The Next Step

The great thing about Freecycle is, if you describe a thing honestly and include a few photos, and someone still comes to get it, you know they really want it. Freecycle eliminates the question, “Am I dumping stuff on Goodwill that they will just have to get rid of because no one wants it?”

I’m getting rid of things because I’m preparing for death. I don’t want to leave a horrible mess for my family. I’ve made a vow to myself that I’ll get rid of the equivalent of a roomful of stuff every five years. By the time I am 80 I will be down to one room. Maybe by then I will live in an SRO for old ladies. That is the slow plan: death by 20% increment every 5 years.

Another way of thinking is that I am preparing for life, the rest of my life. I think back to my first apartment in Somerville, where I had almost nothing. I was in graduate school, and I was busy all day every day. It didn’t matter, much, that I didn’t have pretty things, and that what I did have was second-hand and dinged-up. I was too busy to care — very much, anyway. Can I give myself that freedom again?

But! I must remember: I was also fighting off sickening anxiety attacks that would come out of nowhere and fill my mind with terror. They lasted days, not hours. If they went away for a week or two, they would always come back. I had a specific terror; I fixated on a particular disease that usually strikes young people. When terror overtook me, nothing could relieve it. God, those were awful years.

Don’t listen to blowhards whose reaction to anyone’s depression or anxiety is to insist “All you have to do is get up and do something instead of wallowing in your emotions!” Those people are ignorant. It is very slightly interesting to wonder what impels them to trumpet their disdain so loudly. Slightly interesting. Don’t invest a lot of time wondering; you have better fish to fry. But here is what I did while wallowing in terror: graduated from college, moved 200 miles from home, started living on my own, got into graduate school, studied and worked, went to church, and made friends. Also came close to jumping onto the tracks at Park Street Station.

I used to carry scraps of paper around containing verses that helped me, and maybe they had a magical aspect, too. One said

Ever since the days of my youth I have borne thy terrors with a troubled mind.

Another said

All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

Another said

Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me.

It is a terrible shame that the priest I went to for help, when the torment was unbearable, acted out toward me. Ach!

Ministers, priests, pastors: don’t do this. Find some other way to meet your need.

January 20, 2021 COVID-19 Infections and Deaths

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