The abrogation of self

stories of a self-cannabalistic mind…just another wordpress web blog

  • November 2006
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Idealist a dirty word?

Posted by mneme on November 2, 2006

I knowI’m supposed to start with a little bit of “getting to know me” info, the whys and hows of my blog; such was the plan. But my main reason for starting this blog, as demonstrated by the current title, is simple. I am looking for a reason to live. Somewhere, somehow, in a childhood mostly cloaked in blackouts, I lost that. Before then, teachers, family and youth group leaders would look at me and speak grandly of great promise, of prodigy, of talent and abilities certain to lead to greatness. “She’s special.” So many said it I remember feeling choked with the fear of it.

I’m 37 years old. My first attempt at suicide was a few days before Thanksgiving when I was 8. Since then, except for a couple recent years just passed, I’ve lived with this gnawing, ubiquitious desire for an ending. Sometimes it’s every single day I find myself finding reasons, excuses, responsibilities which require me to exist for the next week, the next few days and sometimes, even just the next few minutes. I’ve used everything from religion, ethics, politics, family, friends and pets as reasons I need to hold on just long enough for this particular little “bout of sadness” to pass. I’ve distracted with humanitarianism, studies and learning, love, and even visions of grandiosity as a plausible reason to not give in to this ache for an end. I’ve been in therapy, I’ve been hospitalized and I’ve been medicated most of my adult life.

Sometimes, I’ll get a few weeks of respite. Occasionally, I’ve found large enough goals and causes to distract me for months. Somehow, graciously, the “Universe” gave me almost 2 years of connection and joy to beauty, art and music which gave me my first understanding since my forgotten childhood of why anyone would actually WANT to live. I was convinced I was “cured”.

I made plans, big plans and started down roads which required long journeys to completion, and it was good. I had people who believed in me and were willing to stake their own careers on that belief. I was fulfilling dreams; I wrote and published, I affected and changed the lives of people around me, and my deepest dream, performing music professionally was suddenly, tantalizingly almost in reach. It would require devoted energy, drive, work and money, but the first two I had abundantly, the working was so pleasurable as to be addictive and I was confident I’d find a way to get the last. Now that my shadow was lifted, everything seemed possible.

About 2 years ago the shadows began to return. First it was bouts, then it was periods. Somewhere, in the past 8 months, it’s become the small companion which rides on my shoulder. It haunts my dreams, making them nightmares of pain. It wakes me mornings and causes me to stay awake late into the night, knowing it gets louder when my mind stills for sleep. It speaks to me when I drive, it shouts at me when I falter, it mocks me when I stumble from exhaustion and make foolish mistakes. But mostly, it asks me why. Why do I keep fighting it? Why do I struggle?

So there it is. I’ve told bits of my life story to many people. Even I recognize that some things I’ve done and experience have bordered on fantastical. I’ve seen magic and miracles. I feel if I could break out of this black spell, I could do something that would make the world a little bit better of a place. I’m doing this because many people have told me I need to write my memoirs, I need to tell my story, that in doing that I will help others and I will finally find an answer to that little voice and it’s persistent, “Why?”.

And so I’d planned more of a prolouge, more of an introduction and slightly more upbeat way to say, “hello blogging world, here I am and this is me.” But today was one of those days that knock the last gasps of wind out of my lungs, and I need to write. I need to put a verbal tourniquet around this gaping wound or bleed out. So forgive me if I jump right in, but here goes…

Is idealist a dirty word?

 

Today has been one of those days which make me wonder why I keep fighting. They are becoming all too common; I’ve pondered, of late, do I only continue to fight because I don’t know how to not to? Is it that I know nothing else? …an odd question to be asking oneself.

Sylvester died today. The sweet cat from a few weeks ago, the rescue a gaggle of tear stained neighborhood kids begged me to save that cold night in the rain. I got a call from the adoptive family, when she mentioned she had bad news, I assumed she meant they couldn’t keep him. Disappointing, but common in rescues. I wasn’t prepared.

He had Fel. Lukemia and Feline Aids, they found him this morning in a puddle of his own urine, next to his food bowl. The small bite wound on his neck, when those children deposited him into my care, that was most likely the source of the Feline Aids and the combination of those two ravaged his immune system in under a month. He was approximately one year old.

That hurts, but it’s not the thing which torments me the most. I should have known better. I’ve been working with animals my whole life; I know better than to spend 48 hours with an animal, especially a cat whose species is notorious for hiding illness until it’s too far progressed to continue to hide it, and assume health. I remember a haunting voice, a whisper, the day I dropped him off, asking me “what the hell? This cat hasn’t been checked for Fel. Luk. and you’re putting him into a household with 3 family cats?” I presumed the new family would set up a partial quarantine, they’ve assimilated new cats into existing families before, but when they plopped him into the same room with the house cats, the warning bells went off and instead of insisting they be cautious or refusing adoption, I worried about what I’d do if I couldn’t find him a foster home. I skipped the vet check because I couldn’t find a vet who’d do it at discount and I decided, this one, I’d try to save spending the money I couldn’t afford with caution that has never proved necessary in the past. I brought a highly contagious and deadly combination of disease into a house and I didn’t do the routine check because I’ve been too exhausted, too stressed to think ahead. And when I did remember, when I knew I should stop and insist, I worried more about how I couldn’t afford a vet bill.

And my dear Tux, the feral I’ve been socializing, my godsend, my solace and my closest companion these past few weeks, is most likely infected. I’m fairly certain he is Sylvester’s father. I suspect Tux was the cat who bit Sylvester for attempting to come into his territory (my yard) for food. The entire community of ferals in this neighborhood is insular and fights which result in bites and blood are common, however, the Feline Aids was a recent infection for Sylvester and that bite was almost certainly the source of transmission. Even if Tux didn’t bit him, Tux is the patriarch and oldest feral on the block which means Tux is most likely infected. There’s no cure. The death, when it comes, is agonizing; the onset is sudden and unpredictable. He could be outwardly fine for a week, a month or even longer only to find him lethargic one evening and lying in his own wastes by morning. If the tests are positive, if he’s ill, my only humane option is Euthanasia. And preferably sooner, before he suffers.

And I have no idea where I’m going to find another $100 to get him in for the tests. Much less the fees for putting an animal down and disposing of the body, should that also prove necessary. I’ve already spent all my Christmas money and more on the degus, I dipped into the house budget and still can’t find enough for the x-rays Egan needs. How do you triage need like this, choosing who gets care based on the balance in your checkbook?

And my friends and neighbors, who took me in and offered me this apartment, they have a cat. Once, just once, Tux got into the common area and had a brief interaction with their female cat. He displayed dominance by biting her, not enough to break skin, but saliva was transmitted. That’s all it takes. If Tux is positive, my friends now have 3 months ahead waiting to see if their pet tests positive too. 3 months of pain and heartache that I brought on, in return for the favor of letting me stay here while I try to save enough money to make my move away from Rochester.

And of everyone, I should have known better. I’m the one who studies viruses. I’m the one who tracks these things. I’m the one who has worked with sick and injured animals since I was a child. I’m the one who knows the risks and was always so overly cautious, too cautious maybe, until now. I’m the one who saves animals because I can’t save myself and I brought all these people, and their pets, into my coping mechanism. I should have known better than to be doing resuce when my judgement is impaired by stress and this damn insomnia. I know better than to let money be a factor of putting other animals at risk. Even though the warning whispers in the back of my head didn’t register until late, I was the one who only feebly mentioned them, I didn’t insist. I know better but I didn’t. I didn’t know what else to do, I worried about money, I justified to myself that it’s never been necessary before and probably would be okay. I should have left Sylvester on the streets, I should have said no to those kids and never let their tears and sad faces override my common sense. And my bad decision could bring death to 3 homes. No one else is blaming me, everyone tells me it’s not my fault. That makes it worse, because I know it is.

When I was about 5 years old I saw a charity fundraiser on tv for children in a famine in Africa with hunger bloated bellies and flies crawling around their crusty noses and those bulging staring eyes devoid of tears from crying for a mother long dead. When my mother found me balled up in my room crying furious tears, I raged that I would grow up and be a millionaire so I could send money to the charities which brought them food and medicine. She tried to comfort me and explain that charities spent too much on tv ads and staff to help them, I rallied and told her I’d buy my own helicopters and fill them with food and fly it there myself. She tried to explain that war and soldiers in corrupt governements stole food and would steal it from me. Furious, I told her I’d buy the stupid goverment then too.

Finally, she relented, she realized I was too young, too naive to learn the lesson that one person couldn’t save the world. She probably assumed life would teach it to me soon enough. Even though we’d have that battle many more times in my life, and I’d win, when I wanted to do missionary work overseas in my teenage years.. and we’d have it, and she’d win, in my early 20’s when a relief organization requested I train and serve as their bush pilot, delievering medical supplies to remote villages in Central and South America, I didn’t learn. I’ve lost the battle with several aide organizations who demanded I spread their spiritual or political memes ahead of compassion at threat of expulsion; I always left voluntarily with a burning conviction that somewhere in this world, some organization would want to help just for the sake of helping. Many people would utter “idealist” in my direction as though it were an ugly expletive; I’d hide the hurt and how it made me indignant but my contempt and pity for their callous, self serving nature, that was harder to hide.

Many people have tried, unsuccessfully, to get that message through my thick and obstinate skull;
“Christina, you can’t change things. You let it bother you too much. Grow up, you can’t save the world.”

Today, I think it’s time I listen.

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