Monday, December 31, 2007

The Great Pretender

Yes, I'm the Great Pretender,
Pretending that I'm doing well.
My need is such
I pretend too much
I'm lonely but no one can tell.

Yes, I'm the Great Pretender,
Adrift in a world of my own.
I play the game
but to my real shame
You've left me to grieve all alone.


One adjective that will never, in any circumstances be used to describe me is 'inscrutable.' I do not play poker, because I cannot bluff. In fact, even when I'm trying very, very hard to be tactful and polite, my face pretty much gives away "God I hate everything about this" more often than not.

So, it's somewhat strange to me that I've been going through the most hellish three months I've had since at least college, with no real, in the flesh friends to confide in regularly, and practically no one has noticed. At work, my hallmarks as an attendant remain my constant smile and sense of humor, my near endless resources of patience, and my high, some might say frenetic or manic, energy levels. All of my coworkers knew about the disastrous ending to my relationship with Rachel, although not all knew the full extent of it, and all of them know about the neverending run of troubles I've been dealing with since then. Everyone thinks I'm fine, and that it's amazing that I'm doing so well and keeping so positive. The only coworker who truly knows what's going on is Kelli, who is pretty much my best friend these days, and that's because she cared enough to ask me about it, early and often.

So I've been wondering why, when everything else in my life appears to be falling around me, practically no one at work is aware that something serious is going on with me. Why can't anyone figure it out, when usually people can practically read my mind simply by looking at me?

And it hit me. I'm happiest at work. By far. Home consists of lots of pacing, lots of calling people to see if anyone is up for me to talk to, and lots of frantic searching for something, anything to occupy my time.

(Quick plug: ChessMaster 9000: Available for $10 at your local electronics store, featuring hours and hours and hours of chess strategy lessons by international grandmasters, including a course in competitive psychology by the guy that Searching For Bobby Fischer was about. Plus, dozens of AI Personalities of all skill levels to practice against. Practically guaranteed to keep your mind off of everything if you've ever wanted to learn to play chess.)

At work, though, I've got people to talk to, problems to solve, residents to counsel, on occasion pretty women to flirt with, and I love every second of it, and everyone at work likes me. And by everyone, I mean everyone. Even people I thought did not like me, like me. "Accepted" might not be the word to use; I'm still looked at as a ways off from the norm, and probably always will be, but since I'm a friendly and effective crazy, people tend to like me.

And so, for the first time in my life, I'm able to go through a slight depressive episode without everyone looking at me and asking me what's wrong with me, or if I'm doing all right, or telling me I look like crap and should probably go take a nap. Which sort of makes me think it's not really a depressive episode at all. It's just a temporary hole that needs to be filled with a friend or two. Now it's just a matter of finding worthwhile candidates.


BerryBird said...

I worked a second shift for several years, and had the hardest time maintaining human connections. I have no advice for you, though, as I got a new job and still have few friends. Plus, you LIKE your job. How about some fiction for a little escapism around the apartment?

liz said...

I'm glad that you are enjoying your job enough that your other unhappinesses are not showing through there.

I like the idea of good escapist fiction at home. Howsabout some Dana Stabenow? Or Dick Francis?

kathy a. said...

sorry that things have sucked so much -- but it is good you have a job where you are happy. here's to the new year!