Then & Now

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I think I wrote that in like, 2013. At the time, this list was astonishing because it was after a bit over a year of learning how to be self-sufficient and independent when I had no clue how to be.

In 2012, I’d just gotten out of a long-term relationship and it was the first time I’d ever been on my own. Before that, I always had someone taking care of me or someone to depend on. I moved into a place with four male roommates and it was the first time I’d ever just randomly lived with strangers. To be honest, it was a great household to live in until some of us started graduating from the place. By then, I figured it was time for me to branch out on my own too.

But that year living there, I worked hard for myself. I pushed myself to the gym after barely/struggling with any form of fitness in my entire life. I was so dumb about anything that I made a friend of mine hold my hand and basically do everything for me but pay when I got my gym membership. I was anxious. What made me sign up was this awkward moment where the group of girls I was friends with at the time all silently agreed that I was chubby. We had taken a photo and I was so surprised by how I looked and said, “ARE THOSE FAT ROLLS ON MY BACK?”. The response I got was silence and no one would look at me. This scene is forever in my memory. After a tough start, I fell in love with powerlifting and the lowkey confidence that manifested through that probably saved my life at the time. Still, I took myself for granted.

During that year, I put all my energy into building myself. It was probably the most disciplined I’d ever been in my life. In the beginning, there were times where I felt so lonely that I would call the suicide hotline just to talk to someone for a bit. I didn’t seek help or support because I was that alone and didn’t have the knowledge I do now. Eventually, I was still living a lonely life but I was getting somewhere with it.

When I wrote that in 2013, I still thought I was getting somewhere. I couldn’t have predicted that my life would go into the downward dark spiral that it did for the next few years. I was doing great in terms of jobs. I was working my regular office job but also serving just to keep myself from being a complete hermit. I ended up dating a guy on and off for seven months and it was such a dumb relationship. He was so dumb. After we broke up and he fucked off to Reno, there began my downfall.

I was burnt out from working all the time. I was heartbroken over such a stupid relationship. I didn’t really have anyone to talk to so instead I slowly started to self-destruct in ways that I masked as trying to be better. I bullshitted on the outside while being empty on the inside. I was pretty promiscuous because I thought I’d enjoy myself and you know, expand my sexual horizon. To be honest, most of it sucked and I didn’t really enjoy myself. I also went into this weird perverse phase that still baffles me to this day. I think it was because I kept what I wanted sexually on the inside and felt I had to sneak around about it. I also did another thing secretly that I actually enjoyed because it’s not as bad as people say. The only thing that sucked was the emotional abuse from a messed up man and the loneliness I felt about it.

Everything around me was pretty toxic. I gave up on opportunities out of anxiety. There were days I was so paralyzed that I couldn’t function but I pretended and it made things worse. I was drinking all the time. My relationships were fleeting and such headaches. I was trying to get guys who were emotionally unavailable to love me. Who weren’t interested in me and I convinced myself to believe their empty words. Or I’d date guys who I gave the feels to but they couldn’t handle them like an adult so I’d try to handle it for the both of us and those didn’t end well. The more I kept consuming myself in all the mess, the more I was losing myself. Even with the breakdowns, I would manage to lie to myself enough to keep pretending.

My only friend that knew anything was broken as well. That friendship seemed like the greatest love story but it was empty because we were. It was the equivalent of a toxic relationship that we both thought we needed. I would end up in another one when I moved in with a girl roommate. Most of my female friendships have been damaging or superficial. I struggle to feel the sincerity of it. I’m learning how to properly let a genuine connection happen but it’s not easy.

I started become lowkey scared of everything. I felt like an alien. I had isolated myself and pretended so much that I didn’t really know how to socialize anymore. When I had to, I faked it pretty well. I became so fucking broken and while I knew the truth, I couldn’t admit it to myself. There were nights where I would cry and pray for things to get better. They didn’t get better.

Though I do give big ups to the one guy I dated who is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. We only dated for a month and a half because he moved to Australia to become a doctor. What we did briefly have was pure and genuine. He was super caring and thoughtful and made me feel valued. Even when he was gone and busy with studying, he would still make time for me when he could. He was always there when he could be and he never left me hanging. I messed up our friendship when I got into an emotionally abusive relationship and became scared of guys. I’ve apologized to him years later but it’s not the same. I still remember our time together from time to time fondly. Sometimes it makes me tear up.

By the end of 2015, I stopped living my life for myself. It felt like all my options were dead ends. I was having frequent panic attacks but had nowhere to hide. I started investing in an emotionally abusive relationship to escape. The four months it lasted left me a shell of a person. It was cruelty through loyalty. It really fucked me up emotionally and to an extent, I let it happen. It only ended when he shoved me against a wall and I told him if he didn’t let go of me I would kill him. After that, I gave notice to my place and slept on a friend’s couch for three weeks because I didn’t trust myself to be alone. I started looking for a place with a roommate because I didn’t want to be alone.

The fucked up part was I tried to date during this time. I wanted to block out that relationship from my head and this was my way of moving on. Didn’t work.

I moved in with a girl and lived with her for a year and a half. It started out great but by the end of it, we hated each other. We were both pretty messed up in our own ways and were no good for each other. I still don’t like her and besides writing this about her, I barely think of her. To be fair, I did some dumb shit too. She had to put up with a lot of my bullshit, especially when I got into a relationship that almost resulted in eloping. It was the relationship that would make me realize that I needed to get help and I needed to be better. I started seeing a therapist but I was still hiding out about myself. There were moments where I felt so empty that I wanted to stab myself with a kitchen knife. It was a dull urge but it was there. I tried to push that down because hey, it was an upgrade from wanting to drown myself in a bath the year before.

Near the end of 2017, I worked through enough to start allowing myself to feel angry and take control of my life more. I quit my shit job and moved out into my own place. I was still feeling empty so I made the decision to get on anti-depressants.

2018 wasn’t a great year in terms of shit that happened. A lot happened behind the scenes and what felt like every aspect of my life. I struggled a lot. But it didn’t feel as exhausting as it once did. Towards the end of the year, I learned to not struggle alone. I started to learn to genuinely talk about what was happening to people I trusted. I haven’t learned to fully cope with certain things but I’m getting there. I don’t talk to douchebags anymore. I let my friends love me when I can’t love myself. I’m learning to accept their love without feeling like it’s trouble. I let them hug me and let me know it’s okay when it feels like everything is falling apart. I’m no longer lonely in that sense.

And here we are at 2019. I’ve been several months douchebag-free. I don’t count the last guy I hung out with amongst the trash. I understand the value of myself and know how I’d like to be treated. At first I was going to quit drinking but lately, I’ve been trusting myself with handling it and I’m confident it’s doable. I only think this because I’m learning to embrace the core of me and it takes away from the escape or distraction of just drinking. I’m slowly shedding that desire to be a version of myself that’s not really me. I’m getting down with my way of fun and what’s fun for me and I can see shining that path is. This glow up game is real and I’m beginning to see my sparkle.

I hope by the end of this year I can make another successful “in this past year”. I know this time around there won’t be another downward spiral. Not if I don’t ever try to downplay my sparkle again.

 

 

Anxiety

Recently I watched a movie called Eighth Grade. It was written and directed by Bo Burnham. Now I’m going to talk about him and nothing in relation to the movie. I first heard of Bo trying to watch his standup… which I didn’t really like. I still don’t, if I’m being honest. Sometime later, I saw him on The Green Room with Paul Provenza (which I think anyone with comic appreciation, should watch). I grew some admiration because it’s not easy holding your own in a roomful of veterans. I still didn’t think much of him. It wasn’t until I saw him onscreen in The Big Sick that I got serious about that admiration though, I still can’t explain what changed my mind.

I really enjoyed The Big Sick. I think everyone should watch it. I think Kumail Nanjiani is brilliant. This movie was probably one of the best romantic comedies I’d seen in a long time when I watched it. I still can’t believe I got a chance to tell Kumail in person how much I liked it. 

Back on track.

I have trouble coming to terms with how bad my anxiety can get and how crippling it can be. For years, I tried to hide it from myself. I think part of it was because I didn’t know what was going on with me. It was part of the trauma. Having no one around made it easy to be confused. When I started getting a sense of what was happening, it made me even more scared because I felt like it was making me less of a person than I already felt like. For years, deep down, I just desperately wanted to be cool but I felt like this was a reason even less to be it. It made me feel more like the loser I already felt. I wanted to be cool because I felt so invisible and with the life I grew up with, it made me feel so alone.

I’m only beginning to understand my own anxiety more. Every time I’ve tried to talk about it before, it was always with some sense of crafted conversation. It’s not easy talking about how bad it can get. Even when I have better control over it once I started learning more about it. But I get moments where it’s so hard to breathe. I don’t answer my calls or texts and the longer it goes on, the more I feel that loser feeling and if it goes on too long, it’s so hard to get out of. I start to not be able to function. I can’t focus and I just stay in my room. Sometimes I feel this intense feeling of panic like I’m terrified but I don’t know of what. It’s usually before bed and it’ll keep me from sleeping. I get the same feeling of panic when I try to leave my house after a few days of being too worried about people seeing my anxiety because I can see the physical signs of the weariness when I look in the mirror.

It’s been bad for a while now.

Eighth Grade explains anxiety pretty well. I can relate to that desperation and inside vs. outside and how disconnected it can be. That pressure to want to be seen as cool and the awkwardness that comes with it. The stutters of talking to people that you think are cool and those small smiles of victory when you think you feel it. It gets being a disgruntled teenager pretty well too. Some of the scenes were so painful to watch because I could feel it.

It’s the closest I’ve come to see how relatable it feels to my own anxiety. I even think she does better than me but then I think of moments where I’ve forced myself to do things. I’ve never been able to shake that uncool feeling from myself though. It’s emotionally painful to experience and I can get paralyzed by past embarrassments even though I know deep down, it’s not a big deal. It’s so awkward.

There was another seen that hurt to watch. It was the car scene. I’m going to spoil it:

When he was making her uncomfortable by trying to get her to play Truth or Dare and she didn’t really know how to go about the situation… I felt that. When she’s looking down and away but still trying to “be cool”, it’s how I feel inside when I talk to people. Even just in social situations. But where I really felt it was when she apologized for saying no and how guilty she sounded for rejecting the dare. When he tells her it was for her and how her first time is gonna be stupid or whatever… You can feel the guilt growing on her. When she is crying in her room, I felt it. For me though, I internalize it and that scene and how she’s acting in it is the turmoil I feel on the inside. 

What I felt was more shame though because sometimes I never said no.

This film was the closest thing that I’ve seen in front of me that explains how I feel inside sometimes. In a way, it’s kind of nice that it was anxiety rather than emotional disturbance that I’ve seen in other films.

It’s a lonely way of living and it gets even harder as I get older. As an adult, there’s a part of me that feels like I’m a grown woman, these are problems for teenagers. I’ve learned not to push people away which is a step up from how I used to be. I tend to isolate myself but I’m working on that. I’m still learning to accept help from the right people and being honest with them. I know I’m lucky to even have a couple of people this is possible with. I feel guilty that I have a support system but I can still feel helpless. But I’ve grown as well. I don’t long for affection anymore. Sure, I have anxiety about dying alone or being a spinster for the rest of my life but I don’t force attachment to people anymore. I’ve come to terms with how disappointed and overly anxious it makes me and that it’s best to avoid.

I never thought I’d genuinely stop seeking for meaning in empty places.