One of my favorite lines from Stephen Sondheim’s Passion is when the ugly, sickly Fosca tells handsome soldier Giorgio “I know I feel too much. I often don’t know what to do with my feelings.”
This summer, my feelings threatened to overtake me. To the point where I kept thinking to myself, “Does everyone think I’m crazy?”
There are moments in life when you’ll think you’re crazy. When you’re going through a time of severe grief, occasionally the thought maybe I’m losing my mind will flash across your consciousness.
There are times that I’ve literally sat on my yoga mat, with my hands in prayer position, asking God to take away my ability to feel so much, because it would mean I would be free of this heart-crushing, torrential flood of grief that every once and a while still manages to knock on my door like a shitty friend who wants to ruin your day.
It’s gotten easier. But every once and a while something will happen and I’ll be struck by another wave, and I attempt to stagger out from under the blue crush, pulling my hair out of my face and wiping sand out of my red eyes.
Walk. Fall. Get back up. Walk. Fall. Get back up. Walk. Fall.
This is my place to say whatever I want, and right now, on the cusp of turning thirty, I’d like to state something for the record.
I’m having some money issues. I’m working four jobs and I’m barely making ends meet. My check from work hasn’t come in yet, so I had to ask my parents for money the other day and was profoundly humiliated by the experience. I haven’t seen my nephews in a while – every time I see them I want to lock myself in a bathroom and cry because I’m terrified I’ll miss my window and I won’t be a mom. I lost friends this summer and I miss them every single day. My condo is a holy hot mess. I have a giant hole in my heart that I’m attempting to paper over. I sometimes feel like a gigantic failure. I’m scared a lot of the time and I cover it up with bravado.
Yet for all of this…I am happy. Honestly. I’m happy. I’m happy in my bones. Because this summer, I sat with all of those issues and problems in my life and I realized that they do not measure the weight and depth and breadth of the most important thing – my soul.
Every time I feel all of those indescribable feelings – every time I feel crazy – I look up into the sky, tears streaming down my face, and I say two words.
Everything – and I mean everything – happens for a reason. I have been a complete and utter mess for the past four months, full of heartbreak and scorn and anger and confusion and tears and every other emotion you can possibly think of. But I’ve also made the decision to sit with that grief. To be alone with that grief. To lean into that grief. To refuse to give in to the things that would distract me from it. So this summer, I didn’t drink, I didn’t binge eat, I didn’t compulsively exercise, and I didn’t distract myself with meaningless hookups or rebound relationships. Any time I could be alone, I took it and I worked it to the bone. I sat still. I prayed. I ate ice cream. I cried buckets.
I had a lot of thinking, feeling, and growing up to do. My wonderful friend Jordan told me “Use this time as the karmic gift that it is and just really get in there and do the work.” I wasn’t going to see any improvement in myself, my career, or my future if I avoided the painful truths I had been concealing for a long time about myself. So I sat with it. And I discovered some serious ugliness at the core of my being, the nasty stuff at the center that I don’t let anyone else touch. It floored me. It gutted me. It ultimately released me.
I started to speak my truth. I told the truth. About how I was feeling, how I was thinking, and how people’s thoughts and actions affected me. No matter what. If someone asked how I was doing, I told them. I went down swinging. And I don’t regret a single thing I did, or said, during that time. I began to be impeccable with my word, and to never regret anything I say. I told the truth, even when it hurt. Even when I really didn’t want to. I cut people out of my life. I welcomed people back into my life. I felt more at peace than I ever have before. I realized I was happier than I’d been in a long, long time. And not the strange euphoria that is fleeting. I felt a deep sense of reconnecting with myself. Of remembering who I am, what I am, and what I need to fully feel happy.
On the cusp of thirty, I have big goals.
I will get a job. I want to be a writer, or I want to be involved in education. That much is a given. I know that eventually I will do something that makes my heart beat faster and allows me to help impact the world around me.
I will be a better friend, colleague, and performer. I want to be involved in theater until I can’t walk anymore and they have to wheel me onstage and off.
I will a husband (or he’ll find me). He’ll give my soul a home, and my future babies a father. I will not date until I know I can be ready to receive that kind of a gift. Does that sound crazy? Or does it sound like a woman who knows exactly what she needs. Also, there’s a big difference between “want” and “need”. I don’t “want” a boyfriend that will fill in the spaces of my loneliness just for now, only to dump him off later with the other retreads. I “need” a soul partner that will complement me in the ways that will set me free. I can’t afford to mess around. I want something real, something permanent, and something that will last forever.
Until then? I am spending a lot of time cleansing my soul. It’s been cracking me open. Clearing me out. Setting me free.
I am not crazy.
I am simply remembering what it feels like to get cracked open.