Tuesday, April 28, 2009

What's really going on (aka how do you miss people missing you?)

So after many posts of trying to avoid talking about real issues I've decided to tackle it head-on. After all the right attitude + a hammer generally leads to results in some form or another...
On top of my oh-so-exciting flu saga I'm feeling a bit miserable lately an I don't know why. I think a large part of it is that my body has become pretty accustomed to a daily endorphin rush from when I go to the gym and I haven't been since almost a week ago because I'm afraid of the repercussions if I go while I'm sick...
I'm also due to go off on fieldwork in less than two weeks, and that really messes with my head. You know when you go away for a while and people send you news? And its supposed to make you happy, but it makes you sad because it shows you that people don't stop living when you're not there. It's childish and silly and I always want people to be happy, but it sucks that they don't stop living when I'm not there. I remember the first time I went on fieldwork and everyone ad a board games evening without me, and I was devastated without knowing why.
And now I've done the whole fieldwork thing a bunch of times, and I love it and I know I'll be happy when I'm there and it'll be hard to come home, but getting my head in the game to get out there is the hard part. Right now I'm wandering around in a bit of a cough-syrup induced haze, trying to get all my permits and paperwork and equipment in order so that I can leave on time. At the same time in the back of my mind there is  that little voice that keeps telling me that I must stop worrying, because nobody here will miss me anyway.
It's really silly of me, but I guess it all stems from the original issue - the first time you go away for a long time it feels like a betrayal that people kept living without you. Then you get home and go nuts seeing people all the time and going out and doing things and then generally collapsing - the end of last year I got home and mostly hid in the lab prepping for the conference and going diving, but once I was officially home, I went nuts and ended up going out every night for almost a month (I think it was 26 days or something) and then I almost had a breakdown because as much as I had missed everyone and as much as I was enjoying spending time with people, I had just spent three months completely isolated (except for my lizards) with my closest neighbours a good half-hour drive away (it's quicker to walk, the roads are bad) and suddenly I was totally inundated with people.
The weirdest thing is that when I'm in the city, I feel like fieldwork is just a dream or a story that someone else has told me. The other day I remembered something that someone had told me that was a pretty funny story, and after hours of trying to figure out who had told me the story I realised that it was something that had happened to me! And when I'm there I feel like living in the city is all a dream. I guess having spent more than two decades there helps solidify it slightly more, but after a few weeks I wouldn't be able to tell you what my house or my bedroom looks like. I miss my friends and stuff, but I forget to miss them, unless something amazing happens and they aren't there for me to tell them about it.
But the problem is that the more you go off on long trips, the less of a big deal it is. There are no more goodbye parties or welcome home dinners, people forget where I am and I get invitations to things like movies when I am more than half a day's drive away. My friends stop checking up on me, I stop sending messages to them.
And when you're away so often, when you're home it isn't a big deal. People do stuff without you, not because they don't want you there, but because they don't think about you when the invitations go out. They forget to tell you exciting news because you aren't normally there to hear it.
The point of it all is that I'm rather solidly in the self-pity stage at the moment. I'm going away and i don't want to go because I will miss everyone, but at the same time does it matter because nobody will miss me. I don't know where I belong, because I'm so split between two places that neither is home. And life is horrible and nobody cares and I'm going to go sit on the couch and suck my thumb and cry, like the 4-year old I seem to turn into whenever I'm due to go away again. and on top of all of it I'm having boy-issues. Why now? Of all the times for this sort of thing to happen!
Don't mind me, I'll grow up in a few weeks when I have to fall down my first cliff-face of the day and the sun is shining and all I have to worry about is the nasty little lizard hiding under a rock... And I'll be happy, for a moment at least!


po said...

I think we have to accept thiss about people, those who stay behind carry on with life, and you don't leave such a huge hole that habit cannot cover. But on the bright side, whean you get back you will slot into their lives just as easily as if you never left .

Candice said...

Firstly, kudos to you for speaking about what's bothering you. I think that it's really brave!

And I will miss you! Who else will I share vet stories of annoying customers and expensive dog food and signing for morphine deliveries with? :(

And, when you come back, we're having a "welcome back" games evening. Or else!

And... if nothing else, YOU ROCK!!!

Kath Lockett said...

Hey, it's perfectly normal and fine to feel the way you do; especially when you really do life a life that's half-isolated and half-frantic.

Oh and chocolate really does help. Make sure you pack loads of it.

sarah said...

as someone who is as far away from normal life as is possible, i know where you are going with this, hels. and i have to say, its not that bad :)

i think its the thinking about it that is worse than the actual doing of anything, you know?

inevitably every one becomes busy and it gets easier to deal with being away or, on the other side, being left behind...

i miss people. but mostly i dont let myself get busy enough to miss people...

have fun on fieldwork... take a bunch of pictures and boss around a bunch of dumb young kids

and when you get back, you will have martin and luke and vanessa and donuts and wits waiting for you! yay!

sarah said...

wait... i make no sense

`i miss people. but mostly i dont let myself get busy enough to miss people... `

what i MEANt was, i dont let myself get UNbusy enough to miss people too much

man... i am half asleep!

Helen said...

Po: thanks, I really have to get on with it and stop moping, and then I'll get home and wonder what the whole big deal was!

Candice: Thanks so much! Sorry I didn't get to speak to you today, but you ran off really quickly!

Kath: I have faith in the chocolate, but not in my ability to run p and down mountains after consuming enough of it to feel better (although Leia has been feeding me Rolos all afternoon...)I have choc-chip biscuits after dinner when I'm there - does that count?

Sarah: I read it the way you meant it the first time! Wits is changing though - maybe that's part of why it's hard this time - nothing will ever be the same again... And for the record I miss your noise and fun and randomness here a LOT! And there are very few little children there, it's literally me and the lizards and whatever wildlife decides to eat the strelitzias in the garden...