Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hold On To Your Friends


Well, the year is nearly over. It seems I've been hiding from everyone lately. There came a point where I just couldn't talk anymore, at least not to my friends. The narrative I would like to construct about my life doesn't have room for my recent thoughts and actions. And so, I went silent. I couldn't bear to tell my friends what was happening because it would somehow make real the sense of failure and feelings of anxiety that seem to have overwhelmed me these past two months. If you've known me for a while, you know that I've been thrown a series of curve balls. Not a single one was impossible to catch, but they kept coming one after another...and I reached my breaking point this fall.

I have a tendency to hide when I feel inundated. Also, at major turning points, I have a tendency to shed my old life altogether. Looking back, I would say that I do this out of sense of embarrassment. I don't want to let my friends and loved ones down, so I run away instead.

Someone recently told me in times of crisis, I need to lean on my friends. To try not to worry about being a disappointment. So here I am, standing in the memory of a dazzlingly bright summer day at the tide pools, feeling anxious about the coming months, unaware of just how far I would move away from my life, for better or for worse. 

18 comments:

Cyber Me said...

Erica, thank you for your honesty. I really, really relate to the sentiments you express: hiding in times of crisis (which can lengthen to years); standing at a crossroad paralysed with anxiety (not temporary, either); the heartache and disappointments (mainly in myself) of academia...

I don't mean to substitute my thoughts for yours; I just mean to empathise with what you're expressing. Somehow the year's end can prompt the mind to create flawed balance-sheets of what we haven't achieved, improved, mastered - rather than what we have.

It's true: this is a time to trust in your friends and those who care about you, even when reaching out feels hard. Those who love you will never be disappointed in you (at most, disappointed FOR you). Here's to a 2015 of new thoughts, hopes, and possibilities.

jennifer said...

I hear you, Erica. Hang in there.

erica said...

Thanks, CM and Jennifer. Reflecting on the year can be tough even in good times. Disappointment is an ugly beast.

Isn't it funny how a crisis can elongate into something feeling more permanent?

L.P. said...

I am so sorry you've had a tough year. One curve ball after another just gets exhausting, and disappointment can be bitter. Know that you aren't alone and there's lots of support.

V said...

Hi Erica, I'm a longtime stealth reader, and I don't know whether I've actually left a comment before. But I just wanted to offer you a little extra encouragement (if that's possible for an internet stranger!)--please take care of yourself. Everyone is quoting Emily Dickinson via Cheryl Strayed, but I love the lines, "If your nerve deny you / go above your nerve / he can lean against the grave / if he fear to swerve."

eve said...

erica ,
i am glad you are expressing some of what is going on within you .
i have such faith in you .
i am sending you love and warmth .
eve

Mona said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mona said...



I am the same way and with two children it becomes easy to hide from friends. I have been reading your blogs for a couple of years, before your move to Toronto because you are smart and have an amazing sense of style.

I could sense something and I was hoping you would keep this blog as a way to keep your friends near. IN fact when sadness becomes more, reaching out becomes harder yet more needed.

We now know most women suffer much more about post partum than previously reported. Resilience when lacking sleep is tough.

I am sorry for over-reaching: I went to see a counselor 2x a week after my second child because it was a nice support for me and for helping me through a separation, a sick child, a tough job transition: you know all curve balls at once. I hope you consider it if you have not.

I cannot see how you can disappoint me.

I am sorry to hear about your tough year. Hang in there.

erica said...

Thanks LP, V, Eve and Mona,
Your words of support mean a lot to me. I am indeed seeing a counselor now after many years of resistance. It seems every time I come up for just enough air to keep going, but there hasn't been much joy in living. It's so true how easy it is to hide behind the chaos of two small children and full-time work.

Moya said...

I am so sorry Erica and I hope things improve. I often feel the same way myself--academia seems so gentle to those on the outside but it is vicious and success has no rhyme or reason especially when trends/fads dominate hiring cycles otherwise marked by austerity. The difference between success and barely holding on is often luck--the luck of getting the interview and then being the candidate they pick, decisions which are often difficult and lead to the faculty rejecting candidates who are more qualified than anybody working in the department. It's truly brutal.

As another person who retreats when things hurt, I understand, sympathise and hope very much that 2015 brings an entirely different set of experiences. You deserve it.

Sarge in Charge said...

Erica, I am so sorry you've been dealt such a bad hand. I can completely understand hiding out the way you have been-- sometimes admitting things out loud can be such a scary prospect that it feels easier to just avoid it altogether. It is worth getting over that hurdle though, since your friends would never view your situation as a "let down" or disappointment-- they truly just want to support you. I hope this year brings better things for you.

metrode said...

I found 2014 to be the hardest year of my life yet. And I did/sometimes do the very same thing, avoid friends & family. I hope you are moving in the right direction for yourself, and finding solace where you will.

Amanda said...

Erica, I'm reading this now and I just wanted to offer some support and solidarity - maybe it's the whole being in grad school for a super long time thing, or maybe it's because we're all from that same generation that are finally coming to terms with raising kids and finding work and being adults in a time when everything seems to be so uncertain but I completely understand about being "embarrassed" about having to confide in real-life friends. I think the only reason I run a blog anymore is so that I can actually write about depressing things while hiding behind a curtain of anonymity (somewhat, I guess).

Anyway, I'm not sure if any of that made sense but I hope 2015 will be much better for you, and that you know there's always an audience of long-time blog readers that will be supportive of you.

Jennifer said...

Hard to keep your spirits up when events in your life keep pressing down on you... Hang in there, and I hope things get a bit less stressful for you very soon.

All good things for you and your family in this New Year. <3

Catherine said...

I;m thinking of you, Erica. So sorry you've had a tough year. I'm kinda glad the new year has ticked over. It feels like a fresh start. xx

joyce said...

Hi Erica,

I'm just now seeing this post and wanted to send you some well wishes for the new year. 2014 was SO HARD. Here's to 2015!

Jocy said...

Hi Erica, I'm sorry it has been so tough. It's also difficult for me to reach out when things are tough, and I've been fortunate in having a friends call me out on this behavior, which has forced me to be more open. I think that's why I still blog. It's anonymous enough where I can be more open about things. I hope you can also find support in this blog community. And I wish good things for you and your family in 2015!

Jade said...

thanks, as always, for your honesty, erica. i've thought about this post for days before saying anything at all. i don't know the best way to put things, but you are stronger than you know. and leaning on others can make you stronger, still. i hope 2015 is kinder to you, and that there are brighter days ahead.