My whole day has gone and I’ve got nothing to show for it. I sat in front of a computer at 5am to write and, here I am; watching night fall with only a sentence or two down. I’ve done nothing to justify the adderall, three cups of coffee, leftover Indian, and three melted chocolate Lindt truffles I’ve consumed, but I keep up with the flow of bad habits in hopes that a life of monotonous suffering will somehow produce a prosperous return. What have I done all day?
I want to be a writer, or at least that’s what I’ve told myself for the past ten years. I want to be a writer, or a bird, or a duck, or even a band-winged flying fish. I tell myself I am a writer like there’s an optimistic guru hidden somewhere in my soul, but when the time is finally carved out to write I’ve got no authority. I am beat down and pessimistic. Which perhaps is a valid feeling for a writer, or a fish. I said one day I’d write about this giraffe that’s been walking around my head or about a kid named George being scared of the shore, but I can’t persuade those thoughts to leave the hidden corners of my mind. They’re trapped in a tangle of expectations, weighted with heavy soil-less potting mix like seedlings in a ten dollar garden kit under prefabricated light. I can’t force them out, so I break from the business of doing nothing to buy a bottle of wine in my sweatpants. On my way back to writing I watch dusk fall and street lamps flicker on; a whole day gone again.
I woke up the day after the election to a text from a friend that said, “I didn’t think this was possible.” I opened CNN, along with all of my social media accounts, to make sure this was really happening. I thought for sure someone was going to let us all know something disastrous happened at the polls. Maybe they miscounted 49% of the votes?
As the reality of a Trump presidency started to breathe itself into existence, I set out to blame everyone. I blamed the third party voters for wasting their ballot. I blamed the black community for not showing up like they did for Obama. I blamed the DNC who ruined us when they pushed for Clinton instead of Bernie. I blamed the Christians who voted against abortions, but for misogyny and rape. I blamed the working class in America who wanted change – no matter who gave it to them. I blamed the liberal media for deceiving us into thinking Trump didn’t stand a chance. I blamed SNL for sensationalizing Trump’s persona by mocking him, subsequently drawing more press and attention to his campaign. I blamed Fox News for turning him into someone relatable; someone a guy could chat with in a locker room.
I turned into everything I hated about Trump, blaming everyone but myself. Because after all – I was the progressive thinker who voted Hillary.
In my state of naivety, I scrolled through Instagram for a break from the news, but my heartache deepened. In my feed I saw Khloe Kardashian bragging that her Lip Kit sold out in 6 seconds, I scrolled through selfies of intelligent women with Snapchat puppy-dog noses and flower crowns, spotted Kyle Richards advertising a hair vitamin with over 10k likes, and watched Kate Upton share her secrets to “the perfect brow”. Is this what ruined us? Do we not believe in ourselves? Are we too caught up in the hype of media, the hype of selfies, of being pretty? Are we too afraid to think independently? Are we afraid of taking charge? Are we afraid of being powerful, instead of sexy? How else could 53% of female voters elect this man? Do they not know their own value?
I wanted to throw my phone across the room, or anywhere that could magically make the female race look more like it does in my head.
I am not insinuating that the state of our country rests solely in the hands of our Instagram feed, but if you’ve been wondering what is keeping us from being seen as the next president of the United States – It’s your selfie, it’s my selfie, and it’s our need to promote our beauty more than the authoritative person that lives behind what the world wants us to be. Why is this how we choose to represent who we are? Why is this the norm for women? If we want to be perceived as powerful, we need to start representing that in our feeds instead of doe-eyed selfies with porcelain skin. If we want the media to stop placing us on an impossible standard – we need to stop trying to meet that standard. There are lots of reasons we lost and there are copious people we can fault, but it is hard to deny the fact that we lost because Hillary Clinton was compared against an ideal version of what society thinks a woman should be. She lost and we will continue to lose until that depiction of women is shifted.
When the results started rolling in Tuesday I felt threatened. I felt lied to, betrayed and even undermined by a nation that could actually vote and side with a man so bitter towards progress and equality. On Wednesday, when I had to continue on with my life, everything seemed pointless. Why go to school when no one will ever see me as a leader? Why educate myself when I’ll only ever be seen as a number between 1 & 10? This isn’t the life I voted for.
This election, if nothing else, has given me a strange urgency to tell you your voice is powerful. You are powerful on your own accord. You don’t need me, or any sensationalized media to derive self worth. I hope you know that.
Trump winning is not the female race’s fault, but maybe we can take this election as a growing pain that pushes us to a higher, more authoritative mindset. I’m not saying we can’t feel beautiful, dress well, or wear makeup. We are beautiful women, and I love the desire to express that, but we need to focus on flouting the image 49% of the United States have towards women. This win says a lot about our nation, about our gender equality, and about the female race not being taken seriously. It’s time we change our mindset. It’s time we change the mindset of everyone who can’t see past the girl. We are powerful. Let’s make everyone else think that too.
People have told me you don’t need dads or moms (or anyone for that matter) to live a fulfilled life. Maybe that’s not entirely wrong, but it does seem incredibly sad and lonely to think about a life without people who know you and genuinely care for you.
Those caring roles seem to naturally stem from parental figures, but I’m realizing I also have the ability to choose those people – or allow them to choose me.
My dad left when I was about 8 years old, I could get into specifics, but I don’t have the time to waste crying about that shit for a whole day – so I’m just going to say he left, and I’ve basically been fighting for his attention ever since.
I know, I know – this is such a common issue and I’m not special and I need to grow the eff up.
But I think that’s part of the whole problem. People are always telling me others have it worse and I should be grateful for what I have. But this whole dad issue has been rocking my boat for 20 freaking years, and maybe it’s because I keep thinking it shouldn’t be rocking my boat.
In the future, I’m sure I’ll experience something far worse that will make me realize this shouldn’t have plagued me for so long, but for right now – in this moment – I am upset about a very common issue that I’m sure more than 1/3 of the world experiences.
When I was a kid, I thought the more cool things I did – the more my dad would come around. Deep down, I wasn’t into being on the cheerleading team or whatever other social sport was popular at the time, but I thought the more events I had – the more chances my dad had to show up. It turned out to be a shoddy plan filled with lots of disappointment, but I kept up with it through high school, always hoping my name would be called for the squad or homecoming court. Not because I actually wanted to be on the team or named pretty by public school kids riddled with pubescence, but because I wanted an excuse to call my dad and tell him to come see a game or walk me down the football field.
I know, so desperate.
When the sport/popularity contest didn’t grab his attention, I decided to go all in with prayer. I threw out my secular CDs, broke up with my now hubby to “focus on Jesus”, and started spending my weekend nights reading the bible. I even canceled my senior cruise to spend one month on the mission field – somehow justifying that if I was a better Christian I’d get what I wanted. I drank all the kool-aid possible, and spent every day praying that my dad would come around, or at the very least not die. (I’ve always had a fear of him dying) I took it as my personal responsibility burden to not let him ruin his life, and at 18 years old, the weight of that shit got pretty heavy.
For the past ten years, I’ve been trying to convince myself I don’t have daddy issues – I thought I left all that behind with my fake ass high school years, but here I am, 28 years old, still crying over a dad that was only actively in my life for 8 years.
I don’t get it.
My recent trip to Italy became the soul searching trip of a lifetime. I called my dad before I boarded the plane, even though he didn’t know I had a trip planned. I cried when he didn’t answer – which is why I usually never call in the first place. As the plane took off I thought about what he’d really know about my life if I died.
Morbid, I know. I’ve got daddy issues. TAKE IT EASY ON ME.
I realized he doesn’t know where I live. He doesn’t know that I’m enrolled in Lit Crit courses, or that I even have an interest in writing. He calls my husband Michael. He doesn’t know that I’m not sure about the whole Christianity thing, or that I had two miscarriages, or that I graduated summa cum laude, or that I genuinely like the taste of whiskey. If this plane goes down, he would still think of me as the seven year old driving go-carts through our woods.
Worst of all, I would die with him thinking I voted for McCain.
Our first stop was Venice, and it hit me on our second day there that I wasn’t going to keep focusing on a few years that sucked.
I have a good life, and I need to stop worrying about what happened before I got here.
I don’t know what happened in Italy, but I gave up trying to save my dad, and I gave up searching for his attention. I realized I can dictate what comes in and out of my life, and I made it my personal agenda to start that right away – in Venice where I felt altogether disconnected from the world around me, yet completely cognizant of the people I want to be in my life. Call that egocentric, or snobby, or whatever you want, but when I figured out there are some things I can actually control – I thought it best to start building a life I love.
I have people who chose to be in my life. Why am I focusing on the one person who didn’t?
It’s a strange concept to accept when you’ve been eager for the love of a specific person, but there are other people in this world who will care about you. Sure, it would be nice if it was that parent you’ve been trying to grab the attention of, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s important to be aware of the relationships you’re missing out on while you’re waiting for the one person who keeps letting you down.
Daddy issues are weird, especially when you’re almost thirty and you thought you’d be over it all by now. But the truth is, it’s a constant struggle to understand why someone who should want to be in your life isn’t.
I had a few bad years, but I’ve had just as many good years. Escaping the constant feeling of rejection isn’t me not being true to myself, my background, or my family. It’s me choosing to create a better life with people who decided a long time ago to be by my side.
Some people call that giving up, others call it moving on.
I’m sure you’ve heard naysayers explain that everyone in NYC is out to get their “piece of the pie”. I bet you’ve heard New Yorkers are always tired because they’ve been climbing their way up the corporate latter, or that we value money and status over family. You’ve probably heard the young people in Brooklyn are all wannabes, and that we have an unrealistic view on the real world. And I’m 99% certain someone told you everyone in Manhattan is living off daddy’s dime.
Over the past few months, I’ve read ESPN’s headline story about a track athlete taking a running jump to her death, saw updates on the thought process behind Robin Williams suicide, and I’ve even noticed one of my role models, Andrew Jenks, disclose his own struggles on twitter.
My initial response to the posts were pretty uncomfortable.
They felt invasive. They felt way too close to home.
Depression was pretty common in my household as a child. My grandmother committed suicide over 37 years ago, and many of my immediate family members also deal with a similar fight. Still, even with depression so present in our family circle – we never talk about it. We all know it exists. We all know we are fighting the same fight, but we go along with our day to day interactions without addressing the issues. We’ve pushed those big elephants further and further into the corner, until they’ve become this sort of shrine that we aren’t allowed to talk about or visit.
I don’t know if this is just with me, but depression has always had such a negative connotation. Growing up, my father believed depression wasn’t real. He didn’t understand how it could truly overcome someone. For some reason, that has stuck with me, no matter how hard I’ve tried to fight it. I’ve struggled with depression for years, but I’ve never wanted to admit it. Not even to myself. I’ve refused to see doctors or take medications because I didn’t want to be labeled. I didn’t want anyone to think I had anything else working against me.
Depression isn’t something I struggle with on a daily basis, but when it comes – which it always does – it really hits hard. I go through this weird stage of feeling completely disconnected from the world around me. Holidays, religious sanctions, and even close relationships all suddenly seem so systematic. I know that may sound harsh, but I don’t know how else to explain it. Life becomes more like a formula or Nintendo game, and I can’t seem to rally up the significance in it all.
The general separation from the daily world is bad enough, but feeling like you’re the only person experiencing those thoughts is even worse. I guess that’s why I’m saying all this now. I guess that’s why I’m happy other people are finally saying it too. This depression thing is real. It doesn’t have a standard, there are no prerequisites, and there’s no reason to go through it alone.