I Have Nothing to Say, So I'll Say it Anyway. (Or, How You Can Still Blog Even if You're Slightly Deflated)
For something like seven straight years Shelly Boyce and I have called each other every single time we get in the car, every single day. 99% of the time, when the other person answers, we'll say, "I have nothing to say...I just got in the car." I am the overly sentimental one in our friendationship, so I like thinking it's our love language. When Shelly reads this, she will roll her eyes and tell me to get it together. This describes our entire relationship.
Anyway, when given the time, we'll rattle on for an hour about all of that nothing. It's never unproductive if you're talking with a friend. With the deepest sincerity I can muster, I hope for that in this silly blog. I truly feel like I have nothing to say today, so maybe I'll filibuster it out to see if the calling-Shelly-in-the-car principle applies...eventually something juicy always comes out when you talk long enough.
Why do I have nothing to say, you ask? I don't know. I've never lacked for words. I do know that I haven't been feeling a hundred percent lately. Shelly says that she doesn't think she's felt a hundred percent since she was about 7, which makes me laugh and feel slightly less insane. Blame the weather, or that guy that won't stand for the national anthem, or the moon, or what ever planet is in retrograde, and whatever retrograde means, but I feel like one of those mylar balloons that has sat in a hot car too long....just slightly deflated.
I do a lot of sitting with emotions these days, and most of the time I find it an interesting exercise. The last couple of weeks, though (it's always a "couple of weeks", right?), I've been annoyed with the whole process. Annoyed with myself, maybe. Why does it seem like so much work to just get from putting your bra on, to going to bed? It's exhausting. I'm exhausted.
Last week, I got really disappointed in myself when I took an anti-anxiety pill for a very invasive dentist's appointment. I had exactly four of those little pills for my flights to and from Spain next month. I was disappointed about having the pills in the first place too.
It's disappointment city over here. I'm the mayor, but not the treasurer, because I'm bad with money.
So, the dentist. It was one heck of an appointment. I have crowns on my two front teeth, and I've hated the way they look for a while now. I mean, my face is clearly my money maker, and I wanted my smile back. They had to saw off the crowns, pull out a metal post in one tooth, hammer it back in (literally...very, very literally), and then mold temporary teeth in until the permanent ones are ready. It was a few hours of a lot of disconcerting noises and sensations. You never, ever, want to hear your dentist say, "Oh no, what is that?" It was a long morning.
I sat in my car in the dentist's parking lot, hemming and hawing. Hawing and hemming. I emailed my anxiety coach and life-partner (Kelli Walker of www.panicandanxietycoach.com), texted pretty much everybody in my phone, prayed to Jesus and Joan of Arc or any of the saints that weren't busy, and took the pill anyway. The irony (I think) is that it didn't actually take affect until after the appointment. I had a very relaxing afternoon at work, though.
I was disappointed because I know that I don't need anything to cover up my anxiety. Anxiety can't hurt me, it proliferates if I fight it, and it will go away on its own if I do nothing. I know this. I preach this. I did a podcast about this. Oh my God a podcast. I actually recorded my voice talking to Kelli about this exact topic. Am I a fraud? Why would anyone listen to a word I say if I'm sitting in a parking lot power sweating about a dentist appointment? I am an impostor. I am not recovered enough. I'm not even recovered at all. I may be hurting people if they take my advice. And I'm not even that funny. While I'm at it, have I looked in the mirror lately? When did the weight come back? No wonder I'm single. I might as well hang up this blog, and the baby stuff, and just stick to my insurance job because that's all I'll ever be enough to do. Everyone is sick of hearing me complain. No one wants a neurotic friend. What a fake. What's wrong with me? Why can't I just get it together? What's the excuse now?
Where in the f-bomb did any of that come from? This is The Voice, by the way. I've talked about The Voice before, but this is the real daily convo she tries to schedule in my brain. She has a clip board and a check list, and she just wants a few minutes to run down the list of all of the darkest things she can, just so she thinks I'm prepared. She's a doomsday prepper, and a really big bummer. She's the chick at work that you get stuck with in the elevator, and tells you about her UTI and her cat's glaucoma when you ask her how she's doing.
She's also not real. Well, she's sort of real, I guess, but she's definitely not someone I need to listen to. She's going to keep talking, that's her job, but I know now that all of the really mean things she says are just a story that I can choose to play into or not.
I wish I could say that I snapped out of all of that jazz sitting in my car in that parking lot. I didn't. It's like a fever or something...there are a lot of weird dreams, and sweating, and unappealing skin tones, and sleeping. Eventually, though, the fever breaks...it just does. It broke for me this week whilst uncontrollably crying for a full half hour over FaceTime with a friend. I've never actually done that. Some people think that I am one who never cries. I'm very Stonewall Jackson by reputation. The truth is that I'm very quick to tears when I feel overwhelmed. When Debbie Downer and her clip board sit me down for a quarterly review, I just know the tears will come.
My funk started when I got so wrapped up in the story that there was something wrong and I needed this pill. Then I got wrapped up in the story that there was something wrong with something being wrong and I decided I needed the pill more. Then I got pile driven into the mat with the story that I'm bad at practicing patience and self-compassion and all the stuff I preach (and genuinely believe in), that I'm a fraud, and deserve no one. Then I didn't take a pill...but I did eat Chinese food. The next night it was wine. The night after that it was pizza...and not even DeFazios.
The story got bigger, and it sort of felt like I was a little kid on the beach getting pummeled by big waves. I just couldn't get my feet under me. I kept getting wrapped up for days and days. Then I had a good cry with someone I trust who just sat completely still on the phone and watched me just get it out. I don't think I actually said anything important, I just said a lot of, "I don't feel great. I hate this. I'm exhausted and sad. I don't know what's going on, and I don't know what to do." That's when the fever broke. That's when I could put it into words and talk about it with the other people I trust. I learned last fall that if you just let the tears come, they go just as fast. They also don't sit inside you and erode all of your organs. I feel immeasurably better.
Because, let's all beat this dead horse together, connection is the start of it all. It's all about empowering yourself with knowledge, finding resources, finding courage...but most of all, finding your tribe. All of this stuff I write about really happens. And all of it happens to everyone I know. That has been the most amazing thing to see.
This week I had a great opportunity to submit my writing for a mental health website that I'm very excited about - cross your fingers that they stay except my stuff. I went back and looked at all of my old silly blogs (..."old" is kind of a funny thing to say since I started this in May...) and saw that I've learned so much, and I can't unlearn what I know...right? Reading back, it's so cool to me to see how much has been inspired by the people around me. Sometimes I forget the things that I write week to week, and need to look back at those lessons. I think I had the naive and sort of lame expectation when this blog started that if i wrote something one week, I'd be done dealing with it forever. Hashtag: lol.
I've made a pact with myself that I would never write about something that I haven't dealt with. Well, dealt with enough, anyway. I don't want to be the person posting something, then sitting around, metaphorically chain smoking, waiting anxiously for third-party validation. That feels gross to me. I do want to have a real conversation with you, though. So here we are.
Yes, I get disappointed in myself sometimes. Or maybe it's more that I'm frustrated with that I can't control the traits in me that I don't like. It's part of me. I can't out-run myself, no matter where I move. I have to lean in and really deal with it all. The coolest thing I got to watch this week is how fast this funkiness passed by because I was able to see it for what it is, and not hold on to the stories for too long. I'm really pumped about that actually.
Look it, I have laundry to do, so stop filibustering already.
Here's what I know today: I absolutely am enough. The people who have affected me the most in my life, but especially in the last year-ish, have been those that have gone through stuff...that are going through stuff now. I hope I can do that for someone. Let me go through my crap next to you while you go through yours.
It is work, and it can be exhausting. Sometimes it's inspiring and rewarding. Always it's moving forward, no matter what Debbie and her clip board say.
Keep calling and talking, even if you have nothing to say. Especially if you have nothing to say. Find what breaks your fever, then patch yourself up, put some mascara on, and go have too much white wine on a random Wednesday with other people who are trying to break their fevers.
You're going to be just fine, I know it, because I am going to be just fine too.