Life

A General Feeling Of Worthlessness.

TRIGGER WARNING FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT/DEPRESSIVE THOUGHTS.

It’s been a weird month. On the one hand, I’ve been playing open mics at this one bar often enough that I’ve started to get to know the people who frequent it. On the other, I’ve been having depressive episodes again and I was assaulted outside of work.

The thing I find most frustrating about having a depressive episode is that I’m self-aware enough to know exactly what it is but am completely unable to stop it. I can be sitting in my kitchen having tea and suddenly feel like there’s absolutely no reason for me to be alive and I should probably just go ahead and kill myself. Or I can be on the way to work and think about how easy it would be for me to get off at the next station and jump in front of a train. No note, no warning, no explanation.

I feel like I’m not a part of life. Like my existence affects no one and means nothing. There will always be someone else to fill whatever tiny void I might leave behind me. Even my family would eventually heal and move on. Sometimes I draft suicide notes to leave just in case one day the urge proves to be too much. I usually end up throwing them out because I wouldn’t want anyone to find the note and think I was actually planning something.

Everyone I know seems like they’re a part of something. I feel like it takes a lot of effort for me to even put clothes on and venture outside. The things I love seem to lose their flavor and it’s a massive chore for me to do anything except lay down on my couch and watch Netflix. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I’ve narrowed it down to self-worth.

I don’t feel like I’m worthy of anything.

I was assaulted by a drunk dude outside my workplace. I was on a break around 8:30PM, standing outside smoking, when he came up to me and started talking. He was being aggressive, yelling at women on the street to keep their “head and tits up” and calling them cunts when they didn’t respond. He asked me why women were bitches. I was afraid of him, so I agreed with him even though it made me feel sick to my stomach not to stand up for my fellow ladies. When he got closer and put his arm around me, I shut down. Parts of my childhood came back and I remembered that in order to avoid angering the people who assaulted me when I was a kid, I would let my body go still and try to think about something, anything else to avoid facing what was really happening.

He seemed to think I was comfortable with him in my space, so he kissed me. He also buried his head into my neck and slid his arm down to my waist. Inside, there were alarm bells going off and I was frantic but I was so terrified of this stranger that I stood completely still. When he called his friend over and I was flanked by two strange men, I finally snapped into action and went back inside my cafe.

“You’re just going to leave me out here?” one of them cried.

“Sorry,” I explained. “I have to go back to work.”

That’s right, folks. I apologized to the man who touched me without permission.

I thought I would be fine when I reached the relative safety of my workplace. I wasn’t. I went into a full scale panic attack, complete with cold chills and shaking. I wanted to cry but I couldn’t bring myself to. I began to feel like these things happen to me because I deserve them. The little kid who was shoved into a basement and assaulted eighteen years ago deserved it. The laps I was forced to sit on, the hands that went places I was too young to have discovered yet — I deserved all of  it. Because I’m worth nothing.

But even as I write this, I know intellectually that it isn’t true. Bad things happen to people who don’t deserve it. Nobody deserves to have something like this happen to them, no matter who they are or what they’ve done. I don’t deserve to be assaulted, or beaten, or treated like shit and I didn’t ask for any of this. But emotionally, in the twisted labyrinth that passes for my mind, it feels very true.

I know it could have been much worse with the stranger outside my cafe. I’ve been in much worse situations before. But that doesn’t make it OK and it doesn’t make my reaction afterward any less valid.

So it’s been a weird month. In spite of my depressive thoughts and dark moments, I remain hopeful that things will get better. Maybe soon I’ll feel ready to seek help for this.

5 thoughts on “A General Feeling Of Worthlessness.”

  1. Jennifer, my heart goes out to you. I’m sorry I have been silent for awhile – my health has tanked, and every day’s been a struggle. But I can be here for you now.

    First, I think the way you handled the assault was both brave and correct. There are situations in which survival is the only achievable goal, and that was one of them. You were outnumbered and outflanked. You did what you could to make it through and come out alive. I’m trained to respond violently to most threats – but in that situation I would have done what you did. You were PERFECT.

    And as for the ‘apology’ – you tossed a smoke to cover your withdrawal. Turning back with aggression could have cost you the escape. It was a GOOD exit strategy.

    Please trust me on this. I know this stuff, and you did good. You acted with courage and poise – the kind of courage that gets you home alive.

    Next, what are you worth?

    A lot.

    You touch more lives than you can possibly know. You call people out on their preconceptions, and make them think. Your voice is yours alone, and to still it would be an obscenity. You would leave a hole in the lives of the people who look to your heart for hope in a weird world.

    Would the world roll on? Sure. Life has to continue, but your family and friends would never fully heal from your loss. If you think you’d be forgotten, you’re wrong.

    I remember my beloved dead. Some of them were ‘not nice people;, but they were good operators, good in their final fight. I weep for them every damned day. They have been gone a quarter-century and more, but their voices and their mannerisms live in my heart, and will forever. And the salt in my tears is just as fresh.

    I’ve lived on past them, and sometimes it seems so unfair that I did. I don’t know the why. Someday, maybe I will, when we meet up in Valhalla.

    I hope that there are enemies in Heaven, so we can go on ops again, together. And you, brave soul, will be welcome among us. I’ll go into the places where evil lives with you covering my back, Jennifer, because even though I don’t know you – I trust you.

    Do not ever fucking quit, Jennifer. You do NOT fucking do that, or so help me I will hunt you down wherever you are and bring you the fuck back to life, and love.

    You read?

    I care.

    1. I don’t even have words, aside from a very very big thank you.

      I know in my head that people care. I know in my head that I would never do anything to hasten my departure from this life. The small dark voices that live in my head do their best to convince me that my life is worth nothing, but somewhere deep inside I know it isn’t true. No life is worth nothing, not even mine.

      It’s just so easy to blame myself. And to think that I shouldn’t be afraid to stand up for myself and say “That’s not OK” when people try to hurt me. But you’re right, sometimes you’ve just got to do whatever you can to get out of bad situations and sometimes that means doing nothing, letting it happen, and then leaving once you see an opening. I know that these feelings will pass, and that I just need to give myself time to get over them.

      Don’t get the wrong idea — I am most definitely not planning to kill myself or hurt myself in any way. I just get so frustrated when I can’t feel connected to people. Like there’s a pane of glass ten inches thick between me and the rest of the world. It gets lonely. I know that glass is there as a coping and defense mechanism to keep myself safe, but it hurts to feel so removed from life and clueless as to how to reconnect with people. So I pass through life not really living and unable to shake this feeling of alienation. It’s a running theme in my life.

      But your words… you made me cry. You made me feel like I matter. In some capacity, I’m aware that there are people on this earth who love me and I certainly have a lot of people I love. I just feel so unworthy of their love. I’m not good enough and I’m fooling them into thinking I am. At least, that’s what the twisted part of my brain would have me believe. In my heart of hearts, I know the dark thoughts aren’t real.

      You have saved my life today. I cannot thank you enough.

      I’m so sorry to hear your health hasn’t been good. I don’t know you either, but I know you well enough to care about having you in my life, even via the internet. I hope you feel better soon, my friend. And you don’t have to worry about needing to hunt me down — I’m going to stick around to see how this funny old life turns out. You know how it is, sometimes it just gets you down and writing about it is the only way to lessen the pain.

      I read. I know you care. I hope you know that I care about you too.

      1. I’ve been rechecking every few minutes for your reply.

        I know that you’re strong and valiant, and I don’t believe you’d end yourself. But I do know that when I’ve started to let go, I stopped being careful and mindful of what I was doing, and nearly got killed.

        And I do know what it feels like to be behind that pane of glass. I’m there every day, with PTSD. I can’t relate to so much that seems to be of vital importance to others…vacations, new cars, TV…and they can’t relate to the sounds of the past that echo down the years, and keep me operational.

        Yes, even now – with a body that doesn’t work well, I can deal with things. The last time I was able to go to Wal Mart I was assaulted by a gangsta wannbe. He knocked me down, and hurt me badly – but I swept his leg on the way to the floor, and he’ll never walk normally again. Pity.

        Those that reject my thousand yard stare – my wife calls it the dead man look – have benefitted from Orwell’s dictum about civilized people sleeping safe at night because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf, and they don’t appreciate it.

        Their loss.

        The doctors seem to think I won’t get well, that I have one foot in the grave. But that merely gives me good defilade, and I am never going to be out of the fight. Death may take me, but the fight will leave so much devastation behind that Hell will fear to have me, and God himself will step aside as I walk in, with His head bowed.

        I think you understand that attitude, Jennifer, because I read it between the lines in your words.

        Good to go.

      2. I do understand that attitude perfectly. It doesn’t matter what gets thrown my way, I will stand and face it and not buckle. It’s true that I have weak moments of self-pity and anguish but at the end of the day, I swallow it down and do what needs doing. That relentlessness is woven in the nature of people like you and I and it’s why we’re able to keep fighting no matter what.

        I, for one, appreciate the horrific things soldiers have had to do and witness so that I can live my life in freedom. I don’t understand why people wouldn’t think about that — none of us would have the cushy lives we have if it weren’t for those rough men willing to fight for others. And then, when those men (and women) suffer from things like PTSD, they don’t want to know about it. It shatters their ideals. There’s an ugly price for freedom and it seems like no one wants to hear the stories of the ones who pay that price. It’s shameful.

        There is so much ugliness in the world. So many people suffering. And it goes ignored for most of the time. I can’t relate to or even fully enjoy the same things as everyone else because I know that while I’m happy about something, someone else is going without a meal or into a war zone or being beaten by someone who claims to love them and this dark cloud hovers over everything. I want to see the good, and sometimes I’m able to catch a glimpse of it and that’s wonderful, but I refuse to be ignorant of the dark side of life.

        I’m sorry some wannabe gangsta shoved you down. But in a twisted way, I’m glad you took him down with you.
        Never stop fighting. I’ll never stop either. Even if the docs say you won’t get well, I know you’ll keep going.
        And when the time comes that Death comes knocking, Heaven won’t know what hit it.

      3. Amen.

        Being able to be truly happy with all of the ugliness and horror around us is one of the hardest things to do. If it helps, here’s how I do it – imperfectly, to be sure.

        I consider it a responsibility, something that I can do, in my small way, to add good karma to the world. If I allow the darkness to overwhelm the happiness I can have with my dogs, with what I have – then the darkness has won.

        It’s a decision, really, and not a response. It’s a bit like going through the evolution called Hell Week in BUD/S. It’s certainly difficult and challenging, but the only thing that gets one through is the decision, reaffirmed every minute, to make it through. To hold on for the next minute.

        That’s the way to approach happiness, I think. Be happy in this minute, by choice, and as a rebuttal to the darkness.

        And be happy, too, because those who died in the defense of your freedom died for just that – to preserve the moments of innocence and happiness for those behind the fence. If giving people the ability to live a joyful life, to enjoy Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms…if that isn’t worth fighting for, nothing is.

        Affirm the sacrifice in your joy, and let an occasional tear of joy be the most fitting memorial anyone can offer.

        I won’t quit. Right now I’m bent almost double – it hurts too much to straighten up – but there are dogs to be fed and I won’t let them down.

        They didn’t teach quitting where I was trained, so I figure it was not a skill worth learning.

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