Eight Years Later. Still Plenty Insecure.
Eight years ago, on April 10, 2009, I started this blog. I was thirty. I had two small babes at home. Dad had died the July before. I was looking forward to the publication of my first novel. I started my blog at the behest of my then-agent, a wonderful woman who took a chance on rookie me. She didn't really know what a blog was; nor did I. But this didn't stop me. I went for it. I came up with the name "Ivy League Insecurities" which I thought was terribly clever, and apt. You see: I was this mildly-snobbish double Ivy League-grad, but my exquisite education, I was realizing, had done little to prepare me for the real world. The real world: a place where babies are born and parents die. A place where loneliness and uncertainty and fear dig in to even the "happiest" of souls.
I was excited! Excited about this new venture. I poured myself into it, blogging every single day for a long time. I did not do this out of obligation. I did this because I loved it. What was it that I loved? Well, all of it. The actual practice of writing. The thoughtful sharing of self. The asking of questions big and small. The opportunity to process.
What I could not see too clearly then, but what I see sharply now: I was a mess. A beautifully-functioning, well-meaning mess, but a mess all the same. I was in the weeds of new motherhood. I was deeply sad about Dad's death, my grief gritty and still fresh. I was drinking Pinot Grigio like a thirsty fish in an effort to cope and escape and stay young. I was anticipating the publication of my novel and often felt like a total fraud. My days, beautiful days mind you, were threaded with exhaustion and existential malaise and hangovers and a profound urge to be fine. I feel for that girl that was me. I do. She was suffering alright. But you know what helped? This blog.
And here I am. A full, unbelievable eight years later. Today is April 10, 2017. Those two babies by my side in my old hunter green study as I launched my site are now 10 and 8 and their little sister, not even on the scene then, is 6. Much has changed. We live in a new home, a home that no longer feels new. Just this morning, I was lamenting the scuffed white floors in our kitchen that need refinishing. That first novel was published and then a second almost six years later. I am an actual author now. And yet. I still feel like a fraud some of the time. My girls are all in school. Not just any school, but Dalton, the school I went to for K-12, a place that is dear to me. I am living a full-circle life in many ways; this is a blessing and sometimes tricky too.
In the past eight years, I have grappled with alcohol in a very non-linear, but earnest way. I have woken up to the fact that this one thing - this one thing I adored or believed I adored - is simply not good for me and has no place in my life. Goodness, it's been a winding, rocky road to today, but here I am eight-plus months dry and committed to - and jazzed about - this way of doing things.
Eight years. So much has changed and so much has stayed the same.
I'm still a mess, you guys. I'm still plenty insecure. I've been reading back through old posts and it amazes me how much it's all so true. I still feel sad and insecure and fearful a lot of the time. This is either what it means to be human or, more narrowly, what it means to be ADR. Mom is battling cancer now and it's not my place to share details of her story here, but it's a story that's also mine. I am yet again a child who doesn't want to lose a parent. All the old feelings have rushed back. I am hopeful and scared. I am alive and anxious. I am angry and at peace. The contradictions abound. I'm trying to embrace them; I know this is important, imperative work.
And I'm writing and not writing, getting places and spinning wheels. I am at work on several things - a new novel, a memoir too.
Today I'm more self-aware, I think. More determined than ever to cling to the beautiful moments of this one life I have. More grateful than I ever imagined possible for all of it. The good stuff of course. But also the hard, harrowing stuff. It is all magical and meaningful and it is all mine.
It's all my story. One that continues to unfold - with my editor's pen, and without it.
You might have noticed there is a new look here. Technologically, existentially, it was time. We all need to freshen up sometimes, clear clutter, redefine self, and begin again. Because, yes, this is a new beginning in a way. A recommitment to this place, and to this medium, but what I see more than ever is that this is a continuation. 2017 ADR is the same person as 2009 ADR is the same person as 1988-ish ADR, a little girl who leaned on her Dad's shoulder on an airplane and turned to him, a philosopher mind you, and said, apropos of nothing, apropos of everything, and said, "Dad, what is the self?" I don't remember what he said or if he said anything at all. But I do remember that he looked down at me, a twinkle in his bright blue eyes, and smiled. I was, and am, his child.
What's interesting, what's heartening: I feel the same flickers of excitement today, writing these words, as I did when I wrote my first post eight years ago. This is good. This is timely. I need this place right now as I muddle through. I know writing here more regularly will help me make sense of the things that are opaque and hard. I look forward to doing this.
More to come, but I wanted to leave you all with my very first post from eight years ago.
THE ABC'S OF INSECURITY - APRIL 10, 2009
So. Here goes. My very first post as a rookie blogger. And this post, like life, is one part serious and one part silly…
We humans are insecure creatures. To pretend otherwise is foolish. And yet that is exactly what we do. Everyday. We pretend that we have it all together. We wake up and get dressed and go outside and smile. What lingers behind those well-practiced smiles? The ABC’s of insecurity.
Anxiety. About everything. Including being anxious. “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” Soren Kierkegaard
Boredom. Admit it: if you weren’t a bit bored, you wouldn’t be reading this now. “Boredom: the desire for desires.” Tolstoy
Control. The one thing none of us has. “If everything seems under your control, you’re just not going fast enough.” Mario Andretti
Doubt. We make decisions. And then we doubt them. “I doubt, therefore I think. I think therefore I am.” Descartes
Expectations. Great Ones. Good book and story of our lives. “High expectations are the key to everything.” Sam Walton.
Fear. Of terrorism. Failure. Disease. Death. Infidelity. Mediocrity. Of being fat. “Always do what you are afraid to do.” Emerson
Grief. Over losing a parent. Or a spouse. Or a child. Or a friend. Or a pet. Or a job. Or ourselves. “Given a choice between grief and nothing, I’d choose grief.” Faulkner
Health. Vaginal or C-section? To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? Breast or bottle? Implants or let ’em hang? “It is health that is real wealth, not pieces of gold and silver.” Gandhi
Indecision. About everything. I can’t even decide what things to mention. “Indecision may or may not be my problem.” Jimmy Buffett
Jealousy. Is your husband thinking of straying? Does your child love the nanny more than you? “To cure jealousy is to see it for what it is, a dissatisfaction with self.” Joan Didion
Knowledge. I don’t care where you went to college, how big your salary is, how smart you are. About the most important things in life, we are all ignorant. “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” Confucius
Loneliness. How is it that we can’t find five minutes for ourselves and yet we still have moments where we feel utterly alone? “Loneliness adds beauty to life. It puts a special burn on sunsets and makes night air smell better.” Henry Rollins.
Mortality. We grow up. And children are born. And parents die. And we can’t help but contemplate our own exit. “If I am killed, I can die but once; but to live in constant dread of it is to die over and over again.” Abraham Lincoln
Negativity. Another thing I’m positive we all experience. “All negativity is an illusion created by the limited mind to protect and defend itself.” Ambika Wauters
Obligation. To our family. To our friends. To our society. To our favorite Idol contestant. To ourselves. “Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.” Eleanor Roosevelt
Pessimism. I have been experimenting with a new drug: optimism. I don’t think it is working very well. “A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.” Harry Truman
Questions. The one thing each of us has in abundance. “Judge a person by their questions, rather than their answers.” Voltaire
Regrets. Tell me you have no regrets and I will call you a liar. “For the majority of us, the past is a regret, the future an experiment.” Mark Twain
Self. The biggest, baddest roadblock of them all. “Self is the only prison that can ever bind the soul.” Henry Van Dyke
Time. No, there aren’t enough hours in the day, but there are twenty-four. Make the most of them and stop bitching. “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.” Harvey MacKay
Uncertainty. Certainty is a myth, a silly old fairy tale we want desperately to believe. “Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.” John Allen Paulos
Voice. We tell our tots to “use their words,” but how often do we insist on using ours? “There is a voice inside of you/ that whispers all day long,/”I feel that this is right for me,/I know that this is wrong.”/No teacher, preacher, parent friend/or wise man can decide/What’s right for you — Just listen to/the voice that speaks inside.” Shel Silverstein
Worry. All of us worry. Period. “Worrying is like a rocking chair — it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” Erma Bombeck
Xanax. I have absolutely nothing against prescription drugs. Plenty of people I know swear by ’em. “At what point should I try Xanax?” Aidan Donnelley Rowley
Youth. Some of us don’t have much interest in growing up. For example, those of us who are thirty and, let’s say, don’t have a driver’s license. So what if we want to stay kids even when we have kids? So what if we want to pretend that we are still in college and yet are open to the idea of Botox? “You’re never too old to become younger.” Mae West
Zoloft. Let me repeat for the record: I have nothing against prescription drugs. Again, plenty of people I know swear by ’em. Rumor has it it helps with insecurities A-Y. “Is Zoloft better than Xanax? If so, where can I get me some?” Aidan Donnelley Rowley