Before today, if someone had asked me whether or not my moods control the weather, I would have denied it. I went to the school bookstore this afternoon, killing time before an appointment. I was looking at the sweatshirts when I happened upon the graduation regalia display. The empty cap and gown, standing there on its flattened wire replica of the human form. I stood for a moment in front of it, sighing, reaching out to touch the blue velvet sleeve with my fingertip. "Motherfuckers" I muttered to myself. Or, more accurately, to the gentleman I hadn't noticed was standing directly beside me. As I walked out of the bookstore, feeling generally droopy and sorry for myself, it began to rain. Not that I think myself so high and mighty that the very clouds change course in accordance with my sorrows, but these past few days have had coincidentally good weather for moping and brooding and imagining setting fire to various items in the office of my Giant Paper Thing's reader. Not that I would do either of those things for realsies-- neither inflict gloomy weather upon my fellow San Franciscans nor practice arson. Nope, not me.
Several people have told me about times when they failed something. Like the text message I received from a friend in a PhD program, "Did I ever tell you that my advisor failed me for some research units? I was sad/angry etc. But now everything is okay." Stories like that have unexpectedly helped me feel better because I don't feel so completely ALONE IN MY MISERY.
I THINK I am ready now to hear things like "It will be okay! You can do it!" but even when I wasn't, when all I wanted to do was whimper and feel sad, it did help to hear other people's stories of crappy experiences like this and their positive outcomes. Even though I couldn't yet imagine that MY situation would turn out okay, it was nice to hear that other peoples' did. It helped me imagine that there might be a time wherein I could imagine that everything might turn out okay.
This is how I cope with bad things-- I catastrophize. I wallow in pain and make lists in my head of all the terrible things that are happening and dwell on them and cry and feel generally woe-is-me about them. And then after a little while I start to feel better and am able to move forward.
Today I realized that one of the reasons that I've been SO devastated about this whole situation is because graduation meant more to me than just finishing school in general or this program specifically. It meant closing a chapter of my life and starting fresh, something I hadn't realized that I was looking forward to so much. Because these past three years have been... DIFFICULT.
The first year I was in an emotionally abusive relationship.
The second year I got out of that relationship and had to get a restraining order.
The third year I had to deal with emotional aftermath and PTSD related to the first two.
A lot of wonderful stuff happened in those years, too, of course. I don't want to make it seem like these years are framed in my mind ONLY by those events. But, I mean, they were tremendously difficult things to go through and they did coincide with school. I remember last year (the second year) when I was in the midst of being harassed and threatened and felt like I was teetering on the edge of sanity. I felt like I was very close to having some sort of breakdown. I remember I kept thinking "I can't do this. I CAN'T DO THIS." I had trouble paying attention, I cried in the bathroom and on the train, and I had to turn in some assignments late and leave a class early because I had a panic attack. But I did it. One friend helped me with my research and another helped me with my assessments and my professors gave me extensions and I DID IT. I made it through that year. And this year I felt like I just had to keep plugging along and I would graduate, nothing could stop me!
And now it feels like I was so close. I was SO CLOSE. But I just couldn't do it.
I have been trying to reframe this in my mind-- because this is a thing, right? A lot of people graduate from a program and then have one stupid thing left to finish over the summer or the next semester, right? People do that.
I can do it.
I honestly don't even know where I am supposed to begin in terms of revising this paper to turn it in again. I haven't gotten all the comments back yet and I just recently took a look at the ones I have received. Some of them don't seem to make sense and some are so JERKY that I can't read anymore because either my eyes are either filled with tears or clouded over with PURE RAGE. I find myself yelling at the computer.
Plus! I had two readers who left comments. They both had very strong opinions.
Reader 1: "Great discussion of a cutting-edge theory."
Reader 2: "There was no theoretical framework presented."
Reader 1: "Significance poorly defined."
Reader 2: "Significance of the topic was presented well."
Um? OH GREAT! I'LL START THERE!