Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Conquering Misery

Wow, I have seriously failed on the keeping-up-with-a-blog front. Shame on me.
Since my last post, oh... so much has happened. So much, in fact, that I can't be bothered to write it all. But I can tell you that since then, I have become sincerely happy. Perhaps it's fleeting, and it is definitely only in certain aspects of my life, but after going back down into the dark little hole that was my anxiety, it feels like a cold shower on a hot day.

Much of this is retrospective, since I began writing this last summer and am finishing it now -- in March.

So, my dear friends, I present to you:

PoR's Five Steps to Conquer Misery

Snazzy title, huh?

STEP 1: Accept Your Misery

Okay... I hate everything.
Yes, I'm sure this sounds like the five stages of grief or something, but it's true! The first thing that made me start to feel less miserable was saying, "Dear World, I am miserable. Fact." And actually, that was what prompted starting this blog. Once I had given myself the freedom and the perimeters to really let loose on my malcontent, and, frankly, be a bit of a whingey cow for a while, I immediately started to feel better. It stopped scaring me. My anxiety was something I was bringing out into the open, and that made it seem much less powerful.

STEP 2: Test the Waters

After my boyfriend and I broke up, I was a wreck. It wasn't just because I missed him and I felt scorned... even though that was true... it was because I felt like I was losing everything, and that I wasn't in control. In my life, I have lost six friends to suicide. All young. All people I feel I should have known something was wrong. I'm pretty hearty, but that's enough to make anyone feel a little shaky on their feet. The most recent friend to go was someone both my boyfriend and I were very close to, and it was a month and a half before our relationship ended. The feelings got so mixed up in my head and all I was feeling was massive, massive loss.
After a while, though, I decided to push myself a little to try something with someone else, to see what happened. It was purely exploratory, and this new gentleman understood and agreed with that. I've never been the type for random hookups, and I wouldn't exactly say that was what this was, but it's the closest I've ever come to one. He and I started friends and spent a few weeks just going out together, getting to know each other. He was interesting, flattering, and painfully funny. Nothing happened, not even a kiss, until we had been out together three or four times.
Then I decided to take the reigns and suggest something romantic. I really just wanted to see how far I could go without panicking, crying, or basically dying -- dontcha love how melodramatic my brain can be when it comes down to it?
I've always been so judgmental for anything "casual", but now there's much less room in my life for judgment. It was a very short-lived tryst, if that's what you could call it, and I really let myself test the waters. I did something that me a year ago would have probably judged someone for. I know. Bitchy, right?
Anyway, it fizzled quick and he lost interest. It's a shame, really. I didn't want to date him, but I really liked having him as a friend, and I miss that aspect. But most importantly, I explored sides of myself that I hadn't explored before, and that made me feel empowered.

STEP 3: Get the Hell Outta Dodge

I couldn't think of a better time to leave the country. I went with one of my girl friends to England for two weeks and Paris for one, and it saved me. Suddenly I was in a place where I had no history. Well, I did -- after all, I was visiting almost my whole maternal family, seeing as I lived in the UK till I was four -- but no adult history. No places that reminded me of the happy times I shared with my ex. No people that reminded me of dying friends. No phone. NO PHONE. THAT was the saving grace, I think. Better yet, I was basically alone. Yes, my friend was with me, but fundamentally, I had temporarily cut ties with my own life for a period of time, and it was just what I needed.
The trip was... soon I'll do a whole post on the trip, because it was too amazing for words. But what it did for me was something I'll never forget: It expanded my horizons.

I mean, come on -- no one can be miserable here!

Now I know that sounds cliche, but it's true!
Also, meeting so many new people taught me how much I love getting to know people. Any social anxieties I held at home had no business being around in Europe -- anyone I met I probably would never see again, so what was the risk? As a result, I got to put my social skills to the test, as it were. And discovered that if you think of everyone like that -- nothing to lose, plenty to gain -- then you actually are more interesting. I know that took something external and made it awfully self-centered but... hey, we all think it, don't we. You also get to know some fascinating people by just asking direct questions and being enthusiatic about it.

I've always felt and been thought of by others as old for my age. I was always fighting to prove that I wasn't really my age, that I wasn't young. But travelling, meeting SCORES of new people of all ages, flirting, discovering, learning, being humbled -- it all taught me that I am young.
I never knew how young I was until this trip. I also never saw the benefit of being this young until now!

I can go anywhere, meet anyone, feel anything. The world is my oyster.
If that doesn't make you feel a little cheerier, you're a lost cause.

STEP 4: Fall in Love... Again...

Anyone who reads this is probably going... uh oh... I know. I know.
Let me just explain.
Literally four hours before I was supposed to leave for the UK, my ex emailed me. I hadn't really spoken to him for a month, and he was contacting me now? It turned into a fight, which turned into a phone call, which turned into two emotionally exhausted people sitting on the phone together, laughing uproariously at our ridiculousness. Turned out, he had completely misconstrued something I had said, and I had completely misconstrued something he had said, and the two of us just dissolved into laughter. From then on, it was amicable. He told me what I had long suspected -- that he had been depressed for months, and needed to figure out how to handle that before he could be with me, because he saw it hurting me. I told him I was going to Europe and we could talk when I got back, but it ended with us both feeling shaken but extremely happy.
Reader, I dated him. ...Again. And it was wonderful. We had a really great time, and we got to a whole new level of being together. Now, months later and in a new year, we have parted ways again. But everything is okay. I fell madly in love with him again, after having handled such a large hurdle, and I felt so strong, so secure, so proud of myself... I felt like I was falling in love as a grown up rather than a little girl. Cheesefest. Yes. I feel a little boursin-y as I type that. But something about going through a crushing breakup and actually surviving really takes your sense of self to a whole new level. I encourage everyone to do it, at least once!

STEP 5: Find a Job You Love

It ended up taking me the entire summer to really get to the job I loved. It was a hostessing-turned-waitressing job, nothing glamorous. But the team of people were amazing, the environment was laid-back and pub-like, the food was DELICIOUS, and I found a whole new aspect of power in myself when I finally put on that little black apron. I've been working in the food industry for three years, but only this past summer did I make it to the level of server. And let me tell you, maybe it's because I'm an actor, but something about that apron and little black book clicked.
I loved starting a new table, practicing reading people, deciding -- do they want peppy or straight-forward? Are they chatty, or do they want me to stay out of their way? Do they want recommendations, or do I treat them like a well-read regular?
So much fun. Not everyone feels this way. Some people balk at the thought of being on your feet for eight hours straight, not getting a lunch break, talking to people constantly, juggling plates... it sounds like a recipe for stress and disaster!
And yet I found myself looking forward to that job every morning. My other jobs, while perfectly fine, didn't get me jazzed. They seemed to drag on forever, even though the shifts were the same amount of time. I was sitting all day, mostly, so I felt uncomfortable and restless, often slipping into apathy and frankly doing a mediocre job.
But waitressing got me going like nobody's business! Again, probably a good thing as I am about to graduate from theatre school.

So there you have it. I'm much less miserable. I hope you are too.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Saying Thank You

I'm a very positive person. My new favorite way to describe it came from a meme that my friend posted on my facebook wall, with a picture of a half-full glass of juice. Observe:

Yep! That's me these days.
Anyway, I'm also not a religious person. I was raised Unitarian by a pair of very open-minded liberal parents -- one a hippie, one a punk. Work that one out. -- so I'm very spiritual, but I can't mold into organized religion. It's just not for me. But I do like the idea of "The Universe." I believe when you put good energy out into the universe, you get good stuff back. I guess that's what Christians mean when they pray, or what Wiccans mean when they cast spells, or what Buddhists mean when they meditate... okay, I'm not as knowledgeable about that last one. You get the point.
So, right now I am in a time of crisis. It's usually in these times that you have major epiphanies about your life, and you figure out what an idiot you've been and think, "if only I'd been living my life THIS way!!" I know I am. I'm going over and over the ways I handled my now-former boyfriend and my problems, and thinking, "well if they happened NOW I'd know exactly what to do!" But that's the whole point.
We can't spend our lives judging our past, because we miss the present and then the future sneaks up on us.
All we can do is put good energy into the universe and make ourselves open to getting it back.
So, all of this has gotten me thinking about gratitude. It always strikes me, when I'm in a time of crisis, how TOTALLY AWESOME the tiny moments of peace or positivity are. Like when you find five dollars in your pocket from last week. Or like when you are sitting around in your kitchen making food and your roommates are making you laugh, and you just feel unburdened for a moment. Those are the moments that, when everything is going great, sure, you notice them, but you don't feel that huge rush of "Thank you, Universe/God/World/etc." because you are so damn grateful.
I love those moments. Some of my favorite memories are moments like that, which is strange, because they all take place when things are going really miserably.
For me, anything that gives me a break from my anxiety for a little while -- where I just feel safe, secure, and like I can breathe -- are magic moments. I can thank my friends and my roommates for a lot of those right now.
So I'm trying to say "Thank You" as much as I can right now.
It reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from one of my favorite movies, HappyThankYouMorePlease. If you haven't seen it, get your ass to a library or a video store (sob) or an illegal streaming website (okay, okay, we all do it) and SEE IT. It will actively change your life. Anyway, there is a scene where one character, Annie, is on a reluctant date with a goofy guy from her office who completely adores her and finally convinced her to go out with him. She warms to him over the dinner and finally opens up this piece of wisdom:

  • Annie: About a year ago, I was in this cab, and the cab driver - this Indian guy, started telling me...he started telling me all sorts of stuff. He was just looking at me in the rear view mirror and he said, 'Bliss. Bliss is your birthright.' And I was like, 'Uh...45th and Madison?' And he said, 'You have great potential in this lifetime. The key to your life is gratitude. You do not give enough thanks.' And I said, 'Well, how do I do that?' And he said, 'Simple! Say thank you.' And I said, 'Well, when?' And he said, 'All the time! Like now.' And he said that after I say thank you, I should say more please.
  • Sam #2: Wait... thank you, more please?
  • Annie: Yeah! That with gratitude, the universe is eternally abundant. So, I've been giving gratitude a shot.
  • Thank you more please. Thank you more please. Thank you more please.

That's it. The ebb and flow of the Universe. Thank you, more please. (Yes, it's cheesy, but think about it.)

So, I would like to officially put out to the internet (a direct link to the Universe, as we all know), THANK YOU for my little magic moments of peace and positivity in the past few weeks. More, please?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mission One -- BEAST SCHOOL

A big part of my massive life upheaval is doing well in school.
Don't get me wrong. I'm smart. Clever, even, one might say. But I have a nasty habit of being unmotivated -- and preferring to watch youtube videos and, heyyy, write a blog! rather than do my reading and take extensive notes. Who doesn't?
I remind myself of Calvin (of "and Hobbes" fame).
But, I've decided to do an experiment this week.
I must be on time or EARLY for every class -- including daily dance, 9am across town!

Now... it is Monday night and so far I haven't gotten off to an auspicious start. I went to both my classes (hoorayyy!) but I didn't do the reading. Luckily, saved by the library! It was one of those bizarre Library Education classes that one expects in high school but in university they are either a godsend or a pain in the ass. We just took our stuff to the library (where I work part time) and my coworker, Mary, explained how books worked. Everyone was rapt, RAPT I tell you!

Then I went to work at said library, and then a friend and I went downtown because I had to buy a new pair of ballet shoes. He is one of my few heterosexual male friends (hey, I'm a Musical Theatre major in New York City, let's be realistic here) and he just lost his cousin over the weekend. So, with the hot mess of a state I was in, and the recent trauma he was going through, we made for a huggy pair.

Day One of my BEAST SCHOOL plan degenerated into me weeping the whole way home and bursting out into a full-blown cry-fest while my roommate hugged it out with me.
I hate being this miserable all the time. I'm usually the most joyful, cheery, pollyanna type girl you could possibly be around -- often to the point of obnoxiousness! But losing B, my close friend who passed away a little over a month ago, and then my boyfriend moving away and dumping my ass is just throwing me for the biggest loop. I feel like after blow after blow after blow, my friends and classmates dying one by one through high school (5 in total between Sophomore and Senior year -- I'll get to that in another post) and other various wounds, has finally broken me down.

I know. I sound self indulgent and whiny. It's a real comfort to me, frankly, that EVERYONE deals with stupid shit. Everyone has a huge amount of pain in their life, whatever form it comes in. And it is what makes the good parts of life so darn good. (See? Pollyanna.)

But no matter how much pain I'm in right now, I know I WILL feel better. Just the meanwhile part kind of sucks hairy balls.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Why I Started a Blog (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Universe)

So. This is a blog. I finally started one. After years of resisting Twitter and the like, I'm finally giving in and joining the internet forces, and I will tell you why.

1. I live in New York City. This means that every single day, something happens that either makes me rant angrily or rave blissfully in my head for at least ten minutes. On the subway the other day, I was walking behind a couple who were holding hands, taking up the entire platform, and walking painfully slowly. Meandering I think is the term. For the subsequent ride uptown I went off on a nice juicy rant in my head about Slow-Walkers. Then I thought, Hey, Pieces, why don't you write some of this down some time! So, here I am.

2. I am a Neurotic Mess. I know. You are probably running for the hills now. But the truth is, right now, in this stage of my life, I am a Neurotic Mess. To sum it up, I have horrible anxiety thanks to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder stemming from when several of my friends passed away in high school, and another friend just passed away a month ago. And my boyfriend just moved to LA and dumped me. So, that qualifies me as a mess. 

Don't worry, though. The good thing is, I have a fantastic sense of humor and irony, and I'm a naturally joyful person, so I see the light at the end of the tunnel, I just thought it would be interesting to chronicle my journey through this rough patch. Probably while holding a glass of wine in my hand.

3. I'm a chatty little thing. I tend to monologize. So, instead of doing this to my friends in person too much, I'll channel all my wise words about life and Law and Order SVU into the internet! Yay!

4. I've decided to upheave my life. This, of course is stemming from Number 2. The good thing about everything falling apart is that the only way to move forward is to make some changes. And I like a project. So, I decided to make myself the project. I made a list of resolutions. They are as follows:


I WILL conquer this anxiety

I WILL celebrate the little things

I WILL get nothing below a B this semester

I WILL strive to be the best I can be, FOR MYSELF.

I WILL eat well

I WILL go to bed before midnight at least five nights a week

I WILL drink at least six cups of water a day

I WILL learn how to be alone again


With this blog, I will hold myself accountable. Let's see how I do, shall we?

Pieces of Rainbow