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.

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Molting

I don’t make New Years Resolutions. I have never managed to keep them.

But every year in like November or February I usually come up with something I want to change and get on it. I usually manage to stick with these little changes.

When I was like 14 I decided I wanted to stop biting my nails. And I did.

Last year in March I decided I was sick of gaining weight after throwing out my back so I decided I was going to get healthy. I started going to the chiropractor, started working out, got my nutrition in line.

I am today 56 lbs lighter than I was. I fit in a pair of jean shorts I bought in high school when I was swimming 3 hours and dancing 2 hours a day. I can do more pushups than my brother. I’d say it was a success.

This year, my goal for myself was set back in early December.

I wanted to reclaim myself. That wasn’t the goal, really. It was far too vague, but it was definitely on my mind.

When I was younger I was wild. I tried out for bands, went dancing alone (or with friends), stayed out all night walking around Hollywood, then drove to the beach on the way home to watch the sun come up. I played drunk kickball with my friends in the park near our sorority house after midnight then hiked to Denny’s for pancake puppies. I stalked musicians on twitter and “bumped into them” outside restaurants.

I wrote short stories and played guitar.

I sang in the shower and danced around my kitchen.

I went to art shows.

I crept around the library like a ghost at night just before it closed and consumed 20 books a week.

I was social. I met new people all the time.

Even at my saddest I was on fire for life. I would use depression and anxiety to create something new.

In December I didn’t know where that girl went, or quite when she went. She was just gone. I wanted to find her, but I’m just SO afraid of everything these days I didn’t know where to start.

I’ve been an Agoraphobe since Junior High, if we’re being honest. Walking the halls was too much for me so during break and lunch I’d stay in the library, tucked up by the window watching everyone else, or reading. When I hit my stride in high school, I never really let it bother me as much. In the 16-20 range I worked through it easier. It just seems that whenever the joie de vivre left me, the phobia crept back in.

I decided that this year, now that I’m healthy and more confident in myself physically, that its a good time to start putting myself out there again. Maybe if I started going out and doing things with other people, I could start reclaiming my joy. As I’ve mentioned multiple times, now, I took up social dancing, and even got my roommates into it. As a result I’ve made new friends who are encouraging me (whether they know it or not) to go out and try more new things. It’s begun to feed into itself.

After a night out dancing, I would feels so good. Confident. Happy. I could take on the world if I had to. The sucky bits of work sucked less. I slept well. I jumped into my workouts with more gusto. Everything was better the days following a Blues dance. I called it my dance high.

That high has been lasting longer and longer each time I go out.

I looked at myself the other day and realized it might not be a dance high. I may just be happy again.

I’m dancing again, that goes without saying, but it’s not just blues. I listen to music again. I EXPLORE music again like I haven’t in years. I was always the girl who knew the underground, indie, new comer, up-and-comer bands and artists you HAD to listen to. I had a lyric for every moment. The perfect song for anyone. I’m getting there again.

Instead of listening to Netflix or YouTube while I cook or clean, it’s music. And I find myself dancing. All arms one moment. Jazz hands! Disco arms! Other times I’m swaying like a leaf, drifting on a summer breeze.

I’ve picked up my guitar again. An acquaintance from the Blues scene wants to form a band and I want to try out.

I started singing in the shower again some time before Dee moved in with us.

I’m a huge fan of adult coloring books.

I read before bed instead of watching Netflix and I’m back to finishing off 2+ books a week.

I’ve started writing again obviously. It’s not just this blog, either.

I dusted off some bits of fiction I workshopped in college and then abandoned somewhere in the mix. They’re lovely. I don’t know why I let them go.

..

What I’m trying to say in all this is that my life has color again. Hope.

I don’t set resolutions in definite terms because it doesn’t work that way.

If I had set a resolution to pick up all my old hobbies, it would have flopped. I would have stared at my short stories and lost faith that I could ever be creative again. I would have picked up my guitar and not had anything I cared to play. I would have played the old songs I knew and got irritated that I couldn’t play them like I used to.

Instead, I started doing something different. Something I knew I could do. Something I had support for. Something that would make me happy and get me out of the house and start me on a new trajectory.

Everything else fell back into place.

Its not the activities that matter, it’s how you feel.

Right now, I feel good. Not all the time. But in general, and most of the time, I feel great. Feeling great feeds into itself just like feeling awful does, so if I continue on. If I set attainable goals for myself I can keep moving forward and putting myself on the right path.

And I plan on doing just that.

Leave Brittaney Alone!

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This came up in my feed today on Facebook.
(If you don’t feel like reading: her bf controlled her and told her what she should look like until he left her and she wrote an open letter reclaiming herself. Seriously, just go read the article.)
More than one person I know, a couple I’m related to, posted it along with something about how it’s terrible but WHY would she even STAY with someone like that. WHY would she try?
Let me tell you a story (wrought with oversharing -you have been warned).
Once upon a time a man I was in a relationship with a man who said the following things to me:
“You’re cute, but you could be thinner. You’ve got fat here, here, there…”
While I was consuming 700-1000 calories a day and working out a minimum of 2 hours a day to be skinnier for him. “Your shoulders are so wide, you REALLY don’t want to get too much muscle in your upper body.” Laughter “I don’t want to be dating a MAN!”
“I don’t like your hair so short, but there’s not really anything we can do about THAT right now, so I guess it’ll do. Just don’t cut it.”
“A couple implants and you’d be PERFECT.” Followed by many separate instances where he tried to convince me I could swing plastic surgery and it was going to change my life and his. He might MARRY me if I had tits.
Scathing tone. “You don’t wear, like ANY makeup, do you?”
“Not too late for Invisalign” Because MY slightly recessed right lateral incisor is so much worse than his crooked smile and skewed values.
“You’re wearing THAT to dinner? Wear this instead.” Followed by the makeup critique.
“You love when I help you.”
In the end he cheated and I was left with an eating disorder exacerbated to extreme proportions and the entirely irrational, unreasonable, conviction that if I had just put more effort into looking how he wanted, lost a few more pounds, taken more supplements to grow my hair, got more creative with my push up bra game, that I could have kept him.
I could fit my hand up under my ribs when I scooped my stomach with how thin I was. I’d go out with friends and never pay for a drink from other men vying for my attention. I could have had ANYONE. But I wanted him and tried to be better for him. I was SO focused on being better, I didn’t notice how absolutely sh*t HE was in general.
He HIT ME and I stayed. He tore my calf muscle with his TEETH and I stayed. Telling me he’d leave me if I got fat was just the baco-bits on top of the sh*t salad of that relationship.
Staying with someone who thinks you’re ugly is easy. Especially if you believe it.
Brittaney is SO MUCH STRONGER than me. She got out while the getting was good. She reclaimed herself. And she’s strong enough to tell the world. I can’t post this on Facebook because my mom might see.
An ugly little part of me is still ashamed that I stayed.
The very few times I’ve spoken about my past in relation to domestic violence, bullying, body shame, and other related campaigns there is ALWAYS someone who says something truly hideous to me about how what was done to me was my fault.
A woman on twitter once tweeted me this gem in regards to the same relationship: Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 12.32.44 AM
I couldn’t bear if one of my friends or family responded like this.
So I’ll say my bit here, anonymously for the most part.
I’m willing to stake lives on the fact that most victims feel like they’re at fault for their own situation without anyone else shaming them. So if we could stop saying things like “why did she stay?” that would be great. Obviously there were reasons.
I had my reasons.
I was sad.
I hated myself.
I thought if someone else was hurting me and hating me, I could stop doing it to myself.
I was wrong.
If you know where to look, the ringed scar on my calf muscle is still visible under the skin where his teeth went in like a shark’s. It’s never going to heal completely. It seizes in the cold. I will NEVER be free of the decisions that linked up my life and that assh*le’s. I don’t need anyone else reminding me how bad I screwed up.
Neither do people like Brittaney. No one who has been abused, physically or emotionally, needs an extra “how could you” in their life.  We’ve got enough of our own.
Brittaney we’ll probably never meet, but I think you’re awesome. Your red hair is hot! That Shakespeare tattoo is poppin’! I want to high five and hug you. If I could I’d punch every idiot disparaging you of social media STRAIGHT in the junk, I would.
My idiot family members included.