I’m doing better now, but it took a little bit of time. After the mess of January, I needed a rest. In February, Eli and I felt the burn of not living together more than we ever have before. Silly fights over what to watch on Netflix morphed into not talking about what was really on our minds- the ever ticking clock. Let me tell you something about the clock. There is what feels like a constant ticking time bomb on my relationship. The countdown clock is always on, except this one isn’t fun like New Years. It’s more like- 3,2,1 hours until Eli has to go home, no matter what’s happening in our evening. I’ve had to say goodbye to him in the middle of panic attacks, on both our ends, because it’s 10 pm and we’re both super tired and he needs to drive 30 minutes home to bed.
We’ve desperately, desperately wished to live together, to even just not have to think about the time for a few days. When you stop an argument in the middle, or even in the part where you’ve fought to understand each other and now need to make up, you stunt a relationship. That’s how we felt in February, and a little into March. Stunted, childlike, like adults trying to fit into their pre-teen jeans. We’ve simply outgrown this situation. I have also outgrown this apartment, and living alone. To put it simply, we want to grow together and intertwine even more, and we’ve outgrown our pot. At the same time, I’m fucking terrified. I think I’m the right amount of scared that I should be to move in with Eli, to start a life with him. I’ve never been more afraid of anything in my life, and at the same time I want it more than I’ve ever wanted anything, and I know that it’s right.
In the past few weeks we’ve gotten better. My therapist encouraged me to take some space for myself, since I realized that a lot of my anxiety about missing him comes from feeling like he is what makes me okay most days. I know, not the most feminist confession. He encouraged me to realize that I can heal and protect myself through and after a long day. My anxiety homework has been to socialize without him, and it’s the hardest I’ve ever had. Because when I’m already so anxious about our limited time together, the last thing on Earth I want to do is cause us to have less. I’m actually pretty good when he goes away now. When he has a staff meeting or coffee trip, I can handle it. I have a friend over, or indulge in frozen pizza and Riverdale on my couch and ENJOY the things I can only do alone. But when it comes time for it to be my choice? To do something on my own and leave him behind? I’m terrified, and I almost never choose it.
I’ve been in this inner battle lately. I want to get engaged, because I love him and I’m absolutely ready to take this sweet next step together. At the same time, I don’t want to be so eager for things to change that I can’t appreciate it when it happens. I want it to come when he’s ready, when we’re ready, at the exact right time. I’ve been in my head about it, wondering when, on edge, hoping I have the right reaction ready, that my nails are not shit and my hair is clean. We talked it out last weekend, and I can finally breathe again, because I’m no longer thinking of it as a formality to get over with so we can move in together. Things have gotten better between us since we both decided to be abundantly grateful for the time we have, rather than constantly mourning the time we don’t. It’s all we can do right now, and it is plenty.
In the past few weeks, I’ve felt more anxious than I have in quite some time, and for almost no discernible reason. Part of it, I’m sure, was that my favorite co-worker and number #1 bro left our job quite quickly at the end of March. I’m still reeling from it, since I barely had any time to process it before he was gone. On top of that, someone recently told me that I’m in a “sparkly” phase of my life, and I didn’t know how to react to that, because at that moment, I couldn’t quite see it. All I could see was: my bro moved away, Eli and I are experiencing growing pains like never before, and I felt stagnant with my creativity and with my work. What the hell was sparkly about that?
Another element of all of this is social media. It hasn’t been working for me. Twitter, Facebook, but mostly, Instagram. I’ve needed a break for a while now. So this week, following a weekend where I ACTUALLY followed through on my weekend social media ban and was feeling pretty good, I decided to keep it going. Usually, my alarm goes off at 6:35 and I immediately stare at my phone until I wake up- scrolling through Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest until I balk at the time and jump out of bed feeling rushed.
This week, rather than doing that, I chose to wake up, sit up, open my blinds and read. And I didn’t go on social media, but especially Instagram, all day, all week.
Taking a social media break was exactly the right thing to do for my general outlook and mental health right now. I have so much time to read, meditate, and take care of myself as a result. Essentially, I have more time than I imagined was possible while working this full time job. I have more energy, enthusiasm, and motivation. The buzzing in my brain is gone, which is shocking because I had gotten so used to it that I didn’t even realize it was there. This buzzing of anxiety produced by constant consumption of information and feelings had lured me to sleep just like the sound of my air purifier does every night; a dull roar of white noise that tapped into my brain’s desire to check OUT. I didn’t realize it was there until I sat up and heard it again, until I cut off the power and stopped hearing it. Eli and I are doing so well this month. I had a book breakthrough, and am flooded with new ideas all the time because my channels to creativity aren’t blocked by images of other people’s daily lives. I don’t need to see and compare myself to where other people are in their lives, because it is warping the way I look at my own. I am in a sparkly phase of my life, and not going on Instagram has helped me to see that.