Catharsis

I thought I had struck gold.

In the game of Tinder you lose or you really lose. Normally. Quality matches seem few and far between. It’s a strange place. There can be lots of cool people, but normally you chat for awhile, talk about meeting up and it’s kind of a miracle if it actually happens. Otherwise you deal with guys just looking for sex.

For whatever reason, I stood by this stupid app. Maybe because it was fun to talk to total strangers without real consequences. If you didn’t like someone, you either X’ed them or eventually unmatched. There were no strings.

In late September, early October I came across someone new, a match of which I was initially wary. I mean, he seemed nice and all but I couldn’t get a real beat on his personality or what really peaked his interest. Then one day, frustrated beyond belief with the kids I was nannying at the time, I lost it. All my pent up frustration and exhaustion from the point I was at in my life were poured into a series of messages like a fire hydrant turned on full blast. By some miracle something clicked. This guy wasn’t scared off and we began texting almost every day.

Eventually, after almost a month of just talking about anything and everything, we decided to meet up. Now, I’ve been on my fair share of Tinder dates, so I was ready for anything. I wasn’t nervous, but I knew this meeting could fail faster than my attempt to take an 8 a.m. yoga class during my senior year in college (I missed the first class and dropped it with a week). (side note: I find this especially funny now given how much I love practicing yoga, but I still will never make it to an 8 a.m. class. 9:30 is even a stretch.)

But our meeting was wonderful. Maybe it was because we had talked so often before finally meeting, but everything felt so easy and effortless. There weren’t awkward pauses in the conversation. He didn’t miss a beat when I made my first sarcastic comment. Truly, it felt right.

Again, I felt like luck was on my side. This guy, in my mind, was what I was looking for in someone else: he was smart, college-educated, had a real job and was self-sufficient, had a great personality, and, frankly, I found him incredibly attractive.

We began hanging out pretty regularly and continued texting almost constantly. It was weird to go a day without hearing from him about something, whether it was some random article, a joke or an emoji, it seemed like we were both hooked.

About a month into all of this, I freaked out a little bit. I’m not proud of it. This was the first time I felt serious about someone and I was absolutely terrified. I was afraid of how vulnerable I felt and scared that his interest was waning though he had given no real indication that it was. But it was clear we seemed to be on two different pages and I was more serious of the two. I wanted to know; he didn’t answer; I freaked and ended things.

Four days later, after a few tears (I know, I ended things, but I was still sad), I apologized for my behavior and asked for a second chance. It was granted. We were immediately back in the swing of things but it felt even better; more on par with what I was hoping for.

This was at the beginning of December. We were hanging out more frequently and finally had that talk about exclusivity. We were exclusive but not boyfriend-girlfriend. At least that was my understanding. Why there is a distinction, I have no idea. Like aren’t they essentially one in the same? How is there any difference between those titles and being exclusive?

But I didn’t care. We were only so far into hanging out, I finally had my head on straight, and why worry about something so small? So I simply didn’t. Things seemed to be going extremely well and I was continuing to fall for him. Little moments felt amazing. Whether it was beating him at darts only to immediately lose the next game or just sitting and talking, it all felt so normal and right.

The last time I saw him was the day after Christmas. If I had known that that day was going to be the last I saw him, I would have stayed longer. We ran errands in the morning and he decided to take a nap. I was wired on coffee so rather than just lay in bed with him, restless, I decided to head home.

Just over a week later he was going to effectively end things. We spent New Years apart, something I wasn’t totally on board with at first, but in the end decided it didn’t matter. We texted throughout the night and over the next few days. Then, one afternoon a text went unanswered. I thought nothing of it. The next day, another. But it wasn’t completely out of the ordinary, he’s a busy person.

Later in the evening I sent another text. Still no response. I should add here, I knew he was home. I knew because in a crazy turn of events, I was visiting my friend for the first time in forever that day and as I discovered, she lives directly next door to him. So while we made dinner I could see that he was, in fact, home.

I simply suggested I stop by and say hi on my way home. It had been quite some time since I had seen him. I received no answer. The following day, a voicemail went unanswered. And finally, a last ditch effort a day later also warranted zero response.

Without any sort of closure or any indication to the contrary, it was over. I knew it. If it wasn’t, he would have at least said “hey, just need some time and space,” which I even acknowledged might be the case in one of my final communications.

I cried for two days. It would just hit me and I couldn’t fight the tears. A tight pressure below my sternum, in that soft opening between my ribs, would mount like a balloon filled with lead. The only way to make it go away was to let myself feel my emotions, rather than suppress them.

It was the first time I really cared about someone, that I really gave a relationship any sort of life. And rather than ending on a decent note, it was ended in one of the most painful ways I could have imagined. Sure, when you’re the person cutting things off, silence seems easier, like a clean cut. But when you’re on the other side, there’s nothing more painful or jagged.

I was completely blindsided. Sure in that final week, things weren’t exactly awesome, but I assumed it wasn’t anything a good talk couldn’t fix. Turns out, he didn’t want to talk, not even one bit.

In that situation, if you’re ever in it, know this: there is nothing wrong with you. Everyone has their own reasons for their actions, and you can’t make someone care about you. All you can do is to truly be yourself, to open up, to be vulnerable — if that’s not enough for them, then it’s better to wait for the person for which it is.

After my two days, I was tired of caring so much; tired of putting any sort of energy into the situation. In the past year, I’ve had experiences where I felt wronged and held onto the anger and hurt for so long that it became this poison hooked up on a slow drip IV. And I’m tired of it; tired of hanging on to those negative feelings. It’s too much. I value myself too much to turn into a negative crone.

I’ll be honest (shocker), if he were to contact me, I wouldn’t ignore him. I would let him talk, whether he is making an attempt to explain himself, or simply sharing some news. I would by no means jump back into anything with him, but I just can’t go on holding on to that grudge. It’s not worth my time. Plus, I miss him. And that’s ok.

As Cheryl Strayed so beautifully put it in one of my all-time favorite books, Wild, “how wild it was, to let it be.”

Recapping 2014

The year 2014 was, in a word, emotional.

I experienced some of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows; staying on an even keel just wasn’t an option.

As the year started, I was working full-time with the Wild. It was a truly amazing experience. I had fallen into this job that I absolutely loved. It was the dream — or my post-college-I’m-only-22 dream. Yoga also became a part of my life, which turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made as it was hugely beneficial later in the year.

February was another happy month. I visited Seattle — and instagrammed the shit out of it — and turned 23 in a quiet, rather boring manner. The story is much the same for March, April, May and June: working, happy, feeling like I really found my place in the world or some direction with my life.

Hello #Seattle #latergram

A post shared by Kelly Erickson (@kellymerickson) on

For those first six months of the year, my life settled into a comfortable rhythm. I was working. I felt successful. I was extremely happy. And all signs seemed to point towards being hired full time and a continuation of that happiness. Somewhere in there, I started my blog, went on Tinder dates, and experienced a myriad of interactions with the opposite sex. (Sorry to tell ya kids, but this lady is no longer on Tinder. You’ll have to get your fill of stories elsewhere.)

Then things took a turn. July was possibly the most trying month I had ever experienced in my 23 years. It started off fine. I was done working, looking for a new job, but with a strong hope that something would work out with the Wild. But then it didn’t. In fact, nothing worked. I was continually rejected and it was absolutely crushing. I felt trapped, stuck at the bottom of an abyss with no way out.

Everyone around me kept telling me how talented I was and that things would eventually work out, but they didn’t. The constant rejection took its toll. I slipped into a small depression. Some days I felt nothing. Some days I just wanted to cry for no real reason. Hope wasn’t a real part of my vocabulary.

This spell flowed into August. But I was tired of it. I wanted to take control of something in my life, so I started to reach out for freelancing work in addition to finding a part-time job as a nanny. At the start of September I began to spend three days a week with a two-, four- and six-year old. After three months of this — three months filled with joy, laughter, frustration, annoyance and lots of poopy diapers — I’ve realized I really don’t want children for a very long time. Or ever (sorry mom).

It helped pay the bills and I loved those kids, but I’m also glad that’s behind me, for now. But I did gain a certain set of skills which I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere else:

  • I can make a PB&J in about five seconds flat
  • I have perfected my dramatic reading of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”
  • I can fluently speak toddler
  • I know all the words to almost every Disney princess movie ballad (this goes hand in hand with speaking toddler as “Frozen” is a big part of their culture)

I will find some way to incorporate these skills on my resume or any future work. I’m sure that dramatic reading will come in real handy at future holiday parties.

At the same time, I also returned to the Wild, working game nights. This was incredibly difficult at first. I was walking back into the very place that had caused me great joy and equally great pain. I’m a proud person and that pride was severely wounded; it wasn’t easy to swallow it and pretend that everything was wonderful. After a few months, I’ve reached a new normal. It’s not what I hoped it would be in the beginning of July, but acceptance, like growing old, is simply part of life.

Looking to 2015, I realize things won’t be any easier; just because the calendar is changing doesn’t mean all my dreams are magically going to come true. Though I’ve become reacquainted with those Disney Princess movies, my life is not one. All I can do is work hard and make the most of the opportunities that are given to me, and try my hardest to create my own.

So, as I’ve briefly reflected back on my year that has taken me on more twists and turns than a Christopher Nolan film, it’s time to make some resolutions. And since I’m making them public I fully intend to keep them.

  1. Be healthy. Physically and mentally.
    1. Mediate daily, even if just for five minutes.
    2. Move and break a sweat every day.
    3. Eat well. Seriously.
  2. Find creativity as often as possible.
  3. Stay in touch with people better.
  4. Learn something new each month.
  5. Log off social media and put down the phone more often.
  6. Learn to let go.
  7. Find more patience.
  8. And in an attempt to follow some of the best advice there is for a writer, try as much as possible to be wholly alive.

Chapter 10 – Paying The Bills

I was washing my hands when I felt a light tap on my leg and the “telly” accompanying it, grabbing my attention. It was the two-year-old.

“What’s up butt munch?” This was the third nickname I had called her that day. Simply because I could.

She looked up at me with a small smile and her wide blue eyes, which emanate a cheerful glow that could be the source of all happiness on earth.

“I pooped again.” All happy thoughts evaporated.

I looked down at my freshly washed hands. Hands that were thusly described because they had just changed poopy diaper no. 2 of the day mere seconds prior. You have got to be kidding me.

Thankfully she was. Two-year-olds have the cruelest pranks.

It was only day one. Day one of the part-time nanny gig I was thoroughly convinced I needed because a) I wasn’t landing any full-time work, b) I had bills to pay and didn’t want to dwindle my savings, and c) frankly I needed to get out of my fucking house. You can only watch so much Netflix/movies/tv (7,179 minutes, the equivalent of about five days, over a two month span) and read so many books (ten) before boredom sets in.

Nannying was my solution. Though after just one day, it is more clear than a cloudless summer day with the sun shining warm and bright that there is no way I could ever have a career working with children.

After three poopy diapers, navigating how to properly play barbies, making sure I read books they each picked out, and finally turning on Netflix to distract them, I was exhausted. And I signed up for this indefinitely, or at least until I get a real job.

Until then, two and half days a week I’ll find ways to entertain a six, four and two year old. I’ll read “Green Eggs and Ham” three times in one reading session and question why we’re watching “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” in September. But whatever keeps the kids calm and at bay, because even the smallest things can set them off.

Who knew that counting Mississippi-ly was the wrong way to count. Now there are caterpillars. And not just caterpillars. Instead of just “ten caterpillars,” POP, it’s a butterfly at the end. (This actually makes legit sense and I was awed by this idea. I mean, that is one fantastic way to announce the end of whatever it is you’re counting).

The change made me feel out of touch with today’s youth. Then again, so did this conversation:

“Kelly?! What grade are you in?” It was the six-year-old.

“I’m not in school any more. I’m done with it.”

“What? Did you go to college? (Former nanny) is in college,” the four-year-old chimed in.

“Yeah I’m done with college already.”

“What? How old are you?”

“23.”

The six-year-old’s eyes went wide. “Oh really?! That’s a big ol’ number! That’s huge!”

When I started to drive away at the end of the day, I quickly took in a new appreciation for sitting. Not baby-sitting. Actual sit-down-in-a-chair-weight-off-my-feet sitting. My driver’s seat never felt more supportive, comfortable and glorious in that moment. Can I get a minister over here? I was that in love with it.

It was only day one, but it wore on my muscles like I had just undergone an intense workout. All I wanted to do was sit for the rest of the night and simply enjoy a calm, quite evening.

Ok, maybe I am old. Is 9 pm an acceptable bedtime?