Humility seems to be in conflict with the forces of proper blogging etiquette. I’ve read many About pages on other blogs trying to find inspiration, and though many were well-written, nothing particularly excited me. Do I talk about previous accomplishments? Careers? Goals and ambitions? What makes me think I can write something like this? What the hell makes me think I can write at all?
When I mentioned this problem to a friend, she suggested I draft a simple mission statement. Here’s what I came up with:
I once wanted to write so I could say important things to the world, but now I just want to say important things to myself. Sharing them here is not for laurels or recognition, but for the thought that maybe someone will understand better, learn something useful, or be stirred to some insight of their own.
Some very frilly words that basically admit I’m being completely selfish but if you find some crumbs I’ve dropped you’re welcome to them. I’m not entirely sure how I began this path I’m on now, where this stuff is really coming from, or how long I’ll keep it up, but I’m liking it, so I’m not going to question it too deeply. Since I’m putting myself out there, though, you deserve to know a little bit about me.
I was a paramedic in a big urban environment for many years. I actually beat the average length of a medic’s career by about a year and a half. In 2003 I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder but carried on working until 2007 or 2008 (I am horrible with numbers, warning you now) when I just couldn’t anymore. My doc actually ordered me to never go back to that job again, which I think is pretty funny.
For a long time I struggled to live an ordinary life, including emigrating to Australia (and then coming home), an unsuccessful marriage, and a misguided attempt to go back to college thinking I could start a new career as a funeral director. As failures go, these were all pretty huge. There were smaller ones, mostly the complete inability to hold a job, but the biggest came when all of the really unhealthy coping mechanisms I’d developed to manage the debilitating effects of this workplace injury finally stopped working.
For four of the last five years, I was in a state that I once described to a friend as agoraphobic Bukowski-ism. Standing at the door of my little apartment to leave filled me with terror, and little, perfectly normal noises outside had me muting the television so nobody would know I was there and tensing up ready to I don’t know what. I didn’t talk to anyone for weeks at a time, and nobody except my brother ever really checked in on me. I was drunk more than half the time because drinking eased the anxiety and made me feel normal for just that little bit. The rest of the time I was hungover. It was like a bad movie. Eventually, I ran out of money and had to make a choice: end the isolation or end myself. Called my doctor again, who, bless her heart, picked right up where we’d left off with just a smile and a “Good to see you.” I began meds again, found a part-time job (and lost it), found another part-time job (and lost it), and began applying for government disability benefits (got ‘em). Recently, with the support of new friends and a good man in the union I used to belong to, I’ve picked up the fight for the worker’s compensation benefits I’m due. Also, as I write this, I am sober. That’s my choice for today, and I’ll face the same decision tomorrow.
I like poetry and long walks on the beach.
Though all of these things will be in here because they are a part of my experience, this is not going to be a blog about ambulance, PTSD, mental health, or surviving trauma. Because I think it’s mostly bullshit, it’s also not going to be about how to be happy all the time or the power of positive thinking, either. Other than that, I really don’t have any idea what I’m doing, but it seems to be working.
Thanks for stopping by. Don’t mind the mess, and I was just kidding about long walks on the beach.