melancholy of the forgotten things

The last few months has been a study in the discovery of self as I’m having a lot of deep thoughts™ on a near daily basis. Nearly every single winner of those races tend to steer me towards my (ir)relevancy and (lack of) mark in the world. There is a toss-up if I am thinking such things because it is winter and depressing as hell outside or that my 45th birthday is in six months.

Maybe it’s both.

It is depressing, as a feeling not as a state. I do not feel as if I’m going to harm myself, do some damage to others or any of that sort but I am feeling a bit helpless and confused, and questioning where I’m going. Even during and shortly after the case came to a conclusion, I felt as if I was on a very clear path. Now that path is muddled and I’m at a loss of what to do and where to go.

To be sure my physical self is fine: I have a place to live (living with TEH where the south meets the midwest), food in my belly, my bills are taken care of, for now, thanks to unemployment. I do not want for material things and I am extremely grateful for what I have. I’ve taken to donating time / money when I can, even if it’s only a few dollars. I want to pay forward all the help I was given and while these gestures may seem small, it’s something.


I have been able to procure a talking therapist last month and we’re meeting on a near weekly basis. I have not worked with a talking therapist in over six months and it is such a relief to word vomit everything from my head with no fear of judgment and repercussion. Like many, I have a wonderful support network of people who will listen but they are not a neutral party to this conversation.

My talking therapist keeps drilling, tho I have a hard time believing, the importance of self-care and self-soothing. It’s not that unusual, really, to have these thoughts and they are not owned by those with short-circuited brains like mine. They are just thoughts, we need to accept them and let them go. We don’t have to act on them or be fearful of them. The talking therapist posited what kind of society are we if taking time out for ourselves makes us selfish bitches? Being able to take care of one’s self does a world of wonder for our lives.

We do not have to do all the things.

We need to remember to put ourselves first– a concept I rationally understand but have a literal difficulty in implementing.

Yesterday I found myself in a state over something I couldn’t control but was desperately attempting to. I took to my meditation app and I could not concentrate for fuck all. It was a struggle to keep focused on my zen buddha nature as my mind kept wandering over to that particularly riddled state and other things that were not important enough to give as much currency as I was giving them. Too fast for my liking, the 15 minutes are over and Andy from the app is back soothing me with his subtle British accent.

I do not feel better. I am now frustrated because I could not complete the simple task of sitting still for 15 minutes and being present.


An example of a daily frustration: I worked in the state of New York when I was living on the east coast this summer and since I worked long enough to garner unemployment, this is who is feeding me each week. The conditions tho are bit long and can get tiresome of what I need to report every week in my job search. I have to, and I do, track everything from job searching and profesh website1 updates to interviews and rejections. I have to work on job searching three days a week. Many of you may remember when I was heavily job hunting for librarian gigs I was searching every fucking day.

My medicating therapist spoke on the influx number of jobs coming to the area. Sure, if you’re into light industrial and retail. Several websites put my earning power at $93K. I have never earned that much, and while I’m glad for their hopefulness, it gets a bit irritating that the jobs they send pay in the $15/hr range. If that. Most jobs are paying in the $8-10/hr range.

I’m going to be a pretentious, over privileged asshole. I worked hard for my degrees. I made $ButWillMoreThanLikelyNeverSeeInThisArea so I have settled for $ReasonableAmount – which is significantly less than $ButWillMoreThanLikelyNeverSeeInThisArea. I’m finding a lot of jobs that require at least a college degree paying $10K less than my $ReasonableAmount.

I would gladly settle for a retail job at my favorite stores but the pay there starts at $9/hr. I calculated working 40 hours a week, which would be impossible, the gross would be $30 less a week than what unemployment brings. If I work a day, I will not make close to what that day would bring me on unemployment. Retail jobs are out. Tutoring jobs, which pay between $18-22/hr, would be ideal but I would have to hustle to find work and those gigs are not guaranteed source of income. Tutoring jobs are out. I’ve been rejected from positions I’ve interviewed for, with a $10K a year less salary than my $ReasonableAmount, for being overly educated. My resume is in front of your face. What on earth would have changed from submission to the interview?

I have removed degrees, modified what I did at jobs, cut my resume from six pages (academic) to two (standard). I have resumes for different fields. I have placed a variety of my resumes on eight job boards, including a state and city sponsored ones. I call staffing agencies and specialty recruiters. I have emailed recruiters that I have worked with in the past. It is not as if I’m not looking for a gig, but I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable given my education, employment history, and skillset, asking for $ReasonableAmount is not, in fact, unreasonable.

And for the love of all that is holy, do not take this as an invention to email me your suggestions on how to find a job. My interview rate per number of job applications (1 in 5) is better than the norm (1 in 10), so obviously I have that down pat — it’s a matter of actually getting someone to hire me.


What was the point of that angrily worded section? To give you an idea of a daily frustration. Instead of stepping back, coloring or knitting or working on something else to self-soothe/self-care, I stew. Fuck the man and all that has and will potentially happen because I’m getting nowhere.


My talking therapist is an optimist. The right thing will happen at the right time, she says. She believes it too. She tells me I’ve got options. I’m starting an extensive front end web development program in January. If I get off my arse, I can start selling my writing. There are other things I can throw in the fire. I am not, by any means, out of ways to improve my standings but it just might take a bit longer. Take a bit of work.

Work hurts.

I have to remember, as my talking therapist keeps telling me, things, no matter how much I want them to, will not change overnight. Every small fucking step I’ve done this year, even if it feels like I’m spinning my wheels, is an improvement over before. I need to think of 2016 as a year of growth rather than a year of nothing. Because I did do work. I did make some ground.

But the work hurts. It is painful and maddening and slow.

Talking therapist said that’s okay, it will hurt. By being here, acknowledging on being present, you’re slowly changing something. It’s new and unknown. That is okay.

That is okay.

1. I’m consolidating my librarian website (lisa.rabey.net) with my writing one (lisarabey.com). Choose your own adventure, motherfuckers.

The Move

handsacrossthesea

[originally posted on Medium]

It’s a sultry soup kind of Saturday and I’m in my apartment sorting and repacking boxes for a move. The central air clicks on and off as I work; my pug chewing on a toy pug in an act of pug cannibalism. I am not wearing a bra and I feel the dampness under my breasts grow as I work. My legs feel a bit grimy and my hair is pulled into a fizzed mess on top of my head. I catch a whiff of body order and ignore it. It’s mid-afternoon and I haven’t showered yet and I’m debating if I even will.

I am tired of the packing and unpacking, the culling of my things to the point I no longer know what I own anymore. The move before this one saw another culling of trash bags full of clothes and seven boxes of books and DVDs. I am desperate for a cigarette though I haven’t smoked in ages. I survey my box kingdom and note some of the boxes have been moved so many times, varying stickers from moving companies are stacked up like little hills. As I pack, I remove the hills in some sort of shameful ritual. Each box bears a broad category name like “dvds” which are Sharpied out and rewritten to “clothes.” I develop a system to mark what boxes will go into storage and what boxes will go to my partner’s condo and inventory the contents in a spreadsheet. I eye my bookcases wearily because I don’t want to storage my Austens, graphic novels, or my Pratchetts but as I don’t plan on re-reading any of them in the near future, they will be tucked into their cardboard beds.

This is my sixth move in two years.

In the early part of the ’90s I was diagnosed as being manic / depressive which is now commonly referred to as bipolar. I am bipolar 1, which tends to run mania rather than depressive. Since that diagnosis, I’ve swam in the land of drugs only to come out on the other side stable-ish, but often exhausted. My sensitivity to most meds comes at a high cost: I cannot tolerate most common drugs after a few weeks of relief and have spent my non-drug years fighting for a drug free stability.

All of my therapists have called me “lucky” since I am so high functioning. “Self-aware” is used so often I silently grate organ parts upon hearing it and I feel that I’m being treated like an AI robot and not a person. I am told, with the severity of my illness, they are fascinated with my ability to stay high functioning without the drugs. I am told I am atypical and there is great joy watching me under a hypothetical microscope.

A comment often shuttlecocked from my various psychiatric doctors is my extraordinary ability to cope and manage my illness. “You are strong” is the cousin to “self-aware.” It is repeated over and over again I’ve handled so much this far in life I can keep going and things will get better.

My mania started to cresendo in late summer of 2014. It was a terrible year: My beloved dog died, I left my toxic job to write a book, I was sued for libel in a $1.25M lawsuit which the case has now been dismissed. (But that’s a story for another time.) My husband and I’s relationship was fraught to the point, I thought, beyond repair. Around this time a love from a decade prior came back and wooed me with what I wasn’t getting at home. Infatuated with attention, and tired of my husband constantly and mentally checking out, I left him. Six weeks later, I watched a moving truck pack up my things to cart them a thousand miles to my new home with my lover. A man I’ve spent a total of two weeks with over the course of a decade.

And it wasn’t even October.

The mania began to build for about six months prior. My triggers: massive shopping sprees (who needs six of the same dress just in different colors?), sleepless nights, and constant agitation were all there but this time I choose to pin point them on other factors such as my dog dying, being sued, and leaving my job rather than on my illness. Who wouldn’t feel that kind of life strain?

Then the downward slide began.

Caught in this middle world with no ties to either side, it is here that I started to crash.

The plan was simple: Move my things into storage, live with my new lover, and take a mental break for a few months; it had been a hell of a year. In the new year I would start looking for work, move out on my own, and create a new life with my lover.

That was the plan.

Instead of relief, I spent, it seemed, every other night sobbing in my lover’s bedroom or in the shower or when I was driving. I could not be comforted or appeased. Everything around me, even the simplest thing felt huge.

That’s when the ping ponging started. I begged to come home to my ex-husband. I promised to be good and to get back into counseling. I promised to work on finding a good drug combination, I’d do anything, ANYTHING, to be with him again. My soon to be ex-husband made plans of his own: he would get into therapy or anti-depressants or both. He would work to help save our marriage.

A week later I broke my promise.

Several weeks later I was making promises again, sitting in a hotel room writing lengthy diatribes about my luck having two men love me for ever after. After the weekend hotel stay, I’m in such crisis I use ZocDoc to find a local therapist who could see me that day. I am prescribed drugs to help with the mania, a booster for the depression, and Klonopin to help with the anxiety. I am told it’s going to take a few weeks to stabilize.

And even after the promises from the good doctor, weeks after the drugs were started, I still continued to cycle almost violently.

I choose you! I’d say to each man, alternating like laundry on laundry day. I choose you to be with and you alone. My ex-husband writes me a letter where he tells me he will change, everything will get better, and I deserve everything he had withheld from me. My lover begs for me to stay.

This back and forth goes for weeks until I leave the lover and drive a thousand miles back to my ex-husband. He has left the door open, our song is playing on the stereo, and he’s left me love notes from the door to the dining room table with a key taped to one of the notes. I am not home for 15 minutes where I tell him I have chosen my lover over him but and that I was going to change and try to stand on my own two feet.

What I did not tell him was I made it 300 or so miles before I broke down sobbing in a McDonald’s parking lot, begging to be taken back. After I arrive in town and before I had to my ex-husband’s house, I am in a parking lot still begging. The lover takes me back.

I am to stay in town, get my own apartment, stay on the drugs given to me by the doctor I found on ZocDoc (which finally started to work), attempt to write my book again, and try to form a life. Despite the drugs giving some relief, my mood continue to sway like a pendulum. I spend days in utter misery, holed up in my tiny apartment curled on the couch, often sobbing hysterically, making promises still to both men. Despite the promises to stay married, I break those promises (again), and the divorce is finalized on April 1.

Most of the summer I am back and forth between the two men and I’m rarely in my own apartment. In one of the many moves, my things are sent to my ex-husband’s condo to be put in storage. I’ve racked up nearly 15,000 miles on my car over the course of the year and tens of thousands of credit card debt. I am running out of money and the crash that started in October 2014 starts to intensify.

One summery day I am with my ex-lover and the need to leave again is growing so strong, I can barely swallow. My ex-husband owns a cabin in northern Michigan and he wants me to come home. I tell my lover I need to leave, again, under the pretense I am going to go open the cabin and he tells me he is powerless to stop me. “It’s what you do,” he says. Resignation is visible on his face and I know he’s been pulling away for months. As one of the conditions of being back with my lover is therapy, I head to therapy later that day and almost gleefully mention I have broken up with him and I felt great. I do not tell the group I am never coming back again as I’m leaving the state in the next few days.

The month at the cabin is carefree. The ex-husband and I’s relationship has returned to what it was, sans sex, in the beginning of our marriage and with the exception of the daily texts from my lover asking me when I was coming back to him, life goes on as if nothing happened. I keep pushing out the date with legitimate excuses: My ex-husbands car has died and we’re miles from nowhere. I get a terrible summer cold and I am to rest.

Then one fateful day, my lover tells me over Facebook chat, that it is over. He needs to advocate for himself and since I was with my ex-husband, the man who knows me best of all and can take of me, I’m to stay with him until I finally get my life sorted out.

The crash that had started, trickle by trickle, is now full blown. I spends days in bed, unable to move and barely able to breathe. I blame it my ex-lover dumping me but in reality my reluctance to deal with day to day life, being diligent in my drugs and therapy coupled with the promises, the lies, the ping ponging, had taken its toll. I want to blame everyone for everything that has happened. “Bad luck,” I’d say. “Rotten timing.” But even though the now ex-lover is not perfect, I cannot really blame him for leaving. Being with someone who is bipolar is a job in and of itself.

I remain in bed for weeks, barely able to move or eat. I take my drugs diligently but the depression is so smothering I feel pinned down by its existence. I start seeing a new therapist, anti-depressants are added to my regime and slowly the cloud begins to lift.

I tell myself I’m lucky because my ex-husband, now my partner once again, is standing by my side as he’s always stood by my side. It took all of this, as painful it is to say it, to realise how much I really love him. I have a small, but steady, support network and I have not ended up homeless though at times it’s been very close.

My meds have been tweaked and I am feeling the most stable I have felt in years. I mediate and do yoga daily to help with the balance. I see a therapist. The lying and pogoing have slowed and I can feel myself beginning to breathe again. And yet while the crash in October 2015 brought on strength to keep on moving forward, for which I am grateful, but I am much more sensitive to the world around me. More vulnerable. More cautious. There is hope, even in small doses, as I slowly move forward.

This will be the last time I will move, hopefully, a very long time. What’s left of my things will be placed in storage once again and only the necessities will be kept out and used. I have learned over the last two years that my things while my things don’t define me, they are a part of me. Whereas before I would get anxious at not having my books and my memories, now I know they will be safe and waiting for me just as I was waiting for myself.

making it rain

Dear Internet,

I got a job.

A real, in my field, letter of interest signed and sealed with a start date job.

Here’s the bittersweetness: I’ll be living in Connecticut.

OH! The irony.

So the gig is as a digital archivist in a corporate setting.1 I’ll be working with the processing and corporate archivists on a large project that is scheduled to run until the end of the year with an option to be picked up in 2017. I signed an NDA so I cannot tell you who I am working for.

I’m nervous. Excited. Grateful. Nervous. Lots of other emotions.

My start date is May 9th.

I am going to have to wear PANTS (which is anything not Chucks, t-shirts, or jeans). I will be out in the world interacting with other people. I will be paying taxes!2 I will be contributing to society.

I get to be an adult with my own things, my own place, and my own decisions to make.

It’s preeetttyyy exciting.

I made the announcement on Facebook on Thursday and nearly half of my Facebook BFFs liked/loved and some commented on the post. SO MANY PEOPLE are rooting for me. I never thought in a million years I would have this large of a fan base, but there you go — I have proof I am loved and wanted.

I’m leaving L-ville on May 4th, arriving in Connecticut on May 5th. I’m lining up the usual apartment and hotel shenanigans. I’m packing and getting business done here.

I’ve got a lot of shit to do.

Another great thing? I don’t have to look for a job! First time in 18 months I do not have to feel dehumanized and dejected on the job front. Oh happy day!

There is a kind of creepy part to this equation.

The weekend before I heard from the corporation in regards to scheduling my first interview, I decided to color my hair one color and take out my nose ring. That Monday I got the email with the request for the phone interview that afternoon. If I was moving forward they would reach out to my references and schedule the video interview.

References were checked Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.

They got in touch with me Tuesday afternoon to schedule the video interview for that Friday. After the video interview, the next process would be for them to confer, make their recommendation, and move forward with the candidate of their choosing. I would know by the end of the following week (April 22).

A few days after the interview, I had a discussion with TheExHusband on the need for more profesh clothes as it was spring, nearing summer, and my interview clothes were for fall and winter. He gave me a budget to work with, I surveyed my closet, bought flexible items to fill in the gaps of what I was missing. Clothes had been ordered before I even knew my status.

Thursday the 21st (nearly a week since the video interview), I followed up to find out my status and they said they would let me know as soon as they knew.

They called me that afternoon and I missed the call. We rescheduled the call for 5:15PM and within three minutes they asked if I was still interested and if so, they would like to extend the offer to me. I said yes and here we are!

Time from interview to acceptance: less than two weeks.

Academia can learn a thing or two about the hiring process.


So let’s get to what everyone wants to really know more than about the job: What about TheBassist?

Good question and not unsurprisingly the number one question I’ve received (privately) after my I AM PAYING TAXES announcement. (People worry about me and I love it and I am wholeheartedly always grateful.)

What about him indeed.

On occasion I’ve thought about different scenarios in different contexts if he got back in touch. As my mental wellbeing started to lean more towards being healthy than the crazy, my attitude went from “this is what I would I totally do” (see pre-Wellbutrin) to “I’ll deal with it when it happens. I’ve got shit to do” (see post-Wellbutrin).

Before I continue, let me make one thing clear: I am not getting in touch with him. I’ll be living an hour south of him so the likelihood of us running into each other is pretty slim.

But there is a catch: Many of his local close friends love me and can’t wait to integrate me into their social scene. I’m beyond flattered (and grateful) so I had to put some thought into a scenario where TheBassist and I end up in the same place.3

At first, my thought was, “Oh. No. I hope his friends understand I am not ready to be around him” and “I could never be friends with him after everything that has happened.” When those thoughts started creeping, I took to my journal to write it out.

Within a couple of pages, I had a 180 degree turnaround about the situation.

It’s pretty clear the last year has taken a toil on my psyche and mental health. My self-respect and dignity are making a comeback. I love the sassy me.

Making these wide gestures of “oh no, look at me” is creating drama, even unintentionally. As we’ve seen, even unintentional drama serves no one (especially me). So then I thought, “You know. I can pull up my big girl panties and handle this like a champ. If we’re in the same place at the same time, I can be gracious and kind. It hurts no one and being cruel has never been my forte. It serves no purpose.”

And the job, the move, and everything else? It’s none of his business. It’s my life and he has no say in it.

It came to me I had a choice: I could be a spoilt child having a tantrum or I could be graceful and keep my dignity intact.

I choose the later.

Once I came to that conclusion in my journal, I signed off for the evening and went to bed.


I’m a catch. I’m adorable. I’m funny. I can converse on a variety of topics. I’m kind to people. I’m loyal and I can be naughty as fuck when needed. The list of my good qualities and personality endeavours is as long as I am tall

(I am humble too.)

But there is a crazy Lisa and a mentally healthy Lisa. He came in the beginning of the crazy. If he can’t strip that away, disregard whatever fantasy (I believe) he had of me, and see the real me. Well, his loss.


I will be gracious and kind if I come across him in social situations. But to be coffee meeting friends? No. To wish him ill will? No. To cause drama and strife? No. Do I wish him to have a good life? Absolutely.

Will feelings about what has transpired hurt? Of course they will — my therapist assured me this is normal. How I respond to these feelings is what dictates whether or not my mental health is, well, healthy. To start out a bit panicky about the prospect of running into him in social situations and to come to the conclusion I’ll be fine and the situation will be fine is what differs from then to now.

I will be okay.


I’ve got a hunch he’s seeing someone. No one has told me, and I had asked them not to, so my hunch could be unfounded. But I’ve got a feeling and sometimes my feelings are right. Of course it hurts my heart a little bit to know he could be with someone or he’s pursuing someone. It has been six months since the break-up and while I have taken time out of the dating world to handle self-care it does not behold him to do the same.

In the end, all I’ve wanted was for him to be happy and for me, obviously, to make him happy. If I’m not the person who can do that, I hope he finds someone who can love him the way he wants and needs to be loved and to find happiness in that person. That is all I’ve ever wanted.

As for me? I’m a grown ass woman and I’ve got shit to do.

xoxo,
Lisa


1. I swore until the ends of time I could never work corporate. Well end time is nigh and I’ve got to make it rain.
2. A friend of mine who is an accountant swore he’s never heard someone get excited about paying taxes before. It’s how I roll.
3. I give myself ideas of potential scenarios to get a vague idea of of how I would react to that situation. I like being, to some extent, prepared for eventualities. It’s what I do.

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2012, 2000

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