Hi. It's me.
The last time we spoke, I'd just quit my job at a nonprofit serving homeless women. I was marching on city hall on the day after the inauguration. Then for about three months, I went off the grid.
(But first, I got really sick and lost my voice for a couple days, because whenever my body gets the chance, it enjoys shutting down to remind me that sleep is good sometimes. Then I got better.)
I started reading books. Correction: I started reading a lot of books. I also read poetry and short stories and reread old books that I'd missed, and basically saturated myself in things that made me see beauty in life again.
Then, for something totally new, I went outside. I stopped spending hours on social media—mainly because as a former social media manager, suddenly being offline was something I could do. I sought out quiet spaces. I started doing a ton of yoga, even though my inner cynic balked that I was becoming an L.A. cliché.
I tried not to listen to my inner cynic; she hadn't been very nice to me over the past year.
I've mentioned a few times on this blog that 2016 was a really hard year for me. I needed breathing room, and three months of unemployment with the random side project here and there forced me to spend a lot of time with myself. I suddenly found myself unable to hide from my discomfort or bury my pain in a packed schedule. I had to sit in it.
And to be honest, it suuuuucked.
Before I did it myself, I'd watched a lot of my coworkers leave and transition to other jobs. I thought I was prepared for the change, and I didn't think the leaving would really effect me. But a.) I wasn't, and b.) it did.
All the survivor guilt I used to feel at the beginning of my time working in social services came roaring back with a vengeance. I couldn't put a finger on why for a little while. Then I called my boyfriend a few weeks after I quit, trying to explain how I felt, and before I knew it I was crying and telling him something that had been said to me by a former client when I was leaving. You won't come back, she'd said. Don't bother pretending like you'll come back.
My bf reminded me of all the kind and encouraging things that other people had said when I left, but in that moment, it didn't matter. I already felt like I was giving up on these homeless women in crisis, by leaving. And that one client, telling me out of her own hurt that I didn't care, made me question if I actually did.
But of course I did. Of course I did. I still do.
My leaving that job wasn't my way of saying I didn't care anymore, but deep down, I was secretly terrified that that's what people would think. One woman's words pressed the exact button in my heart I was hoping nobody would press, saying exactly what I'd feared people would say. Then I couldn't let it go, because obviously I have to make everything about me and my pride issues. And that wasn't her fault, it was mine.
So yeah, there's little old me, all prepared to go back to normal life unscathed and unmoved—like she deserved a medal for working in Skid Row at all. And there's God with the tough love, like, actually, I could have used anybody. It just so happened that you said yes. You want a cookie?
Humble humble humble. I still don't know what the word means, after working in the "homeless capital of the nation." Not really. Jesus, teach me.
I mean, now I'm not quite as in the shit. I'm maybe in ankle-deep shit, as opposed to the neck-deep shit I was swimming in in January (elegant metaphors, it's what's for dinner). I'm very slowly writing a new book. I got a job at a girls' school in Pasadena. I'm on Twitter less and I'm still doing yoga, because damn, I really like yoga. I'm working on being a better friend to my friends and a better partner to my boyfriend, who deserves sainthood or something for staying with me through the insanity of last year.
In April, I went to YALLWEST again, and I didn't blog about it for the first time in two years. I went to enjoy it, which I did, and I took these pictures to carry on tradition.
One of the weirdest parts of a job like the one I had was the guilt I'd sometimes feel about having good things. This is probably unhealthy, but I didn't really know how to not feel it. So I think the best part of now is that I'm learning to let myself feel excited about good things again.
This sounds much sadder out loud than it actually is. But that's healing for you.
Love you guys.