I’ve been too nervous to do any journaling lately. A close confidant, life partner, and travelling companion recently called me out on my bullshit. We were sitting down for dinner. I was regaling her with my philosophy on honest art and how my creative output has been flowing like an open faucet recently as a result. I’ll save a long, tense conversation and say that she immediately saw through what I was doing. It still sort of shakes my core to know that I can be so attached to a perspective and be so blind to what it looks like – and is – from the outside. She told me, in language that both protected me and let me down gently, that I was justifying doing the ‘easy’ thing. I wasn’t working on any projects that are actually advancing my career. I was writing journals and blogs and bullshit, unedited, unfiltered words that amounted to nothing. I justified it by saying that it was fundamentally ‘honest.’ Honestly, I think this ‘honest art’ thing has something to it. Justifying inertia is not what that something is. Sure, it was making me happy, but Fia asked me point-blank if she can count on me to work towards a future that benefits both of us. As a member in this partnership of ours. I wasn’t able to say for certain that I could. I was hurt that she took it to a financial place immediately. What she was doing – we both decided later – was trying to get me to see what I was doing to myself.
That night wasn’t a good night. I drove for about an hour, completely by myself, completely convinced that I was better off dead. I learned a lot about myself that night. I learned that my relationship holds a dangerous amount of cards for my mental health and stability. I learned that if that relationship is in jeopardy, I am. I wanted to die. I kept opening my mouth and being unable to say anything beside “I kind of want to die.” I berated myself for being an idiot. Fia told me that I hadn’t been putting in much effort into our relationship lately. That I haven’t been giving her what she needs and what she wants out of a relationship with me. I haven’t felt that bad since I lived with my mother. That hopeless. I also learned that driving to a foreign place without my travelling partner is not something that I want to do anymore. Not if I can avoid it. I think we both need to grow and and advance ourselves separately from one another. The thought of that scares me, but the thought of losing her scares me more. I’m terrified of being alone. My mind eats itself when I am. That night, I was curled up on the floor of the shower, bawling, with Fia brushing my hair. It’s my depression. It has really narrowed my focus onto a stripped-out group of action items. I work on my writing. Everything else is baseline. Everything else is static. It can wait. It can be better when I use my writing as a catalyzing enzyme that reshapes my life into what I want it to be. Then I can be romantic. Then I can whisk her off at 3AM onto a plane for an exotic location. Then it’s picnics. Gestures. Exercising. Doctor visits. Vet visits. Working on the logistics of moving. Working on the logistics of living together moving forward. How I can tangibly help her get to the life that she wants.
If I want to hang onto her – and if I want to actually get to the life I want – I need to figure out how to balance. In a way that I don’t think she was aware of, January was right. I need to learn how to balance. I’m not convinced that I need how to learn how to be happy at work. I still think this ‘honesty’ thing in art is worth mulling over some more and trying to imbue into my (real) work. But the important part is that I carve out time to show the people and things I care about that I care about them. Make sure Fia knows I care. Make sure the things I’m responsible for – like the cats or my health – are tended to. They all can’t shrivel up and die as I spend all of my time and energy watering and trimming the stray branches off of this immaculately maintained plant that is my art.
Actionable steps forward: