I used to have so much energy. I was always doing things that made me happy, things that fulfilled me. Even as I write this, I just want to stop. What is the point? What do I even want to say? And to whom? I spent so many years studying at a wonderful university, and sometimes I make grammar mistakes that I don’t know how to fix. I misspell the word grammar as I type this. Sometimes people ask me who my favorite author is or if i’ve read so and so and I am paralyzed by insecurity. No I haven’t read Mark Doty’s newest chapbook. No I don’t know the meaning of laconic at hand, (which is an adjective, expressing much in a few words; concise). I have found myself increasingly paralyzed by my own insecurity over the last few years. What makes it difficult to talk about is that I’m not sure why. I refuse to believe it is just part of getting older. I refuse to believe I have a slow-growing and debilitating mental illness that will eventually lead me to become a bag lady on the streets of NYC. I also refuse to believe that I have to live this way, forever.
People told me not too long ago that I had such a positive outlook and that they were encouraged by my personality. Lately, as I complain about my perceived fears and worries, those same people tell me that “It will be okay,” and “Try not to let it get to you.” I’m tired of my only contribution to conversations being stories of what I used to do or vents about my romantic troubles. When I am at my best, I often tell stories of awkward encounters and things that happen to me. I have been hiding behind my humor and storytelling. I’ve been hiding a very insecure and damaged psyche. A four-year-long love affair is finally burned apart. My parents are growing older. My brother is increasingly unavailable and successful. Most days, I cannot think of a reason as to why I should get out of bed. I have been refusing to admit for a while that I suffer from depression. But, I want to say now, that it’s okay. I will be okay. I want to believe myself.
When you don’t know how to fix things, sometimes you can decide to change your surroundings and to force yourself to get out of the stagnancy of your familiar bed, couch, friends, food. I have always been good at doing this. This has always been my savior. When I can’t possibly take myself anymore, I take myself away. Some would call this running away but it has always worked well for me. Sometimes I have to be without the things I love to love them. Summer and Winter breaks from school have always worked in my favor in this regard. I usually only have to be functional for 4-5 months before I can go somewhere.
I’ve been in Alaska for eight months now, the longest ever. But I am about to leave for good. It will be the first time that I don’t have somewhere to go home to. I’ll have only what I can fit in my car. This includes my cat, and his litter box. I have minuscule plans, mostly ideas. My car is old and there is a definite possibility that it will break down and I will have to give the remainder of my belongings away. When people ask me my plans, the same insecurities pop up and I have to say sheepishly, “I don’t know.” I hate that answer, but I am learning that it’s okay to say it. I don’t know how I’m going to live, make money or keep Monty from running off into the woods somewhere outside of Whitehorse Canada.
Why am I even doing this? Why do I feel like I’m running away and why do I feel like I’m in a nightmare in which I’m naked and everyone is staring?
Perhaps i’m trying to re-enact the trip I made to Alaska. I had no belongings and no fear, and no plan. I made it work, and rather well I might add. Now, I’m five years older, and with more baggage, literally and figuratively. My deepest desire is to shed that baggage (the figurative kind), leave the destructive comfort of my bed behind for good and never lay back down. I don’t want to forget, I want to learn how to remember in a healthy way. I want to write, even if I don’t want to write, because it makes me happy, disgustingly, juicy happy. The kind of happy that seeps out of my skin and hardens protectively. I want to write poetry because I’m good at it and I want to be better. I want to meet strangers that ask questions like, “Why are you doing this?” and “Who’s your favorite author?”. I want to eat those questions like a good dinner and not answer them in ways that I think will make me look smart, or mature, but in ways that lead into new questions and new answers that I didn’t know I knew.
I’ve never had a public writing platform before. I’ve never treated myself like a business. I have always watched and admired, but never done. I used to believe I was just waiting until I was ready, wiser. But eventually, I stopped believing that I could. I stopped believing that I could do anything. I became so self-hating, I couldn’t even believe it was worth trying.
I’ll never been 24, going on 25 again. That line reads like a voice-over for a movie with a strong female lead. But hell, maybe I am a strong female lead! and maybe this is my movie. The one I’ve always wanted to make. If I don’t force myself to start using the skills I know and re-learning the ones I have forgot, I never will. I’ve learned so many things over the last four years in Alaska. I want to put myself in the scary position of having to use them. Another scary question that usually ends in “I don’t know” is about my degree in English. Am I going to teach? I don’t know. “What are you going to do with that?” I don’t know. But I’m going to figure it out by doing it, if that makes any sense.
The biggest thing I want to learn is how to be okay with judgement, specifically, how to accept rejection. One of my closest friends has developed the super power of loving rejection. He thrives off of it. He has learned to turn it into fuel for his own passion, instead of letting it burn him down. I have begun to recognize myself as my own rejector, my own critic. I have developed this terrible habit of pouring fuel onto my own body and watching helplessly as I burn. And I even developed the even nastier habit of doing the same thing to those I love.
My biggest failure is in my love life. My insecurity scarred someone so badly, they might never heal. That is a painful thought. Perhaps, a bit dramatic, but HEY! that is what we can do to people when we don’t know how to love. The ability to accept that I’m not ready to love someone else is harder than it sounds, because I want to so badly. I do and have always wanted a family, a partner - someone to love. So, it is painful for me to admit that I am unable at the moment.
What does this journey mean to me? Difficult question number one. It means being alone with the evil half of me. The half that asks those questions with a snicker and then clouds my brain as I struggle to answer. This journey means being alone with her and kicking her ass. This journey is about overpowering the self-destructive part of me like I’m in a high-school wrestling match. Growing up, I was scared that I was possessed by a demon. When I grew up, I realized:
A. Yes. We all are. B. You have the tools to kill it. C. If you don’t. It will kill you.
Let me state for the record so there's no confusion:
I’m not driving off into the sunset. I’m locking myself up with the demon and only one of us is coming out alive.
This blog is about more than sharing my poems and travel stories. It’s going to be the place where I embarrassingly share with the world, much like I am doing now, what this journey means to me, as I live it. Aside from the massive personal task it is fulfilling, I hope that what I am doing touches someone that perhaps struggles with the same things as me, or has had similar thoughts, or is coming to terms with their own personal demon. At the very least, I hope someone enjoys reading what I write, for whatever reason. I even hope someone judges and rejects me, openly, like in the comment section. I’m ready.