Thursday, June 28, 2007

Losing My Shit in the Ladies' Room

Every now and then my skin feels as if it has been peeled off, my nerves are exposed all bleeding and screaming, and I cannot ignore just how deeply something has hurt me.

I just had a talk with the "editor" at the author mill publishing my local history tourist book. Last week, they told me that I had to cut 6,000 words and needed the revision by Monday. I didn't finish. So, they called me and, while "bawled out" might be an exaggeration, they did accuse me of making promises that I had "no intention" of keeping and suggesting that I was not actually working on it. I told them I have every intention of keeping a deadline when I accept it,* and that I am working on it nightly; but I also have two jobs. Like that is their problem.

So, right now, they are determining if they should cancel the whole contract. While that would be a temporary relief as far as the mountains of work that I'm facing in the next two weeks is concerned (and that is only outside of the 9-to-5 job), it would also completely humiliate me in the long run. I am already quite exhausted with humiliation.

This situation is my fault and is part of some other issues that I'm dealing with, and I accept that. Still, I was terribly upset, as in "have to go to the ladies' room and bawl my eyes out like a 12 year old" upset; but I wasn't upset at them. Shoot! I don't blame them. I'd hate myself if I was my "editor" too. Instead, I was upset at the whole period of time between August 2004, when I first went up to New England to start this new life, and last November when I left, completely humiliated and disgusted.

Part of the reason that I started this project, and kept going on it even through the grief and frustration and mounting costs, was that it had become symbolic for me. It had become a way for me to salvage those two years of my life by producing something creative and positive from that lost period of time. Finishing this book, however, has become so terribly difficult being so far from my sources, having only weekends and evenings to work, then not even most of that, moving, starting a new job, being so concerned about money, and getting so sick for so long; but the difficulties only meant that finishing became imperative. Now, so close to the end, when I thought that I had finished anyway, when the only thing left is to cut those damn 6,000 words (5,000 now) and get the upgraded photos from the archivist (who has been on vacation since the publisher asked for upgraded photos), to have it disappear makes me so ashamed of myself and hurt.

The hurt is not really about the book, however. The hurt is about those two years. When I went to the bathroom to bawl like a 12 year old girl, I wanted to blame the publisher since they were the catalyst for my pain. I knew too well that this was my own fault, so I began to blame myself for being such an irresponsible loser. I won't say that last is not true because "irresponsible loser" is an accurate account of myself from the vantage point of inside my head; but being a loser doesn't precisely describe why I felt so bereft.

I felt so bereft because that place really wounded me. The library school, the constant rejection, the hopelessness of feeling that I had nowhere else to go, the abysmal wages, the bankruptcy, the humiliation of being ostracized and mocked for simply not having been born within a 100 mile radius, the loneliness of knowing that kindness (with a few exceptions) was offered only by men who wanted to fuck me, the confusion of finding myself in the midst of nasty territorial wars and petty pissing contests, the unexpected jealousies directed at me, the cheating and lying, the overwhelming feeling that no matter where I turned, no matter what skills or enthusiasm I demonstrated, that I was being chewed up and spit out, and the feeling that I should have known better, of "what did I expect?" All of this over so very little. All of this over, essentially, nothing, because I wasn't there to take anything.

The alienation had wounded me so deeply, and not until I just let loose -- or almost loose -- in the ladies' did I realize just how much I had been holding all of that ache off in order to transform the whole experience into something creative and interesting. Now, that is gone. The whole thing seems to be over and done, with nothing to show for it except this grief, disappointment, and guilt.

Onto the next big thing. I'll do it for the joy of it -- and not fuck it up.

*Since working on this book and having so much life get in the way of progressing quickly on it, I have vowed not to accept any deadlines BEFORE the work is done. My goal is to finish the work, then move it into situations with deadlines as a way of dealing with some of these stumbling blocks.


Anonymous said...

I very rarely regret being an atheist, but reading this brings me to do so. Would that one could think that the gods are laying you low only to create the contrast when they raise you up to some umimagined height.

Hope the sun shines for you tomorrow.


John R. said...

Not to turn this into Tuesday Hatred, but I hate that I so sympathize with your feelings that I can't get sufficient distance on the situation to make a productive comment (though my little Women's Studies voice tells me that this is kind of a guy thing, this need to be productive rather than knowing how to be comforting; my superego has multiple personalities).

If the author mill does torch your contract, you could always publish the book online.

Hahn at Home said...

Guy thing? Nah.

Just know I'm rooting for the good guy, in this case, you.

Clio Bluestocking said...

Thank you all. You really have made me feel a lot better.

CC, I had a similar thought: "If I weren't an atheist, I would think that the entire universe is conspiring to tell me that THAT PLACE hates me!"

John R., Tuesday Hatred is great! I hope that you are talking sympathy (ie understand the feeling) rather than empathy (ie have lived through similar experiences), because I would hate to think you would have been through some of the shit that place put me through.

Lori, you must be a great friend in real life!

Clio Bluestocking said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you and, did I forget to mention? THANK YOU!

Tita said...

Don't let the bastards get you down. Even if they are in your head, or if the bastard is you (as in my case, as I am indeed a bastard, by definition). Eh, you know what I mean.

I am rooting for you!

Clio Bluestocking said...

Thank you Tita! I do know exactly what you mean. Indeed, you remind me that there is a bastardized Latin phrase for just such situations: Illegitimi non carborundum".

Nonpartisan said...

Of course, the only reason they're messing with you because you're way too good for them. Petty dictators have a way of making themselves particularly nasty at times.

Chin up.

Claire said...

I'm listening to to Eurythmics right now and I noticed that as I was reading your post Annie Lennox kept singing "Keep your head up." So keep your head up. Don't be hard on yourself for having struggled in the past. Having to spend an extended length of time in a hostile environment will take a toll on anyone. I can definitely empathize.

Clio Bluestocking said...

Thank you Nonpartisan and Claire!

Nonpartisan, I tell myself that every morning!

Claire, I do take heart that, at least in this particular situation, they only drop e-mail bombs on me, which beats the heck out of working in a toxic envrionment with crazy cat ladies any day! Although, when I was back in that other place, I began to wonder if therapy and Prozac should be considered workman's comp.

Claire said...

Yeah, I think toxic workplaces should definitely subsidize therapy and medication for the traumatized employees. Crazy ladies, cat or otherwise, seem to follow me everywhere I go.


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