LOFB - NoaWe’re wrapping up this month’s theme of ‘Facing Darkness,’ and goddamn am I grateful for that.

I’m tired of the darkness. I’m tired of the weight of it all, tired of being tired of being so goddamn tired.

When I get this way, all listless and tired and weird and shaky, I have to kind of punch my brain in its stupid face and get it back into shape.

I have to get to the root of the problem.

Lately, the root of the problem is boredom.

I’m really Type A. I’m always working. I got really talented at doing nails because I can’t even watch TV while sitting still. I have to be doing something, being productive all the time always OR ELSE I WILL EXPLODE. I have to get stuff done. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small, productivity is the only way I can live my life.

Buuuuuut lately, I haven’t been productive. I’ve been sleeping a lot, not sleeping a lot, sitting around and feeling bad for myself and the stresses I have in my life. As a result, I’ve been pretty destructive. I start over-helping other people. I start picking at my nails. I start eating poorly, because at least eating is doing something. I drink too much.

Not good. Not great.

Terribly, terribly unhealthy. It’s irritating for me, it’s really irritating for other people.

Today on the couch, I was feeling really sorry for myself and why I felt so bad and out of control. It dawned on me, “Goddamnit Noa, you feel out of control because you’re not doing anything. Fucking do something. You’ll feel better.”

So I’ve been a monster of productivity since that very moment. Albeit, it’s still on the couch in leggings and really comfy shirt, but it’s productive. I feel better. I feel more in control. I feel happier, more whole.

Fuckin’ miracle.

When you’re tired of being tired of being tired, think about what’s really getting you down. Are you tired, or is it something else? What are you really feeling? Where is the root of that?

Then, fix it. Do your damnedest, even if it’s on the couch in PJ’s, just do your damnedest. You’ll feel better. I promise.

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It’s almost halloween, and I don’t know about you bitches, but I am feeling really goddamn done with being sad. I’m ready to have fun again. To laugh. To laugh at other people.

Like my sister, Grace. LOFB - Noa

Part of the fun of Haunted Houses is thinking that what you’re seeing is real, so you are in the moment. You acknowledge that no one can hurt you (Isn’t it actually illegal for them to touch you? Maybe it’s not illegal. That might be a stretch. No, it probably us, because wouldn’t that count as sexual assault?), and you acknowledge that it’s all fake, but it’s fun to be surprised.

But there’s always that one person in line for the joint that the monsters seek out because they are especially afraid. If you have seen that person in your line, then it was probably Grace.

All fun and games.

Grace’s brain does not tell her these things cannot hurt you and are not real. Grace’s brain tells her it is time to fight or die.

Haunted House 1:

Grace is shaking in terror while she tries to find her way out of a blackened room where a man is trying to scare her. Suddenly, she feels a hand under the brim of her baseball cap, knocking it gently off her head and to the floor, just to startle her.

Grace turns and straight-up nut-punches the monster as hard as she possibly can, disabling him for her escape.

10 minutes later, a bruised actor returns her hat, and requests that she not come back, ever again.

Haunted House 2: 

Admittedly, one of the more creepy haunted houses. There is a room full of teddy bears. They’re everywhere–ceiling, floors, walls, bed. It’s like a serial killer house–and when you pass by the bed, a terrible woman-child leaps off and into your face. She is also terrifyingly chained to the bed.

Little Girl: “Are you AFRAID?”

Grace: “YES.”

Little Girl: “I’m glad you’re afraid.”

Grace screams, hits the floor, and fucking army crawls out of the joint. Not out of the room–out of the house. We meet her outside much later. She is drinking.

Haunted House 3:

The room we’re in is black and white, with seemingly no exit in sight.

Grace: “DON’T LET THE DOOR SHUT BEHIND US, DON’TLETHEDOORSHUTDON’TLETHEDOORSHUT!”

Click.

The room starts to spin as the door shuts behind us, trapping us. People, painted in black and white, come off the walls to terrorize.

Or, more accurately, they come forth to terrorize Grace, who is in the fetal position against a wall, screaming, “PLEASEDON’THURTME,” again and again while the rest of us are laughing too hard to save her.

Not a high point in my life, knowingly watching my sister shake in fear on the floor. A high point in storytelling, but damn girl, get it together.

Haunted House 4:

Grace and my cousin Lana are being chased through a darkened maze by a man with a chainsaw. Both of their husbands and the rest of the people that were there are assisting the Chainsaw Madman in his pursuit, enjoying very much the scene they are creating.

Then they split up. Grace runs one way, Lana another. Lana is the one who is pursued. Then, we hear an ear-splitting scream, and then a SMACK. All the walls shake, chainsaw hits the floor.

Lana had turned to look to see where the Chainsaw Madman was, but kept running as she did so. This resulted in her running as fast as she could, headlong into a wall, and ricocheting immediately to the floor.

We are strong women. We are just not strong fantasy women. Leave that shit to others, we’ll meet you in the bar.

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Sometimes where we want to be and where we are leads us into darkness. Allow Ira Glass to light your path.

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LOFB - Noa“She’s a really good person, how could she do something like that?”

“He’s a bad person. You should never talk to him.”

“Those people are evil. We’re the good guys.”

“I’m a bad person. I’m too sick to care for my family.”

We tend to think of people in just those two categories. They are either good or bad, and that’s the end of the conversation.

If you’re good, you can only do good things, or you may fall into the label of bad. You are unshakably good until you make just one mistake. Then, you’ve become bad.

If you’re bad, you can never, ever be good. There is nothing worse in the entire world than being called a bad person. You are irredeemable. Your actions, thoughts, beliefs, and self are all bad.

Do you see the problem with this?

This starts when we’re children. You’re a good kid, how could you go to a party and get drunk? You’re a bad kid, so you’re being suspended. We internalize those labels, defining ourselves through potentially just one single action. Just one, and that’s how you think of yourself.

Forever.

I had this tendency until very, very recently. Dividing myself along those lines, people I knew along those lines. My experiences were either good or bad. My life and decisions were good or bad. No grey.

Reality is somewhat…messier. We are who we are. We are not good, nor bad. We simply exist. We live lives, love people, make decisions.

Those things are neither good nor bad, they are healthy or unhealthy.

I am me. Sometimes I make healthy decisions, sometimes I make unhealthy ones. Sometimes I love unhealthy people, sometimes I love healthy ones. Sometimes I am healthy. Sometimes I am not.

At the core, I am still me. 

The people you know, the people you love, the people you hear about, are neither good nor bad; they simply are who they are. They make healthy and unhealthy decisions. It is up to them to become healthy or unhealthy, but they, and you, cannot be divided over such broad and harsh lines.

Thinking about all aspects of my life in this way has been so damn freeing. I’m not a bad person if I don’t get any work done one day. I probably made some unhealthy decisions and need to make healthier ones, but I’m not a bad person. I’m not a good person who can fall into disgrace if I make one imperfect call. I simply am who I am.

Imperfect. Healthy.

I’d rather be healthy than good.

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LOFB - Noa“Funny helps me through pain.”

“If you find the need to be funny often, then maybe you’re in pain too often.”

You’re right. I am in pain, and I have been for way too long. And for way too long, I’ve used funny as a cover for pain.

I’ve been in pain since I was a child. I could bore you all day with a sob story about my father, my step-father, and several abusive relationships, but does that really matter?

No.

What matters is that when I was faced with pain, I had to walk on, move through, knowing that the way out was not to shirk away from it.

But here’s the thing. No matter how much you know that the you have to move though pain, it will strike fear in you. It might be a little (“I’m afraid of being laughed at.”) or it might be a lot (“I’m afraid that this could either be the best or the worst decision of my life.”). Either way, fear.

And that fear can amplify that pain to an almost unimaginable level. Your heart races, your stomach turns, your body tightens, you lash out.

This fear will try to cripple you.

At least where you are right now (though painful) is familiar, but making a choice to move through can bring good or bad. That fear will try to tell you that it will be bad.

And there lies the bigger choice.

Anyone can walk through pain. Anyone can stand when you feel like there’s nothing to help you do so.

But not everyone can walk through fear. Anyone can justify the decision to stay in pain, and learn to soothe with any number of different salves to avoid walking through your fear. The fear will tell you the pain is worth remaining in, so at least you don’t have to deal with fear.

But why would do you that to yourself? Why have I continued to do so? Because FEAR IS POWERFUL.

But you can only become better by walking through. You can only move to a better place by walking through.

Your decision to move through can have many different outcomes–good and bad–but the shield against fear is knowing that you are tough. That you are strong. And that no matter what happens, you can change your situation for the better.

Listen to those who tell you that you can move. Cast away those who tell you that you can’t.

Know that you can rely on YOU. YOUR ingenuity, YOUR strength.

And all you have to do is move through the fear.

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