It’s taken nearly two weeks to make this post, which is a great way to set the mood for it. I just didn’t have the mood or the will. I had apathy.
I have apathy.
That is the word that my therapist and I hit on to describe the way I feel these days. I’m filled with apathy. Going through the motions. Not excited by anything. Just…here, counting down the days until I die.
My therapist wanted to focus on why I might feel apathetic. What was it about being sexually assaulted that specifically generated these feelings of apathy. Was it that I froze? Was it that I’m now afraid that I’ll freeze again in the future? That I won’t take care of myself when I most need me to take action to take care of myself?
No, I realized, none of those were it. I also realized that it wasn’t necessarily that I was sexually assaulted that was the problem. Sure, that’s not great. But it could have been something else. Not necessarily *any* bad thing. A specific kind of bad thing. The kind of bad thing that happens sometimes, even when you’re doing all the “right” things. Like following a doctor’s instructions after surgery and having your wound get badly infected somehow. Or driving carefully, following all laws, but getting into a bad car accident because a careless driver tried to blast through a red light, but t-boned your car instead.
It’s the kind of apathy that comes from doing “all the right things” and having something bad happen anyways. If something bad is going to happen, even when I do all the right things, then what’s the use of doing the right thing? Why even try? Because even when I do try, as I’ve been trying for years to improve my physical health, trying doesn’t actually translate into achieving. For me, it translates into taking baby steps forward, and then stumbling back. Over and over and over. There is some net gain, yes, but it’s so small, so…feeble. So incredibly pathetic that I keep putting mine time and energy and effort and hopes and…for what? To fail again. To have another setback. To have a completely unrelated emotionally gutting setback, when I thought I was doing something good for myself, spending the night having drinks with a teacher who I love and respect and think I have a really healthy, respectful relationship with.
So why try? Why bother?
I know I’ve answered that question before. But I’m just not feeling the “why not bother?” answer right now. Or rather, when I feel it, I have an answer: “If I bother right now, if I try, and I care, and it falls apart again…I just can’t handle it. I can’t handle another setback. I can’t handle a lack of progress when I’m trying so hard to make progress. I honestly don’t think that my current emotional state could process that kind of situation without doing a deeper level of damage.”
I mentioned to my therapist that in pre-chronic health day, when I made a commitment to go to the gym, I saw results. I knew it wouldn’t be immediate. But I knew that when I’d been taking it a bit easy, or maybe indulging a bit too much over the holidays, or just generally getting a bit too caught up in other aspects of my lift and noticed myself getting weak and my clothes fitting tighter, that when I refocused on the gym, if I went between two and five days a week (usually three or four), and I worked out, and modified my diet a bit to be heavier on the greens and meats and lighter on the ice cream and wine, then in two to three months, I’d look and feel a lot better. I’d sleep better. I had more energy. I wasn’t as tempted to overeat much less overindulge in sweets.
But now…the last time I tried to put in a good push at the gym, which was two summers ago…it was incredibly disheartening. I could only work out mild to mild/moderately. I can’t work out hard. I can’t even really work out moderately. After a few months, the improvements and changes were…negligible. I had a little bit more energy. I didn’t really sleep any better. I didn’t lose any weight, feel lighter or more comfortable with my body. It felt…completely underwhelming for the determination and focus that I’d brought to the table.
So why go through two months of that again, focusing and pushing and being disciplined and spending so much time to get such mediocre results. Why do that? It doesn’t feel worth it.
Nothing really feels worth it. Nothing really moves me. Everything feels like just passing more time, getting by more days, not really living, but patiently waiting to die.
I don’t want to feel that way. But that’s how I feel right now.
I left my session feeling like we’d identified the problem. And also maybe a glimmer of we could find some solutions.
There were a few things we identified that excited me. One of the things that I love thinking about is what I’m going to do at Burning Man each year, for gifting. This year, I hit on a really great gifting idea – in a nutshell, I want to make necklaces with a small, beautiful small pouch hanging off of it. The pouch will contain a couple of Burning Man essentials: SPF 15 lip balm, two packets of electrolyte powder, a couple of wet naps, a small sandwich-sized bag (folded up tiny) that can hold some moop, like the used electrolyte powder and wet naps, a couple of handmade charms to gift to someone else or keep and a little card (that I won’t write out until I get there) suggesting a little adventure or certain pieces of art to visit, or maybe inviting the person holding the card to come to my camp and “say the magic password” to do a wine tasting with us (one of my campmates is an absolutely crazy winehound who brings two large wine cellars stocked with absolutely delicious vintages that he gets a group of people together several times a day to sample).
Just writing all that out excites me. The way that each little pouch can be individualized, both inside an out, is really exciting to me. As I sit here writing about it, my mood lifts. I know I’ll seek out working on it as soon as I’m done here.
Perhaps that is the first seed that will help me grow back into myself. What if I were to rearrange how I think about my life right now, talk to Jon, and really reprioritize where my energy is going? Sure, I still need to spend some time doing laundry, and eating, and doing my job. Cleaning the house, opening all the goddamn mail, and paying the bills/balancing the budget.
But how much of that could Jon take over temporarily or perhaps, we could do together, rather than it falling on me? How much of it *really* needs to be done. Sure, we feel strongly about shredding our mail to help prevent identity theft, but what if we start shredding whole envelopes instead of carefully separating out the stuff does doesn’t need to be shredded? It’ll be more wear & tear on the blades, but oiling them more will be much faster and easier than being so persnickity about picking apart the papers.
What other things could we do, to eliminate or reduce a lot of the responsible, yet soul-grinding activities that eat up daily life, so I can carve out more time to do things that help me feel a little more positive and engaged in my life? And how do I figure out what those things would be?
I don’t yet know the answers to those things, but thinking along these lines feels like a step in the right direction. It’s still hard. I still feel…like I’m going through the motions. But if I’m going through the motions, they might as well be more enjoyable ones.