It’s a little after Midnight on the East Coast and I can’t sleep. I just got back from an Independent Wrestling Show and I’m too jazzed up after being Bret Hart breathe the same air as a wrestling ring. I love that man, he was my very first superhero and all time favorite wrestler so I am without a doubt a happy girl tonight. However, I can’t help but think. The house is quiet and honestly surrounded by love so I’m finding my muse poking its head out of the tiny rabbit hole she lives in.
Anyone else notice that the world is awake? Places, people, hell even some nature is louder than it has been in awhile. It feels as if the world has resumed in a big way. Sometimes I catch myself on the train just kind of taking it all in. My new office takes me through Times Square which makes me feel it all the more. There’s easily over 100,000 people per day that flow through that station and I can remember when we barely saw 10 in Grand Central Station.
It’s all very overwhelming when you take the time to examine the comparison and how easily the world can stop on a dime, but it is also incredible to see how much the world is actually resilient too. It’s so easy to lose yourself in news, politics, and the hatred that often fills the world and it makes it hard to see the beauty out there. To see how we as a collective society took a fall flat on our faces and got back up again is awe inspiring to me. We were put up against impossible and unknown odds and found a way to make it work the best we can. We still have a long way to go to sort out the bad in the world, but we have the means to do it if we lean into the power of resiliency and the strength of community.
Maybe, I’m a glass half full kind of gal but it’s nice to have a world where society is alive again and doing their damn best with what they have. Forgive this style of ramble but it’s been sitting with me and I wanted to take the time to share.
To tell this story and personal triumph, I need to work backwards to describe how I got to this point. February 2022 brought me my very first bone fracture in 32 years. Honestly, the fracture sucked but the how it happened stuck longer with me than the actual pain of the fracture did. I was walking out of a store near my job and riding an escalator to exit the building. I was on the escalator one moment and then the next I was flat on my face in the pocket of a revolving door. My shoulder had slammed straight into the lip of a revolving door and people watched me fall and did absolutely nothing. I quickly learned what adrenaline was, because I was able to push myself into a sitting position and get the hell out of the door but that still resulted in multiple people stepping over me. Luckily, I was conscious and aware, and I was able to call for help for myself. This injury led me to about a two-and-a-half-month rehabilitation period which became the biggest mental and physical challenge for me I’ve ever faced.
I wasn’t prepared for the mental toll that having a fractured bone would take on me. I thought that I’d be in pain, I’d take some medicine, rest, and move on. However, with a broken limb it took away a lot of the everyday independence that I was accustomed to. I was no longer able to feed myself with ease (I could still do it, it just took long), I was no longer able to wash my own hair (the rat’s nest was real, my friends), and I was no longer able to wear any shirt that I wanted to wear with ease because if I moved my arm too much I was forced to face the blinding physical pain that came with the movement of a fractured limb. I was forced to wear different versions a surgery shirt to accommodate my injury, day in and day out with no change. It was a constant reminder that I was injured with a long road ahead of me. At first, the brilliance of working around the injury was a blessing, but then it became like an anchor of a reminder I was carrying around and I started to hate it.
With the extra time on my hands, I dove into my comfort shows and All Elite Wrestling was one of them. I was watching an episode of Wednesday Night Dynamite and Adam Cole pulls this odd looking guy out from the under the ring. His name was Danhausen. I’d heard of him but never really explored his body of work. With the added time on my hands, I went into a deep dive and fell in love. Danhausen became the humor and fun that would keep me company throughout my injury. While I was watching him I noticed that my dreaded shirt looked like his ring gear which was a nice way to redirect of the thought of having to be stuck in this dreadful shirt. I was now reminded of Danhausen which helped the mental struggle and gave me motivation to push through rehab. Knowing that Comic Con was coming up, I decided that I was going to take this shirt and put it to good use, I was going to survive rehab and no longer think about this shitty feeling from this shirt and I would cosplay Danhausen.
With all of this said, I kept my promise. I survived rehab, I survived the pain of being stepped over, and I survived, period. I kept a promise to myself! I was able to cosplay as Danhausen and even meet him! Being able to tell him my story even if it was a quick talk meant the world to me. It was nice to be able to replace a bad memory with a great one. It’s also nice that I was able to stick to my word. I have a hard time with consistency so the idea that I set this goal and successfully kept this promise feels like a win to me. Sometimes life throws curve balls and it’s especially rewarding when you’re able to hit those curveballs right out of the park.
We first met when I was five years old. I’d say it was safe to assume that it was by accident, when my young parents let me take in the fighting amongst larger than life entities. From the moment, I saw the commercial where Bret “The Hitman” Hart gave his glasses away to the kid, I knew I wanted to have that experience some day. I was quickly enamored with him and his ability to make everyone love him with his athleticism, love for his country and especially his family. Bret was the very first super-hero figure that I have memory of in my life and he holds a special place in my heart still this day.
We really fell in love when I was twelve years old, didn’t we? You were all I could think about or talk about because you were the escape I needed and the license to be different from the kids around me. I was always a quiet kid with a broad imagination and the hyperbolic stories you offered only fueled my own ideas of what could be some day. This was the age of The Rock, Shane McMahon and Triple H. I had a crush on all three of them but their athleticism and charm wasn’t lost on me. They were cool and that’s exactly what I wanted to be. These three were incredibly influential to me, but none of them would ever be Chyna Doll or Chyna or how I would later remember her as Joanie. Joanie was the only woman I had ever saw who was just as athletic and full of life as the men in the sport and sometimes even better then them. She was the stand out, just like I often felt I was, so I was fascinated by her. She was the person to give me the license to be different and the fearlessness that was needed to be a preteen who wasn’t like the ones around her. Her presence and body of work carried me into my adulthood with priceless of bravery. I cried like I lost a family member when she died. My love for her ran deeper than I was willing to admit. She was like an old friend.
We broke up for awhile didn’t we? I got older and the need to fit in outweighed the need to find out who I was authentically, but all was not lost. When I met my wife, I was able to find you again. I watched you casually at first and began to enjoy your stories from the lens of an adult rather than a child and preteen in search of something. How foolish I was to think you couldn’t give me something. 2016 was the year of Cody Rhodes. He left the WWE and went on the quest of the independents. It was his journey that gave me the community I didn’t know I was missing. I felt a little out of place as an adult fan, but with my investment in him came the community of adult fans who were just like me. I was no longer weird or different, I found community in people who enjoyed you just like me. You have always been the gift that keeps on giving.
These days are relationship is more quiet but still steady. I turn you on for comfort, I go to matches for my favorites but I also go to matches to spend time with the people I love the most (even the ones that don’t love you like I do. Love you wife). All of this to say, thank you. Thank you for being the steady light in the sometimes really dark and crazy world.
Perfectionism is defined as the need to be or appear to be perfect, or even to believe that it’s possible to achieve perfection. Sounds unattainable when you speak it out loud, but too often I found myself falling into the trap of needing to be perfect in order to achieve what I thought was normal or good enough to be around my inner circle or just society in general. For far too long, perfectionism was the driving force to my anxiety healing and I went through unholy hell trying to find some secret formula that was going to serve as the cure to what I thought was the ideal version of normalcy. It wasn’t until I gave the idea up of being perfect that I started to find some of the relief I was doing so desperately looking for. This wasn’t something that happened overnight. It was a series of steps that got me to the path of understanding perfectionism.
1. Setbacks don’t erase your progress.
Anxiety would give me little periods of reprieve especially during a break through in therapy where I discussed something that was bothering me and I thought that I freed myself by speaking about it and learning tools to manage. However, another trigger would happen and I’d get knocked on my head again and think I would have to start from zero. Once I realized that bad days can come and go just as easily, it became easier to climb the ebbs and flows of daily life and not live in the shame that came with not handling everything the way I thought I or people thought I should. Healing was never linear and I am so glad to be able to accept that and live my life with the needed grace that I deserve.
2. Celebrate the positive as much as you evaluate the negative.
With any sort of mental illness or difficulty, it’s easy to get lost in what you could do better. Sometimes I find myself ruminating on the things I can do better or how I can apply the coping skills I’ve learned in a more effective way. While the need to practice these skills are important, they also aren’t the entire journey’s purpose and can be more hurtful than helpful. I have learned over time and sometimes still in real time to celebrate the progress and positive change that comes with the ebbs and flows of the healing journey. I can learn the skills as I go and practice them, but it makes it harder to do that if I’m consistently only noticing the mistakes and not celebrating the wins that come along too.
3. There is no end, there’s just a possibility of a full life to live.
When I began therapy in 2020, I went into it with the same attitude I would go into healing a physical sickness. I do all the things I’m told to do and I’ll feel back to normal again. I spent a lot of time looking for the proverbial dragon to slay and not realizing that there was no actual finish line. There was just the ability to just live life experiencing a full spectrum of emotions and going through them with grace and compassion rather than shame and comparison.
None of the above is an easy feat sometimes. Sometimes, it’s still my knee jerk reaction to “should” myself but I am proud to be a recovering perfectionist and someone who can accept life as it comes with a fuller set of coping skills and acceptance of myself along the way.
All of this to say that there is hope. Too often our own minds can be our worst enemies but if we are kind, compassionate and understanding to ourselves then life can feel that much lighter along the way.
When I first started exploring my mental health, I went into therapy thinking something was wrong with me and I needed to search for the perfect formula to go back to “who I was” before I was “broken” and “wrong”. I use quotation marks because the truth is, I was never broken or wrong to begin with. I was more human than I had ever imagined before. The realization of the never-ending evolution of oneself has been the biggest game changer for me. I am allowed to experience a full spectrum of emotions even the “bad” ones and there’s nothing wrong with that and who I am right now could be completely different from who I am five years from now and that’s okay. I am a recovering perfectionist and people-pleaser and I’m proud to say that out loud because it took a lot of work to get me here and while I still have bad days that suck, I am now armed with the tools and self-reliance to get me through them. It all feels like I’ve leveled up the human Pokémon that is me ready to take on the next set of adventures.
But what do you do when you’ve come to notice the changes in what’s always been there? How do you show up in relationships that never stopped even when you were at your lowest? I’m sitting here with this shiny new penny that is me, but I cannot help but wonder how she fits in in the most precious parts of her world? This is not to say that any of my relationships are suffering but I can’t help but notice the reputation and the precedents set by old behaviors that I’m working hard to leave behind me. It’s a strange place to be because it’s so new and it’s a little bit lonely because I’m forced to learn how to show up for myself and give myself grace and comfort in this unknown world, while also taking on the curiosity (rather than the anxiety, which feels HUGE) of how to show up for others, my most special and important others. It’s a very unexpected part of the journey for me. I thought I’d do therapy and have a few “ah-ha” moments and then be magically healed. Now, I’m forced to take these skills, use them, and figure out to fit into a beautiful life all at the same time. How weird, but how cool all at once.
This ramble was published with the intention to be more unfiltered. I spent a lot of my earliest moments on this page terrified and trying to figure myself out after my parents moved away. I want to revisit some of that rawness in this newer stage of my life in hopes to help someone else along the way. Will I stick to a schedule? Probably not. But, as the thought bubbles pop into the air I’m going to do less running from them and more letting them stay awhile.