This is not a metaphor for that story about the curly blonde who eats porridge and breaks beds.
I really struggled with these three things in 2017. I expect myself to continue struggling with each of them, while giving myself the motivation to grow and learn in 2018.
I feel frustrated. I feel like I need to say something and I don’t know how. I’m better at writing honestly about life with poetic overtones about sadness and overcoming darkness with light. That kind of writing is not satisfying at all at this moment.
Right now, everything positive and optimistic I’m trying to say sounds convoluted and constipated. It feels like squeezing the last bit of toothpaste out of the tube; when you finally figure out how to eject the paste, you overshoot your toothbrush and end up with a blob of aqua-colored gel in your sink; another mess to clean up.
Yes, I believe in cultivating your own happiness. Growth is uncomfortable. Change is hard. Yes, I feel like I let a lot of crappy people in my life—my own fault. I feel bitter. I feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time. I feel like I should have known better to begin with when things didn’t go the way I thought they should. And I know that life is about learning, and things go the way they’re supposed to.
And all of that feel-good go-hug-a-tree garbage.
Fantasy is a bitch. A poetic, seductive smoke screen blissfully clouding your view of reality to allow crushes and fantasies to manifest. Like mirages they are perfect, at safe distance away on the horizon, the sun hazing out flaws.
My imagination loves to run naked-through-a-field wild. I like the fantasy more than anyone real.
Real people let you down. Real people are disappointing. The real people I’ve let in my life… the drug addict, the porn addict, the alcoholic. The selfish narcissist. The emotionally abusive guy. The immature child. The liar. The compulsive liar (there is a difference). The cheater. The whiner. The one with mommy issues. The lazy guy who hasn’t showered in a week. The mooch. The guy who blames you for his erectile dysfunction. The spotlight stealer. The wimpy one. The one who likes you way too much at first that you know it isn’t real and won’t last. The guy who brags about how much money he makes (PS this guy doesn’t even make half of what he says). The guy who moves too fast. The guy who moves too slow. The guy who is distracted by big boobs like an infant who never got over the fact that his mom didn’t breastfeed him. The guy who is so normal it’s boring.
It’s ok. No one is free of issues. I have my own label for myself. Picky is the first word that comes to mind…
There is a dirty belief we pass around, and it plagues our instinctual abilities. This dirty thought is to tell yourself—at the moment where you feel frustrated and fed up: Be happy that things aren’t worse, you have it better than most people.
Do you constantly listen to the news, jumping on a sick cycle of experiencing other people’s misery and woe and chanting to yourself, “At least that’s not me, at least I have things to be thankful for!”
Shut up. How lazy can we get when it comes to creating our personal happiness?
Don’t tell yourself it could be worse as an excuse to keep yourself pinned down. If you feel like there is more for you out there, do something about it!
This past weekend an older woman turned to me and said, “It’s like you’re invisible, did you know that you were invisible?” as people cut in front of me in line at the movie theater. Twice. And then again.
I smiled, turned to her and said, “I know. It’s always been this way. It’s ok.”
It really isn’t ok, but I have bigger things to worry about. If someone needs to cut in front of me on a line it’s probably because they’re going to die before me, or poop their pants. So I let them cut in front of me and enjoy the fact that I will have a longer life and clean underwear. But that’s as far as I want my it could be worse excuses to go.
I cried. I tried to just cry in my car, but as I walked across the parking lot at work the tears just came out.
But this time, when I told myself to, Get it together! a new voice took over:
I don’t want to get myself together, I just want to fall apart. Now.
For once, in the moment where I felt overwhelmingly upset, even if something as ordinary as being stuck in traffic triggered it, I just wanted to cry and let it happen without holding it in or getting it together.
When I got upstairs to my office I thought maybe the moment had passed, but as soon as someone greeted me with a, Good Morning! I lost it all over again. Pretending to be happy is hard. I went to the bathroom, and in the dark I had a really big, ugly cry. I bent over, almost curled into a ball, and sobbed to the point where I couldn’t breathe.
I felt like a giant wave of darkness smacked into me, knocking my breath out, and leaving me lethargic and confused. I had no idea what happened, or why. For five days, I felt like a shell, with nothing inside. Heavy, tired, and dead; a zombie experiencing anxiety attacks.
I went to the doctor. And we’re testing for everything, from platelet count to Lyme disease, vitamin deficiencies, cortisol levels. Cortisol. A hormone that is produced when the body goes through stress.
Stress? What stress?
I didn’t feel like anything at work was out of the ordinary. My personal life seemed fine. Anything I could label as stress, seemed like normal, healthy stress.
Was I having a breakdown because I was going to turn 30? I had that breakdown at my 26th birthday—and then again on my 29th birthday. I get it. I’m not going to be married or have any kids before I’m 30. I knew that four years ago, and I definitely knew it last year.
But something still wasn’t right, still isn’t right. I didn’t want to write, couldn’t write. I didn’t go to yoga for a week. I couldn’t go to work for two days. I refused to talk to any of my friends or co-workers.
Toxic people are emotional cancers that slowly grow and seep into every facet of your life. They poison the parts of you that are healthy and happy. They inspire self-doubt and grow mistrust. They are emotional manipulators. They are total pieces of shit.
A toxic person breeds emotional cancer in your life. To offset their own problems and pain, they manipulate and control other people. And they are seriously slippy shitty eels in that respect because they paint themselves as your friend. They actually seem to need you and your emotional support and your friendship. They’ll do nice things for you, and then remind you—and shout to the world—how wonderful they are.
And they do need you. They need you because they need to control someone else, because they think they have zero control of their own miserable lives. The hate they feel about themselves is deep and without any restraint. Any moment they can see your vulnerability is a victory for them. They find joy in seeing your problems, seeing you sad, making mistakes, having failures. It may not seem obvious at first, but eventually they will turn your insecurities against you.
The moment you voice a suspicion, catch them in their manipulation scheme, or catch them red-handed in a lie, or you are on the verge of uncovering what they’ve worked hard to hide … they will deny, offset, or turn the situation around because you’re the crazy one (gaslighting), or you’re the one to blame (I can’t keep up with your turning tables…).
You know what’s hard? Sticking to this path of “light” and doing things the“right” way. It’s easier to chase the quick fix, it’s easier to give into your anger and your fears. It’s easier to act out, fueled by fury and resentment. There’s a certain sweet despair that comes with acting on your anger. You need the rush of revenge, but all you do is run after something that will briefly let you touch it, enjoy it, and then disappear, leaving you with no solution.
You know what else is hard? The truth. It’s too easy to put your ego first, hiding behind a transparent shroud of greatness that hides your insecurities. It’s easy to laugh in someone’s face when you’ve done wrong and won’t admit to it. It’s easy to lay blame.
Here is where I am: the truth is shit. The truth is shit because you have to surrender your own ego to tell the truth. Part of you has to admit to the ugly parts you work tirelessly to hide… and I hate that. We all hate that. No one enjoys saying, I messed up; I was wrong; I overreacted; I made a mistake.
Growing is a responsibility we each have to ourselves. Growing sounds like such a good word, such a happy, positive thing. It makes me think of sunlight, and plants, and this fantastic bright green color, and joy.
In reality, growing hurts like hell. It’s uncomfortable and unsettling. Growing makes me cry, and I act frustrated and irrational. Remember puberty? That sucked too. What no one ever tells us is that we will always be growing emotionally and mentally. There is no emotional plateau we reach. If you’re at an emotional plateau, congratulations. You’ve discovered a brief moment of balance. Now try to maintain that balance—in time you will feel your emotions sink and rise again.
The deep end has its allure.
It’s exciting. You feel like you might drown at any moment, gasping for air, and feeling your weight pull you underwater. When you’re dying you’re glad to be alive, and when you’re alive you miss being on the edge of dying. There is no middle. You splash and kick in ecstasy, and drown in misery.
You can’t live that way forever, expending so much energy between losing yourself entirely and trying to find your breath. You have no stamina or balance left to tread, and you hate the water as much as you love it. So you must give in and paddle to shallow waters, and once you are there you find that it is boring. You look out towards the deep end and wish you were in the midst of drowning again.
It is a common theme for people to look back at the past year and think of all the things that have gone wrong, focus on their failings and shortcomings, and devise plans for how they will make some serious changes in the new year. I am sick of looking at the seemingly endless list all of the things I have done wrong, and so instead, I’m looking at all the things I have learned in the past year (or technically, the culmination of my entire life up to this point).
2015, you’ve been the best one yet. Writing this list was a surprising breeze, part of it I had already constructed at the end of my trip to Barcelona. Some of these items are things people say all the time, but it wasn’t until now that I feel like I both understand and appreciate their meaning. I had the hardest time fishing #12 out of my head, which was a fun surprise when it finally came to me. #12 is the crown of lessons from 2015, and one I hope I keep top of mind forever.
Sitting in El Prat, Barcelona. I just paid over 6 Euro for the worst food I’ve had the entire trip. Crappy overpriced croissant—no croissant will ever be as good as the mascarpone filled, perfectly light and decadent one I had from Pastelería Hoffman in El Born—and this bad airport croissant is accompanied by the shittiest cappuccino, hands down, ever. I don’t know why they bothered to call it a cappuccino because it’s water. It was served too hot, and the barista sprinkled some crappy cocoa and dribbled chocolate sauce on top. It’s the only option in E Gates—which sucks because there is basically a shopping mall available for Gates A, B, and C. Even the McDonald’s is something I can’t access, and it looks like appetizing—that’s how bad this breakfast is.
We’ll begin boarding soon. I popped some sleeping pills, or sleeping aids. I have so much sleep to catch up on, and my body still hurts so much. I’m happy to go home, but worried that this entire trip will end up feeling like a dream, like this surreal out-of-body experience I had once.
I am sitting on the balcony of my apartment. It’s my last day in Barcelona. Looking down Carrer dels Assaonadors I see laundry gently blowing in a breeze, airing out. Plants fill some of the balconies, and vines cascade down towards the street. This is one of those bittersweet moments in life, where I know I am sad to leave, but happy to return home.
I drank plenty extra at lunch today. It has helped make me feel more relaxed and fluid. This trip has been the best thing I have ever done for myself, and I realize how important it is to take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself is work, and both simple and difficult. It’s taking care of yourself physically, but emotionally and mentally too. Knowing when you need a break, knowing when it’s ok to cry, and knowing when you need to laugh. It’s also knowing when to stop crying, stop worrying, stop fixating, and pay attention to the life that is right in front of you. It’s allowing yourself to feel pride in the things you do, in your work, and finding joy in simple things.
Today, I am exhausted beyond belief. My legs are stiff, my feet are more sore than they have ever been, and my back feels like it is compressed, pressing down on my lower back and my hips. It’s quite an effect from the waist-down, I think I’ve hobbled many times today. I woke up already feeling stiff and sore… and then I went to Park Guell.
Getting up to Park Guell is a serious hike. I don’t care that there are escalators (five sets if I remember correctly) to help you. The first hill felt like there should have been climbing rope to assist everyone. I’m the kind of person who thinks, Oh my god, I am definitely going to collapse, my legs are going to fold under me and my back is going to give out… And then I pick up my pace, so I don’t collapse until I get to where I’m going.
My iPhone says that today I took 22,742 steps. That’s 11.45 miles.
Last night, was hysterical. I was on the roof of Casa Batllo for a Spanish guitar event. The sun was setting, strings of lights hung across the roof, drinks were being poured. There were only a few people at first, and I had time to pick a prime people-watching, guitar-viewing spot. Settling against the railing next to a table I watched as the roof began to fill up, and I started to feel the awkwardness set in.
So far, I had felt fine being on my own in the city, on my very first day. I had landed in Barcelona earlier in the morning and my excitement and interest trumped any worries. But now, in this setting, where couples were reaaaally interested in canoodling, and kissing each other out of nowhere, and holding hands, and giggling into each others faces… well, I felt great.
I don’t really mind couples, it doesn’t bother me that much, they’re happy together and they’re showing it (if you’re happy and you know it, canoodle your mate?) But the stringed lights, the almost-full moon, the music they set the mood with… ironically enough Frank Sinatra. Frank Sinatra’s All Alone. COME ON! I don’t know why I didn’t start drinking heavily. I felt safe at my little perch.
My first day continued, luckily without any additional nose-running issues. I visited La Pedrera:
I am very behind in keeping up with my blog. Jet lag (or I like to think of it as Jet Launch, only because I’m ahead six hours) has gotten the best of me. I also love to walk, and am making up for years of not being able to walk as much as I used to. When I lived in Denver, I walked everywhere and knew the public transportation back and forth. In Highland Mills, you can’t get by walking places, unless you’re going to Jay’s and only need a sandwich.
When I got to Las Ramblas, it was like being on 16th Street in Denver again. But very different. Highly pedestrian, street performers, mainstream shops, and vendors. Lots of tourists. It was wider, and had more trees, and of course, the buildings did not match. It was a comforting flashback to be on Las Ramblas, which quickly turned into its old annoyance of being surrounded by tourists, and tourist traps.
Before I ventured to Las Ramblas, I went to MUHBA, Museu d’Historia de Barcelona. I thought it would be best to go back in time, first. It’s funny, there was a sense of reverence after traveling below the city to see the ruins. I want to call them Roman ruins, but really, I feel confused because it seems like a lot of different people had an effect on the shaping of Barcelona. Visigoths. Visigoths makes me think of playing hours of Age of Empires.