Asking for Support – Why it can Suck

I feel like I may veer into dangerous territory with this post. It’s something I’ve been thinking about as I navigate this new phase of my life. Support – what it looks like and how do you get it.

And yes, acknowledging that asking for support can suck.

Because, who wants to ask for help?

Not this girl.

I may complain endlessly, but when it comes to directly asking for support, I can’t even muster a whisper. I can be off the rails emotionally, whining, frustrated, angry at the universe, entitled and then it hits me, what am I actually doing about this?

If you keep doing shit the same way, you ain’t gonna change.

I mean it’s real.

I’ve been in and out of depressive episodes for years now. First I thought it was because my relationship was unraveling, but turns out, even on the other side of it, I’m pretty miserable. At least I know that much! I came back here to PDX thinking the skies were going to open and the heavens would start singing. That I would be guided by rainbows and gold stars with just a snap of a finger.

HARDY HAR HAR.

That is fucking so not the case.

When reality hit, which was basically, the minute I rolled up to the hilly one way street off 84, where I was now going to live, I got wind that I was not in Kansas anymore. As my mom likes to say, I returned to the scene of the crime.

Suddenly I felt very alone. I was like, Holy shit. I’m not in a relationship with V. anymore. Where am I? The reality became very visceral. And mind you, I chose this. I wanted to come back here. There are so many things that I love about this city. And most of them are memories, that I have with my ex and our life together. It was also kinda fun post break-up, during those five months when we were living in the same house. I got to be the rascally teenager staying out past curfew and hanging with a girl gang. That well ran dry pretty soon after.

But now I’m back here, after five months of being in Maine. I came back in October. Is this old news by now? How many times have I talked about this? BUT SERIOUSLY I HAVE A POINT. It’s this – I have been holding onto radical faith that I will feel better. That things will fall into alignment. That I will suddenly understand what all the pain and anguish and grief has been for. That it will all make sense. That the universe will reward me for all my hard emotional labor.

Now the question remains, as I go through my days: Why did I get chosen to be a tortured soul? What the hell is this all about?

There are days when I feel so low, I can barely exert the energy to like somebody’s post on social media. When I have no energy left to spend. My clients get my attention, craft and ideas. When I first got here, I don’t think I left my place for a month. I mean, yeah to walk Lou and go to the store. I was hibernating. I just burned rubber across the country from Maine and got here two days early. I could not wait to start my new life.

And here I am. Totally scratching my head at where I’ve landed and the decisions I’ve made to get me here. Recently my psychiatrist asked me What’s your why? And I was like, yeah. I don’t know.

We’re not necessarily talking about Oregon here. We’re talking about what drives me.

I mean, I just want to write my own stuff – finally – and have people pay me for it. I have some stories to tell and they are ready to come out. I’m working on finding my voice because when you’re a writer and you don’t write for yourself, you lose it. You give it to other people. And then it benefits them, which is great, but it doesn’t necessarily feel fulfilling. At least to me.

I set out to be a writer and realized I’m a storyteller. I’ve just been in hiding.

But I will tell you this, my creativity has to find its way out of my mangled heart. I’m still getting my energy back. I’ve given so much of it away. In my relationship, to other people. I have lost focus on what is important to me. And of course, that’s changed since the last time I looked.

It’s now March. It feels like it’s been one challenge after the next. Tauruses, are you hearing me here? The rainy season here DOES NOT HELP. I am well aware that mindset and attitude is everything and positivity is key. And I don’t need anyone to tell me to be patient, because the tide will turn. I watch everyone in my life move forward and experience joy and get things they have wanted for a long time. And I show up and am as happy for them as I can possibly be. I’m patient as fuck. And inside I feel sad. I feel cheated. What about me? When will I feel that expansiveness in my chest again? Light and free? Basking in the glories of life?

It’s challenging to hold on when you feel demoralized and faith seems like it’s mocking you. I wish I had the answers. I’m in the midst of it. I think I thought in my head that I have to have it all figured out before I can start writing about it. I should listen to myself more, cause I always say – the answers are in the writing.

Writing has helped, I’ve developed a morning practice since November and have over 120 pages of something! Mostly me cheerleading my sad, grieving, little girl self. It hasn’t been pretty. The adult side of me is ready for some fun. Like sexy fun.

But what is challenging is asking for support. For one, it feels humiliating. And I know this is how a lot of people get into trouble and commit suicide or hurt themselves. We don’t want people to feel or think this. We want people to ask for help. And I of course support that. Yet, for me, it’s hard to admit to someone close that I feel like a failure and don’t know what to do. That I’m tired and confused and frustrated and don’t feel like I’m living up to my potential. That I feel bypassed and barely socialized. That I’m hanging off a cliff of a mountain by my fingers. That I could fall at any minute.

Who can I share this with? I used to share this stuff with my former partner and he was very good at supporting me most of the time. But now, who? I’m close to my family, but as much as they love me, I don’t think they understand me. They want me to move back to the East Coast, specifically Florida (“There’s CBD here and LGBT clubs!” they tell me) and don’t have any problems sending me newspaper clippings in the mail about all the happenings in Boynton Beach and the surrounding area. They are listening and supporting but also waiting for the other shoe to drop. It would be easier for me to fail here or be unhappy, because then the chances of me coming back east would increase or, at least I wouldn’t be living in Oregon.

As my dad used to say, everybody has an agenda!

Truth is, I’m too exhausted to move and my wounds are just going to come with me. That’s not to say, that I will be here long-term. The verdict is not out yet. But I have no desire to live in Maine currently or go back to New York (though I have thought about it, which was surprising), so that makes things edge-of-the-seat thrilling. Hawaii, anyone?

I highly recommend Russian Doll on Netflix, starring the charismatic Natasha Lyonne. (Image @Jennikonner)

It’s apparent as I go through this, I don’t have many friends right now. With all the moving and change, I’ve lost people. The closest person to me here is still my ex, which doesn’t necessarily feel that healthy. But it’s double-edged because I still love him dearly and it’s clear we miss each other. I work by myself and from home so I don’t have coworkers to just shoot the shit with. I know people here, yes, and there are a few I can be open with and share. But to call someone and say, Hey, do you have some time. I’m having a rough go of it, especially when it has been so ongoing, feels too vulnerable. So instead, I decide to write about it here. Somehow that feels less risky.

Luckily, I have writing. It’s proven to be a good companion and the voice that comes to me is shocking. It knows exactly what it’s doing. It doesn’t waiver, it doesn’t fuck around and it knows what it wants. It’s pretty exciting to witness finally coming out. I also am setting up a support system; I need an inner circle. Friends, yes. Professionals who can guide me through this next phase and help me get integrated and heal. I need to get back into my body, this new body, in its current incarnation. After my summer fling, I pretty much checked out.

My voice has been gone for a while. I haven’t been able to talk with people truthfully about what is going on for me. It comes out in parts or is compartmentalized. And it hurts. I want to be happy. I have a lot of goals I want to attain. I want to contribute to this world, gosh darn it! And I recognize I have a shit ton of privilege as a middle class white cisgender able-bodied person. I have had access to support and resources all along my journey. No one kicked me out of my house growing up. My parents still give me money and everyone in my family is healthy and gainfully employed with satisfying careers.

And that’s one of the reasons why I have so much shame. I feel like I should be at some other level. That if I was going to be the only queer in my family and creative and work for myself and move across the country and deviate so much from my roots, then I should be successful, right? Like rolling in money and loving my life. Like Insta worthy at every turn, right?

I wish that were the case. Then I wouldn’t have any problems. Ha, that’s a lie. I would just have different ones.

I would feel legitimate like even though I’m queer and decided to take the road less traveled and broke up with my partner of 9 years, I have this to show for it. But I don’t. I don’t have shit to show for it. Yes, I’ve built a business but it’s small and it’s exhausting me. And yes, I’m a little more older and wiser, but how’s that translate to your traditional Jewish parents when you don’t have coin? Downward mobility…

You could say my parents were right, when they said, You’re going to have a harder life being a lesbian (I’m not really a lesbian, though I wouldn’t mind my own Abby Wambach, but that’s another post altogether). That when my mom says, “Maybe it’s time to get a job,” a part of me shrinks inside because it brushes up against my greatest fear. But it’s not the truth. And I want desperately to prove them wrong. At age 42.

I am hoping, like queen of all hoping, that all of this turmoil, confusion, grief, bullshit, learning – is worth it. That my path, though winding, shows how strong my belief in myself is, even though I’m not sure exactly what I am believing. I just know something is there to follow. My convictions and intuition don’t just come from thin air, they are here to guide me. That my writing will afford me the luxury of taking everyone in my family (and hopefully a new lover) on some sort of cruise. When that happens, I will feel like I made it.

So, how do you get the right support? I don’t know. Sometimes it looks like your gay uncle sending you a magazine with powerful women on the cover and he draws your head and labels you among them. Sometimes, it’s when people stick up for you when someone’s being a douchebag. Sometimes it’s your paddling buddy giving you new waterproof gloves to keep you hands warm on your first day of 8AM dragon boat practice.

But generally, I think you have to tune into what is going on for you and find the people who can help you with that need. No one person can be someone’s sole support. We need multiple people with multiple skills from multiple walks of life. For me, I’m seeking people out, carefully. I want to be more honest, with everyone in my life.

Things have been challenging, yet they are in constant motion. I am cautiously optimistic about this year, but I could definitely use some tenderness and some magic in my life. I won’t question how it shows up. Promise.

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