It is December twenty seventh and time for my last post of the year. During the past three years, I have developed a tradition of posting a “Year in Review” entry wherein I take excerpts from random posts during each month of the last year. In the past this hasn’t been a hard thing for me to accomplish, given that in years past I have written volumes, but when I started looking at my posts from January until now I realized that I had barely written anything this year. Which got me thinking about what a weird twelve months it has been, how nearly every decision I have made was actually laying the groundwork for where I am now, whether I knew it at the time or not, and how my writing has really taken a backseat to actually living.
I have a good friend who is a very gifted artist and we recently discussed how feeling creative enough to create is something that comes in seasons, not a faucet to be turned on and off at will. Drawing from a genuine pool of emotion somewhere deep down to make something meaningful, something you can defend if needed and be proud of, that takes time and an incredible amount of energy. Energy is not something I have had much of lately, and I keep telling myself it’s because of my job. My devotion and love for what I do, what I moved to LA to do, is a thing I am grateful for and am happy to own. Work comes first because that is how I want it, how I designed it to be.
However, if I am being honest here, my lack of energy extends outward and into something less admirable: shutting people out. I am very good at keeping people at arms length, unwilling to let them get close or become any meaningful part of my life because (and here’s the kicker) the amount of energy other people require exhausts me before it has even happened. It always takes me awhile to get comfortable and it’s not a ‘trust thing’, not a ‘you’re going to hurt me’ type of thing, but a ‘is this person going to add value to what I am doing with me life?’ type of thing. Because if I am going to use what little energy I have leftover after I am done pursuing everything I want to pursue on another person, I better know that person is adding to me instead of taking away. It’s cold, it hurts people, but it is self preservation. It is also selfish, but if there is anything this last year has taught me, it is that being selfish can be totally okay. My life, my rules.
For me, 2014 was all about the process of change and trusting myself enough to leap. It was a strange and somewhat painful year, but it was also an incredible one and I would live it all again to get here.
I spent this past weekend in LA, and it will be my last for quite awhile. I almost regret going down there, but I can’t fully because…well, it was my choice. I just can’t regret what pulls me down to that city, whether it be the energy, the sunshine or something else, whatever it is makes me feel alive and I won’t regret that choice.
I saw good friends down there, great friends who make me laugh and love myself. I didn’t see other friends I hoped to see, because there is just never enough time, and I have finally realized that I can’t do it all no matter how badly I want to. Those first two nights were important, because I danced and sang, laughed a lot and felt good. That was my reason for being there, and in those first 36 hours, I accomplished that on every level.
The man I dated in my early twenties taught me a few very valuable lessons about drugs and addicts. The first and hardest being that you will never be more important to an addict than drugs. Never, ever. I say this is the hardest lesson because it is something you will have to learn and re-learn a million times, and it does not get easier. In my case, cocaine was more important than paying rent, putting food in the fridge, the water bill, the health of my car, and my feelings on any of those things. For years, I battled my own addiction to the addict himself, wishing so desperately to be worth changing for. The best part is there will be so many moments of fun, of insightful and deep conversation, because addicts see the world on another level. This is what drew me in (and still draws me into people like this), the whole “seeing the world on another level” part because I can appreciate that in a person. Some might argue that these moments could be experienced elsewhere too, with someone who doesn’t harbor a dark love for illicit substances, and I would agree with those people.
However, second lesson: You’ve just met an amazing actor. This beautiful, insightful and (often) smart soul you’ve just fallen for is going to play the hero, best friend and villain in your story. You’re in for a lot of lies, whether they were meant as truth at the time, they will almost always turn into lies at the end. I was talked out of money time and time again, left hanging on date nights, ditched at bars, concerts and even my own birthday party (three years in a row). I cannot even explain the depth of apologies I received for each offense, accepting them because I was naive and believed people can change.
Third lesson: People can’t change. They can try their hardest, wish for it with everything they have and more, but the fact remains that they can’t go back. Once someone has gone from casual experimentation to using on a regular basis, there is no going back, and they’re in for a daily struggle for the rest of their days. This third lesson is the saddest of everything I have learned, and one that I still fervently hope is not true. So far it has been.
(From my drafts)
I don’t think I have ever considered myself someone who is “good at keeping secrets”. I am very open and honest, but there is so much that I just don’t share with anyone. There is a difference between keeping secrets and not sharing information.
Life has not taken me where I thought it would during these past two months, but I am rolling with it and waiting. I have a lot to say, so much in fact that I have been trying to finish an entry for the last three weeks, but this will have to do.
For the moment, I am looking ahead to two weeks from now, when I will be basking in sunshine, friends, and the future. Sunny Los Angeles, I’m coming for you.
Commitment is the other part I struggle with, because I cannot even commit to staying in one city at this point, let alone pledging my life to a person with feelings. I have found that I’ve become more fearless as I’ve gotten older, but also more cold as well, choosing my own way instead of defaulting to someone else and their way of thinking. Part of the podcast discussed the commitment of marriage and how the vows you take (presumably before God) are more of an emotional commitment, rather than a business commitment. This discussion veered off into interesting territory, exploring the idea behind a “marriage contract” between two people instead of “vows”, which definitely intrigues and inspires me. Expecting the someone will always feel the same way, about life or love or even yourself, is a huge and scary gamble to make; divorce being what it has become in this country, I would say that you’re almost (almost, I am not a fatalist here) destined for failure. Sitting down with your significant other before marrying and discussing expectations, setting goals and recognizing that marriage isn’t all about “love” should be a mandatory thing, and taking it a step further by putting it in a contract (to be re-examined and renewed 5-10 years in the future) sounds like an amazing idea. For me at least.
Recently I was told to “keep my mouth shut” about this because it makes me look very “incompassionate”, but I don’t especially care what this looks like to anyone. This issue has been eating at me for awhile, and it’s to the point where watching the news infuriates me instantly, instead of only irritating me mildly.
I live in Washington State, a Democratic state where I pay no state tax and the minimum wage is the highest in the country. To be perfectly clear, this means that our minimum wage in 2014 will be over two dollars higher than the Federal Minimum wage which currently stands about $7.25 an hour. Four states in our country have minimum wage rates lower than the Federal minimum, and five states have no minimum wage law at all. The debate over raising minimum wage in Washington State went from actual debate to actual reality when the bill was passed to raise our minimum wage to $15 an hour this year, and to be extremely clear, this pisses me off.
Starting next month, I will be a resident of Los Angeles. My decision was obviously not easy, and it was filled with a lot of pain and sadness over what I will leave behind, but deep down I know that I need this. I knew this day would come eventually, when I would need to get out for awhile to see something new, and the truth of the matter is, I want to experience it all. It’s as simple as that, and it does not mean that I am “trying to find myself”, because I know exactly who I am and I want to experience it all. ‘Restless’ is often a word I use to describe how I feel, but it is so much more than that and the idea that the world is out there for me to grab and experience is too great of a temptation, too great of a tease.
I didn’t write anything this month. Not one draft, not one word.
People often opt for change because they are unhappy, and I wasn’t really unhappy with my life. I went through vicious cycles of guilt for wanting more, but that was all on me, all internal. I have never been able to put my finger on why I feel like I need more, and nearly every blog entry in the past two years is me simply trying to explain it to myself, trying to put it into words why I feel like I need to breathe but can’t accomplish that without change. The truth of it all is much less dramatic and it is that “I am simply wired that way”. I have often thought about a time from my childhood when my dad and I would have conversations about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I remember telling him that I wanted to be a police lady, a doctor and a firefighter all at once, and him laughing and telling that “Sure, you can do all those things, but how do you plan to find the time?” and my (obvious) answer was “I’ll be the police in the morning, a doctor in the afternoon and a firefighter at night” as if I could do it all. I remember him laughing again and saying “okay, go do all those things” the way that parents do with small children, and me feeling like I could really do anything I wanted. I have always felt this way, this unending supply of “want” for everything the world has to offer me, and I have never seen a problem with it.
“You will fall in love with someone who’s cold and always seemingly pushing you away. When all is said and done, they will be forever known as the one person you couldn’t get to love you. Unfortunately, it will hurt and sting worse than the good ones, the ones that chopped up your meat for you and picked out an eyelash from your eye and were nice to your mother, because love often feels like a game we need to win. And when we lose, when we realize we couldn’t get what we ultimately desired from a person, it makes us feel like a failure and erases all the memories of those who loved us in the past. It’s a permanent smudge on your love resume.”
I understand this relationship dynamic better than I should. To this day, these particular relationships I have experienced still sting and cause me to cringe awkwardly at myself while shaking my head in disbelief because I really should have been more self aware. And I was not.
I have been working on another post for two weeks now, and it has not come together the way I hoped it would. I have been struggling lately because I really dislike this time of year, no matter how much I try to force myself to feel differently. I will finish the other post soon.
This time of year never fails to depress me. Like clockwork, November hits and so does my depression, lasting well into February my mood stays dark with the season. Living in Seattle obviously made it worse, so much worse in fact that I found myself dreading half of the year and not really understanding why. I never lied when I said I loved the rain, because I really did for a time, but it was the constant gloom that accompanied the rain that started to drown me. There is only so much unexplained melancholy that a person can take in one lifetime, and I am not such a slave to ‘writing about my feelings’ in this blog that I could endure it any longer.
Cheers to 2015, to burning brightly, to change and to another great adventure.