After things ended with the last guy I was dating, I decided to throw myself into my writing.  I had to admit, I’d been inspired by his commitment to his art, and conversations with him had really gotten me thinking about how much I missed it, not only in practice but as a part of my mentality and identity.

I have a bunch of stories in-flight – some autobiographical, some fictional.  For one of the stories I wanted to work on, I needed to go back and research some personal details.  I tore up my room until I remembered where my journals were (all dozen or so of them), and set to reading.  I knew I wasn’t looking for anything related to my 14-year-old self, but I was curious and I had time to kill.  I don’t think I’d ever read my journals that far back.  Hell, I can’t remember the last time I actually went back and read any journals.  The first one led to the second one, and before long I was flipping through them searching for clues the way Nicolas Cage or Tom Hanks would frantically flip pages of ancient texts in a suspenseful mythology-meets-crime blockbuster movie.

I wasn’t happy with what I found.  I wish I were writing about something moderately embarrassing like body odor or gynecological problems.  This embarrassment is so much deeper and I frankly am ashamed of it, but I feel like if I don’t SAY IT that I’ll never get past it.  And I feel like other people knew I was doing it but I didn’t, so this is my way of coming clean.

I have always loved men (loved flirting, talking, laughing with them) and loved the idea of love.  I’ve been in love a couple of times, dated quite a bit, and had some casual arrangements.  But somewhere along the way, I became a person who believed that “if only ___ happened” – if only I had the right puzzle pieces – life would be complete and I could be happy.  Having a boyfriend/husband – or even simply the affirmation of male attention – was part of this.  I was in complete denial about it, and frankly am sure I declared I wasn’t that kind of person.  But I was living with this 24/7 radar going when it came to men and honing in on those who might be my puzzle piece, with an intensity that was disproportionate to the actual connection.  That’s because it was about the need rather than the person, and this need – wherever it came from (that’s a whole other conversation) – was controlling my life. 

You know the Invisible Gorilla study?  Here – I’ll let you check it out if you’ve never heard of it:

As soon as I discovered the invisible gorilla in my life, I couldn’t “unsee” it.  And just as suddenly, it was gone.  It wasn’t gone without some pain and embarrassment, but it’s gone.  I feel like a marionette with its strings cut.  I feel lighter.  Less pressurized.  Like the radar in my head is gone.  The hyper-self awareness is gone.  The self-judgement and filtering is gone.  The standard – whatever it was and whyever it was there – is gone.

It feels amazing.  I’m enjoying my writing immensely.  Hell, I’m enjoying everything I’m doing now because I’m not judging it from an outside standard anymore.  I’m enjoying hating things and disliking people and whole bunches of stuff I wouldn’t allow myself because I needed to come across as a puzzle piece myself – just in case.  But I’m not a puzzle piece.  I’m just me.  Me who might not be anybody’s puzzle piece and frankly I don’t actually give a shit.  I don’t feel like my life is a path toward something now, but a series of moments in the present (and when I say “feel” I don’t just mean mentally – it’s like I can feel it physically).  I’m just not limited mentally to the “dream” anymore – a dream that obviously had a lot of insecurity and perfectionism in it.  Every day I felt like I was internally – and externally – justifying why I hadn’t gotten there yet, and putting on a “brave face.”  I really wish I could slap that face now, shake myself years ago and tell myself what I was doing.  It just slowed me down.  Kept me from this amazing personal acceptance and freedom. 

I always prided myself on not having regrets.  Now, I have lots of them.  I feel like a first-class idiot, honestly.  But it’s over, and my future is wide open.  My present is phenomenal.  And I am me, for better or for worse.  If regret is the price I have to pay for that, I’m good with it.