I've been putting off writing this post, or any other post, for too long. Three weeks almost.
I have a whole folder full of drafts of other blog posts that I could've posted instead, but they all felt dishonest. And the point of having a blog, for me, is to have a place to be honest about what's on my mind. It's basically an internet filing cabinet for me to dump my weird thoughts. You are welcome to open the drawer and leaf through things or not, to agree and approve or not. But, for me, the point is honesty.
I haven't written because I've been in my own head too much. I've been second guessing myself too much. And I've been stretching myself too thin amongst my other commitments, and I haven't wanted to admit to any of that.
At the moment I've committed myself to roughly four jobs, and I'm trying to learn to drive, and I'm also trying to live my life-- which means that I cook and bathe and do laundry and sometimes I even have fun with people I like. And today, the only day of my weekend this week, I lost my shit a little bit.
I have a dark sense of humor. And I have a habit of reminding myself of the worst things that have happened in my life when things get stressful as a coping mechanism. So, for example, I'll get stressed about trying to parallel park, and I'll think "Nicky, your dad doesn't love you. This is nothing. You can do this."
How fucked up is that? It's becoming clearer why I didn't want to be honest. But that's who I am, honestly.
So today, when I got completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things I still have left to figure out, I tried to console myself by remembering just how much worse things have been in the past. But this time, my strategy didn't work. In fact, it did the opposite of work. It made me feel worse. And I started that horrible downward spiral where suddenly you're watching yourself cry in the mirror and crying more because of how horrible it is to see yourself crying so much. It was a piling on of every bad thing that's ever happened just as a way to make myself feel more sad. It was unending and inconsolable. It was a pit.
I have come to realize that most artists know this place well. It's one of those gross things we do because "feeling our feelings is important" or some bullshit like that. And I talk to other writers and we get all sexy talking about pain because that's where good stories come from and blah blah blah vomit. But the thing about that-- about the gross romanticization of suffering and getting hurt-- is that while it might make for great art and good stories, it also makes it incredibly hard to be a functional and good person. And so, there comes a time when you have to find a way to let go of all that shit, despite whatever brooding sexiness it might seem like it's helping.
Letting go is a scary and sometimes seemingly impossible thing, and it's something I think is often misunderstood. I feel like there's a million movie fights where someone yells about how they can't just "let it go" because they can't ever get over whatever happened. And then there's the fucking Frozen song that makes it seem like the most empowering and satisfying thing to do. And, at least in my experience, the reality of letting go isn't as clear cut as any of that. Letting go of something doesn't get rid of the pain of it. It doesn't change what happened. It doesn't fix what happened. It's not always empowering, or revolutionary. All it really means to me is that I stop fighting that the truths of my life are true.
Getting myself out of the pit today wasn't about realizing I've seen worse. It wasn't about censuring myself for not being tough enough. It wasn't about deciding that all the things I'm handling aren't overwhelming or difficult sometimes. It was simply about letting go: Yes this is hard. Yes sometimes I'm overly stressed, and yes, sometimes the road ahead looks insurmountable. Those are the facts. But this is my life, and this is what I am getting through right now. So let go of it. Stop letting it be some disaster you can't escape. It's not a disaster. It's your life. Let it go.
It sounds easier than it is.
The day that I consider was the worst in my life lasted all of fifteen minutes. I went into a building, I saw my dad for fifteen minutes, I came out of the building, and I went home. It was the last time I saw him, not because he died or anything, but because I have chosen not to go back. It's been almost three years now. I don't remember anything else about that day except for those fifteen minutes.
My dad and I have had a long and difficult relationship. He's what I am going to call a pioneer alcoholic. By which I mean, he is an alcoholic in a way that changes the meaning of the term. Drinking is such a small part of his problem that it feels almost unfair to simply call him a drunk. He was homeless for a long time, chronically unemployed, has suffered multiple strokes, and is mostly blind from cataracts. He is also a person I love more than I have words to describe. To me, he has been both the best and worst dad in the world.
That day, I went to visit him at the charity housing complex where he now lives. I'd been home from college for less than 12 hours, visiting for Thanksgiving. I checked in at the front desk and then I went upstairs to his room. He was sober, but he barely looked at me. He asked me what it was I wanted from him, and I said nothing, I just came to see you. He told me I shouldn't have come. He told me it was disrespectful of me to come and visit him looking the way I did and that it was no wonder I didn't have a boyfriend. He told me I was wasting my time getting a degree because I wouldn't ever amount to anything. He told me he was ashamed of me. He told me over and over again to get the fuck out of his room. He asked me for money, and when I didn't have any, he asked me what the fuck I was good for then. When I left, I said "I love you", and he looked through me like he'd never cared less about anything. I got in the car with my mom to go home and I could barely breathe.
I still can't quite breathe sometimes when I think about that day. It's what my sister has very accurately described as "some nuclear level shit." It is exactly the kind of thing that I would yell about not being able to "just let go" if I were in a movie.
And yet, ultimately, it's a fact of my life. It's something that happened. Being angry at it, being sad about it, being scared by it, doesn't change that. It doesn't make me more interesting to dwell on how painful it was. It doesn't make me arty or sexy. It is a story that's true. And it was one that changed my life, and it changed me, and it hurt. But little by little, I am finding ways to let it go.
It's not easy, and it's not immediate. It doesn't get rid of the pit. It doesn't mean never being sad or angry. It doesn't mean anything except the knowledge that nothing is forever. No feeling stays the same forever. It doesn't mean anything except accepting that no matter how you feel, the truths of your life are true.
So here I am, writing to be honest. Writing to get over all the things, big and small, that keep me from writing all the time. Writing to say that sometimes life is a complete shit show and nothing seems manageable. Writing to say that maybe we should stop romanticizing and luxuriating in the things that break our hearts. Maybe we should just be honest about them.
Yes it is hard. Yes it is painful. But it is what I'm getting through right now. It will continue to be what it is. It's not a disaster I can't escape. It's my life. So I have to let it go.