The year is 2014. I schlep my possessions through a heavy rotation of “living spaces” to cure my homelessness. I crouch on some friend’s floor counting change to buy my hipster cigarettes. I fight with my boyfriend over his behavior that I can only defend but so much. I limp under the weight of debilitating anxiety. I wade through stress and loss with the grace of a newborn elephant drowning in the middle of the ocean. My brain escalates its cortisol production with an obsessive fear and fierce determination not to drink.
The year is 2016. I wake up in my twin’s high school bedroom. I start the day sans nightmares about my EBT money running out. I pour myself some Dunkin and ponder nothing. Two puffs off my douchey vaporizer soothes me. My peace lasts just under five minutes.
One scroll through Facebook leads to fresh pangs of envy–a few of which I wrote about here.
I weigh the many character defects of my personality. Impatience and judgement in spades. An inability to grasp being wrong–that one tops the list. I acknowledge I am not a jealous person. I call my sponsor to stop the circle jerk in my head. I recall that jealousy of other people is a wasted emotion. I cringe when I realize this has changed in sobriety. In AA, old timers taught me to emulate people who have what I want, not envy them. It seems I have given into an emotion I detest.
The year is 2015. I’m writing on borrowed time while the house of cards topples around me. I hate my life but I am in love with its possibilities. I marvel over my new LA writing gig, an obvious reward for my sobriety. I hate the reality of writing but I love the romance.
I feel isolated, anxious, inept and defeated. Duress of this magnitude does not become me. I keep writing, as my resentment festers. I attempt to stuff my feelings down, but they plague me for months. It feels wrong and ungrateful of me to complain about my dreams coming true. I see sober women I look up to continue to write and be successful at it. I want what they have, but I don’t like what that looks like. I envy them.
It’s the last week of December, 2015. I’m hunched over my new laptop at my (now) husband’s apartment in the Bronx. I reach my deadline limit and impulsively email my editor to take an official hiatus from writing. I feel relieved and proud of myself. Fuck this noise, I think.
I make a prideful choice to stop writing. I hate the pressure and I loathe how isolated I have become. I carry this pride with me into 2016. I admire the universe for presenting me with the option to change. I become a substitute teacher. In doing so, I change my mind for the millionth time.
The year is 2016. I wake up feeling envious of other writers. This baffles me, as I have not thought about my previous gig for months. I’ve been preoccupied with science experiments and classroom management. The timing makes sense, though. I start school to become a credentialed teacher on Monday. I give many, many fucks about learning to be a good teacher. I’ve never held a credential for any tangible skill, except to administer CPR. Much to my dismay, that credential has expired–so has my ability to reason.
My brain is a preposterous place. I gain consciousness within and just like that! I fall short of my own expectations. It’s almost like the brain is built to sabotage the good that befalls the thinker. The machine between my ears eludes me once more. It’s times like these where listing items of gratitude digs me out of a self-pitying mire.
To me, jealously and envy are distractions. We make choices–good and bad–that will always precede consequences. Our free will is like the First Amendment–we can say what we want, but that doesn’t mean we are free of responsibility. I made a choice to leave one job to pursue a career that fulfills me. As a teacher, I can’t afford to be self-involved. Students need to learn. They don’t give a fuck about what articles I’ve written or how many meetings I’ve attended to stay sober. All they know is they are one day closer to spring break and one fraction of a point away from passing.
When the student is ready, the teacher(s) appear.
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