Yes.Â I know. I’m handling things differently this timeÂ than I did last time. In 2011 I refused to use this space forÂ self-reflection. I pennedÂ aÂ postÂ about how it felt toÂ shoot a gunÂ in a time of strife, then feigned normalcy. After two months I wroteÂ “Happy Foot / Sad Foot,” and admitted feeling good for the first time sinceÂ my world wasÂ turned upside down. Aside from two brief journeysÂ inward IÂ kept quiet. PerhapsÂ I knew better back then. PerhapsÂ it’s unwise to keepÂ a record of yourÂ grief.
This time I’ve definitely keptÂ a record, and I am doing soÂ with aplomb. …I think.
Little known fact: in September I was laid off from my job. Unaccustomed to budgeting disciplineÂ I startedÂ burning through my savings. Bills went unpaid. It was terrifying. It made me questionÂ 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.Â WhileÂ grappling with these questionsÂ I was alsoÂ asked to answerÂ why I couldn’t beÂ in a relationship, why I couldn’t commitÂ to aÂ future, and why I couldn’tÂ 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’tÂ myÂ actions spokenÂ loud enough?Â I might have been endlessly strugglingÂ to takeÂ control of my life, I might have huffed and puffed whenever asked aboutÂ commitment, but…she alwaysÂ had me, you know?Â I wasn’t going anywhere. Ever. I figuredÂ she knew that. So I neverÂ vocalized it. Instead I vocalized my despair, my anger, and my confusion about theÂ future. I forced ourÂ ship off balance. And what good is aspiring toÂ right aÂ ship and plot a new course if thatÂ end-game remains a mystery?Â And soÂ our stricken ship was left listing.
Right aroundÂ Thanksgiving, I foundÂ a job. AÂ really fucking cool job. One thatÂ 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 evenÂ in her neighborhood! Those first two weeks I droveÂ to work each morning, pastÂ her house, warmed by thoughtsÂ of using my first paycheckÂ on a grand romantic gesture. We hadn’t spoken in over a month, but IÂ gave into myÂ delusions. We’d goneÂ longer without talkingÂ before. Once I got paid I’d shareÂ theÂ good news, answer those lingeringÂ questions, and we’d be on our way.
When the time finally came for me to speak, she’d already decided was doneÂ listening.
And so came the storm. It culminated withÂ It’s Dark.Â AndÂ Ten Days.Â AndÂ Little Thoughts. That’s been the public-facingÂ side of my life lately. Privately though, I’ve been hard at workÂ on letting go of petty fears, taking ownership of my feelings, and expellingÂ unnecessary negativity.Â In doing so IÂ realizedÂ my yearsÂ of working in social media — plusÂ spending so much time online in general — was what initially stirred myÂ unhappiness. Marketing for brands and trying to humanizeÂ the rich and famous at work…scrolling through Facebook and Instagram feeds at home…I was constantly comparingÂ my life to the lives of others. It made me feelÂ inadequate. Like I’d accomplished nothing, and never would. TheÂ feelingÂ was so overwhelming that even when I was told I was moreÂ 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 sinceÂ It’s Dark. In that time I have experienced aÂ fundamental shift in my worldview. Working at a marketing agency withÂ a roster of celebrity clientsÂ stands in contrast to what I want now. SoÂ I gave my bosses noticeÂ that I’m leaving to take an offerÂ that was recently presented to me. The roleÂ is at once familiar butÂ different. The schedule is right, the money is right, and it will actually net meÂ a few extra hoursÂ of free time every day. ThatÂ timeÂ willÂ be devoted toÂ creative projects,Â anyÂ one of whichÂ could lead me down a number ofÂ different paths. MyÂ intent isÂ to suck the marrow out of this opportunity, to write more, to take more risks, to play more, and to findÂ more ways toÂ stray from the beatenÂ path.Â Because that’sÂ howÂ I’ll comeÂ to define whatÂ success meansÂ to me. And I have no doubt that once defined, I will achieveÂ 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 IÂ amÂ willing to say I’m intrigued by theÂ future. That’sÂ a start.
Jasper TX – All Those Broken Birds Singing Winter Into Spring [MP3]
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