Scraping the bottom

Sometimes, when you believe that you’ve gotten to the bottom of things, figured it all out, closed the book…there’s more. Lots more. At the bottom of just about any empty pot, there are a few crusty scraps left of the dish, clinging to the bottom. Not ready to let go and become garbage.

I keep returning to past events, significant though entirely resident in the past. This has been more pronounced lately, and it’s beginning to concern me. Dredging up painful experiences from my past, having them intrude without invitation or warning at random times isn’t really a barrel of fun. My therapist believes it’s because I’m stressed about this sleep test and about money. Maybe, but it feels deeper than just a stress trigger.

Regardless, this is where I am, on the verge of tears at every turn. Maybe I’ve gotten to the bottom of the pot, maybe I’m scraping the bottom. My question is…then what? After you’ve gotten through a full pot of consumables, and scraped the bottom, at some point there’s nothing left. I suppose then one must wash the pot, clean it for the next time it’s needed.

I suppose I feel as though I’ve been washing the pot all along the way, purging the large chunks of refuse continuously. But…there’s still more. Always more, it seems. I am no longer stirring the pot because there’s nothing left to agitate. But, there’s still quite a bit of the dried remnants of my life that beg for release and I’m getting tired of scrubbing.

My therapist and I had an unexpectedly emotional session just yesterday, and she asked the always excruciatingly painful question – what do you want? From somewhere very deep inside me came the answer I most endeavor to hide from the world, that I want someone to love me. I want someone to not expect me to be perfect, to have me be number one on their to-do list. Someone who will be there, always be there. Be there for me.

Maybe that’s too much to ask, maybe that’s some kind of romanticized and distorted notion of what I think love is. I’ve been told in the past that I should be asking what I bring to others, but that sounds simplistically formulaic. I don’t understand, it’s some kind of esoteric mathematics that is beyond my comprehension, a calculation I can’t manage. It should be that difficult.

When I was discussing this with my therapist, I said that I had given up. That is mostly true; I prefer not to keep trying when something is so plainly futile. When failure is so painful. If I am clear about anything in my life, it’s that I don’t want to add more pain to my list of accomplishments. Perhaps I am only looking at the desired product of long endeavor and presuming I don’t have to do the work to get there.

I don’t much care these days if I’m indulging my inner child, my outer adult, or my fantasy life. It is what it is, and mostly I stay away from purely social opportunities. I don’t mind going to dinner with friends or attending meetings that have some purpose. But I’m not looking to date or meet-and-greet anybody. It took me years to discover that I am a magnet for narcissists and users, so how about we just save a whole lot of time and not give them an easy target?

The biggest part of me is screaming “No more!”. No more betrayals, no more lies, no more lofty expectations. No more users, no more emotionally immature children in adult bodies. No more. I would rather be alone to the end of my days, which daily remind me that end is sooner rather than later. I don’t have time for games, which I will lose, or sales pitches.

There’s a fine line between intelligent and eccentric, and I keep walking that path. I don’t feel as though I qualify for genius at any level, but mama didn’t raise no fool (unless it comes to being talked out of something by some charming demon). I do not suffer fools gladly, though, but fools wait to block my light at every turn. Sometimes they have a measure of power or authority and give me the short end of the stick. but that’s just the way of the world these days. That’s about what I do, not who I am.

The question of what I want is daunting because I feel as though I have to iterate every grain to be flawlessly definitive about what – or who – that is. I don’t have that much time. My heart knows what that is, and I’m not interested in reducing that knowledge to inadequate words. It will be what it will be, and I’m tired of blaming the “victim” for not having whatever it is that I want.

One of the more annoying trains of thought lately has been, “When is it my turn? When do I come out on top?” Well, maybe I am already on top, or plainly at the bottom, but maybe it’s not a linear-vertical system of measure. The edge of the Universe is flatly horizontal, and everything exists within a very narrow vertical range. Accordingly, my reality is a continuum, and sometimes I’m very far to the left, other times I’m very far to the right. Rarely am I anywhere near the sweet spot, where things can go either way.

My life is…my life. There isn’t any sharp definition of it that I can make. That may be a good thing because it doesn’t appeal to me in any way. My attention wavers from one stimulating target to the next, sometimes in a nano-second.

The blink of an eye, the time it takes for a red blood cell to be propelled out of the heart, and I’m on to the next thing. Does that constitute ADD, or ADHD? I really don’t care, because that definition has nothing to do with my reality, and my reality is like rifling through the pages of a book, experiencing a huge plethora of things at a very superficial level. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.

For me, I think the problem with flittering like that is a lack of long-term commitment. Or maybe not. I am committed to a great many things, like racial equity and justice and related noble causes. Generally, though, I feel that I’m not committed to much of anything, not able to stay in things for the long haul, not really effective in anything I do. I don’t know if a flash in the pan is truly less valuable to a movement than a slow-burning fuse.

I’ve been considering whether or not I am smoldering, still burning under a layer of cooling ash, still hot to the touch but not flaming. Burning silently. I am not fire, but I am not cool either. Given enough oxygen, flames will erupt again, and I will burn. IIs that a desirable outcome? Always a threat, but when managed intentionally and well, I will not kill you.

Life as an incendiary. I have to consume myself to live, and when I’ve exhausted that fuel source I smolder. I know I’m alive because of the smoldering, but I feel very ineffective. I can burn nothing, and sometimes burning something to the point of nonexistence is the desired outcome. But such is my life.

I feel like I’m babbling now, but at the moment this smoldering coal that is me is cold because she has the thermostat set too low. I can fix that. What I can’t fix is the feeling that there will never be enough heat, or there will be far too much, that my own flame will be irrelevant to the temperature. I can’t fix the feeling that I will never be right. That’s going to take some doing.

Be vewwy vewwy quiet…I’m hunting joy.

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.

2 thoughts on “Scraping the bottom

  1. If it helps, no-one is ever ‘right’. We try to make perfect in a world yet I’d be amazed to hear there was one of us who wasn’t burying some imperfection in the hopes that they can attain the perfect they see in others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed. There’s a warning I’ve been given for many years – don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides. Comparisons rarely work anyway, and what I can see of other folks’ outsides have all kinds of hidden details that I can’t see.


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