Adventures in (F)unemployment: Part 2- Stop F*cking F*ckboys

It has been a little over three weeks since I lost my job and I feel like (F)unemployment has me doing all sorts of crazy shit lately. And no, I don’t mean like, putting on a “Showtime” show on the L train, or chanting along with the Hare Krishna’s in Union Square. But like adopting a dog immediately after getting fired? Really? Though it is seriously the best thing I have done in weeks I can’t exactly say it was anything other than a rash and illogical decision. But the upside of being (f)unemployed is it has lit a fire inside me to purge all the bullshit from my life that is not serving me in a positive way. It has given me a weird sense of fearlessness that wasn’t there before. But I guess when you’ve already lost your job in a totally unjust way, you figure not much else can go wrong and might as well say fuck it to everything else! First I told the dude I was barely dating I wasn’t going to bother anymore. Then I told another guy I was kind of sort of seeing (albeit casually) for the better part of eight months that I didn’t feel like being his afterthought anymore.  And finally, after years of ignoring the advice of my friends, removed a very toxic influence from my life. That is a lot of positive change on the relationship (or non-relationship?) front for one week. And then it hit me. The common denominator in all my (non) relationships (other than me of course) is that every person I get into a thing with, ends up being a total fuckboy. And after careful thought and consideration, I’ve decided I need to stop fucking with fuckboys.

This is how I came to this realization and conclusion. Anyone who knows me knows I have a long-standing history of choosing the wrong men. I fully admit to having daddy issues and a distrust of most straight men. Which is a whole other blog post. If I wanted to delve into my pre-adulthood experiences I could, but instead I’ll just focus on the post-college years. The first fuckboy case was the Jerk Hut Jerk. JHJ and I met while working at a local gem of a restaurant in Philadelphia called The Jamaican Jerk Hut. I was excited to work there because it had been in Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette movie “In Her Shoes” and they had a wicked back patio that felt like you were hanging out at someone’s summer BBQ blasting Bob Marley the whole time you worked. He was an aspiring actor. I was finishing up my casting apprenticeship and directing my first professional show. We became fast friends and eventually started dating. He was my first real boyfriend. We were only together for about six months when out of the blue he broke up with me saying he wasn’t ready for a relationship, that he wanted to be with me but not just me (classic fuckboy line). This was after we started looking at grad schools together, talking about what programs we both wanted apply to, which cities we could both happily live in, and him talking about us spending our lives together and eventually retiring in Edinburgh after we each had kick ass theatre careers. Ugh. He said he was going through some stuff that he couldn’t talk to me about and that it would all make sense eventually, he just needed time to process it. Cut to six months later, after we had still been sleeping together, hanging out, and borrowing plays off each other when one day after picking up some my plays he tells me he’d been spending a lot of time in West Philly lately. “You’re not the Fresh Prince. Why would you want to do that?” I asked. (West Philly is indeed as dangerous as the opening credits of Fresh Prince would have you believe). “Because my son lives there,” he responds. Turned out JHJ had cheated on me when we were together. Knocked a girl up. And broke up with me when he found out the chick was pregnant. She was also ten years his senior. And it was her fifth child by the fourth baby daddy, two of which were locked up if I remember correctly. This fucked with my head (and ego) tremendously. And yet I continued to sleep with him for the better part of the next three months, in between crying into pints of Ben & Jerry’s Ameri-cone Dream consumed sitting in my papasan chair with my roommates repeatedly telling me in so many words that he was a fuckboy and I could do much, much better.

Sadly in the last ten years not a whole lot has changed. The thing about fuckboys is that you don’t know they’re a fuckboy at the start. Sometimes they are disguised as a student in his late 20s returning to get a college degree who is happy to date you until he gets busy with finals and then only has time for a sporadic booty call between exams. Or maybe he’s an aspiring forensic psychologist who wants to join the peace corps, but stills lives with his ex-girlfriend because their lease isn’t up and is sleeping in their basement so he always has to stay at yours. He might come in the form of a sweet and well-meaning IT guy, but when he tells you he may or may not be gay, but definitely has a thing for tranny porn and enjoys having balls in his mouth, there is really no coming back from that. And if he is a programmer, who on the third date tells you he wants to be exclusive (after prematurely ejaculating and calling it a “bad boyfriend move”) but then continues to message other girls online and dump you via text message a week before Christmas, well… that will certainly be a blow to your ego. A fuckboy could even be disguised as one of your closest friends, spending years telling you how much he cares about you only to repeatedly break your heart. Maybe he even goes on to date wildly inappropriate people after you. And sometimes he’ll even be best friends with one of your oldest friends, and you think to yourself, “FINALLY! Someone who can’t hurt me cause then that will be really awkward because of our mutual friend!” But to expect that much from another person will only leave you disappointed in the end. The point being: fuckboys come in all different shapes and sizes, ages and ethnicities. Even the nicest, most handsome and well-meaning guy can have fuckboy tendencies. But just because someone is nice, handsome, and well-meaning it doesn’t also mean they won’t treat you shitty and lack integrity. And for some reason, every time I think I meet someone who isn’t one, every time I give them the benefit of the doubt that they’re different, that they’re not a total asshole, I am sadly proven otherwise. Perhaps I just need to lower my standard for what I consider basic human decency? Or is it a self-fulfilling prophecy? Am I using Oprah’s law of attraction to will fuckboys into my life? I don’t think that is how it actually works. All I know is that I am beyond over it.

In case you haven’t figured out what a fuckboy is based on my personal examples, or cause you aren’t down with the kids these days, or you know, are my mother (hi mom), I will break it down like this: the word originates from hip-hop slang as an insult to cut someone down. Rapper Killer Mike recently explained in a Slate article that “You can identify fuckboys … because they are always doing fuck shit. Just the dumbest, weirdest, lamest possible shit ever.” Urban Dictionary says a fuckboy is “a weak ass pussy who ain’t about shit” in one definition, and a “boy who plays with your heart” in another.  I think all definitions apply when it comes to dudes doing stupid shit while dating, and how you should or should not treat another human being. So in the context of dating, a fuckboy will ask for pics of you within the first few minutes of any text conversation or introduction. That dude from Tinder who said “hey” as a first line will likely text “pic 4 pic” within the next three. Or better yet, send you an unsolicited dick pic. Or tell you how hot he thinks you are and then ask to Facetime before you go on an actual date, and when you answer all you see is him jerking off. Yeah, he’s a fuckboy. That guy who says he’s really into you but isn’t ready for a relationship or doesn’t want to label things and prefers to keep things vague instead of communicating? Total fuckboy. If you call him out on his shit and he responds with “absolutely, you’re right!” but doesn’t actually change anything you called him out on: fuck.boy. If he doesn’t respond to your texts then texts you days later with “hey whats up?” he’s probably definitely is a fuckboy. Claims he didn’t get your texts at all? Blames Mercury in retrograde? Decides to start using carrier pigeons because he ran out of texts on his monthly plan, then blames the poor overworked carrier pigeon for not getting you that message? HE’S. A. FUCK. BOY.

So how do I, a frequent fuckboy fucker stop fucking fuckboys? And how do I incorporate that sentence into a tongue twister warm up for actors? Both are equally good questions. Do I take a vow of celibacy until I meet my future husband or life partner? As much as my Grandmother would love that, I am not the sort of girl who has been planning her wedding since childhood and I don’t even know if I believe in marriage, so I don’t think that is the best option. Do I take on bedfellows and lovers and compartmentalize my emotions the way males do? Tried it. That does not work for me. Do I resort to a life filled with electronic re-chargeable replacements and forgo the weight and touch of another human? Or do I give up on men all together and turn toward female companionship now that scientists have discovered women are almost never totally straight?  I have no clue. All I have figured out at this point is that this is clearly an unhealthy pattern. I am aware of it. And it needs to change. I am sure at this point, dear reader, if you are still reading, you may think I am bitter towards these fuckboys. And I understand the assumption. Thing is though, I can’t even be mad at them. At least not in the long-term. Because the truest common denominator amongst all these guys is each of them lacks the self-awareness to understand what they’re doing is fucked up. When a fuckboy acts from a place of selfishness, thinking only of their own personal gain, they can’t begin to comprehend that their actions can affect another person. I believe if all singletons stopped playing games and instead acted from a place of love, self-awareness, and compassion, and communicated like an adults about our wants, needs, and expectations, it would make everything so, so much easier. But that might be expecting too much in and of itself. So in the mean time, I’m once again taking a break from dating all together. Having now purged unhealthy relationships from my life that were causing me a great deal of frustration, pain, and disappointment I am free to spend my (f)unemployment looking for theatre work, finishing my script, and training my puppy to be the boss bitch I want her to grow up to be. And maybe with any luck, I won’t be too far behind.

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Adventures in (F)unemployment- Part 1: Clearing out your emotional baggage

So quite a lot has happened since my last blog post. So much so that I feel the only place to really start is by saying much to my chagrin, I was recently terminated from a job after spending the better part of three years with the same company. Terminated almost a year to the day that I was fired for having an anxiety attack at my previous job. So needless to say October is not turning out to be the best time of year for me in New York. However, I did also adopt a kick ass little puppy who I have named Bettie Page, so I’m trying to turn things around for the month so next year I can just remember it as her adoption anniversary month instead of the month where I was wrongfully terminated from jobs.

Since becoming (f)unemployed I have had  a lot of time on my hands to train Bettie, nap, and apply for jobs I actually want to be doing- you know, like theatre related stuff. It has also given me a lot of time to catch up on new and old TV shows, refocus my energy and try to clear out some emotional baggage in the process. Because if you’re given the opportunity to start fresh and focus on what you really want, you can’t do that when there is a bunch of emotional bullshit holding you back. That is just a fact. Case in point: telling a guy you are kind of dating that you aren’t going to text him anymore because he doesn’t invite you to do things. This may seem very trivial. And in the grand scheme of things it probably is. I will likely forget his name by this time next year. But old me would have just kept texting him asking him to hang out. (F)unemployed me doesn’t want to waste time putting energy into someone who will text me with a random YouTube link but can’t ask me out for coffee or to a movie or even respond when I ask him to hangout. That time and energy could be put into writing more blog posts, finishing my play, finding the perfect job, or you know, going on dates with dudes who actually make an effort. Since I told him this, I haven’t heard from him. This was over a week ago now, and if I don’t, that is fine. Because there is no point spending energy on those who give you nothing back.This guy and I went on a handful of dates. He was not someone I was in love with or emotionally attached to beyond “he seems cool and I would be down to get to know him more.” So telling him I’m not going to waste my energy pursuing him seems like a small step, but it needed to happen in order for me to take a much bigger one.

You see, I have this theory that everyone has someone in their life, whether an old friend, a family member, or ex who has a hold on them in ways that logic can not explain. Like their opinion of you is the only one that matters, you care about them even when they treat you like shit and so forth. For me, it was a guy in London who I counted amongst one of my closest friends, though to say we were “just friends” would be inaccurate as well. Because if you are really “just friends” with someone you probably wouldn’t spend all of your conversations with them arguing to the point where they bring you to tears before you’re about to go out on a date all the way across the Atlantic. Or if you’re only “just friends” with someone, telling them how much you love them, miss them, and wish you could be with them in New York could be considered misleading. And yet he did all those things on a regular basis this last year. Our dynamic was far more complicated than anything I can put into words, but I will say it was not healthy. At. All. To be emotionally manipulated time and time again, to be lied to for years on end, to be used as a crutch for someone else’s ego is not what someone does to his friends. And yet, he did those things to me. And it was ruining me. It was affecting my ability to move one. To maintain friendships. To know my true worth as a human being and friend. This person’s hold was Britney level Toxic. And I spent more time and energy that I care to admit overanalyzing our situation, each of his texts, his messages on Facebook, each drunken night that would end in some confession of feelings and me crying and us making out. And after awhile, even if that person is thousands of miles away in another country, you just start to realize that spending all your time and energy on someone like that isn’t healthy. And sometimes when you are in that situation the best thing you can do is one: be aware of it, and two: try to get the fuck out of it. To stop playing into an absurdist fantasy where you magically end up together and live happily ever after. Because fairytales and Hollywood happy endings don’t exist, and as much as I love me a good romcom, our situation was probably closer to a psychological thriller and no one ends up with a happily ever after in one of those.

But how do you move on while also trying to maintain a healthy friendship with said friend? Well, having tried and failed at doing so this last year, it has become clear to me that not only was I delusional in thinking I could do that, but it is absolutely impossible.  So instead, at the urging of your best friend, you decide to finally remove them from your social media, un-friending them on Facebook, unfollowing them on Twitter, and hope that is enough. Is it? I don’t know yet. It is a step I just took this week. Which I probably would not have been able to do had I not taken the mini-step with the guy I wasn’t even dating.  I do know however, that the simple act of pressing the unfriend button was emotionally very difficult and tear inducing. Which was partly frustrating because hitting unfriend is literally just pressing a button, but thanks to the wonders of social media and it’s influence on our lives it was so much more. In pressing that button I was admitting defeat. It was like saying everything we had gone through in the past five years was for nothing. We didn’t end up together. He wasn’t “the one.” Our love wasn’t special. He wasn’t my soulmate. And as much as I hate typing out each of those trite cliches at some point over the past five years I had thought them all. Because everyone wants to believe when you meet someone and fall for them and can’t be with them right away, it doesn’t mean you won’t be forever; that at some things will work out. But sometimes they don’t. And that is okay.

Now I am not at all suggesting that I am magically fixed having deleted this person from Facebook. That is not how emotional baggage works. I do think however, that in taking this step I have just lightened the load a little bit. I no longer have to see his new girlfriend tag him in photos and think “that is supposed to be me.” I no longer has to see her tag him in tweet after tweet about life being like a movie and how everything is perfect and how he’s the best boyfriend ever. ALL OF THE EYE ROLLS. If I can’t see it, it can’t affect me. Yeah, it probably won’t be immediate, but sooner or later he will just be this guy who I used to care about deeply. He will be just a guy who really fucking hurt me. Just a guy from my past. Who, for better or worse helped shape me into the person I am today.  And all that other enlightened Oprah feel good shit. In the mean time, I’m going to continue to lighten the load during this period of (f)unemployment. Out with all the things, the people, the baggage, the shitty day jobs, and all the other bullshit that prevents us from being the most boss ass versions of ourselves. Because even when you literally have all the time in the world, ain’t nobody got time for that.

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My Sobering Revelation

Today marks four weeks without alcohol. Just a few days short of one month, and I finally feel like I’ve adapted to not drinking. My decision to stop drinking was a long time coming. About five months ago I went out with friends from work and drank a few of my go to beverages: Jack and diet coke. I’ve been drinking since I was 14 so for me Jack Daniels is basically water to me, though be fair, even to a seasoned drinking they would argue it is just a poor whiskey and like water full stop. But what I mean is I can drink a lot of it without getting out of control or too hung over.  When you’ve been drinking as long as I have you know what you like, what will absolutely wreck you, and what allows you to enjoy the social aspect of drinking without the costly day after hangover. JD was always that drink for me. I could easily drink a handle of it with a two liter bottle of diet coke on a night out and feel absolutely fabulous the next day. On this particular occasion one of my bartenders offered to buy me a drink. Naturally, I asked for my usual and he returned with something mixed with full sugar coke that definitely was not Jack Daniels. After that and a shot of Jameson I felt more drunk than I should have been after a few and opted to go home. I chalked it up to being physically tired from a busy shift at work and emotionally exhausted from a Facebook conversation with a friend back in the UK. While in the cab I felt nauseous. I didn’t think much of it until I started throwing up first inside, then outside the cab window as it cruised down Broadway in Brooklyn until I could keep it down enough to ask him to pull over. He obliged, and I continued to throw up for a good five minutes. When I was feeling better we made our way to my apartment, I paid him, apologized profusely, and ran inside because I felt it coming up again. I threw up a few more times before passing out, like you do. The next day I had possibly one of the worst hangovers I had ever had. None of my hangover cures worked. My greasy breakfast sandwich from the bodega made me feel worse not better, and my purple Riptide Rush Gatorade came back up as quickly as I chugged it down. I texted my bartender to see how he was feeling, told him about my journey home and joked that he must have roofied me because JD doesn’t do that to me. His response was “Oh it wasn’t JD- that was Brandy.” I don’t drink Brandy. Bourbon, yes. Tequila, yes. Vodka, Yes. Beer, yes. Wine, yes. Rum, sometimes. But Brandy? Fuck no. I hate the stuff. I’ve never had a good experience with it and this hangover solidified my hatred even more. The next few days my anxiety was through the roof. I was getting frustrated with everything at work, constantly snapping at people, and felt more on edge than my usual anxious self. Tears were coming and going through no fault of my own triggered by the most miniscule things.  I had two panic attacks over what? I can’t remember. After initially getting past my hangover I thought to myself: I need to stop drinking if I want to get my anxiety under control. I knew it wasn’t great for my anxiety. It is a depressant after all. I took required D.A.R.E and Alcohol Awareness classes as a kid, and the health education classes where they tell you how shit drinking is for you. And while they warn you of the pressures of drinking at high school parties and how dangerous it is to drive home while drunk, they don’t really cover just how normalized drinking is as an adult. And though I may have started drinking as a teenager, it is drinking as an adult that has gotten me into the most trouble.

Drinking has been a huge part of my social life for roughly 18 years. It started out in high school drinking in local playgrounds and in the bedrooms of my girlfriends when we had sleepovers, hoping that the parents wouldn’t catch us. It continued through college in our dorm rooms and at parties, with various nights having different themes such as Margarita Mondays or Thirsty Thursdays, or Survivor nights where we’d gather and play a drinking game alongside the reality TV show with Natty light. The house I lived in the summer between Junior and Senior year had a customized beer pong table named after the house, and when we were all 21 our senior year of college we’d sneak off to the bar between classes to do shots of tequila before heading back to class. I worked in restaurants and would get post work beers with co-workers to bitch about our managers. And I drove home under the influence more times than I care to admit, as more often than not our idea of a designated driver was just whoever drank the least that night. Post-college drinking got a little classier. But not completely. I drank on opening night parties as an apprentice making a total fool of myself. I drank on dates, saying horribly inappropriate things to embarrass myself. I drank with friends and co-workers on the regular. I drank at brunches and dinners out, nice wines and cocktails, as well as shitty beers with shitty well whiskey shots in awesome dive bars. I drank at my local bar in Philadelphia as I wrote all my grad school applications. I drank at the pub after class with my fellow directors. I drank at the pub talking shit about music with friends. I drank the nicest cocktails at the best bars in London. I drank more than my weight in pints while there. I drank cheap beer in Thailand and Cambodia. I drank some of the best beer I’ve ever tasted in Berlin and I can’t even remember the name of it because I drank so much of it. I drank JD and diet cokes at a rock bar in Croatia. I drank cold beers while overlooking the New York City skyline on my roof. I drank whiskey with my roommates while discussing the merits of non-monogamy, and this is just one of the thousands of conversations I’ve had while drinking, some that I remember much clearer than others. I drank. And I drank a lot. And I never thought it was an issue. I never once thought to myself “I think I may have a problem with alcohol” because of the simple fact I knew I could stop at any point and could easily go days without drinking. It was primarily a social thing for me. Yes, there were times where I drank on my own to escape my problems, but that was normal right? I didn’t wake up and need to have a drink to stop shaking or get through the day, so in my head there wasn’t a problem. There is a funny thing that happens when you decide to stop doing something you think you have absolute control over. You realize that while you may not fit the cliché profile of an alcoholic that you learned about in D.A.R.E all those years earlier, you do not have a healthy relationship with it and may just be using it to numb a lot of the issues you don’t want to face, anxiety included. And that has been the last four weeks of my life.

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Drinking a massive beer in Switzerland

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   The most beautiful White Russian I ever tasted at an old soviet bar in Berlin.

It has only been through not drinking these last few weeks that I’ve been able to examine my relationship with alcohol with a clear mind. For example: when it comes to my relationships, you know, those of the biblical nature,  (STOP READING NOW GRANDMA) none of them have ever occurred for the first time sober. That isn’t to say I haven’t had absolutely any sober consensual hook-ups as an adult, but they are few and far between from those where alcohol was a key component. From losing my virginity to a guy I’m pretty sure was gay while absolutely shit-faced off a bottle Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum, to waking up repeatedly having slept with someone I shouldn’t have after one too many Jager Bombs at the pub, from unintentional one night stands with guys on the first date, to sleeping with someone because I thought it would make for a hilarious story later, from drunkenly hooking up your best friend and having your flatmate walk in on you, to having sex with someone before you’ve even figured out what they mean to you, from new relationship sex, break-up sex, or I don’t really want to hook up with this person, but they’re here and we’re already naked so I guess I will sex, alcohol has been a major player in that aspect of my life. And while I consider myself lucky because I’ve always been careful, I‘ve never had an STD or been knocked up (knocks on all the wood), after a certain point, when you roll over unsatisfied, basically hating yourself, and discover the person you’ve just banged is five years younger than you and their favorite band is The Goo Goo Dolls and they proceed to throw on their song “Slide” and sing to you while still naked in your bed, you start to question whether or not this is a healthy thing you’re doing. Not that that happened to me, or anything. Or that I judge people based on their musical tastes…

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The Bourbon Vanilla Milkshake I had on my 31st Birthday in Brighton

I still have a lot of issues to work through when it comes to my relationship with alcohol. But I’m choosing to remain sober for the time being while I do that. One, I feel more productive and creative while sober than I ever did while drinking; I am writing more and more these days, whether it is a snippet of dialogue for a play or songs and bits of poetry for raps or even cover letters for directing jobs. When I think of all the days I wasted being too hung over to create it depresses me. No more of that shit. Two, it allows me to focus on getting in better physical and mental health. They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Cliché as the saying may be, it is true. I cannot expect to lose weight, get in shape (which does not necessarily equate to wanting to be thin by society’s standards) and take better care of myself if I continue to drink daily, eat poorly, and not exercise. I’ve been doing that for far too long and I am at a age where I need to take care of myself before it is too late and I’m fucked for life. And three, I need to make better choices when it comes to men and who I sleep with. Because as sex positive as I may be, I’m not trying to become any other kind of positive, pregnant, STD or otherwise. If I end up getting trashed on a first date, and laugh my ass off with a dude, I will likely think we have a connection, get excited by that, be excited by my attraction to him, and sleep with him. I often discover later they are not that funny, or attractive, absolutely flakey and typically turn out to be assholes. By not drinking I don’t run the risk of drunkenly creating the possibility of a relationship with a dude in my head only to be disappointed by them in real life when they smash and dash. And if I do make a poor choice or decide to do something for the sake of comedy, at least I don’t have alcohol to blame.

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Drunk off a lot of wine on opening night for How to Succeed… I get silly.

A lot of people keep asking me when I will start drinking again. Right now, I don’t know. I set out with the goal of not drinking for a month, and I’m almost there. Now that I am focusing on getting my health in order I want to keep going with it because I know it will make eating right a lot easier. I am far less likely to stop for fried chicken in route home from the bar if I am not drunk trying to soak up booze to make for an easier hangover the next day. Does that mean I will never drink again? No clue. I may slip up. I may have a glass of wine one with dinner one day when I really want one or I might not. Unlike a lot of people, I actually love the taste of alcohol. Not all of it, but you grow fond of the good stuff when you learn how to drink well when you’re friends with brilliant bartenders. But for someone who has identified as a drinker for so long, I am enjoying the clarity that comes with sobriety and the break it is giving both my liver and my bank account. My anxiety feels under control, and I am in a positive, healthy mindset, one where I care enough about myself to take better care of myself. And so far, that is worth more than all the awesome cocktails, ridiculous stories, and debauchery put together. More than anything I’m just curious to see how this works out moving forward.

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One Year Later.

Today marks my one year anniversary in New York. To be honest, in a lot of ways I didn’t think this day would come. Not in some awful horrible thing would happen preventing me from getting to this day kind of thing, but more like in those first few months when I struggled to find a job and was running low on savings the prospect of having to pack it all in and head back to either Las Vegas or to live on my friends couch in Philadelphia seemed just as real of a possibility as it was my greatest fear. And yet, here I am a year later, standing on my own two feet in a city that is notorious for kicking people’s asses.

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The Pirate Ship. Home Sweet Home.

Granted, it has not been the easiest year. The last six months in particular have been difficult for me in coming to terms with my anxiety, and the fact it had not entirely been under control during the past five years without medication as I had previously thought. The negative thoughts (or the particularly scary thought of six months to live) that caused me to go back into therapy and return to Lexapro after so long away actually turned out to be a great catalyst, something my therapist and I have discussed at great length, to get me to make some much-needed changes in my life. While I know I still have a long way to go, I am in a much more positive mindset today than I was six months or even a year ago. And for that I am grateful to this city for the ass kicking I received and the work it is causing me to put in. One of my closest friends from college told me the first year in New York you will question everything. You will question your own mortality, whether you should be here, and generally have the “what does it all mean” conversation with yourself on a daily basis. Having now survived my first year in New York, I can say that is 100% correct, scary though it may be at the time. Apparently that is just how this city welcomes newcomers. But if you put in the work and allow yourself to experience all the madness the city has to offer, you come to terms with it.

If I were to sum my year in New York it would look a little something like this:

  • Applied for a reality matchmaking show that involved me rapping for casting directors via Skype. Megalolz.
  • Stood someone up for a date for the first time ever due to my inability to understand buses in Brooklyn.
  • Went on a date with the Brooklyn doppelgänger of one of my best friends back in the UK. That was weird.
  • Randomly ran into Kevin Smith in Bryant Park. Had a conversation with Judah Friedlander on the LES about why London is just as cool as NYC.
  • Applied for/interviewed for high-profile theatre admin jobs only to lose out to someone else in the end (boo).
  • Started this blog to share my experiences about moving back home.
  • Got fired for the first time ever due to anxiety- everyone needs a “first shitty job in NYC” story. Got it.
  • Found the most amazing place to live. Became apart of a community of crazy like-minded artists, bohemians, and weirdos. Loft living at its finest. Proud newbie of the #bushwichbonvivantcollective
  • Went back to work for a company I love helping them open their first US restaurant. Managing actors out of the context of a rehearsal room is weird and an ongoing challenge.
  • Reconnected with old friends from college, Philly, and beyond. Re-vertigo is a real thing. I am grateful for it.
  • Watched one of my best friends in the world become an amazing parent.
  • Started therapy and medication, openly blogged about my struggles.
  • Met some new friends who are possibly the best people I’ve ever known.
  • Fell in ‘Like’ with quite a few guys only to never hear from them again after the first date. New York and London are basically the same in that respect.
  • Performed as Diablo at The Slipper Room, at various parties in my building, and with a live band for the first time ever. The latter might have been the coolest thing I’ve done this year. I plan to do more of it.
  • Took a road trip to DC with Bo just to get a cheeky Nandos. 3 hours each way. No regrets.
  • Added two directing credits to my resume. Took a workshop with a Tony nominated director.
  • Been rejected for dozens of theatre jobs. NBD. I’m still here.
  • Went home to Vegas for the first time in five years. Reconnected with my family. Fell in love with my nephew again. He’s a little asshole but one of the smartest kids I’ve ever met.
  • Said ‘fuck you fear!’ and signed up for a playwrighting class. I may not be bad at it.
  • Went to the beach for the first time in two years and reminded myself how much I love the ocean.
  • Spent the 4th of July on a rooftop in Brooklyn with fireworks 360 degrees around me with a view of the Manhattan skyline.
  • Got stood up for a date for the first time in my life. Seriously dating here is the worst. Check out my “Undateable” post for the why.
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With Gabriel one of my new dearest friends.

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The cheeky Nandos in DC.

While it seems like a lot and yet equally nothing because lets face it I can’t actually sum up an entire year that easily, there is one little thing that I can’t shake, something I talk about with my other friends who are new to New York and it is the ongoing feeling that we all felt pulled here, as if this was the place we were all supposed to be, and that once we got here things would magically fall into place. Whether it was meeting the love of your life, getting your dream job, landing your dream apartment, we all had this romantic notion that New York was where everything would just get easier compared to London. And looking back that idea is absolutely fucking ridiculous. Because that is a naive way of looking at everything. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not become a hardened and cynical New Yorker just yet. I may be exactly where I am supposed to be in life, but I still have to work towards the goals I set out for myself. Simply being here isn’t enough. And it is a struggle. It is hard to live in a city where you are forced to survive rather than simply live due to the economics of being an artist here nowadays. And that might be the biggest take away from this last year. I have to be an active participant in my life. I can’t just expect anything to happen simply because I’m in a certain city. The stars don’t line up and all of a sudden life is easy and you’re with the love of your life and content in your career and things are perfect. Life doesn’t work that way. I have to show up. I have to apply for directing jobs. I have to force myself to write. To create. To remember I am here to do more than just drink beers on my awesome roof (though I love that equally as much as anything else these days). I have to make an effort and make the positive changes necessary to move into the next phase of my life. And that is what I am doing. And I feel good about it.

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First picture with my Mom and Sister in five years.

There are a lot of days I miss London. Mostly my friends, some of whom I’ve kept in better contact with than others. Most days it is the little things like walking in Victoria Park with Lydia and Elliot (who are not too far away in Chicago), or checking out the newest restaurant with my bestie Divy. Or going to a gig with Lewie, Annie, Michael and Shaun, or vegan Chinese food with Kat and Ross. The little traditions. The people. The pints. The strolls along South Bank. Walking into rehearsal at the Rose and Crown. Those things a year ago I said I’d miss the most I still do. I’ve had a few friends come to visit which has been awesome. Others I have not seen in a year other than the occasional FaceTime chat. I know some will fall by the wayside the longer I’m home and the more new people I let into my life, I just hope the really important ones stay regardless of the fact they’re thousands of miles across an ocean. I hope I get a chance to go back to London and meet up with old friends and see my old haunts, and I hope when I do it still feels like home. In the mean time, I’m looking forward to what my second year in New York may bring and the ridiculousness that will ensue. I can hope only it is just as weird and random and fabulous as this last one.

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This is why I’m fat.

I’ve been working on this post for the better part of three months. My anxiety has caused a lot of issues to pop up as of late and in my want to understand the root of my anxiety beyond genetics, naturally other issues have popped up in therapy as well, including my weight. I am not a small girl. I have known this since I was a young girl though I’ve still yet to pinpoint exactly when or why I started gaining weight. It has been a “struggle” for as long as I can remember. A few years ago I had gotten up the courage to go to an Overeaters Anonymous meeting when I felt like I was finally ready to deal with my issues regarding food. It turned out I exhibited all the signs of a food addict, which coming from a family of addicts was not surprising. Between my sporadic work schedule and trying to get to meetings and my frustration with not understanding the “how” of recovery I quit after three meetings. I probably wasn’t ready to deal just yet, though I’m getting closer as I write this. There was too much going on with my depression at the time and anxiety related to my post-study work visa that I kind of just shrugged my shoulders and felt like I’d rather be addicted to food than to coke/speed/meth/pills etc. But society has told me since basically birth that being thin is a currency worth more than anything else, and with the former addictions I’d be more likely to be thin therefore they’re the more socially acceptable addictions to come clean with. The cold hard truth is I am a fat girl. Regardless of the why, because I’m still trying to figure that out, it is just who I am. My entire identity has been built around this fact because even when I’ve weighed significantly less I have still always identified as such. Being fat has been a huge defining aspect of my life since I was about six or seven years old- the last time I remember being thin, or more accurately when I first noticed others commenting on my weight. I remember when I was about six years old my best friends mom commenting on how I looked like I had lost weight and “looked good.” I was six years old. The only thing anyone should have been praising me for at that age was my vivid imagination or learning skills. Definitely not for losing weight. There are 1000s of other incidents from my childhood similar to this one where I was told by either adults or other kids I was lesser than because of my weight. From my grandparents trying to bribe me to lose weight (a dollar for every pound lost) similar to how they’d reward good grades on my report card, to the way boys would respond to me in elementary or middle school: “You’re the coolest girl I know, I’d totally go out with you if you weren’t so fat,” to my mother putting me on slim fast at ten years old, to others saying I’ll grow out of it, that it was just baby weight then rewarding me with cookies and sugar for good grades, or feeding me when I was down saying they’d make me feel better. But I’ve not grown out of it and thus I am still a fat girl. I’ve been the funny fat girl. The fat girl with a pretty face. The fat best friend. The fat girl you’d bang because she’s cool and has a pretty face. The fat girl you’re ashamed to have hooked up with because she’s fat. The fat actress. The fat director. The fat performer. The fat sister. The fat daughter. The fat grand-daughter. The fat waitress. The fat girl eating on the train. The fat girl eating alone in her room. The fat girl shoving food down her throat in her car. The fat girl who has never been in a long term relationship. The fat girl who you got notes from in class. The mean fat girl who bullied others who were much, much fatter. The nice fat girl. The faux confident fat girl. The fat girl who hates herself more than anyone else ever could because she’s fat. I have been and am all those things. Some for far longer than others. But the fact remains: I. Am. Still. Fat. 

 

Me as a “fat” child

 

                                                                

Since coming back to America I’ve gained almost 30lbs. I joke amongst friends that I gained it simply by breathing, because America is the kind of country where it feels like you can literally gain weight by breathing in the air or staring at our oversized portions. But actually, it’s the same exact 30lbs I worked hard to lose earlier last year, the same 30lbs that I’ve lost and gained the past five years I was in London. There is a certain level of fat I’m comfortable with. Where I can still feel somewhat attractive and not just like Martha Dumptruck- and it exists about 30lbs ago. I recently tried to convince myself that a massive tumor was growing inside me- that this was the reason I had gained so much weight so quickly since being back rather than the return to poor habits and living off food from my corner bodega. Morbid, I know, but when you’ve been a fat girl for as long as I have you always try to find an “other” to blame for being fat other than yourself- so why not blame some kind of life threatening tumour out of an episode of Greys Anatomy? Yes, food addiction and my upbringing and poor habits are a huge part of it, but I’m now at an age where I can’t get away with blaming my parents or past for my present self- at least not entirely.

This is why I’m fat: I’m fat because I eat horribly when I’m anxious or depressed, i.e. 75% the time. I’m fat because I eat when I’m sad. When I’m drunk. When I’m happy. When I’m celebrating. When I’m sober. I’m fat because I eat. Both the right things and the wrong things. I have been on enough diets over the last 24 years that I’m well aware of what is good for my body (whole grains, healthy fats, lean protein, fruit and vegetables) and what is not (sugar, processed foods, unhealthy fats etc.) But unlike addiction to alcohol or coke or pills, it is hard to go cold turkey and practice total abstinence when you’re addicted to food because unlike the first two, we actually need food to sustain that whole “living” thing. It’s a total drag being fat and addicted to food. And the older I get the more torn I am between just thinking I should accept it and learn to live life to the fullest in the body I already have, or keep putting myself through the yo-yo dieting and cycles of self hatred in the hopes that one day I’ll find the thing that works because society has told me since I was young that the key to happiness is found in being thin. Or maybe attempt to seek out the holy grail that is the happy medium between the two.

 

As Diablo Daniels performing for Plus London in 2014

 
These past few months I’ve been thinking about this a lot more than usual because for the first time ever a real plus size model has been signed with a major modeling agency and that has pissed a lot of people off. Tess Holliday aka Tess Munster has been rocking out on Instagram and the Internet as a fat and proud pin-up/plus size model for a few years now. She’s best known for coining the #effyourbeautystandards hashtag and movement and has inspired millions of young girls and women to learn to love themselves as they are, to embrace body positivity instead of hate, and to get us fat girls in the mindset to #honormycurves. While there’s a lot of haters out there citing she’s a bad influence on young girls, that she’s encouraging the obesity epidemic in the States by saying it is OK to be fat, I have to admit, homegirl is killing it in her photos. She is a gorgeous woman and her confidence shines through each of her shots. And as much as I look to her as a role model of sorts, I also wonder if at my present size I’ll ever be as confident or happy in my body as she appears to be in hers. I’m not sure whether she is fat because she too uses food as a substitute for love. I’m not sure if she over eats when she is anxious or depressed or if it’s a thyroid issue or if she just loves food and literally doesn’t give a fuck. Frankly, that’s not for me to know or understand. It is her body and her business and I respect that. What I do know and understand after extensive counseling and yo-yo diets for the past 24 years is that I am fat for the wrong reasons. I use my weight as a shield, a protective barrier that protects me from the world. But it doesn’t protect me from heartbreak or unwanted sexual harassment on the street. So I question what it is really protecting me from. It is hard for me to accept that this is my lot in life; that I’m just destined to always be the fat girl. Not even because I think there is something wrong with it, but because it is clearly not healthy- on a mental level- for me to be attempting to solve my problems with food. Food is not love. It is not safety. It will not prevent me from getting my heart broken or failing in my career. It will not provide a long term solution to my anxiety or depression and in many ways makes it much more difficult to deal with.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about heading back to OE to see if I’m mentally in a better place to deal with my issues with food. My life’s goal has never been to be thin. I’m a big girl. Doctors have told me I have a large frame. I appreciate my curves, I just wish there were less of them and they were more defined. My ideal body is Christina Hendricks of Mad Men fame. Curvy but healthy. And the more work I do to take steps towards becoming mentally healthy I am ready to take care of myself physically as well. Too often we fat girls beat ourselves up because we haven’t lost enough weight quickly enough, reached our ideal size, or stuck with a diet long enough for it to truly become a “lifestyle change.” What all the trolls online or people who judge us when we walk down the street fail to realise is that in order to get to a place where we love ourselves enough to want to take care of ourselves, we first have to undo years of mental self-abuse that’s gone hand in hand with the bullying, the name calling, the fat shaming and general destain we’ve felt from society just for existing in our fat bodies. And all of that is far worse for those that choose to be happy and fat and own that label and choose to wear it with pride. And right now I’m choosing a slightly different approach. I want to strip away the label of “fat” rather than redefine or own it- because it was something that was thrust upon me when I was young, before I was too aware of the world to understand exactly what that label could mean. I am “fat” because society has deemed me so. I’m sick of being judged by my dress size rather than my character. I’m fed up with being rejected by men because of the number on the scale rather than compatibility  or chemistry. Regardless of the dress size I wear or the number displayed on my bathroom scale, I am a strong girl. I am a smart girl. I am a talented, creative girl. I am a funny girl. I am a compassionate, caring, self-aware, sensitive, intuitive girl. I am a girl who wants to be mentally and physically healthy. Which has nothing to do with being reduced to a dress size or number on a scale. I am more than just a fat girl. Because I care about myself enough to want to be. 

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The Anxiety of Everyday Living: Negative Thoughts Edition

About a month and a half ago I was laying down in my room on my day off, watching Friends on Netflix because I was planning on writing a blog post about how though I love the show it made me feel grossly inadequate for my age compared to the characters in Friends. While watching the show, I had this weird moment of déjà vu. And not just because I’d seen that episode a thousand times before. In that moment, this thought popped in my head that said: “I have six months to live”… Needless to say it was a thought that gave me room for pause and then freaked me the fuck out. I shook it off thinking it was nothing more than a passing thought, one of many that come in and out of my head regularly as thoughts do. But then about two-week later, as I was sitting with two old friends having a birthday brunch and watching TV and having general catch-ups and a slew of weird negative thoughts filled my head:

“I need to leave New York.”

“I need to move back to Vegas”

“I’m dying of cancer”

“There is a tumor in my back”

“I’m going to die alone”

“I’m not worthy of love.”

“I’ll be single forever”

“I’ll never reach my potential or realize my dreams”

“It would be easier to not be alive. Then I wouldn’t have to pay my student loans off”

Etc. This of course meant that keeping any kind of positivity going during the brunch was hard. But I smiled on. On my way back to the train station I briefly mentioned this in tears to my friend, saying I had this thought, that I don’t know what to do with it, and how it scared the shit out of me. She said if I ever needed to talk to let her know, but that it was probably just that. Just a thought. So why allow it to have so much power over me? Why this thought and not any of the others? Cue my anxiety.

Anxiety is something that I have had since I was a little kid. It runs in my family. I get it from my Dad. I remember being incredibly anxious as a child, always afraid that I was going to be kidnapped or molested, left behind at the grocery store, separated from my parents, or worse than all of that: that the world would end during my lifetime because Jesus was going to come back and we were living in the end times. My grandparents on one side are Evangelicals so I heard the latter at church almost each time they took me-not the best story for an anxious child. Fear of the worst-case scenario always filled my head and has for as long as I can remember. As a child I’d watch TV shows like America’s Most Wanted or Unsolved Mysteries and think the horrible things I saw on TV would happen to me. One of my first major anxiety attacks that I can remember was after seeing an episode of Unsolved Mysteries where a strange man would go to houses where kids were staying home alone without after school, ask to use their phone book/phone and then tie the kids up while he raided their homes or something. About a week or two later, while my sister and I were home alone one Saturday afternoon, I remember a man coming to the door, asking to borrow a phone book, asking if our parents were home, and then me proceeding to FREAK THE FUCK OUT. I started to cry, I was unable to breath; I called my Mom at work, ran next door to our neighbor freaking out, and vaguely remember her staying with us until my Mom came home from work. After that we went to work with my Mom a lot because I couldn’t handle staying home alone for a while. Turned out the strange man was the uncle of the kids who lived in the house next door to us. And he just wanted to borrow the phone book. And the kids were safe with him, and I just assumed the absolute worst and thought my Sister and I were as good as dead thanks to Unsolved Mysteries. I had a lot of events like this as a kid. If we were traveling alone to see my grandparents and the flight got delayed and we couldn’t get a hold of my parents, I would freak out. If as a family we were walking around a fair or amusement park and I ran off, and turned around and my family wasn’t right beside me, I would freak out. Going to the grocery store with my mother usually meant either getting lost, left in the wrong aisle, or sent to grab something and not being able to find her after, and usually involved her name being paged over the store intercom and her collecting me in tears. Anxiety was not something I could identify as a child, but it was always present and always at the surface waiting for something to trigger it before I went off and let it take over.

Anxiety comes in so many shapes and sizes. Mine has always come in the form of worry, and thinking the absolute worst. It is made worse by the fact I also suffer from depression, and my depression triggers more anxiety. They are basically BFF’s. I’m not particularly OCD though I definitely have my own way of doing things, and being my mother’s child I like them done a certain way. I am fine when it comes to most general gatherings and can hold my own talking to strangers at a party (though I may be more likely to leave early if I am bored and don’t know anyone) so I don’t really suffer from social anxiety. But I do have generalized anxiety disorder. And it does affect my day-to-day mental health and well-being. I worry about everything from being five minutes late because the trains are slow to ripping my tights to huge catastrophic disasters. I worry a lot about dying young before I get the chance to accomplish what I want to in life. I worry about getting old because old people kind of freak me out and I don’t know if I’d age well. I worry about never being able to find love because I’m fat. I worry about whether I will ever be able to just love myself as I am, fat and all. I worry about whether expressing myself creatively through my hair and my clothing will hold me back in the creative industry I am trying to make a career for myself in. I worry that I will never be successful and I worry that if I do start to gain any sort of success that I won’t be able to hack it as a real life-professional director and fail miserably. For some reason, I don’t believe good things should happen to me. And if things start to look like they’re falling into place, I don’t trust it. I worry. A lot. Thanks Anxiety! Thing is, I think anxiety is something that a lot of people, including myself, don’t truly understand. My thoughts, when good, can keep my anxiety at bay and allow me to float through life as if everything is okay. In fact, I once went to a clairvoyant who said I was prone to anxiety and had a tendency to always wear a smile and act if everything is okay. Which, regardless about what you may believe about that or not, was pretty spot on in my case. In the past few months I have tried to take steps forward to conquer my anxiety. I have significantly cut back on my alcohol intake. I have greatly reduced the amount of sugar I consume, and am no longer drinking like five cups of coffee a day or drinking soda, so my caffeine intake has also gone down. Most days I can get through with a cup of tea, or maybe if I’m very tired a cup of decaf with a splash of regular coffee on top. But those triggers have been reduced and it has helped greatly. Or it had helped greatly… Until today.

Today I woke up very early, groggy, and on only a few hours of sleep I went to my counseling session. I’ve started counseling again because I’ve found it to be helpful in the past and wanted to get CBT but my counselor in the UK wasn’t into it. We had a good session and then I went home to get ready for work. Now some context for you: I’ve not been sleeping well the last few weeks. This past week I’ve been fighting off a cold with raw garlic, cold medicine, tea, and soup. Today I kind of broke and had one of those coconut water coffee drinks. It has caffeine and sugar. Now, I’m not saying it was the only trigger (oh hai sleep deprivation and stress!), but as I was getting ready for work another terrifying thought came into my head. This time it was “this is my last day alive” or “this is my last day on earth” something to that effect. I immediately shook my head and thought “how ridiculous” and proceeded to get ready. But my anxiety wanted to hold on to it a little bit longer than that. Being at work only made it worse. My stomach was in knots. I kept running to the toilet and I thought maybe it was the gastrointestinal thing that has been going around with my co-workers and came home on the off-chance it was because naturally I didn’t want to get anyone sick. And maybe it was. But now I think it was just my anxiety focusing on this one thought and IBS was the symptom I was displaying at the time. I came home and tried to take a nap, but my anxiety keep running awful thoughts through my head, my legs felt heavy and warm while my arms felt light and cool and I was shaking, my muscles tense with worry. “What if it is true,” I kept thinking. I had to get up and walk around and call my Mom to tell her I love her and ask for her prayers and positive thoughts. I called my sister and left her a voicemail. I even called my Dad after two and a half years of not speaking to him. Now, my father and I have not had the best relationship over the years. We have not always seen eye to eye about how I choose to live my life, or how he lives his. But in the back of my head I was thinking, if on the off-chance this is true, if it is more than just a thought, I don’t want to be mad at him anymore. And it just seemed that today was as good a day as any to forgive him and tell him that. So I made the call. Told him I was sorry, that I didn’t want to be mad at him anymore, and that I loved him.

Now I don’t genuinely know if today is my last day on earth. I don’t know if any of us knows when that day does come, or if it just… happens. I truly hope it isn’t. But if it is, I wanted to write this post. This post that I had been putting off for the past few months. This post where I basically exposed my anxiety and what it does to me every day of my life and how it affects the quality of my day-to-day existence. I know I am not the only person who suffers from anxiety. My problems are not unique or limited just to me. I have friends who go through similar ordeals, and friends who have been through much worse. But on the off-chance it was not just a fleeting thought that came in my head, I guess I wanted to say thank you for reading this blog and hearing me ramble about the ridiculous and funny things that have happened in my life thus far. Thank you for being a friend (cue the theme song), thank you for the influence you have had on me as a person and how you have made an impact on my life, regardless of how great or small. We don’t say those things enough. And it shouldn’t take a six-hour long anxiety attack and the fear of dying, or of our own negative thoughts to make any of us say that. Far too often we sit behind our computer screens and phone screens forgetting there are real people on the other side of them. We text when we should really take the time to call or FaceTime if geographically speaking it is hard to meet up face to face. We judge, we snark at those who suffer, we troll on those we perceive to be weaker or lesser than ourselves. And it really isn’t cool. In fact, it is exhausting. We forget how to love. And we get caught up in our own petty egos and we don’t forgive as often as we should. And that includes our selves. While not everyone may suffer from anxiety the way I do, we each carry a little bit of mental illness, some far worse than others. However, I think it is accurate to say that we, as a species, are pretty tough on each other and ourselves. We beat ourselves up for not being pretty enough/thin enough/smart enough/rich enough/successful enough/everything enough and I really hope that as I work towards taking control of my anxiety and my own negative thoughts about myself and my existence and find a way to transform them into positive ones that I can write about it here. It may not always be sitcom worthy as I originally hoped this blog would be, but perhaps a bit more truthful along the way. Regardless of what happens next, like if I do not wake up tomorrow (which trust me, I really hope it is legitimately nothing more than a fleeting thought, because I do have a lot more to share) I am taking the time out to be grateful for everything that has happened in my life so far. From the painful to the positive it has made me who I am. But mostly I am grateful for the friends who have been there for me when I’m panicking and shaking and think my world is under attack and my anxiety takes over. You guys are the ones who help me see my thoughts for what they really are. Just thoughts. And while they contribute to the anxiety of everyday living, they are not enough to make me want to give up on trying to live a long and creative life.

Make Good Choices.

We are about three weeks into the new year and my Facebook feed is still full of posts from people talking about their resolutions and how they’re making 2015 the year they lose the weight, get fit, become vegan/vegetarian, land their dream role, snag their perfect job, find the perfect boyfriend/girlfriend, and generally stop doing all the things they “shouldn’t.” It’s the same every year. And while for some people having a resolution allows them to refocus and find a way to be a better version of themselves, I usually find them to be total bullshit. Because when you resolve to do something, whether it’s to stop smoking or lose weight, people are usually setting themselves up for failure because instead of setting short, obtainable goals to help you stop (insert whatever is “wrong” with you here) people go HAM for a week or month and slip back into their old ways and mentally beat the shit out of themselves for it. At least that’s what I used to do. Which is why I stopped doing resolutions all together a few years back, and strived to set short-term goals instead. And for me that worked. To a certain extent of course. I mean, I’m still fat though my self loathing has significantly decreased in recent years. I still drink though not every night after work with mates. However, I’m doing better mentally than I have been in years, though I’m far from being where I really want to be. Like most of my writing projects, I’m a work in progress and I accept that.

2014 was a year of major change for me. You know, with the whole visa expiring/uprooting my life in London/moving to NYC/getting fired from my first job over anxiety thing, so when thinking about what I would want to be better at this year, I’ve decided I want 2015 to be my year of awareness. I know that sounds massively hippy, but I’m not trading in my leopard print heels and pin-up victory rolls for Birkenstocks and dreads. I’m trying to approach the awareness thing in less of a hippy/new age/sage burning/crystal wearing kind of way, and in a more mindful, sweet baby Jesus I hope it keeps my anxiety at bay kind of way.

In 2014 I didn’t always make good choices. And I don’t just mean eating fried chicken on my way home from the bar seven days a week choices (not that I did that either… At least not seven days a week). Mostly I mean sleeping with dudes I probably shouldn’t have because I thought it would make a hilarious story later kind of choices, choosing not to follow through with career opportunities because of the big move to NYC choices, as well as some really poor, self-destructive choices that caused me to back slide majorly. None of them were great for my mental health and wellbeing, and while I can’t say I regret anything entirely, reflecting on the previous year and moving into the new one I feel compelled to try something different. This year I’m not going to tell myself I will lose 100 lbs, and beat myself up if it only ends up being 20 lbs or whatever. I’m not going to tell myself I’ll book ten directing jobs and feel like a failure if I don’t book one. Or say I’ll quit drinking or cut out sugar or carbs. Or get completely out of debt. Or not sleep with dudes who I clearly shouldn’t just because I think it would make a funny story. Those would all be lies. This year when it comes to all my actions, whether related to dating or my day job, theatre or writing, performing or my physical or mental wellbeing I’m simply going to ask: “is this healthy?” The idea is one I’ve been kicking about for a few months now after an incredibly enlightening chat with Conrad. In addition to being ridiculously talented and one of the best people I know, he’s also wicked insightful. I’m always learning from him. The idea behind this being my main mantra of 2015 is that I want to be more aware of my actions and prevent myself from falling into the self-sabotaging cycles I have created through bad choices (i.e. not good or healthy choices) in the past. Asking myself this question should, in theory, allow me to weigh the pros of my actions against the cons, and through this awareness I’m hoping it will allow me to make good choices in the future. Sure, if the answer is “no, this isn’t healthy” then it doesn’t automatically mean I won’t do it. And I don’t think it will curb all spontaneity either. But I’m hoping that if I get into the mindset of doing the things that are healthy for my mental and physical wellbeing, that a lot of the other bullshit that accompanies making unhealthy choices will go away.

rebel-wilson-crystal-methFor example. When I like someone I tend to bottle up all emotions and  never tell a guy I like him, until it’s like a year into having the feels and I end up having to make some grand confession rather than just being brave enough to ask him out in the first place. As a fat girl who has been told since youth that my body is un-deserving of love, I’m convinced that anyone I meet IRL (as opposed to say the interweb where I can tell by looking at their OKC questions if me being fat is an issue for them), will automatically reject me. So I don’t ask guys out. I meet someone. I develop feelings. I crush. Hard. My Hollywood RomCom brainwashed mind thinks they might be “the one” and I will think I am falling for them. I tell them a year/two/four years later. I’m met with responses that they don’t feel the same or the feelings aren’t “reciprocal” as if it’s a sixth grade math problem. It’s a cycle I’ve been sucked into since high school and I’m very much ready to break it. The funny thing is once I’ve said it, and been subsequently rejected, I move on pretty quickly. Sure I cry for a day and lament the love that never was and blame myself for being fat, because in my head I think that’s the only reason someone wouldn’t fancy me, being that I’m basically the best person who ever lived in regards to every other aspect of my life. But then I bounce back. Just think of how much time and energy could be put into shit (like my directing career) instead of pining over dudes if I’d just ask someone out earlier and face the fear of rejection head on? The first scenario is clearly not healthy. So why keep fucking doing it? Maybe I’m a masochist at heart and I just don’t know it. Either way I’m over it.

Food and eating the healthy stuff is a whole other issue. It’s not even like I don’t eat healthy foods or know what is or isn’t good for me. I’ve been on roughly 2000 diets since I was eight years old. It is mostly that I will eat mindlessly, for emotional reasons while depressed, and when you’re depressed and binge eating you don’t overdose on raw carrots or hummus (though I have tried), and instead set out to eat a scoop of Ben & Jerry’s (because everything is “fine” in moderation) and you blink and the entire pint is gone. When I do this I usually shrug it off and say I’ll figure it out later, that I’ll start a new diet tomorrow, or go for a walk or run but at that point the damage is done and a few days later I forget the deal I made with myself, have polished off another pint, and start the negotiation tactics once again. Then when the weight starts to pack on it isn’t until I hit a certain uncomfortable number on the scale, or can’t fit into my favorite clothes, that I decide to “change my lifestyle” and I lose weight for a little bit, and then when I think I’m skinny enough (lolz) that I can start eating ice cream or whatever again, and I think this time I won’t gain it back, but I do, and I notice once it’s too late, and get depressed and eat because I’m depressed and the cycle starts all over again. Anyone who says that fat people are fat because they eat shit foods aren’t totally wrong, but it’s not just the food that is making and keeping us fat, it’s the psychology of why we are eating it in the first place. But that is a whole other blog post to come later.

Now I’m not saying that asking myself “is this healthy?” is automatically going to solve my problems when it comes to food or dudes or anxiety. I’m already aware enough to know that my issues with dudes and food run mad deep and will require a lot more therapy than simply blogging can provide. But when it comes to keeping my anxiety attacks minimal, it may just be the trick I need to con myself into not having one. I was recently very anxious about a potential confrontation at work. I built it up in my head to be more important/difficult than it was, creating conflict in my head, having imaginary arguments with horrific imaginary outcomes. I stepped back and asked myself if this was a healthy way to approach it. I breathed. I answered “no” and sure enough I was able to prevent myself from having an anxiety attack and confront the issue without tears. That alone was a huge success, because anyone who knows me knows I cry a lot, most of the time from feeling unheard or angry in a situation that is beyond my control. So to be able to step back, breath and assess the situation and recognise it wasn’t healthy to dwell on  it or give more value to it was a pretty big step for me for me.

I don’t know what the next year holds for me. I imagine it will be a little bit of more of the same: day job/burlesque/theatre, as well as some more awesome adventures in NYC. I’m still in a pretty weird place, not feeling totally settled and still getting used to the daily grind of the city, but I know I do want this year to be different. I know I want to make better, nay- good choices. And I’m crossing all my bits hoping that this little “Non-New Year’s resolution” sort of resolution will be the thing that helps me do that.

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