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Family Planning

Therapist: “So, you and Eric are talking about starting a family soon?”

Me: “Well, I mean, yeah. Not right this moment, but soon. We’re married and we both want kids and I’m not getting any younger, so…”

Therapist: “Yes, you’ve said that. But what about right now makes you feel more ready than when we’ve talked about it in the past?”

Me (thinking): “Well….we came up with a hilarious way to announce it on Facebook.”

Therapist:  img_2021-5

Me: “Oh, is that not a sign of readiness?”

Therapist: img_7086-2

Whatever, lady. Like anyone’s ready for this shit.

I Am Miserable In This Photo

I want to apologize.

Last weekend I went to a Phish show and posted this photo on Facebook, for all of you to see:

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In it, I am fucking miserable.

Surprised? I’ll bet. Nothing says “My life is so happy and fun, guys!” like an open-mouthed, wahoo yell-smile, indoor sunglasses, bright lights, and background spirit fingers.

(For the record, Eric is exactly as happy as he looks. If he had a tail, it’d be wagging. Which is why he is the absolute necessary img_7492 to my img_1179-5.)

The second after that photo was snapped, my face fell back into its previous anxious contortion. That entire afternoon and night, I just couldn’t calm down. I didn’t feel present. Everyone around me was excited, and I couldn’t get on board, not matter how hard I tried. I felt disassociated, stuck in my bell jar, uncomfortable in my body. I was trying to move to the music but just….couldn’t. Everything about me felt awkward, disconnected, and out of place. And so, the self-defeating but all-too-predicatable marathon of thoughts began swirling through my brain, a loop so familiar that I carry a VIP pass to this particular ferris wheel ride of misery: “Why can’t you just relax, Emily? Why can’t you just have fun like everyone else here? Why do you have to be such a goddamn downer? JUST ENJOY YOURSELF FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN! STOP BEING THE ABSOLUTE FUCKING WORST!”

(It’s weird how this strategy never works.)

Those sunglasses? Not a cute, bright-lights-at-Phish gimmick.

They were necessary to hide my tears.

Now brief side clarification– my misery that night had NOTHING to do with Phish. Phish critics might think, “Of course you were miserable at Phish, it’s a crowded shitshow.” And yeah, it sure is! But truth be told, I actually like Phish. A lot. Ok, not nearly as much as the die-hard, 100-shows-and-counting phanatics I’m usually with, but I do have an appreciation for the music, the people, and the scene. In fact, I had been to a Phish show 8 days before this one and had a genuine blast. My mood was stable that day, and the music and crowd were in sync with my dopamine levels. I got lucky. I should have posted a photo from THAT show. At least it would have been authentic.

So why did I choose to post a “joyful” photo when I felt shattered inside? I’m sure there are a million different answers to that, all of which I will analyze to death with my therapist next week, so she better buy at least 3 hats, 2 helmets, and hold the fuck on. But I’m in touch with myself enough to know that the main reason is this:

That photo represented how I wanted to feel.  And maybe if that was the image I projected to the world, it would, in some way, become the reality.

 

But shame on me. I know better.

I know that when I’m down, a filtered, look-at-me-having-fun photo feels good for one moment and one moment only. Then I’m just part of the problem, a problem that I’ve always been so conscious and critical of.

It’s no secret that social media can be harmful to self-esteem. I’m not making any groundbreaking statements in that regard. The constant comparison to other people’s happiness and success, which is generally the majority of what gets posted, makes us feel badly about our own less-than-perfect lives. We’ve all experienced this. It’s insane how we can scroll through a news feed and, even when we KNOW, intellectually, that what we see is not capturing the true, more nuanced reality of our peers’ lives, we still, on some level, process it as such. Our visual perception, paired with our own insecurities, trumps our rational mind every time.

That is why I am so disappointed in myself for posting a photo that projects fun and joy, when inside I was torn to pieces.

This helps no one.

Especially not myself.

I know better than to communicate an inauthentic truth. I know what it does to my mental health when I try to put forth a version of me that isn’t real, and the possible damage it can do to others who struggle. It’s the main reason I have this no-clear-theme-and-sort-of-all-over-the-place mess of a blog– a mix of stories that highlight my imperfections, struggles, and staggered journey. Yes, some of my expereinces are joyful, and I’m always thrilled when I get to share that. And I will continue to share that, as we all should– when it’s genuine.

But a lot of the journey is hard. And awkward. And sad. Anxiety-and-guilt-ridden, scary, uncomfortable, confusing and head-in-hands frustrating. So I try my best to capture that, too. Not push it down and cover it up with a camera-ready smile. Because if I’m doing that, if I’m masking the struggles, I’m just another “Look how great my life is ALL THE TIME!” social media monster. We have enough Kardashians out there eating us alive, ass-first.

The thing is, my life really IS great, guys.

It’s also a category F5 shitnado.

I promise an online presence that continues to project both these realities.

Forgive me?

 

 

 

Adventures in Marriage Licenses

So Eric got a new job recently, and HR informed him that in order for me to be on his health insurance plan, we would have to get actual documentation stating that we are domestic partners. This came as a surprise, because at Eric’s last job they were like, “Oh, your girlfriend wants health insurance? Cool! Health insurance for dayzzzzzzz!” We literally didn’t even have to show proof that we were living together. I’m not even sure we had to prove we were human beings. I could have been Eric’s pet hamster Chubbles*, and they would’ve covered me. For whatever reason, they just took our word on the honor system, which is the way it should be. (hahah no, I’m kidding. That is DEFINITELY not the way it should be. If it was that way, I would have put myself on the health insurance of every person I’ve lived with since college, including that summer subletter who drew a huge penis on my window).

So we went down to the City Clerk on Wednesday and diligently signed our Domestic Partnership license. It was a beautiful day. The clerk could not have been less interested in us, and was scrolling on Facebook the entire time she processed our paperwork. Which immediately made me like her. I was super hopeful that when the license printed, it would accidentally have one of those creepy FB stickers on it.

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But alas, no. Disappointment abound.

Meanwhile, Eric and I tried to make small talk with her, as an attempt to engage her in this somewhat meaningful moment in our lives.

Us: “We’ll be back here in 5 months for our wedding license!”
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Us: “Thanks yeah we’re excited too!”

This lady was the physical and spiritual embodiment of “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” We gave up, took our license, posed for obligatory photo and left.

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Clap, clap, done! Easy as pie! Right?

Wrong. That’s not how my life works. You should know this by now.

Eric skipped back to his office, Domestic Partnership license in hand, only to find out that HR had given him false information– “Oooooh, our bad. Turns out domestic partnership only gets your partner covered if you’re gay.” And apparently, shouting back, “Ok, ok– we’re gay! We’ll be gay!” doesn’t solve the problem.

What DOES solve the problem? Getting married.

Eric: “But we’re basically married!”
HR: “When is the wedding?”
Eric: “June!”
HR: “Cool. She’ll have health coverage in June.”
Eric: “HAVE YOU MET HER?! SHE NEEDS IT NOW.”

Ok obviously the conversation didn’t exactly go down like that, but the point is that the rules insist we show legal intent to wed (aka, get a marriage license)– and I, as someone prone to mental/physical/invented health issues, cannot wait until June for coverage.

Can I get temporary insurance until then? Yes, of course. For a CRAPLOAD of money. And what is the point, if we are getting married soon anyway? Why not just get the license a little earlier? We already live together and love each other and occasionally want to kill each other and that’s all marriage really is, right? (If not, don’t tell me. I’m a learn-the-hard-way kind of girl, which is why my life tends to be a complete disaster but also interesting).

So, with the most romantic of reasons driving us forward, we went back to the City Clerk this morning to obtain a marriage license. (No, this does not mean we are married. This means we have a document to prove INTENT to marry. Everyone calm down, Mom.)

Not many people get to experience the City Clerk office twice in 3 days, but I guess most people just aren’t as lucky as we are.

Gun emoji.

So there we are this morning, sitting in our seats, waiting for our number to be called, and, like all couples about to take that first legal step in joining their lives forever, we were on our iPhones playing Words With Friends.

With EACH OTHER. We’re not heartless sadists.

As I sat there waiting for Eric to play the next word, I took a moment to look around and do some people watching. There were several couples there who were getting not just a license, but having their official ceremony as well, so they were wearing nice white dresses and suits. Naturally, I then questioned my own appearance, which led to an existential downspiral (aka, a typical Friday morning). “Is it ridiculous that it didn’t even occur to me to look nice for this event? I just threw on jeans, a sweater, Uggs and headed out the door. Does that say something about my maturity level and my preparedness for marriage?”

“Oh, Emily, stop it,” I counterpointed in my head, because having full conversations with myself is normal. “That’s just your anxiety going into overdrive. Yes, you’re dressed casually, but so are most people here. You’re a perfectly mature, responsible adult who is more than ready to enter this very significant stage of life.”

And that’s when I spotted the gigantic glob of Junior Mints melted into my pant leg.

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Yes. It’s as big as it looks.

Some background context here, because I’m sure you’re having difficulty understanding how it’s humanly possible that I did this to myself without noticing:

Last night, Eric and I went to see Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway (fucking phenomenal, by the way). And like all people watching a show with themes of loneliness, pain and depression, I like my trauma with a side of  Junior Mints.

Kramer gets it.

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At one point during the show, I accidentally dropped one of the Junior Mints (again, Kramer-style) while attempting to put it in my mouth. I thought it fell on the floor and so I quickly forgot about it– but, apparently, it got squished between the seat and my leg for the rest of the night, where it slowly melted (because, as you can always assume, I was very sweaty) and spread across my pants. And yeah, I did wear the same pants two days in a row without washing them. You do it too, so SHUT UP.

“But how did you not notice it when you were getting dressed this morning, Emily?”

Because it was early, I hadn’t had coffee, and in general I am not a noticer of things.

“But how about when you took them off last night?”

I AM VERY BAD AT LIFE, OKAY?!

Which brings us back to this moment in the City Clerk’s office, when Eric and I are about to be called forward to sign a marriage license, and I have what appears to be a giant ball of (minty fresh!) shit spread across my pants.

Eric suggested I go to the bathroom and try to clean myself up.

I suggested we take a photo.

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Needless to say, the papers still got signed (not by an officiant– just by us, Mom!) and Eric is still willing to marry me.

Now let’s see if I can make it down the aisle without a giant shit stain on my wedding dress.

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* Chubbles = actual former pet of Eric’s

 

 

Insulting

I’ll admit, I’m terrible about talking on the phone. I just don’t like to do it. My friends, and my mother in particular, are always giving me a hard time about it, which is fair. I should call them more. I’m sorry!

But still, it’s always so insulting when I do speak to my mom on the phone and she makes a point to ask me if there are any major developments in my and Eric’s relationship that she should know about– clearly implying that if some kind of major event WERE to occur, she wouldn’t even know about it. Which is just insane.

She’d obviously see it on Facebook.

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