Paraphrasing from a recent TED talk I heard: The energy it takes to get you out of a warm bed into a cold room is the exact same energy required to change your life.
A long time ago, I had a friend with a celestial last name. It’s her birthday today. Just thinking about that as I pour out a toast and contemplate a week of birthday, D&D, body image, surfeit, and surely other things.
So, last night, was another fun night of D&D. Me and a bunch of nerdy boys. Boys and men. Boy-shaped men. Man-shaped boys. I really only get comfortable and remember what’s going on once it’s about done. But there’s always that one moment where you go OH THIS IS GENIUS, I AM GENIUS, EVERYTHING IS FUCKING GREAT! And then it rolls into you being unable to tie your metaphorical D&D shoes. The highs and the lows – as anyone with any experience will surely tell you.
The dangerous thing I’m coming to realize is I have a crush. A crush on tin whistlin’, very tall, charismatic and unbothered guy at D&D. Guy with a girlfriend who also plays D&D. Guy who is pleasant, sociable, but I refer you to the aforementioned exceedingly unbothered about me. Times being what they were, this once would have been the sort of mental drink I thrill to just nurse for ages. I would spend a great deal of time despairing over the reality of the situation (and probably still will, though I think it will of much shorter duration and intensity), but I would, as an ultimately rational being, accept the facts as they are.
However, I have been told I am single recently. Even if this information has been followed by an inverse desire to speak with me and pat my head and flirt and behave as before – as someone might cling to a life preserver. Sure, life preserver, if you’d be happier floating adrift at sea, I’m fine with that. But if you’re not doing anything, keeping me from drowning seems like a noble way to spend your time. Sigh.
So I’m letting myself scan the world around me for a boyfriend who wants to be my boyfriend. I mean, I guess. That’s awful forward of me, but death dances close and brushes my hems with her own. No harm in looking, single girl that I am. And I go to D&D and suddenly I’m surrounded by wry, clever boys making dick jokes. It’s that one silly slice of high school life that I deserved more of and never really got. And suddenly, I think of that girl that I hated so who had all of the goths and nerds and offbeat guys in as much love with her as I knew existed at the time – because she played Magic: The Gathering. How they would swirl around her and her piercings and go out to the Pit and probably had a lot of other pain and issues going on in her life that I was mentally incapable of seeing because I was this sensitive ball of hot wires that was constantly rolling away from anyone to keep them from getting electrocuted and me from losing the one thing I had – that useless circulating power. I was outside of all of that, but I always believed that’s where I belonged.
Now, somehow, at the table, I’m the only feminine force. Now I’m the one that makes them at least cognizant of the dick jokes…after the 3rd or 4th time. I’m the unattached single girl who is both trying and not trying to be the cliche I cast my high school nemesis. I want the tall D&D guy to see me and approve somehow. I want validation and to rewrite those years. Damn, it’s ridiculous and bizarre and The Onion headline-worthy and far too much pressure to put on myself, but it feels like if I just stay in the awkwardness long enough, something’s got to happen, somehow. Maybe. As of last night, there was already wry, sardonic, clever boy #2 who may or may not be dating anyone but does have a “last girlfriend” who lived in New York with him and may or may not now be in a freezer. This is America. Never assume.
So, given the fact that I am this explosion of bad ideas lately, I am trying very hard to use my dead-end crush to a good end. I am trying to convert it, rather than into whinging posts and mournful emotional exfoliation, into motivating myself into becoming the sort of woman who would have the option, were she immoral enough to take it, of breaking his heart. I wouldn’t, of course. I have boxes of evidence to prove I wouldn’t. But I want my self-esteem and regard to be at the level where I would be pretty sure that were I to press the issue, there would be an issue to press. I want that sort of slow-boil ego. Not spilling out on the stove narcissism, just steady, constant faith that your shit is together enough that he should want a bit of it. It’s a much nicer idea than rolling up in your rumpled sweater and sitting there stiffly in worry and fear and wondering how terrible you’re doing and how shitty you’re RP’ing and being shaped in the shape of garbage in the world. In both worlds.
It’s funny how you begin even to think about how much you need to act in a bit of self-regard, how you let one dream, one person, one thing that is no longer…sparking joy, ahem…go and the energy shifts around you. Marie Kondo is on to something. Suddenly, J wants to do some writing with me which feels like a far more productive thing to do together than where we are right now. Suddenly, a couple other writing opportunities are opening up – personal things I that I want to do – suddenly, rather than clinging to the life preserver in J – I feel like, maybe, metaphorically, I know how to swim.
And painted in the background is the siren song of eating shit. Sugar and salt and shit. Tomorrow, after heading to a restaurant to visit with m cousin and ordering the wrong thing today, a nice tasting but overich croque madame heavy with bechamel sauce, I’ve been invited to invent a quasi-birthday meal out. Everyone’s sick. After just wave upon wave of dining out in a, damn, if I don’t want to stop and just have a piece of celery and walk calmly for 1-2 miles. But my brain won’t allow it. There will be tiramisu and maybe waffles and I’ll submit to the unknown calories and draw a line. So I’m hopeful that we eat early, I get home, and I can just begin the hard work of getting out of my own way here.
I have not, as of this writing, been to Chipotle this year…which is the hill of guacamole I’ve chosen to die on, I guess.
And I’m finding myself too irritating to stand, and publish…
The most metal of moons.
I need to change this website. I know I do. I’m not entirely sure how to go about this. But the endless icy sheets of black and white, even the blurry little weed breaking through the crack on the screen no longer makes me smile when I look at it. I need to just hire someone? I don’t know. Just change the picture, that would be a start.
I am needing to do something different tomorrow. All of it. I made real shit choices today, this weekend, this month, really. So. How do you stop the engine when you’re rolling right along into a hotter and hotter fire? You are here, for one. You turn off the other noises and you give yourself over to a bit of self-reflection.
I have written a lot today, none of it really suitable to share. That’s been the sum total of it. Did leave the house for a brunch I absolute did not need to have. I’ve spent the day bleary. In some conversation with J, consoling him for his bleariness and ignoring my own. Honestly, this is the hardest bit of it. The up and the down. I don’t blame him for it or even judge him for it, but finding yourself attenuating your moods to someone who is equally fluid when it comes to being able to tolerate themselves is a rough gig. Yesterday, I’m queen of the universe for him, today, exhaustion and sad posting and a bevy of other people suggesting how to break out of the mental funk while my suggestions get little more than a shrug.
I’m reacting much more poorly than I’d like to all this.
So now, end of the Sunday shame spiral: I am here, spattered with gravy from the undying pot roast, and everything is a mess. Petrified to check my work email. Checked it as best I could and nothing was radioactive so I feel instantly much relieved. My plan to combat this and come back to some form of recognizable :
Find my Fitbit
Drink an entire glass of water (a whole and entire eight ounces)
Charge my phone and fitbit and put them somewhere I can find them in a few short hours.
Defenestrate the undead pot roast.
Not get so distracted by nonsense that I can’t finish this post
Finish this post.
Remember I have my drink in the fridge in the morning.
Brush my teeth and try and wash my face in a format that my face will find tolerable and not set to itching over.
Fix my sheets so I don’t find falling asleep completely impossible.
Set my alarm.
Figure out what the heck I want to wear tomorrow out of the bundle of laundry I did and tossed aside out of some sense of boring laziness that sure as fuck fucks me over now.
Possibly order groceries for tomorrow. Possibly just plan to go to the grocery store?
Trust in the process.
Remember to reschedule therapy.
So yesterday, though nobody would know it to look at me, nobody would know it without going after me with a needle and a fine-toothed comb, was a hard, heartbreaking sort of day. I’m not dating anyone, though, naturally, I kinda sorta thought I was. And I kinda sorta am. Still. But not really. I can’t claim the title. Wouldn’t hold up in court. And that’s as much clarity as anyone can give me on the situation. Wait it out until you don’t feel like waiting anymore. Like, what, what does that actually mean? Care about me until it becomes a problem for you. What’s it actually require of me? A woman with broader shoulders and some sense would say, okay, halfway is not enough, we’re just going to hurt ourselves on the sharp edges of this. But I’ve pecked at crumbs and ash my whole life when it comes to affairs of the heart, so this understanding that the porch light is going to be left on for me, always a dish of food and water at the door doesn’t trigger the negative reaction that it should. Even if it’s clear I’m never getting in the house. I think, well, there’s food here. That’s not nothing. And nothing ties me down. I can keep my own devices as it pleases me. It’s what I wanted, right? It’s everything I’ve ever believed, that’s all. The best relationships are those conducted entirely by post?
And I thought I took it in stride, accepting the ambiguity of it all, the inevitability of my hope being broken down into a sticky sort of powder, until I realized, about halfway through the evening that I was acting like a teenage maniac. A stupid, stupid maniac who is going to regret her choices when they spin around and smack her in the face. Emailing the RP’er like some kind of ridiculous swanning princess who thinks she can set a world down for two years and pick it back up and find it entirely as it was. That was never going to happen and I knew that. But still, I was free! I was uncommitted. I was not on a path towards anything or anyone. I was officially and am officially single. Sort of. Only nothing’s changed. And it was only ever going to be about me.
I don’t really feel comfortable writing it out, this thing in medias res which might well be speculated upon and swiftly deciphered if anyone were of a mind. I suspect they’re not, but nevertheless, I feel bad enough about it that I want the shame shield to hang up like a Great Wall of China (and not some evil, orange-hued paltry attempt at nothing) between us. Sit down with me and a cup of coffee, glass of wine, and I’ll tell the rest. Suffice it to say that it all had to be entirely as it was, but my own good intentions done effed me again. The world has changed much since all these trains hit the station at the same time, and I am certainly not the soul to demand anything of anyone, certainly not punctuality.
It’s just going to be disappointing is all. Not evil. It’s not evil. Not yet.
Given these truish facts, I am endeavoring to continue on something I know is benefiting me – my small, paltry attempt at getting this body on the same page as my mind.
So a thing happened about which I have emotions. I have been cut loose. Well. Not really. I have been told that the walls around Rappaccini’s garden are not locked. The poison is not so very poisonous. We are all free to come and go as we please, but ideally, we will just stay right as we are, happy as the pearl in the clam. Benefitting from the friendship.
I don’t know how I feel save that I know that I feel a bellowing, echoing, stentorian vibration in the deep unknowable fathoms of my soul. A bit of an how dare you feel so free and easy? It’s not free and easy for either of us, not in truth, but I suppose what I am sad about…what I am able to reckon with being sad about right now, is that it felt like he felt he could just offer me this gift. He could just back away from the past two years. like an inconsequential sandwich at a forgettable lunch on some innocuous afternoon. It was just logical. There was no welling of the soul, no choked back tears, no fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.
Knowing him, as I do now, if I am fair and not speaking out of the pained parts of me, of course there is an intense sadness for him. But in that moment, the control, the adult demeanor, it’s important to be reasonable and honest and logical and therefore, it’s all up to me to determine the fate of everything was just depressing and frustrating. What I want is what we will have. He doesn’t want me to have regrets about it all. It’s almost a dare…in its way, looking back, it’s this almost bravely, absurdly brazen, request to just knock me off this perch. To stop being the person of general kindness he’s known me to be and just cast him aside with a HA HA HA. That’s the frog to swallow. And if it’s not that, if it’s fine. It’s just fine. Life is beautiful if I’m not the devil. Like waiting to take a punch and if I’m the pacifist, well, then, what a strangely perfect tension we get to sit in.
I guess, I guess… I’m proud in that moment for saying hey, of course, I don’t want to send you flying off the top of the tower to your doom and tell you I’m no longer speaking to you, let’s not be silly, but I do need to know if we meet other people, that’s…that might happen, what does that mean? And then, he said, well, I would never want to be in the way of your happiness. So Spockian. So ordered. So straightforward and unmoved as if I’d asked him the time of day on a street corner. I said I don’t…I’m not…it just could happen and I don’t want us to be surprised. He says, no, if there’s any…prospects, just let me know. I said there wasn’t. If there was, I would tell him. And he should tell me. And I flashback to the boots through the thin crackling ice sort of heartbreaks I’ve have had in the past – places where I thought I was safe and cared for and special and turned out to just be a placeholder for some other, better person. And then, the subject is forcibly changed.
So I have my answer. I am free and unrestrained to find somebody here as my therapist believes I want. Impossible. I’m terrible and full of panic and weight and shit that never gets off the ground. What do I want? I understand my own hypocrisy here. I understand I want to be free while I want him to beg. Beg? No, just fight for it a bit. Just offer something to it? Just fan the embers slightly? I understand it’s unfair. I understand we had to have the conversation. I understand, but I don’t get it at all.
I am on the path. I know the start weight. I know the score. The feeling. The muscle memory of January 1. This is the easiest day of the whole thing. The simplest to find the Fitbit and get it charged. To look up a few low-carb websites. To add a couple glasses of water to your morning. To eat some cheese and be distracted by the newness of it all.
This is the day for all of that to happen.
I have gained weight over this year of undocumented emotional indulgence. The roller coaster of are they, aren’t they, will they, won’t they, do they, don’t they has taken its only just now acknowledged toll. I’ve pretended that I feel the same, even if stairs leave me slightly ought of breath, if I feel slightly overclocked sometimes, a mind and heart racing without any particular stress to trigger it. There are signs that are subtle and not that double orders of chile cheese fries have an impact to the body.
I don’t feel the resonating thrum around the idea of providing this page with yet another, probably annual at this point, mea culpa. I don’t feel like a public face palm is all that valuable to me, personally. I was mad earlier, overlooking the scale, not shocked, but disappointed that I thought that the magic in my magical thinking was hardcore enough as to invent a workaround for the Law of Conservation. That I could eat violently – eat against imperfection – and end up perfect. End up unmarked and not carrying all of the impact of adding dessert at every meal, of cravenly eschewing anything remotely green in color (the chile was mostly red in hue). As ever, the value to me, or to you now, is in the path forward where either we do a little better at not fucking things up, or we don’t. I mean, as much chatter as I can provide us both about it and we all know I can chatter with the best of them when I’m of a mind, the things I do today are what the rest of my life will look like if I don’t break the chain.
I have my plans. My flexible suggestions that I am going to be writing into law once I am sure I am not going to spend every day breaking them. I am writing them down, but not here. Again, not until I am doing something I can comment on. Day One, as has been explained to me at my new corporate job, is energy and excitement and press releases and the whole embodied concept of LAUNCH! It’s important and necessary to cast your boat off the shore hard and get moving. But it’s Day Two, it’s the realization that people – perhaps you, dear reader – have moved on. The excitement for them is already behind them, scratched out of their bullet journals, and it is on you to design and sustain your own passion and maintain it so you can sell it back to them all the way down the road.
So I have done the Day One Showing Up. I have provided myself the rationale. I have not eaten a single marshmallow of the bag of marshmallows that have sat next to me on the couch all day long. I have joined the hordes of perpetual failure: I have started a diet and I hope I achieve my goals with it. But this is the same group that is winnowed out into those who get somewhere, who do make it. It has to come out of the pool of everyone who is willing to say, goddamnit, okay, maybe my Id can’t run me from morning to night and I have to put my foot down. All of us tryers standing at the shore, taking the shove into the waters we know, pulling ourselves into the waters we don’t.