Four Reasons & One Realization

When someone who is a writer hasn’t written in a while, there are quite possibly a number of reasons why:

  1. They are busy with life
  2. They have lost inspiration
  3. They’ve written, but decided it’s crap and won’t share it
  4. The ideas are bubbling in their head, but there are too many and not enough ambition or motivation to follow through

I am sure there are more reasons than that, but I have experienced all four of those in the last several months.

It’s not that I haven’t written. I’ve written. I just don’t think any of it is good or complete enough to share it with the rest of the world.

Winter strips me of my humanity. I am a walking, eating, sleeping shell, who wanders through her days, seeking only the comforts of alcohol, a warm blanket, or the vicarious vacation of watching others on television.

Sometimes, there is far too much going on inside my head, or emotionally, for me to even begin to comprehend how to put those thoughts to paper.

Yesterday was Friday. I had no plans. I also had no desire to make them. I was feeling eerily down for no reason, except possibly the effects of my birth control, this weather, or the general existential angst I’ve been feeling for quite some time. I chose to lie on the couch and eat garlic bread and pizza I had ordered. I never order food when I am alone; this was an exception.

Quite drastically, something clicked over in my brain. Sort of like when a record player shifts over the grooves to the next song. I decided that I was tired of being tired. For weeks now, I have been mulling over how, lately, I am the opposite of everything my blog stands for. I have been extremely mediocre—hating it with a passivity—but mediocre, nonetheless.

Part of the problem is that I’ve lost my goal. Somewhere in the past few months I have literally misplaced the part of me that has hope. It’s been a weird sort of depression I’ve never felt before. Usually, I’ll feel ambivalence or deep pain, but never without hopefulness.

In that moment of stark realization, I had been looking at one of those online coaching programs—the ones that, through virtual means, motivate you to strive for your health and weight goals. You know, like having a personal trainer, except not.

It’s been too bare and bleak outside for me to consider being alive again. I’ve dealt with this deadness by eating. In doing so, I’ve gained back the weight I’ve lost in the past few months. I am angry at myself, which makes it worse. So, yesterday, I decided to accept that life has these natural waves and to do something about it.

I joined this online coaching program for a free two-week trial. In the set-up, it asks me:

What are your deepest reasons for why you want to reach your goal?

After giving a brief answer, it prompts me again:

Is this the real reason, or is there more?

I wrote more.

This short, virtual prompting by a non-human was strangely so thoughtful and perfect. In those few moments, I was able to succinctly put into words a large quantity of what has been bothering me for months.

It was always in my head, but placing it on paper had a real impact.

I want to have hopefulness and strive for goals. Why? It asked me.

Because I don’t want to be depressed or have existential angst.

Is this the crux of it…?

I don’t feel like me. I miss the old me.

I have known this for a long time, but verbalizing it gave it power again.

What is the old me?

Well, a lot of things, but when I wrote that I was thinking about the old, physical me, for starters. A girl who was comfortable in her own skin and looked in the mirror every day and thought (mostly) that she was beautiful and radiant.

The old me also had dreams, hobbies, energy, and spirit.

She didn’t look forward to drinking as an escape from reality. She didn’t sit on the couch, watching television for hours so the aching she felt inside could be tamped down. She looked forward to full stretches of days alone, where she could practice guitar, write, do arts and crafts, go for walks in the woods, and feel the cosmic love of the universe pour down upon her in gentle, reminding waves of compassion.

I don’t feel any of that anymore. Literally, none of it. Today, is the first day in a very long time I have felt anything.

Knowing that every day was one I was sleepily rolling through, like a person in a crowd on an escalator, was making me mediocre. Mediocrity led to helplessness and uselessness. I do not like being alive just so I can eat snacks, watch a movie, or go to work. I like being alive because I know I have some purpose. If I am not contributing to this existence in any way, I don’t want to be here.

This is the existential angst I’ve been feeling.

My dreams have been filled with nightmares and destruction for weeks. I wonder if this was my body’s way of trying to cause motion again?

My problems are far from being resolved, and this is only day one of the first step, but I have at least identified and verbalized what is causing me such stagnation.

I have finally chosen to listen to myself.

Disintegrating

I am sitting on my couch, alone in my living room, thinking about all of the people I care about and how I haven’t seen most of them in so long that I can’t remember their voices or how they smell.

My heart is breaking into a million pieces.

It might be my overly active hormones at play, but it is still real just the same.

My chest aches and my lower lashes feel the kiss of tear drops, because I miss these people. But it is more than that. I am proud of them. Real damn proud.

I think about acquaintance friends with whom I haven’t visited in many years—how they are married now or having kids. I can watch them through the filtered screen of social media. I see their lives growing and changing.

My old best friend from grade school is a successful fashion consultant with her own company in NYC. I was just visiting her website and admiring how professionally and elegantly done it was. My old best friend has accomplished so much. I can hardly believe the magnificence of humans, sometimes.

The first man I said “I love you” to recently got engaged.

Everyone’s lives are just branching out like a well-mannered fractal into outer space. These lovely branches curving and splitting, and my heart just wants to burst with genuine excitement and joy in the happiness that is others’.

I don’t know if my mind is searching out these longing memories tonight because my hormones are peaking for a window of time due to PMDD, or because I’ve experienced loss so near in the past.

I might not have another Tuesday night with my best female friend. Tuesday was our day. She’d come over with beer or wine and we’d sit and talk or watch a girly movie. There’s been a rift between us, and I haven’t even had the chance to explain myself or talk to her, because she has protectively boarded up her emotional walls and shut me off like water lines in the middle of winter, so the pipes don’t burst.

I said goodbye to a man I have loved fiercely and passionately for over a year. I don’t know if I’ll ever smell his hair again or try hopelessly to get him to open his eyes wide enough to stare into mine for more than two or three seconds.

And he—this man—has accomplished so much. I haven’t been able to be there for any of it, but I’ve cheered from the sidelines and been supportive from the other end of the phone. I’ve pushed him to fight for what he loves, and I’ve lost everything I could have ever had with him to the gamble of his potential success, hanging out there in the future like an amorphous, looming question mark.

I want to take this palpitating heart of mine and shred it up into tiny fibers. Little thread-like viscera. I want to connect myself physically to all of those people who have ever mattered to me. The friends I haven’t forgotten. Loved beings who have amazed me all this time.

Yet… I can’t.

I can’t, and that’s why it’s paining me. To have to stay whole when I want to be a part of everyone. To have to continue to live my own life when my memories dredge up nostalgic yearning to be close to others. To walk my own path, knowing I could never see any of these people ever again. And that I would just have to be okay with that.

Who can always just be okay with that?

Not even the strongest person is truly at peace with the reality that something they love so much might never be close enough to them again that they can just reach out and touch it; embrace it; breathe in the essence of it, whether it be their voice, their graceful demeanor, their smile, their laugh, or just the comfort that is silently acknowledged between two people when they are relieved to be in another’s presence.

And since I am only little Amanda and possess no tool set to cope with this massive sense of loss—this deprivation of familiarity—I wrap up into myself in the fetal position in my bed and cry. I write. I love everything and everyone I can while I can. I hug tightly, say I love you genuinely, and kiss like I’m nominated to win an award for it.

My body is the glue that holds me together, while my thoughts and tears scatter across time.

Not all of these people, or even most of them, probably know how much I hold love for them still in my heart.

One knew. He told me so. I whimpered to him through desperate, emotion-laden declarations that for so long I was afraid to tell him how much I loved him. Right then, he cut me off and said, “You didn’t have to say it. I knew.”

There’s a calming feeling that comes with the knowledge of his heart knowing my heart so intimately all this time without me ever having to verbally confirm that what we felt was real.

For those I’ve lost or not seen, and may never see again, if they could know my love is expansive and unyielding in its many forms, then I am connected to each, instead of my fear of disintegrating into a pile of ash, like every time the one I love steps out my front door.

There’s a Man

There’s a man.
His hair wispy like a model’s, looking perfect in pictures.
My favorite part is how disheveled it gets when we are naked;
Strands bouncing up and down with each passionate grunt.

There’s a man.
I only get small glimpses of what our life would be:
Giggles in the bedroom.
Hand-holding across busy city intersections.
Sushi at a small restaurant in Brooklyn.
Eyes that see me first when he wakes.

There’s a man.
The way I cherish him is different.
I would kiss every tiny freckle on his face if I saw him each day;
I’ve uttered my most heart-felt to my bedroom walls at night,
because he’s hours away.

There’s a man.
He’s one long longing.
No one I desire more and no one further from my reach.
More time apart than together; our moments, fleeting and glittery.

There’s a man I love.
I probably always will.
He never seems to let me go.
For that, alone, I love him still.

Obsessed

I think every serious writer is a bit obsessed.

She’s infatuated with words. Specifically, her words. She’s never satisfied with her vocabulary. Scribbled notes adorn scrap paper—ideas for things about which she wants to write. Fearing a good thought will go to waste, she has a hard time parting with any of her years-old scraps, usually tossed into a folder or heaped in a desk drawer.

A serious writer reads and re-reads her work dozens of times before publishing. Even then, she reads it some more, in case she’s missed something. Always scouring for a grammatical error or the perfect position to place an important insight.

She defines herself as a writer. She jokes that ink runs through her veins instead of mere mortal blood. She feels like a conduit for the universe’s silent language and song. It is her honor to ensure the unspoken gets transcribed so it can be committed to the bank of human understanding and memory.

She reads a lot. She’s imbued with fantasy, whim, heaviness, and stardust. Hours alone are her favorite, as she can prepare her art form uninterrupted. Inspiration comes at a stop sign, while listening to a podcast, after a heart-breaking evening, and in the shower—every writer’s worst nightmare, because a pen is not nearby.

She thinks about the book she will someday write when the perfect storm coalesces with a stroke of genius. She knows she might never write that book.

She writes every day. On days when she can’t, she feels the withdrawal; the same pull that addicts experience without their muse or playmate.

A serious writer never gives up, because even if most of the world has never read a single thing she’s ever written, the pure ecstasy of putting thoughts into tangible strings of mellifluous sentences is her truest passion.

A serious writer is obsessed, head over heels, doe-eyed in love with the written word.

She loves it more than almost anything else, and will constantly take her experiences and those she adores and decorate them in poetry, in song, in memoir, in essay, in fiction, in creative nonfiction, in novel, in journal. Any way she can, she will.

And she does.

Poorly Taken Notes

Last night, I read the words of an 18 year old girl’s personal journal. My hand traced over the sometimes red, sometimes blue or black ink, thinking about how the puerile mind doesn’t fully understand or know how to process others’ actions or heartache—how it barely does now, 15 years later.

Her thoughts trembled throughout the pages, yet agonizingly stuck in a purgatory of adolescent fear. Did he still find her pretty? Why is he suddenly not interested? How will things turn out?

It’s painful to read. Not because this naive girl is being foolish or simple, but because 15 years later, she faces a similar problem and still envelops herself in distrust and anxiety.

She wrote of being “unlucky”, like she, specifically, was peeled out of colorform and thrust into this bleak existence without predictability or smiling faces.

I know now that life is what you make it. That things don’t happen to us like there’s a celestial and surreptitious foosball match, where we’re constantly getting barreled over because we can’t see the ball.

But I don’t believe it. I seem to have shit luck.

That girl—she knew it even then.

She was really pretty. In some ways, prettier than she is now, although she’s more mature, curvy, and experienced. Boys turned their heads, but none ever asked her out. When they finally did, they became infused with the life of her voice and the joy of her effervescence, and then quickly deflated and became uninterested. Was it something she had done?

Probably.

I have made it my life’s mission since I was a teen to right the erroneous ways of my trysts. To figure out how to make things work, and to be a more self-aware and interpersonally involved lover.

And I still have shit luck.

The entry dated September 11th, 2001 chronicled the events of the falling towers, and as hopeless romantics do, that girl told of her own heart’s undoing. The boy revealed to her, while they poured over their scribbled notebooks from chemistry class, that he didn’t want to be her boyfriend, after holding her hand every weekend at every party, and spending nights next to her in bed.

I have never forgotten that day for very obvious reasons, but it was also the same day my emotions were crumpled up like poorly taken notes and tossed carelessly in the trash bin.