This week, I watched The Little Mermaid with my daughter. She wanted to play, and I’m like, “No, child, we are watching TV!” Obviously, she happily acquiesced. And obviously, this wasn’t my highest moment as a parent (but it wasn’t my lowest either!).
Being in a parent’s shoes, as I have been for the past 3 + years (even though I do confess to walking around barefoot A LOT recently), things are so different from what I expected. I used to judge parents for putting their kids on a screen for free time. And now there are times I am the one to ask my daughter to watch TV with me!
Being less hard on myself and less judgmental is one of my over-arching goals in life.
But it’s not the goal I want to talk about today!
Imaginary audience: Wait. What?! You just had 4 freakin’ paragraphs on this! I kept reading cuz I wanted to know more about this topic!…You tellin’ me this was a complete waste of my time?
Me: Wow, first of all. Thank you for asking. Like, I always thought you existed but also thought I was crazy for thinking that. Well, this confirms it! There is indeed an imaginary audience of my every thought. Haha, how important am I now!!!!…Anyway to get back to the matter at hand, Yes, I had written four paragraphs, but the last two were just one line each. So stop being such sissies…F***, I didn’t mean to call you sissies. Please don’t be angry at me. Please stay as my imaginary audience. I can’t live with-o-u-t…
Well, that took an interesting detour.
Anyhoo, back the subject at hand…
Ursula took away Ariel’s voice so that she could become a human and build a relationship with Prince Eric. Prior to that, she said she would keep her captive forever if Ariel didn’t get a kiss of true love from Prince Eric by sunset on Day 3. But it was the part where she took away Ariel’s voice, where I was like, “No you didn’t!”
After a decade of giving my power to the guys I was dating, I finally got a hang of myself and reframed my mission. I decided my number one priority was having a child. I was sick of relying on Prince Charming to get there.
Every time I had dated, it would start off with a high and soon follow up with a low. The thing is, the high lasted about a week, and the low—a few months. And really, the low never fully left. I can to this day close my eyes and picture myself feeling lost, pining away for a guy.
Seriously, pick a guy any guy this happened with, and I will shoot straight back there in my mind! I guess you can say I have super powers—where the super power is forever holding on to painful memories. Bet you’re jealous of my superpower, ey?
Looking back, my anxiety was even greater when the guy was being avoidant. Sometimes he was objectively avoidant, other times, he may have been interested, but just not triggered like I was into obsessive thoughts about him and our future.
The thing that helped me get out of this rut was two-fold. As stated above, I began to connect deeply with a long-term plan to have a child. Yes, I wished it would be with a loving husband, but after being so burnt out from dating for a decade, that was no longer my number one. The second fold was in the moment-to-moment emotions of it all. I realized that when I was dating a guy and obsessing over him, I couldn’t simultaneously access my creative side, my self-expressive side.
Like it was still there, but deeply muted. The pain I was feeling wouldn’t let me shine. Or something like that.
In the spring of 2014, I started doing Stand Up Comedy open mics. Don’t get too excited. I only did it 3 times. And according to a friend/comedy mentor of mine, one has to suck 100 times before they strike a chord in it. So I still have 97 times to brave through! (I guess it’s no wonder I ended up taking a break from it! It is a daunting, humiliating task!)
The spring of 2014 was a turning point for me. As I wrote my jokes for the next stand up comedy session in the coming weeks, I promised myself that I would not lose myself to the guy I was dating. Because I needed myself, my whole self, to do the stand up comedy. I couldn’t do it if I was depressed and downtrodden over some guy. It would suck up my creative juices. My relationship with guys I dated was like kryptonite. Ok, it actually was my kryptonite. Like, for real.
Anyway, it worked. I kept myself above the water for those two weeks. I didn’t get too physical with the guy, since that would only put my emotions into the aforementioned tailspin—and I had a show to do!
It may have only been 5 minutes. But that 5-minute stint saved me. I preserved myself for the weeks leading up to it. Not only preserved—I delighted in preparing for it.
I was existing as my full self.
When Ursula took Ariel’s voice away, this hit me so hard. It all crystalized for me. That is what was happening all those years!:
I was giving my voice away in exchange for “getting to be with” the guy.
It’s not an easy journey. And like I said, the pain never fully goes away.
But it’s my job, still, almost ten years later, to continue to heal these parts of myself.
That’s really all I can do.
I can’t undo the past.
But I can live in the present and make a better future.
No wait, I can’t end off with a cliche like that.
What would you write as the last line? From your perception, what would best sum it up?