You Can Fall Apart

A few weeks ago an article went viral on how to cry in New York.

Like anything that makes fun or sheds light on the city, I opened it, knowing I’d relate to whatever it said. I laughed at the tips – wear sunglasses and have a good song to really get you in the sobbing mood – and I liked the link my friend shared on Facebook.

And then on Friday, after a particularly stressful day, I found myself overwhelmed with my ever growing to-do list and as I talked to my mom (our nightly ritual on the two block walk to the train at night) – and I felt them.

The tears start to well.

I pressed into the receiver, complaining about the stress of doing taxes and how freelancing makes everything complicated and expensive. I expressed my anxiousness over the half-marathon I was running on Sunday (that I ended up rocking!). I talked about how guilty I felt about being jealous of my friends and their sweet boyfriends that surprise them with dinner reservations and a night out dancing – just because. I basically screamed into my iPhone that it wasn’t fair that for the past two and a half (and counting) years, I haven’t felt a lick of any emotion toward any man. My list went on – far too melodramatic to continue here – and as I kept going, I couldn’t hold back the sadness anymore.

I stopped in front of a party supply store and turned away from the people passing me on the street to hide my embarrassing, splashing drops, and my mom tried her best to comfort me with euphemisms and words of encouragement.

I got off the phone, finding it too difficult to talk, and stood there, collecting myself in the cold weather, praying no one I knew walked past me. I had cried in New York – like I have many times before – but I didn’t have sunglasses this time. Or a song to listen to. Or even tissues.

I avoided eye contact and kept my head down on the train home, willing myself to just make it to the UWS before collapsing on my bed, Lucy greeting me with her worried face and diligently licking away the salty mess. And though the article was right about ways to go about crying in New York, I’ve always found it hard to fall apart.

Certainly in public and often times, not even alone.

Somehow, letting it all come pouring out feels like opening the flood gates to something I don’t want to reveal or even see for myself. Why open the doors when denial feels so warm and protective? If I let the stress build and then I admit that it’s heavy, I fear I won’t be able to pick it up again, paralyzed by the thoughts themselves.

Falling into negativity doesn’t wash away the despair, it just heightens it.

And so, I mostly keep it together. I sing little mantras in my head for when I’m nervous. I remind myself that most everything is temporary and the best thing about life is that it always changes. I hold my head high and I try to count the things I’m thankful for instead of rhyming the things that make me bitter. I believe in the great tapestry of the universe and that I will never be dealt a hand so bad that I can’t handle it. I try to place my faith in the goodness, the boldness, the kindness of the world – and of this city – and thus, by merely having hope, I have strength in my heart.

But sometimes, like on Friday, the best possible thing I could do for myself was to let it go. To allow the thoughts to race through my mind, dangerously close to the edge of reason. To watch myself spiral wickedly out of control, witnessing my emotions like an outsider, seeing the adult tantrum take form, and eventually, end.

Because the thing about falling apart is that once you do it, you feel lighter. Those damning feelings don’t read as threatening anymore. Anger, jealousy, fear – whatever was building within you – go from boiling to simmering to frozen. Sure, there may be messy tissues and mascara-stained pillow cases, but once you’re finished, once you really release it, you’re you again.

And the world can see it.

Everyone around sees the weight that lifted. Your eyes are clearer, your head is not as cloudy, you’re smile is more generous. And perhaps, you attract something – or someone – just by releasing the tension you were clinging to for far longer than you needed to.

So you can fall apart. You can let it all hang out. You can lose control and have a meltdown. You can curse the world and fear your future. You can watch everything crumble and break, and you can bend yourself to the negativity. You can cry your eyes out like you have so many times before.

But then, you have to get up.

And though you may fall apart again and again and again – what’s more important is how many times you pick up the pieces and put yourself back together. The mark of a person is not how many times they have suffered or failed or been disappointed, but how many times they have said, “Okay, I’m done. Now what?”

So go ahead. Cry. Let it out. Let it go. And then figure out what comes next. Because trust me, there will always be something more – something better – to come.

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This is Me & This is What I Need

While I’ve always known New York is the city that never sleeps, I was somehow under the illusion that its inhabitants do. However, if the last two weeks are any indication of how my street-slicker life is turning out to be, then it looks like I may be learning to function on a few hours rest for the time I pen New York, NY on my return labels.

From the time the clock struck 7 am, letting me know it was time to greet the energy populating outside, until the moment I burst into my apartment, sat down my bag, and collapsed into bed – I was on the go. To and from work. Staying later to close the magazine and arriving early to ensure I crossed all my T’s and dotted all my I’s. Going to this happy hour and that gallery opening. Visiting people in Brooklyn and beyond. Entertaining out-of-town friends I hadn’t seen in ages. Freelancing. This breath-of-fresh-air of a blog that keeps me going, when nothing else does. Figuring out where my heart is, but keeping my mind in tow. New dates with new men. Even newer friends. Movies and networking, dining and wining, and of course, even more writing.

I’ve been waiting for my New York life to start feeling like an actual, functioning, and prospering existence that’s full of friends, outings, experiences, and thriving conversations – and I feel like I’m finally getting there. It’s taken some difficult days that sometimes may get the best of me, but through it all – I’ve never doubted that eventually, skyscrapers would seem more like home than mountaintops. New York has this effortlessway of renewing my spirit and reminding me that the opportunities for me are endless and attainable, if I just remember to keep one thing in check no matter how busy I get or who becomes a main character in my life. And that wildly complicated and perfectly simple thing…is me.

And while I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my schedule being shaken and stirred – the thing that’s made the recipe a bit off is forgetting to take care of my own simple, day-to-day needs.

In my sudden influx of events and adventures, I noticed my mood gradually get worse. By the time Saturday evening rolled around and I had yet to really get a great night’s sleep, tidy up my apartment, or sit around in my sweatpants – I became flat-out bitchy. And along with my intolerableness, I started analyzing myself and worse, putting pressure and asking questions about what I was doing with my life. I started breaking out, which made me resort back to old ways of piling on way too much makeup. Thus, I started to feel less secure, not to mention with my busy schedule, the gym has been out of the question, so I was not feeling like my fit self, either. And when my apartment was merely used to shower and sleep for two weeks, the heap of dirty clothes kept growing, without an end in sight – leaving me with all of those garments we keep, but never want to wear. Admittedly, I may have worn the same pair of socks two days in a row and did all I could to keep that thought out of my mind throughout round-two.

Apart from doubting my appearance and feeling overall just plain exhausted, I also became paraded with worries about everything from my career, my finances to my dating life, and this space: Am I doing enough? Am I working to the best of my ability? Is my job happy with me? Am I going on enough dates? Should I even be going on dates at all? What if I fall in love with someone in the next few months – will that go against the recovery? Will I still be able to love myself in the middle of a full-fledged relationship? Am I there yet?  Do I even know where I’m going? Am I still on the right path with myself? Am I doing the right things? Making the right decisions? Am I saving enough money? Am I spending too much on going out and not enough preparing for my new apartment in May?

What the hell am I doing??

Like the infamous pile of spaghetti, all covered in cheese, once my meatball of confidence rolled off my sturdy table – all was lost. As much as I’m a girl who goes, I’m also a woman who needs alone time to collect my thoughts and find my personal center of clarity. I’ve discovered, in my most recent rampage, that when I forget about the basic necessities that keep me sane – sleeping, running, eating a huge bowl of cereal while watching trashy television in my fuzzy bathrobe – any bit of negativity in me bubbles its way up to the surface.

Until I took away my isolated liberty, I never realized how much I really cherished those hours of seclusion. The time when I’m only in the company of myself.

And so yesterday, instead of accepting an invite to dinner or heading out to mingle at a networking gala downtown, I left work on time and went to find the me I had lost in the last fourteen days. Running four miles was difficult, but it has never hurt so good or made my lungs feel clearer. I enjoyed a decaf espresso with my laundry and cleaning duties, and I caught up on the daily reads I had been neglecting. I soaked my feet and wore a face masque. I called my mom and then retired my phone for the evening. I replied to personal emails I had let pile up. I went invisible on Gchat and closed Facebook and ceased tweeting on Twitter.

I looked at myself in the mirror, saw all of the imperfections I had been focusing on for days – newly formed zits, hair that despareately needs to be trimmed, skin that’s paler than the leftover snow on the streets, and elbows severely thirsty for hydration. And instead of spewing out words of degradation and attempting to fix all that I thought was ugly or wrong, I stopped and made a decision.

A choice to believe that at whatever point my journey is at or approaching, or how many things I want to change or I’m unsure about – this is my life. This is my body. This is how I look. This is my apartment. This is my job. This is my savings accountant. This is my date for the evening. This is my blog. This is my city. This is my home. This is my exhaustion taking over. This is my spirit that will get me through. This is now. This is what it is. This, whatever this is at whatever moment this takes me to, is mine.

This is me and I have to decide what I need.

And while they may say it’s never too late to be the person you wanted to be, it’s also never too early to accept and listen to yourself. Or to realize that sometimes, the best thing you ever do…is absolutely nothing.

Can’t Tame This Tigar

As much as I’m a love-addict, sometimes if I think about the seriousness behind marriage –I feel like I’m going to throw up.

Given, I haven’t met someone who I have sincerely thought I would spend the rest of my life with (without any reservations, at least), but when I think of happily-ever-after, until-death-do-we-part, when your balls and my boobs sag – I feel intense anxiety.

When you find that special someone or you enter into a long-term relationship –you ultimately have to change who you are somewhat. Not necessarily your personality or actions or day-to-day doings, but your lifestyle changes when you have to consider someone else into the mix. “I” becomes “we” and Friday night’s question isn’t “Where’s happy hour?” but rather “What are you in the mood to do, dear?” Yes, you have me-time or girl-time – but when you say “I do” or accept a relationship request on Facebook, you sign (or click) away a part of your life.

A friend of mine, B, recently wrote to me and said “I’m starting to think that maybe I’m not meant to be tamed. I’m not willing to change who I am for a man, and I shouldn’t have to. I love being able to do what I want, when I want. I don’t have to let anybody know where I am, or call somebody before I do something, and I don’t have to think about questions like ‘Will we spend this holiday with your family or mine?’

Tamed? To be in a healthy, loving, and committed relationship, does that mean you’re tamed? Is the reason it’s called “settling down” is because you literally settle down? After receiving this message from B, I decided to poll readers and friends about being “tamed” and how it relates to being in a relationship. (And sorry, I didn’t ask Miley Cyrus).

Here are the responses I received:

Single

“I feel like it should and it shouldn’t, ya know? Should because relationship is commitment, but shouldn’t because the reason someone wants a relationship with you is because you’re you.” –N

“No you’re only more tame in social situations because you don’t have to flirt, but in the bedroom, you must be super wild.” –S

“Once you’re in a long-term relationship, then you have someone else to consider so I suppose it does tame your behavior.” –S

“Being in a relationship doesn’t really have to mean that you are ‘tamed.’ I think a lot of it has to do with your personality and the personality of the person you are in a relationship with, as well as the dynamics of the relationship…Quite frankly, if you find the right person, you can do all the things you love and just simply have a partner in it.” -A

“No. I act just as I always do regardless if I’m in a relationship or not. If I’m not acting like myself, then I need to get out of the relationship.” –E

“I’ve found in most cases yes, but I’m waiting for a relationship where you still love and care about the other person (and vice versa) and they let you do whatever makes you happy.” -D

Taken (Married or in a relationship)

“Tamed? Did you need a trainer or tamer? No. Being in a stable relationship may make you more secure to embrace your wild side and explore more facets of yourself.” –P

“If ‘tamed’ means that you stop dancing on bars, then yes. But I’ve gone out more with my boyfriend than I ever would if I was alone. We go out every Monday and Wednesday for trivia night usually every Friday and Saturday for darts.” –A

“Well, you learn to do things differently. You do the things they want to do and how they want to do it. Just for the sake of keeping the peace.” –L

“It can. My boyfriend knows what my dreams are and what I want to accomplish, and he’s willing to let me run wild, as long as he can be part of it.” –S

“I do think you have to become tame in order for your relationship to work. I guess tamed is a strange word for it because you have to be yourself but you want to make the other person happy, so you don’t even think about that part of it, if it’s truly a relationship that you want.” –E

“I would say that I am a lot less reserved now that I’m in a serious and committed relationship because I feel like I can be as crazy as I can possibly be within moral bounds, and I don’t have to fear messing things up. I still have the freedom to do whatever I want, but what I want in a lot of aspects has changed.” -F

“Ohhhhhh no!  Here’s my philosophy: I wanted to marry him, so I could REALLY go hog wild….but just with him.” -J

So, you do have to be tamed (or maybe not), but you still do all that you want (but do things their way to keep the peace), you don’t dance on tables, but you should be incredibly ridiculous in the bedroom, make your partner part of your adventures (but make sure they love you for who you are) – but all of it, of course, depends on the relationship and the person you’re in a relationship with.

Quite contradictory right?

B highlights what’s considered a perk of being single: the ability to be completely and totally selfish. And I’ll be the first (along with all of you other single ladies who are addicted to love or not, I’m sure) that sometimes, not having to answer to anyone or anything or shape my plans around someone else’s schedule or desires is wonderful. I almost always get to do exactly what I want, when I want to do it, and my money, for the most part, is for me.

A pro of being a single gal is being able to sincerely focus on yourself, to run untamed and free (regardless if you act wild or not) and explore all of the things your curiosity sparks. I truly, 100 percent agree that by being single for longer (as in not getting married super early), you allow yourself a lot of time to grow and develop without having to consider who is laying next to you.

But most of us do want someone to share our lives with –tamed or untamed –doing it their way or our way or a way you create together. Eventually, we will have discussions about what to do, where we want to do it, and how to go about it with our partner.

So really, it’s not necessarily about being tamed. It’s more about learning how to compromise and figuring out what it is we’re willing to change and what we’re not about our lives or ourselves for another person. Then, the task is making sure the person you’re in a relationship with is okay with that.

But until that day, until I finish clearing my head of self-hating and love-obsessing thoughts, I will relish, just like B, in being selfishly single. In eating cupcakes at midnight, taking up my entire bed, painting my toenails while eating pudding, spending an hour at the grocery store and leaving with nothing, taking random trips because I can, and walking around my apartment in heels, a face mask, and drinking red wine singing along to old Backstreet Boys songs.

I’m not sure I’ll ever be “tamed” by my own definition of the word (submissive and obedient, like a dog), but I may be willing to share my cupcake. And maybe a sip of my wine. And especially if he can somewhat sing Shape of My Heart.”