Tuesday, January 26, 2010

It's official

I'm bitter.

I suppose everyone else could see it long before me.

If I'm not, I have every reason to be. This list of bitter-making pills is long. Oddly, the largest one is the least personal. What can it be?

It's seeing things coming so far ahead of time that I've put my ideas aside. Case in point: I've been knitting and sewing forever. Back in the 80's, I was working at a historical society. I taught crafts classes there in the evenings. They were wonderful. I had a strong sense, even in the midst of the go-go 80's, in that era of women in power suits, that people (women, mostly) were craving making things by hand. I sensed there would be an explosion of interest. I didn't think large enough. Instead, I saw a struggling historical society with fantastic resources that were going to waste. I wrote up a 22 page proposal to create a crafts department, with a gallery, a larger selection of classes, and a summer program. I analyzed every bit of information that went into that proposal. Cut to the end of the story: they thought it laughable.

I am also angry at myself. Having the ability to see things coming is a gift that I've squandered. It was always a running joke with me. There were always these silly things, like wearing horribly ugly shoes that would become wildly popular years later. Being the "weird Martha Stewart." Why didn't I run with my ideas? Why didn't I cherish them?

I should be bitter. The reason I didn't run with my ideas, or honor them, is because I was brought up, programmed if you will, for failure. I should be enraged at my parents. I'm not. They did the best that they could. They were totally screwed up. I had always thought if I worked hard enough, I'd get over what my childhood did to me. I have, in that I'm not angry, but I haven't, in that I've come to see that I was too deeply scarred to be ever be truly whole. A part of me was broken, and some injuries just can't be fixed.

I can live with that. I can even see the good in it, if I use it. If I can somehow use the lessons I've learned for something, I'll be able to live with myself. I've had a lot of failure, disappointments, losses. So have many people. Some are more resilient than others. I think I'm not, but I'm still here, so I must have a modicum of resilience.

I suspect my body does not, however.

In an earlier post, I said I was depressed. I believe this is not true. Depression is defined as having lost interest in life. I have not. If I eat, I eat with gusto. Food tastes fantastic. If I'm spinning wool, or knitting, or reading a good book, or watching a film, I enjoy myself, and I suspect I do so with more enthusiasm than the average person. When I'm working at a yarn shop, and I show someone some new luscious yarn, my enthusiasm is spilling over. Depression robs people of the ability to feel that good. So, I can't be depressed.

Let's call it what it is: sadness, fear, loneliness (and maybe bitterness has crept in - but what a word!). These are three feelings that people do not want to admit to. Depression? It's an illness. It's almost okay.

Painting note: Nicolaes Maes "An Old Woman at Prayer" 1655


BitterGrace said...

Wonderful painting, thanks for posting it.

Thinking about your post, I wonder if you've ever read James Hillman's "The Soul's Code," or the book he did with Michael Ventura, "We've Had Hundred Years of Psychotherapy..."

Hillman is not everyone's cup of tea, but I am an admirer of his, and I found his work to be very useful during some of the darkest times of my life. Hillman is all about finding the genius within what we regard as misery. He takes a dim view of the search for happiness, or even for peace. Anyway, you may already know him, but if not, I encourage you to explore his work.

Julie H. Rose said...

I just read an excerpt from "The Soul's Code." It looks like a must-read and I shall order it from my library.

I take a dim view of the search for happiness, actually. I wonder if this comes across. Happiness exists every day, even in the midst of suffering. Happiness is a good scent, a good avocado, the appreciation of what is, not an eden-like state that is forever slightly out of reach.

Thanks for the recommendation.