From the period of time I was about twentysix to twentyeight, an anxiety seeped through my flesh and consumed my me-ness. It led to the occasional sob after auditions in the event someone asked me about myself. These were the years, post-Iris, I struggled to redefine who I was and I hated me. I hated feeling like a CWB (crafty white bitch). I watched tattooed millennials sprout up through the cracks in the earth and wondered if that was who I was. I observed beardy guy after beardy guy seemingly prosper at whatever he was peddling at any event, confidence radiating from his pores like I could never know, not even in my dreams. Where was my beard. Where were my tattooes.
I found solace watching Miranda July’s t-shirt dance.
I found solace watching the oldest sister punch out her canine in Dogtooth.
I found solace listening to Julien Baker’s “Rejoice” for approximately one year on repeat. Her music looped a soundtrack over the most devastating moments of existing in my body, in society, wearing clothes that were not my own (my wife wears the same size clothes as me, why do I need my own), knowing only that my kid was my best friend and pretty much everyone else could go fuck themselves.
I listened to Modest Mouse, Sleater-Kinney, Tegan and Sara, Kimya Dawson, Julien Baker, Mitski, Belle and Sebastian, Neutal Milk Hotel, Connie Converse, Weird Al, The Smiths, Ani DiFranco, Bright Eyes. I saw Marina Abramovic speak. I watched Portlandia over and over. For over a year, I dreamt I was dating Carrie Brownstein.
I cut my hair off.
I grew my hair back.
I looked at myself too often, beardless and uninked and not visibly queer and eventually I stopped looking at myself and developed an aversion for mirrors because I was twentynine and still without consistent acting work and still creating work that was scooped up by the women I didn’t understand for their new girl babies while my own girl human shaved the side of her head and started wearing sparkles and sleeves of temp tattoos and developed an identity far more distinct that my own.
I never had an epiphany. Life isn’t like that most of the time. Not for me. Not for most of us, I don’t think. There wasn’t a moment that I realized I needed to accept myself. I didn’t look into my child’s eyes one day and realize I needed to self-love and self-praise for my daughter to love herself. I didn’t watch my brother recover from his heroin addiction and feel motivated to even stop biting my nails. I didn’t see my grandma have a stroke, her memories jumbled and mostly just falling from her mind, her synapses never to spark again, and decide I needed to become a sales rep for a pyramid scheme or anything like that.
I did get into the Savage Lovecast. I went to a short film porn festival by myself once. I listened to podcasts religiously. Harry Potter and the Sacred Text got me to pull out my books for a series reread. I learned I love hearing about the sex life of strangers and that Harry Potter is my bible. That’s what I learned by the end of my first three decades.
I am not so upset by my own existence anymore. I don’t not like myself anymore. Pretty soon into my self-loathing phase I asked myself, “What are you doing today to move forward?”. I asked this of myself every day. I still ask myself this about ten time a day, even if my moving forward is making a bunch of loud noise with my blender, frozen mango chunks and raw milk. That question, it didn’t save me. It didn’t turn things around for me. I went on for years and years not understanding how to just be content. Who is? I don’t believe anyone who keeps up with global news and murders squash bugs like a reckoning is upon them is content.
And this is fine.
What am I doing today to move forward?
I’m writing something I didn’t know was inside of me. I thought I was going to write something fun and clickable about what people say when they know my tiny human wields a small penis in his undergarment. Spoiler because I’m never going to write a long post about it, now: They shift from saying, “She is so pretty” to, “Look how big he is!.” Shocker. Moving on.
I am okay with me, and I hope you are okay with you.
There’s only one of you, except for probably ten more doppelgangers out there you can probably find on a website, but they just have your face, not your soul. Who has your soul thing? Just you.
What are you doing today to move forward?
I love existing, despite my heart breaking repeatedly throughout the course of the day. I love creating things. I just baked my first quiche with homemade crust this week and my body turned eggy like the eggy in the pie, just set. Warm. Jiggly. I probably would taste like rosemary and basil if I took a bite out of myself.
Even if I don’t practice saying things out loud that I like about me, I say things out loud that I love every day. I don’t have to love me all the time to love being here, alive, finding charm in the mess around me.
Thirty one is next month.
I appreciate you, years.