There’s this thing that happens to me sometimes that I’ve long since learned I can’t control. It’s something I can ignore usually, or at least after a few years of recognizing it I’ve learned to ignore it, but when things in different areas of my life start imploding all at the same time, I find myself wrestling with this burning desire to do something destructive. The definition of “destructive” has changed over the years, but I can recognize that feeling coming from a mile away. It’s like an old addiction to self-destruction that yoga and clean eating and new attitudes and a new life can’t hide forever; the moment I can feel things start to slip, slip from my control, there’s a sort of cloud that covers my vision in this hazy need to do something impulsive, and big, and maybe a little dangerous to boot.
One of the earliest memories I have of the first time this happened is standing in the bathroom outside my bedroom at around 15 years old. I was angry with my mother yet again because she “couldn’t understand” why I so badly wanted the top of my ear pierced. We’d had the arguments many times, and she never gave me a reason more than “because I said so” as to why she wouldn’t allow me to have that put in my ear. Hormonal and filled with angst, I had this overwhelming impulse to do something, everything, anything. I went into one of the bathroom drawers and grabbed an earring, the one that had been used to pierce my ears a few years back, marked a spot on my left ear with a pen, took a deep breath and stuck it through. As I exhaled, I thought three things in quick succession: That didn’t hurt as much as I thought it might! Mama B is gonna be so fucking pissed off at me. Huh, I actually feel way better.
This draw to impulsive sorts of self-destruction has led to a lot of interesting decisions over the years, from bad third dates to at least one of my tattoos. I’ve had piercings all up and down my ears and face and abdomen, and many years ago this impulse may have led to an interesting afternoon in the office following a sangria-fueled lunch on a weekday with my lovely friend M. When things in my life start to feel like they’re slipping, not quite out of my control yet but on the way, I use that helpless feeling as an excuse to do something impulsive or crazy without thinking, as though I feel like things are already bad so let’s just keep rolling with it and see where we land. It’s not always a bad thing – following that impulse has led to some awesome nights (/mornings…) out and of course, at least one of my tattoos – but as I’ve gotten older, catering to such an impulse is starting to get exhausting.
That particular feeling started to bubble up yesterday while I sat in the office and watched the clock move slowly, knowing it was the first of yet another series of very late nights. It’s like all of the lucky, wonderful, something-big-is-happening feelings I’ve had in the past month finally came crashing back down, with so many things out of my control and so many things about to happen. And by early evening, I found myself contemplating a few things: Where else could I get a piercing at almost-27 years old that isn’t weird? Maybe I’ll go get that tiny script tattoo that popped into my head yesterday when I leave the office tomorrow. I wonder if anyone is around for a Sunday Funday this weekend? I had to halt at that last one (Sunday Funday is dangerous and may or may not lead to lost wallets), take a step back, and figure out what was really going on, because I knew if I didn’t, one of those things would happen and really none of those things are good ideas.
I sighed deeply from the conference room where I’d camped out for the day, and calmly rationalized that I already have one facial piercing and I’m waiting till after T’s wedding for my next tattoo. And while I can’t say for sure what’s going to happen this weekend (aside: N.Posse – I would be super down for a Sunday Funday #justsaying), I decided instead to forget a budget for a minute and ordered a yoga prop I’ve been eyeing for months. Maybe saying “fuck it” to budgeting and spending money on a workout toy isn’t the craziest thing I’ve done to find a little more control in the wild things in my life these days. I’m okay with that, though. It’s worth it to have these little self-teaching moments that make it very apparent when you’ve grown up, if only a little bit.