If you’re manic and you know it, clap your hands.
What do you do if you’re fully aware and yet allow your manic side to run your life? Acting like a busy-bee: always working, always occupied…but having the self-awareness to (every once in a blue moon) wake up in a panic, knowing that you’re driving yourself into exhaustion. And then vacillating between shame and wanting to take action and wanting to justify not doing anything about it. Fix your behaviors later. Next time. You’re tired now. Whatever the excuse. Choosing to live in constant motion and fear of the maelstrom.
I fear missing out on life. I find myself shifting and worrying about whether I should commit to the present moment or try to find a better one. I’m uneasy these days when I’m being social. I’m constantly sifting through a million superficial conversations, like eating a diet of Skittles when all I want is a steak. I gibber and gossip out-loud while thinking, “Should I stay or should I go?” Wishing I was in public when I’m alone and vice versa. And then mid-thought slams the gavel from the part of me who doesn’t want to think about any of this. The part that wants to live my 20’s now in my 30’s. I was always so responsible and heady and careful, and now I’m turning 31 in two weeks and I just want to get drunk and and say fuck these feelings; just drink and they will go away. And then I’m downing alcohol, all the while worrying about the next day’s hangover, trying to find an equilibrium between my conflicting wants and needs. I usually end up unhappy wherever I’m at.
What’s creating this FOMO right now, I believe, is loneliness. It’s amplifying everything. I just went on my first out-of-town teaching gig, booked under my own name, produced all by myself. I was flown out to teach improv and treated like a master teacher. It’s a great moment for my career. And…part of me couldn’t enjoy it. Because I made the whole trip too important in my head, and when the actual experience felt more like work than the life-changing catharsis I thought I’d have, I began to worry. “What have I done? Have I committed to all these out-of-town gigs and it turns out I really don’t like doing them? Am I just stalling from putting in the work to actually do the thing that actually brings me joy: being an artist and performer first and foremost? Is this teaching thing just a distraction?” I don’t know.
If only I wasn’t making work so important. Maybe if teaching was just a way to make money and a fun out-of-town gig? Maybe it would be like that if I had someone to come home to afterwards. Someone I was texting with while on the road. Someone who was thinking of me and there when I’d need him most, no questions asked. Not a friend — I have plenty of close friends who I value deeply, but I already feel guilty how I tap their time. They can’t always be there like this. And not my dog Star, who despite how much I jokingly anthropomorphise her, is never going to be a partner, who I take care of as much as he takes care of me.
It comes down to loneliness. I’ve been living in it for awhile now. Constantly self-starting at work. Bemoaning but always producing shit on my own. Taking care of Star alone. Running an Airbnb business alone. Writing this story alone. Teaching alone. Waiting, agitated, to be noticed and included with collaborators. And then when welcomed into a new group, quickly looking for the ‘next best thing’ and thereby de-valuing the people who have just reached out to connect with me. Always wanting more and the next best thing I think I need to feel whole.
I am so tired and sad of being alone.
The fact is: until I fill this need and confront these fears, I won’t move on. I will be stuck in a mental limbo. Even when external things are successful, I won’t be able to enjoy them, except for a moment. Because my attention is strained, avoiding facing my fear of love and intimacy.
I don’t know even what I’m asking for or missing. I don’t even know what love is. I just have an idea of it. Truth: I’ve never been in a relationship over four months. I’ve usually gotten bored or antsy in new relationships and told myself, “Well, time to move on! Your body and mind wouldn’t lie…you’ve lost interest. That’s it! Done!” And then I’ve found excuses for why the relationship isn’t working and broken up with him.
I’ve gotten even more ‘single’-minded since I turned 30. A part of me gave up the drive for dating, justifying doing nothing to find a partner, be it online or by going to bars. Feelling like the pursuit is “more hopeless than hopeful.” Avoiding thinking about these needs via a hundred distractions (Candy Crush anyone?).
I want to be taken care of. And I feel guilty about that need. Like I’m damaged goods. And the barrier to finding a partner is revealing these insecurities. I look in the mirror and imagine my face hardening daily. Like it’s weathering out from all this self-imposed stress. And then I worry about the time I have left to be physically attractive and find someone to the standard my porn-addled brain has created. Who could ever live up to that? And who could ever stop down to love the needy, manic, whiny guy who wrote this post?
I know my problems and know that is the first step to changing them. The next one is to tell myself I have control over my own behaviors — that I can make this change.
There it is. I let my manic side word vomit all over Medium. But…I’m also glad I wrote this and got these feelings out. Maybe aborting my bath wasn’t the worst idea. I don’t really know.
I’ll end with a poem I wrote:
This is more intense than you thought it would be.
It’s panic and fear; that’s all.
You’re facing the deeper fears,
The buried fears,
The ones that unravel you,
The ones that you put off,
The ones you don’t understand.
The ones you can’t name.
Change is doubly hard:
Second: to make the change,
and first: to choose to change at all.
You’re facing your core fears.
It’s been years since you faced those.
The adolescent ones.
The ones you’ve rowed on top of,
The ones that pull you down,
the ones you swore you were over.
the child — scared of dying.
It’s all coming up, and it’s all you can do
not to aspirate it back down at once.
Try to pick
lil’ parts of your fears apart
at a time.
Take care of yourself,
even loving the things you dread in yourself:
the time you have left.
Life isn’t about how much you can take on;
it’s about how much you can let go.