Apathy

Rising from beneath: April 2021 NaPoWriMo, Day two

Today’s prompt is inspired by Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” It’s based on our own personal journeys. What might our experiences be if we took a different path?

No matter how many times I wanted or tried to veer from the path I was on, I wasn’t able to. Having travelled this far, I realize I don’t want to have taken a route other than the one I’ve been on.

Why?

People. My children and my grandchildren might not exist. Or, if they did, they wouldn’t be who they are. I wouldn’t have or know the people in my life, not the way they are now.

My life has always been challenging and full of stress. It’s made who I am. There’s more work to be done. I like who I’m becoming.

Rising from Beneath

I was told I could be anything I wanted…
But I wasn’t taught how and
I never met anyone who was.

I was told that if I had knowledge I would have power.
Helplessness was all I knew…
despite my accumulated information

I was told, “Aim high! Shoot for the stars.”
From my depths my aim was as high as other’s low.
I shot just to see the stars.

Years of climbing, fighting, struggling
Always landing back in the hole
Anchored by the trauma of my past.

Cycles of poverty and neglect,
Generations repeating the past.
Lord, let me be the last.

Breaking through, crawling out
Eyes blinded by daylight
Skin scorched by the sun.

Someone (not Churchill) admonished one and all,
“if you’re going through hell, keep going. It’s no place to stop.”
no longer energized, yet, here I am…still going.

I think it’s a good fight. It’s been a hard one.
Redemption, restoration, rebuilding
Self and relationships once lost.

Constantly feeling weak and lost
Continually infused with life’s breath,
Molded by refining love.

But wait, there’s more…so much more
Five decades to grow up.
Here’s hoping for another 3-5.

New battles rise up,
New fears to face.
The war against self goes on.

More to see, more to be.
My future resides with me.
My path lives in me.

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Hanging onto a thread of hope

I’m in that head space again, which I find myself in all too often, that numb and apathetic place of wondering why I bother to try to wring meaning and significance from my life with the sharing of my words and thoughts with the world at large, when it seems as though my existence has seemingly little effect in the world around me.

It’s an affect of the depression, a symptom of my co-dependency, a consequence of the cumulative effect of a lifetime’s worth of reactive decisions. These are the moments and the times when the thoughts ricocheting around inside my psyche are ugly and intolerant, whiny and self-pitying.

I don’t like this about myself. I do the best I know how not to give in and act on these thoughts and feelings – the consequences would be too high a cost to myself, my loved ones and society. Acting on those thoughts and feeling would make a mockery of everything I profess to believe in and make all progress made and action taken over the last year and a half. Somehow, the knowledge of that negation pierces through the false, insulating layer of apathy and is an intolerably painful thought.

The things that need to be done are not getting dealt with. I’m going through the motions – not even phoning it in. I’m a placeholder inside of my own life, fighting an internal battle against myself in silent resignation, wearing a blank, unfeeling mask, over self-imposed walls, built to hide the empty tears and insulate against the futile rage.

It doesn’t help that I woke up with a cough and the weather is beginning it’s transition toward increasing rain and decreasing temperatures. So, physical symptoms of pain, stiffness, and fatigue are increasing as well.

These are the times when I doubt the efficacy of my DIY healing and recovery process. The are the times when it’s nearly impossible to trust and believe in God, faith, hope, and love. Yet, at the same time knowing how critical it is that I hold onto that belief and trust because, in spite of the thoughts I can’t stop and the feelings which are washing through me, memory says that I’ve been through worse and I’ve been served and supported by the thinnest sliver of belief.

Belief that isn’t manufactured from inside of myself. I know this because I know I’m more prone to stoic skepticism, doubt, and unbelief than I am to blind faith. In some ways, I feel like a living, breathing, walking, talking personification of Pandora’s Box. All of the negative, destructive, painful things have been let loose to run rampant in me and through my life because I couldn’t ignore and fight my own impulses. I want to slam the box shut, but it’s too late and if I shut it completely, I’ll be closing myself off from the only thing that has power against the rest – Hope.

Hebrews 11:1 ~ Complete Jewish Bible (CJB)
Trusting[a] is being confident of what we hope for, convinced about things we do not see.

Footnotes: Hebrews 11:1 Habakkuk 2:4

Overriding Apathy

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Apathy sounds a lot like depression or at least like many of its symptoms. Wikipedia has this to say about apathy:

Apathy (also called impassivity or perfunctoriness) is a state of indifference, or the suppression of emotions such as concern, excitement, motivation and passion.

Suppression of emotions like concern, excitement, motivation, and passion. Hmmm.

I have occasional bursts of these things, then they get weighed down and buried, usually under layers of physical and psychological pain.

Coping with too much pain over a lifetime, especially when a) you are naturally a hypersensitive and empathetic being and b) when the only ways of handling pain that are exemplified or taught are denial, avoidance, and numbing out, can lead to a presentation of apathy.

I believe that many people who appear apathetic are, in fact, anything but. I think that an apathetic demeanor may be the only armor some of us have to defend ourselves against more pain than we think we can handle.

The son who received so much verbal, emotional, and physical abuse learns to “turn off” and put up a front of indifference and not respond to further punishment. The girl who is ridiculed by her peers so often that she chooses to become the thing she was ridiculed for in the first place has lost her motivation to be anything other than what everyone expects of her anyway. You get the idea.

Then there are those who have experienced those kinds of things and then came to experience physical injury or impairment that is accompanied by chronic, severe, and debilitating physical pain.

If you are spending all of your emotional and physical energy to “never let them see you sweat,” by whatever means possible, there isn’t much left over to take an interest and be concerned about the larger matters in life.

Eventually, it becomes easier to avoid people than putting on the show. It becomes easier to avoid knowing what other pain and injustice there is in the world. If you can’t cope with the pain in your own life, how are you supposed to cope with the pain of others?

A friend of mine said something along the lines of,”I like to be a strong, independent person and take care of myself. The past while has shown me how that isn’t necessarily a good way to be.” Those aren’t her exact words, I paraphrased a bit.

Being strong and independent are qualities that our American society respects, admires, and promotes. We tend to judge negatively those who are weak, impaired, and reliant on or interdependent with others in order to function or make progress in our lives. We have a distinct prejudice against the philosophies and practices that indicate we are responsible for each others well-being or that what is good for everyone may also be what’s good for the individual.

We like to admonish each other to help the less fortunate, but turn around and in the quiet of our own minds judge the less fortunate for needing our help and God forbid that we ever allow ourselves to get that low in our own lives.

So, when it happens through a series of events and circumstances that got out of our control or were never in control to begin with, after a certain amount of energy and effort to fight, control and avoid the pain, we withdraw and become apathetic, at least on the outside.

I reached out and asked someone from the new church I’ve been attending if she might be able to give me a ride to the grocery store. I felt awkward and uncomfortable needing to do so. I masked the desperation behind my need and told her if she couldn’t, it was fine. She agreed and we were able to connect a couple of days ago.

By the time we were done and back into her car, I was in so much pain from my back and the lower left side of my body, I couldn’t contain the tears. The thought of carrying the bags of groceries up the stairs for multiple trips was unbearable. She volunteered to do that for me. I felt weak, pathetic, and useless.

Two days have passed and I have three days, but really only today to clean and prepare for Jerry to be home because tomorrow and Monday are full of pre scheduled appointments and activities. Luna pounced on my left leg this morning. I am in such pain, physically. Mentally and emotionally, I am trying not to give in to the shaming and hopeless thoughts and feelings.

I don’t want to engage with people. But I will because I know it’s what Luna and I both need. I’ll put on my broken mask with it’s cracks that allow my pain and vulnerability shine through and pray for the strength and stamina to override the apathy.

Gratitude Day 17
People: my children for giving me the will and determination to keep trying and for the kindness and willingness of near strangers to lend a helping hand.