I had an interesting post drafted yesterday, that would have been useful to me, but I lost it and cannot remember it. Today I say I wish I felt free, worthy, strong the way I imagine J to do, for instance. I have sometimes felt this way, but rarely — I have always known I had hurt someone irreparably and also that I was less capable, less acceptable than other people. So I rarely feel free, worthy, strong.
When I sought psychotherapy for this problem I was told that that damaged person was the real me, and that the parts of me that were healthy or healed were illusory. I keep trying to recover from this most serious blow but I have not succeeded yet. It is so easy to do others’ work in lieu of mine because I consider that anything I could do would be worthless and that the time spent doing it is time misspent. Or, the things I do will be worthwhile and so I risk suffering downright lethal abuse for doing them, whereas if I work for others I may partially atone for my existence and also be assigned less suffering.
I do not want to be the person who thinks this way. I want to call my healthy and healed self into being this morning. I may have been told by several that this is impossible for me but I think they are as misinformed as the first people who began passing me bad information.
I like this post and I still think that Rebecca Schuman’s decision against further considering a bad tenure track job — the discussion people so hated her for — was a good one. Her talking about the alienation from her intellectual and academic goals taking that job would have meant offended many, precisely because she was saying what nobody wants to admit: not all academic jobs offer situations in which your work can flourish, no matter how good you are or how dedicated and interested you are.
Where I disagree with the discussion of extrinsic and intrinsic “rewards” for doing work is that the people who say they are doing it for their own sake have working conditions that would, in themselves, be more than enough as an “extrinsic” “reward” (or motivation, or stimulation) for me. Yet they claim their motivation is “intrinsic.”
But there is no non-arbitrary distinction between internal and external motivation, I have been told, and for myself I notice that when I say “I am not interested” it is a defense against saying things like, “I am in so much emotional pain that it is all I can do to keep it together to get to the store each week, let alone do any kind of academic work (and not just writing, or research) … precisely because it is academic work, in my field, that opens the floodgates to a degree of pain I cannot bear.
I would have retrained so that I could at least do something useful. At the moment I think that what I need is only rest. A year’s sabbatical in a nurturing place, well enough funded so that I could do things and not worry, would go a very long way toward improving me, actually.
Working in extreme pain and in thin ground. Trying to do this while also knowing that every accomplishment makes me into a person still more challenging and hurtful in my very being to the people I am responsible for.
I really do not want things to be this way and I do not think it was intended. People do not realize how words can wound, especially when repeated over periods of years.
I really do not want things to be this way. I need far more support than I have and as I say, I find it ironic that those who have such support claim their motivation is entirely internal. I need support that is not forthcoming but I would still like, at least, to call my stronger self to me.
And also: there has always been support around in the larger world but I tend not to feel equal to it. Part of my problem now is seeing what is actually support as a burden, because it requires of me a self respect I do not always muster. I want to muster it.