What do you say in a moment like this?

After I posted on Tuesday about talking about uncomfortable feelings, I noticed my cousin had posted on the status of one of his friends.  His friend had basically posted a suicide note.   

There were some, “don’t do this” messages and a few, “hey man, give me a call” messages and a couple, “I hope this is a joke” comments as well.  It turned into a huge thread trying to locate him to stop anything from happening. 

I don’t know the guy, he lives in San Diego, but I was engrossed and followed it for the afternoon.  A group was created and discussion about his mental state and the issues he’s been dealing with lately were all discussed (including the idea that he’s in some legal trouble or has made a mess of his life and may or may not simply be faking a suicide in order to disappear). 

I guess it just made me sad.  Although a few people were mentioning that they had recently seen him and he seemed fine, I just wonder if he had tried to reach out to friends or family in the past few days.  Funny how something so definitive opens up the conversation about mental illness a heck of a lot faster (although you could still kind of sense the discomfort from some of the commenters and the fact that they were talking around him, still not to him).  To the best of my knowledge, he hasn’t been found one way or another yet.

My sister works in the mental health field and each year, she rounds up the fam to participate in a local charity walk for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The idea behind the walk is to destigmatize talking about mental illness.

She also has her own personal history of mental health issues. That’s why it was even harsher that she was one of the ones this weekend who ignored my comments that I was unhappy and lonely. The friend I reached out to also has had bouts of depression.  And perhaps my mom’s avoidance of my comment was a silent suggestion that I take up her method of coping with uncomfortable emotions?

I’m not saying feeling unhappy and lonely = checking into a psych ward, but I’m saying feeling unhappy and lonely and wanting to talk about it but being shot down = amplifying those feelings and feeling like they are wrong or bad and that I’m more alone than I thought.

Now, I’m sorry to say, but yes, I read Get Off My Internets (sometimes it crosses the line to just plain mean, but I like how it makes fun of the ridiculousness that is blogging). Yesterday I read a post critiquing fashion bloggers’ advice to “spruce yourself up to shake off depression,” to which partypants says, “Because when you suffer from clinical depression so crippling that it’s a monumental effort just to go to Walgreen’s for tampons, the least you can do is put on jeans and lipgloss so we don’t have to look at you.” 

I’m the first person to try to make an effort with how I look, to fake it til I make it to get out of a funk, but I realized with those words that I don’t know what a serious mental illness actually does to you.  A funk is not depressed.  Yes, I get sad, yes, I get lonely, but when I step back, those uncomfortable emotions make me happy to be alive to feel them because the alternative is not something I’m interested in. 

This one time, at church camp (yeah, I said it), a girl said she’d never kill herself because she likes herself too much.  She was made fun of for being so…well, I don’t know really…confident?  What? Like it’s so cool to be depressed and not like yourself?

But, that stuck with me, I guess because I feel the same way. Even if it makes me conceited to admit, I like myself.  I’m awesome.  And I’m fortunate enough to have balanced mental health that allows me to feel the uncomfortable emotions, but not let them take over.

But I still think the world would be a better place if people could talk about their emotions and if people would listen and talk back. Why not start with you?

I’m sorry, am I making you uncomfortable?

I mean…I’m sorry I’m not sorry.

Part of the Girls on the Run curriculum is a lesson about emotions and how they are not good or bad, but some – like excitement and happiness – are more comfortable, and some – like jealousy and loneliness – are more uncomfortable to feel.

I really like that. Since I learned it as a sophomore in college, I’ve been a big proponent of “feel your feelings” and this adds a new step to it…to acknowledge that feelings are not always comfortable, but that they’re okay.

As uncomfortable as they are to feel, sometimes they’re even more uncomfortable to express, but I’m getting better at that and this weekend I tried. A few times.  To family members and a friend.  I told them I was lonely, I told them I was unhappy.  And I kind of got ignored.  I guess my uncomfortable emotions make other people uncomfortable too?

While there’s a lot of talk of how blogging can place a lot of pressure to be happy and perfect and wonderful all the time, I think blogging has a lot to do with my increasing ability to be real.  Granted, I keep two blogs, this naked one and one more public and perhaps more shiny and happy, but I’m saying what I need to say in so many spaces in my life and I think it’s because I’m now used to just laying it all out there.

Or I’m getting old and I just don’t give a fuck anymore.  One of the two.

With the exception of me attempting to discuss my feelings (ew), my family was very comfortable on Sunday. My mom forced a dinner and I had to talk myself into it all week long.  They all were pretending like nothing had gone wrong, like nothing was wrong and everything was back to “normal.”  Funny the way family totally redefines that word.

I took the pup, so he was a big focus, but since it was the first get-together since my sister and her husband returned from their honeymoon, there was recap wedding talk. Just when I thought it was over.  Everyone ignored the fact that it’s not a happy memory for me.

I bit my tongue when snarky comments wanted to come out, respecting that my dad hadn’t wanted to discuss the issues in front of my mom before and with the way everyone was acting, I knew no one else wanted the faux-happy Sunday to be brought down either.

My dad asked me questions about the dog and I answered politely, but didn’t really feel the need to say goodbye to him when I left.  Then the pup slept all the way home while I cried.  I’m so hurt that my family could just ignore the situation.  I don’t want to harp on it, I don’t want to talk about it all the time, but literally there’s been no resolve and everyone else is okay with that.

So, yesterday, I wrote down everything I wanted to say to my dad – essentially that I’m offended that he hasn’t taken responsibility for his actions thus far and I’m hurt that he’s been treating me poorly for a while now.

So, then I was faced with the question…did I write it for therapeutic reasons or did I write it to send it?  I felt better after I wrote it, but I realized I felt better knowing that my dad would read it and truly know how I feel about everything.

So I clicked send.  I’m glad he didn’t fire off something back, but now I’m reaching the “how long do I wait until I take his silence as acceptance of my statement that I don’t need a forced, circumstantial relationship if he doesn’t want to get real and be involved in my life?” point.

After I sent it, I felt a little apprehension.  Nervousness that I traded his comfort for my own.  He was settling back into a comfort zone when I saw him on Sunday, assuming things were swept under the rug.  But, I was quite uncomfortable and it’s not fair for me to hold it all in. My family might be number two (although I’m not sure that’s a position they deserve right now), but I’ve got to look out for number one and I’m going to keep talking about my feelings until someone listens, darn it!

Oh yeah, and sorry I’m not sorry for the emo brain dump you just read.

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?

Quick recap:  My sister is getting married next month.  In the year that she’s been engaged, she has become a self-consumed bridezilla.  My parents are also eating, sleeping and breathing the wedding.  I’ve been avoiding the fam because I’m over it.  I’m over it because she’s a self-consumed bridezilla, there are more important things in life and my feelings are hurt because she asked her best friend to be her maid of honor over me (I’m a bridesmaid).  Got it?  Good.  Moving on.

Yesterday, I got an email (an email?!) from my sister asking if I would be willing to/comfortable/okay with giving a toast at the blessed event. I sat on it for a while because, well, that’s a duty for the maid of honor.  She even mentioned in the email that the best man was giving the other toast. 

Finally, I responded that I had believed I was off the hook for the speech, but if the MOH had declined, I’d be fine to give one. 

She responded that the MOH would be okay to give one or not, but her preference was that I give the toast. Well…maybe she should have thought of that when she was selecting her attendants.

I said fine.  I’m not sure I meant it.  Obviously, she’s not my favorite person right now.  I’m concerned I won’t have anything heartfelt to say. 

I’m concerned the uncomfortable emotions I’ve been feeling toward her and my family and the event will be overwhelming on the big day.  I am already embarrassed that I’m standing up as a bridesmaid and I’m concerned I’m going to feel embarrassed getting up to speak for my sister who didn’t want me to be her MOH.

On the flip side, I’m concerned if I DON’T do it, I’ll regret missing the once-in-a-lifetime (?) opportunity to toast my sister on her wedding day.

She asked because the venue needed to know, so I feel like it’s a time-sensitive issue (because heaven forbid you ask the DJ to change the announcement with anything less than two weeks notice), but I can’t figure out the right answer.  If I change my mind, I imagine she’ll be more upset about the fact that I’m messing up the plans than concerned that I’m hurting.  Maybe that’s enough to decide right there.

What would you do?

Back in the Trenches

I feel a little silly being upset over the end of a mini-non-relationship with Non-Mush.  BUT, I’m watching a good friend go through the beginning of a new relationship – that started around the same time mine never did, ouch – and I realized if things had continued to swim along, I’d be equally as thrilled about it as I am now bummed about it. 

Plus, it’s okay to FEEL YOUR FEELINGS.

Maybe it’s not the loss of the relationship specifically, because it wasn’t necessarily anything yet, but the loss of what it could have been, what I wanted it to be, what I thought it might be.

I’m making him a guidepost, a reminder of the quality of guy I deserve, the excitement I should feel at the beginning of something. 

I’m taking my lessons – 1. when it feels right, go all in so you’re left with no regrets, 2. trust your intuition and call a guy on his B.S. when he needs it – and moving on.  Maybe, kinda.*

Well, moving on but totally lamenting the fact that I now have to kiss twelve more frogs until the next good one.  I’m not saying this because JWOWW told me so, I’m saying this because I’ve lived it and it’s true. 

TGISWOTSD —> Non-Mush = FIVE months and approximately 12 other men (not all of whom I actually kissed, it’s just a saying people)!

There are A LOT of men out there.  Most are not for me, but there’s only one way to sort through them to find my Prince Charming.  I’ve got to get in the trenches. 

But you know what?  I don’t wanna.  I mean, yes, I will and honestly, I do want to, but with more focus on the Prince Charming part, less on the trenches part. 

For now, I’m completely overwhelmed by the rigmarole of online dating and the sheer volume of idiots / jerks / douches on the sites.  The whole concept is just not sitting well with me right now and I have no clue where to start to meet a man organically.  Okay, well I have some idea, but planning is very different from execution. 

When my desire to get out there again comes back, I’ve got my post-breakup hair and post-breakup bod ready to go.

To quote one of my fav movies…”head up, young person.”

*Maybe, kinda because I’m straddling a fence right now.  Part of me wants to say, “if you don’t want me in your life [romantically], you don’t get me in your life [at all].”

Another part is piecing bits of our last conversation together and thinking this is a bump, a feeling out period and that we actually could be great together.  For that part of me, it still feels right to give it another shot with Non-Mush. 

I realize that if I was paying attention I wouldn’t think that was an option, but this falls in the no regrets category and even though looking into my magic ball, I assume I’ll find a man who makes me wonder why I ever wasted my time, I don’t want to what-if this situation.

Feel Your Feelings

Reverb 10, Day 19 Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

I’ve had a charmed life and no one likes the poor, little rich girl being all “woe is me” about her so-called hardships, but I learned my favorite lesson about emotions back in college when my roommate, another poor, little rich girl, was going through her parents’ divorce.  Her counselor told her that it was okay to feel her feelings. 

Why do women have to be reminded that it’s okay for them to have feelings, feel them, express them, work through them?  Whatever the reason, when I feel like my feelings aren’t valid or that my life has been too sheltered for me to be distressed, I just remind myself it’s okay to feel my feelings. 

I worked through some heartache and relationship and work baggage this year and I was healed in the little moments.  I found comfort in the rhythm of my runs.  I found comfort in slow rituals and taking time for myself.  I created and validated a ritual of staying in bed with my feelings if I wanted to, knowing it would heal whatever I was going through and the next day I’d get up, mental health a little more intact. 

I was healed by confronting some of the shadowy lurkers of my past and by just closing the door and walking away from others.  I got over some things in my past by jumping into new things, which is a good band-aid, but perhaps in 2011, I will work on actually healing them. 

I feel like I’m in a good place right now, but everyone has their days and everyone has things from the past that pop up and pinch them right in that spot that makes it hurt all over again.  When those days come up, I know that it’s okay to feel my feelings and work through them however is right for me.