I have a terrible, horrible, shameful secret: Sometimes, I watch Jersey Shore. I'm not sure what possesses me to watch it, really; perhaps that will be the subject of another post. The point here is that sometimes, for whatever reason, I watch the show. Tonight was one such occasion.
About halfway through, I was sick of it. It was all shouting and emotional avoidance and in-authenticity. But I kept watching. I kept watching partly, I think, because I was avoiding writing this blog post; I was avoiding addressing the buildup of emails that await me in my inbox; I was avoiding having to be awake to my own experience (see post #1)*. So even though it was difficult to watch, I kept watching, because that nasty little voice inside (who will be the subject of yet another post) kept suggesting that even though I was having a miserable time watching the show, I would have an even more miserable time if I just sat there, in bed with myself. This continued watching led me to the final five minutes of the show, in which the friends (with the unfortunate exception of Sammi and J-WOW) all kiss and make up and exchange quick, tight hugs before loading their laden suitcases into separate cabs, and hailing away.
For reasons that at first seemed inexplicable, I found myself intensely irritated during these scenes; I felt possessed by anxiety, by a feeling that if I didn't get those images off of my screen I was going to go crazy/explode/lose it/freak out/what have you. I stopped being awake for a few moments, and became nothing but pure, unconscious anxiety.
I nearly x'ed out of the screen, but instead I snapped back to (at least partial) attention, and decided to sit with these feelings to the best of my ability. So I ate more candy corn than my stomach might have liked, but I watched the rest of the show. As the credits rolled, my work began-- because really, the feeling of anxiety that I experienced matters less than what I learn from it. If I want to be awake, if I want to grow and to "progress"**, then it's my job to figure out why I feel/think/act in the ways that I do.
I think, in this case, that the farewell scenes struck a nerve because they are full of scenes of caring and friendship (because at the end of the day, the cast of Jersey Shore is a family of friends, and even if I take issue with their conduct much of the time, I respect them for their loyalty and, ultimately, the way they do seem to care for one another). And the fact of the matter is that right now, I myself am feeling kind of lonely. And honestly, watching other people have the kind of relationships that I am missing so deeply right now (well, sort of...)... it hurt.
This is not to say that I don't have wonderful friends. I do, so many of them, and I consider myself wildly lucky in this regard. The only downside is, they're spread out all over this great wide country, and none of them are here. I miss them.
And then there's this: Not since high school have I felt part of a group. Despite having a whole lot of friends, many of them are on an individual or (as previously discussed) long-distance basis. In many ways, in my day to day life I've been very solitary for the past six years or so. This has had the positive effect of giving me space to explore myself, and forcing me to be comfortable with being on my own (though this is, as always, still a process). But the truth is, I'm kind of getting sick of it. I'm tired of being the, for some (though not all) intents and purposes, the "only one" in my life. I crave physical and emotional contact; I crave being a contributor to something tangibly bigger than myself; I crave knowing that I am cared for and feeling "part of".
In many ways, I think this is simply part of the human experience***-- and in that regard I suspect that I will struggle with (or, to use more optimistic language, "encounter") these feelings throughout the course of my life. We are continually engaged in the simultaneous processes of joining and separating, and navigating a balance between the two will take oodles more of the wisdom gained only through years and years of experience. I guess the important thing is to not get too bogged down in these feelings. See that you're feeling this way, and honor it, but don't get stuck there. This, one of my favorite videos, sums it up nicely:
(my apologies-- for whatever reason, I can't get the video to embed)
Still, some days, even following the guidelines of this video doesn't make me feel as better as I'd like. Because the fact of the matter is that there is simply nothing in this world that compares to being hugged by someone who is wanting to share their love with you.
And then a voice (not the nasty one that whispers to me in its insidious little hisses, but the other one-- the one that is goodness, is fullness, is shining white light) announces itself, saying, "Hey, hey you. Laura. I love you. I'm wanting to hug you. Will you please let me in?"
And so I wrap my arms around myself, and outside in the world it is starting to rain. Droplets cling to the window screen, and the asphalt outside is scrubbed clean, all shining and new.
*Iin this way, I can claim to be no better than the members of Jersey Shore: because I, too, was neglecting my emotions by engaging in unhealthy avoidance mechanisms (shouting at your closest friends because you can't stand to talk about how much you're going to miss them = watching people shout at their close friends because you can't stand to square with yourself about your own feelings)
**I think it's important to problematize this word, because the concept of "progression" inherently contains the notion that we are always moving toward a certain something, which is a very results-oriented way of approaching life. But as much greater thinkers than I have proposed, perhaps we should focus much less on the destination and more on the refueling stations, the vistas, and the roadside stands selling apple cider, rocking chairs, and squirrel pie for only $5.00 a pan. Life is both more gratifying-- and certainly more interesting-- when eaten with bare hands, hair blowing wild in the gusts of trucks passing by on the freeway.
***whatever that means