Princess: Getting out of my own way
November 14, 2013
So the other day I was in a therapy session with my shrink and I was telling him about the novel I've been working on (or not working on) for the last decade.
"When I let go of the plot, that's when the good stuff happens," I told him. "The really good writing comes when the story takes me by surprise."
"That's an interesting idea really, isn't it?" he asks in his British accent, stroking his beard and taking a puff from his corncob pipe. (He doesn't really have a beard or a pipe and he's not from England, but it just sounds good). "This notion of letting go of what you think should happen and just letting things happen. What if you were to apply that to your own life?"
I'm paraphrasing a bit here, but you get the gist.
It was one of those rare moments when, rather than sitting and calculating how much your therapy costs per minute and thinking maybe you could have spent that money on something you get to keep, say, a new sweater or something like that, you've hit the jackpot. You can flush your Prozac down the toilet, you can dump that bottle of Jack into the sink, you can cancel the $200 order you made online for that fancy cleanse that's supposed to balance your hormones and dump toxins and clear your skin and keep you from acting like a demented, crazy bitch.
Streamers and confetti fell from the sky, bells were ringing, and Dr. Phil and I did a little happy dance around his office, spinning each other in circles by the elbow.
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Oh, wait. This isn't fiction-writing time. Let's just say it was a bit of an epiphany, an "ah ha!" moment when something you thought was so damned hard is actually super easy.
It's just that the best things in my life always have happened when I least expected it. It's when I have high hopes or great expectations or deep longing that I know I'm in big trouble. That pretty much defined the last two decades of my life as I chased men around like a bull in a ring. I'd see that red flag and go charging at it, nostrils flaring, hooves pounding, dust flying everywhere at full speed even though I knew what was on the other side. I'd get speared through the gut again and again and still, I'd run straight at it, this thing that I knew was going to do nothing but cause me pain and in front of a whole stadium of Spaniards screaming "Ole!", no less. So patronizing!
I get to relive a lot of that stuff in the writing of my novel and let me tell you, it really is like a bullfight — hard to watch but you can't take your eyes off it.
I was so determined to find love, to find my happy ending, that I'd destroyed any possibility of ever being happy. The older I got, the worse it got.
You guys know all my stories. It's so obvious to me now that I can't for the life of me imagine what I was thinking. I don't care how much you think you can love someone, Asberger's is not a curable disease and neither is alcoholism, bipolar disorder, narcissism or manic depression. You can't talk someone out of being gay and I don't care how many times it's going to take you to figure this one out — sleeping with your best friend is never a good idea, especially if they're male.
I remember the moment I let go of all that, the very second my life changed. It was New Year's Eve and I had just gone skiing with my dear friend Dina (miss you, D!) and we went to the Sky for après. I walked into the bar and for the first time ever, the background had shifted into the foreground. Instead of looking for the last boy who broke my heart or anyone who was affiliated with him, I saw everyone else. And there, standing in a corner looking right back at me, was Ryan.
I always knew that the man I'd end up with would see me first. I knew he would choose me so there was no room for misinterpretation/fantasy/self-sabotage on my end. And that's exactly how it happened. It was so perfect, in fact, that for the first hour or so of talking to Ryan I was thinking maybe someone was playing a really mean joke on me. For the first year, I was waiting for time to go by so everyone would believe me.
Recently though, I found myself repeating some of those old patterns. I had this big fantasy of what my life would be. I imagined the renovations we'd have to make in this old A-frame to accommodate a nursery. I imagined myself like those other women in Aspen who have these super-fit pregnancies, skiing and biking and hiking with their big bellies leading the way. I saw myself struggling with collapsible strollers and leaky boobs and violent mood swings. I hoped my hair would grow down to my waist as I always wished it would since everyone says your hair gets really strong with pregnancy.
None of that happened and for a while it made me really sad. It made me feel like I'd somehow failed, not only myself, but Ryan, and our parents, depriving them of the joy of having grandchildren (my poor parents — they get nothing).
Then one day I was talking to my friend Sarah, telling her about my session with Dr. Phil and she said, "I'm actually excited for you. I can't wait to see what happens next."
And that's when I realized something good must be right around the corner — because I have no idea what it is.
The Princess is so excited to go snowboarding this weekend! Email your love to email@example.com.
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