Friday, March 28, 2014

There is a Time for Grief and a Time for Other Things

I had a lot of mourning to do back in early winter. I'd tried and nearly succeeded at killing myself on October 20. I was two years out of university with almost nothing to show for my frantic job search, I was isolated from my former friends, the recreational drinking I'd engaged in while a college student was turning into a quiet problem, and my relationship with my parents had arguably never been more toxic. So I decided to end it all. And then, inexplicably, I woke.

That's the part you never count on, what happens if you somehow make it out of the thing alive. Immediately I was overwhelmed by guilt about the ordeal I'd caused my family, and I had to do some painful self-examination regarding the factors, some external but many internal, that led me to combine those two poisonous bottles one morning in early fall.

So the winter was a time for introspection. It was a time for withdrawal from the world and, yes, for grief. I cried. I dreamed. I laid in bed at night and wished I'd been successful. I used alcohol to numb the pain and then said hurtful things that turned away a good friend. And I ate.

Goodness, did I eat. In the cold emotional wilderness that followed my suicide attempt, the warmth of food offered an easy and immediate comfort that I was all too quick to take advantage of. The result: by the time spring rolled around, I'd gained somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty pounds.

This is what BB looked like before, back in November:

I won't show you pictures from now. I haven't taken any.

Its drawbacks aside, though, winter was a time of shelter, of warmth and possibilities, a time of discovery about my past that has helped me to plot my future. I understand now why I did this. And I am determined not to do it again.

They say attitude is everything, and I've come to believe they're at least partially right. The months leading to my suicide were marked by a fatalism that was both freeing and horrifying, but the months since it have been defined by a search not of how best to die but how best to live. With a growing awareness that it was my task to revitalize myself, I resolved that the endless loop of job applications and false hopes had to come to a close. I needed to take decisive action, and so I have.

There are two options facing me now, one of which I will be embarked upon by June 1: the first is public relations; the second is academia.

Having blown out of my Marble City internship after two weeks (a decision I now, despite early misgivings, regard as being one of the best I've ever made), I've continued to apply for paid internships in my chosen field and will do so until the onset of summer. At that point, should I not have secured a position, I will enter academia either in a master's of education program or a bachelor's of history program.

Both of these academic branches have the same eventual goal: my teaching history at the university level, but they entail taking very different tracks to get there. If I start the master's of education program, which is my preferred route, I will finish it in two years and around the fall of 2016 will take up a job as a high school history teacher. From there I'll obtain my undergraduate degree in history while working, followed by a master's and eventually a doctorate.

Should I be denied admission to the teaching program, which seems improbable given that I meet all its requirements, I will simply enter directly into the bachelor's of history program and go through to my doctorate. This second option would appear the more straightforward, but the first is preferable by virtue of securing me a more immediate income.

So there you have it. BB, whom you met as a college student, may soon be a college student again. This is a time for journeys. For increased knowledge, for decreased weight, for ever-widening horizons.


Anonymous said...

I love that you have been so open here. Not that you've ever couched the conversation. But this means a lot. You have a definite plan. You've made decisions that you intend to stick to. And to be honest, teaching high school history isn't all that bad. When you get there, let me know, I'll send you links to some systems around here that you could get started in with schools where the kids care (as much as any do, but probably a bit more), decent pay, low cost of living, and if you desire, a place to park until you decide to move on.

I get the whole eating thing. I need to get on your program and get the weight under control. We can encourage each other.

Love this, BB. You've got you're sh!t together, and that says a lot for your character.

Peace <3

naturgesetz said...

College teaching is certainly a worthwhile vocation. So's high school, for that matter. I imagine that high school tends to be more general, both because of the nature of the student body, and the level of detail possible at each level. At the college level, you probably get a bit more of a chance to teach what interests you. OTOH, I have a gut feeling that if someone has the talent to get through to high schoolers, teaching them is very important.

As for the path to follow, have you discussed this with some history profs. Does having taught in high school help you get a college position? Do you need an undergrad degree in history to get into grad school for it. Do you need the background that a college major will give to be able to do well in grad school?

Either way, it may seem like a long slog ahead of you, but the career will last much longer. Here's hoping it all goes well.

Angel The Alien said...

I am happy you are alive. Sometimes it takes a lot of bravery to keep going. I think it is great that you have a plan AND a back-up plan that both lead to the career you are hoping for. Teaching in a college sounds like a great profession. Teaching in a high school would be different, but also fun! (Although I myself try to stick to elementary special ed,.. I don't think I'd do too well in a high school!)

Dean Grey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dean Grey said...

Brightened Boy!

I'm glad you survived and that you're still here!

I've also dabbled in suicidal ideation since childhood. It's not easy but I still have hope there's something better coming my way...and I'm sure for you too!

Big (((HUGS)))!!!


Arizaphale said...

Teaching. The noble profession. Also a pretty good secure source of income it has to be said. So pleased to hear you on the up but really feeling you on the whole weight thing. Wish I could break out of the cycle....

Nedra said...

I know it's too little too late. I know it. But 6 years ago your comments on my page were a little ray of light in a whole lot of darkness. I hate that you went through this. I hate that I didn't keep in touch. I love that you lived. I love that I didn't come back to a ghost blog that hadn't been updated since October. What a disservice that would have been to you. I would have shrugged, assumed you lost interest and moved on to some other project. It's an awful flaw of mine to assume that people move through life the way I do; loudly. Saying the important things, and drawing attention when I need it. It means I don't often notice the unsaid important things. The hints. You've commented to me maybe once in the past 3 years? I can't even find it now. I haven't updated much in that time. Maybe that was the hint? It's probably a good thing that I missed it, cause BB, I would be furious with you. Pointlessly, unhelpfully furious.