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Friday, June 26, 2009

My Personal Singlution

Before I started this blog in January of this year, I had spent the 10 months prior in my own personal hell. It was a hell of transformation and while I did not survive unscathed, I did survive it.

I'm not a religious person but I am a faithful one and I put a lot of my hopes and dreams into things I can't see or touch. I have faith that I am doing the right thing, that I will be led in the right direction, that people are inherently good and seek to do good. I had faith in my pursuit of an acting career, in starting over in a new city, in saving trees, in telling stories through film, in my friends which I consider my family. Before last year, I'd lost faith in various causes, organization, processes (the government, for example) but never had a loss of faith cut so deep to the core of who I am. What was this crisis or crises? What is the story that led to the Singlution? There is no way in heck that I am able to recount that hell in a mere blog post. But what I can say is this:

I am a different person than I was a year and a half ago. I am a different woman than I EVER was. People keep growing and changing in tiny ways all the time but if you've ever experienced an avalanche in your life you'll know what it is to wake up one day and not know who you are. 

For many days I woke up and I couldn't recognize myself. Who was I without my sister? Who was I without my best friend? And what had happened to the man that I truly truly thought I was going to marry and had already sacrificed many aspects of myself for? And worst of all, what was I going to do with my life if I wasn't going to be an actor anymore? What was my calling and why did the calling that I had placed so much faith in seem to leave me high and dry? Why was I exhausted? Where was my enthusiasm and joy? What had happened to my youth?

These days I wake up and I've gotten used to the new me. I still feel heavier than I used to (both in my body and in my soul) but I know that in time that heaviness will transform into groundedness and I'll be back to my sprite-like ways. 

Tonight, I socialized for the first time since I became the Singlutionary and started writing this blog (at which time I finally began to understand the post-crisis me). I didn't think of this evening as a test in any way: I just knew that I had things on my calendar which I had committed to doing despite feeling rather ambiguous about them (as I do with most public interactions these days). If this evening were a test, however, I passed with flying colors which means is that I am getting confident in my own skin again, that I have gotten to know myself well enough to stand on my own two feet and not shake in my boots.

I attended two functions tonight. The first one you can read about below. The second one will have to wait for another post.

Function 1: A friend's birthday party. This friend actually lives in my neighborhood but we rarely see each other. We met through a group I led when I was still a realtor and our main common ground is environmentalism, mainly personal sustainability (not using throw away stuff, composting, recycling, etc). Little was I to know that there were three tests waiting for me at this event:

Test 1: Being surrounded by enviro people and not feeling alienated. 
I used to be a pretty hard core environmentalist. And then I lost faith in environmentalism. I still am an environmentalist except I no longer wear my green on my sleeve. I ignore a lot of bad things that go on in the world and try and do my best but I accept that I am a human being and that other people breathing and eating and farting on this earth are human beings as well. But the super-earth-conscious-crunchy-granola-activist community used to be MY community. I used to be one of them. And I'm not anymore. I always looked a little mainstream so sometimes I would see real hippies quietly passing judgement on me because I wasn't patchouli smelling enough to really understand. Oftentimes recently I've passed judgement on liberal enviro folks for what I consider to be uber-negative/never-good-enough thinking. 

There were plenty of moments tonight when I could have felt frustrated or where I could have passed judgement and thought "that kind of alienating attitude is what is holding us back". But instead I just thought: "Gosh, its good to be back with my people, hearing them talk about these things. Its good to remember those times and to know that this community still exists and that I am still here on the periphery of it. I enjoy the periphery."

Test Two: Sizing up Skinny Enviro Landscaper and then Letting Him Go
When I was more at the center of the environmentalist community, I was always trying to find a fellow treehugger for a mate. I thought we could get together and hug a tree so hard that we would conceive and give birth to our own tree offspring and be a true forest family. I was desperate to find someone who loved the earth as much as I did. And I acted crazy because of it. I let lots of hippie artist types freeload off my spirit, my money, my time all because I so desperately needed to be loved and acknowledged by the activist world. Anytime I met a guy who was single and who was an activist I fell in love with him. And they never liked me, never were interested in committing to me. The thing about activism is that it has its own culture of stars and status and since my job put me close to these heroes at the center, other people wanted to be close to me because through me, they could get access to these treehugging stars. Once, I thought this giant peace dove making artist was going to confess his love to me but instead he confessed his love of my boss to me. Lets just say that I never need to have that experience again. 

Tonight, when I found myself talking to a young-ish/seemingly unattached/possibly straight eco landscaper my old habits came back to me. I started sizing him up, trying to figure out if he might/possibly/maybe be interested in me, etc. And then I took a step back, looked at myself and laughed. What did I want with this skinny landscaper with bad posture who drinks smoothies every day and waxes on about the detriments of compostable disposable cups. Nothing. Nothing aside from pleasant conversation which for me was entirely nostalgic and enjoyable in-so-far that it never happen again. 

Test Three: Seeing the guy-I-though-was-bi (and was just plain ole gay).
I had an uber crush on this man when I first moved to this town. He looked like Jeff Goldblum. He was the interior designer for a restaurant I was working at and although years my senior, he was an artist (ahem. dysfunctional freeloader) and he could relate to me (ahem. immature). Anyways, I saw this guy come in and recognized him but at first I couldn't really put my finger on it. I thought he had skipped town or got sent to jail for a longer stint so I needed to be convinced that it was really him. He'd also aged in three years from looking 45ish to looking 50ish. And he is still hot and still charming and still throws off my gaydar completely.

In the past, I would have felt so humiliated by my previous attraction to this man and equally so angry at him for being such a self-centered dysfunctional in my life. But instead I was entertained. I doubted that he would recognize me and if he did I wasn't afraid to interact with him. But I did enjoy observing him and trying to see what clues I missed, not to his sexual orientation, but to his level of sanity/functioning. I decided to size him up and see what I saw in him now that I'm older and wiser. Conclusion: I can't blame myself for being attracted to him. But the red flag was in his posture. He is very tall, so its hard to notice but he betrays his confidence outward charm by a certain crookedness in the way he walks. Note to self: Start noticing posture when sizing up sanity levels in strangers.

So an event that could have beaten the stuffing out of me merely sent me home with several light observations which, although based on where I've been, should serve me well wherever I am going.


yol. singal said...

As I sit here.... smiling my head off as I imagine you out last night ... I'm really happy that you had such a good and "significant" evening last night. And I get the impression that it's "for real" because of the way that you wrote it ... it sounded totally genuine.

I'd like to add one thing, though. You said

"I am a different person than I was a year and a half ago"

You are probably a different person each WEEK, if not each day. Very often it might only be in such small ways that you don't notice. But the culmination of those individual changes ultimately changes us ... so no doubt you'll be different next month.

Maybe it would be good to see if you can plan ahead to how you want to be next month??!! If only it were that easy??!! ;-)

The Peach Tart said...

It was nice to hear a little about your story. It sounded like you've grown immensely. I find what you were doing, being the observer, helps me get through situations...it's like you are above the rubble looking down on it and not taking it so personally

Jenn said...

Good for you! When you've worked hard to grow, it's always such a great feeling when something happens that allows you to really see that progress. For me, I find those moments not only emotionally satisfying but they motivate me to keep working, to continually evolve into the person I want to be.

Kahnee said...

Woot! Woot! I'm glad you passed your tests. You're such an inspiration for us new singlutionaries...

I love trees. I love them. I love them. But I'm not a hard core as your group at all.

Clever Elsie said...

See, now, my personal poison is artsy types--musicians, writers, photographers, the occasional actor. Thankfully, the very things that attracted me so much to them--their passion, drama, and love of romance--are now much less appealing to me, so I'm not as susceptible to their magnetism. I don't know whether to chalk it up to a realization of the emptiness of romantic gestures or a satiation point after which I just didn't need any more poems and flowers to know I was worth them, but I just don't get that weak in the knees when I see these guys now. It's such a weight off my shoulders really!

bobbyboy said...

I love posts like this, I really do! I love when someone comes to a realization about themselves, and love it more when they share it with everyone else. Many of the concepts you talk about, you talk about for me as well. This may sound weird, but it helps me to understand that I'm doing the right things in life :)

Two thumbs up! (I only have two thumbs so that's what you get) ;)

(no)sexandthecity said...

I too have been through the bulldozer of life that knocks out everything you thought you knew and had faith in. It's a scary place to be.

That sense of "heaviness" is palpable. Sometimes freedom feels great; other times I just want to know where I'm going and what I'm doing with my life. I want security, not flailing about. But I know too well even the best-laid plans....

Test 1, losing faith in something you were passionate about, not wearing your heart on your sleeve anymore - feels so much like what I've been through. I got to "No one cares about these things as much as I do, what's the point it's not making a difference, and they think I'm just some idealist idiot" and gave up. I've often felt alienated from people who just don't seem to care too deeply about anything. Whether you or they are more or less extreme matters less than feeling people "get" you.

Life becomes interesting not only when you can see others for who they are, but your own self. Keeps one from getting blindly swept up in unconscious motivations that may not be good for us!

Anonymous said...

Singlutionary, " I used to be a pretty hard core environmentalist. And then I lost faith in environmentalism." . . . . .The same thing happened to me. I worked in environmental nonprofits for several years, but lately I've developed a sense of hopelessness and what's-the-point-we're-doomed-ness. I still recycle and compost and turn out the lights, but I've stopped feeling passionate about it. My friends from those enviro days still have the passion, though--and when we get together I feel alienated because I could never admit to them that I've changed.


Special K said...

I went through a "turbo Christian" phase of my life in my late teens, early 20s. I think sometimes we are so desperate and impatient (okay! I am) to figure out WHO we are, that we fold full force into something...the more I experience life, the more I embrace it's ambiguity.

Anonymous said...

Great article. I found you via racialicious.

Enjoyed reading your blog.



Have you thought of using a commenting system like DISQUS?

(no)sexandthecity said...

Seeing "Food, Inc." will bring back the environmentalist in all of us. Your chicken sandwich and hamburger wallowing around in its own filth; talk about a real life horror story.

Megs said...

You continue to confirm that you are me but a year and half later. I'm so glad that you have found yourself and it sounds like you will be grounded before you know it. I love the Jeff Goldblum and totally have a geeky crush on him. I saw him last week when I went to see Twelfth Night in Central Park.

The Singlutionary said...

Oh my gosh! I know that I have been mia this past week and a half but I have been loving your comments! Thank you!

Yol: I am glad you smiled your head off. If only it were that easy to plan ahead our personal triumphs! I think that in a way we do that through manifesting our dreams but by the time its done we forgot that we first dreamed it.

Peach Tart: Yes, stepping back and being an observer really does help. And deciding to be gracious about everything helped too. I could have been angsty and annoyed but I chose to rise above that "rubble" (as you call it).

Jenn: Sometimes personal growth is so hard/challenging that I wish it would just stop and I could just be the same for a while but I am on this train that is my life and I don't see any way to get off and I am glad for that. The alternative would be to stop growing all together and that would suck for sure.

Kahnee: I am no also a non-hardcore tree lover. Oh yes. But that doesn't mean that I love trees any less, I am just more tempered in vocalizing my love for them.

Elsie: Sigh. Artists. Yes. I've always fallen for actors cause they're usually right in my path being their charismatic selves. But I've learned to look past charisma. In fact, if I like you its despite your charisma, not because of it. Unfortunately, I think a lot of folks let their ability to make a good first impression carry them through life.

Bobbyboy: Thanks! Thanks! (two thanks for your two thumbs). I can't wait to read about your current adventures and undertakings.

No sex: oh yes. I flail. I have realized though that learning what I do NOT want to do or to be is just as important as learning what I do want to do/be. The two are part of the same process and we need one for the other. Its silly to spend my whole life mad at myself for not liking horseraddish. Silly. When I've learned that I really love soy sauce.

Christina: Me too. I got burned out and lost faith about the time that gwb got elected the 2nd time. But now my lack of passion/faith has turned into a quiet waiting. I understand that change takes time but I feel that change can sometimes be quiet. Sometimes we march out on the streets with our banners and our hippies on stilts and sometimes we just recycle and turn out the lights and wait for the proper moment to be vocal again. Anyways, that is where I've come to be in regards to everything. I finally accepted that it is RIGHT for me to be quiet and reluctant right now and that one day it will be RIGHT for me to be vocal again.

Special K: Ambiguity. Embracing it. Ahhhhhhh. If only I could schedule the times that I embrace ambiguity every day. Hahahhhhaaa. I want everything to be on schedule and be predictable. But the best things that have come into my life have been surprises and have been well . . . slightly ambiguous in the end.

nemobgr: thanks for visiting! I should try to use DISQUS cause this blogger commenting system is lame. Thank you for the suggestion! I can't wait to check out your blog.

Megs: You saw jeff goldblum just walking around central park or was he IN the shakespeare play? I will always think of him as he was in Earth Girls Are Easy. You just made me wish I lived in New York City. But only for one second.

Megs said...

He wasn't in it but he was in audience. I often read about your garden and wish I lived anywhere but NYC and then I remember I'm not so good at the country thing.