Posted by: Chelsea Novak | February 9, 2003

Sanity is a grey cat

I watched a “chick” flick today, something I generally avoid. I think that normal life gives me cause enough to be emotional, I don’t seek emotional release through film or literature. Many other people do, but I’ve never really been into it. There seems to be a sort of vicariousness to it all. Another version of the same vicariousness that I employ when I watch or read all my fantasy and science fiction. I guess I’d like to pretend that my version is somehow more legit because it’s totally impossible for it to actually happen, but really, that’s just crap. We all do it, we just do it with different stimuli.

So I watched Girl, Interrupted. My Mum sent it to me, as it’s about a girl who’s depressed about being on the fringes of society and ends up in a mental hospital with a grey cat. I’ve never been hospitalized, but I suppose I had my share of issues and I do have one very grey cat. She sent it to me (the movie, not the cat) almost 2 years ago and I never really made time to watch it until now. And, surprise, I was crying like a baby by the end of it. I really have no excuse either. I’m not pre-menstrual, I’m not over-tired (I’ve been sleeping for about 3 days trying to kick this flu/cold thing), I’m not over-worked and I’m not harboring any deep dark secrets that might come to the surface in the presence of people dealing with “issues.” I just cried, because it made me sad.

Is that lame? I don’t know. Part of me cried out of relief. This is going to sound so trite, but here goes. I was relieved because I never came to that. It would have been really, I don’t know, something to just give up trying to get it all together and just be sad, crazy and in desperate need of affirmation. This isn’t to say that I wasn’t those things, but I did my best to keep them in check. It was so tempting though, but I couldn’t do it. Something inside made me pick myself up. I have a mixture of pride, in that I was the one that got me through all the crap, and shame, in that I was in a situation like that in the first place.

The other part of me cried because it was sad. Simply sad to see people in that state. I’m a coward, you know. I turn my head from the difficult and upsetting things in life. I put my headphones on when I walk so I don’t have to hear people. I don’t watch the news. I worry about scented candles, introspection, my calorie count and recycling. I know nothing about suffering. My crazy days were, in comparison, a cake walk to people who have real troubles.

What are the things that we cling to for sanity? Is it the pattern of knowing that every week you need to do the laundry or that the cat needs to be fed at least once a day? Is it the feeling of comfort that I have from knowing where everything in is my bag? Sure it saves time, but does it mean anything in the big picture? Why do I feel good when I see the trams go by full of people that I’ll never know? Like there are so many thing going on that are bigger than I am. Why doesn’t this make me feel small and insignificant? I don’t know. Why is everything right in the world if I’m having a good hair day, when clearly things in the world are so horribly wrong?

Am I sane or have I become such a pro at fooling everyone that I’ve finally fooled myself? I don’t wake up in the night anymore. I’m only a fraction as paranoid as I used to be. But is it because of a change or because I’m hiding? Is it normal to look back on your youth and think “I was so full of it.”? Am I actually more comfortable with who I am, or have I simply just stopped associating with people who challenge me? Tricky questions. Should I wake up and face the world?

This is why it’s much easier to watch science fiction.



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