A few days ago, my therapist and I were discussing things that have been going on in my life lately when she brought up something that moved me in a big way. My hatred of reality. I immediately had big thoughts and opinions.
I’m not someone who has ever really accepted reality–to blazingly painful results. When shit was too real–when things were not how I wanted to be–I shapeshifted into something I wasn’t quite ready or capable of being–to bend the world to my whim. I learned to escape reality at every turn of my childhood. Except, for my parents, escape was through alcohol and avoidance. Whereas, for me, the ultimate reality avoider was ego. That lie that it was all mine to fix. That idea that I was so powerful. Which was more of a half-truth, really. While I was powerful and had choices–as a little girl–I was also dependent. And the very idea of being that superhero was never really a choice.
Rejecting the idea that the reality of the world applied to me was the most profound resistance to the bullshit that was my life. And it still is that thing. It’s why I’m a writer. Long ago, I learned the lesson that you can create for yourself the world that doesn’t exist. And if you delude yourself enough–for long enough–eventually it becomes a kind of reality.
This morning, I found out a friend of mine passed away at the end of May–after a stay in the hospital for CHF–one of the things that killed my Mama. He was a fixture in my life for all the years I’ve been an adult orphan–another orphan who often supported me and turned to me because we got each other. A single man who longed to find love. Who called me Ms. A and sweets. And truth be told–probably–likely–had a crush on me. Like many of the men I met back then when her loss was so new. It’s why we never met. That was me avoiding the uncomfortable reality that I might, one day, break his heart.
We were each other’s family in the land of misfits. The ones we could always count on–loyal to the core–despite all kinds of everything. I was his cheerleader when he escaped an abusive situation with his only remaining family, and I literally kept him alive when he was suicidal. But his heart was finally too broken to recover, and there’s a poignant poetry to that–for my friend, who wrote pretty things and would have appreciated this last tragedy.
A few hours before I found out, I had lamented about some of the things he often lamented about–and that’s why I finally checked on him–knowing it had been too long and he was too quiet.
The reality has felt a bit too cruel, but in a weird way, I am envious of him–getting to see our beloved parents again.
Several days ago, I finished watching WandaVision. I’d tried to watch it before, but I couldn’t get past the who oldie TV show schtick. I remember telling the comic book artist about it–him being the expert on all things culture. He somehow hadn’t seen it yet. I told him then that I’d probably revisit it. I’d hoped to watch it with him. But life is. And so, I watched it alone in one go on a weekend night, surrounded by my cats.
The whole thing was sort of a gutpunch when we finally made it to the end. A whole meditation on complicated grief. On how I chose to live my life for most of my life. Oh, how I could relate to Wanda. The all-powerful superhero who could create entire worlds just to avoid the stark reality of her life. Even if it meant controlling people and comical chaos.
A few weeks back–I noted that I collect things. Almost obsessively. That I want to know all the things. Have all the things. It’s like I forget that I can always get more. That there will probably still be more there tomorrow. Sometimes, the collecting means more to me than the actually absorbing and appreciation of the thing. In some ways, I’m like that with people too. There’s a part of me that wants everyone to like me–no matter what–no matter who they are–no matter why.
All of it is a way of controlling things, I suppose. Denying all the absurdities of reality. The cruelties. The things I can’t possibly ever begin to understand yet alone accept.
The last few weeks have not been much fun. They’ve been a lot of hard work and a lot of coming to terms with reality–a reality that is sobering and heartbreaking all at once. Admitting things to yourself that you’ve known for a long, long time–but more than that–feeling the full breadth of the burden–facing it head-on–not pretending it wasn’t there. And realizing–man, I’m sorta crazy.
The gist of it–my life has inflicted all kinds of injuries upon me that I didn’t even know existed–and most of them came about, ironically, from trying to cope.
Things are better now, mostly because I know exactly what I’m dealing with and I did a whole lot of work in short order to deal with my nonsense. But there’s still a lot more and, even though things look respectable enough–even though they’re tolerable–there’s still that massive burden and that underlying panic I have that I won’t be able to deal with it–this panic that I’m always in all of this all alone. And the accompanying grief that all of it was distracting me from.
Some things are becoming much more obvious to me.
1) Things are big burdens to me right now. I crave simplicity in a way I never imagined I could. I’m tired of stuff and everything being harder than it needs to be.
2) More than just being tired of it, I simply can’t tolerate it anymore. I’m having to really admit defeat here–that my mind and my body cannot deal with complicated and difficult anymore. I need to heal, and there’s no healing when you’re always surrounded by shit that threatens to drown you.
3) I’m surrounded by people who are just as burdensome, and they’re committed to misunderstanding me. It has nothing to do with me, and it’s not my job to educate them or fix them. But it is my job to make sure my contact with them isn’t a burden as it has been for the last several years of my life.
4) I need actual meaningful help and people who will accept what I can and cannot give. Not people who want things from me or people hellbent on making me take care of them in whatever ways they deem necessary.
5) I’m willing to suck it up and pay for this help. And that means first admitting that I cannot do this myself.
6) How I help myself is no one’s business.
7) The same things within me that made me disbelieve my actual need for help also exist in the world as very real barriers, and it’s so easy to give up–to use that as a reason to embrace the old ways–but standing up and insisting is part of the healing work I need to do.
The past six months has allowed me to really see who people are and how–despite caring about them and loving them–someone can be toxic for you without any intention for it. I’m starting to appreciate the full gravity of my grief there by allowing myself to finally feel the disrespect I allowed and the actual pain they inflicted on me through careless actions and selfish behavior. And so many other things that have nothing to do with who I am and my value to anyone. Separating their behavior from who I am–not using it as some evidence of my fucked-up-ness–has been really hard. But it took experiencing ableism related to my chronic illness and my possible ADHD–from someone I deal with every day–to really bring home that I’m not bad or wrong. But the expectations they have for me are about their own feelings about how they’re good…and it takes me being their fall guy to make their self-image possible. It says nothing about me, except that I allow them to use me that way. And that has allowed me to see them for who they are: a person who is inherently unsafe for me right now–that I need to keep at arm’s length for my own sanity.
I’m starting to see how I’ve been used and how I’ve used others. And man–I’m just done with it.
I’m also starting to see what’s worth the sacrifices and what’s not. People and things and jobs. And all the things that go with it. So, I’m taking some breaks from things like dating and school and trying to conform to other people’s anything.
Instead, I’m doing my own work–cleaning up my own house–literally–and walking away from anything that makes me feel like shit.
I was supposed to get my hair done today. It was part of a bargain I made with myself when I was struggling to find motivation to do what I’d avoided for far too long. With good reason–it was fucking painful. In a weird way, it reinforced something. When things were at the good enough stage–or the as good as it’s gonna get by this deadline stage–which wasn’t mine–it felt like the reward wasn’t mine or wasn’t well-deserved…because it wasn’t done. But shit is never done, right? Nothing is ever perfect. It’s all maintenance and swirling out of control only to get back to center. It’s important to take care of yourself, and part of that is acknowledging when you’ve done something hard.
I got a facial on Friday, which was my day off, and it was nice–though these things never feel as kind as I want them to feel. I tried to rest as much as possible because I’m covered in bruises and feel dead tired. Emotionally and physically done. But I had a paper due, of course, and I overcomplicated–of course–doing that shit I do where I can’t just submit something ordinary. And my attempts at more make me unhappy with it because I’m too tired to really do what I want to do–and because this shit is the same shit I do for work–I wanted nothing to do with it. I felt myself phoning it in–even as I wanted to make it so amazing. I worked on it more this morning–finally allowing myself to make it good enough–knowing all I had to do was what was asked and it would be enough. But it irritated me, and that made me more tired. By the time it was almost time for my hair appointment, the thought of sitting in a chair–talking for four hours–in a loud salon–made me more tired. And then the stylist canceled with a two hour window, and I was pissed again–at the disrespect–not the burden–which truthfully I didn’t really want today. Though I’m sick of my hair and need it cut so badly.
I was irritated that I’d given them another chance–as I always do–even after an injury. That even though they treated me poorly, I still didn’t want to believe they sucked. So, for the second time, I wasn’t getting what I needed–and it was my fault because I allowed it.
A theme in my life for the last year. It’s hard to be truly mad at people who do just what you allow them to do, when evidence points to them being unreliable.
After the anger flashed its way through me, I was happy to settle into bed and watched WandaVision–a show I started watching months ago–when I first met him–because people kept telling me I should. I suppose I also watched it then because he and I just started our relationship. We used to have these long conversations about tv shows. I remember one of our first conversations was about Buffy. We’d talk about perfect scenes and characters. Being a comic book artist, he had all these thoughts and ideas about various Universes, and while I never really actively considered DC versus Marvel, I’m a woman who loves stories and characters. So, I guess it was a way to explore his world–one that I couldn’t quite explore because of COVID and all the shit that went with our complicated love affair.
I remember watching the first episode of WandaVision and being annoyed–because being me–I’m not so into black and white anything. I don’t really enjoy old sitcoms and I felt the whole thing was such a gimmick. I didn’t know how to react to it, really, and I tried to hang in there–I really did–because so many friends said I should. But that judgmental part of me just couldn’t. So, I left it at episode 2. He hadn’t seen it, and I remember ranting to him about it. I knew–at some point–I’d revisit it because that’s also who I am–never one to ignore recommendations from people I trust.
I wish I had hung with it more then because it’s really good. Odd and unpredictable and a whole journey I never expected. A world I didn’t know much about–except I knew all about it. I watched the whole thing today–and at the end–I sobbed. All day, I felt this chasm of grief I’ve been holding onto for months now. One of the reasons I love story is because witnessing the stories of others makes our own stories accessible to ourselves, all too often.
I wanted to call him and talk to him about the story and the characters and the world that existed. And then I realized I couldn’t. Well, I mean–I could…but he wouldn’t necessarily be there–and he would never be what he was then, even if he was. And that was another grief. Neither would I–and yet another grief. And did I even want that–or did I want some thing I made him out to be? That’s part of this whole story, too.
There’s still so much work to do.
I didn’t mention this earlier this week, but I recently did something called a past life soul regression therapy session with an intuition coach I met a couple years ago, who I’ve worked with in the past–to great success. I know–crazy woo. This session came a couple days after I had a pretty challenging therapy session with my long-time therapist wherein I basically defined a huge part of my spirituality as rooted in scientific principles–but yet–still–completely woo and also quite Buddhist (which has mostly been self-discovered, rather than taught).
I don’t know why, but that feels important to say–to share–that I am someone who believes and is inspired by scientific ideas. How I see life and how I live life is molded directly by the things I studied over 20 years ago, and these principles hit me at my core–along with a lot of faith-based ideals from the Jesuits about how to be a critical thinker and a decent human.
I’ve always felt I contain multitudes, and often, these multitudes contradict and expand even as they retract. These are things that are mine. They may not apply to you and you are free to be whatever you want and need to be in my presence…and I will ask that you give me the same grace.
So, I’m going to share more about why I signed up for this–because I was a skeptic and wasn’t quite sure it was going to be beneficial. However, I trusted the practitioner–having had an amazing experience with her last year in workshops based on building self-trust. Those workshops gave me a sense of community with other women and also linked me back to the parts of me incredibly linked to writing. It allowed me to deeply support others and be supported–just by being me. It showed me what relationships could be with other people and has helped me deepen existing friendships and get over my own obstacles there.
But I’d done reiki before and had no benefits–thought it was possibly BS–though the person doing it seemed ethical and good at her work. Maybe it would have been different had I committed longer. Maybe I wasn’t in-tune or open enough to receive it. I also was not convinced I could be hypnotized because I have a hard time even staying in my body–my mind rarely shuts up–and even when I’m meditating–a big part of me getting benefits from it is just accepting that my mind is going to have a field day once I’m still. The timing also wasn’t ideal–but it was what she had open–and I had to accept it. Also, cats. So, I knew there’d be obstacles.
I did this for a few reasons–1) though some things are crystal clear and vivid in my mind, most of the time I spent with my Daddy as a kid is held behind some wall that was erected both by a head injury and emotional trauma. There are lots of things I just don’t remember, and I wanted to see if maybe we could access some of that. 2) I’ve had a lot of doubts in my life about my path–while I’ve always felt I’m here for big reasons–I’ve had such a hard time figuring it out. And I’ve had a hard time trusting myself in all ways. 3) I believe I’ve inherited a lot of generational trauma–and I wanted to see if there were connections there.
I was surprised by how easy it was to relax and noticed that being on camera was not conducive to that–whatsoever–so I asked to turn that off. I’m discovering more and more that Zoom culture isn’t for me–is not a way for me to stay connected and be present–so I am now firmly standing my ground and not doing it unless absolutely required. There’s something that gets activated in my brain that throws me out of my body and into analysis mode.
While I’m skeptical about many things, I pride myself on being open-minded, and I’ve done other supposedly woo-woo things that are now core parts of my healing toolkit. I tout them to anyone who will listen because they changed my life. I wasn’t sure what to expect–but my practitioner told me it might feel like I was making shit up because the same part of our brains responsible for imagination are activated in this process.
That said–it was super relaxing to spend 4 hours in a meditative state. I felt completely normal–though I did fall asleep at the very end. I guess I was expecting something quite different than what I experienced. It wasn’t like getting into a time machine. She’d guide me to wherever and then ask me questions–and every time–I felt this insane pressure to grab onto something in my brain. The intial something was peppermint–not a smell, but the word. And when I said that out loud, I was suddenly in my childhood home–and I knew it was that place because of a brown blanket on the couch. And then my mind sort of filled in the details. We talked about how my dad was making chili and hot cocoa and I was alone in the living room as my parents cooked. We didn’t interact with them at all. I didn’t see them–couldn’t smell anything–but I knew what was happening.
I won’t get into all of the things I experienced or that we talked about. But we went back to the womb and another happy childhood memory and we visited a past life in what I think must’ve been a Scottish town. There were all these familiar stories and details interspersed with things I am now pondering–that are interesting and connected to other things–but not in any obvious sorts of ways.
I don’t know if this was my mind just grabbing facts of what I know to be true–and then building worlds around them. It felt a bit like that–and it felt difficult. It was not easy to do this–and in many ways, it felt false to me. But I can’t deny that–whatever it was that I saw in this experience–my intuition was leading me there. And the insights DO have real meaning for me and it has helped me feel calmer and more sure of the decisions I’ve been making–and will eventually make. So, did I get what I came from–mostly yes–and I would recommend doing it just to experience it and see where your mind takes you. Is any of it actually true? I don’t know. It might really be something my intutitive mind just created so I could get where I need to be. It’s still worthwhile. I didn’t have new experiences related to my parents–it was mostly just confirmation of things I already knew and remembered vividly. Things like my home as a kid was welcoming and warm. That despite the challenges they had, my parents did their best. That I was a quirky ass free spirit and an artist. And I am still that person because they let me be that way.
I do feel like there are very direct connections between who I am now and the women in my life. That the act of being a woman in a world that wasn’t kind to women has been a big part of my life–and that I have never followed the ideals prescribed to me. I see very clear patterns of tolerating ridiculous suffering followed by escape and then transcendence. Meaning-making. And healing. But also a pervading loneliness and–even in connection–disconnection. I was left with a very clear message that I’m here to heal people–but also that healing people includes healing me–and that is very much rooted in community and other humans–which still proves challenging for me.
I’ve been struggling kind of a lot lately with where I am from a heart perspective. I feel as though I’m in a transition period of discovery and healing and growth where I don’t really know where I want to be–which is uncomfortable. I’m not afraid of discomfort–and am used to it, really–but I do like to know where I’m going…and it’s particularly hard for this reformed control freak to not know something. But I don’t because I haven’t experienced a lot of what I’m drawn to or what I think might be better. And until I do–I won’t really know.
There are some things I do know. Traditional forms of monogamy have not been working for me. And it’s not just specific to shitty men (though none of them were really shitty–just incapable of meeting my needs consistently). They did shitty things, often, sure–but I’m not apt to just throw someone away completely based on that. They are fine for others; just not for me.
When I was younger, I was taught that monogamy was it. The standard for love. And I grew up believing in it–believeing there was no other way. I also grew up being a jaded AF, yet somehow also hopeless romantic–which is something that probably destined me for much heartache. The relationships I saw in my world were not good relationships. They were toxic. They were tragic. They were codependent and heavy. And yet–they were also genuine and significant. So, I was taught two things–that love was worth every sacrifice–but that it would destroy you. My relationship history certainly reflects all of these things. There are boatloads of moments rooted in betrayals–from others, but mostly myself. But also depth and kindness and the kind of shit people write books about. And this is why I have these patterns that reflect the trauma I’ve been through–these waxing and waning dirths I go through where I’m in hibernation–hiding from the sun of love’s light–or I’m caught on fire–sacrificing every damn thing just to feel warm.
When I moved to the Bay Area, I thought a lot of silly things–namely that this place would reset everything. That a new place with new people would somehow allow me to get all that I wanted. It was silly because there was no self-ownership there. There was a lot of blame. Oh, the men in Denver are shitty. They’re this and that. I only found more of the bad here–with way more openness to nonmonogamy–which ironically closed more doors to me–the serial monogamist. And all the guys I liked either weren’t nearby or were nonmonogamous. Because let’s be real–few things about me are actually monogamous. Friends have joked about how I’m a flavor freak–how I have so many interests and passions and etc that no one can keep up. So, how on Earth will this woman ever just be okay–forever–with one guy?
And that’s not even accounting for the independent part of me that doesn’t even like sharing a bed with someone else–though intimacy is great. I just like to sleep, too, and I like things that are also just mine.
After my last engagement, it really became clear how out of sync these traditional things were with what I actually wanted and how I live my life. I kept thinking that had we not been monogamous–things with many of my exes would have ended much better–if at all. That the things things that tore us apart were not these huge unsolvable things–but actually things we were set up to do by a society that wasn’t made for us. And that I never really chose any of it. I just kept doing it because I didn’t realize there were actual choices.
So, living here has expanded that for me–what I thought was possible and what I thought I knew about myself. It took some doing to get there–another failed monogamist relationship that was particularly traumatic and gutting–and continued on up until a couple months ago–in its toxic crap ways. Because I was still sopping up all of that–I attracted more of that when I allowed more open versions of things to happen. So–I experienced more of the negative sides of the other way of being–and as I explored–many things felt wrong.
My last few relationships have run the gamut and have been uniquely challenging–to say the least. But on the other side of my last relationship (which was monogamous)–I am now back to thinking that maybe monogamy and conformity isn’t what I’m looking for at all. I never wanted marriage or children until a few years ago–and now that increasingly it doesn’t look like I’ll be having a kid of my own–I’m questioning my own beliefs more and more.
What it mostly comes down to is that I want a life built on community. While I want the freedom to choose to be independent and alone–because God, I sometimes love those things–I don’t want alone or independent based on other people’s definitions of it. Because–to me–it’s not about isolation. It’s about options and choices. What I truly want is deep connection–with literally everyone in my world. I have no patience for flimsy relationships–no matter who they’re with or the functions they serve. That is why I broke up with my ex. I want consistent, meaningful interactions based on choosing to be there–and respecting the person as just as important as I am. No obligations or unfair expectations or false idols. Just people caring about each other and showing up in ways that make sense for them. And I get annoyed by this hierarchy we have of our partners being the center of everything. Even family is somewhat toxic because it fuels this idea that we’re not all family. I want everyone to be my damn family. Can you imagine what the world would be like if we all treated each other like the people we deem most important? Of course–families can be shitty, too. I get that.
So what does that actually mean? I’m not sure. Again–I haven’t ever experienced any of this in any meaningful way. But I think I’m going to start by rejecting behaviors where my needs are disrespected. I’m going to reject men who treat me like something they own rather than a woman capable of making her own choices. I’m going to be friends with men–and I’m going to share the things about the people I care about when I do because they delight me and it makes me happy to share joy with the world. And if that makes you jealous–please move along. I’m going to spend a lot more time honoring the parts of me that need attention instead of constantly apologizing for their existence.
I’m sharing this because I know I’m not alone, and sharing any of this is how others feel less alone. It doesn’t have to make sense because some of it doesn’t make sense to me. But it’s what I know to be true for me, right now.
This thread sums up a lot of what I’ve been feeling since starting my new job, which coincidentally, also coincided with my state lifting restrictions–even though our numbers continue to go up–despite the increased numbers of vaccinated folks.
I’m halfway to vaccinated and will get my dreaded second dose of Moderna on Tuesday afternoon. I get to drive to Gilroy for it. I’m particularly not excited because my first shot, while relatively uneventful save a nasty bruise and some mild warmth and pain at the injection site, was followed, three days later, with what I can only guess was a flare of my chronic illness–particularly those affecting hormones–which led to lots of happy (not) fun times for me. I’m still sort of off, almost a month later–often feeling feverish, with abnormal things happening left and right. I’m not really all that surprised by this. Western medicine has never really considered people like me as people they should consider.
Somehow, because I was sicker than most–and more at risk–I have to drive farther away while my roommate easily got his shot here in town–just a week after I did–though he had no sickness whatsoever. It makes me a bit angry–though I’m also grateful everyone in my household will soon be “safe.”
What does “safe” actually mean, though?
I’ve been noticing how people are doing a lot of what I used to do as a kid. I was never “normal”–never safe–but I learned early on that it didn’t matter what I was. It mattered what everyone else wanted us to be. So, I either had to conform or be further traumatized. So, instead of telling the truth of who I was and the life I was living–I had to deny reality to an extent–I had to deny my feelings. I couldn’t talk about anything real. I had to look around and pretend I didn’t see or feel all of it.
I see these people now, getting back to normal–and I see a whole lot of people disassociated from their lives and feelings. And it might be okay for a while. But we’re going to see a lot more cPTSD and a lot more suicides that seemingly come out of nowhere. We had a mental health crisis before all of this started. I’m terrified to think of what’s coming. And what’s scarier still is that the people tasked with helping all of us are also in their own crises. Having dated a therapist, during this pandemic, I’m pretty sure we’re all drowning.
In an odd way, my losing my job at the very start of the pandemic was such a damn blessing. I was insulated from having to be productive and having to be “normal.” I could leave whenever I felt like it. I could sleep all day. I could grieve. And even better, I made choices that kept me in my body–that made me face grief head on. Taking my death doula training, returning to school, and traveling by myself? All fantastic choices. I think I made them because I knew what could have been, and I wanted nothing to do with it.
Now that I’m back to “normal”–working again–that ill-fitting shoes thing feels even more true than it did before. I’m working at a level I never have before–completely outside my comfort zone–and it’s been hard to be productive or to really think anything I do matters. But it does. I’ve been reminded that a few times–in ways that have been really surprising. Who knew the current situation in India would be so much a part of my daily work life, for example? Not me.
I’ve finally felt like I’ve gotten through the worst of my transition back to this odd life I’m living now. I hit a bit of a self-care rock bottom that really convinced me that the normal I thought was mine before is completely unsustainable now, and I’ve had to insert some big ass boundaries with myself to keep myself from going back to the hustle that is so abnormal for any kind of health for me. I’ve been so much better to myself since then, and even though my legs are shaky in that respect, I’m so much of a better everything because of it. I’m lucky that I can do these things–that I have some control over my work life.
I’ve been grieving lately. In a weird sense, getting a job has been a loss because it meant losing parts of my new life that I really loved–things like traveling and freedom. It’s made it clear to me that I cannot do this work long-term, and that I won’t. But for now, it’s a means to that end, and that’s a good thing. It’s also teaching me about the boundaries I’ll need–and the commitment to self I’ll need to install–before I’m ready to pursue that new life.
I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from loving people too. Though does that ever stop once you do? Probably not. It just becomes background noise. I’ve recommitted to getting to know this person I am now–because we’re all different, right? I’ve enjoyed my new friendship with an ex I dated twice, who is now a great friend–and I wonder if maybe that was all we were ever meant to be. I’ve let go of others. Including the last two–which is complicated and hard. I’m still angry at the last one–mostly because of his superficiality and how he never quite showed up like I did. I’m not a fan of people who waste my time, and despite my need–always–to make things clean–I am choosing to not be his friend right now, though Facebook indicates otherwise. At some point, you have to let people choose you for a change, and when they don’t, you have to let go of the rope.
There’s a new love interest, though, I’ve chosen not to pursue it. I have my doubts, as I always do, but moreso than usual, and I’m just not in the space to allow any of it to even begin. I’m too exhausted, and my life requires so much of me now that I don’t have anything left to spare for things that may be half-assed. I’m going to be single until someone shows themselves as worthy. And I’m never chasing a man again. For any reason. I’m chasing myself.
Probably my favorite show for a while now has been Younger, and I recently binged the entire first half of the 7th season in one night recently. I belong to a Facebook group of fans who all were bitching about this season–the final one–which was shot during the pandemic. A couple favorite characters–my favorite character, in fact–are missing this season. It wasn’t planned, and there’s a huge hole. But the other thing happening is that the plot isn’t following the standard romantic comedy formula–you know–the one where you love someone, and it’s enough. Or you’re in a triangle and you struggle to choose–but eventually do–and it’s this tragic will she or won’t she.
I’m enjoying this plot line because, um–I’ve basically lived it in 2020.
What happens when you love two people–like genuinely adore both of them–and you can’t be with both for whatever reason? What happens when, despite loving them both, both of them don’t quite fit? And yet, you still love them, and somehow can’t let go completely? Even though you want to. Even though you have no choice really.
It’s irritating to me that so many people are equating Liza holding to her ideals and not giving up on herself as giving up on true love. As a betrayal. When, really, any love worthy of anything is rooted in one’s genuine need to be self-directed. The thing is–I’ve liked both the love interests and have oscillated between the two myself. And to some extent, my own love life has been this back and forth between the good idea and the bad idea. While they were great for a time, ultimately, neither were right and abandoning what isn’t right–no matter how right it could be, at times, is not giving up. You might say–it’s the ultimate hopeless romantic act. And yea–it sucks. I’m there right now. I wish I could be that girl who settles. That person who can get past the small incompatibilities. Someone who stubbornly holds out for that person to change–even when I know they won’t.
But when you’ve watched someone die–when you’ve seen them die alone–not ever getting what they wanted…you learn two things: 1) It’s better to die alone and not completely fulfilled than to use someone else as your life raft; and 2) Your life is more than the silly limits you put on yourself.
It’s uncomfortable being over 40 and single. People expect certain things from you–especially if you’re a woman. And it’s lonely. You learn real fast how to be with yourself–how to accept yourself in ways you never thought possible. But you also learn to recognize the real thing–in you and in others. And you learn that nothing is worth the suffering associated with the almost thing.
I’ve learned so often that what I want and what I need are such different things. I’ve learned that where I end up is full of detours, and though I have my intentions, sometimes, I end up bawling in parking lots–completely terrified. But I always have a great story to tell. And I always have me.
I don’t know about you, but I’m hell bent on being anything except normal after this crazy ass time. For those of us who survived, we should fight for a different normal that isn’t about rejecting reality or fearing feelings. In my life, it means doubledowning on boundaries, being with the people who actually show up for me, and letting go of anything that feels like it dishonors the life I’ve fought so hard to continue living.
I’m going to preface this by saying I am probably the most exhausted I maybe have ever been in my entire life–including the time I took care of my dying Mama and the time when I almost died and was recovering from surgery. We’re talking deep in the bones, soul-level exhaustion, y’all. Here’s the thing–when you’ve been unemployed for a while, you start compiling a long list of things to do. With COVID, that list got very unfocused and long. Staying inside, the house got messier. The pets seemed to do more bad things. We acquired hobbies and stuff. So much damn stuff. And we hadn’t ever addressed all the crap that happened when we moved here because we’ve all literally been going nonstop and then boom–this bizarre detour–that came with hefty mental health burdens.
Needless to say, a lot of the stuff I wanted to do while unemployed, I just didn’t do. They ended up being practical things like finally unpacking all the crap in our living room and organizing my bedroom–both of which have been incredibly stressful things for me, taking up massive mental real estate. Just the thought of them–things I have to step around on the daily–makes me want to hide or run to Aruba.
I don’t really regret how I spent my time, mostly because it’s why I’m probably still sane–but I do wish I had more time to address these practical things. That said–when it became clear that I was probably going to be getting a couple offers–and the time in process moved very fast–I tried to get a jump on these practical things–which was exhausting and I was also sick–with a sinus infection that I’m still dealing with. (It’s not COVID). Anyway, I kinda failed–miserably–and now, I’m in a familiar place of feeling extremely overwhelmed.
Here’s the deal: I just finished my employment law class on Sunday night (which has inspired me to look into law school for civil rights law after my counseling program ends–what??). I just started a really really really demanding job that makes my last job look like preschool; there’s a VERY high learning curve and high expectations–and the person I backfilled left a mess–and I’m still not trained–but doing the damn job. I’m 5 days into a 10 day antibiotic course for the sinus infection from Hell. I haven’t slept well in about 3 months because I was in a brief (and now defunct, but friendly) international relationship with an avoidant comic book artist. My damn ex who keeps coming back came back again. I’m back online dating and actually having better luck–imagine that. I’m dealing with my cat, as always, and transitioning her onto new treatments. (Going well). Trying to stay sane while California never gets its COVID vaccine shit together. Trying to clean the house and organize and finally make this place feel like home. Become a plant mother. Paint shit because I bought all the paint. And establish a cooking routine because I have no time to go anywhere for food because of this job. Oh, and in the course of all of THAT? I think I might have ADD.
Now, this is not necessarily a new might. My roommate–who has ADD–has suspected it for a long time, and a friend actually said he thinks I’m a fucking case study in ADD. (HAHA). But I have always unilaterally rejected the very notion…mostly because all the ADD folks I thought I knew were men, and I’m not like them in their ADD ways. But it was the damn executive function stuff that started me thinking–whoa–maybe I am. The thing is a lot of my supposed ADD symptoms are things that are easily attributed to my chronic illness and my mental health challenges (namely, PTSD and the anxiety that goes with it). Trauma is very rough on a brain. So, I always thought my shit was more about those things–not ADD. But I found out that my best friend has it–and she’s on medication–and talking to her–I was like–Holy whoa. That could be me.
My symptoms seem to most impact my executive functioning ability–and my ability to take care of myself–which has ALWAYS made me feel worthless and like a horrible failure at life. And man, is it ever impacting me right now. It’s gotten to the point where I know I can’t do it by myself the way I have been. My life is too chaotic now–even with a 2 month break from school. The thing is–I learned a lot of coping skills from being a female and from being a people pleaser. It helped that I had a very supportive mother who also was anal about routine and cleanliness–so mine never spiraled in the ways it has for my roommate, for example. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t need help.
So, I am looking into finding a psychiatrist to get tested–formally–and hopefully get treated. It’s daunting and crazy for me to think about–and I have no idea if it will even help–but something has to change.