Tag Archives: anxiety

What I Did While You Were Busy Breeding

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When you turn 30, an odd thing starts to happen. You start noticing the things others chose that you did not. Sometime in our mid 20’s, the ponies start to separate and some folks travel the tried and true path while others seek to forge their own way, riding the coat tails of their passions to the very end.

As Frank Zappa so eloquently puts it:

If you end up with a boring miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, then you deserve it.

Whether you decide to climb the corporate ladder, have babies, travel or launch your own business, do it because you want to. It’s your life. Here’s what I did with mine.

  1. I traveled. I wandered through castle ruins in Wales, rode a horse after one too many beers in Tennessee. I missed trains, got stranded at bus stops, got lost in Rome. I fell in love in London, got stoned at a commune in Copenhagen, looked for witches in Salem, camped with elks in Colorado and experienced the stench of death in New Orleans.
  2. I played roller derby in three different states. Learned to ride a horse, a motorcycle, a plane by myself. I raised a dog.
  3. I had chickens living in my apartment kitchen. Got tattoos. Shaved my head. Traded shoes with drag queens. Wrote a sex advice column.
  4. I moved to Vermont. I moved to Philly. I lived in a sergeants mess in England.  I slept in the back of a car in Brooklyn. I owned a horse, a Ford, a Honda. I helped a sheep give birth on a cold night in New England.
  5. A boy made a movie about me. I worked at a bar where “lingerie lunch” was a thing, a book store, a dry cleaners. I was a hostess.
  6. I wrote a lot. I lost my job and so I launched my own business. I paid my way through Europe with my words.
  7. I dated. I dated a lot. I meditated. I ran. I lost God. I wondered if little girls could be raised by wolves.
  8. I suffered. I witnessed a friend get raped, another take his own life with a rope. I was a bridesmaid. I was a bartender. I was in a burlesque performance – once.
  9. I wanted to publish a book. I practiced yoga. I ate fire.
  10. I found God. Stroked a pet wolf in Portsmouth. Napped in a castle in Cardiff.
  11. Thought about grad school. Thought about marriage. Contemplated babies. Dismissed them all.
  12. Dedicated my hours to my art. Locked myself away for months at a time and honed my skill. I wrote. I wrote. I wrote.
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We will find our right to be.

Even though I’m 28 and (technically) an adult, when something hurts me, as in cuts me straight down to the core, I resort to childish tendencies. I pout, I lash out, I act on impulse. In other words, I become a brat.

I have this perpetual fear of people leaving. Everytime somebody chooses not to be in my life anymore, I immediately deflate. Even if they are toxic or mean or have been in my life no longer than 15 minutes, I just can’t deal with them going.

This phobia has been the one thing that has governed the course of my life for the last decade. I’ve changed schools, moved to different states, and have flown half way across the world and back trying to avoid it.

All through my formative years, some innate thing in me was growing. It made me bite my nails at 65 MPH and it made me sad in the winter and it made me never want to be alone. And when I moved to the city, I shut it down. Hey there, painful thing, let’s just chill out for a few years. So there we sat, in a new apartment with a boatload of friends and a shiny full-time job in journalism.

But off and on for the last two years or so, it’s been moving around again. It keeps banging around in my head, telling me I’m not good enough, that people don’t like me, that I’m a failure. And as much as I try to shut it out with work and dinner dates and volunteering, it comes back.

This phobia of not being lovable, of not being worthy, has ruined so much potential happiness in my life. I’ve lost friendships and boyfriends over it. I’ve wasted hours and hours ruminating over if this person liked me or if this individual was mad at me. Recently, I might have lost somebody that meant the world to me.

So many people in their 20’s deal with anxiety and depression and phobias and fears. Yet, nobody ever talks about it. We all go out to the bar and drink our cheap lager and talk about our lives and yet nobody ever thinks to ask about or to bring up the fact that they’re suffering. And I’m talking a deep, deep suffering here. A gut-wrenching kinda suffering that I don’t think people even want to acknowledge.

And nobody’s to blame. We just all continue to sidestep our painful things or sedate them with medication or martinis or yoga and ignore the fact that they’re there.

But the thing is, we all have to deal with our demons. We’re like closets. We’re all neat and tidy on the outside but inside we’re just a mess of things we didn’t sort out yet. We need to take all that junk out and lay it on the floor and decide what we should let go of and what we keep before cramming it all in again and shutting the doors.