Well, it’s more than that.
Saturday, after two weeks of relentless work and then the world ending (if there was ever a time to be hyperbolic, this is it people), my body shut down. Several things hit at once — headaches, crushing bone pain, my period coming four days early (lady chromosomes are angry!), light sensitivity, intestines freaking out… and a head cold.
In 80% of cold remedies? Some form of sugar.
I tried to reason around how I could fight this off without Airborne, Ricola, NyQuil, but that just seemed silly. I took the Airborne, along with my vitamins (and echinacea/goldenseal throat spray that is the worst thing I’ve ever tasted in my entire life). I spent Sunday in bed, in total darkness, nursing migraines and joint pain and nausea, then knocked myself out with Nyquil.
Today on the radio show (yes, you’re getting your ass down there Jacqueline), Ben and I will be checking in with each other: What are you most stressing about right now? What are you excited about? We’ll be discussing the election in the context of how we can share love, and what love we’ve seen or experienced the last week.
This journal is here to track how periods of abstinence have been affecting the 1) 2) 3) things I’m testing them against. (I know there wasn’t really a transition between those paragraphs, but this is a journal, not an essay, and I have a cold, and a load of things to do right now). Here’s where my head is at with this:
Saturday morning, before my body told me to go screw myself, I stood under the shower, feeling horrid: Trump is president-elect. Someone ended things with me romantically. My grandmother had broken some bones and was in pain, my grandfather was worried about her, and my mother was exhausted from tending to them. I had barely made my deadlines. I hadn’t taken a day off in two weeks — not healthy for anyone, and dangerous for someone with an autoimmune illness. I was feeling rejected, from the broadest stage possible, down to the most intimate.
And I was facing this with no compress. I couldn’t numb the pain with a brownie or a cocktail. Because of what I’d learned from my social media and no shopping challenges, I didn’t try to “feel better” by jumping online and venting on FB or buying up Hillary merch.
So, naked and with hot water running over me, I breathed slowly. I let it hurt. I imagined myself somewhere soothing. I let the voice of the hippie-chanting dude on my speakers soothe a bit (which, I know, is a poultice, too). And I thought about this project.
As a writer, I write about other people. The word “I’ makes it into about 4% of my work. On Love Bites, two-thirds of the show is about other people, too. I’d rather keep the attention on others than myself. This is largely because of how I see my place in the art world overall:
When I was an actor, there was a sense of look at me and at what I can do, sure. But more than that, there was a sense of I hope you don’t see me when you look at me up here. It was about studying and transforming into someone else. Getting to the heart of that human being, and then stepping into their skin, bringing them to life. That’s what I loved about theatre. When I transferred fully into writing, I wanted my focus to be similar — studying what makes people do what they do, and then clarifying and amplifying their story.
To do the same about myself — to find out what makes me tick and to clarify and amplify that — I have to do the opposite. I have to get more intimate with myself. Push myself to be more open and honest. Face the darker parts of myself, and then not be afraid to show them to others. Because this hits the other reason I write about others, more in a journalist context than a creative one: I don’t want to contribute to a “look at me” culture where we’re brands, not people. I don’t want to be an Instagrammer, or a meme, or a profile. I don’t want to be one of show and tell, rather than of story and substance. I want to be vulnerably and honestly human, representing herself with whatever amount of authenticity she can.
I’m learning how hard that is. Between this and the 1/3 of Love Bites spent on Ben and me, a lot of stuff is coming up to the surface. Self-doubt. Insecurity. Scars I didn’t realize I had. All my softer parts and anger and condescension. This project — combining facing these things and forcing myself to journal them and then to put them up here, as unedited as I can, and to figure out how to best make this work as a study of myself as I go — well, it’s hard.
Which, I guess, I like, too. Because the rest of me is still tough, and resilient, and still working even though…
Ow, my head hurts.