Showing posts with label the opposite of happiness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label the opposite of happiness. Show all posts

winning strategy

You brought wrath to me today, a cloud of fire that rained acid hatred on my skin. I'm still smoking. (The dog is confused, thinks someone barbecued, can't find the meat.)

And the thing I gave you in return was even more enraging than had I shot back flaming arrows of my own. The thing I gave you in return--calm--infuriated you further. I don't know what to say about that. I'm sorry? I'm not.

You said, .....
You said, .....
You said, .....

And I am tired, so tired, of helping you protect the picture that you hold of yourself.

But enough about you. Today in spite of your spite, I felt unafraid to be alive for the first time in a long time. For the first time in a long time, if someone had offered to shut off the lights, I would have said--

Maybe wait? Maybe leave them on for now? I'm okay with them on. Thank you.

That is the spark I need to nurture. A tiny flame I will shelter with my whole being. I will curl myself around it and give it all the breath in my lungs. Which is why I have none to spare for spitting acid.

ups and downs

Hello.

When I was in college, perhaps the most impactful thing I learned in my composition classes is that every piece of writing should be a gift. Whether a story, an essay, a poem, an article, a blog post - whatever the subject or form. A gift. Put enough into it that the reader feels like she's been given more than a string of nouns and verbs. Innovate. Be vulnerable. Entertain, enlighten, inspire. Try, anyway.

I haven't posted much lately because I haven't had any gifts to give. It's a weird time, and I don't know how to write about it without sounding flat and dull and whiny. But the longer I stay away the unhappier I get. So at the risk of sounding flat and dull and whiny, I'll catch you up on the past few weeks in the hope that it will be like shedding a skin, dry and dead and colorless. Maybe there's something more vibrant underneath that just needs a little air.

Terence and I are still living together. It looks like we're going to ride out the lease. So that's June. Rent downtown has skyrocketed with the opening of a Whole Foods which is literally a three minute walk from our building. My old apartment? This tiny little space? It rents for over $2k now. I doubt I'll stay downtown when we move out. I'm thinking about Koreatown, or maybe Hollywood? Not sure. But right now, our loft is perfectly suited to our needs. Chaucer's, too.

We're getting along fine, for the most part. In some ways our relationship is better than it ever was before the breakup. We're more patient with one another. I think neither of us sees much use in arguing, or holding on to anger when we do argue (because we still do, occasionally.) What's the point? There's nothing to be won anymore. Whatever there was to be won has been lost, for good. And that sounds awfully nihilistic I know, but in practice it's actually rather liberating. Why resent him for being him, when soon enough he'll be gone from my life? I've let go of my expectations and am turning inward more or more, for the things I wanted from him but never got. Maybe that's what I should have done in the first place. I don't know.

Before he and Kerry moved to SF a few weeks ago, I tried to explain to Ross exactly what doesn't work about Terence and I. It's a wavelength thing, I said.

Yeah but what does that mean, he asked. He was arguing that every relationship eventually reaches a sort of staleness (though he didn't use that word). Doesn't everyone get sick of their partner eventually?

I used him and Kerry as an example. I don't know. Maybe a little? But underneath it, as long as the two people are on the same page, that gives them a sense of emotional intimacy. You guys are on the same page. I can see it every time I'm around you. The way you respond to things the same way. 

That's how I think of wavelength. When you're at a party, or in a bar or restaurant - anywhere public, with a mixed group of people. Someone says or does something, and you look up and catch your partner's eye because you know he's thinking the exact same thing. That's wavelength. It's gratifying and satisfying and, in a way, incredibly sexy. Terence and I? No wavelength. Tons of inside jokes, which I treasure. But not that organic emotional and intellectual chemistry.

Incidentally, Terence told me that on one of our last nights out with them, when he asked Ross how he and Kerry do it, Ross had said, We think of ourselves like it's us vs. the world. 

I think that's pretty amazing. It's on the the list of reasons I will miss them.

---

We had a final night out together, the four of us. Kerry had come back down only long enough to pack, and after an exhausting day of getting ready for the move the next morning, they joined us for dinner and drinks. It was supposed to be a wild last hurrah, but it never really got off the ground. The weirdness of Terence and I having broken up, the stress they were under about closing on a new house in SF - all of us were distracted and a little down. We tried, but we were bickery and short with one another. I could tell Kerry was already gone in her mind, and it was like looking at her across several zip codes, not a dinner table. But we have had so, so many fun times over the years that I was content, anyway.

They were so sweet and inclusive of Terence to the very end. Still referring to us as an "us", still inviting us up to SF to visit.

---

Part of the reason I haven't blogged is that I still spend time with Terence. We still go to shows, to dinner, watch movies, go shopping. He's still a huge part of my life, which doesn't seem to make sense if we're broken up. So writing about it feels strange, disingenuous, confusing to me, to him, to anyone reading. Are they together or not? What the hell?

We've had a hundred frank discussions about our relationship. You'd think that would help us find closure but sometimes it's more confusing than anything. One minute we'll agree that we're wrong for one another, the next we'll wonder whether anyone will ever be perfect for anyone. At what point are the good aspects of a relationship enough? At what point do you stop running - away from what's not enough, and toward what may never actually exist? Will I ever be completely happy, with anyone? The self-doubt is crippling.

I've been listening to Mother Mother a lot - kind of obsessed with them, in fact - and they have a song that pretty much captures exactly how all of this makes me feel:



---

We spent Thanksgiving together. Chaucer's nickname is Winks, so we called it Winksgiving. I brined and cooked my first turkey. It went well, except for getting confused about when to tent the breast. We did it backwards; instead of covering the bird with foil for the first half hour, we put the foil on after 30 minutes. I went for a run and while I was gone it suddenly dawned on me that we'd screwed up. I texted and called Terence frantically, but he was playing guitar and didn't hear his phone. When I got home fifteen minutes later, breathless and sweaty, I ran to the oven and yanked the door open. "We had it backwards!" I cried. "It's supposed to be covered for the first part of cooking!" We ripped the foil tent off the turkey and oh my god. It was like yanking a toupee off a bald man. The sides and back were a gorgeous golden brown, but the breast on top was pale and white. Fucking hilarious, but me being the oversensitive idiot I am, I started crying. I'd so wanted it to be perfect. Thanksgiving to me has strong associations with my mother; I'd felt close to her all day, thinking she'd be so proud of my cooking. Then here I go messing it up so badly. But it was fine. We were laughing about it within five minutes. And Chaucer was spoiled so rotten - giblets, dark meat, yams...

---

Some of my AZ friends came to town, and it was like breathing pure oxygen for four days straight. I was dizzy with joy. Such an unbelievable good time. We didn't even do much; dinner, drinks, screwing around in bars and hotel rooms. But it was a mixed group, some newer friends who don't know all the old mythology of our friendship - stories which go back twenty years, in some cases. So we spent the weekend telling those tales to them, to one another. Reliving, reconnecting, laughing endlessly. At one point we all were piled on a heap on the bed, drunk and high and still in our going-out clothes. I told the story of how I'd come to be friends with Mason - it is a doozy of a story - and everyone was just captivated, quiet and listening. Just sharing the genesis of that friendship made me feel more whole than I've felt in a long time. It's good to remember where you came from, especially when you're not sure where you are.

I spent most of the weekend with my friends alone, though Terence joined us for the last night. I can't deny what a blast that was, too. The place we'd intended to hit was closed for a private party, so we found ourselves marooned in Hollywood, out of our minds and not quite sure where to go. We ended up in a biker bar, randomly singing The Cure and joking around with tatted up strangers before finding a nearly-empty nightclub that we shut down, the dance floor happily to ourselves.

---

The business idea I have - I am still working at it. It's become a bit of a logistical nightmare. Lots more challenges than I foresaw, but I still believe in it. Trying to overcome one hurdle at a time and not get discouraged. Everyone I tell thinks there's huge potential in it so I'm not giving up yet.

I hate to be a tease about it but that's all I can say right now. Argh.

---

And here is what some of the past few weeks has looked like:























---

Riveting stuff, right? Woman Lives Life, Is Reminded it Features Ups and Downs.

See above, re: gifts.

reframe

One of the things I love about living downtown is how effectively the constant buzz and bustle of activity keep loneliness at bay. Loneliness and her wretched friend, anxiety. Just the sheer distraction of noise is enough to drown out most of my daily demons. But on shivery, bone-chilled nights like this, it is dangerously silent. No cheerfully drunk revelers trawling the neighborhood in search of last-minute fun. No street traffic; no Ubers or Lyfts coming to scoop those revelers up. No dog walkers; no barking, scuffling dogs. Just stillness and a cold so sharp it keeps me captive, bundled under covers and powerless to stop the vicious assault of self-loathing that comes, I guess, when some part of me thinks I deserve it.

Tonight my mind betrayed me dreadfully. Negative thoughts spiraled, spinning me like a top until I was dizzy with self-recrimination. Every last failure, every disappointment of the past ten years squeezed into the bedroom, petitioning for my attention. I found myself perched at edge of the bed, gasping sobs I kept silent for the sake of my peacefully sleeping roommates. They snored lightly in tandem, and I wished more than anything the sweetness of that sound could be enough to soothe me. Instead all I could think was that sooner or later they'd both be gone.

Set and setting. When you're stuck in a loop, change your set and setting. That's what they say to do, if you find yourself on a bad drug trip. Which is what my depressive dips essentially are: bad trips. Temporary. Forgettable. But brutal while they last. So I stepped into my slippers - which I only wear when the tiled floor feels like ice underfoot - and went into the other room to pace like an animal.

---

Feeling like one of my friends is mad at me is my emotional Achilles heel. I absolutely cannot handle it. I know why, of course; the threat of such a loss is unbearable to me after all the other losses I've tallied up. My friends are my family now. They're all I've got. And if for some reason there's tension between us, I'm besides myself until all is right again. That's what had unleashed all sorts of psychological hell tonight. The fear that I was losing one friend had refreshed the hurt of every other lost, strained, or failed relationship I've ever had. The worst kind of loneliness isn't the pain of feeling alone now; it's feeling the collective heartache of each time you grew a little more alone in this world. It's the fear of that aloneness expanding.

No one hates you, Ellie. A bad day is not a bad life. Don't blow things out of proportion. I dealt myself various reassurances and platitudes, none of which helped much. Irrational, baseless fears tortured me until I was frantic. I hovered silently in the bedroom doorway, desperate for company but too ashamed to wake Terence up.

Then, mercifully, a light broke through: the remembrance that I am in control of my mind. That all psychological pain is rooted in thoughts over which I have power. Even though I didn't feel capable of reprogramming them right at the moment, just the realization that I could reprogram them was empowering. Calming. My suffering is up to me, and I can end it anytime. 

So that's what I did. I tried to put myself in the mindset of my friend, so I could reconsider and reframe the situation. I looked at myself and our interaction through his eyes. I thought about his life right now. His pressures and stresses. His perspective. I considered the possibility that he's not even mad at me at all, that he's just withdrawn temporarily to process things his own way, on his own time.

Not everyone thinks like me, or handles conflict like me. I know that. I just haven't learned it yet.

blues / clues

I have these to share from the part of my weekend that was good:

She doesn't have eyes. She sold them for the hair. 
Oh, does my alien arm frighten you? HOW DO YOU THINK I FEEL I'M ATTACHED TO IT
I've just realized the pointlessness of the previous three decades of my life. Ugh, so embarrassing when that happens. 
Gearing up for my turn at Chameleon Bowling

I have this to share from the part of my weekend that was not:

I call it "50/50 probability". It's embiggenable!

And I have this to share from the part of my brain that stopped developing at Intellect Level: Teenage Lit Mag:


Hope everyone's weekend was just as fucking exciting!!11!