I hope everyone is staying safe and well in this time of quarantine. In addition to staying home and continuing my work full-time, I have recently put my development of a poetry collection on hold to write a story that has been pressing on me for some time. It is my first attempt in several years of any form of long writing and is so far a mystery/crime novel that takes place in Los Angeles County.
All positive thoughts, prayers, and energies are welcome at this time. I hope you are able to continue your creative ways in these confusing times, Much love, -CC
It’s Tuesday night, about 6:45 PM. I’m avoiding doing anything important or significant. Why do I feel such tremendous pressure to capitalize every moment of my waking day? Yeah, that’s a toxic habit. And now I’m thinking about all my other toxic habits, which is what I was actually avoiding if I’m going to be completely honest. You see, what happens when I get home from work is I am completely alone. I spend all day surrounded by people, talking, engaging the world around me. But after I park the car and put my apartment key in the front door, I unlock a dark, void space, where the depression and anxiety rule me.
I begin thinking about things that I can avoid in the day time. I avoid thinking about the break up, I avoid talking about my new dating adventures, the night school homework I haven’t looked at yet. But when I am home these things occupy my mind completely. Then I start the drinking, which I am trying to defend to myself but I am running out of valid excuses and reasons. Isn’t that one of the signs of being an alcoholic? That you become defensive about your drinking. Well, this can’t come as too much of a shock to anyone that I’ve found a legal way to slowly kill myself every evening.
Sometimes the little apartment starts to feel too big and overwhelming, so I’ll lock myself in the bathroom for a little while. I may run a bath and sit in the water, or I may just sit on the edge of the tub and drag one of my feet back and forth on the bath mat, enjoying the soft sensation of the movement. I try one of the breathing exercises that I teach my clients every day in our scheduled sessions. The exercises are helpful, but do my clients know that I need them too? Do they know that when I talk about trauma and coping exercises, that I’m actually whispering little secrets and insider trades that I learned when I was there? In a way, I’m still there. I carry that place everywhere I go, and when that place gets to big for me to carry I go and lock myself in the bathroom for a little while and I breathe.
Then I start wondering if anyone knows how much help I need. My work phone dings away all day, but my personal phone is a silent, cold brick in my pocket. I check it again. It’s after 7 now, and still there are no messages except from some guys online telling me I’m beautiful, hoping to get sex from me. It would be nice to invite someone over, I think. I would love to have sex and feel the pleasure of that again. But I have to laugh at their effort, because in some ways they are innocent and mean well, and part of me wants to message back and honest and heartfelt response, something like:
‘Hey, thanks for the compliment. We should hang out later, if you want. You can come over to my place–I don’t have any roommates. Oh, you think I’m sexy? Gee, thanks, that really means a lot to me, because I just depression-binged half a pizza, and now my belly is hanging out of my pants because I can’t really breathe if I kept it all tucked in. If you’re still interested in me after knowing that, I’ll probably have to disclose a couple other things too. I haven’t really been to the gym in a while so I’m not looking my best. Also, my depression medication sometimes makes it really hard to orgasm so if that doesn’t happen, it might not be personal. I haven’t cleaned or done dishes in several days because my anxiety has woken me up in the middle of the night for the past few weeks and then when I get home after work I am exhausted and usually just lay on the couch, lock myself in the bathroom, or take a nap. And just a heads up, after we have sex I’ll probably ask you to leave because I’ll most likely want to start crying because I haven’t really dealt with the end of my most recent relationship yet.’
And if I sent this, I would just laugh and laugh, and maybe text it over to my best friend because that’s our sense of humor. Maybe that’s how I should start navigating the world, being completely and brutally honest at all hours of the day. Maybe I’ll try that, or follow up to the ‘hey cutie what you doin tonight?’ message with, ‘Hey, sorry I’m not in the mood tn because I had a client spend a two hour session recalling all the horrific sexual abuse she went through as a child and that’s kinda in my head right now so I’m totally not in the mood for anything sexual but I’ll hit you up when I feel better’.
This is the reality of my day and I absolutely love my job. But maybe I’m not being honest about how it affects me, because some days I am so burdened carrying other peoples pains and damages that I cancel plans so I can process some of this, and text my friends that ‘I have a migraine’ or ‘probably the flu or something’. Or my favorite ‘sorry, I didn’t get that text where you invited me out. My phone’s been acting crazy!’ because like, imagine if cell phones didn’t work as often as we make excuses about it? There would be an epidemic and all this money being invested into cell phone repair campaigns or something. It’s such a bullshit excuse that we keep using and we keep accepting.
At some point, I start to feel okay enough to leave the bathroom, and I may work on my laptop at the kitchen table or snuggle up on the couch and watch something on TV. And I’ll secretly try to fall asleep in the living room so I can avoid having to lay in my bedroom and confront the empty side of the bed. There’s my sacred space laying in the closest proximity to the side I have now deemed ‘asshole territory’ because that’s the side where assholes used to sleep. So every time I go to lay down in bed, I have to silently unpack the fact that I no longer sleep next to my best friend and I have to avoid thinking about why that is.
Maybe it’s because I would go to work every day and spend hours listening to others that afterwards I didn’t have the energy to listen to you, to give you the time and attention you needed. No, no– I know that’s not true. That’s where the emotional abuse still lingers, when I try to scramble reasons that all this is my fault and it’s not anyone’s fault but yours. You did not love me and that’s the truth of it all. You. Did. Not. Love. Me. It’s like a little prayer I have to say to myself over and over and over again like I’m trying to rip off a band-aid or something and it hurts but I know I need to do it. By this time, it’s about 9:00, and I want to go to sleep. So I go in my room, and get under the sheets, and occupy a space right next to where you spent two years never loving me. You would lean over, kiss me, and tell me a lie and I spent two years believing you.
And now I am a young professional in my dream career, living in a beautiful city, with a beautiful apartment, and outside there is a beautiful summer exploding with life and activities, and at 9:12 PM on a Tuesday in the middle of a chapter of my life I spent years dreaming of, I am laying on strictly the left side of a bed, crying into an already tear-stained pillow, having to confront the other, empty side of my bed and wondering why some new guy hasn’t texted me back. I kinda thought my 20’s would be a little better than this.