Yes. I know. I’m handling things differently this time than I did last time. In 2011 I refused to use this space for self-reflection. I penned a post about how it felt to shoot a gun in a time of strife, then feigned normalcy. After two months I wrote “Happy Foot / Sad Foot,” and admitted feeling good for the first time since my world was turned upside down. Aside from two brief journeys inward I kept quiet. Perhaps I knew better back then. Perhaps it’s unwise to keep a record of your grief.
This time I’ve definitely kept a record, and I am doing so with aplomb. …I think.
Little known fact: in September I was laid off from my job. Unaccustomed to budgeting discipline I started burning through my savings. Bills went unpaid. It was terrifying. It made me question whether I belonged in LA. Maybe I should move back to New Jersey. It made me question my path. Maybe I should go back to school. While grappling with these questions I was also asked to answer why I couldn’t be in a relationship, why I couldn’t commit to a future, and why I couldn’t tell someone I was in love with her.
In lieu of answers I chose to withdraw. I chose radio silence. What good would talking do? Hadn’t my actions spoken loud enough? I might have been endlessly struggling to take control of my life, I might have huffed and puffed whenever asked about commitment, but…she always had me, you know? I wasn’t going anywhere. Ever. I figured she knew that. So I never vocalized it. Instead I vocalized my despair, my anger, and my confusion about the future. I forced our ship off balance. And what good is aspiring to right a ship and plot a new course if that end-game remains a mystery? And so our stricken ship was left listing.
Right around Thanksgiving, I found a job. A really fucking cool job. One that impressed family and friends. It had a salary. It had benefits. It was very much a new path. That’s what I wanted, right? A path? Hell, the office was even in her neighborhood! Those first two weeks I drove to work each morning, past her house, warmed by thoughts of using my first paycheck on a grand romantic gesture. We hadn’t spoken in over a month, but I gave into my delusions. We’d gone longer without talking before. Once I got paid I’d share the good news, answer those lingering questions, and we’d be on our way.
When the time finally came for me to speak, she’d already decided was done listening.
And so came the storm. It culminated with It’s Dark. And Ten Days. And Little Thoughts. That’s been the public-facing side of my life lately. Privately though, I’ve been hard at work on letting go of petty fears, taking ownership of my feelings, and expelling unnecessary negativity. In doing so I realized my years of working in social media — plus spending so much time online in general — was what initially stirred my unhappiness. Marketing for brands and trying to humanize the rich and famous at work…scrolling through Facebook and Instagram feeds at home…I was constantly comparing my life to the lives of others. It made me feel inadequate. Like I’d accomplished nothing, and never would. The feeling was so overwhelming that even when I was told I was more than adequate by a strong, successful woman who only wanted to love me and start a future with me, I’d say, “I know, but I hate my life.”
A cat has nine lives before it gets to the end of them. She gave me many more lives than that, and I too eventually got to the end of them.
It’s now been a month since It’s Dark. In that time I have experienced a fundamental shift in my worldview. Working at a marketing agency with a roster of celebrity clients stands in contrast to what I want now. So I gave my bosses notice that I’m leaving to take an offer that was recently presented to me. The role is at once familiar but different. The schedule is right, the money is right, and it will actually net me a few extra hours of free time every day. That time will be devoted to creative projects, any one of which could lead me down a number of different paths. My intent is to suck the marrow out of this opportunity, to write more, to take more risks, to play more, and to find more ways to stray from the beaten path. Because that’s how I’ll come to define what success means to me. And I have no doubt that once defined, I will achieve it.
This is not “Happy Foot / Sad Foot.” I am not going to end this with a defiant declaration of happiness, or even admit to feeling good, but I am willing to say I’m intrigued by the future. That’s a start.
Jasper TX – All Those Broken Birds Singing Winter Into Spring [MP3]
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