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Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Attitude Dip

About six months after Josh and I started dating, we went on our first road trip. We brought along an audio recording of David Sedaris's book Barrel Fever, which contains a rendition of the essay "You Can't Kill the Rooster" (which really appears in Me Talk Pretty One Day). In this essay, after a storm damages their father's house, David's foul-mouthed little brother, Paul (who calls himself the Rooster), brings over his Fuck-It Bucket:
...My brother rushed over with a gas grill, three coolers full of beer, and an enormous Fuck-It Bucket--a plastic pail filled with jawbreakers and bite-sized candy bars ("When shit brings you down, just say 'fuck it,' and eat yourself some motherfucking candy."). There was no electricity for close to a week. The yard was practically cleared of trees, and rain fell through the dozens of holes punched into the roof. It was a difficult time, but the two of them stuck it out, my brother placing his small, scarred hand on my father's shoulder to say, "Bitch, I'm here to tell you that it's going to be all right. We'll get through this shit, motherfucker, just you wait."
I loved this essay so much not only because it was hysterically funny but because it felt like such a great attitude. The first time I heard this essay, I felt like that attitude was entirely within my reach and it was a great mindset where things didn't weigh you down. You rolled with the small disappointments and knew that there was always a light at the end of the tunnel. And if not, there was, at least, a handful of candy. This is the attitude I've been trying out for the last week or so.

When I heard this essay, it was at a point in my life where anything really horrible that had happened in my life up until that point was in my past. Time has a way of dulling emotional pain and making it seem more manageable. The reality was that I had gotten almost everything I had set out to do. I had gotten into college and grad school easily. I had my share of crappy relationships, but those were all in the past. I was dating this fantastic guy who had already told me that he wanted to marry me. Yes, I was anxious until he actually proposed many months later, but I also knew that it was more likely than not that I was with the person I would marry.

It was easy to be appeased for a day or two with a handful of candy with the kind of disappointments that popped up during that time period.

Last night, as my new attitude was lagging (attitude--not planner usage. I am still fully committed to the planner and being organized), I was thinking about this essay and I can't decide if the Rooster has weak-assed problems or a more enlightened attitude. Candy may have cheered me up a bit during those first months of trying-to-conceive, but it wasn't going to make a dent in the depression that occurred during treatments. When I'm told bad news, the last thing I want to do is eat.

Infertility makes me want to grab an RE by his lab jacket lapels and shake him continuously while I scream, "just help me, you motherfucker, get me pregnant now. Make me your number one priority. Look at my chart and research my blood work and sonogram results as thoroughly as I do. Find the problem. Fix it, you motherfucker, fix it." It's like those what ifs you always dreamed up when you were bored in math class. What if I jumped up on my desk right now and started high kicking everyone in the face who came near me? Would I be sent to the principal's office? Would I be ostracized by everyone for the rest of my time in high school? Would people talk about my nervous breakdown in the lunchroom that day?

Am I the only person who thought of these what ifs in math class?

I want to behave in the irrational, emotional manner that only seems to come out in dreams. I'm always rational Melissa who nods while the doctor is talking and asks sensible questions. I want to be dream Melissa, who shouts obscenities and lashes out and screams until the words are unintelligible because I am so frustrated. I am so completely frustrated that I can't make my body do what I want it to do. And I'm frustrated any time I need to depend on another person in order to get what I want or do what I want to do. No one takes care of me like me (except maybe Josh and my parents). And I get to a point where I'm just done. I am so finished. And I would walk away if I thought it would bring me any peace. Except that I know that in exercising the little control I have by walking away, I'm not winning anything. I'm certainly not gaining peace. I'm only gaining a sickening, "what the fuck am I doing?" feeling and a greater frustration that I still need to return even if I do leave because I still haven't achieved what I want.

How is candy going to fix that?

Last night, I was getting more and more frustrated, using fertility and my wonky cycles as a jumping board to vent on a long string of unfairnesses. People who don't return phone calls. People who string other people along without regard to the emotional damage in their wake. Broken promises. A inability to walk away. Time that is still moving forward, ovaries that are continuing to age, children who are growing up, and every month less hope rather than more hope. Or different hope. And at the core of it, every option looks like it contains the potential for frustration and disappointments.

In this moment, I am just done with the ups and downs that are supposed to be smoothed over by the Fuck-It Bucket. The common disappointments in life (because if it wasn't fertility, it would be something else) are making me want to throw my hands up in the air and scream "I quit." Except that I can't quit because this is the only life I get to live (until proven otherwise, this is what I have to work with) and I would feel deep regrets down the road if I walked away from any one of the number of spinning plates right now. If I let them crash on the floor, I have a feeling that I would always hold those pieces of broken china and say, "what if." What if I had just plugged away and tried something different or tried something again or kept putting my heart out there. If you're sitting around eating candy, you're not in the game. I want so badly to not care so deeply. To just say fuck it and not try so hard. Because it hurts so much--all the downs. Especially when they pile onto one another (another BFN? How about insurance woes too? And let's throw a new diagnosis into the mix.). But what can you do?

Either you're eating candy or your mouth is full of bitterness but you're moving forward to some resolution inch by inch.

28 comments:

Tigger said...

I get to this point with regular every day issues. When they pile up and I JUST CAN'T FUCKING TAKE IT ANY MORE...I call/Email Aaron and tell him it's his turn. I tell him exactly what he has to do and who he has to do it to and I expect him to do it because SO HELP ME GOD IF HE DOESN'T THERE WILL BE BLOODSHED. I think he gets the point. I wish there was a way we could do this with IF issues. Since I couldn't pass them off, I made Aaron deal with everything else so I could concentrate. Don't know if it helps, but at least you know you aren't the only one who goes through this. I have faith that you'll find a way out, or at least a coping mech for it, someday. :)

Kate said...

I love the Rooster so much. I was on an airplane the first time I read about the "fuck-it" bucket. I laughed so hard I think the flight attendant thought I was drunk. Through the swearing and the third person narrative, I can see a certain wisdom in the Rooster's words..

chicklet said...

This "I'm only gaining a sickening, 'what the fuck am I doing?' feeling and a greater frustration that I still need to return even if I do leave because I still haven't achieved what I want." rang me right upside the head. I so badly want to just walk away and not care and let it happen or not happen, but how can I when it may not get me what I want anyway cuz I genuinely do want it. So instead I go from being depressed about all the duty in my life, to daydreaming about the ways I can be irrational and mean with the stupid docs who do nothing to FIX ME.

Sorry you're going through this too. Cuz yea, there ain't no candy that's gonna fix this.

Heather said...

I took the fuck-it-bucket to mean you can say fuck it, at that moment. At the moment where it seems you can't think clearly. Where you can't think beyond all the crap that you are dealing with. If that's the case grab a fuck-it-bucket and relax for that evening/day/weekend. Once you are done eating your candy, and then throwing up after all you ate :), then return to your regularly scheduled program.

You see eating candy to me doesn't mean you aren't living life. It means you are taking a siesta from life's shit.

During treatments I always asked J if I could stick my head in the sand until I got pg. He told me I could have one sand day per cycle. On this sand day I was gave myself permission to do whatever the hell I pleased (within reason) and by all means NOT THINK ABOUT INFERTILITY!! I'll admit it was hard sometimes, but once I did it...it was great.

sariel & shlomit said...

Yes. I also have those math class fantasies....often while sitting in the fertility club waiting room and often at work (i am the director of an intensive residential treatment program for adolescents)...i get them all the time...those fantasies are what keep me sane!!!

i wish the fuck it bucket worked but i do use it as a brief and momentary escape...or rather distraction, because i know that i have not yet truly said ( or felt) FUCK IT about infertility...but i've practiced quite a few times...

so, if you can say 'fuck it' for a while, it may help buy you some sanity to make it through the long haul...

at least, enjoy the sweetness of the candy

peace
shlomit

Erin said...

Oh, how I know what you mean! I am also the always-calm, always-rational one. Only J really knows how pissed off I get, because I tell him what I was really thinking. He knows how pissed off I was during our IF treatments, particularly when Femara didn't work and their solution was to put me on more Clomid--which already hadn't gotten me pregnant FOUR TIMES (seven if you include while we were TTC P). He knows how pissed off I get at our social worker and her passive-aggressive attitude that slowed us down at least a month and ensured that we won't be able to get through the courts before they close. It's important to have a way to get that out.

But you're also right--it's either suffer through this hell (and I do mean suffer) or give up. No other real choice. And that sucks just as much in its own right. There's no break from IF treatments without some consequence. There's no way to give up without letting go of your heart's dream.

Furrow said...

I love David Sedaris, and the fuck-it-bucket works great for stuff like a damaged house because 1) when it's over, it's over, so fuck it and 2) you know what to do to about it: fix the house. IF? Not so simple. No control, or so it seems. But still, those fuck-it moments feel good.

Starfish said...

I think this is what happens to all of us...you take it and take it until your head is about to explode and you crash in a fit of despair dragging everyone along with you. But eventually you dust your self off and go at it again, because really, there is nothing else left to do...unless you want to spend your life under your bed muttering to yourself clutching a bottle of vodka. As much as that sounds better than infertility, eventually you have to come out to change your underwear...

Samantha said...

I think maybe the idea of the fuck-it bucket is not so much that the candy is going to solve your problem, but it provides you with a momentary reprise. The bitterness will still be there, but for a few moments, you can take a break. Eating candy didn't help fix their house anymore than it will help IF. I think Heather is along the right lines with the idea of a break.

At the same time, I think you are right--you have to experience some of the bitterness in order to move forward. It's not fun, it can't be covered up. It's easier to say Fuck-it to an object, like a house, than to someone you love, or hope to love. It's a tough place to be.

ultimatejourney said...

For me, the first thing I want to do when I get bad news is eat. But no amount of candy can dull the pain of fertility struggles.

RockChalkJayhawk said...

I'm with ultimatejourney - my response to all things fertility is food. Bad news like a blocked tube? I'd best console myself with some Ben & Jerry's. Good news like you have a chance at a third IUI (followed by the fear of what if it doesn't happen again)? How about a trip through Sonic? You really deserve some onion rings! So not only do I feel guilty about not being able to get pregnant but I feel guilty about my weight gain and my inability to control almost anything going on around me, or with me. Maybe I should think about a fuck-it thimble that will hold less. Wait -how many Cheetos could fit in there?My sainted husband has heard a variety of the following so many times: I just want a break, I just need to walk away, I just want to quit fucking thinking about it for a day and go back to who I was before all this started. Then he hears some variety of this: But I can't. What if that's the month when it is supposed to happen? What if I blow the chance and we don't get an egg on the good side again for months? What if this is the perfect day when the sun and the moon and the stars have aligned perfectly and our little bit of us is finally supposed to happen?Hope your buckets are all full of things that help - mine tonight will be an ice cold dirty martini before we do that third IUI on Friday.

Sunny said...

So perfectly said. I want to grab the doctor and scream at him. I have all these plans before I get into my appointment BUT he talks and I just listen. Drives me nuts. THEN I give advice to others like, You are paying him to work for you. BLAH BLAH BLAH. But I don't follow through.

I do the same thing, throw my frustrations on the other things that drive me nuts. Your list is my complete list!

wanttobeamom said...

I go through periods of saying "fuck-it" and eating a lot of junk. I think other people are right that this provides a kind of break from the monotonous IF struggle. It's like you reach a boiling point and you can't take it any more so you just step off the burner for a few minutes to cool off some before you get right back on and return to boiling.

Amy said...

"And at the core of it, every option looks like it contains the potential for frustration and disappointments."

Oh Mel, this is exactly how I feel. I'm now faced with those options and I don't like any of them. It WOULD be easier to say FUCK IT, but then I've always been haunted by WHAT IF.

And how this situation changes how we handle the every day disappointments is so true. And I worry that I am missing out on my child's growing up, but how do I give up?

Isabel said...

I look back and remember what it was like and I can't believe I didn't kill myself. Fuck it? I couldn't. Depressed? Of course I was depressed. I still cry when I read that an IFer got a BFP. During those two years I thought I was handling things really well. What a joke. The sick thing I don't want to let it go and I can't believe how far away I've gotten from the person who used to be me. I'm worried I'll act like the stupid fertile I used to shake my head at. I want to keep my lessons learned. At the very least, I've kept the 30lbs.

And on a happier note, enjoy this one:
http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2003/06/16/030616fa_fact

Isabel said...

Whoops I meant to link to this one:
http://www.netscape.com/viewstory/2007/02/17/new-david-sederis-in-the-new-yorker/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.newyorker.com%2Fprintables%2Ffact%2F070219fa_fact_sedaris&frame=true

Sedaris, sedaris: I love that guy. thanks for reminding me of him.

Princess Peach or Sofia said...

Anyone can make the 'fuck-it bucket" work for them....

Kami said...

So well said! I have rehearsed saying those things to my RE. I have written comments to remind me what to say when we have our follow up meeting. But I don't use them. I am polite and thoughtful and reasonable. I suppose it is better to be considered reasonable than crazy by the person trying to get you pregnant, but gosh it seems like it would be satisfying to let loose and let him have it.

I laughed out loud about your fantasies during math class. I thought I was the only one who did that sort of thing. Although it wasn't during math, it was during history class and meetings at work.

megan said...

i have those math class fantasies in my present day. i want to just jump up on the reference desk and go to town. good thing my RE's office is ridiculous and i am still in limbo with them or there might be beatings. my mouth is full of bitterness, but you're right -- i'm still moving forward.

Geohde said...

I know what you mean about wanting your RE to pay as much attention to your cycles as YOU do.

I do the same thing, except I am somewhat fortunate in that my RE usually believes what I tell her, and acts accordingly. Even if I think she's just humouring me. Tactful, really, given that I'm a lowly med student and she has her MD, PhD and god only knows what else.

But I make up for lack of knowledge with real time intensive obsession and lots of medline research!

Patience said...

You really do articulate the frustrations so well - I know I can't give up, I have to keep on plugging away at this - I couldn't bear to think that if I gave up now the result we need might be just around the corner...

Kim said...

I so badly want to let the "other Kim" take over for a day and just scream out orders. Isn't it crazy how we live with filters on? Only to disappoint ourselves.

Great post, though. Looks like a lot of IFers related.

nancy said...

Is there a way to give a high-five over the internet? Cause it's exactly what I want to do with you right now.

Piccinigirl said...

I am just so sorry that you have to feel this way, that any of us do. IF takes such a huge chunk of life away from us that the bucket is really the only thing left, the place to just go and say "I've had it and I need to hide for a little while" Even the added profanity helps, I remember using the word "fuck" over and over again in our 2nd year of trying because just saying it made me feel better. It didn't make the IF better, but for me the release was better than trying to hold it in.

I think they are always days where you just want to say FUCK it and move on. I wish it was that easy.

I hope you can find a good day soon and know that what you're doing is right The bad days just don't compare to the good ones.

(I had those fantasies in Math class all the time...hehe)

Elizabeth said...

I think the essential element in the Fuck-it Bucket isn't the candy or the words, it's the guy with his hand on your shoulder being there.

Bea said...

I've been meaning to comment on this. Let me now do so without reading any of the other comments to see if I'm adding or joining in the discussion rather than just giving my drive-by point of view.

I think the fuck-it bucket is a great tool when you need a short pit stop before you hit life's big, bumpy road again. But eating non-stop candy will rot your teeth, and your soul.

Bea

Changing Expectations said...

I often wish that I was able to express myself as I really feel instead of going along to get along. The math class fantasy makes sense - what will happen if....If I was really myself would people understand or just think that I am a crazy loon.

LJ said...

As usual, great post. I know how busy I get with any job, but how much I want others to respond to me to get that job done. I think I clam up at the doctor's office because I am trying to be too understanding of where they're at. Now, I'm not saying either of us should be obnoxious, but the RE is worrying about the RE. We need to help them to worry about us.

Of course, then we run the risk of being "that annoying patient", and hell if she gets knocked up!