blog, paper street

i updated my privacy policy

It’s been two weeks since I’ve spoken to the one person I’ve communicated with almost every day for nearly two years.

I’ve never really talked openly about my relationship because I’m terrified of jinxing it. This far into it and, yes, I keep thinking about messing it up. Besides, there’s not much I believe in but of the few things one of them is that a relationship is between the people involved. And I’m selfish. I want to keep the good times all to myself and the not-so-good times… Well, those get buried so deep they’ll never again see the light of day.

Plus, this is the internet and it’s totally passé to be in your feelings about a significant other. No. It’s all “delete his number, eat mangos, and move on with your life”. We romanticize the gooey bits of love and all of its varying forms but reach for the ripcord at the first sign of discomfort. How the hell is anyone supposed to learn how to cope and persevere during turbulent times when all the hip advice is to jump out of the escape hatch?

The one consistent thing I had in my life is gone, halfway across the country on an army base, and I’ll admit I’m flailing a little bit. I’m closing in on myself while simultaneously looking for my own escape hatch. Because this, too, is un-friggin-comfortable. What do I do with all this free floating energy? All these insecurities someone else has regularly assuaged, they’re still here. They’ve always been here and right now they’re staring at me with hands on hips and accusatory gazes.

Here’s a misconception I’ve found: a relationship does not heal you. All those doubts and ugly stories you tell yourself about yourself… It doesn’t matter if you go to sleep with a warm body curved around you. It doesn’t matter who’s texting you good morning or who’s forcing you to watch some cheesy anime on Netflix at two in the morning. You can still smile in a depressive state. You can still have a panic attack wrapped in someone else’s arms. You can have weeks and weeks of really great days, but one bad day can warp how you remember each day before it. Believe me, I know.

You have to heal you – and I have a lot of healing to do.

I know this because I see how it trickles into other parts of my life. I’m currently employed but have been interviewing for other possible opportunities and the job market feels like prostitution. I am selling myself and hoping I get a return on my investment. And it sucks! I’m constantly at war with my self-worth, constantly trying to prove my value in a concise and itemized package to a hiring manager. All this to extend my livelihood just a little while longer. Pay my next bill, get back a few points on my credit score.

And I am a hard worker, a boss ass bitch if you will. I know this by all the responsibilities my supervisor trusts me to take care of myself, by myself. In action, I’m impressive. That’s the exact word one of my co-workers used to describe me just days ago when I was in a full state of panic. I don’t wilt and I’m not a quitter.

But I am only human. A very self-critical, anxious bean who is prone of isolation. I’m a trustworthy woman who has an extremely difficult time trusting others. My love language is acts of service (what can I do for you? how can I help? how can I show you I care?), but I shut down when I don’t feel reciprocity.

Not to mention I’m big on distractions. Blaring music on my morning commutes so I’m not stuck in my thoughts. Hiding myself in my writing because it’s easier to solve someone else’s imaginary problems. But the things I’m feeling and the fictions I tell myself, this stuff can’t be fixed by doing something drastic to my hair and trying a new face mask. If only…

I wrote this all out to say @universe, take it easy on me, will ya?

blog

guilt v shame.

i’ve been thinking a lot about a lot of things. but specifically, brené brown and her research on shame and vulnerability have been on my mind. stress is as foreign to me as the skin on my body, and this time every year i feel it on a molecular level. i can recognize it quicker than i can guess my favorite song by the first two measures. but stress, like everything else, does not exist in a vacuum. 

i have anxiety and depression. both affect me in different ways but can very easily lend themselves to the other. and i’m reminded of brown’s distinction between guilt and shame. to paraphrase: 

guilt says “you did a bad thing you did a bad thing” while shame says “you’re a bad person you’re a terrible, no good, very bad person”

in the simplest terms, that is how my anxiety and depression work. my anxiety causes me to think, “i did a thing why did i do the thing?” my depression, however, has me thinking, “i’m a bad person. i am not worthy of good things because i am bad.”

when i’m stressed, majorly, supremely, über stressed, one bleeds into the other. me doing a thing, not even a mistake, just a thing that someone else doesn’t like, i focus on the action. more times than not, thankfully, i know the action is not a reflection of who i am or my worth. i don’t gain or lose validation because of it. 

but when i don’t get a chance to catch my breath, the shame creeps in. “selah, you did a bad thing so it obviously follows that you’re a bad person. you. piece. of. shit.”

the downside to being the dependable one for those around me is i’m not allowed off days. i don’t get the space to be problematic, honest, human, me. i’m a helper. i’m a fixer. i am a “whatever you need me to do, i’ll do it” kind of gal. i’m good at that and it’s a position i actively put myself in, i know. but if i am not given the agency to have that off day, it turns into me having off weeks, off months. 

i used to take medication for my anxiety because generally if i can handle the anxiousness, i can battle the darkness. after a certain point my doctor and i agreed that in the longterm i would be better off learning coping mechanisms so i’m not taking something for years and years and years. while we weaned myself off the medicine i learned something. it’s not a cure but it helps and it’s fairly simple. 

feel. 

feel whatever is happening, the good, the bad, and the indifferent. instead of bottling stuff up inside, face it. process. deal with it head on so you can move on. i still have my bouts of existential crises – it’s honestly like clockwork – but i tend to be pretty level. 

unless i’m not allowed to feel. like how i’m working three jobs and volunteering as a director of a children’s theatre and trying to keep every little task that i have to do straight and still managing to have some sembalance of a personal life. and while i have this nifty talent for self-destruction, i really do try my damndest. often at the expense of my social life. yeah.

it seems like people in my life just can’t grasp this about me because all i keep hearing is “it’ll be okay”, “there’s no reason to get upset”, “why are you letting this bother you?” which on the surface are easy peasy phrases you pull out of your pocket when you don’t want someone you care about to bear the burden of stress. but to someone like me, it comes across as an act of violence. i am literally being told that my emotions are invalid at this juncture due to others’ lack of interest in them. 

and that’s fine. i would rather suffer in silence than let myself be vulnerable in front of anyone. in this case, an auditorium of almost 130 anyones. but when person after person after person – i swear it was three different people in the course of twenty minutes – deny me my right to feel, well, selah has a meltdown in front of those people and a week or so later she’s still in recovery.

so here’s my formula.

guilt + feeling that guilt = resolved emotions. but guilt – feeling = shame, all the shame, so much shame.

and i appreciate those close to me who allow me that space. who get it when i need to be alone and not talk much. who aren’t waiting for my rants to end so they can have their turn to talk. my best friend is my best friend for a reason. lots of reasons and not just because she took me to the wizarding world of harry potter this past weekend.

i suppose my hope, like always, is maybe if i put it out in the universe, people will start to understand. believe me, i’ve been explaining this to them until i’ve gotten blue in the face. 

*shrugs* going to finish this glass of wine and go watch twin peaks now…