Monday, September 12, 2011

On New Jobs, Book Launches, Authentic Hope, and Being Your Own Worst Enemy

I've mentioned here before that I've started new job recently, which is why posting has slowed down to a bit of a trickle lately. It's one of those Big Jobs, one that I am daily convinced that I am not Up To as a human being or a woman, one that daily makes me re-consider applying for my fantasy, "I've officially given up all hope of becoming white collar" job of High-Rise Window Washer, which for some reason, I have never been able to let go of. At the same time, while the adjustment has been a big strain, I am definitely learning and growing, and that's what I wanted; what I asked for.  There is a lot of love there, a lot of life. 

I can see now why people go into the medical field. It puts you on this precipice so close to life and hope, and so close to death at the same time. It's very intense, but it's intensity is fuel--for increasing compassion, diligence, love, patience, and self-reflection. Each day puts me in touch with so many strong and amazing people. I am very lucky, in spite of all of the frustrations. It has been a huge learning for balancing compassion and boundary-setting, in learning to listen effectively, in seeing where my flaws trip me up and coming to terms with my strengths and limitations--and my own deeply self-critical nature. It is not easy. But I didn't want easy. I think a part of me wanted a trial by fire, and this has certainly been it. 

Having undergone multiple failures, academically and otherwise, and having been constantly told that I am underachiever and a slacker, I have never once thought of myself as even slightly ambitious or striving. And yet, I am coming to realize that tolerating prolonged stagnation is simply not in my nature--even if it means being constantly and slightly over-extended. Even it means having a mild emotional breakdown after forgetting to show up at my best friends' Opening Night play, for which I had only days before purchased tickets. Even if it means fighting--fighting for my place in the world, yet again. Fighting for my boundaries, my power, my self-assertion, my instincts, my way of leadership. Even if it means being a little bit tired, all of the time. Even if it means being okay with not being loved by everyone. 

In addition to all of this, my next book will be on sale soon, and I am working with a truly tireless and determined publisher this time, who has sent out all sorts of review copies. I'm not used to being reviewed, and it's a weird feeling. I am very, very grateful to everyone who has taken time to read and comment on the book, whatever their reaction. And undergoing this experience is helping me to heal from the idea that I need to be all things to all people, at all times. My work is not for everyone. I think that at certain times in my life, that concept would have devastated me, but now, I am a in place where I can step back from it and realize that I don't have to be. That my job as Someone With An Impulse To Write, is simply to write, and do what I can to hone my limited skill, put my weird little impulses out there, and let God sort out who it affects and who it doesn't, and how. 

Last night, I watched a devastating documentary, "Dear Zachary", with Mr Typist. By the end of it, both of us were collapsed in a mutually clinging puddle of helpless, deeply cathartic tears. Yet what I was left with was this ultimate sense of hope...a sense of hope that is becoming more and more prevalent in my life--me, a person who has struggled my entire life with clinical depression, anxiety, and despair. Me, a person who believes in exactly nothing, who trusts very little. But I think that what is happening for me now is not a fantasy-based hope; not a childish hope, but one that is based in reality, more in knowing what we are up against, seeing the reality, and yet having faith anyway. And this has not come from me, but from the amazing people I am blessed to work with every day, those who have suffered far longer and far deeper than I ever have, yet do not use that suffering to set them apart, but to connect to others. 

I am humbled, and I am blessed. 

--Kristen McHenry

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