I Am the Village Crazy Lady

Trigger warning: mental illness

I want to be perfectly clear: this is not a fucking “lifestyle” blog.

I am not trying to “influence” anyone.

I don’t have a brand, a marketing scheme, a social media platform (although I am on Instagram as Mae Fontenot if you want to look me up) or even a freaking theme.

My husband told me if I want the blog to succeed, I’m going to need to learn how to talk to today’s 20-year-olds.  I find that hilarious, because I didn’t even know how to talk to 20-year-olds when I was one.  I have no reason to believe I would be any better at it at the age of forty.

I’m not trying to sell myself to anyone.  I’m just trying to live my life out loud and see who responds.

I’m so tired of feeling isolated and alone.  Humans aren’t meant to be alone.  We are pack animals.  We are meant to have communities and to rely on our neighbors and to take care of each other.

Ironically, the entire premise of the United States of America is that we are stronger together.  “United we stand.”  “Out of many, one.”  These were our mottos, once upon a time.  How on earth such a notion bred a nation consisting of tens of millions of people who value independence and individuality over community and commonality is a bit of a mystery to me.  But I digress.

The fact of the matter is, I’m just weird.  These days they call it neurodiversity, or possibly being “on the spectrum.”  But back when I was a kid, the kind people called it being odd, and the mean people called it being crazy.

I’ve been called crazy A LOT in my life.

Don’t get me wrong, there have always been people lining my path telling me I’m brilliant and good and to keep trying and growing and learning.  But there have been just as many—maybe even more—people telling me I’m just stupid and crazy.  One time an employer told me I was too unstable to ever truly be successful and I should quit school and just be happy with whatever job I could get.

There were many, many times in my youth when my sanity felt tenuous.  When reality was too much to bear and the door to my imagination was wide open.  There were times when stepping into my own head and shutting the door on the world was a genuine possibility.  Disassociation, I think the shrinks call it.

It’s not always safe to spend too much time in your own head.

Especially when you can’t get yourself to go away.

To be fair, I do have a tidy little list of diagnoses attached to my medical record.  Generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder…it’s fun stuff.  I’ve been in and out of therapy my entire adult life.  But here’s the thing I want everyone to understand:

I AM NOT BROKEN.

A little dinged up, sure, who wouldn’t be after the time I’ve had?  My life has been a LOT.  But I am not broken.

Hell, I might actually be less broken than most people.  Conventionally successful people are NOT okay.  Like, in general.  Did you know they have alcohol at EVERY law school event?  Seriously, all of them.  Even the days when we would volunteer to do public service in the middle of the freaking day.  There was still wine and beer to “make it fun.”

In law school, I was the laid-back, chill one.  If you know me personally, you know how terrifying that is.  Those people grind to a degree that is straight-up terrifying.  I have personally witnessed the passing of baggies of Adderall under classroom tables.  I listened to my classmates brag about how little they slept and how many hours they spent studying.  Punctuated with tales of getting absolutely blitzed to “relax.”  These people go on to keep bottles of booze in their desks, because they literally can’t wait ‘til they get home to start drinking.  And omg the cocaine.  And all in pursuit of some extra cash.

I was in the top ten percent of my class after first semester of law school.  I got invited to all those fancy mixers with the big firms.  I got courted for the high dollar clerkships.  I could have been big law.  Except for the part where I would have to spend the next thirty years of my life working 60 to 80 hour work weeks, kowtowing to a bunch of old white men who control the purse strings, always ALWAYS worshipping in the Church of the Almighty Dollar because if you want to be partner you gotta be a rainmaker.  So much barf.

I started with NOTHING.  As one last kick in the nuts before I left home for good, bm convinced me that I did not need my own bank account and that I should deposit the money I made that summer into her bank account, for reasons that presumably made sense to a dumbass 17-year-old.  Yeah, you know where this is going.  Three months of carhopping at the local Sonic and I walked out the door with two suitcases, a one-way plane ticket to New Orleans, and $100 to my name.  bm had spent the rest of my earnings “by accident.”  But I had a partial scholarship, a bunch of loans, a work-study job, and I planned on getting a job as soon as I could.  With all of my midwestern carhop skills.  Jfc, what a horrible plan.  Maybe I WAS crazy.

I spent my late teens and early twenties working multiple jobs while trying to squeeze in some learning, all while in the throes of a huge mental health crisis, absolutely zero access to healthcare, and no marketable skills.  I had to bust ass constantly just to not die.  Again, LITERALLY.  I went to law school because I was tired of working two jobs while going to school full-time, living in an absolute craphole of an apartment.  And as a reward for my thirty years of hard work and ambition, I was being offered the opportunity to spend the next thirty years working just as hard, at stuff I didn’t even care about, always faking it, always weighing my words and not saying what I really thought.  Hard fucking pass, thanks so much.

I’ve been rambling for a while now, so I’ll get to the point.  I know exactly what I would have to do to achieve mainstream success.  And if THAT is sanity, sign me up for the asylum.

Having a mental illness doesn’t make you crazy.  Panic attacks don’t mean you are broken.  I’m fully capable of being conventional.  I’m actively choosing to be alternative.  Come with me, it’ll be fun.

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