Thursday, April 17, 2014
So I've been listening to "Unconditionally" by Katy Perry a lot lately. And at first when I heard it I was like, "Ugh gross, unconditional love, romance, booo! That's dumb!" because I'm still bitter and jaded from my now eight-month-old breakup. But then I started to sing it to myself, as a love song to myself, and I realized that from that perspective the song is fucking great. I think we should all sing epic ballads of love to ourselves on a regular basis. It's a really good feeling, windows rolled down, the sun coming out after the rain, driving along just belting out how much you love yourself. Because I will love myself fucking unconditionally.
In that vein, I guess, I've been weirdly surprised at how self-sufficient I can be, and how rewarding it is to be on my own. I was on my own in London, but I was still with Greg, and whenever anything difficult or scary happened he was only a Skype call away to comfort me. I even made him talk to me while I killed a spider once (London spiders, man!). And I was living off of student loans, the tiny amount of money I made from my part-time job, and semi-regular small gifts of money from my parents, so I was still relying on others to sustain myself in a lot of ways. I did complete the first draft of a whole novel, so yeah I'm really proud of myself for that achievement, but there's been something entirely new about how I've come to view life over the last several months.
When I got in a minor car accident recently and had to deal with two insurance companies, the DMV, and a mechanic, I figured it all out even though I'd never had to do anything like that before in my life. And then I spent all the of the insurance money on fixing the headlights on my car, buying new tires, and generally making it safer and more reliable. All on my own! I hate spending my money on practical things, as you know, but it felt really good to drive away from the mechanic with a happy car that day.
And then I went to Best Buy the next day and bought myself an Xbox 360. As I've already rambled about. But I felt so badass being able to say, hey, I earned this money and as an adult who buys tires for her car, I can also spend a few hundred dollars on a gaming console. And it's all mine! Nobody else's! When I move, I will still have this Xbox. And I'm really proud of it! I feel like such a dork, but I'm so proud of my Xbox!
Another thing that's really been striking me lately is the emotional support, or rather the lack thereof. I've always (for basically as long as I can remember) suffered from anxiety and depression. When I was in Salt Lake City I was significantly and more consistently depressed than I've been since high school. And so many times I'd just let that emptiness overwhelm me. I spent a lot of nights just wanting to fast forward the rest of the night, or the week, or the year, so I wouldn't have to experience it; I just wanted life to slide past me while I laid there. So many nights I would look in the mirror after a shower, hating my body, and lie on the bed staring at the ceiling for what was probably an unhealthy length of time to lie in silence, staring at the ceiling. Or I'd lie on the couch in the living room after another unfulfilling and unhappy day, listening to Patrick Wolf, and wish that somebody would rescue me from whatever it was that I thought was trapping me. And every time I did this, I was waiting for Greg. I knew, even if I wasn't entirely conscious of it, that when I lay there on the bed feeling sorry for myself, I just wanted Greg to come and say something to make it all better.
There's nothing Greg could have said that would have fixed it. I think I knew that, but was too afraid to take full and complete responsibility for my hopelessness. I thought that if Greg just told me I was beautiful, then I wouldn't feel so ugly. And I thought that if Greg just tried to do something fun with me, or make me laugh, then I wouldn't feel so alone. But he rarely if ever did, and even if he had done something every time, would it have mattered? I was unhappy, I was lonely, and I beat myself up constantly. Why couldn't I be happier? Why couldn't I like the way I looked? Why couldn't I make more of an effort? But I never did anything, not until the very end, and it didn't make a difference. I just let dark feelings wash over me until I was too exhausted to face them anymore, and went to sleep.
I know, this is the longest buildup ever, but I have a point. The other day, I was standing in my room after a shower, holding up my shirt to see my stomach in the mirror. I assume every other girl does this, because otherwise I'm a total freak, so please don't tell me if nobody does this. Anyway, I'd been eating badly and I was bloated, and I let it get to me. I started to worry that I'd never get any thinner than this, that I would just start gaining weight until I was chubby again (which I was, for like two years at the end of college), and that I'd grow old and die hating the way I looked. It sounds really shallow and ridiculous, and it was. It totally was. But instead of realizing that, I laid down on my bed, towel still wrapped around my wet hair, and stared up at the ceiling, trying not to cry. I laid there for maybe two minutes, and then it hit me: there was nobody to wait for. There was no Greg in the next room who might come and finally tell me I was beautiful no matter what. There was just me. Why was I lying there? What was the point? So I sat up, stood up, and carried on with my evening just fine.
That was huge for me. Realizing that I could be happy for me, because of me. Nobody is here to save me. Nobody is here to take away my sadness, or maintain my self-esteem, or keep me emotionally fulfilled. My friends are here, and so are my parents and so is Lyall, but they should not be relied upon to give me these things. Only I can accept and create those things in my life. When I realized that nobody was going to pull me out of my vortex of body shame but me, it was like a cloud lifted. I didn't have to feel that way. I could enjoy the rest of my evening. Because if I didn't, who else did I have to blame but myself? I find it easy to curl up in a little ball of despair and blame everyone in my life for not caring, or not making an effort to fix me. But it's absolutely pointless, and it isn't the greatest way to live, let me tell you. I'd rather be grateful to myself for being happy, for being fulfilled, and for taking responsibility for my state of mind.
Today I was playing BioShock Infinite (again, yes, I know), and remembered the final battle before the game ends. When I was playing through the first time, I could not beat that fight. I kept dying, and dying, and I hated it. I get really angry at video games when they're too hard for me. Like, really angry. I was screaming at the TV, trying to string together as many curse words as possible, still not getting across how pissed off I was. Nearly in tears of frustration, I tweeted angrily that I would do anything for Greg to be there to beat the fight for me. He used to always take over for me when I got to a difficult spot in a video game, or he'd sit by me and coach me through it. He's a natural gamer, which is a weird natural trait to have, but he really is. So I always relied on him for getting through the tough parts. But there I was, unable to beat this goddamn fight that I swore was glitching out on me, feeling like I'd never beat the game because I'd never win the fight with nobody there to do it for me.
After sitting for a few minutes, wanting really badly to give up, I thought, well fuck. Greg isn't here to do this for me. I don't know anyone else who could do it for me. And no matter how glitchy the fight seems, there's obviously got to be a way to beat it. So I started again, with a better idea of what I had to do to win after trying to beat it like fifty billion times. And I beat it. Beat that damn fight! All by myself! And then I got to finish the most beautiful, sad, thought-provoking game I'd ever played, with only Lyall by my side. It was so fucking satisfying. I did it on my own. I bought an Xbox, played a new game, and beat the game with no help from anybody.
It may sound small, but it made me feel so completely awesome. I'm an independent woman! I can beat my own video games! Yeah, it's super dorky. But it's important to me. Enjoying that video game on my own terms, in my own way, was such a wonderful experience. And it reminded me that I can do so many other things on my own, without Greg or anyone else. I can support myself and Lyall comfortably, I can buy tires for my car, I can beat video games, I can join a writing group and attend every week, I can embark on a road trip on short notice, I can go clothes shopping every day for a week without fear of judgement, and I can do whatever I want because I am in charge of my own existence. And that is the best fucking feeling in the world.