I’ve been reading a lot—well, I always am, but a lot of what could be called self-help, even though some of it is about writing. I read a lot of sites that talk about your message, your following, building those to drive a career, a following. The thing I’ve struggled with, over and over, is how to write honestly about my life on this blog when that message is not always, or even often, a fit in terms of promoting my books. Nor is this blog title. The last thing I am these days is “lusty.” I feel like sex, or rather, the idea of it, is all about other people’s desires and I misplaced mine in my travels, perhaps, left them on an airplane.
I know they’ll be back, but right now my desire is for so many other things that feel more pressing than sex. I’m speaking just for and as myself, obviously, but I think part of what feels like reclaiming control of my life, because it certainly has felt out of control, is figuring out how to put sex in its proper place. Sex (by which I mean both sex and relationships and other people in general) is not going to fix all the things I don't like about myself. It has its uses and value, of course, I'd be the last one to deny that, but it is not some panacea and I have treated it like one for way too long and that concerns me. I'm willing to take a break from it so that I can properly appreciate sex with myself or others in a way that's healthy, not escapist.
I seem to take one step forward and then at least a few back. Like last week, when I finally got up the courage to call a psychiatrist. I was so proud of myself, but then discovered the one I want to see doesn’t take my insurance, and the only one who seems to is a proponent of Wealth Therapy and while that might be something to pursue someday, I want to go with the first pick. And then I bounced a check...to my accountant. Someone sent me this Hyperbole and a Half comic, "This is Why I'll Never be an Adult," and I so relate. Adulthood is a pain in the ass. I feel so bad at it and yet I know I have to just do it, trial and error, even things that most people maybe do in their twenties and I'm just now tackling. That instinct to run away and stop when it gets hard is how I've landed in so many of my big and little dramas.
Anyway, then some other drama went down and I kindof lost my shit. And while I was losing it, I didn’t have any sense of perspective. I cried into my pillow, I cried into my clothes, I cried into a ton of napkins and I cried into my dinner and I had to try to unpack exactly why I was crying, and I’m still sorting that out. I know what triggered it, but there are so many deeper questions I have to confront and ask myself, and those aren’t going to be solved in the span of a night or a week. They’re a lifelong project.
I’ve always shied away from anything hard. If I couldn’t foresee the finish line, if my mind had to have faith and trust that there was a finish line, I pretended it didn’t exist, or made it such that it didn’t exist. I wanted to know exactly how things were going to go, whether I'd win or lose, succeed or fail, I wanted everything mapped out and clear and I was so afraid to trust myself that I wound up lashing out, in a way, against those who trusted me. "I'll show you not to have faith in me, not to believe in me." Yet there are still more doors opening, more opportunities, and I am slowly learning that being grateful is also part of adulthood. Closing doors gently instead of slamming them, and opening them gently too, instead of flinging them so firmly they hit me on the way in.
And now I feel like I’m at a place where I am actually a little closer to being open, like my tattoo says, to both those opportunities and to the awareness that I do have to treat this whole adulthood thing like I'm starting from the beginning. Maybe it took a total meltdown to get to a place where I had to admit that I don’t know much of anything, where I had to accept that the progress I thought I’d made over a certain situation was an illusion, maybe a necessary illusion, but an illusion nonetheless. I’m tired of living behind so many illusions and shame and secrets. I decided to stop saying “yes” if people asked if I’m okay if the real answer is no. I decided to just own that I cry and I can’t predict how long it’ll last or where it’ll erupt.
And of course, because that’s how these things go, as soon as I told one person I was on the brink of tears, one person who’d seen me but didn’t know, she admitted that she was too, and so was someone else, and I had no idea, and wouldn’t have known. None of us were trying to tell each other how to feel or “cheer each other up” or pretend that there’s something wrong with being sad. That was so beautiful to me, to just acknowledge it and live it and let it sit and simmer instead of rushing in to eradicate it with food or drugs or sex or whatever your coping mechanism of choice is.
*And then I discovered Danielle LaPorte, whose tagline for her site White Hot Truth is "Because Self Actualization Rocks," and was really blown away. I just ordered her 10-card set, and one of them says this:
I plan to keep that card all for myself, as a reminder of how I want to approach each day, not with the dread or guilt or fear I seem to approach most of them with, but with the idea that this is a chance to start over, always, and that I have the power to steer the course of my days. I don’t think LaPorte means that every day will be free of tears or badness/sadness. That’s unrealistic. But I want to learn to find the moments of growth and strength even when I’m, like Justin Bartha’s character in All New People (which is a comedy and has its flaws but of course I related to this part) when he simply asks G-d for help. Which I did, but I also asked myself for help, even though I don't purport to have any divine or even undivine answers. At the end of the day, my answers will have to be enough, as flawed and human and stumbling and maybe sometimes brilliant as they are.