Before August 9th, I don't think I had ever really considered that I was a fuck up.
That's when what I thought was the stomach flu outlasted the window where I was supposed to get my period. My cycle is already all over the place and I'd thought with traveling, moving and trying to get situated I was just too stressed to get it; before that day I wasn't really concerned.
I got the test without expecting it to come back positive. Irregular periods are pretty common for someone as consistently stressed out as me. Fortune teller, taste my pee and tell me what's inside. It took less than a minute for the positive symbol to glare up at me, a blind snake's milky grey pupil.
I don't know what hit me first. Disbelief, that little laugh you get when you're in shock. Anger, sadness, confusion, who knows. My thoughts and feelings were all charging forward like animals stampeding through a burning doorway.
Leading the charge was a snarling sense of failure. Every decision in my life became a thumbs down. Remember how I quit school? Remember how I left Denver? Remember how I cheated in my last relationship? Oh, wasn't I great at rationalizing those things, using time and prose to make them okay, to make me human if not flawed, but here was the proof. I was a certified fuck up.
I knew I wouldn't keep it from the second I knew it was there. I made my first appointment with planned parenthood for the next day, but I wouldn't be able to go in for a procedure until the 26th. I had no choice but to wait.
And for a little while, everything in my life faded to black.
When I was little, I wondered what it felt like to be pregnant. Could you actually feel a little creature inside of you, was it distinct the way a bug would feel if it had crawled down your throat? For the past couple weeks, the answer was... not exactly. I didn't feel a specific presence inside of me, but it felt a lot like I was in the first act of some body horror movie. Everything I knew about myself felt wrong. I couldn't stand up for more than a few minutes without feeling like crumpling. Vomiting, weakness, relentless despair. I couldn't eat anything without it making me nauseous. Nausea made me nauseous. I could taste my own saliva and it would make me vomit.
The most alarming part was the curtain, the thick, foggy curtain that came down over my sense of self. I felt so lost. The longer I went, the more my body pushed the idea that having this thing grow inside of me was good, but it didn't feel like MY belief. It enveloped my dreams, my ambition, anything that made me feel normal and like myself. It wasn't that I felt like I should carry it to term, just that my body had changed allegiances. It didn't really care about me any more. It had an embryo, and that's all that mattered. My consciousness could float around in a dark tin can somewhere for all my body was concerned.
I felt absent and easily led. I couldn't answer either/or questions. I didn't want anything. I didn't feel like I mattered any more. I wanted to kill myself, but I didn't have the strength. I spent a lot of time staring at the wall in my apartment, unable to string together a thought.
One of the notes I kept repeating in my journals was the definition of the word viable. Abortion is legal up until the point of viability. I thought about wanting to be a comedian, how that's only worth doing while it's viable. Eventually, that will pass. I never knew what to do with the thought, but I wondered if any decision in my life could be considered viable.
As if to reiterate how much my body/the Something had ganged up on me, I would have to use the money I'd been saving to go to a comedy festival in October to cover the cost of the procedure. Another reminder that I wasn't getting out of this without losing part of myself.
I had lost, I was lost. I couldn't handle being touched, couldn't handle talking most of the time. I just wanted to starve to death in this swirl of hormones that left me unable to remember why I had ever liked to do anything, ever. I felt so lost and isolated and I couldn't bring myself to tell anyone. I wrote very little, because I couldn't keep the thoughts together. I've looked back over what I had written, and every two or three sentences is just the repeated phrase, "I hate this. I wish I could die."
Eventually I told a friend of mine, just to tell someone, but even after mentioning it I couldn't bring myself to talk about it much. I didn't know what else to say. There was no reflection, no sense of self awareness about my situation. Just that mantra. I hate this. I wish I could die. I watched the news and wondered if If was being too pitiful. What good was I if a little thing like pregnancy could stop me from being a functioning member of society? There was already so much tumult in the world. What was the point of me being here if my problems eclipsed (no pun intended) those that were going on in the country, some only a few hours drive away?
I hate this. I wish I could die.
I hated the thing that was inside of me, and I never knew what to call it. It was just Something. I wanted to use some name for it that made it seem like it didn't belong inside me, because sure as fuck it doesn't belong in my life. No matter what semantics I tried, I just couldn't come up with a word. I knew what it was and it made me hate myself. If there had ever been a sliver in my mind that had toyed with the idea of wanting children, it was gone as I daydreamed that the something inside me would collapse and die.
Even with my appointment only a week out, my mind wandered to the little poisons. Pennyroyal, Black Cohosh, Dong Quai, Fucking Vitamin c. Women have been using emmenagogues long before clinics existed. I looked into it. Nothing came of it though. It was me and the wall.
If this seems incredibly over dramatic and maudlin, I guess it is. I've fished out some of the things I wrote while I was still pregnant that were coherent and filled them out into this. That's where I was, that's all the identity I had. I haven't written a joke, I couldn't make it outside let alone to an open mic. I shut down completely and waited until I finally made it to Planned Parenthood.
I don't really know what experience I had thought I was going to have there. Some friends back home work for PP. I expected protestors, maybe. There were smiling volunteers in pink vests who offered to walk me in, and then it was a series of filling out papers, giving consent over, and over, and some pretty mundane medical procedures, like taking my blood pressure and a simple blood test. I had an ultrasound to confirm and found out with some alarm that I was 9 weeks instead of the 7 I had thought I was. It made me feel cold to know, but it didn't change my mind. It made me think, that because I had to wait to get the appointment, that if I had been someone else, someone who couldn't get a ride, or waited longer to see if maybe her symptoms would pass, or just couldn't get to a clinic, how fast that first trimester would slip by. How difficult her life would get in such a narrow span of time.
I opted for surgical; I had originally planned to do medical, which is a system of taking pills, one at the office and one at home, but because I was further than I thought, I just wanted to get it over with. It hurt a little. Not much. A nurse stayed by me and encouraged me to breathe. She called me a badass. Maybe I'm just that repressed. Maybe that's how detached from my body I'd become. I barely bled. A morbid part of me wanted to see it after it was out of me, but due to the risk of seeming like a psychopath I didn't ask. I hadn't asked to see the ultrasound, seemed like an odd time to get interested in the thing. The procedure itself lasted about 5 minutes and I made an appointment to get an IUD so I'll hopefully never go through this again.
That all happened yesterday and I feel okay, if not plain fine, today. I thought I might take longer to recover, given how all swallowing that sense of depression was. I don't feel regret. A renewed sense of passion about protecting clinics, maybe. the curtain around my sense of self is gone, but I do feel a bit lost. I don't really know where to begin. I just got here, and I had meant to start something, but I stumbled and sat down and now I don't totally know how to get back up. It keeps striking me how typical I am. This experience, in some form or another, happens to so many women. I don't really know how to talk about it other than this. I'm just aware of that. Whatever that means.
When the curtain that I'd been surrounded by was lifted, it did take something inside me with it. Not the something (I never figured out what to call it). There was a part of sense of myself, of something I could never know, that was forbidden for me to know, that was disrupted. I am so aware of what I'm refusing to take part in. Something about it feels sinister. I hope that passes. For the most part, I feel okay. I feel like my body and I are still at odds with one another, that it's taking awhile for my conscious spirit or whatever you'd like to call it to have autonomy over the limbs and tissue it used to control easily. It seems so easy for little devils to lurk in right now.
If there's something that I have taken away from this, and that is a BIG if, is that I feel very profoundly connected to the idea of experiencing the ineffable. No matter how descriptive I am about what I just went through, the only other people that will understand is women who went through it as well. No matter how patient and supportive Sweetboy was and how he tried to understand, he couldn't come close to fathoming. The kind of displacement of self that came with this experience was completely different from anything that's happened to me through any other trauma, drug experience or depression. It was entirely unique. I know something that some other people can't. No matter how erudite or full of insight we may think we are about things we're haven't been, race, gender, social background, religious upbringing, whatever, we can't really know. "I know how you feel" can seem cruel if you're not careful when you say it. There's a quality to certain things that isn't translatable even if you've wrapped yourself around similar shapes. What you do with that knowledge, I don't know. Become patient.
This is only the next day, and already, or at least, I've managed to write this. I've always known that's something that's sacred to me, and that doesn't feel like it's changed. I'm grateful that I had the option and ability to get rid of the something, and that I still have the option to keep looking for what feels important.
3, 2, 1, Boom.
My first day here, I went exploring the woods and a spider bit me on the nose. It left an impressive little red mark, crowning me as a little Rudolph for my first week. I touched base with a venue that I want to start a local showcase at but it's still up in the air. I caught a stomach flu this weekend that rendered me extremely ill and left me stuck in the house on the days most of the mics are clustered onto here.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have landed, but I think I'm still a little motion sick. Eight days isn't really a long enough of time to tell how well I'm doing. I just got here, I haven't been particularly social, but that's never been my strong point. I've gone to two mics so far; the first one went well on stage but I didn't really talk to anyone, the second one I was sick and left early for. So it goes, I guess.
Anxiety has a tendency to clutter my thoughts like goblins in an attic. The first one settles in there, disguised as a set of helping hands.
"You keep doing what you're doing," the knobby jointed, long eared goblin whispers, "I'll be up here, minding your progress. I'll let you know about what you need to focus on, keep track of how well you're doing so you don't get lazy."
Like a potentially great roommate, the goblin of anxiety moves in. He keeps me motivated to keep applying for work. He suggests casting a wide net, look for all sorts of opportunities. How exciting! He gives me a calendar of everything I need to be doing. Because it's such a big task to take care of, he invites a few other goblins he knows to delegate.
Goblins like Worry, and Doubt. God knows how many others that have started crawling around in the attic between my ears. All of a sudden they're opening boxes with my memories in them.
"Hey, did you ever take care of these fears of commitment you have?" One asks casually, staring at me with his dead little eyes, "I'm only asking because you moved across the country with Sweetboy and he'll probably want to know if you haven't."
"Have you made any plans for if this doesn't work out? You don't want to rely on going back to food service forever. If comedy is a dead end, what will you do at 40?" Another one asks as he spell checks my new resume. "Also, who is going to want to hire you if you're not going to be committed to their business? Seems counter intuitive, right?"
"You didn't move here for that kind of work though," another deceptive Goblin that I have come to listen to all too often asserts, "If you have no plans for your future, you won't be tied down, and that's what's important right? You need to be flexible so you can set up comedy. You've slept in cars before. It's not so bad."
I should interject here to say that it's not so bad, but it's murder on your joints, a fact my body has been quick to remind me of every time we camped this summer. But with all their voices, all my doubts and worries have become pretty loud. Maybe this was a mistake. Maybe I should try and go home.
Then I wonder what the point of that would be, and a whole new generation of goblins is born. Does that mean I'm defeated? If I can't do so much as move, I really have no place in comedy, do I? I'm really not relatable enough, and I know I'm a tough sell to the average person already. What if the purpose of my life really is just to be a warning sign for someone else? What kind of retirement package comes with that, live under a bridge, working for answers?
Usually when I'm faced with really big life issues that I don't know how to solve I convert them into fairy tales. In this case, anxiety has taken up the face of goblins. Anxiety's different than fear in my world; fear is often useful. Anxiety is a greedy little horde that wants to move into your brain and take all your stuff.
So far as I know in the lore of goblins, there's not a whole bunch of ways to deal with them aside from reading from the bible, waiting them out or tricking them. For anxiety, a lot of conventional wisdom it seems to be breathing ,exercise, relaxation exercises. There's a lot written about CBT for it, though it's tough to implement when you're already questioning your thoughts. Nothing screams, "I'm doubting myself too much," like doubting your anxiety.
At some point, there's going to be some modicum of stability, and after that, I'll probably get bored. Who knows. There's still a lot of August to left unfold. I guess writing this is just catharsis. I didn't really have a reason to post anything, I just figured I'd sit down and write out something while I kill some time before yet another interview.
Like most things, the expectations I had for moving aren't really meshing with reality. I'm very nervous here. I didn't realize how much the routine, seeing the same people every day at mics made it easier for me to meet people and talk to them.
I had no idea that I'd be fighting myself this hard simply by moving. My general level of trust is extremely limited, but I've learned a lot of coping skills. I don't think a lot of people in Denver knew how hard it was for me to do certain things. Right now, it feels impossible. Then again, maybe that's the goblins talking.
Maybe I'm as strong as that person I thought myself to be. Hopefully I'll figure that shit out in less time than it takes this red mark on my nose to fade.
Hey, thanks again for reading. You're going to see this footer a lot, but I'm really fond of eating. If you like this blog, please share it with other people you might think will like it and if you've got a couple bucks donations are greatly appreciated. You can also follow me on twitter at @Kokadrille and OdDmosis' facebook page.
About A Blog
I'm a Denver Comedian, occasional cartoonist and person of interest to someone, probably. These articles are really too long.