I was home visiting my parents, lying on the couch winding down before bed. My dad’s eyes glued to the TV while my mom read Facebook statuses aloud to him from her phone. As my mom announced she was done snooping and going to bed, I sprung from the couch and followed her to her room. I was in a crisis and needed her motherly wisdom.
We lay in her bed watching “Everybody Loves Raymond” for approximately 3.8 seconds before I spill my guts about my recent breakup. I look over to see her close her eyes. My frustration builds as I realize I’m not going to get much out of her this session. I stop talking and stare blankly as Debra as Raymond are blurred by my tears.
Sometimes I wish my mom worked like a Magic 8 ball and I could shake her till she gives me the answers I want.
“It sounds like you don’t like yourself very much right now.”
There it was. The mom bomb I didn’t know I needed.
I searched for a rebuttal, but surprised myself when I couldn’t disagree with her. I was in a phase of analyzing everything about my being, trying to figure out what I’d done to make my boyfriend want to “take a break.”
Did I bore him? Am I too awkward? Not pretty enough? Did I let myself go? Did he find someone cooler? Doesn’t he know that everybody knows “breaks” are bullshit? Does he think I’m an idiot? Why doesn’t he respect me enough to just say, “Hey, I’m just not feeling it anymore.” Do I really seem like the type of girl that takes that? AM I the type of girl that takes that? If I don’t take that, am I a bitch? Shut up, you’re thinking too much. Maybe it’s because I think too much…
The weeks prior to our break up, I could sense something wasn’t right. I was constantly cranky and nauseous and seriously thought I had developed some sort of food intolerance. I changed my diet. See ya, gluten. I did some yoga. Namaste. I popped Zantac like an addict. Acid, be gone! Nothing helped. The morning after my boyfriend dropped the “let’s-take-a-break-bomb”, I woke up expecting to feel like an atomic wasteland, burning and empty.
I felt better than I had in weeks. The burning in my stomach was gone. The anxiety was gone. My heart hurt a little, but it wasn’t unbearable. My question had finally been answered and my fear had proven to be true, but at least I knew. I was unwanted but somehow facing the fact was easier to deal with than the fear of not knowing where I stood with him. I felt…free.
This wasn’t the first time anxiety over a boy made me sick. It’s been a reoccurring issue for me as long as I can remember. Anytime I’ve felt I screwed up my chance with someone I like, my brain reacts like someone stepped in an ant bed. A million thoughts all at once scrambling to fix my mess while my stomach jumps to my throat and I board the train to self-deprecation station. To top it off, when I see the guy, I also shake like a cold Chihuahua so it’s painfully obvious something is wrong with me. Cue me stalking their social media every hour, hitting up the gym constantly and finding a cool new hobby to make myself more interesting to them. Yes, to them. The months that follow would consist of me sitting at the leg press machine and imagining what my butt would look like if I did this every day. Daydreaming about running into them with my new butt while wearing a form fitting red dress and them thinking, “Damn, I missed out.” Because big butts are what make us interesting now, right?
Aerial silks was the “new and interesting hobby” I threw myself into three years prior after my last relationship ended. Twice a week, I would drive out of Columbia to Fuel Fitness and Dance at Lake Carolina. Nicole, the owner, immediately made me feel comfortable. She was young and fun and giggled at all of my terrible jokes. Plus, she would take pictures once I got into a cool pose without me having to ask. When I had to ask, I felt like I was screaming, “I NEED ATTENTION!” which I did. I needed an awesome picture of me being bendy to catch his attention, and if he didn’t comment or even “like” it…pass the chocolate.
Eventually, we formed a little family at Fuel. Every Thursday our class would joke around while we stretched, cheer each other on in the air, and high five when we came down. Silks became much more than just my cool, new hobby. It became my escape. For an hour, exes and crushes didn’t exist. No outside validation was needed. Life outside of class was a blur. It’s hard to think of anything else when you’re hanging upside down 10 feet in the air. You’re forced to focus so you don’t die. It’s a meditation. It’s just you, the fabric, and your body doing something bendy and beautiful…and sometimes painful.
I moved to Charlotte, NC from Columbia, SC and took a hiatus from curtain climbing. I found a studio and attended classes sporadically, but it didn’t give me the same excitement as before. When I found a full-time job and the boy came around, I took it as a sign my days of monkeying around had passed. I put on my best big girl panties and started realigning my life to fit the pattern I’d been brainwashed to believe it was to follow.
You’re 25. You can’t escape anymore. It’s time to focus on adult things. Go buy some red wine, get a Netflix account and join Crossfit.
After a year and a half of fake adulting in Charlotte, I hadn’t made any friends of my own. I started to feel like a candle that someone put a lid on and left me to suffocate. I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t silking. I wasn’t doing much of anything I truly enjoyed except hanging out with my boyfriend. When I felt myself being pushed to the fringe of my boyfriend’s inner circle, I knew I was circling the drain to soul sewer. I’d abandoned everything I’d ever felt true about myself. This was my fault. I’d let others’ ideas of happiness influence mine and I was putting my self-worth in other people because I didn’t love myself.
When my mom spilled the tea in her sleep (a new level of impressive mom-ing) and pulled me out of the river of denial (see what I did there?), there was no fear of, “What’s wrong with me?” anymore. I knew what was wrong and I knew what I had to do to fix it. It seemed impossible at first. How do you completely change how you think and feel about yourself? How do you build confidence? I’ve found faking it to be the best solution. The great Tina Fey once said, “Confidence is 10% hard work, and 90% delusion.” Be delusional. Realize that we’re all human and just trying our best. Nobody has all the answers, not even your mom. Nobody else can tell you what works for you. Find your happy and never let it go. Chase it. Unless it’s drugs. Don’t do drugs. Endorphins are free. Get hooked. Take care of yourself. Exercise and make it a priority. It doesn’t have to be aerial silks or Crossfit. It could be running or going for a walk. Find what you like and just do it. The better your body feels, the better you feel mentally and emotionally.
Surround yourself with people you admire and avoid negative influences like the plague. Don’t assume you have to follow the same path as your friends or family. There is no one else like you. Don’t cheat the world out of what you have to offer.
I’m proud to say I’ve pulled myself out of the soul sewer. I’ve found a new silks studio in Charlotte and the moment I walked in I knew I was home. The people were cheering each other on, laughing and taking pictures, and there was a dog in a tutu. Bonus! (AerialCLT.com)
I’ve started taking improv classes and I giggle more than should be legal. It’s given me weird new friends that feel like old friends, and it lets me use puns without feeling any shame. Thanks, Charlotte Comedy Theater! (CharlotteComedyTheater.com…come see a show!)
I’ve also joined a fitness company and have started coaching and motivating others to reach their personal fitness goals. I have a whole support team of like-minded, goal-oriented, positive individuals motivating me to be my best self every day. Thanks, Beachbody!
I’ve never felt more comfortable with myself (unless you count the days of running around as a naked baby ‘cause naked babies DGAF and I give a little F), and I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been. Somedays, it’s a struggle. When my crush doesn’t respond to my Snapchat selfie, I find myself reaching for the Lindt truffles; But I know that if I compromise myself for someone else again, I will never reach my full potential and be truly happy.