Sunday, and it’s already Wednesday and I haven’t had a chance to process what happened Sunday and the dishes are in the sink unwashed again and the trash is full and I know that damned lint filter hasn’t been emptied since Monday night when I did it myself. I’m grateful, don’t get me wrong, for the fact that Mrs M is a good investor, and she bought us a washer and dryer so we didn’t have to collect the dirty laundry, motor over to the laundromat, wherever the fuck that is, have cash, detergent and dryer sheets for static for enough loads to wash and dry, fold, motor back home, and distribute said laundry to its’ owners. No, we did the laundry at home.
I looked it up, and for my convenience there is a laundromat about 7 miles from the house. Good to know. But fortunately, we wrapped appliances up in the cost of the home when we bought it. Which means, the warranties … nevermind. I don’t want to think about THAT crisis. They’ve been dependable and despite the thick layer of lint in the trap I’ll empty tonight if I remember to do it, the house hasn’t burned down yet.
I think I know a little too much about laundry. And I also know how to dissect a vacuum cleaner and reassemble it after getting all the dirt out. I do NOT want to know how to dissect a washer or dryer. Nor do I ever want to learn how to do plumbing or car repairs. Which reminds me, I need an oil change, and about a thousand more dollars of work done on the car. The oil change I can handle. The thousand? It’s just an estimate, a grand estimate, so grand, it’ll have to wait. And I have to check Mrs M’s car soon because we get to go visit family for Christmas. Yay. (is all my sarcasm out yet?) Don’t get me wrong. I love my in-laws. It was much easier after Mrs M’s mother quit discussing ways to dissect and disable and dismember her new son-in-law. The jokes weren’t ever funny. Never. Thank fuck she quit that. And it is easier when Mrs M’s father doesn’t yell about how he’s a self-taught expert on everything and my son and I should be too. Dad, take your blood pressure pills, please. And put in your fucking hearing aid. You can’t hear yourself yell.
About the cars, I can do the simple things: check the oil, check the tire pressure, switch a flat with a spare (not required, yay!), but I can’t do things like replace struts or shocks or sensors or rebuild a transmission, or hang the engine from a tree, fix it and remount it. We live in a gentrified area. Gentrified is code for I can’t do things I would probably never do anyway, if I actually OWNED a piece of property. I’m not allowed unless I ask permission and get approval, because there’s an HOA. Apparently, although I’m paying the bank AND the HOA for the privilege of living where I live, I still don’t own the land, I just am required to mow and maintain it according to their standards of beauty. God only knows what they said to the guy with the rich bumper crop of thistles in his yard. Maybe nothing, after all, thistles are lush, pretty and green and grow pretty blue flowers on the top even when there’s no rain. Anyway, their recent bill for, I guess, hiring a snowplow to wake us up at 11:30PM scraping ice that would have been snow and come up easier a few hours before we went to sleep, came in and I happened to see it. Remind me to let Mrs M handle that from now on. I already know I can’t afford shit, now I can’t afford whatever costs LESS than shit. I saw a few other bills too, before I took Mrs M Christmas shopping, and wouldn’t you know the bank let us buy a bunch of shit we can’t afford in spite of what I know.
I am angry all the time. I am angry and I wish I could blame it all on the cyclothymia, but it’s something different. I call the universe fucker to account, because most of the rage comes from there. And from the very feelings of helplessness my helplessness inspires. But I’m supposed to be a responsible adult, supposed to be in control of my responses to life’s stimuli, supposed to be a good husband and father and I have to confess that I’m not well able to do any of that. I’m not supposed to be angry, I’m supposed to figure out how to fix whatever’s upsetting me, and I have to confess that I’m not able to do any of that. I have tried to earn more money, and it’s an open pit that sucks whatever I make that should be “extra” away and only demands more. I pay to fix the car, have to go for a physical and the doctor orders a test that insurance doesn’t help enough with, I pay for that, my teeth break. I pay to fix my teeth, the plumbing leaks. I pay to fix the plumbing, Mrs M’s car breaks. And so on. Except it’s now to the point that I can’t afford to pay to fix the car, so it waits, I do a minimum repair, and I hope doesn’t break to a point where it won’t take me to work. And my teeth don’t hurt, but they just have other awkward consequences I’m tired of. What I need is a break. NO, for fuck’s sake, NOT something else that breaks!! What I crave is not “control,” but rather financial security. What I want is a wider margin of safety. What I need is peace.
Every time I’ve prayed and asked God for a wider margin of safety, I’ve ended up with less margin. God has a fucking twisted sense of humor. And He also has a fucking twisted perspective on how to answer prayers. See also So it is that with all of the shit falling apart around me, //giphy.com/embed/6BPsv5NHI5jEc
without taking a pause to allow any kind of recovery, I wonder why I’m not dead yet. I don’t want to be Job. You know the guy. He’s faithful and upright and God decides he’s a pawn in a cosmic game and puts him through all kinds of shit until he wishes he was dead. Or maybe more like this guy, you may well laugh (and how could I say “fuck you” for that?), and I admit it’s a trifle funny but King Arthur is basically chopping bits off the guy //giphy.com/embed/nReribyqzVy9y
rendering him more and more hopelessly and ridiculously helpless, and yet he keeps coming.
If I’m lucky, perhaps I’m not invincible as the Black Knight of our tale, and King Arthur (AKA, God) will just come along and chop my head off. If I’m not, then I’ll continue down this delusional path thinking I’m serving a purpose and I’m just for some reason supposed to be frustrated with the hopeless, completely fucked feeling of it all.
I’m still not sure what to call what happened to me on Sunday, except possibly a miniature nervous breakdown. I wasn’t hearing voices, I wasn’t unable to control myself and I wasn’t unable to pull myself back in. But I did have a very strong stress reaction to a recorded presentation. I wept. My son, either understanding me, or empathizing, or from confusion, wept with me. Honestly I think I scared the shit out of him and he didn’t know what to say or do. Neither did Mrs M, sitting on the other side of me. The presentation introduced “Peace on Earth,” the promise of the angels. And it asked how we’re supposed to have peace in this (sorry, I can’t directly quote the script, but I’m sure the intent was expressing it milder than I have here, but the meaning seemed obvious) GODFORSAKEN fucking shithole. The answer was a lot less obvious and the message even less. Or not, maybe throwing me in a pit I can’t escape is just another strange way:
I used to really love Christmas. Because “when I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Children are supposed to get Christmas, but I guess ogres and men like me “don’t live happily ever after.” And yet, I know in the Christmas story, there were wise MEN and grown shepherds, everyone from kings to the lowest in society, who celebrated the birth of the King.
I didn’t get my invitation to celebrate the birth this year. Instead I got something I couldn’t put into words. Maybe a tiny nervous breakdown. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mental_breakdown
When I was a child, the Bible stories focused on the heroic dude who slayed the giant, the heroic prophet who kept the widow lady and her kid able to eat, those “great men,” those faithful fuckers. They barely mentioned, if at all, the parents who felt the only way they could survive the famine was to kill and cook and eat their kid(s). “Well, Johnny, we love you and we know you’re good. You’re such a good boy, we want you to know we’ll still love you after you’re dead. Because we know you’re going to be delicious. Bye-bye now!” (See Deuteronomy 28, II Kings 6, and Ezekiel 5.—NEVER MENTIONED in Sunday School, unless I read more carefully and asked about it.)
It’s very sad that medical and psychiatric specialists only treat normal nervous breakdowns and normal mental illnesses according to symptom, not etiology. And I need an etiological treatment plan. The problem with treating the symptoms and not the root cause is the same as the problem of paying off the minimum balance due on your credit cards. You can medicate away the acute symptoms and you can appease the creditors in the short term. But in both examples, the hole just gets deeper, and in that minimum payment plan, there are still no steps or a ladder to climb out. So I can either sit here at the bottom of the dark hole, and pray for a ladder, or I can pretend like fuck that I have peace and light and joy this Christmas season, the same way I do every year, Pinky. I’ve gotten good at it.
Sunday I felt all the bad emotions. I wrote down in my sermon notes several things and circled the dark ones. And the speaker did NOTHING to even help with the symptoms. He made it worse. He said the promise of peace was for “men on whom God’s favor rests. (Luke 2:14, SOME translations)” I fucking HATE that specific way of translating it, so naturally our speaker taught THAT shit. When I was a child, when I read the old fashioned KJV, it cut off and just said the offer of peace and goodwill was “toward men.” (Ladies, I was taught as a child that when King Jimmy’s translators said “men,” they meant “people.” So when I quote him, I’m reading that it’s to you too. Because “Fear Not.”) Why would I hate it? If it requires God’s favor, I am royally fucked and I will NEVER feel peace. I felt pain, I felt lonely, I felt abandoned, I felt the worst soul-shredding I have EVER felt. If I’m not abandoned, why is there no hope? Why is there no peace? Where is my invitation to the Christmas party?
The etiological treatment for my torment seems obvious to me, so why, when I ask to be cured, am I not? If I’m to have peace, I need the money pit of my life to be patched and filled and resurfaced, not graveled over and left until the next cracked tooth or broken-down engine or doctor’s expensive and wacky medical experiment. “I am not an animal. I am a human being.” I am not an illogical collection of hard-to-understand symptoms. If money is the cure, and God is the Great Physician, then I’d like “enough,” please. And if there is some other cure for broken teeth and broken cars and broken furnaces and air conditioners and broken job situations and my broken heartedness, I’d like that.
The shepherds got to go to the party, because it wasn’t a party like ordinary people throw. Normal people expect gifts, and they will even give out a goody-bag at the end of the party, as long as, at the end of the party, the spreadsheets show them in the black. Can I be a child again and get Christmas? It’s worse than Charlie Brown at Halloween: I feel like the sheep brought me a gift bag. And skipped the bag.
Gee, Deon, why are you depressed?
I don’t know!! (THERE’s the sarcasm. FINALLY!)