The movie Pinocchio left an indelible mark on my psyche. If you haven’t seen it recently, you should check it out—shit is dark. There’s a scene where Pinocchio and his gang gets swallowed by an enormous whale and they live in its belly for a while, surviving on fish that flood the whale’s innards whenever he opens his hungry, giant mouth. I’ve been scuba diving in Jamaica, swam with the manatee in Florida, rode the back of a stingray, and still I carry this fear of the ocean, especially the deep ocean, especially whales. There are menacing, evil, unnatural things down there in the dark, and I spent my day hanging out with them all.
I have no idea where it came from, there was no reason for it, especially after the feel-goods of last night and the many accomplishments and kindnesses of the week. But today found me squarely in the belly of a whale. I had calls, comments, and emails to return, I had books that needed reading, I had things that needed doing, but all I could manage was bad TV and multiple naps. I’m two weeks in; I should be better than this.
Then there was this bright spot, this opportunity to pull it together. A friend of mine was having a party, and I could show up for it. I could do this thing for her and stop focusing on me. It was going to turn it all around and there was going to be a happy ending to this tale of gloom. But I failed that, too. I showed up barely able to speak my name. The social anxiety hit so hard that I was sweating panicked bullets and had to find a way out. And now I’m home again, having a glass of wine with familiar demons.
But I did the tasks; I completed them all. And I’m going to write this failure, despite my embarrassment and shame. So I’m holding fast to that train of tenacity and hoping it carries me out of this dark, wet deep.
Given today’s lethargy, this one was especially hard. I had a work thing to take care of this morning, and when I got home at around 11:00 a.m., I didn’t leave the sofa until 5:00. Somehow I managed to get myself up and on to a yoga mat for 20 minutes. I didn’t have it in me to figure it out on my own, so I found a 20-minute session on YouTube that worked out pretty well.
Did the 30-minutes without falling asleep for my third nap of the day. That alone is an accomplishment.
Reflect on something good that happened
I was not about to cook for myself today, nor was I about to do anything healthy if I could help it (outside of the prescribed 5 tasks). So I ordered a double cheeseburger to be delivered. When it showed up, I grabbed it from the delivery woman and ran back to the kitchen to scarf my shame down in private. When I opened the bag, what was I presented with? A damn salad. A damn healthy, green, tuna topped salad with nary a shred of cheese to give me comfort.
I called the restaurant, furious at their mistake (but very nice about it), and he said he could either give me a refund or send me a new order. I took it as a sign and was too hungry to wait any longer, so I ate the salad. I was looking to clog my arteries, but instead I was forced to provide myself nutrition. OK, OK, I get it, universe. (Oh, and I ended up getting the salad for free!)
Random act of kindness
This is not a day or mood that I am unfamiliar with. Au contraire, I know this one well. And usually on days like this, I would avoid and cancel any and all social plans, especially parties. But one of the sweetest ladies I know was having a party to celebrate ten-years of career success. She’s done amazing work at a nonprofit that is also doing amazing work, and she had much to celebrate. This was about her and not me, so I owed it to her to show up.
I feel like “showing up to a party” is a really sorry thing to count as an act of kindness, but this took effort I don’t normally have. And the thing that got me there was shifting my focus away from myself and toward someone else.
I got there, and there were people I knew. Some are following the blog and had wonderful things to say, and it was fantastic hearing that people were enjoying it, saying nice things about it all, but I couldn’t shake this feeling, this inability to connect. I felt like a large fuck-up, a soul-less zombie, an exposed idiot in a tiny space that was constantly closing in. And, again, there was no reason for it. I was welcome there, I should have been fine. But this is an act of kindness that I couldn’t follow through on, and I feel terrible about it.
Here’s the big HOWEVER, and the thing that is giving me hope this evening. Because there were friends there that are reading this incredibly personal info I’m throwing out every day, I had the opportunity to be authentic. I could say, “I’m having really bad social anxiety and need to leave,” instead of making-up some elaborate lie or excuse that I’d have to remember and keep perpetuating. This time was different. I was honest. It’s a small accomplishment, it’s a small thing to celebrate, but I’m counting it.
3 things I’m grateful for:
1) My beautiful friend Susie Dalton for trying to convince me to stay. I’m sorry I couldn’t, but I am enormously grateful that you wanted me to.
2) That I have a shot at trying it again tomorrow.
3) That all of the Real Housewives episodes that had collected in my Tivo are now depleted so that if this happens again, I have to work a little harder.