Thursday, February 19, 2015


I want to love myself. But for the last six months I just haven't. I've eaten so much food that's bad for me and watched so many mind-numbing hours of TV and movies and read blog posts about how getting healthy will make me feel better and how accepting who I am now will make me feel better and how giving myself up to God's will will make me feel better.

And I don't feel better.

I felt like I did for a few weeks, after I finished reading Sister Oaks's book A Single Life. But it's soothing effects didn't last very long. I woke up from the stupor of peace it put me only to wake up still addicted to food, addicted to believing I'm worthless without a significant other, addicted to wanting to succeed and feeling like a failure in every way.

I know I should go to a doctor and ask for help, but I'm afraid to do that. Last time I sought help from a medical doctor for depression, he refused to give me medication for it because I wasn't depressed enough. Which only served to reinforce my feelings of inadequacy.

I've been to therapists before, and several of them were helpful to me, but I don't think I'll believe any of it has worked until someone looks at me and loves me.

But no man ever does. And it just suffocates me, my desire to have that, to feel fulfilled and wanted by someone in a romantic way. And when I can't have it, I just shove my face full of feeling-suppressing sugar and watch movies that will make me laugh and think and forget, if only for a few minutes.

My dreams have turned into bitter nightmares, and I don't even have the will to pursue them anymore. I just wish I could escape all of it, turn off my mind and be gone. I know I'm not supposed to feel that way, but I do.

Enough is enough. This is enough.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Blast from the Past: On Re-Readings

Note: This is another old blog post I found in the middle of the night. Why did I never post this? It has some good stuff in it. Enjoy.

I have this half-formed thought I've been carrying around for a while now which I will now attempt to fully form and share with y'all at the same time. Probably this thought arises from the inordinate amount of time I spend consuming media in my college graduate, part-time bookseller, full-time unsure of my next major life step life status. In fact, I know it comes from at least the bookseller portion of my life right now, and here's why.

Very early on in my now four plus months as a Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail bookshop girl, I found myself standing at table full of great nonfiction titles. The biography of Neil Armstrong, several titles by David McCullough, Angela's Ashes, Team of Rivals--I had read none of the books on that table, but I wanted to read basically all of them. And I thought to myself, "If I read absolutely nothing else this year, I still wouldn't have time to read all of the books on even one side of this table." To a bibliophile like me, that was a depressing thought.

I only let myself get further overwhelmed as I looked around at the dozens of bookshelves surrounding me in the decent-sized bookstore where I work, and it dawned on me that even if no more books were ever published, I wouldn't even have time to read all the books in our store in my lifetime. (Granted, there are entire shelves of books that I would have no problem skipping...the romance section for instance...due to their lack of literary merit. But still.)

This thought took up residence in the back of my mind, not quite nagging away at me but making its presence known nonetheless. Quickly, the thought had grown, telling my mind that not only would I never be able to read everything I wanted to, but I would also never see all the great movies or even catch up to my Netflix queue. 

Eventually, this dooming thought made friends with another thought: the thought that there are certain books, movies, and TV shows that I have already read or seen that I will no doubt read or view again, in spite of the fact that I am already wasting my time by not checking off items in the huge imaginary To-Do List of Lifetime Media Consumption I have created for myself--with the assistance of Goodreads, IMDB, and Flixster. I was wasting my time re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird every summer instead of making friends with Leo Tolstoy. All my repeated viewings of 13 Going on 30 would mean nothing if I somehow missed out on some other unknown rom-com gem. And I didn't even want to think about all the times I have re-watched movies just to remember why I don't like them. (Blog post on this subject to follow.)

I had reached a postmodern paradox: I wanted to experience everything, but I knew I could not. All of this deep thinking exhausted my already emotionally strained mind, until I realized that the desire to re-experience was the solution to the whole problem. How? Here's how.

Remember that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Sean Connery as Dr. Henry Jones Sr. opens his umbrella on the beach and runs at all the seagulls, causing a plane to crash and saving himself and his son, Indy, from the evil Nazis? (As opposed to all those nice Nazis...) What does he say to Indy to explain this erratic behavior? "I just remembered my Charlemagne." Unfortunately, I'm not well-read enough to know what Dr. Jones is actually quoting, but the principle of the scene applies. Because the answer to my problem is "I remembered my Shakespeare."

The single most famous Shakespearean soliloquy comes from Hamlet. You know it as "The 'To Be Or Not To Be' Speech." But it contains a well-stated concept that acted like a soothing balm on my situation. "...makes us rather bear those ills we have, / Than fly to others that we know not of." Just like Henry Jones quoting Charlemagne, it might seem like gibberish out of context like this, but I couldn't quote the whole sentence because there's a lot of flowery language about Death personified that doesn't really apply. In fact, strictly speaking, the quote I gave is Hamlet explaining why a lot of people choose not to commit suicide, which has nothing to do with my situation. But at its core, this quote says that if we know the qualities of something, we're apt to keep those somethings around instead of replacing them with others that we don't know.

Translating this into the dilemma of never finishing the World Library, I realized that I'm just "bearing the ills" I know and love by re-reading and re-watching books and shows that I already know have wisdom that suits my style. And I'm okay with not flying to all the "others that I know not of" all the time. I'm okay with not being consumed with the consumption of new media.

But then the thought went even deeper. Because I've been thinking about all the great friends I've had at different periods of my life and thinking about when the Ultimate Friend will show up--the one that I will love so much that I will marry him. And suddenly that Ultimate Friend became like a really good book, or a great TV show, or a fabulous movie. With him, just once won't be enough. I'll have to keep re-reading and re-watching to discover all the nuances and details I didn't notice before, little tidbits that make him even better on a 322nd viewing, or a 456th read through. Sure, I'll have my favorite parts that I've highlighted or that I skip to on the DVD when I need a quick pick me up. But the whole goal of having him in my life will be to know and appreciate the whole package. And that will take repeated screenings. And readings. And it won't matter that I don't know every single person on earth, because I'll know him. The quality of us will mean so much more than the quantity of them.

Acceptance First, Anger Last

Note: I wrote part of this blog post in May 2014, but I never finished it. I couldn't sleep tonight, so I revisited it in an attempt to bring on the ZZZs. It starts where I originally started it, and I'll note when the original post ends.

I've heard that people can experience the stages of grief in any order and often go through some stages multiples times before they reach acceptance. I can now be a witness to this fact. I just didn't realize it was possible to reach acceptance first and still need to go through the other stages.

To anyone who's still out there reading, you should know that on November 16, 2013, I got my long-awaited, much-anticipated first kiss. The story is quite nice, but I'm not in the mood to share it here just yet, mostly because that relationship has since ended and I'm presently stuck in the beginning of a romantic comedy. My life right now is very status quo: my career exists but it doesn't suit my skill-set or feel long-term; I had what felt like a great dating relationship but have a hard time now remembering what I saw in him and why I trusted him with my heart. If that ever changes, you might get to hear the good parts version, readers. But not today.

One day shy of a month after our first date, The Boy Who First Kissed Me broke up with me. That's not even a 100% accurate description of what happened, but it's the best term I've got, and I've since learned that he used it. So, although he refused to officially and openly date me, at least he recognizes that he broke up with me. What a man.

He gave a few reasons for breaking up with me, the most prominent being a lack of time to give me what I deserve out of a dating relationship. Translation: I'm just not that into you. I knew that's what it meant at the time and tried to get some clarification out of him.

In fact, as an aspiring screenwriter, I feel I should give you a better sense of the action and let you see the pitiful scene for yourself.

Sunday afternoon. Sacrament meeting has just concluded. BOY and GIRL, who have been sitting together, stand up. GIRL is annoyed but trying to hide it because BOY was checking his Fantasy Football scores throughout the meeting. BOY is distracted by the fan club of girls, aged 18-22, who run up to him (age 27), eager to get his opinion on everything from wheat bread versus white bread to the Affordable Care Act. BOY shifts his attention from GIRL to this harem.

GIRL waits nearby. Flashback shots of her waking up in a cold, angry sweat the past several nights are shown. Another flashback depicts the same harem arriving at her apartment Christmas party the night before. HAREM also ran over to BOY with enthusiasm then, chief among them a young 20-something redhead, and BOY turned his attention away from GIRL despite the fact that he arrived an hour late to the party. GIRL said nothing then, but remembering the restless sleep and confusion, she knows she has to say something now.

BOY finishes talking with HAREM, and GIRL recaptures his attention.

GIRL: Hey, I know you're busy, but can I schedule some (BOY'S NAME) time for later today?

BOY: Sure, we can make that happen.

BOY and GIRL part ways.

[End of original blog post.]

The story picks up later that night, around 8:20, following Ward Prayer. GIRL nervously approaches BOY in a crowded room.

GIRL: Can we have our talk now?

BOY: (grimaces) Sure.

GIRL and BOY walk back to GIRL's apartment. BOY does not try to hold GIRL's hand. BOY and GIRL reach the apartment and sit on the love seat. The name of that piece of furniture does not match what is about to happen.

Fade out.

I could give you the Reader's Digest version of that conversation. Heaven knows I've played it over in my head plenty of times since it took place. But I really only remember what he said. And how stunned I felt. And how embarrassed I am now that I almost cried then.

But the details aren't important. Because as heartbroken as I should have been, the next day--a Monday, naturally--I found myself at work, not pining for him and wondering what I did wrong. Instead, a rush of calm flooded over me around lunch time. I just knew it was right that we weren't dating anymore, or using each other or whatever the accurate description is for what we were doing with each other. I found acceptance less than 24 hours after our split.

And that was great. I felt calm and happy and at peace all through the holiday season and the Olympic speed skating trials and even New Year's Eve, a holiday I've wanted to spend with a significant other since I was allowed to date.

I wish that feeling had lasted. I wish I had held onto it more, fought for it to stay. But that's not what happened. Instead, he announced on Facebook the day after Valentine's that he was in a relationship. Apparently he had time for her. Apparently he wasn't ashamed to openly admit that he liked her.

Enter anger and all the stages of grief I hadn't gone through yet. Welcome back to all the questions I had about my worth and my attractiveness as a woman. The year just went downhill from there. I thought a different guy liked me. You heard half of that story in a different post. Yeah, he didn't. But he eventually found the skinnier, nicer version of me, which triggered a whole new set of jealousies and self-loathings when I saw it first-hand.

By August, I'd given up the idea of dating that year. And I'm not sure I want it right now either. I mean, I want it because my biological clock is ticking and the longer I stay single, the more ice cream I consume and the more unrealistic Hallmark Channel movies I watch and the more I fear I am too SOMETHING to be the object of someone's true affections. The less marry-able I become.

The point of this post is not to say that I believe something is wrong with me that makes me undateable. It's just to put some feelings that weigh on my heart and doubts that resound in my mind out into the universe. Because there isn't enough room for them to just stay inside of me anymore.

I want my acceptance back. I want the courage to move forward and think that I could find someone and he could like me and mean it. I want to not think I failed at 2014 because three of my best friends got married but I didn't even hold a boy's hand.

Because I accomplished a lot in 2014:

  • I got a new job.
  • I bought a car by myself.
  • I went to Disneyland twice.
  • I got to the other side.
2015 is already better. Not necessarily in the dating arena, though I have felt myself gaining a more balanced perspective on the matter. There have been two boys recently who I've thought "maybe" about. It didn't become anything, but that's not the point. 

The bigger and more important development is that I feel myself wanting to be okay with where I am now. I feel my heart saying, "You is good. You is kind. You is important." And not because of your dating status or whether you've published anything, but because you have faith in the future but appreciate the present. I'm not perfect at it, but I'm doing better.
  • I go to the gym more regularly.
  • I've taken care of some big-girl things, like 401(k) and HSA and dental insurance.
  • I sometimes watch the nightly news instead of reruns of crime procedurals or HGTV.
  • I've already finished 5 books this year.
  • I'm blogging outside of work now, a first step in writing more and feeling the joy of the creative spirit again.
If you made it this far, congrats. I apologize for starting so many sentences with conjunctions. I know it's allowed, but I think I went overboard. I have hopes that this year will be better than the last. After two long Decembers, I deserve it. So I'm going to give it to myself.