killing time, not myself

ok, i don’t usually do two in one day, but i felt i needed to elaborate upon the subject of time-killing.

i am very aware that there are many people out there who are not only caregiving for multiple parents/ in-laws, with little or no reimbursement or help, but are also working at least one job (if they can find any), caring for their own family at the same time, and managing all the other business and maintenance of a household and career. many have to commute long distances to do all the above. this is actually a more normal scenario, compared to mine. i have no idea how they manage all that and stay sane, but i acknowledge their challenge and give them a lot of credit.

if i were one of the above persons, i would be baffled and outraged by my previous post. ‘wow, it must be rough to have all that idle time on your hands, and not be running around like a crazy person all day.’ yes, it actually had occurred to me—like all the time— that i am relatively fortunate in that regard. i’m pretty certain i would not have even made it this far with some shred of sanity left, if i were being torn in ten directions, like millions of people in our dysfunctional system. and that’s leaving aside the billions of people in the world who just scrape by to survive with essentially nothing, and then die. i make an effort to balance my bad attitude with awareness of how much worse it can get.

but there is another side to this paradigm which is just as real, and just as incapacitating, for people who are compelled to take on the full-time caregiver role. time can be killed in many ways, all of which can be validly destructive. it isn’t a privilege or a desired goal. it can be busily or passively used up, and it’s still lost forever. it’s just that in my case, instead of cramming too much activity into too little time, i’m confronted with empty hours between caregiver tasks that i can’t consistently offer a hypothetical employer even if one were hiring. more significantly, i contend with the increasing depression and weariness that overwhelms many people who find themselves in tedious, isolating caregiver roles. you become marginalized, cut off from life as you knew it, and lose touch with your own sense of identity, value, or purpose. you don’t visualize any future beyond survival and aging. you go through months and years of nothingness, punctuated by crises, with not much to look forward to. at least that has been my experience, and all the caregiver sites warn of it, so i guess i’m not totally delusional, yet.

i also haven’t forgotten the years of freezing or broiling my ass off in labor-intensive hort jobs, just so i could pay for a cheap, mildewed apartment while helping to maintain employers in their comfortable lifestyle. there were days when i longed for the luxury of just not going to work all day in the freezing rain with the flu in order to survive and afford health care. the grass wasn’t always greener. it wasn’t ideal all the time. i didn’t necessarily have a better future ahead of me. sometimes i was even running around like that proverbial crazy person, killing time, doing stupid things i’d later regret. now i have all kinds of time on my hands in which to do the regretting. but what i do miss is, doing normal things with family and friends, the knowing what i was supposed to do each day, the sense of accomplishment and sometimes even creativity, however insignificant, and the little events i looked forward to now and then. most of all, i could spend time on my own terms, support myself as best i could, and maybe even have a lifeboat when the ship went down. now it feels like it’s all going under, and me with it.

i admit i’ve always been prone to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. it all began right here, in this house, school district, town, and state. i spent years running from it, only to come full circle, back to where i began, and not by choice. well, technically i could have chosen to be irresponsible, and let the old ship sink on its own. so, not really a choice there. so just when i was finally starting to get my life in order, and trying to undo some of the damage of the past, here i found myself once again. yeah, some anger there. and lots of time to confront it, with no relief valve such as co-workers to take it out on! (just kidding.) no, i’m not in jail per se, i could theoretically walk away, but not really. doing time grinds you down little by little, until you forget how to function on the outside. i am not being melodramatic. it is the way it is.

there, i think that’s it for now. as long as i’m just waiting, i might as well practice typing to myself. that’s about as productive as it gets right now. if this were a book, even i wouldn’t read it. but it’s not, so i can whine endlessly into the void, and anyone can feel free to disregard it. and just to balance the negativity, there is still a roof over the room with the clock ticking off the hours i while away, for which i am grateful.

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