I will, won’t I
I usually avoid dwelling on how it used to feel to be sick. I have this lingering fear that if I go down that rabbit hole and revisit those old patterns of thinking, I’ll reactivate something better left dormant. I don’t want to take a walk down those electric pathways anymore.
What I often forget is that I still feel grief. Most of the time I don’t notice it. I’m mostly content these days, or maybe tired or absorbed in my current obsessions with work, people, dreams, projects. I’m emotionally stable. Then sometimes I feel this tugging feeling in the core of me, like a magician pulling away a sheet to reveal his magic: what once was here has now disappeared. What’s gone defies articulation. It’s trust in the most foundational parts of being alive—in sensation, in perception, in one’s own mind. I’ve lost myself. I’ve died so many times inside. No funerals, no mourning, just more and more versions of myself surrendering to some quiet purgatory, wherever that magician sent them off to, disappeared.
A month ago, a man I am trying to love insulted me after feeling insulted himself. He made a critical comment about my job history. The principle of his lashing out infuriated me, but the content of the comment cannot touch me. My resume is worthless to me. It reflects nothing important. Last week I drove to the store and his words ran through my mind. They felt loud. And there was that magic trick of grief, consuming me. I cried so hard I shouldn’t have kept driving. Driving. I used to think about driving off bridges. I used to drive fast screaming and sobbing, pleading for the pain to stop.
My resume. The job market for striving fail-sons, for me. The failure. The housing market. My rent. The cultish ideology I let consume me. The debt I’m in to its academic indoctrination. This man who makes money I can’t imagine seeing, lashing out at me. About my resume. Admin job after admin job, all I thought I could do, best pay I could find. The naps at lunch, the 20 minutes late, the starting to see faces in the walls. The tedium. The applause for ordering lunch for people whose salary exceeded that of this man, insulting me. About my resume. The gaps, my mania. The end of the world. The beginning of a war. The apocalypse playing out in my mind, day in day out. The year of witchcraft, the harassment, the hospital I left. The despair and a sunny day in April that took all my pain away. The 20 hours of recordings I made, the 200 page workbook I wrote, the blow ups at Jack as I lost clarity. The completed product, the financial success, the revulsion I felt at my own creation. The loss of faith. The pipes I was convinced were lead. The ER every week for an autumn. My resume. The right clothes, the performance of deference, the eye contact and the mirroring to get the job. The lying, the escape acts, the dear god I hope they don’t Google me. A double life. An entire decade of survival I cannot list on a resume. My fucking resume. It reflects nothing important, automaton simulation document of a life confined to the passenger side of this mistake of my body, my mind, never should’ve been born but wound up here anyway, feeling fresh out of war I never wanted to fight.
I didn’t tell many people but in 2019 I applied to grad school, a PhD in feminist studies. I didn’t get in. I had never felt so much shame as I felt writing my application materials and reaching out to professors for recommendations. What did I have to show for my time since college? My resume: lost potential, lackluster. I didn’t get in. I didn’t feel shame, I felt relief. I’m not welcome there anymore, I’m not wanted, I’m not meant for that, I didn’t want it anyway. Kept building my resume, 2 more years of admin. I got fired. I say my contract ended. I write about what I wanted to in grad school anyway. 13,000 people listen. A cancellation. But my resume. Bare, embarrassing, plenty of nasty things to be said about it. His words, my skin burning.
I talk to Jack and we arrive again and again at the same conclusion: Molly, you need a mentor. Jack, where do I find one? I don’t know what that means. I tell him I should be stronger. He tells me no one is that strong, that everyone’s greatness comes from the support of those who teach them how to become great. My resume. This man. The other man. Then another and another. We started nearby, they arrive somewhere, and I don’t. I’m still floating. What am I missing? I look at them and they smile, but never reach out. I don’t know how to do anything but beat myself into trying harder so much that I don’t leave bed, that I lose myself scrolling, in daydreams, in conversations, in these men. Where do I find what they found? How do they make it when I fall apart? Is it biology?
After I got fired, I edited my resume. I figured it has been 6 years since I graduated college, it’s time to take off my GPA and thesis title. An interviewer in 2016 said “Wow, that GPA is really impressive, I hope that gets you far, Molly.” I thought it was sarcasm. It might as well have been. Hardly anything could matter less. My brain feels rotted from the inside out under poison fears and knife feelings, cannibal cravings and mortal panic. I lost my memory for a while, couldn’t think clearly for years. My bosses would get a worried look on their face sometimes, wondering why I kept forgetting so many details. Preoccupation with exit routes and emergency brakes, the fine details of my pulse and my breath and the distance between the floaters in my eyes.
I can’t imagine myself achieving anything I once dreamed of. Research, writing, a book. A PhD, an MSW, an MD, anything. I’ve started to position myself to get somewhere close to where I wanted to go, but this rotten mind can’t survive it. I’ll never get anywhere with this resume. A string of bullshit jobs and glaring gaps. Years spent checking for hallucinations and heart failure. Men who know better than me about nothing I care to know about know better than to let me in. This man, his salary, his resume. I look at his LinkedIn, the embarrassing theater of such a site. The uselessness of the whole thing, his jobs, my jobs, our fights, our egos. The world’s still ending but I don’t feel it anymore. I don’t feel it anymore so I can keep going, going, building my resume, for you, gatekeeper, that I may continue building it some more, that I may earn the credentials so that I can help others stop feeling the end of the world.
It’s all poison, isn’t it. The thoughts were too fast, too soon, but not wrong. I will die one day, won’t I. I will be hurt, won’t I. I will be targeted, won’t I. I will write, won’t I. I will fall on the swords sticking out from the spilled guts of other wounded creatures, won’t I. I will see the world burn, won’t I. I will meet god, won’t I. I will, I will, I will, all that I feared, I will. All of those years of prophecy, I will.
I came across your writing from the non-binary being a cope piece, which was excellent.
I love your writing. I have no idea who you are, but I really hope you keep writing.
It honestly sounds like you've been through some tough shit. I'm not blowing smoke up your ass - we all have, and you seem smart and self aware enough to not be be soothed by false platitudes. But I hope you can find love for yourself and all the things that have happened to you which were outside of your control; even those things which seem like your fault, ultimately weren't.
Wow. This piece is nothing short of incredible. So f* raw. I relate to this so much, I think so many of us can, even if they’re not aware that their self-destructiveness is in fact this: pure insurmountable pain. Thank you so much for writing. Thank you so much for that grit that you carry inside that makes you keep going.