i am so tired and i’m not okay (trigger warning: depression, anxiety, anger)

“Hey, how are ya?”
“How’s it goin’?”
“How’s life?”
“Whatcha been up to?”
“How are you?”

These are all variations of the same question. They all mean the same thing. They’re all delivered in the same tone. They all expect the same style of answer.

Tone: bright, casual, cheery
Style: superficial

In reality, this “how are you” is not a question, in spite of the punctuating “?” at the end.

It is not a question but a greeting.

It requires, expects, and prefers no other response but an equally bright, casual, cheery, superficial “fine.”

“Fine!”
“Great!”
“Just as good as it can be!”
“I’m blessed!”
“Nothin’ much, how ’bout you?”

I’m so tired of receiving that “greeting.”
I’m so tired of giving that response.

I was probably a young adult when I first became consciously aware of this particular difference between the American culture I was born into and the German culture I was raised in:

In American culture: “How are you?” is a greeting that requires little content in a reply.

In German culture: “How are you?” is a genuine request for a run-down on everything going on in your life and how you feel about it. It’s a conversation-starter never offered in passing.

If you’re a member of either culture visiting the other, you’re going to have a very tough time interacting with people if you don’t understand this distinction.

I’ve understood it for a long time. I’ve adapted. I never ask a German how they are if I’m not available to listen to the answer. When I ask an American how they are, I make sure I emphasize that I really want to know. If I don’t want to know, I don’t ask.

Sometimes I do use “how are you” as a greeting — but only in American society, and only when the situation obviously calls for that style of interaction. It’s still not my preference, though.

And I’m tired of hearing that greeting.
I’m tired of giving the standard “I’m fine” response.

Because I’m not fine.
I’m not okay.

I.

am.

tired.

I’m tired of not sharing openly and honestly about my struggles.
I’m tired of not sharing frankly what’s going on in my life.
I’m tired of not saying bluntly how I feel about it.
I’m tired of feeling like it’s not safe for me to be honest.
I’m tired of feeling fear and anger and frustration and sorrow more than I feel joy.
I’m tired of getting out of bed in the morning when I don’t want to get out of bed.
I’m tired of having neither the mental space nor the emotional energy nor the hours in the day to engage in all the things that make me come alive.
I’m tired of watching tv every single night because it makes for effective anesthesia.
I’m tired of eating chocolate just because it makes me feel better.
I’m tired of how fat and lazy and old I feel.
I’m tired of feeling afraid to talk about my true beliefs on social media.
I’m tired of not being able to say, “I am grieving, damnit! I feel sad, I feel angry, I feel guilty, and I don’t need anybody to fix it or try to talk me out of it.” (It’s not your job.)
I’m tired of feeling like my words never come across the way I mean them.
I’m tired of my “everyday” as something I feel I have to slog through instead of live to the fullest.
I’m tired of not feeling as resilient as I used to.
I’m tired of always being the strong one.
I’m tired of always being the one who listens.
I’m tired of always being the one who understands.
I’m tired of always being the one who empathizes.
I’m tired of having my faith questioned by people who don’t see my life inside and out on a daily or weekly or even monthly basis.
I’m tired of being accused of complaining.
I’m tired of being accused of being negative. (Guess what? IT’S NOT ALL SUNSHINE LOLLIPOPS KITTENS RAINBOWS SPARKLIES.)
I’m tired of hearing all the voices in my life and in my head that say I need to have Joy instead of depression.
I’m tired of the “norm” that compares my life to others’ and says, “Look, they have it worse than you, so you should be thankful and grateful and happy for what you have.”
I’m tired of hearing people tell me I should enjoy XYZ when I’m unable to.
I’m tired of feeling like a failure as a woman, as a wife, as a mother, as a writer, as a human.
I’m tired of so rarely having a real, deep, meeting-of-the-spirits conversation with my husband.
I’m tired of feeling responsible for everyone and everything.
I’m tired of never getting enough sleep, even when I work hard to arrange my schedule for getting enough sleep.
I’m tired of worrying about, oh, pretty much every single person in my life.
I’m tired of the lying bastard named Depression, who is utterly beyond my control and is NOT a sign that I need more faith, thank you very sarding much.
I’m tired of feeding Depression by not acknowledging its very strong reality in my life.
I’m tired of my brain chemicals and neurons not functioning in an ideal manner.
I’m tired of the To-Do List.
I’m tired of worrying about money.
I’m tired of thinking, as I write this, that I’m going to get criticism in response and experience emotionally radioactive fallout as a result.

I’m…just…tired.

And I’m not okay.

_____________________________

It seems needful to add that in all of this, I do not feel suicidal. My “I am tired” is not a statement of “I want to end things.” It is a statement of this:

I am tired and not okay.

I’m getting mad over being so damn tired and not okay.

I want change.

I’m not asking for solutions, so please don’t give me advice because I don’t want it right now. (Again: It’s not your job. If you’d like to pray for me, that would be most welcome.)

I needed to continue my process by writing these things out and making them public. That is the purpose of this post.

I said what I needed to.

My hope is that it’ll help me feel less tired.

Time will tell.

Iñigo Montoya: You Keep Using That Word

If you enjoy the movie “The Princess Bride,” you’ll recognize the following quote:

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

~ Iñigo Montoya

Even if you’re not a “Princess Bride” fan or haven’t seen the movie, it’s likely you’ve been around the intarwebz long enough to have seen the quote bandied about in forums (fori?), in memes, on Twitter, on Facebook, and anywhere else web users tend to bandy such things about.

Today, I’m gonna bandy it some more.

Reality

We each perceive life, the universe, and everything differently. We make judgments, form opinions, and choose courses based on these observations. Lots of times, we don’t understand each other’s judgments, opinions, or courses simply because our perceptions of the same event/person/situation are so vastly different. We’re operating from different realities; therefore, if m/any of our interactions are to be beneficial, we have to step back and try to learn each other’s language before we can even talk to one another.

Please To Be Noticing

I am not saying, “Absolute truth does not exist.” I happen to believe that absolute truth does exist. For one thing, the statement “absolute truth does not exist” is, in itself, an absolute truth if one believes that it is true. Therefore, to make the statement is to contradict oneself.

I try to avoid contradicting myself. As one does.

You Keep Using That Word

So. As I look around at our world, our cultures, our occupations, our communications, our notions, ideas, brain-farts, and conundrums, I keep coming back to the quote from Mr. Montoya:

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

And I ponder that it applies to all of the things I just mentioned (and more):

I do not think that argument supports what you think it supports.

I do not think that conversation meant what you think it meant.

I do not think that person said what you think s/he said.

I do not think that person feels what you think s/he feels.

I do not think that job functions the way you think it functions.

I do not think that party espouses what you think it espouses.

I do not think that candidate stands for what you think s/he stands for.

I do not think that religion embraces what you think it embraces.

I do not think that country represents what you think it represents.

I do not think that culture embodies what you think it embodies.

And so on.

And, of course, it would be perfectly valid for you to direct those statements back at me.

That’s how interesting conversations start. : )

Defining Rape

If you know me, you know that I mostly roll my eyes at politicians and at politics in general.

But if you know me, you also know that on occasion, I get very angry with politicians and politics in general.

This is one of those occasions.

If you don’t want to read any more about Rep. Todd Akin or his definition of rape, you should probably stop reading this post and read something happier.

Todd Akin on Rape

A few days ago, in an interview on KTVI-TV, Akin stated:

“From what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy caused by rape is] really rare…If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume maybe that didn’t work or something….”

From there, Akin went on to discuss his views on abortion, which I am not going to get into here.

What I am going to get into is his definition of rape and how it affects women.

And yes, I realize that he later apologized and attempted to clarify by stating that what he really meant was “forcible rape,” not “legitimate rape.”

Excuse me, sir — but what kind of rape is not forcible?

Defining Rape

Yesterday, I posted the following status update on Facebook:

I know I’m inviting a firestorm, but I don’t care. I’m going to say it anyway.

Rep. Todd Akin is an idiot and an enemy of women.

That is all.

As of 11:50am today, the firestorm I expected has not come. But a few responses did prompt me to post further comments on the status, and I thought these worth sharing here:

I do agree that Akin’s comment is being used to distract from other issues. But that’s not what concerns me.

What concerns me is that every day, the burden of defense in rape cases is placed on the shoulders of the woman who was raped instead of being placed on the shoulders of her rapist. In private circles, in public, and in courts of law, a woman who has been raped must prove that she really meant it when she said “no.”

Was she wearing clothing that “invited” the attack? Did she fight back? Did she try to hurt her attacker? Did she scream? If she doesn’t answer these questions to her questioners’ satisfaction, then the assumption is that she didn’t really mean “no”; that she must be lying in some way; that she maybe even enjoyed it; that she wasn’t really raped.

The reality is this: If a woman says “no” and the man continues and succeeds in penetrating her, then it is rape — even if saying “no” is all she does. If she chooses to lie there and take it instead of “fighting back,” it is still rape. If she chooses to lie there and take it and not subject her body to further stress beyond what she is already enduring, it is still rape.

What Akin has done is take away a woman’s right to defend herself in whatever way she sees fit — even if the single way she chooses is to say “no.”

A political figure has uttered a stupid, ignorant statement in an admittedly uncomfortable situation — and it’s a statement that, once again, places the burden of proof on the woman who was raped. Yes, we all make mistakes, and we all say stupid things sometimes when we’re under stress. But if Akin doesn’t know the basics of human biology and can’t keep his tongue under control when in public and under stress, he needs a different job. Most of us don’t utter our stupidities in an arena that affects the lives of billions worldwide.

As for the question of stress and ovulation, I can speak only from personal experience. No, I haven’t suffered the kind of stress brought on by rape. But still, my body has been subjected to fairly heavy amounts of stress since I had my first period. Not once in the 21 years since I had my first period have I missed a cycle due to stress. Not once has stress had any effect on my ovulation.

The times I have attempted to get pregnant, I got pregnant on the first try — no doubts that it was the first try, and no paying attention to where I was in my cycle, either.

But according to Akin, if I get “raped” and get pregnant as a result, then my knowledge of my own fertility means nothing. According to Akin, if I get “raped” and get pregnant as a result, it means (1) that I wasn’t “fighting back” hard enough to cause my body enough stress OR (2) I’m lying.

Again, the burden of defense rests on the shoulders of the woman. Again, she must prove that she was “legitimately” raped — and her single, possibly quiet “no” is not enough defense. Not against her attacker, not against Akin, and not against accusations.

Minutes after I hit “enter,” an acquaintance replied with a link to this excellent letter to Todd Akin from Eve Ensler, a rape survivor in the Congo.

Since I have never been raped, her words present the realities of all of this far better than my words ever could.

Free Sci-Fi Romance Short Story Excerpt!

Hile, inklings! Today I’m providing you with what I hope will be a treat. As you might recall, I recently had a short story published in the latest installment of the e-mag A Consortium of Worlds, #3.

“The One Where Jack Loses” is not-so-happy romantic sci-fi with themes like the nature of Reality, the nature of Time, and the nature of Individual Choice.

The treat is that I’m publishing an excerpt from said story below, just for your reading pleasure. I hope you enjoy. : )

“The One Where Jack Loses”

A Grace and Jack Story

by Courtney Cantrell

Untitled

The woman I love is eating herself into nothingness from the inside out, and there’s nothing I can do.

How do I love her? Like one whose fingernails are ripped to shreds as he claws at the unforgiving cliff, trying to hold onto life over the maw of a gaping abyss.

I love this woman so much that the atoms of my teeth are fused together. Speech just isn’t going to happen at this point.

~

Déjà Vu

When I open the door, the first thing is the smell of her. Jasmine that blooms at night. The overwhelmation of Bulgari Blue. I think she’s overdosed on it.

“No matter what I do,” she says, “he still stays dead.”

The second thing is the half-empty bottle of Captain Morgan on the wooden trunk before her. The third is the woman herself, who contains the Captain’s other half. She toasts me with the tears pouring down her face.

“Jack, I can imagine a thousand scenarios,” says the woman draped in Bulgari Blue. “Did you see that movie, the really bad remake of The Time Machine? They changed the story so much, Wells himself wouldn’t recognize it. They have the guy be engaged. Can you believe that? Engaged, like his kind of scientist is ever gonna find time for a girl, even a neglected one. They have her die, and they have him go back again and again to try to save her. Back in time in his time machine. And he says that no matter how many times he goes back, he can’t save her. No matter what he does, she still dies every single time.”

I can’t get any closer to her than the arm of the couch. The force of this sorrow won’t let me. I can’t tell her I want to hold her hand. I can’t tell her I want to hold her body in my arms and let her sobs wring me limp. If I could finger one strand of her hair, that would be enough.

She tells me she doesn’t need a time machine. How could a machine ever take you back? The machine is physical, and time is everything but. Time is God, and how can a physical machine take you into God?

“I can imagine a thousand scenarios. I do something different every time. In some of them, I’m not even born. That’s how vast my imagination is. I’ve thought of a hundred thousand million different ways our lives could have played out, intertwined like snakes having sex, in some places they touch and in some they don’t. Even when they don’t and I’m not even born, he still dies. No machine could do what I’ve done to the inside of my heart, Jack. Every time I couldn’t save him, that’s a scar. For every life possibility, that’s a scar. Forget about some kind of metaphysical tree with pretty branches. That’s not how it works. Every life path is a scar, and I’ve got a hundred thousand million of them to prove it.”

I let myself rest my fingers on top of hers, as though they belong there. I wonder if atoms of our skin could ever fuse together like my teeth. I can’t tell her how badly I want to know what the inside of her mouth tastes like.

Grace says, “Bulgari Blue was his favorite.”

~

How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways…

My eyes are tracing the sensual curves of her elegant profile. Her lower lip trembles, but she doesn’t even turn toward me. How can I but admire her courage?

“What if there’s more than one of me?” she whispers.

______

Click here to get the rest of the story. Happy reading!