Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Depression has really been kicking me while I’m down of late. Even skydiving as I did can’t seem to defeat it. In fact, maybe it made it worse, since nobody was there to cheer me on (at least not physically; my friends have been doing a great job of supporting me in abesntia). While waiting for the pilot, a family showed up. The mom was jumping, and her husband and three children were there to support her, and there I was, just some creepy old lonely guy.
When I am feeling this far down, my thoughts often go to very dark places. Of late, I’ve been thinking about the times I’ve been betrayed. I would say I’ve been betrayed far too often, but I think that even one betrayal is too many and I’m certainly not alone in having been betrayed (or, at least betrayed by my own perspective).
Yes, my wife betrayed me when she cheated on me. My students betrayed me by jumping directly to administration with their concerns, especially since their concerns (from what I could figure out) were largely due to their own misinterpretations of my motives. I’ve been betrayed by my employees when I was in supervisory positions, and I was betrayed by those people above me when they listened to those complaints and, without hearing my side, decided to terminate my employment.
I tend to think about individuals and specific incidents, and my thoughts turn dark, and I think of horrific means of vengeance, bad enough to even disturb myself. I go over incidents, how I responded to them, how I could have responded better not just to specific incidents but overall, as well. My hurt leads to anger, and my anger makes me feel guilty and the cycle continues.
But this isn’t really about them. The reality is that they don’t care one way or the other. They had their victories, they have had their celebrations, and they’ve moved on. They aren’t thinking about me anymore, and they’re certainly not losing sleep as I am. They’re happy living their life in bliss, no doubt without even guilt weighing on their heads.
It’s not the same for me.
But the reality is, I wish I knew the secret to moving on. I wish I didn’t dwell on this, that my mind didn’t turn dark. But these struggles are not theirs. What they did is history (some of it ancient), so my continuing struggles cannot be their fault. It’s entirely my own.
My most recent (and online) therapist insisted that I find a new name for my demons. And I guess I should. She suggested that when my mind goes to these places, I need to figure out the lesson that these feelings are trying to teach me, learn the lesson, and let them go. Beautiful in theory; challenging in practice. What I’ve learned is that I can’t trust anybody, even if I think we have a good rapport as those are the individuals that most easily get through my defenses to hurt me the most. But what kind of world is it when you trust nobody? Do I really want to live in such a dark place? The therapist was thrilled when I started referring to my demons and “teachers”.
I know a lot of people struggle as I do. If you’re one of them, you’re not alone. I guess that, in reality, I’ve been betrayed as often as I have because I’ve taken chances. I married a woman who was too young for me and too quickly after meeting her. That’s my fault. My administrative positions were both in positions where I was hired from outside of the institution. The people who hired me didn’t know me well, and coming into a new situation like that, especially where (as was true in both cases) major work was required, you’re vulnerable because you’re not known, and there are those who always want to see you gone because they don’t know you, because they don’t trust you or just because you’re the boss.
There was a time that I was more or less “bulletproof”. God knows that there were efforts to get rid of me then as well, but the efforts to build evidence to corroborate the complaints ended up proving that there was no substance to them. But I guess my wandering spirit got the better of me (and some injustices I was not willing to endure) and I moved on. And where did this wanderlust get me? In a strange land, far from those who truly do love me, with naught but my cat. But that’s okay. With her by my side I think I might survive.