|Posted by The Thinking Other Woman on October 5, 2020 at 12:10 AM|
If you're going through any life crisis, I heartily recommend getting your hands on books and reading as much about the world as you can.
Not only does it matter to pick up anything you can about your specific issue/s (BPD? Codependent? Drug abuse? I don't care if it is depressing, you have an obligation to yourself to find out all about it you can), but reading true work about social issues can have unexpected benefits.
Take, for instance, https://www.amazon.com/Evicted-Poverty-Profit-American-City/dp/0553447459/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=evicted+book&qid=1601828353&sr=8-2" target="_blank">this book. Any idiot who truly believes "poor people are just lazy and don't want to work and that's the whole problem" isn't allowed to speak to me ever again unless and until they read this book. The stories in here will break your heart.
But, besides making me deeply angry at idiot conservatives who don't read or listen but believe they know it all, what did reading this do for my mental health?
Well ... I had always thought the simple solution was that people need to get paid more. And that is part of it, but I never, ever realized how exploitative the system we have of landlords and renting is in this country. These assholes collect rent in their old clothes and hide their jewelry and drive their oldest cars and plead poverty to the residents, while they're actually multimillionaires with condos in Florida who take several vacations a year.
They charge rent equal to nice new apartments in good areas of the city for dilapidated housing in ghettos, where the plumbing doesn't work and they just blame the renter rather than fixing the plumbing. Why? People are so desperate for housing that it's easy to evict them and find somebody else to charge more rent to, and go on living like kings off housing you sure wouldn't want your grandma living in, or anyone else, for that matter.
This book follows the perfectly awful things that happen to people who get evicted in this way, and reading it I suddenly realized how very, very, very lucky I am. I had my problems establishing my career, but it could have been SO much worse if I had ever gotten evicted. I mean, I knew that, but even I didn't know this stuff went on.
And it hit me: These people all had friends and family, and it didn't matter.
I have been living my whole life as if only relationships mattered and nothing else.
When the truth is, I have been incredibly, incredibly blessed.
I now see how close to the top of society I really am. I have had a lot of the problems of these people, but because of the accident that I was born white and not black, I got to struggle with the same problems in a much better environment.
Good schools with good, caring teachers saved me, even when I had a mentally ill mother at home and was so bereft of love as a little child that every few years I fell in love with a new teacher. If only people at home acted like my teachers did!
I was the pariah of the entire school, laughed at and picked on, but at least I had good instruction and teachers who made sure I knew I was capable at something. And I didn't go home to food insecurity, a falling-down house where the sinks and toilet didn't work, or the hot water couldn't be used because it put out carbon monoxide and the landlord wouldn't fix it, and we were terrified of getting put out if we complained too much.
And my family may have been mentally ill, but at least they were solidly middle class. They may have been far too harsh with me about chores and grades, but at least I made the grades that got me into college. A kid with a troubled family needs these minimum, minimum things if they're ever going to fight their way to better emotional health.
And better emotional health = better functioning on the job and better functioning in society. Because I could read, I picked up the mental health materials we had lying around our house and I goddamned learned something from them ... even when my mother couldn't. Because I learned something from all I've read, I see why the people in these books couldn't come back from some of the same issues my mother had, and how her caste in society has protected her even though she has the same minimal functioning as these individuals, for the same reasons--poor parenting, heritable mental illness in the family, childhood sexual abuse.
Instead of being trapped in a blinding, grinding cycle of poverty, disaster, disaster, poverty, I was able to work through my problems. It's taken me fifty-two years, but I could do it. I could not have if any of my periods of unemployment had led me into these people's situations.
Even when it looked hopeless, even when I was terrified no one would ever hire me again and I'd be homeless (and I was girding my loins to do that rather than ever go home again), even when it looked like I'd never, ever have any stability and I'd better look out because I was about to be poor for good, I was actually making it. I just couldn't see it. Now I read stuff like this, and I see how close to the top I really am, even though all that has stood out to me for the past ten years is relationship, relationship, relationship.
When I got married, I thought it finally proved I was normal. Because no child who has no friends ... gets laughed at and picked on all day ... then goes home to a screeching, angry, mentally ill mother who demands you run the vacuum right now or she's going to hit you with a flyswatter ... and tells you she wishes your one little friend were her daughter and not you, because she set the table without being asked ... ever feels like a person who's an okay human being who will ever have a normal, loving relationship with anyone.
And then I got married, and I had friends for a while, and it was SO marvelous. And then it was gone again.
So of course it was all that mattered.
Why is it that the one need you have that isn't met, is always the only thing that matters? If we could just be happy with what we do have and ignore the thing we don't have, how much better off we would be. Always we assume that one thing would solve all our problems, when (at least in my case), it would probably lead to worse problems.