genuine feelings


No one told me that graduating from my MFA program would feel like postpartum depression.  Or just, depression.

I am feeling very very lost these days. And for someone who usually is (or feels) as surefooted as I am, this sensation of uncertainty is alarming. The bottom, in a way, has fallen out of my world.

In the loss of flooring, I have an acute sense of what else supports me. What and who give me strength, happiness, etc. Inside, I’m clamoring for these things. It sums up to a lot, and a little.

There have been points this week where I felt very distraught and alone (I was literally alone, as the hubby was on a long business trip overseas). Who could I call? I thumbed through my phonebook, and found myself veto’ing each person. (Nope–not him. Nope–she would freak out if I called like this. Nope–she wouldn’t hear it. Nope–she’s NEVER heard me cry, she’d freak out too. Nope–we don’t have that kind of relationship….)

Very few of my friends have seen me vulnerable, and so they don’t know what to do or say and in sum, they freak out. And in turn, I’m not good at being vulnerable at all. It seems I need practice at laying prostrate, belly up, and someone needs to erase my memories of people who have stepped on me while I have done that.

My world is very gray too. The black and white have now merged. Again, to a result of feeling lost. Things have lost their clarity.

It’s driving me nuts, plunging me into a great sense of helplessness. Guess what. I hate feeling helpless, too. And I hate bitching. So that results in me being very quiet. Which then makes me feel more alone.

I understand that the gray spaces, feeling lost–can be an opportunity. Someone once explained that it could be an opportunity, and that it is a space to explore and embrace. The rules are gone, there are no boundaries, and new things, experiences, and ideas are in the mist. It’s hard for me to see it that way.

I can tell things are about to change, and that I am not in control. I am very afraid and worried, spending most of my time rationalizing as much as I can or plunging myself into the fictional world of my writing. I wish I weren’t so afraid and worried (what am I going to do with what I learned?  What next?), I wish I could enjoy this ride a little more.



Filed under Life

9 responses to “genuine feelings

  1. Jade, if it’s any comfort, I’m not good at admitting when things are bad. I admit happily afterwards, but find it really difficult to call someone up when I’m actually feeling grim. I told a friend this recently and she said, “But if you had told me, I could have done something to help you, or at least given you a hug.”

    Take this as a hug from me. I hope when you turn the corner, you’ll be able to look back and see why it was so.

  2. Just remember that nothing you are feeling is a reflection of you as a person, as a value. These are just moments.


  3. I’m so sorry that you’re having such a rough time. I hope it will pass quickly. I’m also sorry that you passed my number by when you were feeling so down.

    This, too, WILL pass. But it’s one of those big transitional times – it’s no coincidence that in labor, “transition” is the part that hurts the darn most and feels the most impossible to endure – but I think it’s true for every other kind of life transition as well.

    May it pass quickly.

    I’m intrigued by “I can tell things are about to change…” that sounds kind of exciting. Weren’t you just wanting some changes in the last post?

  4. The photo you posted with this blog is so celebratory, so full of energy and marvellous in its incandescent beauty. And yet you say your world is grey right now. Yes, there you are on the margins of the shadows in this picture – the contrast between these greys and fiery reddish oranges is what makes this picture so moving. Without the blahs for comparison, how could we recognize positive feelings? Both seem necessary to me, in fact the whole range, not just the extremes. Take your time and savour the emotional “tonal range and colour range”, that’s where you will find fodder for your writing. G

  5. I completely understand these post-MFA feelings. I had them myself (and they’ve recently come back, where’s the logic in that?).

    If you’re up for it, and if you haven’t already started doing this, I think that throwing yourself into summer workshop and residency applications might help and give you something to look forward to. Most of the workshops start accepting applications in January, so now’s the time to start getting ready to apply. I know, I know, more workshops… but there’s so much more to conferences than that, right?

    As for residencies, next deadline for MacDowell is January 15… You know I loved it there. And Yaddo is January 1. Apply with me?

    Anyway, I’ll stop talking now because I know all that stuff could be really overwhelming. I hope you feel better very soon.

  6. I had a similar experience after finishing my master’s program at Medill’s J-School. (OK — the other depressing part was being rejected for a network job opening, following graduation). After my master’s program, all I had going for myself was my job hunt and wedding planning. It was difficult to be with new groups of people because I didn’t want to answer the question: “What do you do?” That leads to a self-conscious explanation (aka ashamed) of why it was taking me so long to land a new job with my brand-spanking new MSJ.

    I also remember trying to fill out our marriage license at the courthouse. Since I didn’t have a job, the clerk was about to put down “housewife” as my profession. I said “no” to that. Instead, I insisted listing DJ as on that line, since I was volunteering at a college radio station. It was a small, petty thing, but it felt like some type of victory for my career aspirations.

    Like commenters before, I’m sure, this helpless, gray feeling will pass.

    On a side note, I saw this article in the Bee and I thought about you. It’s about another extraordinary young woman who’s clawing her way back to recovery.

  7. charlotteotter: yes, I wish I could be braver and open up to people, but I just don’t, and often times, feel like I can’t. It’s my own limitation, and my own baggage I carry with me. Of course, I ALWAYS feel better when I just do open up.

    arirang: I am waiting for this moment to pass!

    Susan: I just hate myself when I’m like this–and am one of those people who think no one will like me when I’m low. Hence, my unwillingness to call friends, even when I need them!

    suburbanlife: thank you for the advice–I will seek the tonal and color range. (and good eye for spotting me in the photo).

    nova: let’s apply to some together for sure. 🙂 I’m probably going to apply to MacDowell later in the year–but am applying to UCross right now! You are so wise. And before all that, we’ll meet in NYC. 🙂

    queenkv: I like the idea of listing yourself as a DJ. 🙂 And I appreciate that article–man that is devastating. I feel superlucky for my ability to recover.

  8. Eve

    Jade, I’m sorry I’ve missed so much of your blog lately, what with my trips and the holidays and being sick. I have felt as you do so many times; after every major change (every degree, every launch of something big, whether a child or a book or a project); and I regularly realize that the friends in my phone book are not the best listeners.

    I’m glad you came here and wrote about it. I’m glad because it’s clear that people who don’t know you still know you; and those who do know you, don’t really get this part of you, so they don’t know you in that way. We get to know you in this way; that’s a privilege.

    Also, I’m glad because it gives me the courage to keep writing about how I really feel and think, even when people attack it or reject me as a result of my writing about how I really feel and think. If you can do it, I can also. So, thanks.

  9. Eve: thank you for stopping by–you are such a generous soul! I have always known that people who read my writing have a better chance of knowing me than those who know me purely by in-person interactions. For numerous reasons, I put up quite a wall except in my writing (and even then, I have to work at pounding that wall down–luckily, with writing, you get the chance of revision).

    Thank you for the encouragement–I hope you are having a good holiday. 🙂

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