NEWSFLASH: It is SO HARD to walk the walk of true authenticity, as I described doing in a recent post. To be real all the time. To strip off the masks we’re so acculturated to wearing, the ones that project, “I’m cool, I’ve got this!”, even when I DON’T GOT THIS. To break the circuitry of the same old stories we’ve been telling other people about who we are and what we want, even if it isn’t who we are, and it isn’t what we want.
And then, here’s the kicker: Once we screw up the courage to be more real, suddenly, it gets harder and harder to pretend, and then things get really messy. It’s not like a fairytale where the universe goes, “Oh, you brave soul, you told the truth, here’s a cupcake and a happily ever after.”
No — as someone so aptly put it in a conversation earlier today, once we start to take steps toward being real, it’s like a wave, pulling back away from the shore before it crashes. Things can get worse before they get better.
I feel like I’ve been in that wave-pulling-back-space for a while now. Mess. Tumult. Some excellent pieces of news to be sure, and so much love from my community, but (and), on top of that, a lot of struggle. Moving. Financial stress. Being in flux professionally. Hustling. Exhaustion. Change.
And then, this week, as many of you know, my beloved 16-year-old dog, Cosmo, died, which feels like losing a part of myself… a very soft and nonjudgemental part.
(Rest in peace, Cosmo. I love you.)
And then I got more bad news, which I won’t detail here, at least, not for now.
And then I had to spend a lot of money I didn’t want to spend.
And I woke up this morning in a sad, small place. I was depressed. Everything felt awful.
How did I end up here?
I bought this poster for Jordan recently at the Brooklyn Flea, on our first trip back to visit since the move. It’s become part of our vocabulary: Find the donut.
But sometimes, finding the donut is so fucking hard. Sometimes doing all the right things, to take care of yourself, to fill your cup and to fill the cups of others (as my cousin put it on Facebook earlier) — you end up feeling like a lonely warrior.
This morning, I asked for help. I turned to Facebook and said, “Everything is awful. Help.”
And people did. They sent me words of encouragement — not just going-through-the-motions words of encouragement, but real, deep expressions of friendship. And pictures of cake. And love. Several people reached out to me privately. My friend Sara swooped in like a fairy godmother and said, “Let me come get you,” and she took me to lunch in her snazzy red convertible, and we ate mushroom reubens and brussels sprouts. We talked about the “swamp of sadness” (see: NeverEnding Story) and how life is about seeing the swamp and fully acknowledging how real it is, and feeling the darkness, while also stubbornly looking for the magic. The light. Because it is there; it is always there.
(This is “yes, and” in action, by the way — yes, there are these shitty things, and, there are also these wonderful things…)
Later I walked through the rain to meet a new friend for tea, a woman I met thanks to the interview I recently had where I told them I didn’t want the job. We talked about how nourishing it is to find other smart women who want to talk about spirituality — that sweet spot between cynicism and anti-intellectualism.
These encounters were medicinal.
They empowered me to keep on keeping on. I let myself ask for help and I got it (see: radical vulnerability).
If you are currently sinking in the Swamp of Sadness, let me be your Sara, and swoop in for you in my proverbial red convertible for a reuben and a hug.
If you are feeling cynical and ugly, let me be the new friend who gives you permission to talk about spiritual topics without cloaking them in air quotes. Not just to talk about them, but to go deep, to consider the potential transformative power of exploring yourself and your life in a deep, spiritual way. To let down your guard.
If you are sad or tired about how hard it is to be real, all the time… to walk the walk… hear me when I say, I am sad and tired, too. I understand. And….
We suffer in our private struggles. Women all over this world, feeling alone, who are not alone.
You are not alone.
“Fuck this week,” I tweeted earlier today, before my medicinal encounters.
“Solidarity,” replied my long-distance friend Cat, in Wales, and I say the same to you:
As we say in improv: “I got your back.”