I want to get to a point where I’m not always reminiscing. Daydreaming is better–at least I can be emotionally stuck on the possibilities of the future, rather than haunted by the past.
Like anyone else, I associate songs with memories, but it seems like each one is such a heavyweight that it becomes hard to not let them transport me to former, unhappier times. There’s a new playlist I’m making, and it’s got Ariel Pink, The Velvet Underground, and Mitski on it; despite the new tunes, whatever succession of chords they’ve recycled are transporting me against my will, once again.
While presently, I am writing from my newly purchased IKEA kitchen table, mentally, I am back on the brown line in March of 2020, right before the pandemic. It’s cold, and everything is a midwestern hue of gloomy grey or slate blue. Ice crystals form in the beveled edges of the el windows, accumulating as the metal giants tug along across the north side. This was back when wired headphones were still so prevalent, so I adjusted my frayed cord til music came through the earbuds, allowing me to feel some sense of debilitating confusion.
I had on this giant denim jacket, and layered beneath were whatever mismatched hoodies I could find. I’d just gotten into a fight with a drunk fuck of a friend that I couldn’t understand at the time was only careful and caring, despite the constant intoxication. She insisted I stop counting calories and drink more than coffee and I was so full of anger and hunger that I turned away and inward, thinking I could restrict in friendship and connection, too.
Now, some years later, I find myself doing the same: restricting as a form of control. It’s completely illusive, which I’ve come to realize, but even the lie of having control gives enough comfort to easily become entangled. Only now, I don’t obsess over calories, nor deny myself the simple pleasure of fatty ice cream and rich butter–but keep rejecting the terrifying although high-rewarding thing we call vulnerability and honesty.
I can remember the last time The Velvet Underground made me feel something significant. I can remember hymns near the water that felt healing and soothing. I can recall anything from before that struck a chord in me, but I couldn’t and can’t possibly pin down exactly where I’d lost that ability. I keep telling my friends, it feels like I’m emotionally constipated.
Maybe it’s because I’m stuck on pieces of the past? Maybe it’s because whenever I do open up, it’s used as gunpowder in the most explosive and pathetic disagreements, disappointments, etc… It could also be the very fact that I’ve come to only crave validation and likeability that I’ve turned off any possibility of being fulfilled outside of everyone else. I think it’s a medley of all of those.
I think I’m constantly mourning things that are long gone, things that could’ve been, and the things that have yet to come. I’ve shut down anything even adjacent to trauma dumping because the minute the words exit my mouth, it feels like the day after a heavy night of drinking; I am deeply embarrassed by what I’ve said, how I may have looked, and what the other person could possibly be thinking. I hold it in so much I’ve come completely out of tune and so deeply unaligned with myself that I’m so much more of other people than me. And I think that’s incomprehensibly sad.
To people please and to avoid conflict is to be liked but to be adored, I’m discovering, is to be yourself. I could let whatever roll off my tongue and there’d be people who could inherently understand, and without judgment (or much, anyway), and being in their lives would feel safe and not like a challenge to prove myself. I’m not sure how to do any of that, though.
I don’t know how to focus on the present, I don’t know how to be okay with feeling like the bad guy. I don’t know how to get back to the place where I felt so confident about wearing my heart on my sleeve. Telling people how I really felt, being honest, even in the face of rejection. Rejection – an ingredient to the recipe that’s all but wiped out my sincerity. Something that I deeply fear, and like spiders, I just have to get over.
It’s been a few months and it seems like I still have yet to conquer it.
1: I went through a month’s worth of interviews and bought my first pair of black slacks in over 4 years to sit in front of hiring managers more concerned with the prestigiousness of my connections and education than actual merit. Knowingly rejected sans a proper notifying email, I went along, acting like being ghosted was actual closure. Like I could avoid the solid “no” and by doing so, not have to face the rejection at all. Then came the email, the self-doubt, imposter syndrome, and every textbook definition of insecurity.
2: I lied about how I felt and what I wanted to the first non-platonically framed person I genuinely felt connected to in well over 2.5 years. When everyone tells you to be less, ask for less, and expect less, you start to believe all of it. I did. I could understand how someone would want to commit to someone who is easy, blindly trusting, and without well-disclosed emotional and physical perimeters. But then you ache to be seen and only after you’ve expressed just how simple-going you are do you reveal your complexity and faults. By then, it’s too late: you’ve lost your desirability, the grass is greener elsewhere and you’re there, wondering if by being honest, you were being unappealing.
3: I got angry with a friend when I was so tired I could feel the darkness under my eyes. I’ve only ever bit my tongue around her but nearly a decade of doing so and it’s like the wires keeping my jaw shut had rusted so much, I just couldn’t anymore. She cried, and I felt nothing, and the next morning, all I wanted was to take her to the airport already, and be alone. Keeping face is hard and in a faltering moment, my lips could form faster than my mind, and my truthfulness not only made someone dislike me, but her reaction nearly Pavloved me into believing every time I am so candid, I’d make someone distance themselves.
Re: my last blog, I know that it’s just going to take time to get used to. It’s going to take time to be okay with hearing no, and explicitly. I can’t shy away from it anymore. I can’t internalize the dismissal. I can’t shut down and lie to the people that excite me, in hopes of keeping them around. I can’t bite my tongue anymore for fear of being bitchy and frigid.
There are times I’m angry, sad, and hungry. Times I want to be alone, be in silence, be respected, coddled, or listened to and none of those things make me a bad or difficult person. It’s not my business what everyone thinks of me, just myself. That lack of control makes me lose my mind, but gripping so tightly onto it has only ever caused me harm. It’s only wrecked my body in the past and placed the most inhibiting limits on all that I could possibly be and accomplish.
I just wish I could blink away the difficulty of it all, though. I wish I could skip these first few chapters of exposition, because arguably, not only are they hardest to write, but the hardest to live through. Uncertainty feels awful but it should feel freeing and that’s where I want to be.