Tag Archives: emotions

YOU Don’t Love ME?!

So the other day I was telling my single-and-fed-up-with-dating friend the story below, and she responded, “You should write about this, because based on your blog, I never would have guessed that you and Eric experienced anything but the smoothest sailing from first date to marriage.”

I was horrified by the fact that I was inadvertently giving public credence to the bullshit notion that good, solid relationships are and should be easy, so I think it only fair to my plethora of readers   two readers   mom that I set the record straight.

Eric and I have had our fair share of little roadblocks along the way, but my favorite roadblock, if we’re ranking roadblocks (and who doesn’t?), is when we I first said “I love you.”

It went a little something like this:

Me: “I love you.”

Eric: giphy-2

Me: “I said I LOVE YOU. Say something!”

Eric: tenor.gif

Me: “Ummm….DO YOU LOVE ME TOO?”

Eric: tenor-2

(Side note: this was not the first time I had told a guy I loved him and didn’t hear it back, but it WAS the first time I told a guy I loved him and MEANT IT and didn’t hear it back– so needless to say, this hurt more.)

So after Eric pulled the real-life equivalent of a Homer Simpson bush-melt, I realized I was not getting an “I love you” back– which, quite frankly, surprised me because according to Eric this is the celeb version of us as a couple:

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Which is Eric’s hilarious, self-deprecating way of saying “I married up” (people DO tell me I look like that actress, btw, but only when I brush my hair. So never.)

And while I don’t disagree that he married up (I’m great), he needs to give himself more credit with his celeb doppelgänger, which is only Danny Devito in height, but clearly Daniel Berger in all other features (minus being good at golf):

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But I digress.

The point of this is to say that I was kind of like, “Wait– YOU don’t love ME?!” First of all, I was desperate openminded enough to look past the fact that your dating app photo was taken 200 feet away, head to the side, wearing sunglasses and a hat, forcing me to be like twitter-squinting-girl-meme-e1523213473157.jpg trying to figure out whether or not you were a mutant (you weren’t 2c469354-bcfa-488f-bd41-a860f9f87e38-596-0000001613c064d7).

And THEN I even looked past the fact that you lied about your height by an ENTIRE inch, which is such a trite internet-dating-jew-move. Lucky for you, on our first date, I was too drunk to notice once again openminded.

All this, and YOU don’t love ME?!

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But yeah. He couldn’t say the words.

So I did what any rational, mature, 33-year-old woman would do and kicked him the fuck out of my apartment. I told him that if he didn’t love me, I didn’t want to look at his ass face, which I think we can all agree is a good way of persuading someone on the do-I-love-you fence to hop on over with enthusiastic ardor.

Ok, no, jk, I wasn’t that harsh about it (out loud), but I did think he needed to take some space to sort out his feelings, since he claimed he was “confused” and “scared” (I think those were his words. I don’t know guys I’ve spent the past year wiping drool and cleaning poop. Nora’s, not mine. Nora’s and mine? Point is, my brain has atrophied.).

In Eric’s defense, he had only recently gotten out of a years-long relationship, and it had left him with some emotional baggage– the kind of baggage you think is totally compact and manageable but then you reach your gate and the attendant scoffs because there’s no way in hell that tattered, 400-pound Samsonite is fitting in the overhead compartment.

So I asked him to go home and take some time to think through his feelings and “unconfuse” himself, an idea he decided he hated the second he left my apartment.

He texted me from my lobby saying something along the lines of “This sucks. I don’t want to go home. I want to be with you,” and I replied with something along the lines of “Tough shit, dickwad.”

Or maybe I just said, “I know, I’m sorry, but I think you need some space to think about what you want from this relationship.” Like I said, details are hazy these days (grand…pa….SHARK do do do do do do….).

Bottom line is that clearly I was hurt and embarrassed, although embarrassment was really secondary to the hurt, because I think when you truly love someone, you’re able to put your ego aside. Plus, like any woman who has spent more than 5 years online dating in NYC, I had lost every last modicum of shame.

So Eric went home and called one of his guy friends for advice. Now this could have gone very poorly. Don’t get me wrong, Eric’s guy friends are some of the greatest people I’ve ever met, but I would only take advice from a select zero of them. Thankfully, Eric chose the arguably most normal of the bunch, who immediately told him, and I’m paraphrasing here, “Stop being such a pussy.”

The next morning, I went for an 18-mile run at 4:00am on a workday, because I was training for a marathon and also because I am insane.

I blasted Adele’s “Hello” on repeat, screaming the lyrics as loudly as possible in order to prevent myself from crying over the fact that this dude clearly didn’t love me. What I quickly learned is that you don’t play Adele when you’re trying to NOT cry. You’d think after 18 years battling clinical depression I would have curated the optimal soundtrack for emotional soothing, but no, I still play Dave Matthew’s “Grey Street” when I’m feeling hopeless as fuck, which (spoiler alert!) doesn’t help.

I arrived back at my apartment around 6:45am, snot-nosed, bleary-eyed, nauseous, and sweating profusely. I smelled like a prepubescent boy’s gym sock. So it was the perfect time to encounter Eric, the man I was hoping would fall in love with me, standing right there at my front door. He was holding a bouquet of bodega flowers fresh, long-stemmed roses and waiting to deliver a 10 minute speech about his feelings for me.

I tried to pay attention to all the reasons he loved me (something about how I’m a good listener?) but could only really focus on the fact that I was sweating from all holes and going to be late for work.

Regardless, I was elated. I finished half-listening and gave him a kiss that surely tasted like regurgitated PowerGel, hopped in the shower, and arrived at work 5 minutes late, still sweating.

But giddy as fuck.

My co-teacher took one look at me and asked what was happening with my face, and I had to explain that this is what it looks like when I’m experiencing a happiness that isn’t induced by four coffees or a bottle of Wellbutrin. She was thrilled for me, and we spent the morning re-hashing the details of the story while our 4th graders ran amok? fell asleep? stole supplies? full blown Lord of the Flies murdered each other? There’s really no way to know worked independently.

So I just realized this story is less of an “All relationships have roadblocks and that’s ok and normal so just work through them and have faith” story and more of a “Nice job bullying your boyfriend into professing his love for you!” story but either way ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL GUYS.

Because two years later we made this:

 

 

So hang in there, single ladies.

 

Not Postpartum Depression

Speaking with a new mom I met in our building, who has a son around Nora’s age, I mention that as much as I’m completely in love with my daughter, I’ve definitely had some bumps along the way in adjusting to motherhood.

Her: “Ugh, I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with postpartum depression.”

Me: “Oh, you’re very sweet and I appreciate that so much, but I actually, very fortunately, have NOT had to deal with postpartum depression.”

Her: “Oh, my bad! I just thought from what you were saying…it sounded like a postpartum depression type thing.”

Me: “Oh, no. I actually was very nervous I’d have postpartum depression because I’m definitely at risk. But surprisingly I didn’t. What I’m talking about is just like normal parenthood transition stuff, you know?”

Her: url

Me: “Maybe you DON’T know…”

Her: “I don’t know, I guess I just haven’t found the transition difficult at all.  It’s really only brought me joy.”

Me: “Wow, that’s awesome. You’ve really never been totally overwhelmed? Or anxious about the huge responsibility of raising a human? Or even just like ‘AHHHH I miss my old life!?'”

Her: “Honestly, no. I love every second of it. Is that weird?”

Me: “I mean no, it’s amazing! Good for you.  ENJOY IT!”

You lying cunt.

 

 

We Named Our Daughter After a Mouse

(Note: This post was written while still pregnant, lest you think I just shot a kid out of my baby-cannon and now have any ability to construct a coherent sentence, much less a mini-memoir.)

Yes, a mouse.

But stay with me. We have a rational reason for doing so. Well, maybe not a rational reason (not sure how anyone can expect me to be rational right now, as I am currently in month 9 of having two vaginas), but a reason that will at least provide some context for my desire to name our child after an animal that most people try to kill with strategically placed snap-traps.

Ten years ago, I suffered a deep, terrifying, paralyzing depression. I’ve written about it and referenced it many times on this blog so I won’t re-hash the details in this post, but needles to say, it was my darkest hour. What I haven’t mentioned before is a somewhat interesting (and now extremely relevant) aspect of this terrible time in my life– my obsession with mouse-kid Noisy Nora.

Yes, I’ll explain (because who? And huh?).

In the months I spent depressed living in my parents’ home at age 26, I was unable to do virtually anything. One day, while robotically eating breakfast and staring blankly at the Honey Nut Cheerios box, my mother put a pencil in my hand and suggested I draw something. Not only did I think this was pointless, as EVERYTHING was pointless, but I thought it was extra ridiculous given that, a mild talent for photography aside, I had never at any point in my life shown any kind of visual-arts ability or interest.

But I had nothing to lose (and nothing to do), so I grabbed the pencil and started drawing what I saw on the cereal box in front of me.

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Looking at it now, I think “Not a bad little Cheerios bee!” At the time, however, all I could manage was, “Well this drawing sucks.” Because, you know. Everything sucked. But what I did notice was that for the brief time I was immersed in the sketching process, I wasn’t, for once, writhing in despair and wondering how the minutes of life could possibly be ticking by so slowly. I was able to escape my agony for a short, precious time, and that alone was enough reason to keep drawing.

So I did. Basically, I stuck to sketching images that were on the boxes of the food I was eating:

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As you can see, I was really into carbs.

Then one day, in a further desperate attempt to pass the interminable minutes, I began sorting through mountains of crap in my parents’ storage room. To my delight (delight is a strong word– I hated everything) I stumbled upon a box of my most beloved childhood books. They were all there: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Where the Wild Things Are, Doctor De Soto, The Snowy Day and, finally, at the very bottom of the box– Noisy Nora.

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GOD how I loved that book as a kid. It’s about a very endearing yet insufferable little mouse-kid who is jealous of the time her parents spend with her siblings, and therefore seeks attention by being a destructive little pain in the ass. I adored her, because I was her. No one could yell, stomp, and slam a door (then open it and re-slam it) for NO GOOD REASON like kid-me (and, ok, teenager-me. Adult-me…).

And for reasons I could not articulate, I suddenly became OBSESSED with drawing Nora. So obsessed, in fact, that I purchased a separate sketch pad solely for Nora drawings, where I could practice sketching her over and over again until I had her every tiny little detail perfected. (Side note: This genius separate-notebook idea backfired, as somewhere in the five times I’ve moved residencies since then, it got misplaced, while my notebook full of meaningless cereal box characters has somehow stood the test of time Face_With_Rolling_Eyes_Emoji_large ).

I sketched these Nora drawings in the privacy of my own bedroom, and kept the special Nora notepad under the bed where no one would find it. Unlike my Cheerios bee and Keebler elves, I was very protective of my Nora sketches and did not want to show them to anyone, even my mother, who was always so delighted and impressed by my cartoon drawings– so impressed, in fact, that she suggested I pursue a career in comic-strip writing (she was pretty desperate to give me purpose. She was also, understandably, drinking a LOT of wine during that time).

Nora was my little secret. I was never really able to articulate or explain to myself why I was so obsessed with her. Sure, I loved the book as a kid, but I loved lots of books and characters and wasn’t obsessing over any of THEM. At the time, the infatuation made no sense. But then again, nothing made sense, so I didn’t spend too much time or energy trying to figure it out.

Eventually, with copious medical interventions and the unwavering support of family and friends, I began to heal in early 2009, and life restarted again. I moved back to NYC, got a teaching job, found my marbles, and was functioning like the human I had forgotten I was capable of being.

And in the process, I let Nora go. Not completely and not forever– after all, she was there with me for those lonely, agonizing months and got me through a truly hopeless time– but now that I was able to participate in life again, the inexplicable obsession subsided and found a cozy spot in the back recesses of my mind, rather than in the fixated forefront.

Fast forward 9 years and I’m pregnant. As soon as we learned we were having a girl, out of (seemingly) nowhere, the name Nora came to my mind. I casually mentioned it to Eric as a name I liked, and he agreed it was nice, but suggested we keep thinking. He liked it but didn’t necessarily LOVE it, and maybe there was something out there we’d both LOVE. That was fine with me– I wasn’t even sure in that moment why I liked it so much, or why it came to me so suddenly, so I agreed to keep thinking. We looked through list after list and flirted with other names, many of which I did really like. But at the end of each day when I put my head to my pillow, I kept coming back to Nora.

And slowly, I began to realize why. Now, bear with me here– I’m not typically a hokey, whimsical or overly-spiritual person. But I am a big believer in things happening for a reason, and I do think “the universe,” however one might define that, plays a role in the direction our lives take. And in that time when I felt I truly had nothing to live for, I feel that maybe, just maybe, the Nora obsession was the universe’s way of saying “Do not give up, Emily. This darkness is temporary, and light awaits. There’s something big coming, and you’re going to want to be around to see it.”

Now I don’t want anyone to interpret this as me thinking that having a child is the only, or the ultimate, thing to live for. It has been 10 years since that depressive episode and my life has been beyond full of reasons to live– from big reasons (family, friends, major accomplishments both personal and professional, fabulous travel, discovery of new talents and interests) to all those little moments that make up a full, meaningful life  (a burst of uncontrolled laughter, hearing Journey’s “Faithfully” and remembering every single lyric to your camp alma mater, a post-run nap in a shaded hammock, the satisfaction of finally killing the pesky fly that’s been occupying your apartment for a week– sorry, that last one just happened like 5 minutes ago and DAMN it felt good! Anyway, we all have our things.)

There are trillions of reasons to live, big and small, but when you’re severely depressed, you can’t access any of them. So I think this Nora obsession, for which I had no explanation at the time, only an intense and seemingly primal NEED to draw her, was the universe desperately trying to shove hope in my face– to tell me that if I could just hold on and get through this time, I would rediscover all the reasons to be here, and come to see that I still have so much important work left to do in this life, including (but certainly not limited to) becoming a mom.

So I kept coming back to the name Nora, and although Eric liked it, he still wasn’t totally sold. I wanted to disclose the reason I was so attached to it, but I also worried he might think I was nuts (not sure why I still occasionally fear this. The guy has witnessed some pretty emotionally ape-shit moments and he’s still here, inexplicably, with bells on). For months, I kept pressing the name on him, with no explanation other than, “I just really like it,” only to get a non-committal, “I like it too, but let’s keep thinking,” in response.

So eventually, on a particularly hormonal day, I explained my reasoning. With tears in my eyes, I cautiously relayed the story of my Noisy Nora fixation, and how in hindsight I think it might have been the universe giving me a reason to hold on.

“Oh,” Eric said. “Well then that’s it. That’s her name. Why didn’t you just tell me that? Of course that’s her name. And now I love it.”

And that is why I married him.

And why we named our daughter after a rodent.

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I’m Sure This is Normal

Two days ago, beloved Grandma dies: stay surprisingly positive. Recognize that she was 96, lived a full life, and I was lucky to have had her with me for as long as I did. Feel nostalgic but optimistic.

Tonight, wait over 30 minutes on platform for a subway train: have complete nervous breakdown. Cry in public. Throw shit. Feel like world is ending and nothing is fair. Curse at ceiling.

So yeah I’m fine.

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People I Have it More Together Than

Because sometimes, on the first day of winter, you need a list.

  1. Rob Kardashian
  2. I took a 10 minute pause here at #2 and stared blankly at the screen because I literally couldn’t think of anyone else. So I got up, retied my bathrobe, stretched what I’m pretty sure is the beginning of a weird-sleeping-position-induced torn rotator cuff, and took a brief walk from the living room to the other side of the living room (estimated distance 5 feet). I recognize this probably invalidates the entire concept of my list, but I’m sorry my work life is weirder than yours.
  3. The dog on the 29th floor who shits in the stairwell (realized this list should be humans)
  4. All characters on Shameless (realized this list should be real humans)
  5.  Michael Jackson (realized this list should be real humans who are still alive and who were not child molesters)
  6. Bill Cosby (realized having it more together than a rapist isn’t great)
  7. Paula Dean (same as above, swap rapist for racist. Also I think she’s pulled it together now, at least publicly. No? Ugh I don’t know, I haven’t thought about her in years, and I’m sure neither have you. I have no idea how she ended up on this list. You can see how desperate I’m getting.)
  8. My night doorman who’s always asleep  (No, you know what? Good for him.)
  9. The dirty cat who lives in the corner store (I changed my mind about the “has to be a human” rule, then doubted my decision and changed my mind back again, because THAT’S WHAT LIVING IN MY HEAD IS LIKE. Also, even if I DID include non-humans, I’m not sure that cat could even make the list because, honestly, he does always look warm.)
  10. I give up.

This exercise really backfired.

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Know Your Audience

A 5th grader I tutor, who is generally not one to open up about anything personal, expressed to me that he was really devastated by the results of the election, and that he found it personally hurtful that anyone would vote for a bully like Donald Trump. I told him that what he was feeling was the same thing half the country was feeling, and that he has every right to feel saddened by what has happened. I then decided to use his emotional experience as an opportunity for him to practice his writing skills. We were about to start a narrative piece, and I had prepared a topic that I thought he, in his classic boy-ness, would enjoy: “Imagine you have a superpower for a day.” Getting him to write can be a painful process and I knew he’d think this topic was fun. But given that he was grappling with all these emotions from the election, I proposed that instead he write about his experience of disappointment and anger (and perhaps he’d mature a bit in the process).

Me: “Writers are often inspired by what happens in their lives, and usually the most powerful pieces of writing come from a place of genuine, deep emotion. I think what you are experiencing right now would be perfect inspiration for a writing piece. And it will have the added benefit of making you feel better, because writing is often used as a way to express, and therefore move on from, experiences and emotions that upset us.”

Kid: (intrigued) “Wow, that’s a really good idea, actually. I like how you have all these smart ideas that I would never think of. I think I probably WOULD feel better if I wrote out all these feelings.”

Me: “Aw, fabulous! So how ’bout we start brainstorming some ideas?”

Kid: “Ok, cool! I’m going to do a web.”

(I search in my bag for a pencil as kid draws a web. When I look over, I see he has written ‘invisibility’ and ‘removing my head.’)

Me: “Wait. What do these things have to do with the election?”

Kid: “Oh, nothing. I’m writing about my superpower.”

Me: “But…wait…I thought you just said writing down your feelings about the election was a great, smart idea!”

Kid: “Well, yeah. It was. But I’d rather write a story about ripping my head off my neck and carrying it around in my hands. How cool would THAT be?!”

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Don’t Try to Make Steph Feel

Last night, 24 hours after the horrific events in Paris, knowing that we all needed a break from the media coverage and sadness, my mom texted to check in on us. Steph was unable to comprehend the sentiment: 

  
 So I stepped in to explain: 

  
In other words, Steph, make Mom feel better by telling her we are ok and enjoying ourselves, so she will stop worrying.