The Struggle Is Real: Letting Go Of The “F” Word

No, not that F word – as a Massachusetts native, that’s a major component of my vocabulary, and I could never give it up.

I’m talking about the other four-letter F word: Fear.

According to Psychology Today, fear is an “emotional response induced by a perceived threat, which causes a change in brain and organ function, as well as in behavior.”

Fear can be useful in the right setting – say, when a bear chases you or a rattlesnake slithers by. But when you constantly stress about imagined dangers, it’s a quick slope into insomnia, panic attacks, and in my case…whiskey pizza cravings.

Once upon a yester-decade, I feared all the usual stuff: spiders, clowns, and for some reason, a little wooden chair in my dollhouse that I thought had evil powers.

Over the years, my fears morphed into bigger things, like earthquakes, car crashes, and blowing up my kitchen. (But I still don’t understand the difference between “baking” and “broiling.”)

After my whole cancer debacle in 2017, fear took on a whole new meaning. Suddenly my old worries seemed silly. I no longer had the headspace to stress about black widow spiders lurking around my pillows – now I wondered whether I’d live to see my 40th birthday.

As I navigated the rocky path of chemotherapy and surgery, I began to comprehend the power of fear. I was terrified of shaving my head. I dreaded my first chemo session. The thought of a hysterectomy made me want to barf. But one by one, I made it through those milestones without a problem. I saw that the anticipation leading up to those events was always worse than the actual event itself.

Upon finishing chemo in September, I desperately needed to clear my head so I visited Sedona. (If you’ve never been, you GOTTA go – it’s absolutely magical.) I booked an excursion into one of Sedona’s legendary vortexes and got some wonderful clarity from my tour guide, Jared. We talked about everything I’d been through in the last 6 months, along with the long list of fears that consistently plague my psyche (pertaining to financial stability, career trajectory, airplane turbulence, North Korea, political tensions, my seeming lack of achievements, a cancer recurrence, and the size of my butt).

Jared said that rather than stress about each of those triggers, I should try and adjust my outlook to not view the world through fear-colored lenses. Doesn’t that sound so easy? A simple perspective shift. But that’s easier said than done.

A few months after my Sedona trip, I started getting pains in my abdomen – in the same spots where my tumors had lived earlier that year. Terror gripped my entire soul for a couple weeks. Was the cancer back? Did I eat too many gummy worms and let the sugar feed those demonic cancer cells? Was I dying?

As it turns out, no, those pains were just from my body adjusting to a new gym regimen. But the fear crept in and took control. That’s when I decided to push back and never let the F word win again. I’m still very much a work in progress but I’ve finally found ways to let it all go. Daily meditation. Taking CBD oil. And approaching life with an air of gratitude. That may not be the ultimate winning formula, but it’s definitely on the right track.

Now you’ll need to excuse me as I check my pillowcases for 8-legged predators….

Battle Of The Nighttime Nags – A Dialogue Between A Girl And Her Brain

Slide1

FADE IN:

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT

Moonlight peeks through the vertical blinds, illuminating 3 sleeping cats on the giant bed. A frazzled, angry brunette lies awake, staring despondently at the digital clock beside her. 3:28am. A loud, annoying voice startles her.

BRAIN:
Oh hey! Sorry to wake you. But did you hear that noise coming from the living room?

KIM: (sitting up)
No. What was it?

BRAIN:
Probably the cat knocking something off the counter.

KIM:
But all the cats are in here.

BRAIN:
So it’s probably a machete-wielding lunatic here to murder you and kill the cats.

KIM:
Ohmygawd.

BRAIN:
Just kidding. It’s fine. Go back to sleep. You know, if you fall asleep right now, you can sneak in another 3 hours and 32 minutes.

KIM:
Good. Shut up so I can go back to sleep.

BRAIN:
Ok, ok….hey maybe that noise was your loud bodybuilder neighbor upstairs. He’s probably doing naked pushups in the living room.

KIM:
If I looked like him, I probably would too. But not at 3:30 in the morning. Now shut up!

BRAIN:
Fine, just let the sound of your fan drown me out. Having white noise is supposed to help you sleep. But have you noticed that the blades of the fan are spinning around kinda unevenly, and it’s making a weird scraping sound? Might wanna get that fixed. Or buy a new fan.

KIM:
Cool. I’ll be sure to do that next weekend. Please stop talking.

BRAIN:
But aren’t you insanely thirsty?

KIM: (groan)
Ugh. Yeah, actually I am. But I’m too lazy to get out of bed.

BRAIN:
Well, good, cuz the only things in your fridge are white wine and stale chipotle mayo.

KIM:
F*ck.

BRAIN:
Hey, speaking of wine, remember the time you got wasted at that cute restaurant on 3rd street and developed a drunken case of kleptomania?

KIM:
It was a candle. And I wasn’t that drunk.

BRAIN:
Still. Who goes into a bathroom, blows out the incredible-smelling candle by the sink, and shoves it into their purse?

KIM:
Please. It probably cost them a dollar. And I got wax all over my purse.

BRAIN:
Karma, betch. You sure you don’t want to get up and get a glass of tap water?

KIM:
I’d rather shrivel up from dehydration. OH SH*T…I forgot to pay the water bill last week.

BRAIN:
Eh, don’t worry. You’ll just have to pay an exorbitant late fee. Speaking of water, how much longer is this stupid drought gonna last?

KIM:
Yeah, it’s whack. I may have to move back to the east coast. Perhaps I can think about that tomorrow, PROVIDED I GET SOME F***IN SLEEP TONIGHT!

BRAIN:
I can’t believe how warm it is there. Hey, remember that guy Dan you dated in 7th grade? I wonder if he ever found out that you cheated on him with his cousin.

KIM:
Who cares?

BRAIN:
You should probably get up and find him on Facebook and see what he’s been up to.

KIM:
F*ck that. I’m getting up and finding Xanax.

BRAIN:
Fine, but good luck waking up at 7.

KIM:
I hate you.

Kim furiously whips off the covers and settles in front of the TV with a pile of cheese.

FADE OUT.

Troy McClure says: Get confident, stupid!

Fact: The Simpsons is the best show EVER. It’s clever, hilarious, and often doles out useful advice and poignant insights.

I recently watched one of my favorite episodes, “Bart’s Inner Child.” A classic character named Troy McClure makes a quick cameo and totally caught my attention with his witty banter.

“Hi, I’m Troy McClure. You might remember me from such self help videos as ‘Smoke Yourself Thin’ and ‘Get Confident, Stupid!”

Wait….that’s genius…

Get confident, stupid!

As a neurotic Virgo, I’m  blessed cursed with an intense case of self-loathing, only soothed by whiskey shopping avoiding mirrors. Living in Hollywood probably doesn’t help. I’m surrounded by women who are cuter, smarter, skinnier, wealthier and funnier. There’s overwhelming competition for any type of job. And things look even more bleak when you’ve decided to jump feet first into a new career that you know almost nothing about.

It’s kinda scary putting your thoughts out there into the world, subjecting them to judgement by people who may not understand. Sometimes I have a vision of people reading my blog and furrowing their brow, wondering why on earth I refer to myself as a “writer.” And when I submit blogs/ press releases I’ve written and I don’t receive a response within 2 minutes telling me that I’m a creative prodigy, I immediately interpret that as “gosh, you REALLY suck. This is rotten prose garbage.”

But Troy McClure is a smart man. I need to get confident, stupid! The only way to guarantee that I’ll fail is if I never try.

So to the doubtful little rude voices inside my head, I have one thing to say:

Tronicle Pop Quiz: Am I Crazy?

Time for a pop quiz. Grab your #2 pencil. I want to know if I’m:

A) Pleasantly Neurotic

B) Absolutely Insane

C) Lil bit of A, Lil bit of B

A few weeks ago, Ershley and I were enjoying a nice cocktail at our usual weekday stomping grounds, St Felix Hollywood, when a gentleman overheard our conversation about college promiscuity, and asked if he could join us. Being two loud/ slightly intoxicated/ single girls, we love meeting new people so we said “sure!” The gentleman sat down and we made small talk. He’s a psychologist and proceeded to pretty much give me a free session.  The session ended with him concluding, “I can’t decide if you are fun…or really crazy.”

At first, I took this as a compliment. I laughed about it for a few days. Then I got to thinking about the reasoning behind his diagnosis. I admit, I feel like some of my neuroses are abnormal. I used to chalk up my idiosyncrasies to being a Virgo. But the older I get and the more I analyze my behaviors, the more I wonder if I am nuts.

Case in point:

1) When I’m doing laundry, I have to wait until the water gushes in before dropping the detergent in. If the detergent gets in first, I’m convinced my clothes will be forever tainted with icky oozy goo and I’ll live the rest of my life looking like Venkman when he gets slimed in the hotel hallway.

2) When I’m preparing my coffee in the morning, I have to put the creamer in first. If the sugar goes in first, I’m pretty sure my yummy java will morph into caffeinated poison.

3) I can’t possibly take a shower if there’s a spot of toothpaste on the bathroom mirror. Windex is my best friend.

4) I’m absolutely terrified of taking my recycling into the garbage room in my building. The doors are very heavy and shut quickly behind you. I have to stick one foot in the door so it won’t close, and toss my recycling into the bins from the safety of the doorway. For some reason I feel like I’ll get locked in there and die a slow quiet smelly death. Rats won’t even want to nibble at my decomposed corpse.

5) I really hate putting on my shoes. Most mornings, I’ll stuff my feet halfway into my Chuck Taylors, and not bother to actually tie my shoes until I’m at Coffee Bean, or on bad days, until my lunch break.

6) If the dishes aren’t perfectly arranged in the dishwasher, I’m fairly certain they won’t get clean.

7) When I consume too much caffeine, I enter a “donation” frenzy and end up with bags and bags of clothes, books, and items to donate. Last year I went overboard and left my dresser with no socks and one pair of pants.

8) I’ve started Facebooking while going for a run <I’m kind of ashamed of this one. Damn you, Zuck.> I clearly cannot wait 5 miles to know if someone commented on my last post.

9) If I’m driving, I try not to make lefthand turns after 8pm, if possible. Don’t ask.

So perhaps the answer to this quiz is subjective. All I know is I need to go rearrange my refrigerator.