It is strange how gratitude comes.
I am in a place where there is loud talking, yelling, people frustrated all the time. Conservative news or pop TV shows on all the time really loud. I am now depressed. I am in a large, beautiful suburban house with no drug fumes and no ghosts that I discern, but I am having a depressive episode, which to my memory hasn’t happened since 2006 or so. Why am I so grateful?
I am learning that living in a large house does not equal happiness. I would take living in a small place with shabby furniture any day. I am grateful that my attitude at the world was formed in my poverty, hard oppressive work, reading and exposure to great books from used book stores or on the streets, and being around other artists. I am grateful that I have had a rich artistic life, even through hard times, such as hunger, jealous roommates who played loud music, harassed me, and tried to make me give up while I was preparing or recovering for a big show.
I am grateful that I am having a depressive episode in a safe place, where I am not being told to find work, or to snap out of it. I can experience this depression with somebody who is going through depression, even if it is not “the same thing”. I am also re-experiencing depression that I had in my twenties, when I had 1 or 2 year depressive episodes with short manic periods in between. I now have much more compassion for people who are depressed, many of those who self medicate, of are medicated, who are bad with keeping appointments, keeping in contact, and being late and arrogant. I will from now on let these people work at a professional level in their own time, and stop thinking of them as stoner losers.
My friend grew up here in this town with these parents. The parents provided him with everything material, and he never had to pay his student loans, worry about money if he lost a job or a living space. He was provided for and loved, but he was not prepared with an edge to work harder, be uncomfortable, and sacrifice for art. I really love my friend for being able to see across culture and class to want to help me with a place where I can catch up on sleep. (He is one of the only white people who admits to his privilege). He understands how I developed depression here, as he has been depressed the past 3 years since he moved back here. I am grateful for his compassion and his effort to try to understand my life. He has also tried and succeeded a panic attack when we were shopping for food. He listens to me about my childhood and early adulthood without questioning or denying my experience, or cutting me off to talk about himself. I am learning gratitude every day.
My PTSD is improving. Though my friend has reverted to his verbal cruelty and abuse from his old days 4 times here, I only had 1 panic attack and that was due to a stranger when shopping. I have a safe place to read every day about PTSD, Narcissistic parents, systematic racism, and how psycho analysis does not work. I am also learning that CBT may work but may not. I started reading an essay on how very early childhood torture and abuse affects a person, and am pretty convinced that I do not have borderline personality disorder, but PTSD that is mistaken for a personality disorder and being too sensitive. It makes sense and I am relieved somewhat, though I still am against people lauging at people, especially women and girls with borderlines, as “crazies” or “headcases”. Living as a a woman of color diagnosed and having believed that I have borderline, I think that insensitivity towards the pain a person experiences no matter what cause, and laughing about other’s mental illness is as bad as a person laughing at somebody’s being crippled, blind, deaf, etc. My mother used to laugh with people with disabilities. As I child in the inner city with excellent hippy leftists public school teachers, I was disgusted at the way my mother felt better about belittling the crippled. If I still lived with the ghost in the shared room that I left in November, I would have not had the strength to read and study and reassess and cry and break down. I would have not had my friend to listen to me and validate my thoughts and feelings.
While I am here, more and more suppressed memories are coming up. It is because I am in a safe place to remember. I am sleeping 10+ hours a day to catch up on 8 months of lost sleep. I am good at cooking because I often had to prepare meals for my family starting at age 7 because my parents were too drunk, hung over, or was having a narcissitic histrionic session. I never saw “the A Team”, “Dynasty”, “Miami Vice”, “Chips”; the classics for all the children of my generation in the USA because I did not watch television as a child. My parents were bad at managing money and the TV sets we had were hand me downs from working artists and working people who gave them old sets. Some of these sets were smashed pr thrown by my father so there were times that out family had no TV. My sister who was not groomed to be a whore, nor go to and IVY league school for free (i know, psychopathic thinking) watched TV while I was to styudy or change clothes, like 4 times while my father watched wearing piss stained briefs and nothing else. These are just 2 things that I am remembering. I am learning not to blame myself for forgetting, as I believe that these memories were suppressed for my survival.
Why were we even in an apartment when my parent’s didn’t work? I am starting to see that much of my early life is a mystery. My grandmother and some of my relatives on both sides said that my parents were not independent when I was in my ancestral country in 1985. I was there for a religious rite that my parents’ couldn’t attend because they were illegal immigrants at that time. According to my parents’ family, they were sending money to help their “artistic life” which in reality was an “addict’s life” My parents denied this. I was told that my mother’s part time work went to rent. I do not believe this and did not believe this then. We lived in a low rent neighborhood at that time, but the rent was not that low, compared to my classmates’. (i guess in the inner city, kids talk about how much their parents pay for rent) My father’s art studio, which had the same 2 paintings for years, and a bed by the window for who knows what, cost more rent then the apartment. My father drank a bottle of Jack Daniels every night. JD is one of the cheaper whiskies, but it adds up. In a safe place, I am able to question things in my past, add things up, and hopefully, move out of damaging ways of thought such as: “I have to work, even in food service or retail because I have been on disability for too long”, or “Its all in your head, breathe” or, “I need to go apologize to my parents and make peace with them”. I have gotten rid of these thoughts. It helps that I am away from people who tell me garbage like that. Some of them seem to mean well, but it keeps me mentally ill for longer to think that I am not strong enough. I am very very grateful to be away from these well meaning insensitive people.
I am learning to be more grateful. I am grateful that I am not still living with a ghost and going on 11 months of sleeping 1 or 2 or no hours a night. I am grateful to be with my friend. When I left here in September (see “Vacation” post below. I cried every day because I missed my friend. Now I see him everyday, and am able to have a friendshep. Something came up today:
My friend was arguing with his father about politics and said that “They (Donald Trump and Rush Limbaugh) should eat a shit sandwich”. I wanted to cry. I remember reading in “Summerhill” by Dr. Neill that he had students who’s parents forced him to eat his own excrement. I knew an artist who was forced to eat her vomit when she vomited food that her parents prepared. I also have been reading account of women who were actually trafficked for sex. I see on the internet about ICE and families being inspected. I see articles on Syrian refugees that are cold, hungry, tired, and no idea of where they are going. I am learning to stop internalizing all my feelings and pain, and learning that others are suffering, as I am. I know the teacher Eckhard Tolle lived homeless for 2 years. I know the past few years of having no shelter security taught me a lot about how people live, think, and interact.
I am watching films like “Zeitgeist”, and “Ethos” and reaffirming that I was not in the wrong for quitting jobs where I was expected to be corrupt. I am reaffirmed that I am not paranoid for knowing that bosses tried to keep me down for fear that I will either uncover their laziness and greed of that I will usurp their position.
I started this post thinking that it would be about a paragraph long. Writing this has helped me see how much I came along since November. I am teary as I finish this post.