“Regret is just perfectionism plus time.”
Perfectionism can be deadly. It makes life even more stressful that it already is. Unfortunately, perfectionism is also the perfect answer to the question “What is your greatest weakness?” asked by potential employers during job interviews. Employers only want people who are willing to strive for perfection even though it isn’t possible for humans to achieve. That’s part of what makes jobs so dehumanizing. It’s also why so many jobs formerly done by humans are now automated and why you have to listen to several minutes of a recorded message that tells you which number to press for your issue, which isn’t listed among the issues with numbers, and then offers you the opportunity to either buy more insurance, get a new credit card, or take advantage of a limited-time-only promotion of their newest product before you’re finally allowed to press 0 to speak with a customer service representative about your actual issue.
I was worried that Zoloft might further dehumanize me by making me unable to cry, but I cried this morning. The difference was that I also stopped crying this morning, instead of continuing to cry until sometime next week. I cried because I had to text a former co-worker to ask them to clean out my desk and box my things because the secretary kept calling me with reminders to do that. The coworker responded by telling me that the secretary had already asked her to do that yesterday and asked if I would come to pick the box up. This is a coworker who was always kind and supportive towards me. I feel terrible that I’m probably making her, and everyone else there, feel like I think they’re horrible monsters because I can’t face going there. And because I didn’t ask her to do it myself a long time ago when she told me to let her know if there was anything she could do to help me. While it’s true that some of them are unkind and like to gossip behind people’s backs, it’s also true that some of them are kind and are at least probably not judging me even if they don’t know me well enough to have actual concern for my well-being. Now that I’m learning that everything is not black and white, it’s also possible that even people who sometimes talk about me behind my back can also sometimes be genuinely concerned with my well-being. That’s a reality that it’s really hard for me to know what to do with, and I don’t know how other people learn to live with it.
It seems that people do hurtful things to people they care about, and then they’re sorry and ask for forgiveness and the people they hurt forgive them. I’m pretty sure that the only way people can stay friends for 50 years. I don’t have a lot of experience with that. The things my parents did to hurt me were unforgivable, so I only learned how to run away from people when they hurt me. My hurt served as irrefutable evidence proving that not only did they not care about me, they were dangerous and not to be trusted. Here I am all these years later, still running away from people who hurt me and situations that demean me. Demean is a strange word. The prefix de- usually means negating the thing it precedes, yet demean doesn’t mean to make not mean, as in not cruel. It means to lower someone’s status or reputation. Demean also means conduct—which is how the word misdemeanor was invented. It’s not until you add the -ing that it becomes synonymous with belittling, degrading, and disparaging.
Being unable to overcome my social anxiety at work enough to be able to demonstrate my Spanish language skills made me look like I lied about even having those skills. Getting assigned to special ed as a result felt demeaning. So did being grabbed, insulted, and/or screamed at by students with “behavioral issues” on a daily basis. The stress weakened my immune system, so I caught every illness brought into the building by children of poverty-stricken parents who can’t afford to lose work to stay home and care for them, so send them to school despite the vomiting, the rash, or the fever. Being sick so much was how my long period of extreme isolation that led to this severe depression started. Or maybe it really started with being demeaned.
Since I’ve been depressed, it makes me sadder when I see things that show that I used to care about myself even if I wasn’t always consistent about it. For example, a couple of months ago, I bought myself a Britta water filtering system and a year’s worth of replacement filters, just like someone who would still want to be alive in six months and who cared enough about themselves to refuse to drink city water that smells like chlorine and possibly contains lead. I also bought two 500-count packages of Q-tips, which were on sale two for $6, because in that moment, I not only cared enough to buy myself the best name brand, but took it for granted that I would be alive for at least 500 more days, using two per day, one for each ear. I even bought myself some rubber gloves to protect my hands from all the toxic chemicals contained in cleaning products.
It wasn’t just physical things, either. There are also the jazz dance and Spanish conversation classes that I haven’t been going to for weeks despite having paid for them already. I tried to go to the Spanish class last night, but it had been cancelled because the teacher was ill. I gave myself credit for trying anyway. I also pointed out to myself that I probably hadn’t missed anything important because most of the people in the class are total beginners, so the first few classes would have been pretty boring for me since I’m at an upper intermediate level even if I’m not able to demonstrate that when I’m in the life or death situation of having to in order to keep from being demeaned at my job.
This is the third day in a row that I’ve been able to get up at 7:30. Maybe this is my real circadian rhythm, because I didn’t set an alarm. Tomorrow, I have a telephone interview with, are you ready for this, a wealth management company! You may be tempted to believe that just because I’m on the fast track to homelessness I don’t know anything about the stock market or investments, but you’d be wrong about that. When I found out that the PERS system was invested in Halliburton, I cashed out of it and invested the money in the market myself, choosing sustainable green companies, and actually making money while others were losing their retirement incomes. Those were some more of my good old days, before I had to sell almost all of it off little by little just to pay for space to exist, medical deductibles, and mandatory car insurance because jobs don’t pay enough to cover all those things.
I’m surprised at how calm I feel despite being on that fast track. Thanks, Zoloft!