Today's post is brought to you by an anonymous guest blogger, aka Not Me. So if you know me in real life there's no need to eye me up and down and hesitantly ask, "How ARE you?" the next time you see me, because remember: Not Me.
I signed up for a Spanish course recently (says guest blogger Not Rachel), and when they called to tell me the course was cancelled due to lack of enrollment, my first thought was, It figures. Not that it isn't an utterly ordinary and mundane thing to happen, and not that similar tiny disappointments don't happen to other people all the time, but this particular thing happened to be the last thing I was holding onto about which I could convince myself that no matter what else happened and no matter how else I was feeling, I was at least still capable of trying. Even when it became clear that my powers of forward motion were ever more slowly grinding to a halt, I knew I had to continue to try to make things better, even if it was by doing something as ordinary and mundane as signing up for a Spanish class. And I held onto it like a life preserver. "How are you? What's new?" people would ask. "I am fine! I am going to learn Spanish!" I'd respond, as if the second part proved the first.
Some time before this I went to an interview in hopes of volunteering as a Big Sister, which is actually something I've done before, and I don't know what I expected but it quickly turned into an exercise in Things I'd Rather Not Talk About. "Tell me about your parents. Are you close? How often do you talk to them? Are you closer to one than the other? Tell me about your religious upbringing. How did your parents punish you as a child? How do you feel about your father? Your mother?" But I smiled pleasantly and gave boringly normal answers about the boring normalcy of my childhood and my adult relationship with my parents, because things are fine, fine, everything's fine. But even the easy questions were hard. She asked about my hobbies and I listed a few. "Ok, what else?" she asked. I thought a bit and mentioned a couple more. "Ok, but...besides those," she said, pen poised, eyebrow raised, and that was how I knew I didn't have enough hobbies, or that they somehow weren't good enough. "Tell me why you want to be a Big Sister," she asked, and I told her how it was something I had done before and enjoyed, and how it had been a good experience (positivity!) and that it was something I was eager to get back into. "Ok, but...why do you want to be a Big Sister?" she asked again, and taken aback, I haltingly said something about being at a point in my life where I finally had the time and resources to do it, and how there are so many kids who need a mentor or just an extra person in their life who cares... Then when she rephrased the question yet a third time I realized that even my reason for wanting to be a Big Sister wasn't good enough, and there was probably something I was supposed to say about Shaping Young Hearts and Minds and Being a Positive Role Model and A Thousand Points of Light, etc, but I guess I hadn't gotten the script. That was weeks ago and as far as I know she hasn't even called my references, so I can only imagine my application went into the circular file or maybe a drawer marked Only Call in Case of Emergency, Because Seriously, These People Suck.
And, before you ask, believe me, you can only hear the question, "So, have you ever thought about...talking to someone about all of this?" so many times before you do in fact start thinking about it, so yes, I have thought about it. And I am not sure if you realize this, but there are a whole lot of steps between "thinking about talking to someone" and "actually talking to someone," which maybe you don't know, but you have to first: a) have a job at which you have worked for more than 90 days, in order that you may b) get on company's health insurance plan, at which point you must c) somehow choose a primary care provider based on...something, maybe throwing darts at computer screen?, then d) schedule an appointment with primary care provider, and of course they can't take you until next month, at which point you will have to e) ask him or her for a referral to see a mental health professional, which you will ask oh so nonchalantly, as if it is almost an afterthought, and then f) referral in hand, schedule an appointment with said mental health professional, but only if g) they can accommodate your schedule and are located within a reasonable distance of your home or office and take your insurance and are accepting new patients. And maybe to some people this seems like a perfectly reasonable and manageable series of steps, and I agree that it is totally doable, it's just that when you're in the mucky muck, every step is really hard. Every step forward becomes progressively more exhausting, and it starts to feel more and more comfortable not to do anything at all. It doesn't mean I'm not doing it. It's the last thing I can do, and I will, but there are two things that terrify me. The first is that it won't help. What if it doesn't help? I ask myself, and then my mind shuts down, because I can't think of any way to answer that question, because beyond the question there is nothing. The second thing that terrifies me is more immediate, and it is the moment when I first walk in and sit down, and he or she asks me, "So, tell me why you're here." And I won't know what to say. "I don't know," I'll say, shrugging helplessly. "I just..." and I'll trail off. Or maybe I'll make it into a joke; "How much time do you have?" I'll say, and laugh to show that of course I know literally how much time we have. But we'll both know that it's a dumb joke, and then he or she will say "Hmm," and write something down on a notepad, and it will be something like "uses humor as defense mechanism; wouldn't mind so much if she was actually funny," or, "clearly not taking this seriously, what a waste of my time."
And, hey guys, Rachel here again. Sorry to cut it off so abruptly, but that's all that today's guest blogger sent me. What can I say, I guess she's not good with the eloquent and hopeful conclusions, but we can't all be writers. She specifically requested that comments remain closed on this post, so that's what I'm going to do. In case anyone was wondering why I haven't been blogging lately, it's because things are just fine.