Not quite

So, I’m still working on what’s missing. I still don’t think I’ve quite hit it yet. Let me see if I can get at it more directly. Here is one thing I think is missing – a sense of purpose. I don’t yet know exactly why I’m here. I feel as though I am wandering, which is not a bad thing, and positive things happen, but almost by accident. I’m in the right place at the right time, or when negative things happen, I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don’t much feel as though I set out to accomplish something intentionally, and did a good job of making that happen. I’m not sure if that’s really how life goes or not…not sure if I believe all the people who claim to have “created their reality” in terms of circumstances. I can buy that when it comes to happiness, or satisfaction, or some intangible things, but I’m not sure about the so-called titans of industry having intentionally created all of their domain intentionally. Some of it just seems like providence, sheer luck, accident. So many others are equally intentional, and do not fare nearly as well. In some cases, there is sabotage, and flat out cheating. You really can’t account for that, even if you know it’s there.

So, what I wanted was job security, and financial security. I’ve always just wanted to be comfortable, not opulently wealthy. I wouldn’t turn down a bag full of small unmarked bills or anything, but I’ve never had absolute wealth as a goal. I’ve always wanted to be unfettered by worries over finite and inadequate financial resources…want to be able to have some spontaneity for creature comforts, gadgets, electronics, books,musical instruments, lodging, necessary accoutrements like health insurance, a vehicle, gasoline and maintenace money. I’ve never been a clothes hog, and could really not care less about jewelry, shoes, designer fashions. I have a solid collection of graphic t-shirts and sweat pants, and I will splurge on a decent pair of tennis shoes, but outside of that…I’m good. I would also like to be able to take care of the dog reasonably well, and if she needs something it shouldn’t cause a panic financially. I no longer have any family to buy presents for or provide for medical care. I belong to a “church” and do need to pay my pledge money for maintenance, upkeep, and staff…and I wouldn’t mind putting up money for extras like the annual convention, workshops, social gatherings. Lunches, dinners, etc. for socializing. I don’t drink, or smoke, so I’m not spending money on those vices. So…I’m not looking for all that much. I just want to be reasonably comfortable, such that unexpected things don’t cause a panic attack. A little savings in reserve. With all that, I’m good to go.

I don’t consider myself particularly high maintenance, although I have a few health maintenance costs these days, but that’s why I have health insurance. If I could pay for exactly what I want, I would be a little less stressed about that, but I’m grateful for what I have. That didn’t become an issue until I became unemployed, but I’m managing. It irks me no end when I consider the cost of health insurance, because it reallly doesn’t have to be that bad. Any efforts to derail the for-profit insurance industry have been met with cries of “socialism”, so we’re stuck, but everybody knows that we could do better. We could do better about a lot of things, but that’s a function of capitalistic politics, greed, and corruption. All of that is discussion for another day, and it’s simply reality at this point. I will simply remain grateful for having the means to provide some kind of protection right now. It’s not a given, and many people can’t do it at all.

I don’t miss not having children, although a part of me wonders how that might have changed my current predicament. I was about eight years old when I told everyone that I would never have children. People think I’m making that up, but I remember clearly making that very conscious declaration at a very young age. I would watch television shows, doctor shows and soap operas, where women gave birth, and there was all manner of bloodthirsty screaming, agony, drama, pain. Why in the world would anyone raise their hand to do that, I thought? Not me. I’ll never go through that. Was I afraid? Of course. But truthfully, I never once had the urge that women often describe, the urge to “feather the nest”, the urge to have a family, to have children. I’ve never had that feeling of wanting to have a baby, wanting to be pregnant. Never. Is that hormones? Maybe. But now I wonder if that decision gives rise to my feelings of being so alone in the world, of being so totally unmoored. Would having a child have changed that? I know of a couple of women who have biological children, but still feel very alone and very disconnected from their progeny. When I made that declaration at eight, I was solid with that. As I got older, and my peers began to waddle into maternity suites, I thought about it, and sincerely felt as though I was not really fit to reproduce. I felt crazy, and I probably was; there are enough screwed up children in the world and I don’t need to add to that population. I was pretty clear about that. Was all of it, from age eight and beyond, simply about fear? Of course it was. But I had good reason to be afraid.

I had my uterus and ovaries removed when I was thirty-eight. My mentrual cycle had never been normal, but I didn’t know it was so dangerously abnormal. I had an abnormally heavy flow from the very beginning, but just dealt with it…barely. I left stains everywhere, was embarrassed constantly and had severe cramps. The cycle would last for five days, then six or seven days, then by the time I was in my late thirties it was so heavy that it looked as though a homicide had occurred. It was miserable. I decided that I came into this world with those body parts, and I was going to leave with them. Until the day I wound up on my butt in the grass outside a friend’s apartment, and couldn’t understand how I’d gotten there; I had been standing upright and talking calmly a moment before that. I got admitted to the hospital for that, and they kept me for three days. I was totally freaked out, because I had never been a hospital patient before. The doctors said I had fainted because my hemoglobin was around 4, and should have been somehere around 13. They couldn’t understand how I’d been walking around normally up to that point. People with a hemoglogin of 4 don’t usually function very well. THe story was that it had been a gradual decline, and my body had compensated for it until it couldn’t any longer. I got four units of blood, and I was flabberghasted.

Being in the hospital was a bizarre experience, especially when one of the nurses tried to hang the last unit of blood and somehow didn’t load it into the machine correctly…and almost half of the bag’s contents wound up on the floor. It looked as though one of us had killed somebody in that room…and she just sort of stared at it blankly, silently, as if to say, “Wow. Look at that.”. She tried to mop it up with some paper towels, but that was largely ineffective, and some poort nurse’s aide came in there later to mop and clean it up. I swore that nurse was either over fatigued, or under the influence, because she was just a little too calm and her affect was almost entirely flat. Despite having thought earlier in the day that I could get used to being looked after in that way for a while, I was seriously ready to go after that blood bath. That was the last unit I had to get, and they discharged me a day later. Thanks very much, but see y’all. After brief discussions with my gynecologist, I had surgery less than 20 days later, after being injected with a synthetic hormone that dried up the never-ending menstrual cycle that had caused this episode and my hemoglonin had risen to 11. There’s much more to that story, but I will save that for another day. Suffice it to say, however, that when I woke up after surgery, and realized that everything had gone well, I felt like I had gotten my life back…no more menstrual periods, so more cramps, let the good times roll! I have NOT looked back.

So I don’t count my uterus as something missing. I do, however, count normal hormones as missing. Or I don’t know if it’s all hormones, or what, but I’ve never felt like I got the whole “girl” thing. I do NOT feel gender dysphoric at all…but I don’t feel like I understand what I’m supposed to do. I never have. I don’t know how to have healthy attractions or relationships, sexual or otherwise. If I could, I would eliminate the sexual component to all my relationships and be satisfied if I didn’t have any sexual attraction. That screws up everything. I get excited by stimulating conversation and debate and spirutal discourse and planning meaningful action. Doing work. Being creative. That’s where I’m at my best. The problem alsways comes in when that 1-on-1 phase gets diluted by my friend wanting, or maybe already has, other friends. Lovers. Partners. What do you mean you have plans??? No, that’s not part of my script! That brings about some traumatic feeling of abandonment, and I don’t seem to be able to control it. So…now I have to hate you, I guess. I’m way too old for this. Way. Too. Old.

So, what’s missing isn’t a life partner or a relationship or a spouse, what’s missing is the feeling of well-being and knowing … where I start and stop and where other people start and stop, and that nothing lasts forever. That even if it doesn’t last forever, it doesn’t mean the experience of affection and love and friendship was false, was a lie. It seems that my experience with relationships came to a halt when I was about 12, and my world fell apart. It seemed that everyone left, either physically or emotionally, and so did my sense of security, my sense that I was valued no matter what. My father left us for someone else. My grandmother died. My mother left…in retaliation for a world that wasn’t doing her right. They all left me. So my ability to love and relate and partner is on the level of a 12-year-old, but unfortunately, I’m a 12-year-old with a checkbook, a large truck, a small dog, and a couple of credit cards. When I’m hurt, I can do some damage. I suppose I relive those years of abandonment over and over and over again, and while the faces and the names change, they are all my mother, my father, my grandmother. And the outcome is always the same…I’m left holding the bag, alone, watching people walk away. *sigh*

I don’t quite know what to do about any of that. Part of me says the ideal solution is just to keep my distance and stay the fuck away from everybody. In some respects, that is exactly what I am doing. But, unfortunately, I am more or less human and so I form attachments and bonds and sometimes it works out, but sometimes it gets stupid. When my dysfunction meets up with someone else’s dysfunction, sparks fly, and somewhere close there’s a therapist writing another entry for the next edition of the DSM. When the next edition comes out, I want my picture in there. Perhaps that will be my 15 minutes of fame, to have a mental health condition attributed to me. There’s an aspiration for ya.

So, that’s what is missing…not wealth, not companionship (although I must admit that sometimes I get lonely), not big cars or fancy clothes and jewelry, not even celebrity. Just the feeling that I’m OK, that the sky is not falling, that I haven’t ruined everything. That I’m OK. I don’t know if there is anything that can really be done about that, truthfully. It’s like talent…if you don’t have it, and never had it, you can’t manufacture it. I can’t draw, not even stick figures, and that’s not going to change. I can take all the art classes I want, I can hire a private art teacher, and I’m never going to be able to draw anything of note. I can play a few notes of a few insutrments, and I can’t say I did anything to attain that ability. If I practice, I can improve, but how I look at a fretboard or a keyboard is translated by my brain differently than someone who doesn’t play. I didn’t do a thing to earn that. It’s just part of how my cells fit together, I suppose. I don’t feel a loss at not having children, but I would feel a tremendous loss if I couldn’t play music any longer, even at my dangerously mediocre level. I feel a loss over the death of my parents, but I can’t get them back on this plane of existence, so I’m at peace with that. I feel a loss at not being competent and in control of my circumstances at this point in my life, and that’s a really tough one. I feel as though 5th graders are more competent at living than I am, and that doesn’t feel warm and fuzzy. Can that change? I suppose, but have to admit that I don’t see change as likely. We’ll see. Until then…I’m just gonna keep “getting in touch” with all of these nooks and crannies hidden away in my brain…like an English muffin. I suppose it will be OK. That’s about as good as it gets…OK.

Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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