Everything important I have learned in my life stems from sucking.
Being the worst. F*cking up. Wanting to crawl out to the desert and disappear forever. I have tales of shame that would shake your head and make you ask: “How does someone sane do that kind of thing?” My point exactly.
I do not tout the sane card. I find it very limiting. Who decides what behavior is normal and quirky versus when we should stigmatize and medicate? And why would I want to try to be sane when all those who inspire me are off-sane and shining for it? Examples: Joan Rivers, Louis C.K., Richard Pryor, Gilda Radner, Woody Allen. Their comfort with their own non-sanity is gorgeously close to genius.
Also, the little I have studied of the fierce Buddhist practice Feeding Your Demons and Shandor Remete’s Shadow Yoga system reminds me not to hold on too tight to “sane.” Both teachings demand you not only face but befriend and integrate the horror show inside.
While researching a theater show I was creating recently, I took a battery of online personality disorder tests. If you scored high you were asked to immediately call your doctor to talk about appropriate medication. I took the tests as honestly as I could. Example questions included:
- Do you overly care about what people think about you?
- Do your emotions rise and fall throughout the day?
- Have you ever had a trauma or negative experience that you cannot let go of?
- Do you sometimes feel depressed and anxious?
- Do you sometimes have fear about the future?
Well, the tests diagnosed me as a bi-polar, dependent, avoidant, histrionic, obsessive-compulsive, narcissistic, borderline depressive with post traumatic stress disorder.
Where do I even begin?
When I was 16 I lied to my boyfriend about being pregnant. Yep. I was the girl who did that. Remember her? I won’t go too far into detail about being ostracized from my small town or the confusion I felt at the time. I told him I was pregnant; I crawled through a basement window in his house and laid down on his bedroom floor so that when he came home he would find me fainted. He did find me, and he knew I was faking it. I fake-fainted a few more times throughout the week to really nail the deal home, and then I pretended I had a miscarriage (because at some point I realized all this had to be dealt with). Now I could be labeled as Mayor of Crazytown, but the other way of looking at it is that I was 16, I was afraid to be alone, I would go to the ends of the earth to be loved, and in fact it was kinda’ incredible that I was bold enough to pull off a stunt like that.
A few years after the fake pregnancy, I took the ex for dinner and I admitted the lie. He said, “I knew it all along, but I also knew that I was treating you like sh*t, and it takes two to tango. I’m sorry for driving you to such a place.”
That exchange solidified my agreement with the world. I can make a horrible choice. I can be forgiven. I can do something stupid and still receive compassion. I am not evil or unforgivable. I get another chance.
Whenever I lose my sh*t and do something ridiculous, the only thing I can hold on to is that this is the time of my greatest growth. This will help me be brighter.
Once, I ended a relationship horribly. There was overlap and I didn’t take the kind road; I took the hasty highway. I did sh*tty things like taking the new man on the vacation I had planned with the old man. I lost my ex as a friend forever.
Now, 10 years later (with neither of those dudes in sight anymore), I care for my current partner with such rigor and respect. I would not have the ability to be in this deep of a relationship if I had not previously sunk so low. I don’t regret it. I thank God for it. But I wouldn’t do it ever again. I am careful with love now. I am reverent.
When I am rolling around in bed, writhing about what I said or how it sounded or if they noticed, or if I have just ruined my social standing forever, I can only pray that I am not alone in this amazing ability to ruin everything. I recognize that I am not the center of the world, and probably no one has actually noticed or cares. But this notion does not stop the writhing, it usually makes it worse.
I do admit, when I am in a major sucking situation I am a much softer person. I want to go out and hug everyone I meet. “I suck. I really suck right now. Please tell me you suck too?”
My friend says it like this: “We are bottom feeders. It’s dark at times, but we prefer it to shallow waters. We like it muddy down here; we find it nutritious way down deep.”
I say too much. I get mad too quick. I’m a total embarrassment and I can’t seem to rein it in.
Inspirational quote break:
Confession of errors is like a broom, which sweeps away the dirt and leaves the surface brighter and clearer. ~ Gandhi
I have no trouble confessing my errors, but I would like to take it one step further. I want to light them up! I want to revel in the shit. I am so tired of being too big, too much, too brash, too crass. I want to make the hugest pile I can. So come with me or get out of the way…because I am a bulldozer and I don’t know how to drive myself yet.
And you know what? I will say the wrong thing, and then later we will find out that it was exactly the right thing to say. It will be okay in the end. It might end up perfect. And I will stand by you when go all off-sane too.
As long as we try to be ourselves with each other.
As long as we try not to cause any pain.
So hi there! The internet told me I’m a dependent, avoidant, histrionic, obsessive-compulsive, narcissistic, borderline depressive. But usually I feel pretty normal and human. Want to be friends?
Emelia Symington Fedy is a theatre creator, writer, yogi, friend and popular raconteuse. Her favorite quote at the moment is: “Live the light, spread the light, be the light” (found on a Yogi Tea teabag). This is probably because she has a penchant for darkness.
Editor: Brianna Bemel