Sometimes life is hard. And I don’t just mean “I spilled my coffee and I can’t find my keys” hard. Sometimes it’s “I’m out of money and I have to fix my car because I’m an Uber driver, and the only way I can make money is to have a car that works, so somehow I have to come up with money so I can earn money so I can buy a new car because the one I have is on its last legs, and how am I going to pay the rent?” hard.
And you have a choice: get out of bed, or don’t get out of bed.
It’s easy to feel justified in throwing your hands in the air and saying, “I can’t do this anymore.” Especially if this kind of thing has been going on for years, and you keep getting out of bed, you take one leap of faith after another, you’ve been so far down you weren’t sure you’d survive the week and you kept going. At some point, giving up seems like the only sane option.
That’s your drama coach talking. You need to fire your drama coach, because this isn’t Hollywood, and there’s no award for best drama.
We live in a nation that thinks we should hold out for a Hollywood ending, and that what we see on the screen is reality. We think Jerry Springer was providing needed therapeutic relief. We think we can draw a line in the sand, and that will make things better. None of this is true.
And you have to get out of bed. If you don’t get out of bed, you can’t take the next step, and if you don’t take the next step, you’ll stay where you are. Are you happy where you are? No. So get out of bed and take the next step. That’s your only option.
My check engine light came on at ten o’ clock last night, so I had to skip my midnight Uber shift. I’d just earned enough to pay my car insurance, which I was two months behind on because I didn’t have the money to pay it. My Dad had just paid to have a thermostat replaced so the car would stop overheating in rush hour traffic, and he bought me new tires because my tires were bald. I couldn’t drive during the day, because when the $1200 timing belt replacement was done, the mechanic illegally disconnected my air conditioner, which ruined the compressor. That’s a $1400 repair to be able to drive my car during the day to make money, at the times I know I can make money, so now I’m driving nights, and since I’m driving nights there’s no open repair shop I can take my car to find out what’s wrong and figure out what it will cost to repair.
I can’t talk to my mom about this, like I used to, because my mom has spent the last two years dumping her anxieties on me when what I need is courage to do what seems impossible to me. She calls it advice, in spite of the fact that she has provided no functional options I can use to pursue a better course. And she doesn’t understand that if you say it once, it’s expressing your concerns, but if you say it repeatedly, month after month, it’s badgering, and it’s destructive. So, no call to Mom.
I tried to do the “key dance” that would return to me the codes causing the “check engine light” to come on, which would tell me what’s wrong, and what it will cost, but no luck. I went to bed knowing I have a car that keeps letting me down, and can’t even stay running long enough for me to earn the money I need to get a different car, now that I finally have time to just DRIVE because I just finished my Master’s Certificate in Workplace E-Learning, and I don’t have to spend any more time studying. I could just drive, and pay off all my bills, and finally get ahead a bit, except that the car isn’t working.
And this morning, I didn’t want to get out of bed. I felt like I’d earned a few moments to mope, to feel miserable, to protest the unfairness. For twelve years I’ve been trying to be worthy of an income, and stability. I’ve taken one job after another that made me miserable, and I’ve lived in a storage unit when I couldn’t pay the rent, because this nation is so broken we can’t even provide beds in a shelter for people who were fine before 2008, when the recession hit. When it became clear that the career path I chose, Pharmacy Technician, was a bad choice for someone with ADHD, which I didn’t know I had until, as a pharmacy technician, I looked at one request after another for stimulants, and I saw what qualified a person for ADHD meds. I saw that I had those symptoms, and suddenly I realized, it’s not the company, it’s not the position, it’s not my managers, supervisors, or coworkers; it’s me. I’m not good enough, and I will never be good enough. I have to find something I can do, which is worthy of income, that I either have or can get the credentials for. Again. And this time hope I chose a career that I won’t fail at. Again. This time, I hope I’m good enough.
Which is really hard, as someone with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, because there are a ton of things I will never be good enough at, and they’re all jobs that I could otherwise be doing right now. And the depression doesn’t help.
But no, I didn’t earn time to mope. No one earns that. No one has a right to mope. If you mope, maybe you can be forgiven for it. Maybe your moping is understandable, but that doesn’t make it okay. Any more than my mother’s concerns for my future meant it was okay to keep telling me I was headed for disaster, in every way she could think of, over and over, for months, right before she started badgering me to talk to my stepdad again, whom I refuse to listen to because he refused to stop drilling his fears into me in a fully abusive manner. He said he needed to tell me how he felt because he was concerned for me, so he took actions to make things worse for me, so that he could feel better. Sure, he wanted to feel better, that’s understandable. Understandable doesn’t mean acceptable.
There are many ways you can destroy your life, and choosing not to keep going when you’re in a bad place is one of them. Because, if you don’t move, you are still in that place you don’t want to be. The only way to get through it is to keep moving. So no, you don’t get to feel justified in moping, in lying in bed with no willpower to get up. You can do it, but you don’t get to feel justified, and that’s just one more thing that makes all of this suck.
And this is when the words of Oriah Mountain Dreamer come back to me. “I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.”
I don’t even have children who are counting on me. I don’t live in a nation overrun with terrorists or drug cartels, I have never watched my children starve to death because there’s a famine, and when my nation was colonized, a policy of selling off all the extra grain was initiated, so now, with the drought, there’s no food stored to get us through. I didn’t have my genitalia sliced away and my vagina sewn up to assure that sex would be painful so I would have no incentive to be promiscuous, in spite of the fact that I live in a nation where men believe they have the right to rape any woman they find, walking out to fetch the wood I need to build a fire to cook my food. I don’t live with the fear that the police will shoot me when they pull me over for not realizing my speed was excessive, just because of the color of my skin.
I’m alive. I have a roof over my head. I have several cans of tuna and soup in the cupboard. I have friends and family who have told me they will catch me if I fall.
And that’s when common sense finally kicks in. I’m not worrying about what is, I’m worrying about what might be, and I’m letting it kick my ass.
It’s time to take my car to the auto parts store and tell them to pull the codes so I know what I have to do to fix it. Because it might just be spark plugs, for $28, and they might be able to show me how to replace them. Granted, that’s unlikely, because I own a car that is so hard to work on that the engine has to be detached and lowered for everything that is done to it. So maybe it’s $175 to get it done, by a mechanic I’ve trusted for a few years now, because I’m back in the city where I belong, after being away for nearly a year, where I had no support, and the mechanics kept telling me what was wrong with my car would cost thousands to repair. Where they did more damage fixing it than I’d just paid to have it repaired so I could drive it so I could earn money to pay for the repairs. And yes, that would mean I can’t afford to pay the auto insurance that I’m two months behind on, but there’s no point insuring a car that I can’t even drive, so the priority is to make sure it runs. I’m tired of having to prioritize my needs, I want to be having my needs met, and I want to be prioritizing my wants.
And this is life, and everyone goes through things like this. I know the crap I’m going through, but I will never know what even my best friend, or my mom, or the marine in Syria, or the democrat or republican that voted for the wrong guy, is actually going through. Because, if it weren’t for this blog, no one would know all of this about me, because I wouldn’t tell anyone. I’m saying it here, now, for you, because those of us on the spectrum think that we see what is, and when we don’t hear that those we love are going through hell, we assume we are the only ones dealing with crap. The truth is that everyone deals with crap. Everyone has bad days, weeks, months, years. And they don’t tell you about it, but you can’t assume it isn’t happening.
When you’re having a bad day, don’t assume you’re the only one having a bad day. Get up, move on. There are no awards for your drama, and you don’t get to assume everyone else should drop what they’re doing and pat you on the back. Someone, somewhere, just got news that their child is going to die in six months. Someone watched their platoon going flying into the air, in pieces. Someone just lost one child to gang warfare, and the same gang is going to kill their only remaining child unless he joins them. Someone watched her six year old be taken away, and has no idea where the child is, or when, or whether, they’ll be together again.
Even if there was an award for best drama, I wouldn’t be getting it. There isn’t even an award for overcoming adversity. But there’s life. There’s finding a way to get through this, there’s paying rent in three weeks, somehow. There’s still food in the cupboard. There’s the option of selling the car to pay the rent, and updating my resume to get a 9-5 job that leaves me with barely enough time to keep writing my novels, which won’t pay off for years, if ever, because I’m too broke to market them, and they’re too unusual for a commercial publisher to be interested in. But unusual enough that a readership hungry for something different will devour them, one after another.
And this, too, shall pass.
After I indulge myself in moping by writing a blog entry about it. Because I’m human, and I don’t get an award for it, and I can’t justify it, but I’m doing it anyway. You?
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brittany Liddon/Released