I don’t know about you, but I spend a pretty good portion of my life doubting myself. My pulsing ego beating against the soft membranes that barely contain it, writhing in agony as I try to understand my place in the world. Intellectually I know filling my days abusing myself is probably not the best choice of my energy, so I do my best to talk myself out of my negative feelings about me. I say things like, “come on Toni, you may be financial failure and unable to commodify yourself or your art thus indicating that perhaps what you’re creating has zero value to society, buuuuuut you are a good listener and make delicious quinoa!”
It only sort of works.
Yet sometimes I find myself tumbling into a darkness of my own making, drowning in a cavernous abyss of insecurity where I question every decision I’ve made in the last 20 years and wonder if I’ll ever accomplish my dreams or if I’m destined for a bleak future where my ambitious aspirations will forever haunt my ego in an enteral feedback loop of failure.
It just depends on the day!
Recently my kid had school vacation, and she went away for 7 days to Washington DC to spend time with her two grandmothers. My mom had planned this trip months ago, yet despite my knowledge that I would be kid-free for a week, I didn’t create any grand plans for myself during this time. Usually when The Munch goes away without me, I go away as well. Almost all of our family vacations are spent apart.
Once The Munch left, I suddenly started thinking that I should do something more exciting than spending the week at home working like I do every other week. Yet none of my attempts of finding fun or making meaning out of my life were panning out. There were no performance opportunities, no creative projects, no people dying to see me, no one wanting to work with me… nothing.
By not having my kid at home to distract me, this extra time to myself opened up the door to the dungeon of my psyche. It’s not like I don’t get depressed about my life when The Munch is home, because I do – yet it’s hard to go really deep with it when this bright ball of light keeps bouncing around asking me to feel how smooth hot wax is that had dried to her fingers. YEAH I GET IT! I’VE LIVED ON EARTH BEFORE! The diversion of caring for another human that’s so outwardly boisterous and content keeps my disdain about my superficial existence, superficial. I more skate on the surface of my self-loathing, gliding above the ice of my anxieties, and avoid falling into the fishing holes of flagellation when The Munch is with me. Her innocence and wonder at life is contagious, and makes it harder to take my pain as seriously.
But with the Munch not around for me to deal with her needs, my needs became like a putrid rotting open wound I couldn’t stop picking at. Once the scab of my sense of self started bleeding, I decided it was probably best to peel off all my skin and turn inside out in the process.
Needless to say I was a lot of fun to be around!
On Wednesday I went on a walk with my friend and told her about my spiral of self –questioning, yet rather than allowing me to stew in self pity, she reminded me that I am making a choice to pursue an artistic career. I am not a victim and my goals are lofty. There are millions of talented people who work just as hard, and there is no guarantee for any of them. I knew she was right. I know she is right. Logically yes! YES TO ALL. Yet emotionally my struggle of accepting what I know to be true was torturous. That’s the crazy thing about self-inflected pain – it’s just as painful as the pain you didn’t cause yourself.
I then talked to another friend who reminded me of how many hundreds of auditions she does – the amount of effort she labors out into the ether, putting herself out there time and time again. Reminding me that there is a futility in trying, but it’s also only in trying that anything ever happens – so even in perceived pointlessness there is a point!
I then had to ask myself why? Why do I try? What drives me? What pushes me forward? Why do I spend my days writing gentalia infused social commentary? What is the point?
I kept coming back to the same answer. It’s my pain about society. I want to be a part of changing the way people think. I have a deep desire to make an impact on culture and challenge the status quo. I want to shake shit up. Maybe I’m going about it in a weird way by making videos with penis costumes and having friends seduce life-sized dolls to comment about the patriarchy – but it’s not my fault my muse is obsessed with dick jokes and comedy! I’m inspired to make art because I’m inspired to inspire others to question. For the love of Gaia I was a philosophy major at Sarah Lawrence… what do you want from me?
So that night I spend about 8 hours on my computer trying to find every writing contest, comedy festival, short film contest I could find and started submitting my work. I use to do this all the time, but the problem with applying to things is that every time I open my email, I’d get another rejection. I’d get rejected from things I didn’t every remember applying to. It got a bit demoralizing, so I stopped trying. Yet even if there is a .00001% chance of getting accepted to things that I apply to, that’s still better than the 0% chance I have when not even applying. So to deal with the pain of rejection, I had to open my heart up to more rejection. I have to just keep working and get better at what I do until I don’t get rejected.
Isn’t that the hilarity of life?
I tried to re-commit to myself and my process – which is something I think we all have to do. We have to re-commit to relationships, dreams, visions, goals, because they all will disappoint you. Yet even though my brain said “re-commit to your art Toni,” my heart said, “no matter what you’ll never be satisfied so you might as well take all that eternal angst and commit your organs to science.” The days went on, and I tried to talk myself out my sadness, but couldn’t.
The Munch returned, yet my emptiness remained. We had our friends over to make chocolate chip banana bread, and my friend told me I was putting in too many chocolate chips which I didn’t even think was possible. We sat down to do a tarot reading and I picked a card on my career and suddenly my stomach hurt more than it ever had in my life. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I went to the bathroom and tried to evacuate the demon clawing its way out my colon, but nothing came out of me. I couldn’t puke, I couldn’t poop, nothing.
I told my friend I was really hurting and felt like a creature was gnawing its way through my intestines – she suggested maybe I had ecoli. I went back to the bathroom and the pain was so intense it was blinding. Now I am NEVER one to go the hospital, yet I started to think maybe that’s where I needed to go. I felt like I was dying. I didn’t have the energy to go to the hospital, so I decided I just had to relax. I had to relax into dying because fighting it seemed like the wrong vibe. I tried to breathe into my dying and I went and laid in bed under 3 blankets, shivering to the point of frenzy.
The pain wouldn’t release me from its clutch, so again I slinked to the bathroom, barely able to hold up my body. I exhaled and felt a cramping so severe I honestly almost passed out. And then I took the most excruciating but also shamanic shit of my life. As soon is it was over, the pain was gone. Just as fast as it came.
I laid on the couch for the rest of the night and had some chocolate chip banana bread – and yes there were too many chocolate chips.
The next day I saw my healer, hoping for answers about my stomach pain, my back pain, and my emotional pain.
Toni: I had taken some expired Advil. Do you think that could have been the reason my stomach hurt so much?
Healer: No, I don’t think so. Get on the table and let’s check you out.
Healer: Well, your first chakra is split, your 5th chakra is split, and your 3rd chakra is not only split, but it has an entity attached to it.
Toni: Oh dear!
Healer: Let me just remove the entity… AHHH it jumped on me!
Toni: Goodness! Did you catch it?
Healer: Give me a moment.
(Pause for dramatic exorcism of entity)
Healer: Okay. It’s gone.
Toni: Wow. Do you think that’s why my stomach hurt so much yesterday?
My healer looked at me with an expression of genuine bewilderment.
Healer: I don’t know? How could I know that?
Let’s not forget that my healer DID know that I had an inter-dimensional being lodged in my 3rd charka that she had to physically remove – yet what she did NOT know was if that galactic creature was the cause of my stomachache… which is actually totally fair when you think about it rationally.
I left my healer’s house feeling better. You could attribute it to a thousand things… pending your belief system and how open your mind is. All I can say for sure is that I feel a lot lighter… that could have been the epic shit too? Who knows?
I mean… this IS how I choose to spend my days after all…