Life is hard, but have you ever been an adult woman holding a mouthful of throw-up in your puffed-up cheeks as you wait patiently to get off of a rollercoaster?
Sorry if this is TMITTM (Too Much Info To The Max). But if there’s anything I’ve learned from my human existence it’s that if you can’t use humiliating life experiences as emotional anecdotes for your weekly newsletter, then are you even a memoir humorist??
Anyway, here’s the story.
A couple of weeks ago I was in Toledo, Ohio, with my old roommate and very dear friend Megan, and she was giddy with ecstatic glee to take me to Cedar Point, a rollicking amusement park on the banks of Lake Erie which apparently is the magical dreamland destination of all nostalgic former children of the Great Lakes Area, and, sadly, the literal nightmare of my 40-year-old body.
“It must be something I ate,” I thought to myself after the third ride when my head spun dizzy and my legs were shaky and my stomach felt like I had scarfed a mushy TV dinner that had sat outside on a sweaty summer day.
I simply couldn’t believe that my trusty organs and innards were revolting from something that was supposed to be FUN.
But when I finally went to the infirmary, the kind nurse pulled a curtain between me and the teen having a panic attack, gave me a cold compress for my forehead, handed me multiple packets of saltines, and asked for my age.
“Yup,” she said bluntly, “that’s about the time when this sorta thing starts to happen for people.”
That’s the moment I SHOULD have internalized the truth: That my 40-year-old body should no longer be subjected to the twisty, tourney, jostle-ocity of the Maverick, or Steel Vengeance, or Millenium Force Magnum XL 2000.
But did I do that? Maybe make peace with the tenuous request of my fragile form and cut the chord on ‘coasters?
Nope. Because the queasiness, unease, and general weakness I felt were VERY out of alignment with my expectation of a fancifully fun day, and very VERY poor sport on the part of my usually reliable corporal vessel.
So I decided to ignore it.
In hindsight, do I know that ignoring my body’s blaring cues was a not-keen idea? Yes. But here’s the thing: aging is hard.
It’s weird, and disorienting, and downright RUDE when you realize that an expiration date has passed for you on a life experience that you didn’t even know you should have been savoring before it was too late. There’s grief there. And if we know anything, it’s that a stage of grief is DENIAL.
Granted, my family has never been big “rollercoaster-ers.” But I pride myself on being an adventuress! I’ve gone sky-diving! I’ve been bungee jumping! I do extreme sports (albeit in my un-extreme way)!
So I tried to muscle through, and my body said no.
I won’t go into too many of the details (because who REALLY wants to hear that I yarfed many, many times on the drive home into a leftover paper bag of croissants that proceeded to leak and fall apart all over my lap and seep down my legs and into the floor of my friend’s brand new car? NOT YOU PROBABLY!)
All I’ll close with is this: As horrible as I felt about my body’s betrayal—for myself, for my friend who had planned a fun day, and for my friend’s car who didn’t deserve that horror—it was another reminder to be gentle with myself.
It’s interesting that one thing I advocate so much for is that being a mess is ok, that we belong to each other, that we’re here to help clean up each other’s disasters and share the load and pool our stores of time and gifts and closeness and empathy and resources in order to make life more manageable.
And yet. There was a part of me that felt such shame that day about being a disaster around my friend. I felt weak, ridiculous, and embarrassed about something I couldn’t control—a voice telling me “You’re doing it wrong, you should be stronger, what’s wrong with you, you messed this up, etc…”
That was the voice that was running through my head, attempting to steal the thunder of my tender friend as she patiently waited with me, pulled over to the side of the road, said only “Oh, sweetie, it’s ok” as I spewed saltines all over her spankin’ new vehicle, and then tenderly wrapped me in her jiu-jitsu gi for the remainder of the ride home.
When I hear that voice telling me I’m too much of a mess for the people around me, I speak to it.
I try to remind myself that the times we feel most broken and most indebted to the people around us are truly a gift. As vulnerable as it feels to rely on the kindness and strength of your people, it’s just a reminder that they’re there for you.
It’s a reminder that it’s ok to need help.
I hope that whatever messes you find yourself in today, you’re surrounded by gentle friends who love you. Maybe today you’re able to be that gentle love for someone else’s mess. In this rollerc(oh no!)ster of love and life, my friends, sometimes we’ll be up and sometimes we’ll be down—might as well go through the turns together.
P.S Want to hear a song I wrote about making friends with that voice in your head? I’ll be sending out a previously unreleased track to my paid subscribers next week, so get on that train if you want some new tunes about self-talk!
THREE GOOD THINGS
Soup season is upon us! Here is one of my favorite fall soups.
I have been buying too many plants and have nowhere to put them except the ceiling and oh my goodness look at this incredible clay hanging basket.
One of my favorite Drag Queens, Priyanka, is basically releasing a whole telenovela via music video series and her songs are BOPPPPPS.