Today and this past week were particularly spectacular. I had the honor and pleasure of visiting my little brother, who is dealing with some very similar issues to my own, and the joy of reuniting with an old girl friend who is both sober and “retired.” One of those incredible weeks you begin to think everything really is going to be okay and that perhaps, it already is okay. Strangely enough, the week did not start out on such a positive note. In fact, it started in ruins. At least, in my mind.
Last Saturday marked the midway point of writing the “I am Jennie” script with Sarah Tomlinson, my sherpa, dearest friend and writing partner. We had reached the crest of the film and were slowly climbing back down that hill together. The Starbucks at which we wrote was colder than usual and though just a few sprinkles, it was the kind of LA weather that warranted rain boots (i.e. a few puddles here and there perfect for jumping in/through/around). That evening, I met with another girl friend, Angel, making Saturday the most lady oriented day in quite some time. We had dinner and window shopped through the Century City mall where super-over-priced shops rise atop Disneyland sparkly cement lined walkways. I’ve been in “Holy-shit-I-can’t-believe-I-spent-4k-on-my-teeth-so-I’m-not-spending-any-money-unnecessarily mode,” and after a long day of writing, school and discussing finances (which always seems to come up on lady dates), I found myself the T of HALT and had a near mental breakdown over my lack of financial stability in Sephora.
I do not need ANY. MORE. MAKEUP. I don’t even want any, actually.
Well that’s not true. I feel like I could always use one more tube of lipgloss. So it appears that I just lied.
The truth of the matter is that I get very stuck in thinking that financial instability is something that has been put upon me. As if I don’t have a choice in paying for A) my rent or B) shit tons of lipgloss. The truth is that I get stuck thinking, “I can’t believe I have to pay for _____ but that I can’t buy _______,” and make myself a victim. I have done enough work in the past three and a half years to know that I absolutely do have a choice when it comes to money and that I cannot be a victim if I have options. I have also done enough work to recognize that there are still some pretty hefty feelings attached to the dollar, and until I learn to have a healthy relationship with money, I will continue to have anxiety around it. So I started talking about it with Mr. Man (newish behavior), about what money means to me, about how much I worry about being dependent on other human beings (financially, which leads to emotionally), namely him, and about how I equate financial dependency to weakness and inadequacy. Needless to say he continues to be one of the most awesome and compassionate people on earth and told me that he will buy me frozen yogurt on those nights I feel too guilty to buy it myself. It’s the little things that really matter.
You know what’s crazy? You know what my monthly bills were four years ago today? Just to pay the necessary bills – 5k/mo. Yugh. Today? 1,500. I still feel like there is more to shed. A program of subtraction, not addition.
I don’t know if I mentioned this in my last post, but I just found out that I am going to graduate this academic school year. I went to see my counselor to ask her about “the plan,” and she said, “Oh, you should turn this in because you are good to graduate this year. You’ll have to take one course in summer, but you can walk in May.” I thought my head was going to explode. Right there in her office. Brains. All over the place. And not in a good way.
See, immediately, I thought, “Well, this fucks everything up. This is not the plan I’ve planned.” Control this, control that. I wanted to take double capstone courses next fall (because I am insane and like to overdo everything) and then only have a semester between undergrad and grad school. Now, there is a year to build a CV, and time to study for the GRE. Turns out her plan is better than mine. She said if I continue as I am, I will graduate cum laude. I wanted to tell her to stop talking to me because I didn’t know what the fuck that meant. Now I get it. I’m glad I didn’t yell at her.
The thing is, I try to plan and plan and arrange and manage and line up all the ducks, with the money and the school and the family and the friends, but there is no amount of planning or duck arranging that will make life better than the way it already is. Sometimes, the best thing I can do is show up and try not to let fear dictate my next step.