Sunday, December 24, 2017

Moon River Frozen Over

The anniversary effect.

A psychological phenomena wherein a person remembers a trauma or other upsetting event more powerfully on the same day each year on which it originally happened-- no.

That's not accurate. It's not about remembering, per se. Sometimes, you don't remember at all. Sometimes, it's not about your mind actively thinking of a thing. It's about your body knowing it. It's about the imprint that the events of our lives leave on our whole selves, our bodies and our minds and our spirits, all as one. It's about the physical reality of the seasons and the instinctual connection we have to the rhythms of the world.

Something happened. It happened in a particular time and space. And that time was marked by the length of the day and the temperature in the air and the smells of the plants. That time was marked by the spot in space where the earth spun at that moment. There was a physical reality enveloping that event, and your body was aware of it on some level that your conscious mind never was. But it will get close to the same every year, once a year. And your body will be aware of that, again.

And that moment will come back to you--whether you know it or not, whether or not you're thinking about it-- that moment will come back, and affect you again and again.

I suppose that it only requires that metaphysical an explanation if you don't actually remember it, though. If you do, it's all so pedestrian in nature: you just feel sad because of the memory. It's interesting to think of, I guess, that these two separate responses aren't actually separate at all-- they are just the before and after of our brain's egocentric distortion. The universe creates this magic connection between the energy of the world and the energy of our bodies, and the moment we realize it's happening, our conscious mind reduces it to something wholly self-involved and unremarkable: We aren't feeling the rhythms of the universe with the incalculably sensitive instrument that is our body. We are just remembering our own petty, tragic lives.

But enough with the commentary about the nature of life and existence itself. This was supposed to be about me.

It's Christmas Eve. On a broad, cultural level, it's the anniversary the night that Joseph and Mary went from inn to inn looking for a room to house Mary as she gave birth to the savior king. As a society, however, we're so removed from that story that it doesn't even matter that it never actually happened in December, even if you do believe it happened at all. Broadly and culturally, that's merely the origin story of oft-commercialized superhero in a big red suit. Nevertheless, whether it's the manger scene that pulls at your heart strings, or the vision of Santa Claus, or that one scene in the Peanuts Christmas special where Linus recites a bible verse in humble explanation of what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown-- nevertheless, it is a time of year that unites us all, somehow, in a shared reverence for something, something.

I think many of us, if not most, grow up to share the experience of the loss of the joy of Christmas. When you are a child, it's special and magic. Then, little by little, as the myths become exposed and the garish, physical realities become more undeniable, it fades away. By the time you're in your twenties and shopping for presents with a handful of too-hard-earned cash, it's usually gone, replaced by a melancholy at the hollowness and some impotent desire to find it again.  The mythos goes, however, that it is revived anew when we grow to have our own children, and are able to experience it once more through their eyes.

Four years and five days ago, I had a child of my own. And he's in the other room now, with his father, and his new brother. And I desperately want to be with them, to be feeling what I am meant to feel this time of year-- what I was promised I would feel. But I am not.

I am not, because there is another anniversary. An anniversary that, against all of my will, seems to supersede that of Mary and Joseph and the inn, supersedes those of Santa's countless flights. Supersedes the memory of all those idyllic childhood Christmases, the nativity scene set up in my grandmother's stone fireplace and last-minute tree decorating my father insisted upon.

I remember the day the envelope came in the mail, sometime in October. I remember me, seven months pregnant or so, sitting on the couch, seeing that it was from the court, opening it. I remember the gasp and shouting "No!" with sheer horror. I remember my family asking what was wrong.

"The divorce," I said, tearfully. "They set the divorce hearing for Christmas Eve."

I can count so easily the exact amount of time it's been since I divorced my best friend. I know how old my son is-- he turned four last week-- and I know that it's Christmas Eve. Mine and Zack's marriage was officially dissolved four years ago today.

I want not to put undo emphasis on that day. As must be true of every divorce, our marriage had fallen apart well before that. Long enough that, if you don't know, the son born five days earlier was not his, nor were we in any way still functionally together when I first became pregnant. We had separated, if I am remembering my timeline accurately, nearly two full years before, and made the final decision to end the marriage fully eighteen months prior. So it should have been that I was thoroughly ready by the time December 24th, 2013 came around.

The reality is that very little of that final eighteen months was blessed with the clarity of the moment where we first made the excruciating decision to take off our rings. The reality is that almost none of my life has ever been blessed with such sureness, and for good reason, I suppose: the harder something is to do, the more certain you must be to make yourself do it. And I don't know that anything has ever been harder for me than making the decision to end my marriage to Zack.

There's much I could say here about the reasons we broke up, and how they never once undermined our love for each other. There's much I could say here about two people just not being able to make it work, two people who only want to stop hurting each other before the damage becomes too great. There's so much to be said about everything we were, and so much to be grateful for, in spite of it all, for everything we still are.

But I've said that all before, and I'll say it all again when the moment demands it. That moment is not right now.

Right now is the time that I need to write through this grief at it's most basic level, so that I can get back to my children on Christmas Eve. Right now is the time that I need to let my fingers on the keyboard release the pain and regret that my children are not his children. Right now is the time I need to let go of the guilt of even thinking that, and let myself think it, so it can be thought, so it can be written, so it can be out. Right now, I need to listen to my own breaking voice as I read this out loud as I type it while tears stream down my face; I need to hear myself declare the truth: that I miss him so, so much.

Right now, I need to let the seasons and the length of the day and the smell in the air bring me back to that courthouse, to our final, tearful kiss just before we signed the paper that somehow ended the last ten years of our lives. Right now, I need to balance how enormous that was-- the official end of our marriage-- with how insignificant it was: we are not a paper to be signed and notarized and made official. We are not a marriage that can be disolved. We are honesty, and intimacy, and love. And we love each other, still.

The full truth is that there was more than that happening for me on that day-- the sun was shining a particular way and there were other sounds and other people, and I was suffering deeply from the pain of a traumatic birth experience just five days prior.  The full truth is that there is more than just the ghost of my marriage haunting me this time of year. The full truth is that there's context upon top of context, and not everything that makes me sad on Christmas Eve has to do with Zack.

Yet, somehow, that's both more and less true. Sometimes, you have to be true to a moment in time, and let yourself feel what feel's relevant, and ignore the context and the history and the smell of the plants in the air. Sometimes you must trust yourself to forget all that, knowing your body will remember it for you.

Right now, the only memories that feel relevant are those of him, and I, and Christmas-- Christmas Eve. The Christmas Eve where we were given the gift of just enough certainty, in a moment, to sign the papers that we needed to sign.

Every year, it leaves me feeling hollow. Ever year, it supersedes all else, despite all I do to fight that. So today, an hour or so ago, I decided not to fight it anymore. The pain is so great, so omnipresent. All that's really left to do is lean into it.

An hour or so again, I put on headphones and made the choice to listen to Joni Mitchell's River. It's coming on Christmas, they're cutting down trees. I'm putting on headphones and listening to songs to help me find peace.

I made my baby cry.

I'm listening now, but now it's time to switch. To another river, a Moon River. We danced on our wedding day, and it was our song, and it was always our song. It's really the most melancholy and beautiful song ever written, and so were we. Melancholy and beautiful.

We're after the same rainbow's end.

I lean my head back and close my eyes. I let it wash over me. I breath deeply, and I exhale. I let it out.

Zack is my origin story. Zack is the thing that pulls at my heartstrings. And Zack will come back to me, whether or not I know it, and effect me again and again. He is part of my connection to the universe, and he is part of the story of my petty, tragic life.

But today is not December 24th, 2013. Today is December 24th, 2017. And those words from the song-- I made my baby cry-- have more literal echoes coming from the next room, so it's time to get up and go to him, the newest and littlest him of my life.

I've done my remembering for today. Let's see if I can manage to make another memory, a happier one to look back on another year. Not a better one, but happier.

On with it.

Monday, December 11, 2017

I Am a Great Writer, But...

This year has been an eventful one, a notable one, an extraordinary one. I have been a part of the creation of things, two things, that will last and matter and change the rest of my life. One, an independent film that I helped to write, and shaped in numerous ways beyond that. The other, a child, an infant who I hold now, feeding with one arm as I write this with another.

It feels important to point that out; the simultaneous feeding and writing. Because as much as anything else, it is the balance that is impressive: being part of this movie while dealing with a particularly harsh pregnancy, all while maintaining a job and my maternal duties to my first son, and my marriage and all the day-to-day drudgery that one must slog through undeterred while trying to achieve greatness with what’s left of their energy. Juggling, overcoming and prioritizing; that feels like a very female thing. Feeling guilty about those priorities at the end of the day feels even more like one.

On Friday, the film opened at a black tie gala in a beautiful venue. Despite an untenable level of stress and confusion leading up to it, the evening went off almost without a hitch. It’s worth noting that the film itself was only finished (to the extent it is now, it still requires some editing before the film festival circuit) perilously soon before its first-ever screening. It’s worth noting that while the director was losing sleep getting it finished in time, I was losing sleep helping with details of the night— programs and drink vouchers and gift bags and more— as well as giving him much needed emotional support on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.

Indeed, the night was a celebration not only of the accomplishments of the cast and crew and all of us in creating the film, but also of a smaller, tighter knit group within the group working to make the night itself a success. I was a part of it at every level. It was my night, mine and those beautiful few who have come to mean so much to me.

And it’s fitting, I think, that I should start this post about that night, about those accomplishments and the value of them and how truly and deeply I was a part of them. Because, sadly, that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about being fat.

This is a post about being fat, and having that somehow matter more than everything else, and having that derail one’s feelings of accomplishment and pride with embarrassment and shame.

There are pictures of that night, many pictures. In them, I am wearing the dress that I hunted for for months, anticipating that this would be easily among the biggest nights of my life. In them, you can see the makeup that I arranged to have done by the brilliant makeup artist who worked on the movie, and got to the venue three hours ahead of time to have done, though I never wear makeup. In them, you can see all the effort I put forth to look beautiful, because it felt so important to be.

These are pictures of me, in a beautiful dress, in a beautiful place. These are pictures of me celebrating one of the greatest accomplishments of my life, standing next to the people I shared it with so intimately, being celebrated by hundreds of people around us. These are pictures I should cherish forever.

And I can’t stand to look at them.

There's a lot here to be said about all of this, a lot to unpack and process. It feels important to mention the double standards in this issue: while I understand that there are a great many men out there who struggle with body image, I can't help but fundamentally believe that it this is simply and demonstrably worse for women: that men can be great and powerful and do important work without anyone ever commenting on their appearance. (And, not irrelevantly, on their priorities. It's happened many times that while I was off working on this film, people wanted to know who was taking care of my children. I doubt that would have happened to my husband.)

Still, that's not at the core of it for me, right now. At the core if it, right now, is this sense everything I did leading up to that night was invalidated, for me, by the fact that I didn't look good. I've felt this way dozens of times: planning my first trip to Europe, a lifelong dream of mine, and being terrified to the point of distraction that I would look heavy in the pictures. Worrying about the way my arms would look in my dress for my wedding, rather than being able to simply relish the reality that I was marrying someone who found me beautiful inside and out.

Then there's the fact that, in none of these circumstances, did I actually look bad. I looked overweight. It's not that I never have insecurities about my hair or my face or my skin-- I do. But they pale in comparison. I can look back at photos from all of these things and appreciate that I have a pretty smile and sparkling eyes, and usually fair skin. There are people in my life who are dear to me who do not have that, who have very significant insecurities over things that I try not to take for granted-- I think I have a pretty face most of the time, and I try to be grateful for thats. But, there again, when I see a roll of fat captured on film, I lose my ability to keep perspective.

Those things are all part of looking good- the hair, the skin, and the figure. So why is it that one trumps the others so entirely for me?

I think-- I know-- that the society we live in still shames people for their weight in a way that we don't find it acceptable to shame them for other things. There is this clear sense of fault that we don't associate with someone being short or having poor skin or just being too plain. There has been, of late, some very real progress made in this arena: people fighting for body acceptance for all, and, more importantly, for themselves. It's a movement, and it's gaining speed. There are now pop singers and swimsuit models who are heavier-- maybe not heavy enough, in general, to make the whole world feel included, but for someone like me, who is, I suppose, on the thin side of fat, it makes beauty feel attainable. No matter what I do, I will never be a size two. But with some effort and toning, I could stand alongside the likes of Meghan Trainor and Ashley Graham and not feel out of place.

Yet, for all the progress made in people embracing themselves, their is an ever more bitter backlash. Every fat person knows of someone judgmental who claims to be looking out for their health. We have all read hateful comments from people who believe that self-acceptance is a slippery slope to a society full of slovenly behemoths in wheelchairs who eschew any desire for health in exchange for the comparative “ease” of self-acceptance. We've all met people who believe that weight is the very simple exchange of burning more calories than one takes in, and there's nothing more complicated than that-- not genetics. not metabolisms, not a full host of genuine barriers to healthy eating and exercise.

There are points I've fought to make-- largely on the behalf of others-- that there's compelling scientific evidence coming out now that shows that losing weight, and maintaining weight loss, is much more challenging than we've ever understood as a society. There is evidence showing that being overweight is not as fundamentally unhealthy as the world would have you believe, and that in many of the markers with which we measure health, overweight people often score higher than thin people. But again, none of these feel like the emotional point that I'm trying to find my way to making. somehow.

I suppose the point has something to do with how this movement is important, because, whatever I chose to do with my body, it shouldn't invalidate the way I feel about totally unrelated accomplishments. I co-wrote a movie. I made it great, because I am a great writer. I shouldn't have to qualify that. I should never have to write the sentence, "I am a great writer, but I am fat."

I have not always been fat, though I have nearly always been afraid of it. Most of my life, I've been inching slowly towards it, and, due to the genetics of my family, I've been terrified in feeling that it's unavoidable. But I've hovered in that area where I was neither truly fat nor thin for most of my adult life. It wasn't until this latest pregnancy that things took a turn for the unambiguous. Before the pregnancy, I was on ADHD medication that, while helping dramatically with my focus and energy, had the added bonus of controlling my appetite and boosting my metabolism. When I became pregnant and stopped taking the pills, I gained 15 pounds or so almost immediately, well before I normally would have with the growth of the baby. I wasn't able to go back to the medication while pumping breast milk, which I have only recently stopped doing. It's likely that when I get back on this medication, I will lose some weight very quickly. But, since I've also put my body through the rigors of giving birth yet again since then, I suspect it will not be enough to revert to a place of being occasionally mistaken for a thin person.

The biggest emotional toll in all of this, for me, is that my self-perception has not adjusted to my outward reality, and I don't think it easily can. When I look in the mirror, I'm able to hold myself in such a way that it hides my biggest insecurities. This is not to say that I feel good looking at myself;  I often do not. But nothing can match the gut-wrenching punch of seeing a picture that was a taken from a bad angle, which I suspect many of my angles are. And I have to remind myself, though I wish I didn't, that other people see me from those angles every day. That I have no idea what they're seeing.

This is the thing I'm struggling with the most: I do not know what I look like to other people.

I'm realizing now that so much of my shame comes from the fact that I continue to act like a thin person, oblivious. The dress I wore was slinky and contoured to my body, which in turn, contoured in ways I quite simply couldn't detect in a mirror. I had every intention of wearing some very powerful shapewear with it, for what's it's worth, but in the hectic struggle of the day, I forgot it at home before getting dressed at the venue. If I'd known what I looked like, I would have made a point to go get it.

There's a picture of me standing next to the makeup artist, a girl who has become a close friend. She's heavier than I am. She chose a different style of dress, a gown, and she did so, I presume, because she's used to being heavy. I look at pictures of her and I can only think that she looks amazing. This leads me to the startling conclusion that, at least in part, what I am ashamed of here is not that I am fat, but that I haven't learned to conceal it, to communicate to others that I know that I should. I realize, as I am writing this, that it's not simply that I look fat that bothers me, it's that other people must perceive that I don't realize it-- like the long-term equivalent of having spinach in my teeth-- or that I have instead, chosen to accept it. I have to ask myself, with horror, whether that's the real problem: that I ashamed that I forgot to be adequately ashamed.

I believe I should be ashamed of my body, as it is now. I am humiliated when I forget what I look like, and then exhibit confidence that I shouldn't have.  I shouldn't have worn a dress that said "look at me." I should have worn a dress that said, "I am a great writer, but I am fat." Which is kind of a lot to ask from a dress.

The writer Lindy West, who is well-known in the body acceptance movement, wrote a piece once about coming out as being fat, the way others come out as being gay. Her point was that, for all her life, people acted like it was something too delicate to acknowledge, or a temporary state she was sure to overcome. She wanted to make the point that she'd been fat her whole life, and it wasn't going to change, and maybe it wasn't useful to pretend that it wasn't there. Maybe acknowledging it, and asking her friends and family to acknowledge it, could help with the perception held by herself and others that, despite being wholly obvious, it's something she should try to hide.

Part of body acceptance is, well, literally accepting your body. I'm not ready to do that. I'm not ready to call myself beautiful and decide to not be ashamed. I do want to lose weight. I will call my doctor and get my prescription for ADHD meds going again. I will go hungry. I will push myself to exercise too hard, and in moments when that time might be better served on cleaning my house, or writing the next film, or being with my children. But in the interest of coming out as fat-- and, to a lesser degree, in trying to find the value in the night the movie opened, despite my shame-- I will include a picture or two here. For those of you who don't know me, I'm the one in the black.

This is a picture of me with two amazing ladies who probably also have body insecurities, but I'm the only one who felt the need to write a damn treatise about it.

Here is a picture of me giving an insightful and witty answer to a question in front of hundreds of people, but I am fat.

For those of you out there who may have read this, and may be someone who has not struggled with weight, and maybe someone who still has some amount of judgment around overweight people, there are some points I'd like to get across. Number one, I assure you, it is NOT EASIER to just accept yourself than it is to lose weight, though, to be fair, keeping it off may be damn near impossible. But when I look at these pictures and try to imagine a future where I embrace my size and live with confidence and feel good about the tight, revealing dress despite the rolls-- I assure you, I could much more easily go without ever eating another roll in my life, though probably not through healthy means.

Number two, and this is a big one: whenever you encourage someone to lose weight, or judge them for it, or make them feel like they're more valuable as a thin person, what you're doing is telling them to reprioritize. You're telling them that the way they look to the world is more important than the things that they're putting their effort into when they're not putting effort into being thin, whether that be their job, their passion, or their family. No one has an infinite amount of energy or time: if you look at someone and determine that the state their body is in is bad for their health, you may very well be discounting the importance to their overall health-- including mental health-- of the things they've chosen over being thin.

I like to look at it this way: if someone came up to you and told you that you HAD to learn Chinese  you might tell them you're not interested. They might counter with the fact that there's a enormous number of Chinese people in the world, that the future of international business demands it, that we'd live in a more peaceful world if everyone could communicate. And all of their points may be true, but the reality is that learning another language is a huge investment of time and energy. Maybe you'd rather use that time and energy on learning Spanish. Maybe you'd rather use it building a boat. But your priorities are your own, even if that one person judges you.

Making the effort to be thin is just one choice people make. There's no moral weight behind the choice either way.

My priorities, in the past year, have been largely about this film. They've also been about carrying a healthy baby, and doing a job that helps to support my family, and maintaining my relationships. And I had a baby, and I made a film, and I sacrificed for those things. And I should be proud of them. I should be proud of being a woman who has learned the feminine art of juggling and overcoming. I should fight off the guilt that I have at the end of the day about the choices I made, and realize that my own priorities are valid, whether it's letting my husband watch the kids so that I go and create art, or whether it's having a Little Debbie Brownie at 2 am when I'm woken up for a feeding so that I don't lose my mind from exhaustion and frustration. My choices have reasons behind them, I should embrace them. I should be able to say, I am a worthwhile person.

But all I can say right now is "I am a worthwhile person, but I am fat."

On with it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Only Gonna Say This Once

The perfect mix tape is an art form. When I've finished one, I feel as satisfied with that accomplishment as I feel with any art that I endeavor to create. Though I've forgotten it for many years, pushed it to the back of my consciousness while struggling to deal with the rest of life's realities, writing is like lifeblood for me. These posts, when they're done well. A poem. A song. And a mix tape, done right, gives me that same feeling of meaning, and accomplishment.

The one I'm listening to today, which I put together three or four weeks ago, is entitled "Only Gonna Say This Once." I designed cover art for it, but the whole thing never actually came to much of a physical reality. I never printed the art, or burned the mix to a CD, and I certainly never made it into a tape-- this isn't the early 90's. I use the term "Mix Tape" in the sense that Rob Sheffield, author of "Love is a Mix Tape", legitimized for me, as an homage to the first ones ever created, slowly and painstakingly pressing those mechanical buttons on one's cassette player.

This mix, which is really just a playlist, for now, was composed for someone that you, dear reader, know nothing of, because the entire overlap of his life on mine has happened in the months-- nearly a year-- since the last time I wrote an entry here. Given that, it's not so much the reader who has never heard of him, since the reader, at this point, is probably overwhelmingly likely to be either Emily or Jeff, or no one at all. More accurately, it's the character in my mind who doesn't know about him, the sentient version of the blog itself. Somewhere in my mind, I have personified the recipient of each and every key stroke, the reader of every word, ever since this whole damn thing began. Is it some amalgamation of everyone who has ever roamed these hallowed hallways of my mind? Is it some long lost friend, a sympathetic character who has some kind of imagined form, totally independent of the readers? Or is it just some strange reflection of myself?

Maybe all of the above. All I know is, I miss him. Her. It.

I miss him, too. The person I made this mix for. I made it as a means of mourning what I thought was the end of our relationship, determined to hand the physical version-- yet to exist-- to him as we said our final goodbyes. Shortly after it was finished, he showed up to tell me everything was fine, all my fears were just imagined. The mix didn't need to be made.

He showed up, one last time, to tell me that. And I felt like a fool for making the mix that I listen to now, alone in a room he'll likely never walk into, with him absent, once again, from my life.

Just goes to show you, kids. Always trust your instincts.

I knew at the time I strung the songs together that my reaction was premature. I know now it likely still is-- he may well be back. But, having lost him, temporarily, before, and seeing what the did to me the first time, I made the mix as a way to condense my mourning for the loss. I dove into missing him like an immersion course, hoping to come out on the other side quickly. Scars healed over, fluent in the language of heartbreak once again, and ready to move on.

I'm sure this all probably sounds super dramatic and a little overbearing. Full disclosure: I have been drinking.  Whatever it takes to write, I guess. Whatever it takes to be ready to talk about it.

The mix, and the mourning, they did their job. When, after that brief moment of coming back into the light and making me feel stupid for having doubted him, he never reappeared, I didn't fall apart. I was frustrated, of course, and angry at the deception, but I couldn't really give into sadness again. Who was this person, playing such childish games, and why should I weep for him anew? I'd done it all before, and very recently, so I mostly got on with my life.

He may well be back, even still. But that doesn't matter much. The next time he comes back, I will not be so starry-eyed, this time around, as to love him the way I did before. And I do love him. And I know that I will, when he comes back again, if he comes back again. So many things have changed about me, but that much remains the same, so far: when I love someone, I love them for good. In one way or another.

But the way I love him will have changed. I will not be so naive, not be so eager and innocent and childlike. I will not, I think, love him in such a way that I'll ever need to make a mix for him ever again, in his many comings and goings in my life. And many, I suspect, there will be.

The song now is "A Case of You" by Joni Mitchell...or it was, until just now, when it switched to a number by Bright Eyes. I was hoping to make some poetic parallel from the shots of Captain Morgan Cannonball I've recently ingested to the titular "case of you" that she sings of: "I could drink a case of you, and still be on my feet." But the moment has passed, as all moments do.

And in that way, the mix is doing it's job, yet again: I'll never love him the way I did then, but I can go back to it, now, listening to this. I can feel what I felt. I have captured some trace my younger self's heart, through a series of songs sung by a chorus of unrelated artists. And I capture this trace of my heart today, for an older version of myself. Maybe that's who the mysterious "reader" is.

So, whether he comes back or not, I will never have that moment again. This is all that is left of feelings I felt when I committed these songs to the memory of him, of us, of all that we were for such a brief, brief time. There was a lot to it, but, having aged and changed and matured-- no longer being someone who plays childish games or loves in starry-eyed ways, no longer someone who mourns every loss with a mix tape-- I haven't felt like I could talk about it here. Talk about who he is, and what we were, and what we could have been. There are consequences to that kind of honesty, and these would not have been mine alone.

Beyond that, so much time has passed, dear imagined friend.  How could you possibly understand it all with so little context?

There's not a lot I'm at liberty to say about how I felt about him, how I felt spending time with him and what I tried to make him feel, in return. There's not a lot I'm at liberty to say about the time we spent together, and what we hoped to accomplish, and the connection that brewed between us that made him, so quickly, the type of person I wrote songs for, and, so quickly, someone that I wrote songs with. And, most importantly in the context of this post, the type of person I wanted to share songs with, such that they became a perfect mix.

But if there's not a lot I'm at liberty to say, let me define him thusly: he was my partner. He was a creative who drew me out with his talent and believed in mine. He was someone I was determined to conquer the world with, me and him and our total brilliance. And, most importantly in the context of this post, he was the person who forced me to remember what writing and art really is to me. My lifeblood, whether it's a post like this, a song, a poem.

Or a mix tape, done right.

On with it.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Saddest Place I Know

I can't muster the will to be sad about you anymore, not in any real way. I reason that you're just a different person than you were: the one who was my friend would not have acted this way. But people change, you've changed.

Pain does that to people. And if you're getting along well enough without me now, then I can't blame you for doing what works. But I question if I would want to be the friend of someone who would write me off so easily, over so little, and I think, no. I think, that's not the person I loved.

So I've gotten past the sadness, for the most part. It doesn't really make me sad to think of you, the way it used to.

But sometimes, sometimes when something else has happened, I will get sad. I will get sad after an argument with somebody else. I will get sad when I have no one to call to talk about it, and no where to go.

And the sadness from that will bleed into all the other sadness in my life: the people that have died, the people that will. Sickness and age and disagreements that are no one's fault, but can never be resolved. The feeling of mortality, the feeling of loss. A profound mourning for everything, and nothing.

It'll all mix together and settle into my bones, and I'll want to go to the saddest place I know.

That's when I come here.

I drive across the river and down the road, and I turn up the hill and onto your street. I drive until I see the place you used to live; the place where we used to spend our time together.

I park my car, and I stare at it, and I sit.

Sometimes, you come here still. I'll see your car in the driveway. I'll see the light in the room we used to hang our in for hours. I'll think of how close I am to you, and I'm tempted to reach out for you: for the person who could understand my sadness. In that moment, I'll wonder if maybe you still are who you were. I'll wonder, and ill miss you.

Pain does that to people.

I don't know that I'll go inside again, see you again. But when things like they do now, when it settles in my bones, this is where I end up.

This is the saddest place I know.

On with it.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Life in Reruns

I've gotten off-track.

I don't even know specifically what I'm referring to as I say that. My lack of friends. My growing stress about my job. Or the goals I set in July-- like writing in this blog more-- and how long it's been since I've worked on them.

I'm not sure what I mean when I say it, but I feel like it's true, and the crux of the issue. I've gotten off track. Somewhere, somehow, I need to get back on.

Today, I decided to write the first draft of an essay I plan to pitch to xoJane, a website that features writing from expressive, emotionally vulnerable female writers who want to share their experiences. It seems like a good fit for me, because, at my deepest levels, at my selfie-est self, writing is important to me. I don't do it much anymore, and I guess that's because, well, sometimes it seems like a luxury. Taking time out of my day to write about my thoughts and feelings and experiences. About ME and MY point of view, and not about my son, and not about my job. That feels like something I could afford when I was younger. That feels like something I don't really have time for now.

Except that I can't afford not to do it not. My life keeps whizzing by me, my feelings and experiences, but I don't remember anything from the last five years as clearly as I remember the things that happened when I took the time to set put them down in words, to process them and work with them. And I'm falling, I think, into a pattern where what I am, what I want to be, seems secondary to...I don't know, the things I think I should want, maybe. Things that are other people's values, I guess.

I don't know. I'm all mixed up. But I guess, once you get to motherhood, life is so much about guilt. When you don't spend enough time with the baby, when the kitchen isn't cleaned. When you're more the breadwinner than you are the active parent, but you go to work too exhausted to really do a good job.

The point is, this site-- xo Jane-- and the idea of getting published to it, gives me a good excuse to write: some money here and there that can be used to pay for things that my family needs, and therefore makes the act of writing less selfish. Because I need writing. I always have. To get through my day, and then to remember it well. To internalize the lessons I learned. Or at least, when I don't, to look back them and realize that I'm repeating history.

And I am. I decided, after writing a draft for xo Jane, to flip randomly through some posts and try to find something that might be fodder for another essay, if they accept this one. And I found this post.

"Take a friendship, one that's seen better days. Two people. A connection. Maybe one or both of them has gotten off the track. Maybe one of them seems to have stopped trying to find it again. And maybe the other says some things that she can't frankly remember whether or not she was right to say.
What he needs to understand is the way it feels to watch from the sidelines as something you care about lets go. What he needs to understand is that not putting forth that effort is like spitting in her face, telling her that something she loves isn't worth his time. 
"Tough Love" is kind of the ugly stepchild of love. It's underappreciated, it looks different, and people act like it's not even a part of the family. There's this criteria to love that we, the media-minded, have put in play. It's gotta be soft yet supportive. It's gotta be intense but joyful. It's gotta be Barbie Dreamhouse pink and in frilly cursive lettering. It's gotta be a hallmark card or a teddy bear or a hug. 
Whatever it is, it's certainly got nothing to do with concepts like "the truth hurts" or "it takes someone who cares about you to tell you what you don't want to hear." It's not about making someone take their medicine when they're sick, even if it tastes bad; making them clean up a mess when it's theirs. It's about politely ignoring someone's faults, even if they're more like fault lines. Whatever it is, it's definitely can't be looking someone straight in the eye and telling them they not only can do better, it's their responsibility to. 
Later, if she is alone, she will wonder about all the things she was supposed to understand: how much he was hurting, how lost he felt. She'll have plenty of time to think about all the years between them and plenty of reminders in case she's not inclined: christmas songs they used to dance in the street to; phrases they used to use with each other over and over again, movies they watch, plans they made. Promises they made. She'll have plenty of time to think about those, and, without him there to force her to be defensive, she'll wonder. How much of what she said was below the belt, how much of what she did was in his best interest. How much of what she felt was really about him. 
She won't have answers. Without him there, all she has is the questions."

It's a post about Jeff and I, about a fight that we got into a long time ago-- more than eight years, apparently. The thing about it is, I purposely wrote it in very general terms, so appeal to my audience, to make it relatable to an experience they might be having.

I did a good job: today, I am my audience. Today, Jeff and I are once again not talking. And today, that post relates to us exactly.

There is absolutely nothing in those words that I couldn't have written today, or six months ago. There's absolutely nothing that isn't precisely how I would explain the situation, right now.

Maybe it's time to go back and looked at how it resolved all those years ago. Things have caustic this time, the way he acted makes me feel so angry. Like he's not the person he was, like maybe he's not someone worth going back for.

Maybe it's time to read more posts. About he and I. About what we were when we were at our best. About the things I reference in that post-- the dancing the streets, the plans and the promises. Maybe if I can find that, and remind myself of it, I can find the will to really be sorry, because I can't tell if I am, right now. I can't tell if I'm more sorry than I am angry.

Maybe if I go back and read the years and years of our friendship that this blog immortalized, I'll find the thing that is stronger than both my anger and his. Tougher than the "tough love" I talk about in that post and deeper than that hallmark card stuff.

Maybe if I go back, I can find the person who had more concern than she had anger, and more love than she had pride. Maybe, if I can go back, I can find myself.

Maybe that's the reason I need writing. The reason I've needed it all along.

On with it.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Years Things Might Not Get Better for Me

The post before last, I informed you all (read: maybe like three people, total) of my lofty goals for my thirty-first years. The list, which you can easily go back and see, included goals of varying kinds: personal, professional (though none specifically related to my current job, except for keeping my desk cleaner), health and fitness-related, and a few interpersonal/familial/world-at-large kinds of things, for good measure.

There's a lot I can say to update you all (read: a handful of semi-interested Facebook friends) as to how it's been going. Some things I've made considerable progress on:

  • Of the 3,000 pieces of liter I vowed to pick up, I have currently finished 1,357. (Cigarette butts count as 1/2 or a 1/3, depending on how many times I have to bend down for them)
  • I did a very thorough cleaning of my car, and since then, though it has gotten dirty again with a quickness that I think anyone would have to agree was impressive, I've kept up with some basic cleaning to the extent that it hasn't gotten nearly as bad, therefore, I think, earning the title of "cleaner-ish" so far.
  • In taking the first step of improving my credit score, which was getting my credit score, I realized that somewhere in the last ten years, I had already mostly accomplished what I set out to do this year: I now once again have good credit! I have thusly decided that, while there is room for improvement, I will be shooting to improve it by something close to 35 points, as opposed to 75.
  • I have been running quite a bit in my training for a 5k, and I can now definitively say that I can run quite a bit farther now without stopping than I ever have been before. Or...could before I got this cold. It's been maybe a week. I feel like I shouldn't be too hard on myself. I got a cold.

There are also things I haven't even started yet:

  • "Switch to capsule wardrobe." Ugh. I guess I sort of started this. It didn't go well. You're supposed to do it seasonally and summer was half over already. The goal is to start in October with my "fall capsule." Wish my luck. My closet is a wreck. I'm half-expecting to find some Korean aircraft in there.
  • "Learn Six Dance Songs Well." Oh boy. Yeah. On top of all my extra writing, running, cleaning and litter-picking-up-ing, I definitely have time to get my groove back. Thanks, July Linda. I'm sure I'll really enjoy your funky, spunky playfulness come April, when I've gotten through enough of these REAL goals to even start thinking about this. (Okay, this is judgmental. I get what you're trying to do here. It's about fitness and developing skill with a fun-loving, self-confident twist. But like...seriously. Maybe when it's too cold outside to run.)
  • "Read Le Petit Prince in French" - Well. I got the book out of my parent's basement. Seriously, it's on the coffee table right in front of me., I haven't been working on French. Which was clearly the point of this goal, to be a quantifiable measure of my having improved my french skills. Le soon.

Obviously, that brief overview didn't hit on all, or even most, of my goals. There is a lot more to say, but, damn, how these entries do get long. So let's see if I can get around to some of the bigger points.

In the first entry about my goals, I mentioned the two things that I hoped would prove to be the catalysts of the enhanced state of wellness that made these goals possible: tonsil reduction and Accelerated Response Therapy. I have now, to a certain extent, experienced both. Let' a bit more about that.

-I flew down to Dallas about ten days ago to have my tonsils reduced via laser. The actual procedure was only slightly more unpleasant than I had imagined, but I'm not sure yet how I feel about the results. There may yet be some residual swelling, and the aforementioned cold isn't helping things any, but I just have this sense that the doctor didn't reduce my tonsils as much as he said that he likely could. The marketing for the procedure led me to expect something along the lines of a 70% reduction; when I arrived in the office, the doctor told me he suspected he could do 50%. Seeing the results, my best guess is that it was closer to 30%.

What does that mean? I don't yet know. I believe that my sleep quality has been slightly better, though it's very hard to quantify and one never knows what sorts of placebo effect may be in play. As for the other effects I was hoping for-- a better quality singing voice, less sniffling and nasal congestion, and more energy through increased airflow-- they've been a bit hard to quantify so far, due to the initial swelling, and now the cold. I'll keep you updated as to how this turns out.

-I've been to several sessions of ART. I believe that there was some benefit when it came to addressing the trauma I remembered-- IE, the birth-- but when we started to attempt to address some other, less immediate traumas from my life, the benefit petered out. I took a break from therapy and will be going back early next week, to give it another try.

I would have expected that addressing the trauma from the birth would have been enough of a benefit to make a real difference in my life, but in the months since I had that session, many things have only gotten worse for me. I don't believe I still have a strong, traumatic reaction to memories directly related to the birth, but it does seem that discomfort when it comes to sexual issues is back and stronger than ever. I won't choose now to go into the details, but I will say that things are very nearly as bad now as they were at the height of my vaginismus, and this leads me to wonder if I somehow, in my therapeutic process, opened up something and then left it there, out and vulnerable. 

If I can accomplish nothing else when I go back to therapy, I hope that I can go back in stick in the oven that which has been left half-baked. Or, you know. Insert some better way of saying that here.

In my last blog post, as opposed to my second-to-last, I mentioned how I don't feel like anyone in my core group of friends has made significant gains in their lives in the last ten years. Not wanting that to just be "out there," I ended up having a conversation of that nature with Emily.

Emily was quite incredulous about my assessment. She said that I must not see things the way she does if I believe she has made no progress, and she went on to enumerate the many ways in which her life has vastly improved over the past decade or so.

The points she made were very good. She is in a better place professionally, in a more stable, loving relationship, and she's done a great deal of work in therapy that has helped her to address many of the problems that, once upon a time, defined her. On a very objective level, she is better off than she was.

She also made the point that it's possible my negative view of her life has been effected by her hesitation to share good things with me. She says that she feels she can't, much of the time, and I believe the implication was that it's based on my own depression, and occasional resulting bitterness.

This hurt, of course. Emily is, as I mentioned in my last post, my closest friend at this point; still, I keep her far more sheltered from the storms of my depression than I think she'll ever really know, mostly because I suspect-- based on her past behaviors-- that there's only so much misery she'll put up with before she will simply tire of me. I am as honest as I can be with her about what's going on in my life, but...I guess I don't feel like that's very honest, overall. I don't lie to her, certainly. But I don't feel like she has much use for me, the way I usually feel, and so I keep much of that hidden.

Probably what hurt more was the idea that she doesn't feel like she can share the good things in her life with me. Emily is the type of person who is honest-- often unpleasantly so-- about her feelings, and doesn't rank "niceness" very high on her list of desirable qualities. As such, she can be quite blunt about things, and I have, in turn, felt fairly comfortable being blunt with her about when I have, on occasion, resented her life. Most of this has everything do with her having money (access to her partner's money) and not having the burden of a child. That being said, I do think I've gone out of my way, for more than a decade now, to be incredibly supportive of everything in Emily's life. I have cheered on her relationship (though perhaps not as loudly as I often as I have acted as a sounding board when she needed to rail against its flaws), and even celebrated her previous relationship in appropriate moments, as much as I understood it to be a mistake. I have given gifts to celebrate academic tests and college acceptances. I have tried to take an interest in every job prospect, followed up on every interview, asked about every trip. I make a due diligence effort to keep straight the tertiary characters, whether they're co-workers or her girlfriend's friends or the husbands of her old high school friends.

I guess this was bothering me more than I thought.

The truth is, when her life is so glaringly better than mine in so many ways, it hurts. I resent that I can't be the one traveling all over the world, having extravagant birthday celebrations paid for by other people, and living in a vibrant city with all the time in the world to make the best of it's vibrance. I can't deny that.

But the biggest reason these things hurt is that it the distance between us-- both in the physical world and in the circumstantial realities-- leaves me lacking the best friend that I need right now. The hometown girl, always just a few minutes away, who can come over, even just for a few minutes, and sit with me and talk while the baby plays. Someone to run errands with. Someone I can go see when Dan's at his parents. Someone who could babysit for a few hours when I'm at my wit's end.

Someone who will actually be there if I start to slip, the way I feel like I might start to slip. And I would't have to minimize my depression for her, because I wouldn't be afraid she'd get bored. And I wouldn't have to minimize my depression for her, because, if she existed, things wouldn't be so bad.

Emily is my best friend, my family, and she means the world to me. And she's been there with me in as many ways as she can. But, the life she lives now, it's not just far away, geographically. It's also circumstantially in a completely different universe, and maybe not a parallel one, at that.

The thing is, she's not wrong when she says she feels like she can't share "the good things" with me, I guess. But I think it's because she feels like she is leaving me behind. In truth, the reason that all of this is so sad is that, for my own good, I may need to leave her behind.

I mean, not really, not totally. I just...I need someone in my life who can be more to me than what she is now. Not emotionally more-- but someone who is just more physically there. I need a real best friend.

So, jumping back 10.5 paragraphs or so: Emily made her points that she is, objectively, better off than  she was ten years ago. And as I sorted through all the various emotional reactions I had to everything she said, I found that I was still...not unconvinced, but unsettled. I told her, all of these things are very positive, but I guess I still don't get the sense that her life has improved, as measured by the fact that, overall, I don't believe her ratio of positive feelings to negative feels has changed.

She said that she supposed I was right about that, but that that's not what's important.

The thing about that is, well, it's what I've always known, right? The whole hedonc treadmill thing. People's happiness levels really don't shift that much over the course of their lives, no matter how much their circumstances change. I've more or less always known it, and psychological studies have more or less proven it. And here is Emily, with her life so much better in so many ways than it was ten years ago, living it.

So that leads me to wonder, what's the point of all of these goals? Do any of them have any shot at all at really affecting my level of happiness? And if not, what purpose do they serve?

Is life satisfaction different than happiness? I suspect that Emily believes it is. She's more satisfied with her life now than she was ten years ago, even though she's not really any happier. As someone who doesn't value "happiness" significantly more than she does "niceness," that seems, to her, to be a perfectly okay way to be.

But what about me, am I okay with that? Am I okay with the fact that I could accomplish all of the goals I set forth for myself this year-- every single one of them-- and I'd still be unlikely to be any happier than I am?

I guess that I suspect that the point of goals, if that's the case, is so that, when you're depressed, when your feelings are either too heavy or too absent to steer you out of bed every morning, your logical mind kicks in, and in that moment, you can count the things you did, and have some shallow, hedonic pride. You can, without actually experiencing any joy, count your accomplishments one by one and come to the conclusion that you are a worthwhile person who has done the things that they said they were going to, and you can believe in yourself that you will do more. Joylessly, in that moment, but hopefully you can feel a little something about it, from time to time.

Is that enough for me? No, I suspect it's not. But there's a difference between Emily and I, when it comes to these things: she is making it. I am not.

Herein lies the reason that the goals I have are so based on these two, fundamental changes, both of which relate directly to the overall health of my brain. I do not believe a change of job makes someone significantly happier in the course of their every day lives. Nor a change of relationship, nor a change of access to money and trips and travel, nor most circumstantial realities at all. I do not believe that these things make a significant difference, and both science and anecdote appear to back me up.

But I suppose I do believe that a healthy brain could make the difference. That, were my brain more rested, healed, and less addled, that it could change the very chemical foundation that my happiness is built upon.

It's not the goals that are going to change my life, and it never was. Go back and read for yourself, that's not what I said back then, and it's not what I meant. It was the things I was going to do to treat my brain that were going to make way for these goals to happen.

The goals were aspirational. The goals were a blueprint for the kind of person I want to be. But the healthier brain-- via better sleep and some resolution to the trauma-- that was going to lay the footprint.

So, okay. I've been writing a lot, and for a long time. And I guess this post is mostly just for me, because it's meandering in the extreme, and I doubt you could really follow my train of thought. But, okay. I know what I'm shooting for.

Will this be the year that things get better for me, or just another year when they don't, not really?

It's yet to be seen, so let's get on with it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

We've Got to Hold On to What We've Got

Reading old blog posts has the dual effect A) of making me nostalgic for a period of my life when I had the time, drive, and emotional energy to regularly express my feelings in a way that was actively reaching out to the people around me, and B) making me realize how discouragingly similar my problems now are to my problems of yesteryear. It seems that nothing is changing, except for my youthful willingness to fight for change.

Or, I guess, that's not true. I am fighting for change: the last post about my goals for my thirty-first year is a testament to that. I'm just not fighting in the same ways that I used to.

But I regret that. I regret that writing, and reaching out to people, and this blog aren't a bigger part of my plan. They aren't NOT a part of my plan, as you may recall: Writing twenty-five blog posts is one of the goals, as is writing fifteen letters to people from my life. It's all about getting back in touch with language, and expression, and letting the people I care about know something about where I am in the world now.

But, come on. Though twenty-five posts in one year's time will be far more than most previous years (with the exception of the last, being that I made a goal one month out of posting every day), it would have been nothing to me for the first eight or so years of this blog's existence.

I envy that girl. She was so driven, so raw, and she somehow really saw the benefit of writing every single day about whatever self-interested garbage came through her head. It's this youthfully indulgent attitude, the kind we look down on as adults. But there was, I don't know, just something about her, about the process.

I can't say that writing every day actually made me happier: read the posts, and you'll see that that's not true. I suffered from the same breed of misery then as I do today, though my more practiced voice made my self-pitying rhetoric more bearable and, somehow, even charismatic. I was not happier, and, with the exception of having hours more to write every day and years more left to live, my circumstances were not better. There are some shockingly horrible feelings spelled out on those pages, some events that left very real scars on my psyche.

But I made it through.

That, I think, it was I envy about her: I know she's going to make it. I can't say the same about me.

Clicking randomly through the archives, I land on this post: aftermath of a conversation that a suicidal former me had with a sympathetic former friend.

I typed that sentence that way for the meter of it, but I find it uncomfortable. It's mostly true: Elorza and I rarely speak anymore. We're friends in the way that many of me and my old confidantes are: Facebook friends. It's such a concise way to explain what I mean, but I cringe just thinking about it as a definition.

In my heart of hearts, I believe that Elorza and I would still be there for each other, that the heyday of our friendship was so strong and so long-lasting that it's reached a kind of immortality. I used to say that there were some friends that I was so close to that our friendship could go into a kind of hibernation, with us not talking for months on end, but that it could wake up just as easily, and things would be as strong as they were.

But in my mind of minds, I understand that this isn't really the case anymore. This hibernation has lasted too long, and too many things have changed. Do I believe that he would be there for me if my circumstances got so that I really needed him, even after all these years? Yes. But I also know that I'd have to spend days, or hours, or weeks explaining everything that had happened to me before he could offer meaningful help.

I would say that it's this way with a lot of people, but...there weren't a lot of people who meant as much to me as Elorza. There weren't a lot of friendships that were that embedded in so many of the days that made up so much of my life.

Five, it seems like there were. Go back to the beginning of this blog, and you'll find five. The Fab Five.

(Or, uhm, don't actually go back. Having recently read the first entry which mentioned The Fab Five in any detail, I realize that it was smug teen-aged crap obsessed with honesty at the expense of everything else. The point of the post was to "make examples" of my best friends by pulling no punches in pointing out their flaws to the thousands hundreds dozens of readers that would come. I appreciate, in a distant, academic way that that post truly set the tone for the years of honest writing that would help me to navigate the rocky shores of my late teens and early adulthood. Still, it's cringe-worthy in it's naive self-satisfaction, and none of the five deserved my laying them out like that without their input or consent.)

The Fab Five consisted of Elorza, Emily, Andrew L., Jeremey, and Jeff.

Taking stock of my relationships with all of them over the years, it''s really not as bad as it could be. These must have been quality friendships, as the survival rate of some kind of relationship is uncharacteristically high for me.

And they were. Of the Five, the only one that really doesn't belong on the "best friends of all time" list is Andrew, who-- not to belittle the importance of our relationship-- more or less made the cut because he was my boyfriend at the time. Even so, in the past year or so, I've been making some attempts to re-establish a friendship with him, and though I can't say that it yet surpasses the "Facebook" prefix, we've had some pleasant conversations. He is, above all, a character, and while I can see where the endless show amusing pretense that he uses in lieu of deeper emotional connection could-- and, in fact, did once-- get old, I do still enjoy him.

My relationship with Jeremey is not unlike my relationship with Elorza, with the notable difference that, geographically, it's easier to occasionally actually see him. His mother, whom he visits on holidays, lives mere minutes from where I live now, and so we've made a point of getting together a couple of times a year. He attended my recent wedding reception and was really a very big highlight for me in an otherwise stressful and overwhelming event: in fact, he sensed my stress and offered this genuine, adult concern that made me feel better, in that moment and, ultimately, about our friendship.

In fact, it was partially his maturity and concern that day that lead me to the surprising realization that, of all the people who have been in my life for anywhere near as long as Jeremey has, he is the only one who seems to have grown in a meaningful and indisputably positive way. Everyone else, it seems, has done some variation on stagnating or going backwards, or improving their lives in certain ways while regressing in others. But Jeremey...he seems to have just...grown up.

Emily is now my closest friend, a possible tie with Zack, who I had not yet met at the time of the writing. Still, having been married to Zack for so long and still, in some capacity, thinking of him as more or less the love of my life (As opposed to the stronger, stabler partnership I experience with my current husband), I have trouble thinking of him as a "friend." So, that leaves Emily.

I don't think that it's a coincidence that the sole female of the bunch is the one who has proven best able to navigate the complications of the kinds of relationships I tend to foster. All of my close friendships have some degree of both familial and romantic feelings, either at some point or as an ongoing theme. For many, this has proven far too confusing to deal with. Emily, on the other hand, seems to understand that complexity in love does not tarnish it's value. One must put up boundaries and try to live by them, but these boundaries shift, and change, and crossing them does not make for a disaster that's any more bad than it is good.

I don't know if that makes sense, as the more I write, the more oddly, unintentionally poetic I get. But Emily and I are good, and we have been for a long time, with little interruption.

Still, a friendship such as this one can survive an interruption. Mine and Emily's did, a few years back. And one hopes that mine and Jeff's will survive the one we're currently experiencing.

Things are not good between us now. I don't know to what extent "things" between us still are, at all.

I won't go into it now: another day, perhaps. All I can say is, I still love him. That much won't change.

I'm fighting for change, and I'm fighting for things to stay the same. If that girl, who wrote all that came before this can make it, so can I.

To borrow a habit from her, I'll end the post on a corny song quote:

"You live for the fight when that's all that you've got."
-Bon Jovi, Livin' on a Prayer

On with it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Year Things Get Better For Me

It's nearly midnight on a work night, so I don't have time to write the post that this deserves, but one thing I have to learn to do to be a better adult is to just do things. Whether or not these things can be done to the ridiculous standards of my aspirational (but, as of yet, in no way actual) self, just do them, so that some version of the thing you wanted exists, instead of a just a big pile of nothing that slowly rots away until not even a hint of what you originally intended exists.

Or something. I'm not at my most eloquent tonight. But moving past that is sort of the theme of that last paragraph, whether you can tell that or not. And look, I did.

Things have been very hard for me for a while now. There are a lot of reasons for that. More than the two big ones I'm about to highlight now, and, in fact, more big ones just than just those two. But those two are kinda the point of this paragraph, so let's get there. 1) The birth of my son, 19 months ago, was super traumatic for me, in a way that has given me legit PTSD symptoms since then. (To be clear, I had been diagnosed with PTSD from earlier issues even before that, but I found out, the hard way, in the past year and a half the difference between a sort of latent, distant trauma that haunts you occasionally and at the least opportune time, and the kind that makes your whole life the least opportune time.  Number 2) My whole life, as many of you have known, I have been very, very tired.

I have a chance, I think, to finally address both of these. For the trauma, I am experimenting with a new therapy, Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART), which is promisingly like EMDR, and is practiced by a therapist very geographically near to me. I'll get into the details at a later date, but if it is what it's cracked up to be, it's possible that I am already well on my way to recovery from this issue, and, maybe, from issues that have haunted me in the past.

For the tiredness, I have stumbled upon a hypothesis: I am in no way medically or scientifically sure, but I have reason to suspect that I may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea as a result of my shockingly large tonsils. Even if this is not the case, there is a very large possibility that the resulting restricted air flow is a big part of my rather consistent torpor. (Googled it: I used that word correctly! Awesome!) In support of my feelings of wanting to resolve this, Dan has agreed to allow me to use a large portion of the money we received as gift for our recent wedding (Yay, us!) to have my tonsils reduced in a relatively painless laser procedure called a Laser Tonsil Ablation.

It is my feeling that IF both of these two treatments have even half of the effect that I hope that they do, I will be, very suddenly, in possession of a great deal of energy, both emotional and physical. To have a well-rested and relatively relaxed brain for the first time in my's something to think about.

This could be the year things get better for me.

I have a strong desire not to waste this potential energy: not to let the years of dreams and aspirations that I have always pushed off until things were better turn to the proverbial pile of nothing, rotting away. As such, I have made a list of very specific goals for the next year of my life: convenient timing, as my birthday was a mere three days ago. Maybe I'll accomplish all of before I turn 32. Maybe they will be forgotten in two months time. For better or worse, herein lies, at least, the hint of what I intend, today. In no particular order:

Train for and run 5k with Dan
Be able to do one chin-up
Learn 6 Dance songs Well
Record 5 Original Songs
Finish Editing Zack's First Book
First Draft of Screenplay
2 College Courses
Keep Car Cleaner-ish
Keep Office Cleaner-ish
Switch to capsule wardrobe
Therapy for trauma
Learn to play 5 songs on the uke
Reduce tonsils
Put 500 in IRA
Improve credit score 75 points
Complete 3 large art projects
Pick up 3000 pieces of litter
Maintain nails/eyebrows/teeth/skin
Write/mail letters to 15 people from my life
25 blog posts
Put together Ezra's baby book
6 books (at least 3 non-audiobooks)
Read Le Petit Prince in French
Get Ezra caught up with speech
Be able to touch my toes

This list was written on my phone yesterday, though I added that last one just now, as it's absence on the list was an oversight.

I hope to have the time to explain my choices a bit better in the future, in some of the upcoming twenty-five (make that twenty-four) blog posts. For now, let me just state that I intend to share my journey here, and hopefully on Imgur, the goal of the latter being that it has the same feeling as a weight loss post, but with a more holistic (and less judgmental of fat people) vibe.

Today, I worked on the following:

-I had a very productive therapy session.
-I went for a walk and picked up forty-five pieces of litter, then cleaned a decent amount of trash out of my car (by no means enough to consider it clean) before coming inside.
-I used my Clairisonic and moisturized, then followed up with frownies on my forehead wrinkles (this is skincare-related)
-I did a few quick arm exercises before bed, some "girl-style" push-ups (soon enough, I will be back to the respectable ones) just so the day wouldn't be a total fitness loss.
-I wrote this blog post. Almost. It'll be done in a sec.

So...more to come. If you intend to join me on this journey, I thank you for being more interested than I have really warranted with this post. If you're checking back on this many months in the future to see how far I've come...well, good for me, I guess that means I'm still at it.

On with it.