you gotta face it

There’s something really eerie about packing your belongings. You sort once loved items into “donate,” “sell,” and “pack” piles. You start to channel your inner Dorothy the Organizer from Hoarders, growing incrementally more brutal with each emptied drawer. Sometimes you come across something that makes you pause and wonder why you forgot about it, and how time went by so quickly. And you place it begrudgingly into the “donate” pile with a pang that stings your insides with a lapping, nagging swash of guilt.

I spent all of Labor Day weekend packing, gutting, cleaning, and organizing our condo, trying to get it ready to sell. So far, in this whirlwind of moving mayhem, having to sell my house is the most gut-wrenching part. It was the first house we owned together, and it’s been this scrumptiously perfect bungalow of downtown Salt Lake City for us. This house is the only house little Pagoda has ever known, and Royal loves the cooled floors more than he loves stealing my pillow. I worked form home here and decorated for Christmas here, and I’m having a really, really hard time giving up these 900 square feet. It’s not much, but it’s mine.

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This move is unsettling as moves so often are. I’m giving up my home, and I’m giving away so many things, and I know things don’t mean anything, but they’re still little things with little memories connected to them. Things that were on my shelves that made this house a home. I sold my first DSLR and tripod. Gave away Royal’s favorite office chair for sunbathing. And while our house is finally spotless and ready to sell, I can’t help but feel a little scraped out–like a giant cosmic melon baller swooped down and firmly scraped out my entire life as I’ve ever known it in the name of change and growing up. I don’t like that cosmic melon baller.

But here’s a scary truth: I’ve stagnated.

I don’t know what I like to do anymore. And I don’t know why I’m so attached to physical things. I don’t like my career path, and I still struggle with anxiety and body image issues more than I’d like to at this point in my recovery.

But while I was packing everything up, I realized that above all else, I’m terrified to leave my past behind. THAT’S why I’ve stayed in Utah and THAT’S why I complacently lull the days away unconsciously. I’ve had several identities that have defined me up to this point, all of which I’ve outgrown. They’ve become my crutch. And while I know that I need to wake up, I’m scared to leave the warmness that is identity familiarity.

THAT’S why packing up my stuff was so unsettling. I’m leaving my hometown. My family. My friends that saw me at my worst. My coworkers that know my entire work history. I’m leaving every little iota of it behind in a way, and I’m fucking TERRIFIED.

I’m scared I won’t fit in in Seattle. I’m scared I won’t get a job or find friends, and I’m scared I will succumb to old anxiety and ruin the whole experience. I’m scared Mitch and I won’t get along because we’re all we’ve got now. I’m scared the cats will never forgive me for the 12-hour drive, and I’m even more scared that I won’t be able to figure out the public transit system.

All weekend, packing boxes and sweeping floors and dusting shelves, I felt this fear. And then I started Gala Darling’s Dare/Dream/Do course because, shit, a girl needs a little pick me up every now and then, aight? And in the first day, she drops this quote on me from Steve Pavlina:

“…admit the whole truth to yourself. Even if you don’t like what you see, and even if you feel powerless to change it…When you face unpleasant truths, you’ll often encounter strong internal resistance. Only by staring directly into these truths can you summon the strength to deal with them consciously. A simple rule of thumb is this: whatever you fear, you must eventually face.”

Well, Steve and Gala, I’m facing it. Half the bags are packed, and the house is listed. There’s no turning back. I’m staring down the anxiety, and I’m shaking off the past.

Seattle or bust, bitches.

the truth of the matter

I can feel a physical brain shift happening. It’s been a decade in the making, but lately I feel like I’m on the cusp of something monumental.

It started with Jes’s Expose Project.

Because here’s the thing. You always, always hear “oh, everyone has stretch marks! Everyone has cellulite! Everyone’s boobs are different shapes!” And it’s good to hear that, and it’s good people say it, but YOU NEVER ACTUALLY SEE IT. So those good things people say turn into a kind of myth. And because we don’t see it, we start to question it. We start to doubt it and wonder about our own lines and dimples because, sure, you hear everyone has them, but the only bodies we see are photoshopped to perfection. And even though you KNOW they’re photoshopped and not real, it still starts to feel real because it’s all you see. And because it feels so real, you look for proof that you’re right–you ARE the only one with stretch marks and dimples and curves and floppy flim flam here and there and everywhere.

It’s called confirmation bias, and I have it.

Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. The effect is stronger for emotionally charged issues and for deeply entrenched beliefs. People also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position.

Confirmation biases contribute to overconfidence in personal beliefs and can maintain or strengthen beliefs in the face of contrary evidence.

Because you don’t see different body types, you start to believe your body is the odd one out. The outlier. It makes you feel less than, and you feel confused when you do everything the world tells you to do–eat right, exercise–but your body still doesn’t look like what they tell you it should look like. It’s confusing, and it’s frustrating, and you never stop feeling like you’ve done something horribly wrong somewhere, and if you knew what it was, you would fix it, but you can’t. You start to feel like your body owns you and you don’t own your body.

I got stretch marks when I was 12 years old. I cried in the shower when I first saw them. And then I was anorexic because I wanted them to go away, even though I knew they wouldn’t. And after rehab, when I got healthy again, they spread all over my body, which felt so cruel. I was doing what the world told me to do–eat healthy, exercise, not have an eating disorder–but they still happened. And because nobody ever talks about their stretch marks, I thought for sure it was my fault. I was damaged goods. I didn’t wear shorts or tank tops. I passed on pool parties. I dreaded beach vacations.

And then confirmation bias set in. I looked everywhere for them to validate my feelings. I started paying a disgruntling amount of attention to people’s thighs and arms, hoping SOMEONE would have them so I wouldn’t feel so alone. But I never saw any because I didn’t want to see any. Every woman I passed at the pool or the mall or anywhere was confirmation that I was a worthless bag of shit.

Which brings us back to Jes and the Expose Project. Which was the first time it actually hit me that different body types and marks and shapes were a real thing. I KNOW. It sounds stupid, and I’m so late to the game. But it was something that had to come with experience and time I think. My confirmation bias was so strong, and I was never ready to accept it until I saw those photos. And something clicked. A ‘ping!’ moment in my brain. Like maybe, just MAYBE, I could shift my thinking.

And then I found Love Your Lines. And there’s plenty of pregnancy stories, BUT there are also tons of people that just have them and have always had them. And they’re every size of the spectrum.

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80% of us have stretch marks. And like I said in my last post, over 90% of us have cellulite. I KNOW IT’S NOT BREAKING NEWS. And I’m not sure why I never saw photos of real bodies until now.

But I finally did see them, and the shift is happening. And I’m glad there are people like Jes and the Love Your Lines creators to break the confirmation bias. To bring a little smack of reality back to the surreal cesspool that we’ve created for ourselves.

So, challenge your confirmation bias today. Whatever that may be.

what would iggy azalea do?

She would probaly say, “fuck love gimme diamonds.” Which is basically what I’m saying right now to moving and packing and the logistical nightmare that entails. If I had a nickel for every time I said to Royal, “I really wish I was Harry Potter right now,” I would be a rich bitch. Like Iggy. Plus, when I listen to “Work,” I substitute with my own lyrics of “No money, no family, 27 in the middle of Seattle” because that’s how I feel with $1900 a month rent.

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Here’s the thing, though. Remember yesterday when I mentioned that I feel like I’ve been sleepwalking? That most days I get to work and have no idea how I got there? The entire walk there is a blur? Yep. That’s my MO. And this week, now that moving is really happening, I keep staring at the clock and the calendar and wishing away the next three weeks just so it can all be over and my new reality started. But here’s the other thing: I’ve been thinking that way since I was 8.

When I was 8, I couldn’t wait to be in middle school so I could go to school dances. (HAHA. Sucker. Little did I know I would never dance with a single boy. Puberty, man. The shits.)

When I was 12, I wanted to be 16 so I could drive.

When I was 16, I wanted to be 18 so I could go to college.

And when I was in college, I just wanted to be OUT of college. And when I got out of college, I wanted to be married. And then I was married and god only knows how many other things I’ve wished for. The “I’ll be happy when” trap. It’s happening again to me right this very second with me thinking, “I’ll be happy when I’m done packing shit and I’m eating multi-grain Cheerios and watching The Killing.”

I’ve always known I do this, and I’ve tried billions of times to fix it. To be present. It doesn’t work. But the other day I was listening to the NPR TED Radio Hour, as I so often do on my walks to work, and Carl Honore’s snippet came up. It kind of blew my mind. Just a teensy little bit:

But why is it so hard to slow down? I think there are various reasons. One is that speed is fun, you know. Speed is sexy, and all that adrenaline rush. It’s hard to give it up. Another reason, though, I think, perhaps even the most powerful reason why we find it hard to slow down is the cultural taboo against slowing down.

That slow is a dirty word in our culture. It’s a byword for lazy, slacker, for being somebody who gives up. You know, he’s a bit slow. It’s actually synonymous with being stupid. I think there’s a kind of metaphysical dimension that speed becomes a way of walling ourselves off from the bigger, deeper questions. We fill our heads with distraction, with busyness so that we don’t have to ask – am I well? Am I happy? Are my children growing up right?

Jeez, Carl. Way to really hit me in the feels. You’re right–I’m trying to speed through it all. Which is a bummer. And YEAH! You’re right! There’s totally a cultural taboo against being “slow.” And as someone that’s never been entirely fond of cultural taboos, I’m not stoked about it. And I’d like to challenge it. I’m going to move slowly this week, suckers! Which, for me, means working on ONE thing at at time. Because for some reason I’ve told myself that multi-tasking is absolutely necessary, but the truth is…multi-tasking gets me nowhere but a rat’s nest of tangled thoughts and anxiety.

One thing at a time. Move slowly. Work, work, work, work, workin on my shit. Who’s with me?