Today I want to take you on a journey, an expedition which takes us through the darkest corners of my mind.
As I guide you through the spiraling crevices of my cortex, you may come to find that the skeletons in your closet walk a lot like mine. They may dress a bit differently and speak with incomparable accents, but I believe that even our most devious inner demons have more in common with others’ than we think.
So as we navigate my self-deprecating behaviors over the past six days, please, quell your judgements. And prepare yourself for the introspective ride of your life.
Let’s begin, shall we?
It all started Saturday, my first official day after ending therapy. Also the first day after the end of my post-graduation student loan forgiveness period.
Now, I’ve calculated my monthly loan payments various times across various platforms, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when I crunched the numbers again Saturday to find a $691 monthly balance.
Yet, surprised I was. Surprised indeed.
But the surprise didn’t last for long, oh no. It quickly transformed into stress, then panic, then a complete mental breakdown, until finally my surprise planted me at my desk, opened up Indeed, and started applying to some of the most mundane jobs you’ve probably never heard of.
Technical writer for a healthcare startup. Digital copywriter for another healthcare startup. SEO content writer, staff writer, marketing copywriter, digital content writer, branding consultant, and last but certainly the most degrading, content writing intern.
In a sea of minimum wage jobs, I struggled to muster even an ounce of interest.
Then I looked outside my window and saw the fattest, rolliest, most perfect french bulldog puppy standing in the parking lot, looking attentively at his owner. The owner pulled out a treat and with two quick indistinguishable hand gestures, the puppy sat and laid down and was met with the treat for his job well done.
I immediately burst into tears. Ugly tears. Huge, heavy tears that rolled continuously down my face as my body heaved with sobs.
Sweet Sunday morning.
My yoga practice invited me to explore peace. Just what I needed.
“How do you handle discomfort?” Adriene asked.
I reflected on Saturday’s struggle to suppress my anxiety. And, legs trembling in Virabhadrasana 2, I cried.
“You want to know how I handle discomfort, Adriene?” I threatened in my thoughts. Well I don’t. I don’t handle discomfort. I give in to discomfort, I feed it, and I allow it to consume me.
“Can you be still and present in a moment?” Adriene inquired.
How can I be still and present in this moment when you keep compelling me to think about the past? If you want me to be still and present then don’t make me stand here for so long and for the love of god just shut up.
“Can you access the power you have within you with your breath?”
I can’t access my power with my breath, I can’t even breathe. My legs are shaking, my eyes are filling with tears, it is taking the last ounce of power I have to keep my head over my heart and my heart over my pelvis.
I woke up to my period. Sluggish, grumpy, and in pain, this must be some sort of punishment, I speculated.
I asked my sister what was happening with the moon. It’s the last new moon of the year, the day of a total solar eclipse.
I found an Instagram post by a spiritual advisor.
“Because it’s the final New Moon of 2020, it’s a key moment in the Moon’s cycle to set an intention to close out the year. Sagittarius is a fire sign, and as the final fire sign in the zodiac, it represents pure transmutation. Outdated emotional weight is burning away, and what remains is your true self.”
Suddenly it all made sense. My end of therapy, my period, my incessant crying.
I am connected to the moon. My power goes unmatched.
I cried again.
The day I was supposed to board a plane and fly home for Christmas. (A text from my mother confirmed this, in case I had forgotten.)
But I pressed forward, stuffing my time –– and brain –– full of work to avoid reflecting on how I truly felt. Sad, defeated. I continued with my day.
After work, Zach wanted to go to the store, and I insisted he wait for me to finish painting my nails before we left. When it came time to leave, he said we weren’t going to our normal store, he had scheduled pickup from a slightly farther location.
What would have been a 30-minute trip had just turned into an hour-long escapade before my eyes.
I got angry. This threw off my whole schedule, which I was sure to make very clear. I still needed to workout, shower, eat dinner, and get more work done.
Alas, after my tantrum, we left for the store. Driving into (and out of) LA during rush hour quickly transforms a one-hour drive into a two-hour drive, but that’s nothing that a good playlist and even better company can’t fix.
We finally arrived home and things were looking up. That is, until an Instagram post reminded me that I’m too fat, too ugly, and too prude to deserve love, and what little sense of self-acceptance remained amid my week-long emotional storm quickly slipped through my fingers along with the rest of my sanity.
I did yoga, cried, and went to bed without eating dinner.
It’s funny how you can talk to people all day, and still, one simple conversation can push you over the edge.
I mean, we do it all the time, talking to various people about various things. So what’s really the difference from one conversation to the next? And how is it that a monologue so dull, so unrelated to your own life, so outside of your concerns or control has the power to crumble your very understanding of who you perceived yourself to be only moments prior?
On Wednesday I had a discussion that unravelled me. Then, just as Weezer said, lying on the floor, I’d come undone.
The events of the week accumulated. They formed a gang and pinned me down and –– you guessed it –– made me cry.
My emotions controlled every second of every day this past week. And the saddest part is that I allowed it to happen.
I’ve been struggling to take responsibility for the shortcomings in my life.
Let me try again.
I’ve been struggling to take responsibility for my decisions when they elicit shortcomings in my life. So I hand over the wheel to my emotions and let my brain sit back, get stressed, and watch as it orchestrates its own demise.
I dig myself into pits of despair. Misery loves company but my favorite company seems to always be myself. So we (my sad self and my self-aware self) sit and talk about how things don’t have to be so bad, we have a lot to be grateful for, you know. But my sad self has the cunning charm of a 6’3” man with a great beard and arms that seem sculpted by Michaelangelo himself. (Yes that description happens to apply to my boyfriend. But I can assure you that my sad self is equally as charismatic as he.) And, ultimately, my sad self drags my self-aware self down into the pits of despair with her, that shady bitch.
But a good friend told me that I am the gatekeeper of my mind, and I realized that I’ve been sacrificing boundaries in my pursuit of emotional resilience.
I’ve been so hellbent on proving that I can handle everything the world throws at me that I forgot that just because the universe threw it, doesn’t mean I’m supposed to catch it. In fact, there are plenty of things I would prefer never to catch.
Anything that can be classified as a disease, infection, or virus.
So why in the world would I expect myself to juggle every emotional trigger that arose this week? And how could I ever anticipate keeping this up for the rest of my life?
Emotional resilience isn’t about seeing how much garbage you can carry around until you break, it’s about recognizing that garbage is coming your way so you don’t mistake it for a good friend and invite it into your home to stink up the place.
I am the gatekeeper. I choose what comes in. I choose what goes out. And I choose if, when, and how something affects my emotions.
Catchers don’t just go out on the field and let pitchers chuck baseballs at their chest. They arm themselves in protective gear and they catch that shit and throw it back.
In order to be a healthy (and moderately stable) adult, I need to set boundaries. I need to actively decide what I allow in and what I let go. I need to control how I react to negative emotions. And I need to let go of outdated emotional weight and set new, realistic, positive intentions for my future.
There was no crying today.
We all have baggage that sits in the back of our minds and holds us back from pursuing more. The good news is that our baggage may exist within us, but it doesn’t need to stick around. You can decide to tell the skeletons in your closet to scram! Get out of here! And don’t come back! (Although it’s often a much longer and more complicated process than that.)
Always remember that your life has a gate. Plenty of people, thoughts, emotions, and information come and go, but it isn’t because the gate is just open all the time. It’s because you allow them in and you decide what goes out.
When negativity comes knocking (or mocking, taunting, reminding you of all the cringey things you’ve done in the past) remember that you don’t have to let it in. The longer it sits outside, the quieter it will become. Until one day, you don’t care who (or what) comes to the door.
Negativity can’t come in, it’s not on the list.
With love and a newly curated guest list,