A Letter From The Editor (Interim)
July 7, 2016
Back in the beginning of May, just a week after publishing the first issue of Heather, I was brought to a meeting on the patio of the Crosby Hotel. My managers were already there, waiting for me, and as soon as I sat down I was told I was being let go.
It came as a shock only because I believed it would never have happened to me. I believed it never would’ve happened like that. For months, I was plagued with fear and anxiety. I worked for a small company and knew that things were unstable. That’s what you sign up for. When you join a startup, you sign up for the tremendous success you hope they will face, but you also sign up for the crippling loss if you make one misstep.
In the end, it didn’t come in a conference room with the two people who had hired me, as I always pictured it would. It came casually, almost like a breakup, at a hotel where the waiter asked us if we needed anything after I was told I would be paid severance for the next two weeks.
What came next is harder to talk about.
In college, I struggled through most of my semesters with a great deal of depression. I got into unhealthy relationships, I spent most of my time on the Internet trying to make the friends I couldn’t in real life and I watched a lot of TV. This is a running theme in my life. Television is my opiate. I would watch and re-watch the same episodes, over and over again, blogging and re-blogging and getting into fights over the characters I loved that I felt others took for granted, the couples that weren’t together on the show but whom I believed to be meant for each other.
It wasn’t real, but it was all I had when my brain told me I wasn’t worth anything more.
After a devastating blow to my livelihood, I started to revert.
It began to feel like all the work I had done on myself, the work that allowed me to search and search until I found a job that would eventually relocate me to New York, where I had idealistically wanted to live since I was a kid, would crumble under uncertainty.
I cried a lot. I didn’t eat. My body kept waking me up in the early hours of the morning and I would lay in bed with no place to go. In fact, my bed became my home base. I stayed in bed for twelve hours at a time, leaving my apartment to meet up with friends or to take a walk if I was really feeling ambitious. Mostly, I stayed on the Internet. I searched for jobs for hours, not giving myself a break. I obsessively kept records of the jobs I applied to, highlighting in red the ones who rejected me. I argued on the phone with the Department of Labor over unemployment insurance.
“I don’t have a scanner or a fax machine,” I told them. “I’m 25 years old. Can I just take a picture of my termination letter and email it to you?”
I couldn’t write. I would go to bed at night, meditating on mantras like I was getting paid for it, with ideas and characters and situations that made me feel like I could do something with all the time I had on my hands. In the morning, I would open the word document I was using for notes and be frozen with indecision. Nothing came and inspiration felt glacial. Writing, one of the things that brings me the most joy and peace in life, now felt like running through mud with jeans that were too long for my legs. It felt like wearing a yoke carringy two buckets of molten lead. It felt too precarious and too sad. I would stare at my word document for fifteen minutes and then open up HBO Now to watch another episode of True Blood.
I watched the entirety of the television series True Blood twice during my unemployment. It was not the healthiest thing I’ve ever done and says a lot about what behaviors comfort me.
I cried not only over my own feelings of worthlessness, but over the state of the world. I cried about a rapist ruining a woman’s life and only receiving a slap on the wrist in return. I cried about the largest shooting in America occurring in a gay club not unlike the ones where I spend my own Saturday nights. I cried that one of our presidential nominees is a cruel bully that consistently demeans and marginalizes groups of people that I personally belong to.
Everything felt scary. Everything felt hopeless.
I felt like I was back where I started. I was going down the same path to ultimate rock bottom where I had been in the two-bedroom apartment I shared with my college roommates; an apartment that reminds me of happiness and getting high while watching The League, but that also reminds me of several nights where I felt so sad I didn’t want to wake up in the morning. I wanted to go to sleep. I remember telling a friend I wanted to be in a coma.
Since then, I have been terrified of the moment where I am unraveled enough to return. I imagine my mind cracking open like a nut and all of the black goo that I’ve fought away seeping out over my entire body.
“Welcome back,” the black goo would say to me. “You didn’t think you could run from me forever, did you?”
Today, it is Thursday. On Sunday, it will be two months to the day that I was let go on the patio of the Crosby Hotel.
Today, I accepted and signed an offer for a new job.
I always preach that hindsight is 20/20 but the hardest advice to take is your own.
Four years ago, when the black goo and I were thick as thieves, I wouldn’t have been able to apply for ten or fifteen jobs a day for two months. I wouldn’t have been able to get out of bed before ten, make myself lemon water and coffee every day, make sure that I lit my candles and turned on my salt lamp or my aroma diffuser. Four years ago, I didn’t have that internal support or the knowledge to activate in situations of crises. Four years ago, I was scared of my own thoughts and was paralyzed to act.
I have the hindsight, four years later, to acknowledge that I am better.
I am as better as I have ever been. I wish I could’ve seen it earlier, but fear is a petty bitch that no one can ever be free from.
Being fired from a job has been a fear of mine that haunts me like a damn poltergeist. When I was young, I remember my father being let go from his job more than once. Even this year, on my 25th birthday, I cried in the office bathroom after he told me he was let go from the job he’s held since I was in middle school. The fear of uncertainty, of being thrown off the boat in the middle of the open ocean and not knowing if you have the strength and willpower to swim to shore, it’s been sitting on my shoulders for most of my life out on my own, where it has been a fear made impossibly real.
And it happened to me. And I didn’t die.
This is not a story of tremendous physical exertion or superhuman strength. This is a story about a callous world, self-stigma and the brutal uncertainty of life.
It is also a story about freedom and love. It’s a story about jumping off a cliff and surviving. Fuck depression and fuck its triggers. It is a fitful and unwelcome voice in a world where nothing is promised to you. It is also not the boss of me and will never be again.