“Girls” Scares the Shit Out of Me

My sister was into Girls for a while, and when she’s into something, I generally check it out because she’s cooler than me. I binged a little bit of it when I split my tooth down the middle and had some time on my hands due to the Tylenol 3. I watched a little more last night because I went to get a new temporary crown (the first one broke, so they gave me a stronger one), and the benzocaine topical anesthetic made me a little loopy. I think they may have given me a little too much, because I was, as my family calls it, “duh-headed,” for several hours afterward… but not duh-headed enough not to realize that I’m not afraid  of much of anything except Hannah Horvath.

I am old enough now that I would not make the conversational faux pas of asking her editor’s widow if she knew the name of a new editor because her book had been shelved, but I did see myself in her egocentric world and her complete downward spiral… although, for me, it was a warning and not shared experience. Yes, I thought about killing myself, and got down far enough that I realized something must be done about it or I would succeed.

And to tell the truth, I didn’t notice. Argo did. She just put it succinctly (as she does, and I love her for it) that I needed to help myself, and it was good advice. I don’t think I would have responded as easily to people trying to hospitalize me as I did to someone just saying “figure it out.” No one would have tried to hospitalize me, because I never would have let anyone know how much I was suffering. It was something I had to do on my own, because I had to prove to myself that I was worthy of getting better.

I say that it was not a shared experience because Hannah’s mental illness manifested itself differently than mine, but it was no less traumatic watching it on TV. It was a warning to watch myself as I continue writing, because I believe that there is a correlation between telling your own story and how it affects one’s brain. You, in a sense, spend part of your day living in the memories that cause you pain and trying to turn them into something if not beautiful, at least thought-provoking.

It also hurts that when people I know accuse me of revisionist history, they’re not remembering that I’m going to have different memories than they do. OF COURSE they’re going to have different stories than me, because their stories are their own, as well. Using Diane, Dana, Argo, and Aaron as examples because I talk about them the most, if you read what they thought about me, some things would line up perfectly and some would seem like stories from a different planet. There are so many levels to communication and memory which come into play during stories.

I also think that when they hold the mirror up to my face in the same way I do with them, sometimes I don’t like what I see, either. But it’s not my story to tell. It’s theirs. They have as much emotional room as I do, and I take nothing away from it, although I have not been as gracious about it in the past as I am now. I needed to calm the fuck down, first. Because of my PTSD, I was living my life as this big ball of id, my ego and superego underdeveloped because of the trauma I experienced as a teen.

Sarah (my therapist) and Leighton (my nurse practitioner) are helping me in a way that I’ve never experienced, because I’ve never had enough money to have both kinds of therapy at the same time on a consistent basis. Medicaid is slowly and clearly saving my life, not that it is still in danger, but because I have been failing to thrive. Every day was a battle of will to put on the mask and let go of my emotional background so that I could think logically through practical things.

It has been a job all on its own to adult. My old tapes rendered me into a puddle on the floor, my mind struggling to accept that I didn’t have time to think about them, because it was indeed a skill. In dealing with trauma, it’s a fight to keep moving on.

Watching Hannah deal with her own insecurities in some ways gave me tools. In others, it gave me nightmares. I don’t want to be so insular that I don’t notice the world around me… and yet, it’s my job. If I want to keep writing, I need to notice the world to have something to write about. If I want to keep having friends and loved ones, I cannot be so wrapped up in myself that it seems like I don’t care, when in reality there are times that I take on their problems more than my own. I do care, deeply, but sometimes showing it is hard when I am driven and focused to the point that I can’t see anything around me but what’s on my computer screen, staring back at me.

My biggest fear is a blank page, and I combat it daily. I attack it with gusto, because in healing, there is no way you’re going to come to this web site and get platitudes. You’re never going to hear me say “just snap out of it.” You’re never going to hear me say, “God has a plan for your life if you’ll only tap into it.” God doesn’t have a plan for shit. Divinity is reaching up for the mystical, but I do not believe that it works the other way around. Many people think that doing good works is what gets you into heaven. No, doing good works is what brings heaven to you. I do not believe in fear-based theology, that if you stray one little bit from what the Bible tells you, it means that you are going to burn in hell.

I believe that if you stray from the things that the mystical and divine are trying to tell you, you bring hell to you. God doesn’t happen to you. God just is. What you do with it is up to you.

It works the same way for Atheists. It doesn’t take belief in God to realize that if you are making bad decisions for your life, you are creating your own hell. It doesn’t take belief in a deity to know that when you put good into the world, it comes back to you.

The bottom line is that Christianity needs to stop focusing on the afterlife, because it does not take death to go to heaven or hell. We have heaven and hell right here. Why wait? Why “store up your treasures in heaven” hoping that the next life will be fruitful when you have the ability to make this one powerful?

I hold myself to higher standards than you can possibly imagine, which is why it’s so hard to watch myself fail. For a long time, I didn’t realize why I couldn’t get it right, especially in relationship with myself. Finding out that trauma wires the brain differently helped to an enormous degree, not to have an excuse, but an explanation.

I write so much because I believe in the power of context. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Not only do I have to own my role in relationships, I am a product of my own circumstances as well. I do not see cognitive dissonance in believing both. There are things I can control, and there are things I can’t. The journey of this life, the creation of heaven and hell for myself, is realizing what those things are and how to tell the difference.

I can’t control everything, and I cannot give in to the temptation that comes with not controlling anything. When I try to control everything, life bites me. When I control nothing, life owns me instead of being able to create my own reality. Control of nothing is a central theme of abuse, as is trying to control everything, and each path is its own hell because there is no balance. No give and take.

Watching Hannah try to navigate life by focusing only on herself was watching the consequences of taking without any give, because she wasn’t attuned to it. The best she could do was mutual weirdness.

I tried to control my life in a major way this weekend, and it failed. There was no balance between preaching on this web site and being responsible for showing up at CCC. I worked on my sermon until 6:00 AM, and told myself that I could watch TV until it was time to go to church, because I can ususally do that. Because I didn’t feel good anyway (this cold is hanging on), I fell asleep and didn’t wake up in time for choir or church. I worked on this web site for St. James and let a whole bunch of people down, because we were singing something high and difficult and I could do it in a way that the other sopranos couldn’t, not because they’re not good singers, but because I am more practiced at it than they are. It takes an amazing amount of work to keep a sectional high B flat in tune, and we had it when I was there on Thursday.

I don’t know what happened on Sunday, and it weighs on me because I wasn’t there to know. I was so driven in working on me that I dropped out of being a team player. It was a secondary injury, because the primary injury was thinking I could control not sleeping until I got home from church the next day.

And in terms of my sermon, I Monday-morning quarterbacked and realized that I could have said a million different things that could have had more impact, and then I realized that the scriptures I was working on would come around again in three years, so that sermon is done. 🙂

Small comfort for a big mistake, though. I lost control of myself at a time when I really didn’t want to. Because I was so sleep-deprived, there was no amount of caffeine that helped, because I took a caffeine pill and had a cup of tea while I was watching TV and didn’t go to church, anyway.

I created my own hell when I could have created my own heaven- getting enough sleep to wake up early before church and finish my own sermon before I went to choir. I thought I was being selfless in trying to get out my sermon before Matt’s, which I always try to do so that if anyone from my church reads this web site, they know that my ideas are my own and not something I picked up and decided to use it.

In the end, though, selfless became selfish. Watching “Girls” showed me in HD the ways I was capable of it. I didn’t show up… and showing up is how both heaven and hell happen in an instant…… whether you’re trying to control it or not.

My instinct as an abused person is that the more I let them down, the less they will want or need me and I become more insular. The battle is to keep breathing, and find ways to create the balance that Hannah could not. But at least she scared me into keeping up the trying and not so much with the isolating.

It’s wrong to think of hell as a place to go when you die. Hell is isolation into your own head, because you can drive yourself crazy better than anyone else.

I saw it on TV.


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