I’ve heard there’s a kind of liberating freedom in going bankrupt. I think I know what that feels like now. I’ve had a Chapter 11 of the psychological variety after burning through all the emotional capital I had squirreled away for a rainy day (I wasn’t expecting hurricane season to last so long).
That was a really awkward economics/meteorology mash-up of an analogy, but I’ll allow it.
Anyway, point being, I’ve shed a lot of emotional weight lately. I went from being overbese with energy and emotional strength, and holding myself to impossible standards, to my new and leaned-out psychic physique. Sure, I can’t benchpress a thousand anymore, but here’s the secret to my new-found success: I don’t HAVE to benchpress a thousand anymore!
That’s right. After 26 years of refusing to look imperfect or ask for help, I’m all about letting my ugly vulnerable sides hang out. It’s like emotional muffintop; it may not be very attractive, but it’s way better than sucking it in all the time.
I’m a mess. It’s true. I’m a happy mess, which is more than I could say six months ago, but I’m a big fat work in progress in every sense of the phrase. And while that would have mortified and terrified me a year ago, I openly accept it now. In fact, I see it as an opportunity, and an exciting one at that. It’s not a step back; it’s a fresh start. I’m not going to make the same mistakes I made before. I’m going to make brand new mistakes!
Here’s the thing: trying to be perfect and hiding the “ugly” parts of me…what good did it do me? I finally cracked under the pressure. I felt exposed and humiliated, like a walking grotesque. It was hard adjusting to the idea of everyone knowing all my bizness. I was so used to only letting people see certain parts of me and hiding all my own fears and anxieties so I could be there for everyone else. But no one ever asked me to do that! And a whole lot of them didn’t bother returning the favor, so what the fuck was I doing?
Enter: the epiphany. I came clean. I fessed up all my secrets and my fears and my sewage. All that septic shit finally got cleaned out, and I let myself breathe for the first time in years. Decades, really. Remembering who knew what, how much each person knew…it was exhausting! It was like Penny’s Lie Bible on Happy Endings. And not only was it draining, but it was to no one’s benefit, least of all to me. I wasn’t being authentic, I was being what I thought people wanted–no, NEEDED–me to be.
Gross. I mean, really. Could I be more narcissistic? Like their worlds would come crashing the fuck down if I weren’t there to be strong and unflappable for them. Please! Spoiler alert: we’re all so busy wondering what other people think of us, most of us don’t have time to take note of every detail of other people’s behaviors.
So, long story short, I’m a new woman. I’ve stretched and shrunk all at once. I was an ice cube that melted, and now I get to reshape as I find a new form.
And at first, this little depression -> identity crisis -> renaissance and self-discovery journey scared the shit out of me for a big reason: I wasn’t sure what my writing voice was any more. My usual breezy style didn’t fit all the squicky cranky-looking emotions I was hosting. So I stopped writing. (That was a great idea, stop doing the most therapeutic exercise you have. GOOD ONE, NICOLE.)
So I spent a lot of time thinking, and reflecting, and talking it out (on the Barry Gibbs Talk Show?). I cast off all the inauthentic and manufactured parts of me, and I let my true self show. Take it or leave, all or nothing, stripped down and distilled to who I really am. And guess what? I like this Nicole a hell of a lot better than the old one. I think everyone else does too, but that’s not something I’m worried about any more.
But I still wasn’t writing for myself. I was back to writing professionally, but nothing personal was coming out. It was like I’d been away from it for so long that it felt weird going back to it like nothing had happened. And then? Then my impossibly supportive friend Bev and my ridiculously understanding friends Shan and Adam and my stupidly helpful Sister and Boy cheered me on and drew me back out again. It’s funny how when the shit hits the fan, you find out who’s really got your back. So thanks to them, I’m back to blogging and ready to get back to business.
You know what that means, right?
IT’S BUSINESS TIME.
Tune du Jour: Warrior by Kimbra + Mark Foster + DJ A-Trak – You really need to listen to this song. Twice. Then read this post Kimbra wrote about the lyrics. Then read this post Adam wrote about her post. I know, I’m assigning a lot of reading, but you’re gonna want to be prepared for the lecture on this material. #delusionsofprofessordom
PS: A super ridiculous happy birthday to the darling, brilliant, move-bustin’ cackle-inducin’ Maya Rudolph doppelganger, Miss April!