Friday, April 2, 2010

Working Through Some Stuff

I've been working through some personal stuff lately. Maybe sharing it will help me sort it out.

I was supposed to be famous or important or something. My dad says "imagine what Jenni would have done had she not been sick." So what I've done while being sick isn't enough to fulfill the expectations my parents had of me -- and the expectations I allowed myself to adopt for myself, as well. I should be Secretary of Health and Human Services at the very least. Instead, I sit in my house largely unrecognized doing worthwhile work, but not being famous or important in a big way. Why isn't it enough that I'm really important to a few hundred or even thousand people?

I've done some pretty big things -- things that seemed big at the time. I brought the first civil RICO cases for Medicaid fraud on behalf of a state, and I represented Connecticut in the only joint state-federal case against violent anti-choice demonstrators blocking access to a clinic in Bridgeport. But the Attorney General has all but forgotten my name. I've been in the NY Times a couple of times now, USA Today, Forbes, etc., etc. But I'm mostly anonymous. I have some very famous friends, but that sort of makes it worse -- when they don't respond to me like I feel they should, I feel even less, even smaller.

For example, I gave one of my famous friends a VERY expensive gift. He didn't even say thanks. But he's done a lot for me and will continue to do so, so the thank you shouldn't matter. And yet, it's killing me. Is it that I should matter more to him? Yeah, I think it is -- I should be more important, and I'm hurt when my efforts go unrecognized. But it's screwed up of me. You have to give for the sake of giving, not for the response. And he is a great friend in so many other ways. That should be enough for me. Why do I need more?

Yesterday, I also won a really big insurance appeal. The patient was near tears when I told him. He couldn't believe it. He's broke, so he can't make a donation, and I didn't expect one. Indeed, I expect nothing from the people who I do work for. Every once in awhile someone who I know has resources annoys me by taking our free work for granted, but for the most part, the people we help are incredibly grateful, and express their thanks very profusely in very lovely ways. Why doesn't that fill my heart with pride? I know the work I do is important, and I know I've touched thousands of people with it. Why isn't that good enough? Why does it matter that I'm important at all?

Grandiosity gets me in trouble. When I feel really important, that sets me up for a fall. But the lows are really hurtful, too, when I feel totally invisible and insignificant.

I don't know if any of this makes sense. All I know is that I'm killing myself -- working 15 hour days, trying to be all things to all people, spending money on other people that I could spend on myself, eating badly, not sleeping anywhere near enough, feeling so tired that I'm shaking like a leaf. And feeling like an idiot because people I don't much matter to matter so much to me, and people to whom I matter so much don't matter enough to me, so it's all screwed up. I'm at a low point. But I'm working on it. And it's a process. And my shrink was out sick this week so I lost important momentum. So I guess I just have to be glad I'm working on it and that has to be enough for right now.

I hope this makes any sense. Jennifer

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