I have had been laid low recently, a combination of physical and emotional ills. If not for my little yellow dog, I would not have left the house, and we have spent most of the last four days nestled in bed together. I find myself disconnecting from the world–declining invitations, ignoring overtures, disappearing from social media. My mantra is “Reach out to people who reach back,” but just now I feel as if I can scarcely lift my arms, let alone reach for someone.
(If you’re one of those people who has reached out, I am so sorry for not responding. Please don’t give up on me.)
The flexibility of my work schedule–the non-financial compensation that academics so highly prize–is counterproductive for me when this happens. Because of the looming Thanksgiving holiday, I could stay in bed for a good two weeks before anyone would notice. But my relationship to my work–that is a story for another day.
Today, I am trying not to close doors as soon as they open, even though a future beyond this low horizon is impossible to imagine. I responded to a text from a new suitor I met online (not Tinder; a different site). He’s “old school,” so he called me and left a nice voicemail. I wasn’t expecting that. But just returning the call feels like an impossible task for which I need to: clean the house, or at least the bathroom, ok, maybe just the toilet; take a shower, but wait–I need to go to the gym first, but I’m too gross to go out in public, so I should take a shower, then go to the gym; then I’ll tidy the house and clean the toilet; discard the dead plants and throw out the rotting Halloween pumpkins; take the dog out; sweep the leaves off the front walk; maybe find a shred of self esteem under there? Shower again. Then call.
It’s just too much.
The woman who crafted the online profile, the woman this man wants to talk to, is a stranger to me. I look at her pictures, and I read her witty self-descriptions, without recognition. Just trying to be her, let alone a woman who can endure the endless disappointments of online dating, would be the performance of a lifetime. I imagine trying to talk to this man, and I can’t script a conversation that doesn’t end with me in tears. (This poor man. Little does he know, he has drifted into the eye of someone else’s midlife hurricane!)
In an effort to rally, and in homage to my friend who writes the most hopeful blog and Facebook posts, when I know for a fact she ain’t always feelin’ it, I am going to make a list of Martha Stewart-style Good Things to try to pierce the gloom and let some light filter in. Because it’s just a phone call, right?
Good Things (aka Fronting):
- I am not a Syrian refugee.
- I am not an ISIS bride.
- I am not Bashar al-Assad’s food taster.
- I am not Putin’s botox injector.
- I do not have to wipe Kim Jong-un’s ass (because you just know someone does, amiright?).
- God willing, I will never have to see Donald Trump or Ben Carson naked.
- David Vitter LOST, and 250,000 Louisianians will have access to health care as a result.
- My dog is super cute.
- I live in a nice house that is mostly not falling down.
- I drive a car that is less than five years old.
- I have a car.
- I have a steady income and health insurance.
- I am not trapped in a hurtful marriage.
- My parents are both still alive, and I get to spend time with them.
- One of my best friends is in a happy, committed relationship for the first time since I’ve known her.
- I just bought a pair of teal slacks.
- None of my teeth are sore.
- There are leaves in need of raking, which is an exercise in mindfulness if ever there was one.
- I binge-watched all of that show “Ballers” on HBO yesterday and think the Rock could get an Oscar if he found the right role and director.
- I have an HBO-Go password, which belongs to an ex-boyfriend’s roommate’s friend, who once got so drunk he peed the floor, which the roommate filmed and my ex-boyfriend shared with me.
- I do not struggle with addiction.
- When the guy I like, but who doesn’t really like me back, texted me the words “great tits” unbidden yesterday, I had the self-respect not to be I’m Cool With It Girl and didn’t text him back.
- Sometimes making a list, giving a name to the Black Dog that haunts you, and telling other people about your struggles, can help.
- I really do have great tits.