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.


It is Sunday, and I am at West Town Community Church acquiring some much needed serenity when as usual and predictably, I hear my muted phone vibrate. I hear that there has been a voice message, and without even looking at the phone a sense of weariness and hopelessness descends upon me, blotting out any peacefulness I might feel. I breathe a quiet sigh, since I am now in a meeting about a VBS trip to Jamaica, and silently check the phone number, hoping that somehow it is not my tormentor. But, it is and I barely hear the remainder of the meeting because I am totally distracted. I greet other church attendees smiling and answering, “I’m good today” when asked how I am, all the while knowing that if I actually said how I really feel, their eyes would glaze over and they would politely drift away to speak to someone more cheerful. I am invited to lunch downtown and decline because I am so sick, tired, and troubled that I just cannot focus. I remind myself that we are keeping him alive and at least he is not living in the street, sleeping in a box, and robbing houses to survive. I remind myself that he is much better off now than 3 years ago, but is he really? When does “assisting” equal “enabling?” We have created a “monster” regarding his incessant requests for money. If he put just one once of the tenacity he exhibits in calling over and over and over for money into getting the right treatment and medication, and just doing the right thing, he might actually stand a chance of having something more than a day to day existence. He has absolutely no self-knowledge or insight into the possibility that his line of thinking is totally skewed. I have come to the realization that he will never be OK and that no amount of money will ever be enough because we are just putting a Bandaid on a gaping wound. He will continue to slowing leak blood, even when we think that we have “solved” the problem. He plays “mind games” by asking for a small amount one day, and after you send it he suddenly says that he is about to be evicted, as if he didn’t know this the day before. After screaming myself horse in the car, I arrive at my second home to send him the money that I don’t have to spare in my account. Then he doesn’t call back. No matter what I say to him, he has selective hearing and gives me lip service, saying he understands that he cannot call every few days for money. Yet, two or three days go by and that infamous 609 area code comes up. When I don’t answer the phone, he mounts a concerted campaign, bombarding me with phone call after call, playing the “guilt” card. I cannot continue living like this—being held in emotional captivity by my tormentor. There are days that I want to just let him be evicted and live in the street again. I am tormented by my tormentor because I both love and hate him simultaneously. I love him intensely yet I HATE what he does to my peace and serenity and can’t help resent him. I live in either love, hate, or guilt, never in tranquility because I know that there will never be an end to this until one of us dies.

Surgery Log 2012 – Faith

Faith – 12/6/12 – Thursday – As usual, I wake up feeling stiff and sore, but try to put a positive spin on the day. It actually was a good day because I was busy up until 4 pm. I decided to miss the Christmas party tonight. That was not my original intention and I was going to bake something to take, but as the day progressed I became increasingly exhausted (specifically my legs) and started dragging my right leg. I just kept thinking that it would be embarrassing if I fell or dropped my plate or had to have someone carry it for me. Then if people hadn’t seen me lately, they would be shocked to see how deteriorated I seem, barely able to walk. So, I just said to myself that I have to let my body rest, no matter what. I’m sure nobody was terribly upset that I didn’t show up. I’ll hit a meeting tomorrow and this way, I will rest and not eat like a pig, as I always do with these eating meetings. I made a nice meal here and just relaxed. I sometimes think it is better not to see people who are improving after surgery because it makes me angry. I know that is not the reaction that I am supposed to have but I simply cannot help myself. I mean no ill will for anyone, I just feel angry and jealous, even though I know it is irrational. I also notice that people get sick of hearing how you are not doing very well because people’s natural proclivity is to assume that after surgery you will improve. So, when I tell them I am not doing as well as I thought, their eyes glaze over and they drift away. Nobody wants to hear bad news and I guess I don’t blame them at all. When I spoke with Gail last night she said for me to “hang in there” and go into prayer mode. She said she would say prayers for me too. I prayed and prayed and prayed and sometimes I guess it works. The trick is believing in prayer and God even when there is no evidence that the prayers are working, because it is often not instantaneous, as I would like. But, having faith is the key. Faith equals hope and when there is no faith there is no hope and no hope is death to me.