• Lucia Joyce

A Place of No Words

Something is happening to me that I have very few words for.

I wonder how to write about it nonstop. In my mind I compose opuses, two-act plays, sci fi novels, poems. I pen scripts for indie film-style vlogs. I dream in screenplays and memoirs.

But these things cannot pour forth. I do not have the words for them, and even dropping their themes into conversation feels empty. They sit in my heart, maybe, or my right brain.

A place of no words.

I have tried to start a blog about it a few times now. On paper and on blank screens. Words come out wrong, or they don't come out at all. Tears melt the front of my face and I look out at the horizon like a heroine in a historical drama. It's all very EMO.

I know about resistance and self sabotage. I know these things are at work. Sometimes goal setting and tiny steps are helpful. Sometimes I look at a blog I wrote 5 months ago and the message I need to hear is glowing within it... in words I don't even remember writing. It's a humbling experience to read your own advice from a deeper hole than you normally occupy.

The best way I can describe it is... I'm changing a core thread of myself. It's a thread that formed pretty early on in my life that can be pretty sneaky. It works against me without me knowing it's even there sometimes. It is a thread that has caused a lot of heartbreak and pretty poor decisions. It is a thread I am not proud of.

I'm defining this thread as the belief that I am worthless, and that true worth can only be found in pleasing other people. I have been running in circles, treading the paths I think will make other people happy, trying to hold up the world with my long, skinny arms. I forgot to grab a basket on my way into life's grocery, and ended up trying to balance 12 things between my hands and my chin instead of just going back to get a goddamn cart. I have been setting down some things and dropping others, and I am working with what I can carry. And I have begun the process of really looking at everything I've grabbed and asking whether I truly chose it for me... or someone else. Have I worn out this metaphor yet?

My new therapist calls it codependence. I put the perceived needs of others ahead of my own, often without thinking. I habitually take on more than I can handle, and I resent the trouble this gets me into. I bounce between habitual people-pleasing, resentment and victimhood, in a perfect triangular cycle.

This elusive, unwanted part of me all but took over in the last quarter of 2020. Cut off from visiting my family, feeling wholly disenchanted with the usual Hollywood hustle, and financially scraped with no job or clear career path, I played the victim with gusto. Emails and text threads piled up as I sat in silence. Pain gathered in my hips and wrapped around my lower back, as if my body had been holding in its increasingly dire complaints for years. Tiny interactions with people I loved and respected made me cry and hate myself. I knew I needed to focus on what I truly wanted but it felt impossible. I whined for time alone but made terrible, negative company for myself. With no social media or job or any kind of regular schedule to ground me, I was pretty unstable. I realize now that I have been running from this part of me for my entire adult life, using travel and gigs and auditions as an excuse. People pleasing is a lot easier to mask when you're constantly flying to new places to please new people.

I had never spent a consecutive summer-to-winter in LA before. The temperature change crept in like a ghost. The leaves fell one at a time. I come from a place of extreme season changes: thick, snowy winters and wet, muddy springtimes. In SoCal, everything just slowly dies in the cold and lays there for months, colorless. Snow never blankets the scene with a promise of wet spring, or a delicate quiet. You hear the same old traffic sounds from summer: sirens, helicopters, and the added buzz of plugged in Christmas lights and inflatable yard Santas. Holiday trash blows in the wind with the leaves. I miss Canada.

We had so much to celebrate and so much to be thankful for, but I sagged in the muck of my old beliefs so consistently that when a good mood inexplicably struck, I looked like a psycho. My newest roommate grew frustrated with me and threatened to move out. I didn't know how to tell her that I was changing into something new, and sitting with all the ugly parts of myself I hadn't looked at in a while. I still don't really know how to tell her. I feel bad that she has to live with me in my transition state--she doesn't get to enjoy the blissful people-pleasing me of the past OR the (hopefully) transcendent version of me unfolding in the future (not yet anyway). My therapist says her impression of me is not in my control. I still let it give me anxiety.

I don't know how to put anything good into words yet. I don't know how to not sound whiny and controlling or resentful. I'm still processing how I got here, and who I want to be from here on out. All I know is I want to write, and I want to be with Shane (as you well know, he is indescribably special and perhaps the greatest decision of my full life), and I want to do the world more kindness than harm. I know I should be writing my award winning screenplay or novel but the sabotage is way too real right now. So I write meandering journal entries. I write down my dreams. I write text messages. I write my plans for the week. I write out quotes I really like... And I write traffic school documents and web page content for a transportation company in Burbank.

Yes, I am suddenly getting paid to research and write. Write within a specific, almost creative-less format, but I don't care. The pressure to be creative and successful was wearing me down into dust. I am enjoying the feeling of typed keys and diligent post-it notes, the passing of time with polite calls and administrative emails. I read and write and get paid and I go to bed at the same time every day. For someone working on their mental health in a financially-straining pandemic, these things are an absolute miracle. I am newly awake to the miracles of the everyday: the way the clouds sit over the blue Burbank mountains on my morning drive. The way the sun hits my face for a half hour every afternoon lunch. The cashew yogurt and cacao powder in my morning protein shake. The pink sky through the evening trees. I'm noticing the sounds of mouse clicks and paper pages. I am less weathered by simple interactions and happy to be practicing healthy boundaries with my work mates. I am stoic in the face of political and social media riff raff. I am no longer addicted to Instagram, and that's nice.

I have also found enough words to make a blog post (a draft of this sat in an untouched Chrome tab for over a week). That feels like an important step. I'm not gonna promise consistency of blog, but I did very much enjoy the feeling of the keys under my fingers.

Other news:

Yes, I had COVID and so did Shane. We both fully recovered but we were tired and symptom-y for most of December. Shane still hasn't recovered his sense of smell.

Yes, I'm back on IG because I needed cat and baby pics and a place to make sappy Shane stories and connect with people I miss. @thenewestloosh

Obviously still not above a dusty mirror selfie, if you were worried.

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