Sunday, June 20, 2010

You Can Get To The Other Side

When I started this blog is was because in a matter of months my cousin was murdered, I broke up with my boyfriend, I lost my job and my Mom... she lost her mind. Not the medical term for what happened but it will do.

I laid in bed for months. The loss of the job was somewhat of a relief since I was a comedy writer working on a TV show and I had now lost all ability to be funny. I could see my life that I knew disappearing before me. I was disappearing too. How could I ever emerge without being completely damaged? I didn't want to die but I knew this was not living.

Every one in the damn world said I should read "Eat Pray Love." "She's going through exactly what you're going through." Um, no she's not. She's getting divorced, my family's preparing for a trial.

But there was that damn book. Everywhere. In the airport on the way to the funeral. Women devouring it in a coffee shop, at cafes, in hotel bars. I realized what might be stopping me was my own stubbornness. I was in the mind set that things COULD NEVER GET BETTER. And I resented that anyone was going to to tell me I could get on the other side and make me pay $14.95 for it.

No, there was just this side. Imagine a nightmare where you are standing in quick sand as your drown in a tsunami of guilt, pain, anger, depression and hopelessness. Times it by 100. And I'm just the cousin. You can imagine how my surviving cousin and aunt and uncle felt. Times it by a 1000.

But that book, it was just so constantly in my face. And one say... I bought it. At Goodwill for 2 bucks. So score 1 for me, Elizabeth Gilbert, 0. I read it, I got it. I got why everyone loved it. It's hope between to card board covers.

But it would never work, not for me, not for most women. It sold what, 4 million copies? How many of those 4 million took a year and a half out of their jobs and left their families to travel to three countries to find themselves?

Now before you and your book club come and beat me with your Eat Pray Love hardcover, autographed editions, know this: I admired her. Because she got what most of us women feel - we are in a rut. We are bored, overwhelmed, over worked, over parenting. We've lost our spark. We've lost ourselves but we are too crazed to do anything about it. We have looked up and said, "How is this our lives?"

But most of all I admired her because SHE TOOK ACTION. I like that. She identified her problem and she decided to take time to fix it.

But it still made me feel empty. EMPTY. Is that the only solution? Will I only get over this despondent sadness by spending tens of thousands of dollars, leaving any possibility of work to travel the world? I mean, at this point, I can't even get out of bed.

But I took her example of TAKING ACTION. How can I get out of bed? Okay, what if I thought of one really fun thing I could do. Something I have never done before (paddle board, sing in a rock band, ride and elephant) things that I'd given up doing because "I'm an adult now" (get pink hair) and things that just scared the crap out of me (literally, THE CRAP) (jump out of an airplane, be in a roller derby).

Okay... okay, one fun thing a week. That will take what? Two hours and then I can go back to bed? Done. I'll do it.

Now, I "Eat Pray Love" without leaving my city, without leaving my job, without spending tens of thousands of dollars. I made a list of adventures. I put them on index cards, folded them up and put them in a bowl. Each week, I pull one having no idea if that day I'm crashing a Bat Mitzvah, taking a beer making class or learning how to surf.

And it is thrilling and exhilarating and life like I didn't know. Or I knew it but I had moved so far past that happy-go-lucky be spontaneous and love it girl, that I some how forgot. To live. This one life. That is so challenging. And there are so many times, I just want to do errands, or call the cable company and yell or cross one thing off my list BUT I DON'T.

I go. I pool crash. I ride Ferris wheels. I go to a sewing class.

Because it's beyond the adventure - IT'S WHAT I GET FROM IT. Strength, energy, confidence. If you take something you never thought you could do, for me it was trapeze lessons, you will FEEL so STRONG AND BOLD AND FEARLESS that the next time you are faced with something you have purported that you'd never be able to do - you know have the confidence that you can.

It's also put me on the other side of grief and sadness. It's made me feel happy again and positive and hopeful. And a month ago, when I felt like I was slipping back to the other side, I knew it was because I had slacked on the promise I made to myself to do an adventure once a week.

So here I am again. When I found out my cousin had brain cancer a month ago, I had a shocking revelation that had I been confronted with how I'd lived my life so far - I would not be happy. I would be disappointed that I had played it safe, worried to much, didn't take enough risks, didn't have enough fun.

I reinstated the adventures because I NEVER need to be where I was after my cousin died. I need to be over here. On the this side. The other side.

I'm hoping that in doing what I am doing, I will be in the happiest, most clear head and I can make a decision of a lifetime... to move to New York and start a new business. The fear is palpable. But the fear was possible when I climbed up the trapeze ladder... and stood on the platform... and had to grab onto that rope thing-y.

But then... I leaped.


Come join me on the other side. Whether it's a break-up, divorce, loss of a job, illness or loss... you can get to the other side. I promise.