Many difficult things happening over the past few days: my sister being diagnosed with a permanent and possibly deadly health condition, an inter-departmental and inter-personal kerfuffle that has made everyone around me (myself included) quite undone, a strange and difficult workshop which I wrote a little bit about previously, but which has me feeling worse and worse as no one in there is familiar with or can get acquainted with my lexicon of ideas and I am despairing of every being able to marry theory/philosophy and poetry in the way that I so desperately want, a friend’s beloved cat died very suddenly. And then of course there is the cold that keeps lurking around the edges of my constitution, waiting for its chance to pounce, and my impending period which is making me eat and hate everything and weep at how beautiful the day is, the sunlight glinting off a car windshield, my cat’s clear green eyes, the lily shoots around the side of the house, etc etc etc. Everything is gloriously beautiful and absolutely hopeless, thx hormones.
It took me until therapy this afternoon, when I began upbeat, doggedly listing all the things I’ve done this week and how hilariously diverting they are, to realize that I am crabby today. I refused to acknowledge it all morning–listening to a story about a mini-ice age on NPR, painting my nails by the galaga machine in the laundromat while the patroness screamed at The Price is Right, wandering around the grocery store, scrubbing the dog down and hosing her off and then staring dreamily into the fish tanks at the pet store (side note: cichlids and mollies and tetras, sure, but there is just something about goldies. I love them so much).
“Sometimes we just have those days, you know? It’s okay to be crabby.” therapist kept insisting, and I kept insisting it was not okay, there was no reason for it, except, you know, all the reasons listed above, but still! Healthy/Happy/Lucky/Best Life/etc. Here’s the thing. I have been thinking about my last, uh, interlude. (“UGH, that word bums me out unless it’s between the words meat and pizza.”) Though I still feel that it was SHOCKNGLY sudden, I do recognize and acknowledge that it happened around the time that school started up again. We were suddenly no longer going to the beach and making ice cream and fucking all day long and I was no longer game for any spontaneous adventure–I had deadlines, I had stressful interactions with my editors, I had anxieties about my writing, I had to get up in the morning.
And we fell apart.
And then I am also thinking about how Jez insisted last week that I missed the part of growing up where you learn you are as lovable when you are regular or pissy or distracted or hysterical or low-energy or falling apart or when you have nothing interesting to say and you don’t feel like fucking as you are when you are the opposite of all those things. And I have been thinking about these past several, uh, interludes, and how each time I have felt that equal and opposite contraction as I’ve relaxed, as my range of behaviors has broadened. I possess a tremendous amount of charisma and charm and effervesence and have made hugely combustible connections with people on days and nights when I was that most-amazing self.
But I am not that most-amazing self all the time. I also listen to the same song on repeat for hours and sometimes I wear my hair in this hideous bun for days on end and I never wash the goddamn dishes and my salad often rots before I can eat it and I come home superdrunk a lot (though not really as often anymore, I don’t know what threw that switch but dude, I just can’t tie one on the way I used to) and I chew my nails and watch bad television and I paint my fucking nails in the laundromat while silently judging the patroness. Okay. That’s just stuff I do when I am not my most-amazing self. Which is a fair amount of the time.
I also lay on the floor and stare at the spot on the wall right over the litterbox for long stretches of time and think it is just too hard, I don’t think I am capable of doing this anymore and I send my laundry out because I can’t stomach the thought of sitting in one exposed public place for 40 minutes and I have truly horrifying nightmares and wake up sobbing hysterically and I stop eating and I stand in the shower and watch the water swirl down the drain until it turns cold and sometimes that’s me too.
The signal I have gotten from my past several, uh, interludes, is that the only self worth loving is the most-amazing, most-charismatic, most-charming most-effervescent self. That those other selves were uneasy-making or tiresome or in some way not-allowed. And in fact, as those selves emerged, those interludes have suddenly–and I mean instantly–been unable to remember what they saw in me in the first place and made themselves awfully scarce.
I fully believe that this is an instance in which unconscious beliefs I have about myself have been made manifest–that is, I have put myself in situations that have met my expectations of how things should be. And that makes me sad. It also makes me sad to realize that I am nearly thirty and am just, just, entertaining the notion that it is not feasible to be the most-amazing at all times. I have not dropped my guard for thirty years, and have swindled myself out of real connection in favor of a procession of shallow interludes.
So I guess, you know, I am not my most-amazing today. I went to rite aid to buy multivitamins and I went to pull into a really good spot and the woman in the car next to it opened her door, blocking it, and hung her legs out into the sun, talking on her phone, and I muttered cunt under my breath. I feel sorry for myself because my adrenal health herbs did not arrive in the mail today and so now I will have been without them for two days. I am still feeling shamefaced for mispronouncing a french word on air during my radio show last night. I have a number of external sadnesses and stressors swirling around me and making the atmosphere quite heavy.
But actually that too is a thing that I can smile at from across the room while I am feeding the fishies or rinsing the french press. The world does not need to grind to a halt until I identify whatever constellation of situations that have got me feeling down and FIX THEM INTO SUBMISSION, I can just be, you know, fucking grumpy. While I water the plants. And while I buy multivitamins. And while I scrub the trembling dog down. And while I paint my nails by the galaga machine at the laundromat.
It’s allowed. I am allowed to be here.