I can see around me is the fact that I’m not getting to do what I love.
(Besides eating lots of chocolate and ice cream. I’ve been doing super duper at that.)
So I’ve turned that lesson on its head. The other thing I love to do is write. It is my first love, the one that annoys me when I ignore it and the one that makes my heart hurt and whole at the same time. I have stories to tell. Bigger stories that can’t be contained by this blog or by my journals, and it’s time I rededicate myself to putting my book in its order, and to writing the other things my brain wants to get out.
After all that, I’ll probably face more rejection. A lot more. Mountains more. More than the clothes of our current President try to reject his body. A shit ton of rejection, in other words.
And I’ll probably be okay. As long as there’s ice cream nearby.
6 thoughts on “The Downward Spiral”
You, dear, are a stunning writer and do in fact have a crisp wit, and at that, give many whits about people! You’re refreshingly authentic, and you’re also damn courageous for putting your real self out there! For all of that, and more, THANKS!
And, I forgot to mention, if you’ve not read it, Amy Bloom’s “Silver Water” is an exquisite short story; your writing reminds me of hers. And Ella Wilson’s “The Therapist Who Saved My Life” on Lit Hub (http://lithub.com/the-therapist-who-saved-my-life/). Both real, raw, radically honest. Schools so desperately need authentic people like you.
I don’t know why, but I really needed to read this exact piece right now and today.
I am sure you will be okay. For some reason I have faith in you. Good luck.
I get your anxiety because I have it, too. And it’s ALWAYS worse when I am in between jobs, which I happen to be right now. I have to have my groceries delivered as it is easier for me to open a door and have a brief chat with one person than walk around a store feeling like I am being looked at or judged.
I am sorry you went through this and it may not sound like much now, but I think you’ll be better for it. Go after writing. Knock ’em out. You have it in you.