Human, Probably

It was a rough few days. I was definitely not in a good place mentally. Yesterday afternoon I received a response from the director of the electrician’s apprenticeship program and he said there was no way to grant an exception for the high school transcripts – it’s either that, or a 2 year degree. At least it was a pretty prompt response.

My friends are suggesting I make fake transcripts and see if they’ll accept something that originates from a home school education that can’t be verified through a public school or a state. I don’t really have a rational ethical objection to this, as I have to pass an aptitude test (and be among the 30 highest scorers at the time I take it), and pass an interview to get accepted. I know I could do the work. I wouldn’t be hurting anyone or be getting the job without being qualified.

The problem is that just thinking about making fake transcripts caused a childhood trauma response. In addition to the psychological and emotional distress, I felt physically sick over the idea.

Honesty is kind of my thing. I don’t believe lying is some kind of intrinsically evil behavior but lying is associated with all kinds of negative experiences dating back to when I was very young. Not just lies I told, but lies my older sisters told that netted me punishment for their wrongdoing. Being able to be dishonest without feeling traumatized* feels like it would require reshaping my very being, and that kind of reshaping can’t be done quickly or easily.

*I can be dishonest if I’m saving someone else from pain or discomfort and not hurting anyone in the process. I just can’t seem to extend that to lying on my behalf.

I didn’t have to make a decision about the transcripts right away though. I don’t have the necessary math skills to pass the aptitude test, yet, so it’s not like I could go apply immediately anyway. I saw the email that I couldn’t be accepted as a candidate without high school transcripts late in the afternoon and had my adult basic education course to get to shortly after. I didn’t even know if it was worth going but it felt like it would be better to do something that got me out of the house and provided a distraction.

Things didn’t work out the way I wanted. I don’t think the teacher had the results of our assessment yet, and she threw a lesson at us that proved to be too much for me. I just couldn’t wrap my brain around how to write down the formulas and solve them. I was pretty sure I had a gap in my knowledge that needed to be filled in order to comprehend what I was doing, but that didn’t matter – ultimately, I felt stupid.

And with that sense of being stupid it was like whatever I’d had shielding my ego all these years had disappeared, and the core of me that had always felt like unassailable iron turned out to be made of some much more fragile material – material that had just taken a blow and cracked. My sense of self and my self-esteem have actually been pretty solid all these years. In spite of the guilt and shame and belief that I was selfish and that I needed to suffer so that God could make me a better person – I liked myself. I thought I had a lot of good qualities.

Last night was the first time I felt like I’d taken a genuine hit to my self-esteem and my sense of self. I drove home thinking the best I could say about myself and my life was that at least I’d made sure to have an ice scraper on hand before I needed it. I also thought about how I’d always been so sure of what I was and what I could be underneath the mental health symptoms, and was instead wondering if there was no layer of separation – if the symptoms were simply me, now. They do, after all, shape all aspects of my life and can be a determining factor in what I do or do not accomplish.

I hadn’t realized just how much having a plan I felt reasonably confident I could follow through and succeed at was helping keep me stable. I’m the sort of person that has always been more inclined to be spontaneous, to play it by ear, to try a thing and see what happens. Have general goals and be fluid about how I arrived. But apparently I’d reached a point where even I needed the security of structure.

Two images come to mind for how I was feeling last night – the scene in a movie where someone finds some priceless treasure they’ve been seeking and it crumbles to dust in their hands, and that scene in a movie where someone looks down and realizes they’ve been shot or stabbed and that they’re bleeding out, and after a brief moment of surprise, they totter and then fall. I felt like I’d just looked down and seen that I was stabbed and that I was caught in a bubble of ‘surprise’ time. My sense of self felt like it was crumbling and blowing away on the wind. Maybe everything I believed about myself were just lies I’d been telling myself all these years. I didn’t feel like I knew who I was anymore.

I talked it over with A, M & J – primarily M who had the most time to listen at that moment. She had trouble wrapping her head around why the concept of fake transcripts and a night of being bad at math could be so devastating to me, though she accepted that it was indeed devastating to me. There wasn’t anything they could do or say other than express sympathy. I went to bed and learned why people use phrases like ‘heartsick’ and ‘punched in the gut’ because it turns out that kind of physical feeling really can go hand in hand with severe psychological and emotional distress.

Added to the pile of ‘you really are human and here are the experiences to prove it’ came thoughts of self-harm – not in the most traditional sense. I wanted to go out and do something stupid and risky and out-of-character. Nothing specific, just something that fit that criteria. I also seriously considered telling the person I have feelings for about those feelings. Not because I believed it might net me a positive result and some kind of comfort, but because I figured they’d reject me and I wanted to smash any remaining hope I had for getting anything I want. It wasn’t rational but I wanted irrational and ugly and stupid and to be left with nothing but rubble. I couldn’t even tease out a specific reason or goal I’d be trying to achieve.

Maybe it’s because I feel like I could actually succeed at destroying myself. Try to climb a cliff and you may fall instead of reaching the top. Throw yourself off the cliff and the result is reliable. There’s something to be said for actions with guaranteed results.

I woke up at 2, and got up at 6:25 when my husband got up. I must have dozed off again somewhere between 2 and 6:25 because I didn’t feel like I’d been thinking and aware for over four hours. My chest and my gut hurt. There didn’t seem to be much to do other than fall into my usual routine. I put on music, and instead of gravitating towards something that would mirror my depression, I chose a playlist with energetic songs that tend to boost my mood and then browsed reddit. Somehow, unexpectedly, the music and the distraction worked and my mood started to improve.

I got our youngest to her bus stop – we waited in my car until we could see the bus due to how cold it was this morning – and then I went home and continued going through the motions. I had my coffee and breakfast and took my vitamins. I chatted on messenger. I took my shower and washed my hair since I had a gynecologist appointment at 2. I couldn’t say I felt like myself again, exactly, but I was at least fitting back into some kind of groove from which I could function. I watched an episode of The Expanse, had lunch, and got myself ready to head out.

(Medical talk ahead so duck out now if that bothers you.)

It was a beautiful day out in spite of the cold. Pretty white snow on the ground and dusting the trees, bright blue sky and plenty of sunshine. It was a good sign I could recognize and appreciate that beauty.

The women at the gynecologist’s office turned out to be lovely. They listened and were sympathetic and made me feel welcomed and, well, human I suppose. The doctor thinks the most likely explanation for the trouble I’m having is simply that I’m nearing 40 and my uterus has been through 6 pregnancies and 4 deliveries and it’s worn out and not operating the way it should. She thought periods every 21 days and bleeding that lasted 8-9 days was a miserable situation that needed to be fixed, though, and suggested an ablation. Apparently in the past they’d have gone straight for a hysterectomy but nowadays an ablation has been shown to be an effective treatment that can prevent the need for a hysterectomy. Work for me, though I’m certainly willing to part with my uterus I’d prefer trying less invasive methods first.

Just in case anything else was going on, though, I had a pap smear, and blood drawn for testing for STDs, and will have an ultrasound and an endosee (a camera inserted into my uterus for a look around), and when they do the endosee they’ll get a biopsy of my uterus. Hopefully no surprises turn up. Everything, including the ablation, should be done before the end of the year, which is fantastic. I feel so much better knowing everything is finally getting checked, and I feel fucking fantastic about the ablation. Apparently 36% of women have their periods go away entirely after the ablation, which would be WONDERFUL. I doubt I’ll get that lucky, but even just having shorter, lighter periods would be a huge relief!

So I’m hanging in there. I’m trying not to think too far ahead this week. Get done what I have planned to get done and give myself time to adjust and figure out where I go from here. Hope I don’t have anything else happen this week that kicks me while I’m down.

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