Friday, May 20, 2011

Asylum Attendant or Inmate? The Jury is Still Out.

    I am beginning to think that I have slipped into an alternate reality. Both personal and professional aspects of my life have suddenly become paths pitted with potholes of inappropriate responses to the most casual of comments. Gone is my mundane job sitting at my desk, answering phones, purchasing, receiving, customer service. My job in this alternate reality is that of an attendant in a psych ward, or possibly just the least insane of the inmates. Am I therapist or patient? The line has blurred. It is possible that I have been lab-ratted into an experiment designed to test my patience, adaptability and coping skills. Testing me. Testing my mettle. Pushing buttons. Pulling strings. Seeing how far I can be strained before I snap or capitulate.
    Today has felt like mid-term exams. Just how crazy can the surroundings become and still allow my brain and psyche to function at some level of normalcy? It has been repeatedly shown to me today (as with most days, but today is an extreme) that even the most banal statement can cause a concussion of deranged responses, leading further down the path of lunacy, deeper into the rabbit hole. I mention an amusing anecdote and it rapidly erodes into a discussion of corporal punishment. I don't want to know how it degraded to that point, or how it happened with such speed and ease, but it did. And this has seemed to be the case in so many situations. The random discussion (not started by me and in which I was a reluctant sounding board) about child pornography, teenagers sexting, who is the criminal (he says the girl who starts it), and how it shouldn't be a crime to receive unwanted and unasked for porn. Why do I want to hear this? Why am I being told? Is there a deeper reasoning? An unsolicited confession/defense? I don't want to know, and don't want to play any more.
    Everywhere I turn, I am being bombarded by bizarre statements, announcements, accusations and declarations. I am the lab rat, surrealism the test drug, my life the maze. But I say "Game Over, man. Game OVER!"

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Stress, Breakdowns and Emotional Callouses

    Working late on an over-grandious project last night, back muscle crying, scalp peeling away from my skull with tension, hands cramping from over-use, and eyeballs dessicated and burning, I was struck with the overwhelming realization that there is no aspect of my life that doesn't cause me stress. Work, I will barely mention, is an ongoing stress-fest. But even outside of work it seems the best I can achieve is a balancing act; stress in, stress out. Maybe that is all I can ever hope for? That for all the stress loaded upon my shoulders, I have to hope that I can manage an equal reduction of stress?
    I will say, my animals offer an equal balance. For all the garbage raids, squabbles, damaged furniture, barking at the neighbor, 3am pesterings, and random escapes there is the counterbalance of unconditional love, near psychic understanding of my bleak moods, and sheer comic relief.
    My art is another near-equal balance. I love the creative flow, studying, designing, scheming, planning, colors, words, lines, and esthetics but find myself stressed and burdened by time frames, self-expectations, ocd perfectionism, too much to do and too little time.
    But both my animals and my art are essential aspects of who I am. They are the reason I chose to struggle through the depths of bleakness instead of numbing myself with chemicals, so as to be able to feel the elation, life and love that streams through me through my companions and my creativity. I would rather live in a world of rollercoaster emotions, than to plod through scenery painted in shades of grey.
    Stress, though it causes me countless sleepless nights, anxiety attacks, inexplicable cravings for chocolate and carbs, anger, frustration and uncountable aches and pains, it is still a driving force behind so much that I do. I plan ahead for ways to release my daily pent up stress that follows me home from work like an annoying insect. I walk the dogs, lift weights, beat on a heavy bag, yoga, dance, music, writing, and on rare ocassions I clean like a freak. Stress, though it makes me unhappy is still a part of what makes me who I am, just as my animals and art define me, so does my stress. Though stress will make me breakdown under the weight, it makes me come back stronger. Mentally, emotionally and physically stronger. I am building callouses on my mind and soul to help deflect the needling anguish that pecks away at my psyche with the tenacity of a termite. With each meltdown comes a rebuilding. Each rebuilding using modified blueprints, earthquake resistant tie-downs, tsunami worthy fasteners, and an ever deeper, sturdier foundation.
    The day will come when external stress no longer has the ability to wreak havoc. It will become as insignificant as ripples in a puddle, lapping at my toes.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Invisible Woman

"I must be invisible, no one knows me. I have crawled down dead end streets, on my hands and knees." Eric Clapton, guitar god. For a decade now this has been a theme song of mine. Yes, my life is filled with theme songs, playing in my head, accompanying my existance. Different songs for different moods. Songs that fit a mood, songs to pull me out of a mood. This song has played as a background to my life for a solid ten years. I don't view it as a negative, or depressing song, merely a song that expresses how I feel I fit in with society and the people around me. Some may say this is not a very optimistic approach to life, I don't agree. I think it is a realist view of my wish to find the Island of Misfit Toys, an escape from a social network that is more entrapping and confining than social (think of the word "social network" I see NET, a trap, a snare... in the words of colonol Akbar "IT'S A TRAP!").
Back to theme songs and invisibility. I have found that songs can either accompany my mood, or elevate it. I usually use music to elevate my mood, relieve stress, dance away the day's frustrations and boost my endorphins. Some days I just want a song that reflects my feelings, on these days it is often Lonely Stranger by the aforementioned Guitar God, it is a song that most often is a true reflection of the inner me. This brings back the Invisibilty aspect. I often feel that I am looked through or past by so many who say they know me. Are they afraid to truely look at me? To see me for who I am? To acknowledge my existance? Why am I overlooked? I have no idea. But maybe this is why I root for the underdog, literally. Why I prefer dogs that are homely mongrels passed by, overlooked and ignored by people hoping for perfection, beauty and regal lineage? I love the dogs with thinning hair, scaly skin, funky smell and character out the wazoo. They are Ugly Duckling to Swan. Sow's Ear to Silk Purse. Diamond in the Rough. They are the outcasts, the neglected, forgotten, abandoned, abused. They are my Tribe, my Pack, my Family. It is why I willingly spend so much time at home, alone except for the companionship of my beloved, dutiful, loyal dogs because they see me. They see me from the moment the sun lights the room enough to wake them, they dance with joy when they see I am finally awake. They watch, sadly, as I leave for work, watching through the window until I am out of sight (okay, maybe they do that so they can get into mischief as soon as they know I am truely gone). But the first thing I see when I pull into my driveway after a day of dealing with the annoying, indecisive, vapid sheeple is a furry face alert to my approach. My dogs see me, and know me, as no human will ever even attempt.
So, although I may remain invisible to the majority of those who profess to be my friends and aquaintences, I know that I am seen with adoring eyes. Eyes that are adept at seeing into men's souls and judging the good or evil they see there. Eyes that see me, love me, and know me for who I am. And even seeing me as myself, love me unconditionally, without restraint, and never judging. My Tribe. The Clan of The Invisibles.