Week One: The Unementionables
Two things collided today: Jena’s prompt + a Henry Rollins column that Janet shared.
Henry says, (the context is the new proposed health care bill) “The “safety net” is more pretty talk than anything else. The real safety net is drugs, tobacco, alcohol, cheap food, free porn and other ways to cheaply distract oneself from the pain of contemporary general population lockdown. There’s no safety in any of it, just something to get you through for a little while.”
I feel like I’ve been pretty-talking about my “safety nets” for a while because that’s what people want to hear.
Equally though – it’s what you tell yourself. That you have these things in place that somehow override your shitty status in life and guarantee and more promising future outcome.
The people like me, who have been able to stay sane with yoga and healthy food, are not allowed to have a voice in this.
We’re perceived to be too privileged to have any reason to complain. We’re not alcoholic drug addicts microwaving dinners, we’re eating healthy and doing yoga, for fucks sake!
But these are our safety nets. And this is unmentionable.
It’s not that I don’t want to mention it.
It’s that people don’t want to talk about it.
It’s not that I don’t want to talk about it.
It’s that people don’t want to hear it.
Or they’re quick to offer advice which only serves as a distraction to their own discomfort in hearing our truth.
I got a message from a friend today saying, “I’m sure you two are thriving in all of this abundance that surrounds us. I would love to catch up over drinks sometime. I want to hear some of your recent adventures and stories.”
I thought: where the fuck does he get the impression that we’re thriving in abundance? Because he’s stuck on some image of us five years ago? And fuck you – we don’t have recent adventures or stories. We’re not just talking heads on Facebook here to serve as your inspiration and advice columnists. We’re just living real life and this year has really sucked hard.
Also, P.S. – We don’t drink, and even if we did, we haven’t had money to go out for drinks in 5 years.
For years, safety nets were what I was building – these things I was doing to make myself feel better or to somehow steer my life in the direction I wanted it to go.
I didn’t do drugs or drink because there wasn’t anything beyond that I wanted. I’m grateful for this foresight and mental healthiness.
I do yoga and eat healthy because I envision all sorts of other shit in line with all of those things that I also desire. Plus, it does make me feel better in the moment. And at this current juncture, my goal isn’t to be present all the fucking time.
Like Henry says, there’s no safety in any of it, just something to get you through for a little while. Same here. I’m doing free yoga. Anywhere I can get it. I’m spending carefully estimated food stamps money at Whole Foods and at the farmer’s market. Every step of my life is calculated. It’s all ways to cheaply distract myself until this part is over. The part where you pay your dues.
But that’s the American Dream in me talking.
If I lived in a third world country, I’d be fucking rich as hell. I have a roof over my head, clean water, I’m not hungry, my home city is not a war zone, my boyfriend loves and respects me, my state has welfare programs in place. I have internet for fucks sake, and goddamn ice cream in the freezer. The good stuff even.
But we don’t live in a third world country. We live in fucking ‘Merica. And there’s a certain baseline of comfort for the western world that directly correlates with your level of happiness.
It’s shitty when people go on about happiness being a choice and that if you’re thinking you’ll be happy when….. then you’re missing the point.
Because I disagree. When you are lacking a lot of the basic comforts and freedom that comes with having a super basic level of financial security – then this bullshit happiness concept does not apply.
We have no savings account, we have no extra money, we have no income security. At the end of most months it’s coming down to the dollar and we literally wonder how we’re going to pay our rent.
Of course we always do and one could say oh look at you guys it always works out you’re so clever. But having to be clever every month for years on end is fucking exhausting. It’s not fun or whimsical or carefree.
It’s all of this, and also – it’s that we are simply wired to crave new things. You can watch a baby playing with one of those toys where you have to match the shape to the correct hole. And every time that baby does it correctly, there’s a dopamine rush. As they become toddlers and children – they are curious about everything. They discover something, they receive a new toy – they get a dopamine rush and they want more, they crave that experience again and again.
Adults are no different.
Me personally? I want to be able to do super basic things. Like pickup takeout if I don’t feel like cooking. Try the new restaurant down the street that opened. Buy a drink for a friend if I feel like going on. Go to a yoga class that’s not free. Buy new clothes. Fix car problems right away. See a movie in the theater, not have to consider the price of every tiny little thing when we grocery shop. See live music, get massages, take care of my health, have a fucking staycation.
But we can’t right now.
We’re ballin with our food stamps and with free state medicaid insurance. We’re both still in the middle of figuring out really intense health problems that have been troubling us for years now. That’s hard to do having to weasel your way through the healthcare system without money to seek the practitioners you want, the tests you need, and the therapies that will help.
It’s frustrating because we have an amazing e-course which is truly the most incredible thing either of us has ever created and yet at this moment, a year later, it just sits there. Either waiting to be noticed, or waiting for us to have an ad budget, whichever comes first.
It takes money to make money, but man getting over that first initial hump of “making money” is proving to be challenging. If you come from money, have family money, or have collateral so someone will loan you money – the hump is much easier.
But if you don’t, you’ll only get over it with a mix of luck, sheer will power, and total unwavering faith in yourself and what you have to offer.
This is all part of going out on your own, being an entrepreneur, creating your own shit, but no one talks about the dark times. No one talks about how long it can take to get there. Everyone just presents these glossy images of being self employed after they’re already successful.
Knowing and believing that you deserve love and success is half that battle. I’m there, mother fuckers. I’m ready for the other half of the goddamn battle. Scratch that – let’s not have it even be a battle. Let’s have it all blissfully fall into place.