Okay, gang, here’s the skinny: we all know that I struggle with letting anyone see behind the curtain. I’ve been hard at work the past year to make peace with my imperfections and with letting them show, but one of the problems with clarity is realizing ugly truths about yourself. And one of the ugliest suckers I have to face is this: when the going gets tough, I hit the deck.
Someone once called me “The Disappearing Act,” and it’s true. If you’re not involved in the mess and you’re not in my unacceptably small inner circle, you probably have no idea what’s going down when I’m incommunicado.
But I’m not alone. I’m figuring out that, like so many extroverts who struggle with depression, my default response to a crisis is to HIDE THAT SHIT AWAY. Kat Kinsman’s article on CNN about this totally hit the nail on the hungdown head: “We depressives simply spirit ourselves away when we’ve dimmed so as not to stain those who live in the sun.”
Only, that doesn’t really work. Going from uber-social to total radio silence tends to raise a few eyebrows…and having to answer the inevitable “hey, everything okay?” inquiries becomes even more difficult to deal with, just like what was talked about on Hello Giggles.
But you know what? All things considered, I’m pretty proud of myself right now. I’ve opened up about my past and present issues to more than a few people recently. I’ve been honest about my feelings to the people around me. I’ve been needy and sensitive and just generally an exposed nerve, but I’ve been open about it. I’m owning that shit. Unpleasant and proud.
Professionally and personally, I’ve been dealt a lot of blows this month. When the latest bolt of bad news struck, I wrote to my sister that I can only laugh about the number of tragedies that have struck during the cosmic shitstorm of 2012. I’ve hit a sort of sublime delirium where all I can muster is a “life is too ridiculous to take seriously” attitude. She wrote back “AMEN SISTERFRIEND! Now let’s go make fools of ourselves on national television.”
CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! (No, seriously, the next day we competed in a reality competition. I’m not even kidding.)
But she got me thinking: why stop there? Why limit the exposure of this hilariously tragic life of mine to the boob tube? Fuck that noise, I’m takin’ it to the street. (By street, I mean the internet. Clearly.)
So that’s it. I’m laying it all out here. Spoiler alert: things are shitty. Things are often shitty, for all of us.
The good news is that I’ve cleared my head a little this weekend. I’m trying to face the grief and sorrow and anger and fatigue and disappointment. Not to rise above it, or process it, but just to look it right in its stupid face. Life is the janky stripper, and I’m Wanda Sykes. LOOK AT IT.
I’m looking at it. It’s not a pretty picture. I don’t like doing it. But it’s better than burrowing my head in the sand of faux-productivity like I usually do when I get stressed out…or in the pillows like I do when I get too stressed and break.
No burrowing this time.
This is a burrow-free zone.
Right now I’m in the eye of the shitstorm tornado. I’ve got a scrap of clarity and I’m using it to tie myself to the barn so I don’t blow away. Helen Hunt, eat your heart out.
Bizarre Twister reference aside, here’s my brilliant solution to struggling with being honest and transparent and real through my tough times: I’m going to take you so far behind the scenes that you’ll know me better than I do. This blog started out bursting with the naïve optimism of an aspiring writer who thought you could blast agents with query letters and walk away with a gig. This blog isn’t about that girl anymore.
Frankly, that girl doesn’t exist anymore.
I don’t know whom this blog is about now. I’m still figuring her out. And you’re invited to come along for the ride.
My new BFF-slash-unofficial-lifecoach DJ told me something remarkable recently: “I just try to write the truth…and I take risks when I do, but almost always people seem to really connect.” So that’s what I’m going to do.
Here’s a fun truth fact: I suddenly found myself unemployed last week. You know how many people I’ve told? Six. That’s it. I’m dreading changing my info on Facebook and LinkedIn because I don’t want to publicize the fact that I’m out of work, even though it’s by no means my fault.
And as much as I can justify it and pep it up for myself and look at it as an opportunity to focus on writing and sorting my personal shit out, saying it out loud to makes it feel so much more negative. It’s easy to judge me for dragging Donnie out here, for throwing away our stable life in Phoenix so that I could chase my dreams. Yes, it’s a risk. Yes, sometimes I wonder what kind of odds I’m playing. Yes, I feel impossibly guilty every time our finances hit the toilet. It’s hard enough to go through those feelings privately, but it’s even harder to do it with eyes on me, which is why I keep my writerly struggles on the DL.
And that’s just the professional side of things. I don’t even know if I have the emotional capacity to write about my grandmother and my Tio Danny passing away this month. Planning Mimi’s funeral, writing her eulogy, and getting caught up in the to-do list following her death paused my grieving to the point that it’s just now starting to hit me. And it’s hitting me so hard that hearing the news about Tio Danny’s passing numbed me out like a fat shot of Novocain to the feels, to the point that I can’t even steel myself for his funeral in just a few hours. After those real, raw losses, getting laid off seems a laughable pittance. I’m grateful for every breath I take right now! How can I get down over losing a job? All I can do is laugh about the Universe’s hilariously bad timing.
But all of this and so much more has been dealt with privately, with just a few family members and friends in the know. I’m just not going to hold it in anymore. I need to remind myself that most of the time when I give up and shout out about my misery, I feel like a rock star. (Stay with me, this metaphor’s a good one.) I fling myself off the stage, and everyone I care about is there with arms up to carry me. I just have to accentuate the positive*.
This morning, I woke up feeling pretty rotten. Not depressed or lethargic or anxious. I was angry. I was so pissed off that it was a glorious Monday morning and I had nowhere to be. No job to go to. No reason to do anything but lie in bed and feel sorry for myself.
But you know what I did instead of sitting there stewing in my funk? I punched it up and threw it on Facebook and took off for the day. And I made a bunch of people laugh.
DO YOU GUYS HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH THAT MEANS TO ME.
Answer: it means so much I had to yell about it at you. I’m sorry.
No, you know what, I’m NOT sorry. I’M EXCITED AND SHOUTY AND YOU CAN DEAL WITH IT OR YOU CAN SHUT UP.
Anyway, capslock aside, it was such a small little nothin’ to toss out, but it made me feel better to get it off my chest, to comedize (that’s a word now, fuck you spellcheck) my bad mood, and to make people laugh about it. That’s so much win I don’t even know what to do except to keep doing it.
So I’m gonna keep doing it.
And you’re gonna look at it.
*Tune du Jour: Accentuate the Positive by Danny Kaye. It’s impossible to feel down with Danny spreading joy to the maximum. Eliminate the negative? “Haaaaaallelujah, yes yes yes!”