Wednesday, March 13, 2019

The Anxious Guru

I should have known the week was going to be bad when I found out Oprah was hosting the after show for the Michael Jackson documentary.

I was planning on watching it regardless, but the fact that Oprah was behind it made me REALLY want to watch it and face reality and believe it.

Yes, I’ve watched it. And yes, everything is terrible. I think we need to believe these guys and realize that Michael Jackson’s love for sharing a bed with little boys wasn’t normal and he wasn’t a good guy.

I tucked myself in to watch the whole documentary on Monday/Tuesday of last week and it was startling and upsetting. I felt really stupid for justifying his crazy behavior with the narrative he forced down our throats that his childhood was insane and he just liked being a kid again. 

Then, I found out personal news that caused me to facepalm again. And then my favorite murder podcast got dropped because of sexual harassment and misconduct, and if we can’t trust our Free Willy soundtrack singers and our murder podcast hosts then WHO CAN WE TRUST?

But as the great Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.”

But man, I was really hard on myself last week because it felt like I was getting bad news left and right. It was the kind of week where I needed to reach for my emergency Xanax… except I found out it had expired in 2016. (Isn’t it ironic? No, not at all.)

However, the fun thing is that my job is to help other people handle this stuff. So not only was I down on myself because of life, I became even more down on myself because I felt like I was a hack who SHOULD KNOW BETTER. But that’s silly. I need to feel my feelings!

I mean, what kind of development coach/aspiring self-help guru/Muppet influencer would I be if I had never experienced the same feelings as everyone else? I know how to handle a poor leader because I’ve been poorly led in the past. I know how to get over my fear of change because I’ve been through a lot of change and learned how to handle it better. I know how to get on top of my anxiety because I’ve been anxious for YEARS and have finally nailed down a “treatment” that works for me.

So, here’s what I spent the week doing that helped me regain my confidence, move forward knowing what I know now, embrace the mistake-maker within me and continue going:

Writing. Not to go all Alexander Hamilton on you but I wrote my way out. I always write down everything I’m feeling until my hand hurts. It always feels better to get it out, and then to read it. Then I read it again the next day. Have I gained any more clarity? Am I feeling better? Honestly, we just need to bring back diaries. Why do we give that up when we’re teenagers?

Music. I made a playlist called “BRING THE JOY” and I’m really fucking proud of it. It’s full of upbeat songs to give you a confidence boost and bring the mother effin joy. (But uh, maybe leave the Michael Jackson off the list. And then R.Kelly while we’re at it. And probably hymns of the Catholic Church.)

Friends. As an emotionally repressed Irish person, I don’t tend to share my feelings too often. But I know that when I isolate myself, I just feel more alone. So I either share what I’m going through with a trusted few people, or I just surround myself with people so I don’t feel alone in my thoughts. Last week, I actually made plans, reached out and called someone, had dinner with my best friend instead of eating solo steak and had my high school friends over for a spa day with 10 bottles of mimosas. If that doesn’t cure a sour puss, WHAT WILL? (No, really, I’m asking. What will?)

Exercise. Unfortunately, moving my body always helps… and the pain occupies my brain. I worked out a lot. I went to barre, yoga and even ran a few times on a treadmill so that I could raise my endorphins, get strong and feel something else. (I’m not a runner, so my shins have been killing me and that is worse than all the other feelings!)

Acts of kindness. I visited my aunt’s bagel shop to surprise her… but she wasn’t there. So, that would have been nice of me. But I did bring bagels to my best friend who recently had a baby, and I left them on her porch like a bagel fairy! I bought a beer for friends, some robes for the spa day, and just tried to shower other people with love. And shower in general. That was a kind thing to do for the people around me.

Do something different. A good ol’ break in the routine always helps. I’ve typically gone the old Britney Spears route and cut my hair. But I don’t want to because I really like my long hair! So… I got extensions. Like, the fill-in kind so that your hair’s not longer, just fuller. WHATEVER. At least I didn’t get lip injections like I wanted to!

Retail therapy. I bought the following items: A dress, a fancy razor, the aforementioned hair extensions, fancy natural sunscreen, books, records, sunglasses and…  a rotisserie chicken. That was less about therapy and more about the fact that I needed to eat dinner and didn’t feel like cooking.

Feel the feelings. At the end of the day, I’m going to be okay! I always am. Time is the best medicine. But I’m allowed to be sad, anxious, upset, etc. every once in a while. I’m a human being. And I’m allowed to take the time that I need to process what I’m going through. And I did. And I feel MUCH better for giving myself the space and not making myself feel even worse.

Life is fun. Sometimes it’s a rollercoaster full of ups and downs, sometimes it’s like a salad spinner where someone is pressing a button and you’re thrown all over the place and covered in salad dressing. (I’ll work on that analogy, but I think I’m going somewhere with it.)

I’ve been very lucky in my life. The past few years have been insane after moving back from Los Angeles and trying to figure out what the hell I want. (No big deal.) But I finally feel like I’m in the right place at the right time, and I’m excited (rather than anxious) to see where it goes from here. I’m in a career that I’m passionate about, I have creative outlets, I am traveling and experiencing so much, and I truly feel surrounded by family and friends who love me, support me and appreciate me for who I am. 

We don’t always end up with the “love of our lives” or the “dream job” ... and sometimes we will make bad decisions that throw us off-path or hurt someone unintentionally. But all that has made me a much better, more intelligent person. And I’m glad I can help other people through their messy parts by being A GODDAMN MESS!

I know better. I will do better. But until then, I’m gon’ cry into this basket of Reese’s eggs while I re-watch Leaving Neverland and scream WHY?!??! 

(Bonus points if you read that in Nancy Kerrigan's voice.) 

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