Return to Port

I am not happy with my life.

I haven’t touched this blog in ages. It seemed wrong to put the negativity and utter loneliness that’s been weighing me down these past months into these pages and out into the world. I may touch on it later, and catch any hangers on up to speed, but safe to say I have been living a life of quiet, alarming, desperation and it has been stamping out each breath of creativity that has managed to rise to the surface.

But despite exactly how bad THINGS got, somehow I didn’t realize that I, all-caps-I, I wasn’t happy until this morning, driving home from a weekend cruise and thinking about fast food.

I didn’t sleep much on the cruise. Maybe a few hours a night Thursday through Sunday. It was something like a dance exchange for Blues, so with activities in the day and dancing at night there just wasn’t time.

Last night after the dancing stopped and everyone started going back to their cabins to pack and cram in a few hours of shuteye, I was aglow with the bliss of a perfect evening and excellent dances. I didn’t want the night to end, so when a new friend asked if I wanted to just stay up the 2-3 hours until we needed to start vacating our rooms I dragged a hoodie on over my dress and together we wandered the empty corridors of the ship.

Finally, we tucked ourselves away in a balcony booth in the empty theatre. In the warm silence, dimmed chandeliers made the heavy gold curtain on the stage twinkle softly and he read my palm.

As readings go it was vague but entertaining, and his hand on mine was warm and heavy and pleasant in the wee hours of the morning. It wasn’t the palmistry that pierced me, but the plain questions he asked of me as we continued talking.

We’d spent a good deal of the day together in a group, wandering the streets of Ensenada. I’d never been out of the country and the day couldn’t have been better. He led us away from the tourist traps and into a restaurant where weathered working men stood at the counter for a quick comida on their midday break. He brought us into a shop where the owners recognized him from years past and poured us samples of a more fantastic variety of tequila than you could imagine. We sat in a closet of a dive bar, discussed and sampled sweet bread from vendors in the street and wandered in to giggle at “SEX BOUTIQUE” like the adults we are. We had a good amount of information on each other but other than a few minutes alone at breakfast the morning before, and a chain of exquisitely slow and close and intricate dances at the end of the night, we hadn’t spent much time one on one.

He asked “If work goes wherever you go, why don’t you travel?”

I couldn’t answer. It hadn’t occurred to me to just up and do something like that. I’ll work from a friend’s house so I can hang out with them, but hadn’t thought to go to any of the places I want to visit.

He asked what my goals are for my dancing and again, I had to give serious thought.

Driving home once we got into port I turned off the radio and drove home rolling over the trip. It was light and happy. I felt good, more pondering than dwelling.

I hadn’t slept and my vision was getting a bit fuzzy as I drove. I was also hungry, since I’d only picked at my breakfast between a growing hangover and preferring to doze in a booth with about six other dancers in something of a “cuddle puddle”.

Traffic was bad and I started considering the onramps coming up to grab something to eat. After 3-4 days of just going, grabbing and eating quality food, perfectly ripe fruit, and piping hot coffee, nothing sounded good. All my go-tos also happen to be “mexican food” chains and after the handmade tortillas, rich organ meat, sweet molé, and the cold, sugary cola of Ensenada, there was no way a “classic Del Taco” was going to pass my lips. I passed exit after exit and didn’t pull off. I thought of getting sushi (always my favorite) and couldn’t bring myself to.

The magic had rubbed off of the edges. The trip had been everything I’d hoped for and more. I was so caught up in what I was doing and seeing and tasting and feeling that I only took about 60 photos all told.

I think it was in trying to console myself or find something to look forward to that I had the realization: I am not happy with my life.

Again, though it wasn’t a negative thought, despite the fact that it came from my day to day being so hollow that I couldn’t find something to keep me going. It was freeing in a way.

I keep turning the theatre over in my head: my legs in the lap of a man I’d really only just started getting to know, his hand on my knee, my head on his shoulder under the low shimmer of the gold curtain, talking about learning to say yes to things. It should have been as far out of my comfort zone as I could possible get, but somehow it was just like the warm comfort of resting with an old friend. It was what I wanted. I remember the moment I decided that my goal for the cruise was to dance with him. I remember the moment I knew he would kiss me, and the moment I decided I wanted him to. I got to that moment by saying yes to the experiences I wanted and not worrying that my friends didn’t want to do what I wanted to do, or that I might have to talk to strangers. I felt fulfilled.

I’m not happy with my life. I am very lucky in a lot of ways, I know that. I have my needs met and have time for leisure, surplus for luxuries, and it’s steady. I am very careful to count my blessings and I think that somewhere along the way that morphed into some fabricated love of my job, and my routine, and what I’m doing and creating (or not creating) and putting out in the world.

I’m not happy with it, though. I’m not fulfilled. I am thankful, but not happy.

I can fix it, though. The things that I want from life I can take. I am not helpless in this. One of the characteristics of depression is feelings of hopelessness or helplessness. There are similar triggers for my agoraphobia and anxiety. The awareness that for once I can fix what’s wrong has been not just the silver lining, but the ray of hot, hopeful sun breaking through the cloud.

I want to write so I opened this blog again to talk about my life. I will give that novel outline a new look, rework my characters. I want to create. I will write a song about the beautiful man I met at sea with blue hair and mischief in his eyes. I will move that harmonica out of the top drawer, and play with it now and again. I will start covering the songs I like again on guitar. I will choreograph dances, and learn those routines that make me feel something when I see them online.

I want to express through my dancing as easily as I breathe; that’s the goal. So I’ll keep working. I’ll go to exchanges. I won’t skip weekends. I’ll go to venues I don’t like. I’ll dance with strangers.

I want to travel and eat and see. I want to ride horses and do acro yoga and keep getting stronger and watch the muscles ripple and glide no matter what other people think it looks like. So I will keep up my new program and work another one after. Work on pull ups. Keep working on floating my handstands.

I’m tired of complicated relationships with men who can’t commit or are missing something. I want someone I can be passionate about. Who has time for me. Who wants to adventure. I don’t want to get so caught up in finding SOMEONE that I take ANYONE. I see friends doing this and I don’t want that. I’d rather wait for someone who takes my breath away.

My job is nothing close to what I want or have planned for myself. While I’m not going to run out and start looking for something new immediately, I will start to take a more active part in my professional development. Our company is innovative and I know that if I put in the effort I can at least change what I’m able to contribute and create through work.

 

Productive therapy. I’m going to DO something about this. I deserve to be happy.

 

This all seems cliché in a very “Eat, Pray, Love” kind of way, but it’s how it happened. I’ve always wanted to travel and this trip reminded me that while I am afraid of a lot of things, I am also an independent person, and capable, and I think I may have forgotten until I made some decisions purely for myself.

It was also just a lovely adventure and I’ll probably be talking more about that later, and maybe playing catchup. I have missed this.

I hope someone reads this. I hope this puts something good out for others to consume. THAT is the hope perching just inside my ribs and I can finally hear it singing clearly.

Agoraphobia

I am an agoraphobic wreck.

I have a lot of problems, but I’d say this is the one I have the least amount of control over.

For those of you who don’t know how agoraphobia works it is defined by the DSM as “anxiety about being in places or situations from which escape might be difficult (or embarrassing) or in which help may not be available in the event of having an unexpected or situationally predisposed Panic Attack or panic-like symptoms. Agoraphobic fears typically involve characteristic clusters of situations that include being outside the home; being in a crowd… (Etc.)”

For me, this means that normal everyday situations like going to a class, on a date, grocery shopping, ANYWHERE is a problem for me and generates varying levels of anxiety. This anxiety often intensifies if I am situated in the center of a large open room, or become the center of attention. The place I feel safest is lying curled in a ball, in the bottom of an empty bath tub, in a locked bathroom. If its an en suite bath within a locked bedroom, even better.

Fortunately for me I work from home and have a Prime account through Amazon so my interaction with the outside world is minimized. I don’t have to venture out unless I’m feeling up to it and my social interaction is negligible.

Unfortunately this means my social interaction is negligible and as a result I spend periods of time profoundly lonely yet unable to connect to anyone without retreating to the tub.

I honestly don’t know how I’ve survived this long with so many blatantly conflicting personality traits. Seriously, I’m as surprised as you. Anyway.

Agoraphobia, like most phobias, is irrational and wholly incurable. But it can be treated.

My goal for the past few months has been to rehabilitate myself (mainly because therapy, where I get help from people with degrees shinier than mine, just doesn’t work for me, but that’s a whole other thing).

I have been working on my phobia mainly with the help of my friend Jo and my local blues dancing scene. Social dancing is a surprisingly welcoming environment where for the most part I can convince myself I’m totally safe and in control while simultaneously meeting people and participating in things outside of my apartment.

And if we’re being honest, I’m good at feigning knee and back injuries to get out of dancing with people once I’m at my social limit for the night.

AND, I mean, there’s always a bathroom to hole up in if things get really out of hand.

Now, I’m not saying it’s a perfect environment. Going dancing is hard for me in a lot of ways (that I may touch on at another time) and the first time I went I had heart palpitations so hard and fast they hurt and we left 90 minutes early. But I’ve been gradually working myself up and this last weekend I brought 2 friends with no blues (or in Kay’s case, dance. period.) experience to an event and STAYED THE WHOLE NIGHT.

Not only that, but I danced with someone who TEACHES blues and lindy hop (thank God I found this out LATER or I would’ve been too busy hyperventilating to take his hand in the first place), who is tall and handsome, and just altogether intimidating as can be to someone like me.

The point is, though, I succeeded.

BUT, because I’m human, I also have setbacks. The biggest one has probably been something no one noticed.

I haven’t posted a blog in 3 days and that one was pre-written.

I was good about posting each day until that point. Now this probably isn’t agoraphobia related persay but I’m in charge here, and so the internet counts as “places or situations from which escape might be difficult”. Blogging causes me a certain amount of anxiety as a result, so, shush. It counts.

I have a bad habit of writing things and then not posting them because “no one cares” or “it sucks” or “what if they hate it” or “I’ve reread it ten times and have built in spell check on all things I type on this computer but there could still be a typo.”

I have 5 separate posts in varying stages of “postable” saved as drafts here and in the last few days I couldn’t work up the guts to post anything. In my jubilation from the weekend, I became very delicate and couldn’t handle “failing” at this to ruin my high.

Yeah I know, who fails at blogging?

This is essentially the online equivalent of my mumbling to myself in public.

But still, I’m afraid I’ll fail. So instead of posting one of the thousand ideas I’ve had over the last 3 days, I sat at my computer and clicked through my five drafts before closing the wordpress window.

I’d come back to the site an hour later and repeat the process. Finishing nothing.

So here we are: a step forward, a step back. Me in a nutshell. NO MORE!

 

So here’s a post, a filler really, proving to myself that I can do things. And maybe someone like me will see this and decide to do whatever thing they’ve been putting off out of irrational fear.