#Blessed

I’m not working right now.

Well, not working “in my chosen field.” I still spend long hours at the computer, attempting to put together lessons and exam questions and nonsense I am highly unqualified for. Which is still 1000x better than working in a restaurant.

Fall is supposed to feel hopeful. I’m supposed to feel refreshed. I’m supposed to be breathing fresh, crisp air and not continuing to roll through life unshowered and apathetic. My friend runs cabarets for kid Broadway performers. There are constantly pictures of her events with them. Kids join and leave shows more often than adults (they grow, they age, they get tired because they are still CHILDREN) and it constantly seems as though a small child is weeping about making their Broadway debut. This is actually from one’s Instagram (bolding mine):

I am so incredibly excited to FINALLY be able to announce some awesome news!!! I am both thrilled and honored to be joining the cast of Fun Home on Broadway- making my Broadway debut!!!!!! I am going to be the newest#superswing, learning the roles of Small Alison, Christian, and John! This new journey has only just begun and everyone is already so kind and supportive and I can’t say thank you enough!! I have always imagined myself being able to step out onto that stage as Al, it really goes to show that with dedication and hard work- dreams can come trueeee!!!#funhomemusical#funhome#funhomebroadway#broadway#honored#YAAAAAYY#okimfreakingoutalittlebit#justkiddingimfreakingoutalot!!!!

Yes, sweet wee eleven year old. Hard work.

Like being born in the tristate area.

Like being able to afford to take classes.

Like having a mom to drive you to auditions.

Not that I begrudge any children that. While some child actors are irritating, others (like the girl this one is replacing) are sweet and down-to-earth. I can only speak from my world.

And in my world, hard work don’t make dreams come true. It helps, but you also need relentless ambition, a willingness to make yourself very uncomfortable, the ability to be told “no” constantly and yet still be willing to keep going (in other words, being a masochist), and a really fucking enormous scoopful of luck. ENORMOUS. SCOOPFUL.

I know I always get like this when I’m not working. I try to keep a bright attitude in life, because how else do you make it through?

But here, I can break. Here I can whine. Here I can feel stuck and angry and lost and bitter and JEALOUS OF AN 11 YEAR OLD. That’s where I am today.

Every day is grapefruit day.

Today I close another show. This is how this career is… you’re deep in it, totally invested, your whole day leads up to those few hours at the theatre…

And then suddenly it’s over, and you’re unemployed, and you may never seen your castmates, who have become your family, again, or at least for a long while.

It’s a somber moment, and I’m feeling a bit somber today.

Last night, I went up on an entire speech– I froze onstage and literally couldn’t form words; didn’t know where I was– and it really shook me. It was fine, but awful. I forgive myself, because it wasn’t my fault– I know the speech front and back, I was focused and paying attention– I just short-circuited.

That, compounded with the closing of the show, is making today tough. The rain doesn’t help (thanks NYC).

This was so wonderful.

  • We were a New York Times Critics Pick.
  • We got amazing reviews (my work was mentioned)
  • My parents got to see it
  • I got to do Shakespeare!
  • I made some amazing friends and met some remarkable people
  • I got to work off-Broadway, which is a gift in and of itself.

But more is to come, I know. Including a weeklong vacation in July.

And really, you can’t top what we did at the end of our performance on Friday, June 26. The day was already so joyous. Then we did this, and it was the best curtain call ever:

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Apartment Hunting, boom boom

We found out we’d have to move after sending our landlord a kind, intelligent message about the raise in rent and the change to a month to month lease on September 23.

I was still away doing a show. I did some legwork and he saw a handful of apartments. This was three days or so worth of agony (this is NY real estate after all). We put in an application on a place I didn’t even see on September 28. We felt sure.

We waited. And waited.

Two weeks of waiting, I had had enough. I scheduled a number of viewings on October 10. We saw four units that were fine and then… the one. We still hadn’t heard from apartment #1, but this one was so clearly “it” that we didn’t even care. We got our application in that day.

October 13. Find out the first application for the first apartment was rejected. Unclear reasons. We’re not married, our income is too low, our guarantors are out of state… the bottom line is that they’re obviously assholes so who cares. We found a better place anyway.

October 14. Today.

We find out we lost the second apartment. A hair’s breadth too late. I am heartbroken. I am exhausted.

I spend hours staring at a screen, sending emails, making appointments, completely unsure that I’ll find anything at all, alone and crying and frustrated because it’s NOT FAIR. It’s NOT FAIR that we are good people with a great rental history and good credit and amazing tenants and now it’s no no no no no no no.

And I am binging.

I can feel myself hurting myself because this is too hard. It’s too much. I can’t handle my own feelings of anxiety AND A’s, because his are strong too. I can’t do this much longer.

We’re living in an apartment that is completely packed up. I haven’t unpacked from my two months away. We don’t have fall or winter coats.

I am so tired of this. I am so scared we won’t find another place we love. I am scared we will be down to the wire with this move. I am scared that I won’t be able to get back on track… this month feels like it’s running away from me. So does this year.

Why did I get to have such joy to come “home” to such awfulness?

The things that make me happy are not making me happy because all that’s in my head is 1 bedrooms west of broadway pullman kitchen dishwasher laundromat across the street .5 miles from the A train sunny Hudson Heights steps from transportation roomy comfy converted uptown rent stabilized walkup low fee broker fee st nicholas eat in kitchen

My eyes are crossing and my heart is hurting and I’m hurting myself because I don’t know what to do.

Don’t let me read this. It’ll make me sad.

I’m back from a 2.5 week vacation with my folks in London, Drumnadrochit (a wee town on Loch Ness), and Edinburgh!

But that’s not what’s flitting through my mind.

I lost a friend somehow. A best friend.

I said something possibly insensitive in a text. I didn’t think twice about it. Looking back, it was probably misguided, even though my intentions were to be amusing and share a silly moment in my life that made me feel connected to this person.

This was three months ago.

I hadn’t heard a word from her. I continued to text, to “like” on Facebook, to comment, to talk about, to generally act like a friend through this whole time. While in the UK, I sent a text like usual, remarking on a funny thing that was happening that I wanted to share. Her response was that she has been distant because I really hurt her with my text, she wished I hadn’t said it, and maybe we can talk about it when I’m back.

Heart. Pinioned.

We were headed out the door to breakfast when I got this, so I dashed off a reply along the lines of “oh my god. I had no idea and I am so sorry I hurt you. I hope you know that I would never hurt you on purpose and I regret hurting you then. I love you, but I understand you need your space and please do what feels right.”

And subsequently deleted every single communication so that I couldn’t look at that text ever again, and left my phone at home all day, even though I wouldn’t have Wifi or cell service anyway. I sobbed through breakfast, and burst into tears throughout the day. I still am hurting, deeply. The shame is overwhelming, and I’m hurt too.

***

I’m also finishing up a two book audiobook contract with an author who HATES me. She hired me, for goodness’ sake, but she is horrifically disappointed in my work and condescends to me at every juncture. And of course all the stupid little things are going wrong in production, so she treats me like I’m unprofessional and terrible at my job. The worst was the three page LETTER she wrote me after I finished the first book, about how much she hated my narration. So that whole situation sucks.

Obviously one hurts more than the other, but they both make me feel physically SICK.

I’ve gotten to a point where I get that sick feeling when reading an email from the author about the audiobook, but I’m able to let it go within a relatively short amount of time as long as I make the change she wants or respond IMMEDIATELY.

***

But this friend.

It hurts so badly.

And I have many feelings that contradict the sick, shame feeling:
Our friendship of years couldn’t withstand a mistake?
Everything we’ve been through together can fall apart because of this?
Why didn’t you tell me till now?
Why couldn’t you let go?
Why couldn’t you forgive me?

How could you not wish me happy birthday?

How could you watch me reach out, continue as if nothing was broken, while you pushed me unknowingly away?

***

So there’s definitely anger.

But mostly, I am sad.

I am so, so, so sad that it makes me want to throw up.
It takes my heart and pokes tiny little holes in it so it wheezes with each beat.
The shame wears me like a thick, wool coat, the heavy hood pressing my chin to my chest.

What do you do when your best friend isn’t your best friend?

Does the sadness go away? Does the SHAME?

Do people forgive as easily as I do? Because I do.

I have to let her go. It’s in her hands. And if we talk, I’ll collapse in a heap and the tears will never stop. So I hope she just forgives me.

I wish I didn’t care so much. I wish I didn’t feel shame so deeply.

Awful, awful, awful.

I’m sure you’ve all heard now about the tragic shootings in Santa Barbara. 7 people dead, shot by a young man who shot himself in the seconds before the police got to his car.

It’s terrible. Truly awful.

What is really different about this case is the fact that this young man, Elliot Rodger, left behind a deep, horrifying blueprint all over the internet. Comments on forums, an enormous (over 100,000 word) manifesto of his “retribution,” and YouTube videos that outline his disturbing views on, in particular, women. One video is titled “Why do girls hate me so much?”

I’m not sure what my feeling about the whole thing is, beyond the most basic sadness and horror and disturbance.

But watching his videos, in particular the one he posted hours before the attack (now taken off YouTube, but of course accessible elsewhere), makes me feel such incredible sadness. Not for him– although it’s hard for me to not feel sad because he was so lost– but because I am honestly unsure what could have prevented this.

People did call the police on him. He was questioned. They didn’t find the gun in his bedroom.
His parents were clearly not the best parents (not that I blame them) but they also made an effort, at least when he was a kid, and he was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. He was incredibly wealthy– mental health care was accessible to him.
Gun control would have helped. Perhaps if he hadn’t been able to buy a semi-automatic weapon.

There will be the assholes who blame women (like he did) for not giving him a chance. “That was all he wanted!” they’ll say, “He’s not unattractive, why won’t you feminists just fuck him?”

And of course, that’s one of the real tragic parts of the whole thing, and what disturbs me so much. We always search for reasons for acts like this– Elliot Rodger gives us one. “If I can’t have you, girls, I will destroy you.” Obviously there are societal issues in place that allow this opinion (and those who defend it) to profligate. Again, you can’t hang his actions on society. But I think this brings up an important conversation.

I’m not sure I’ve ever written about my one experience of harrassment (mild, but it happened). This is also brought to the fore in my mind because I’m working on a short film about relational abuse. I spent a summer at a theatre festival, which has a program that admits two apprentices per summer that have some kind of special need (things like blindness, asperger’s, amputees, etc). There was one young man who had Asperger’s. I was kind and friendly, of course, as always, and we ended up in a lot of the same groups. Fairly quickly I realized that he was attracted to me. This happens, and I gave off the signals that normally do the trick. That didn’t work here, which makes sense, considering his diagnosis. So I became more clear. But he continued to approach me, to touch me, to engage me, and also to hug me– hugs which went too long, and, more than once, devolved into his thrusting his pelvis on me. I was incredibly uncomfortable with this, but didn’t know what more I could do beyond what I’d already done. I had told him to leave me be, that I wasn’t interested in him like that. So eventually I approached the program director and asked if we could possibly stop being put in groups together, or at least LESS (it was every day now) and explained how I felt very uncomfortable. In no uncertain terms, I was told to “get over it” and just be nice to him. “He just wants to be your friend,” and “You have to be clear with him.” Completely unhelpful. Eventually, the flirtation took a turn, and he started making comments about how “nobody likes him” and “girls never want to date me because they have something against people with asperger’s.” It was a very sophisticated guilt trip and made me feel terrible. That little voice was always saying “there’s something wrong with YOU that this is happening, YOU must be a bad person, YOU must be doing somehting wrong, YOU are hurting this person.”

So reading about Elliot Rodger, I think I become extra uncomfortable because I’ve heard that rhetoric before about “girls don’t like me” because “girls are bad.” Obviously there was other stuff going on, both in my personal experience and with Rodger, but the repetition of it strikes me as problematic. No one “deserves” a woman’s body. No woman is “required” to date or sleep with a man just because he’s attractive.

Anyway. Long story short… This is a sad day, and I don’t recommend the internet wormhole I just fell into.

It’s amazing how quickly…

..you can go from feeling good, solid, grounded, successful, PROUD…

to feeling angry, sad, frustrated, and stuck.

Questioning every decision.

Hating hating other people, and resenting resenting their success.

Ugh.

“Sometimes this human stuff is slimy and pathetic – jealousy especially so – but better to feel it and talk about it and walk through it than to spend a lifetime being silently poisoned.”
Anne Lamott

“A lot of people get so hung up on what they can’t have that they don’t think for a second about whether they really want it.”
Lionel Shriver, Checker and the Derailleurs

“Jealousy always has been my cross, the weakness and woundedness in me that has most often caused me to feel ugly and unlovable, like the Bad Seed. I’ve had many years of recovery and therapy, years filled with intimate and devoted friendships, yet I still struggle. I know that when someone gets a big slice of pie, it doesn’t mean there’s less for me. In fact, I know that there isn’t even a pie, that there’s plenty to go around, enough food and love and air.

But I don’t believe it for a second.

I secretly believe there’s a pie. I will go to my grave brandishing my fork.”
Anne Lamott, Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith

“Jealousy is the most dreadfully involuntary of all sins.”
Iris Murdoch

#thursdaymorningtherapy

The last month has been very strange.

For the last few years that I’ve had a salaried part-time position., my schedule has been relatively set. I work from 11am or 12pm until around 5pm. LOTS happens around these times, but this was the basic structure of my weeks. Every day but Thursday.

Thursday was the day I had therapy. For about a year and a half, it was also the day I saw my nutritionist. Most other appointments were also scheduled for that day — GP, gyno, psychiatrist, dermatologist, dentist. Now, I could care less about those other appointments and doctors. Those weren’t what Thursdays were about.  Thursday was my recovery day, my healthy day, my day where my only job was to be well.

I stopped seeing my nutritionist in 2011. I only see my psychiatrist every four months or so. I only go to the GP once a year. And as of December 2013, I stopped seeing my therapist.

It is a very strange feeling that Thursday had this meaning for me, for so long. I think about it differently than other days. Even now, after about three months of Thursdays without requirements, it’s hard for me to reconcile it as just “any old day.” Last week, I took Wednesday off instead of Thursday at work. It was a good choice for my exhaustion, but it felt like a Thursday. And the Thursday I worked? I kept thinking it was Wednesday. No joke.

And another thing.

I miss my therapist. I am 100% certain that I don’t need her in my life right now, and 100% certain that I’m doing exactly the same thing I would have been doing had I still been seeing her, but I miss her. Four years of Thursdays. She knows me better than anyone on earth. And now we don’t speak. How weird is that?! I want to tell her about my successes. I want to cry in my chair across from hers. I want to talk about things that irritate me. I just… kind of want to see her face.

I expect this is normal. Even she acknowledged that leaving a therapy relationship is strange and hard. She shared her own experience of it. And it’s actually been less hard than I expected. I thought I’d feel heartbroken, like every time I thought about her I’d feel sad. That’s not the case. I just miss her. You know?

I talk to my mentees a lot about therapy. Many of them have had bad experiences with therapists, and it breaks my heart. I somehow lucked into finding the most incredible woman who trusted me and believed me and respected me and was there for me and worked with me in a way that worked with who I was. She is the best. I just want all of my mentees (and all of everyone!) to find this kind of person. Someone who is with you 100% every time you’re in her chair, and anytime out of it. Compassionate, caring, but not demeaning or diminishing of your agency.

But I don’t know how to help anyone find that, unless they’re in New York City and can afford her.

What I HAVE been sharing is the website for the specific type of therapy she frequently practiced with me, AEDP. I only know what it is because she sent me referrals for other practitioners of AEDP in other states. From their website:

There is no better way to capture the ethos of AEDP than to say this: we try to help our patients—and ourselves—become stronger at the broken places. By working with trauma, loss, and the painful consequences of the limitations of human relatedness, we discover places that have always been strong, places that were never broken.

Crisis and suffering provide opportunities to awaken extraordinary capacities that otherwise might lie dormant, unknown and untapped. AEDP, as a therapeutic approach, is about making the most of these opportunities for healing and transformation. Key to this experiential enterprise is the establishment of the therapeutic relationship as safe, secure base.

Tomorrow is Thursday. I will not go to therapy, I will not go to work. But I will go and perform a show. Because that’s what I’m lucky enough to be able to do. And much of that is thanks to these past four years of Thursdays.

If you guys are interested in learning more about AEDP or finding a certified therapist, here’s the website. http://www.aedpinstitute.org/

Love.

B.

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery– air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.'”
–Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar