I did it friends!
I successfully defended and submitted my PhD dissertation to my university, and I am now a doctor!
The two hour long defense was so intense, I had promised myself to rest beforehand but I ended up revising until the very last second. During the defense, which was on zoom (and even led to technical difficulties where I had to log out in the middle of a committee member’s question), I looked perfectly (lol or somewhat) calm and composed, but on the inside, I was so stressed that I could understand neither the members’ questions, nor the answers coming out of my own mouth! Thankfully, one of the committee members, who is a sweet retired French man specialized in nineteenth-century literature, thought that asking a question meant rambling on and on for 20 minutes about what I talk about in my work, which gave me the opportunity to rest, while I vaguely tried to follow the flow of his words. At the very end of it, I couldn’t remember any of what the committee and I had talked about, I had spontaneous amnesia, and just when I thought I was out of the woods and it was over, my advisor asked one last follow up question. That was the awkward moment of the defense… By then, I was so tired that I really struggled to even begin to understand what she meant, and felt like I had done my duty (survived a 2 hour long interrogation^^). I had her repeat her question three times before apologizing and saying my brain was no longer working. The committee was really nice and smiled and said it was no problem, and they let me of the hook. I’m glad I decided to be honest rather than come up with some b****sht answer.
After everything was finished, my advisor and I had a private zoom chat for half an hour, where she said some unbelievable nice things. (She said she had never seen such enthusiasm and consensus in a defense about the work deserving publication, and that if I do choose to publish it, it would have to be 2, even 3 books, because of how rich the 600 dissertation was. She also said it deserved to be published at Harvard University Press or Oxford University Press. We thanked each other profusely and both ended up semi-crying, it was very cute. For now, I can’t even begin to think about turning it into a book, I’m just happy I survived and they didn’t fail me).
Since then, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my chest. After waking up with a sense of impending doom for the last year or so, it feels so freeing to wake up and have “nothing to do,” and to rediscover life anxiety-free. I’m still a bit tired, but I’m finally able to feel my body and experience joy again 🙂 WOOHOOOO
Now I need to find a job, asap. I’ve already applied to several remote positions, such as French translator-voice for a yoga app, and editorial manager of an online recovery journey community/blog/training program. I’m going to keep fishing in the world wide web pool of remote opportunities, and if I don’t find anything in the next month, I will go the traditional route of handing out CVs in all the shops that need extra help during the Christmas season (France is supposed to be a secular country, but its rhythm is still very much centered on the Christian calendar).
I went to have Sunday lunch at my parents’ house yesterday. My mother was drunk and aggressive with my dad, but I was able to detach and even laugh at the absurdity of their situation (which is truly hellish, but has been going on for so long that I don’t think they will ever come out of it. It truly is a familiar Hell). Still, they both agreed that they were proud of me and to lend me $3000 so that I can pay my first couple months of rent, and survive while I am job hunting. For all its flaws and dysfunction, I am truly grateful for having parents that are able to support me in this way (They went through some financial hardship in the past, and I still feel guilty accepting their help, even though I know they are happy to do it). I am very aware of the privilege this entails.
It feels strange, to be “in their debt” and not to be able to diabolize them completely and write them off as “bad” = they are humans too, they are trying their best (as we all are), and it’s very sad if their best involves self-destruction and blindness to how their life could be/could have been if my mother didn’t choose to drink herself into oblivion rather than work-through her difficult past. I am trying to practice feeling grateful, rather than guilty for accepting their help.
As for baby-Anne, well, she is now in the hands of grownup, Doctor-Anne, and ready to take on the world and the new chapter in her life. I couldn’t have survived this whole process (sober!) without your support here, my dear, dear, WordPress friends. ❤ Deep thanks to each and every one of you for your kind words and your encouragement, that helped me get through this intense last month.
Now onwards and upwards !