Monday, September 5, 2011


Before I get on with this post, I should warn you that my depression has been kicking in again lately.  Right now, I just need to vent...


I started keeping a diary when I was eleven years old.  There were a couple of years when I would reserve the very last page in each book for a letter to myself at some future age; it was fun to imagine the type of life I might have back then.  I got the idea from a book by L.M. Montgomery (yes, the woman who wrote Anne of Green Gables); I think it was Emily's Quest.  When Emily was 14, she had written a letter to herself at age 24, asking herself about what her life was like now, and signed it:

Your Foolish,
Old Self

I did pretty much the same thing in my letters, right down to the signature.  And in case you're wondering what this has to do with anything, I should probably mention that one of the letters that I wrote to myself when I was fifteen was addressed to myself on a day that I'm now quite certain will never come: my wedding day.

I find it interesting, now, to think of the assumptions that I was still capable of making when I was fifteen.  I was so confident that eventually I'd have a job I loved, or liked at the very least, by some time earlier in my 20's.  (I'm 28 now, due to turn 29 in November.)  I thought that even though I wasn't exactly the prettiest girl in my grade at school, I would eventually start dating and find someone with whom I had enough mutual love, respect, and trust to marry them, and that they'd want to marry me.  Before I realized that for various reasons I'd be a terrible mother, and before I found out that there were a number of unpleasant genetic surprises in my family history, I did want children, though not very many; two at most.

The reality?  In spite of all the work that I put in at school, and continue to put into building up a résumé that might lead to a decent career, I have been unable to find a job since I graduated from teacher's college.  I have decided that I don't want children because I couldn't imagine it being even remotely ethical to have kids when I know that there's a good chance that they'll inherit something unpleasant from me, like a congenital heart defect (which I don't have, but because heart trouble runs in my family on both sides I am probably a carrier for it), and when I know that I couldn't possibly be a good mother: to put it bluntly, I'm too screwed up in the head.*  As for anything related to my love life, I dated a few times, but nothing ever really came of it.  I haven't had a date in ten years, actually, because in the past decade nobody I've been attracted to has been attracted to me.  I've been single so long that I don't really know how to be anything else.  Given my age and relative lack of experience, and given that every year that passes means that there's a greater likelihood that anyone who I could meet and be attracted to who was even remotely age-appropriate for me and not disgusted by the size of my body would already have formed a long-lasting relationship with someone else, I suspect that it's highly unlikely that I'll ever be anything else now.

All things considered, I feel somewhat inadequate and (since I haven't been able to find a job) totally useless and unworthy of that kind of relationship anyway.  Unemployed people, especially the chronically unemployed, like me, have a reputation for being worthless and lazy slackers who just sponge off of everyone else.  I wonder if the degree to which I have internalized that stereotype has anything to do with my feelings of inadequacy.  Goodness knows I've spent enough time berating myself for my lack of work.  As it is, and as much as I'm trying my hardest to make good changes in my life, there are just some times when I feel extremely lonely and a little powerless because in the past ten years, my personal failures and some outside circumstances have tended to combine in just such a way that I almost get what I want, but in the end, I don't because somebody else who deserves it more gets it instead.  Or, in the case of certain jobs that would have been perfect for me, not even being able to apply for what I want because they're only open to people on Employment Insurance or who are under 29 and have recently graduated from college or university (and this second one is a type of stipulation I don't remember seeing until I'd been out of school for about three years).  Or because even though they're entry-level positions, the employers are asking only for people with at least six months' worth of relevant job experience.

I am thoroughly tired of this.  Tired of not being good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, or worthy enough.  For all the promise that I showed as a younger person, I have turned out to be a complete disappointment and I am ashamed of it.  There are some days when I feel like because of all of this, I'm a waste of time, space, and resources.  This is one of them.

And those letters I wrote to myself?  I've re-read them.  I'd laugh if it wasn't so overwhelmingly frustrating that practically nothing I hoped for when I wrote those letters has come to pass.

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*Edit for a slight clarification, Oct. 23 2011: it's not that I think it's my depression that makes it a bad idea for me to reproduce, or any other mental issues I may or may not have; I like kids and I generally tend to get along with them very well, which is particularly good because I am a teacher who is currently doing volunteer work in a primary-level classroom.  However, over the years my ability to trust other people has been severely hampered because of multiple extremely bad experiences with people I thought I could trust.  And as I know from experience, having had one parent whose inability to trust not only wrecked my parents' marriage but destroyed my ability to even trust myself for a very long time, a parent who cannot learn to trust their child's good judgement, no matter how well said child has demonstrated good judgement in the past, does a hell of a lot of damage to that child's self-esteem and ability to deal with the world.  I've struggled with the repercussions of that enough for myself; I would never want to inflict that kind of damage on another human being.  But because of that, and because of my serious doubts about whether I'd be even halfway competent as a mother, I believe that it would be a very bad idea indeed for me to have children.

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