DON’T SH!T IN MY POOL
By: Lauren Anderson
I’m not really much of a journal-er… if you can believe that. I love to write, and I do it all the time. But writing a daily journal is something I’ve never been able to keep up with.
Generally the only time I DO journal is when I’m really, REALLY sad. Like bitter-teenage-hopeless- angst-type sadness. If you go back and look through my journal it’s always, ALWAYS the most depressing stuff you can fathom.
I joke about this a lot. If they time-capsuled my journals, the future would think I was a pathetic sack of sad, and re-bury them asap. But hey! You and I know the truth. Hopefully we know by now that I am a fully-fleshed person with highs and lows and laughter and tears.
It’s just funny that the good stuff never seems to make it to the page ya know?
Which kinda reminds me of how the brain processes information. I mean, how many times have I received glorious feedback from here and there, only to fixate on one negative comment?
Do you do that too?
I think it’s pretty human of us. Those negative thoughts and feelings stick like rancid syrup, and the rest flows through like water. And while the water temporarily nourishes, when it’s gone we’re still left with a sticky mess.
So how do I mitigate this? Well– Maybe I need more of the good stuff on record! Right?! Makes sense doesn’t it? So I search for a solution to problem that isn’t a problem at all— but it’s one of those things that seems important at the time… You get it.
I am an impressionable person in the world, and so it doesn’t take long for Amazon to entice me to buy a One Line a Day, 5 year journal. “Five years! That will be cool!” I think. So I can look back at the past and reflect! Yes! Perfect! Plus, it’s pretty colors, and I think– I can’t commit to much, but I can commit to that! Surely!
Well, we’re almost at the end of February and I think I’ve written in it like, 6 times.
Hahahahahahahahahahaha. My beautiful pastel journal with gold leafing around the edges holds 6 entries out of a possible 60. As if I needed MORE REASONS TO FEEL BAD, this fact sits like another sticky failure.
But I should have known better. I’m just not a journal-er. Even if it is only one line a day.
But the reason I’m bringing it up here today is because I wanted Firstly: For people to commiserate with me on my hopeful purchase that eventually only reminded me of something about myself that I already knew.
And secondly: When I skimmed through the days I actually remembered to write in my journal, it was only sad stuff. On days that “weren’t so good” etc. I’m laughing again. Dammit! Can you believe this shit?
And then last Saturday rolls around. I’m having a lazy morning and scrolling through Instagram, and I stumble on a video someone has posted of me.
The angle is an unflattering up-shot that makes my body look mountainous and my head looks small. I am hunched over like a troll, and my hair looks so flat, I think I kinda look bald. The assessment– well, it’s not good, gang. I’m observing the video like a car crash. Horrified, and I can’t turn away.
I go back and watch it one, two, four, 10 more times.
I like how I sound, I like what I’m saying. The content is good. But I can’t get past how I think I look.
It’s gross. It’s dirty. It’s mean. I’m saying really really mean stuff to myself.
What the hell?! I haven’t felt like this in a long time. This negative self talk spits out of my head like a dam breaking. Thought after thought tumbling over each other in a race to hurt me the worst.
I feel like I’m 13 again. New to my changing body and hating every minute of it. That’s when I remember really starting to hate my body the most. And that’s where I return. In a flash, in an instant.
I’m not kidding about being shocked at this. With everything that I’ve worked on, and how far I’ve come, I haven’t felt like this in years. Sure there have been pockets of negative self talk, but this one went DEEP. And all the way back to the beginning.
The fact that I could even go that far back to that OLD way of thinking is also quite shocking to me. Yo know that it still sits in there, dormant, waiting. I thought this was gone.
So what do I do? I call for back up. From the only person that can help in a situation like this– My best friend since I was thirteen. She was there for the inception of this kinda negative body talk, and she was one of the few people that could course-correct me back then. I was that for her too.
In short, SHE GETS IT. On a level that only a few people can.
I send her the video in question. With a text that simply says (in so many words),
“PLEASE TELL ME I’M NOT A GROSS MONSTER.”
Within seconds she texts back. “FIRST– YOURE NOT A GROSS MONSTER. And Second? What the fuck is up with that camera angle? That angle looks terrible on everyone!”
Within seconds I feel better. I text back, “I know right?! FUCK THAT ANGLE!”
I needed her to square my shoulders and take my side. I needed to be told to shut up, and I needed my friend who I trust more than anything, to shoot me straight and to show some fierce loyalty to do EXACTLY THAT.
She’s right. I am not a gross monster. No one watching that video will think that. And if they do, then they are I think they are what scientists call a “Piece of Shit”.
It’s a pressure release that I haven’t needed from her in a long long time. And that is what I really should be journaling about. She and I used to do this kind of stuff for each other multiple times a day. But we don’t need it anymore. At least not as much. Now if that’s not proof of all the growing and changing and healing of this part of me, than I don’t know what.
I text back. “This shit never gets easy ya know?” She texts back, “I do know. And it sucks.”
I say, “I haven’t been this down about the way I look in a long time. Super negative self talk. Trying to recognize it and walk myself back out. Woof. Thanks for being here for this.”
And, as if by magic, the writing of that sentence helps me truly recognize it and walk myself back out. It’s as if I could tell it was a “lashing out” moment and not the truth of anything. I sit with this for awhile. THIS IS DIFFERENT. This is real proof that I’ve changed.
My therapist talks about how we might not ever be able to fully rid ourselves of things that are deeply forged in us. But we can learn how to recognize thought patterns that don’t suit us anymore, and walk ourselves into a new reality.
Cause the truth is, it’s probably not the best, most flattering angle on that video. But that doesn’t make me a monster. And honestly, people will be listening and laughing at what I’m saying anyway, so I don’t know why I’m sweating it so much.
I am a public figure, and being on camera is part of my job. It’s just the way it is. A blessing and a curse, and everything in between. I know that to my core and I get it.
I guess I just want people to listen and laugh AND think I’m the MOST BEAUTIFUL PERSON THEY HAVE EVER SEEN. Ya know? I mean, that’s not too much to ask is it? Hahahahahahahaha!
My friend texts back. “I know. It’s like an invited guest taking a shit in your pool.”
I laugh out loud at this. This is the perfect metaphor.
It’s so perfect, that I decide it should be journaled. So, on the day in question I wrote, “My feelings shit in my pool. NOT COOL FEELINGS. NOT COOL.” And I had to laugh again. Glad that’s down for posterity. But this entry isn’t fully sad. It’s more of a reminder…
I know I will always invite my feelings over to the party. They have an open invitation. That’s just how I roll. And for the most part, my feelings know how to behave– it’s a great time.
But every so often my feelings decide to shit in the G-D pool.
When that happens, I have a choice to make. I can kick everyone out, and never have a party again.
OR, I can try my hardest to laugh at the situation. Call in for help/backup, and drain the freakin pool. And while I’m waiting, I can pour some coffee, sober up, and call that Feeling a Lyft home.
This feels really healthy to me. It feels like a practice that I can actually live with, because it’s an actual practice. It’s ongoing. And while I may never be the person that journals everyday about the good and the bad— maybe I can be the person that recognizes when the bad doesn’t work, and actively make a new choice!
And every time it happens, I get better at draining the pool. And through that practice sometimes that Feeling learns that the pool is not the place to drop off the twins.
(I am really running with this metaphor…)
My point is, these negative thoughts and feelings may never fully stop. But how long I cater to them or even believe them is something I can change, and have changed. Through continued practice and the help of really good friends.
One bad photo does not an ugly Lauren make. My beauty and my body do not hinge on that video, or even what other people may think. It’s in me. It’s my pool and my party, after all.