Most of this week was rough.
And it’s mostly just inside my damn head.
My life is so good, in terms of what I have. I have amazing friends, including ones who are helping me live here in a city I love even though they’ve hardly known me long. Yesterday my “landlady” Kate told me my rent can be to pet her dog, who needs a little taming.
My rent is to pet a dog.
I do that anyway.
My life is full of amazing things. Yet my brain runs in the opposite direction, to the worst case scenario, and the other worst case scenario, and the other one. It scares the shit out of me, because while I can handle the fact that I’m an anxious person and can recognize life events that make me become anxious—dwindling funds in my bank account, no boyfriend, loneliness, anger towards people who I want more attention from—I hate the way my mind manifests it. It gives me some comfort to see more than one therapist hardly bat an eye when I tell them about the terrible places my imagination takes me (they trust that they are just thoughts, and nothing more; when they’re in your own head, it’s a different story, one that’s harder to accept), but I always find a way to make myself feel worse than the last time I was in a season of fear and dry gasping and loneliness that just makes me grasp at every last activity to keep me moving.
I called my friend Michelle two nights ago, and she said, “Let’s just put this on the table. I won’t judge you if you ever decide you want to tell me about some of the thoughts.” And we talked and I was able to breathe again. I was able to hang up the phone with her and face the rest of the night ahead of me.
I woke up the next morning, yesterday, and felt great, or at least nearly great. I had plans to see two dear friends that day—my saving grace for the day, as I had been cooped up, unemployed and slightly ill—all week, and I called them to let them know I was fighting something in my system and that we could cancel if they were nervous about what might be (but probably are not) flu germs. They thanked me for being sensitive, said they hated to do it but let’s reschedule.
I didn’t panic.
Oftentimes I panic, when I’m counting on socialization and it’s taken away from me.
I was fine. I went for a long walk outside, boldly walking without my phone. Not bold because of safety reasons, but bold because I was daring to not have my pacifier of social interaction with me. I had written on my dry erase board earlier, “Keep a green tree in your heart, and a singing bird will come.” I had seen that in a beach house where I stayed with Nick and his parents five years ago, and I thought it was so positive and poetic that I wrote it down and it’s been a comfort to me since.
Little did I know that on my walk I would see a bird in a tree. When I wrote it down I wasn’t expecting literal results. I happened to turn my head at someone’s yard as I walked along the sidewalk and I saw a peacock in a tree. A peacock!
I stood on the sidewalk for a long time, saying out loud, “I can’t believe I’m seeing this.”
Peacocks really scare me. Belly dancers for the same reason: their sexual forwardness. I hate that they let peacocks roam in zoos; I stand by that. But seeing it in this completely unexpected context, and though the yard had no fence—the peacock could be on me in seconds—I was taken aback. Not afraid, just in awe and so grateful.
I got home and called all of my brothers and my parents to tell them what I saw.
Still more than 24 hours later I still can’t really believe it.
I went to church and saw my dear friend Chris, and my dear friend Sue was there with her husband and friend Minnewa. The pastor who I have a crush on preached, and if I was judging his eyes correctly, we shared some eye contact during his message.
The sun was shining—well, duh, this is Southern California—as we stood outside afterward, but I kind of held back in the conversation, as my sinuses and ears were full of fluid, making it hard to hear and focus.
At our cars Sue told me over and over I could come to her house, and I told her I had been alone most of the week, but I still didn’t feel like myself enough to really want to go over to her house. I so wanted to not be alone, but I didn’t want to socialize. I went to my car, then got out and walked to the beach, this time with pacifier in hand and I didn’t wait 30 seconds to start dialing.
As I reached the water I was talking to my dad, one of my most favorite people in all the world, but it offered little comfort. I wanted a person right with me. I wanted to know that someday someone will want to marry me. And I don’t mean that in a romantic context but rather one of sustainability. Will someone ever accept all of my craziness? Will he be patient like my one and only boyfriend so far? Patient that he’ll let me cry over and over and over again and just let me cry, sitting right there with me, no eye on the clock or his phone or the TV? That he won’t decide he’s had too much after X number of years?
As I listened to the pastor and crushed on him simultaneously, my brain left room for me to think of yet another thing—charitable thing that it is. It let me think about the fact that I’m not spiritually strong enough for him. That it wouldn’t work between us.
I called my friend Lydia and she picked up—thank you, God.
We talked and talked as we do. Lydia and I can always talk and she makes me smile. I talked while I sat in the sand, until my nose was finally in need of a tissue, then talked to her all the way back to my car. I found a napkin and Lydia said, “You found a tissue!” as she heard me blow my nose, like a proud mom with a toddler.
My throat hurt from talking and as we were saying goodbye my phone beeped to tell me the battery was almost out. I told Lydia I might call her again today or this week. I called Michelle again last night.
I got back home and plugged in my phone to charge. My best friend called. I started moping about me and when I let her talk she told me she was at the hospital. Her father-in-law is dying, she told me. I almost started crying while we were on the phone. Not because I ever knew her father-in-law that well, but in a selfish way, using someone else’s tragedy to be the catalyst for dropping tears to release my own mental anguish.
Years ago at my grandfather’s funeral I cried several times, on one occasion at my grandparents’ condo. I took my mom in a bedroom and said I didn’t want them to see me crying. My grandfather was a great man, one who I remember being funny and enjoyable to be around, but most of my tears were because I was miserable in my life. I was studying something I didn’t like to study, I was lonely, I wanted friends. It was my first year out of college. Mom told me it was OK if they saw me cry, they would just think I was crying about Grandpa.
I called my mom today after I got off the phone with my friend and cried and she prayed for the man who is in his last days. She asked what I had eaten and when I told her a banana, a granola bar and chips, she told me to buy soup. I took a shower and bought soup and toilet paper and tissue. The cashier was sweet, called me “sweetheart” or “honey” when she reminded me to grab my keys off the counter before I went to my car.
I don’t want to say just look at the little things, like a nice cashier or a peacock in someone’s non-fenced yard in broad daylight, as a way to cope with life. I think that’s stupid a lot of the time. Life is hard, and I get in really, really dark places. When I go through a season of anxiety and my thoughts go everywhere I don’t want them to go and then I beat myself up for thinking them even though I have no control over it, ad nauseum, each time it seems harder, not easier. I’m a true believer in hard times making you stronger, but this is one category where each time it hits I feel worse and the visions of doom for my life only increase tenfold.
Seriously, I hope there’s a man out there for me.
But I do have to recognize and accept the tiny miracles. While I was driving home my left ear just barely popped, releasing the tiniest bit of pressure and freeing up my ability to hear just a little better, and I felt maybe .05 percent better. Maybe 0.5. But while most of my struggles were mental, that little bit of physical release made me feel just slightly—slightly—less mad. I had planned to crash in the door of my tiny and beloved house and call my dad in a mess of tears. Instead it wasn’t until my friend called me and I hung up with her and called home that I had some tears on the phone with my mom. But I didn’t tell her everything that was bothering me. I told her I was having a hard day in general, and then about my friend's father-in-law.
And then I stopped crying and took a shower and went to the store. And now I’m writing. It’s not great. But I believe this is my gift and I need to be responsible with it by using it, instead of saying I'm a writer but never writing. So here I am. Writing. May God use my hands on the keyboard as He guides them, for His will. And may this gift help keep me afloat.