The Daily Slog

I have decided to try, in 2023, to stop trying to compete with everyone. When I open FB first thing in the morning, I am engulfed with a wave of resentment, jealousy, and self-loathing.

I have decided to try, in 2023, to stop trying to compete with everyone. When I open FB first thing in the morning, I am engulfed by a wave of resentment, jealousy, and self-loathing, which in turn leads to severe depression. This is not a good way to start the day. I have been trying to rid myself of negative thoughts, but they pop up everywhere. Since I am not living on as much money I was used to lately, I have found myself jealous of people who have a “perfect” retirement—those who were more responsible than I was. The thing is, I was super responsible when I was still employed by BCBS, but I stopped contributing to my 401K at 50, when I lost my job. So, instead of finding a job down here that would continue that, I decided to do my own thing. I can’t say I didn’t try—I was fired by two legitimate jobs that were similar to what I had in NY. I left another one, to take the one I was fired from. I worked at the Y, and then became a massage therapist, which was not a bad idea. But, after 5 years of putting up with assholes who just didn’t like me, or not really being able to get regular clients, I decided to “retire.” I was under the impression that my money from my IRA would last, especially when I began to collect Social Security at 62. But alas, I was told I had to be more careful and take less of a distribution, lest my money be gone by the time I was 82—yikes. I never even thought I’d live to be 70, much less 82. That has thrown me into a bad cycle of depression and self-recrimination, as well as jealousy of those more financially secure. But I have realized that I am not as bad off as I thought. I have been on all kinds of stupid job sites or “work at home” job sites to no avail. They are a joke, and it is super frustrating and depressing that I am in this position. But, alas, Social Security to the rescue—In 2023 they had an 8.7% raise in benefits, which translates to $150 extra a month. I also told Joseph I cannot give him the meager amount of $100 each month. Now I will at least have about $300 to at least add into my savings account. I was adding in at least $400 and sometimes $500 so that showed I was taking out too much of a distribution. But I actually think this may work. Yet, I am besieged by bouts of anxiety and depression almost daily, sometimes bad, and sometimes minimal. What has helped me is seeing that people have things way worse than I do. I was at a New Years’ Day evening celebration at Elle’s house, and an older lady named Itala, told me that she has a lot of physical issues and she is in pain all the time. In addition to that, she rents a room from a person whom she dislikes and that she has absolutely no retirement fund—she just lives on her social security. I realized at that point how lucky I was, and she would love to be in my position. Whenever you think you have it bad, someone else has a worse situation. I do realize I have a lot to be grateful for in my life. When I have gratitude, I feel much better, the “refrigerator stops running” and I have some peace. But this does not last too long because I am alone too much and too much in my own head (which is a dangerous neighborhood to be in too long).

But what has contributed to my low mood was that I somehow feel that I must compete with everyone. I had several pictures displayed at the Harlem Arts Council for a few months, with not one sale. So, when I went to pick them up Faye told me I should’ve priced them lower or negotiated. What the hell do I know about that—I wish I knew about that ahead of time. So, she said she will do a show of my work in a few months and gave me assignments. I also just read about how if you price too high, you will sell nothing at all. Now I know. I felt bolstered on that day, but my mood is still up and down like a rollercoaster, and I believe it is because I still feel like I am having to “build a business” and compete and I keep thinking that all I want is to sell some pics. I don’t need a new business and I just want to be peaceful. That will never happen if I keep pursuing goals that are unrealistic. I just want to be content to do my art and show it and not feel like a total failure in life when I can’t sell my art or myself. I have never been one to brag or sell myself—I need someone to do this for me and in that absence, I will never have an income stream from my art. I just want to be content, but the problem of comparison still plagues me. When I go to the Bible study, which is starting up this week, I can’t help but compare myself to these younger, affluent women with their huge homes that they are remodeling and their amazing kids, and vacations all the time. When we go around that room and say something about ourselves the first day, I want to say, “I pass.” I sound pathetic and lonely when I say I almost never see my family.  I don’t know if people die of loneliness, but if they did, I’d definitely be dead and buried long ago. Each morning I must sit on the edge of the bed and find a reason to continue on in the world.  I know I can’t leave my birds, which is one reason I get on with the day, but often with a black cloud hanging over my head all the time. I almost never feel just OK, but when I write and do creative things it helps center me. So, here I am on a Friday night just writing my heart out to feel at least acceptable tomorrow.

One Second from Disaster

Why is it that some people seem to live a charmed life.  Nothing bad ever happens to them—they sail through life with nothing major going wrong.

Why is it that some people seem to live a charmed life.  Nothing bad ever happens to them—they sail through life with nothing major going wrong. That is my one question—why?

I get up in the morning with a vague feeling of anxiety that almost never leaves me. I am not one to feel sorry for myself and hate being on the pity pot. Yet I feel jealous of women with their big cleavages and think about what if they got this damn disease. How about all those women with their big manes of hair, so confident that nothing can touch them. Well, this fucking disease doesn’t care about that and this life is a mine field. You can be going along, all smug, posting your “best life” on Facebook, when suddenly your life as you know it comes to a screeching halt. That is how it is—we are all one second away from disaster.

When my friend Janet got the news that she had MDS (myelodysplastic syndrome) the disease which ultimately killed her, she called it the “train wreck.” That describes it exactly –a feeling of disbelief and confusion. Any faith that you thought you had is shaken. “How could this be?” you ask yourself, knowing that you are not invincible and the grim reaper has come to your doorstep.

Having had the big C 34 years ago, for some strange reason I felt that was it. I was sure that I would never get cancer ever again—that my turn had come and I came through it.  But that’s not the way things work in the world. So, I put my big girl brave face out there and made it my mission to fight this. I was determined to remain positive and I actually did. On the days I had an infusion for 3 hours I actually was in good spirits. I tried to analyze why that was so and I can only surmise that I felt cared for and loved. My friend would come over, bring me lunch, and we would chat. I guess you would say I did not suffer from many chemo side effects so I was lucky (or blessed depending upon where you come from).

I counted down the chemo cycles (I had 6) and posted pictures of me getting the infusion. People responded and I felt loved again. But a strange thing happened after the last cycle—I felt let down and depressed. One would think I would feel wonderful and relieved but I was just the opposite. I didn’t know what to do with myself and I simply felt abandoned. I was no longer special and my purpose in life, which turned out to be just getting through the chemo, was gone. I felt that I lost my purpose. I have been struggling to get that back and I am having a hard time. People don’t understand how I feel—they think I should be happy, happy, and grateful. I am grateful it is over but I am left with the residual fear of having this return. I think crazy thoughts and get into my own head that I somehow have metastatic cancer and I will surely die of this. I have a mammogram next month and my head tells me that I have cancer in the other breast now.  I speak to other cancer survivors and many of them feel like me, so maybe I’m not unique, but I still can’t shake these feelings.

Logically, I know that we must “live in the day” and not the past or future because you miss the beauty of the moment. Yet I catch myself thinking about 10 years down the road sometimes and it is frightening. I engage in the “what ifs” which only increases my anxiety because the future is fraught with those nasty mine fields.

I know this is not exactly a very inspirational piece but this is how I feel. I have kept this inside of myself and whenever someone asks me how I feel, I simply say, “Fine” or “OK” when I really want to say, “I am fucking depressed and anxious”. But nobody wants to hear that—all they want to hear is that you are good so they can feel good too.