My #MeToo Story

It’s 2006. I’m 19 years old. I move to Los Angeles because I want to be an actress. I’m accepted into a conservatory program in the heart of Hollywood. I don’t know anyone and I have no idea what I’m doing, but the possibilities seem endless and my dreams feel possible.

It’s 2007. I perform a scene in my audition technique class. When I’m done, my teacher asks me about my clothes. He wants to know why my white skirt is so long and my blue blouse is so baggy. He tells me I’m sexy, and for the sake of my career, I need to embrace it. He never comments on my performance. The class giggles as I sit down. This is the foundation my career is built on.

It’s 2008. I’ve graduated from that conservatory program with a little less confidence than I entered. I get my first commercial/print agent. I’m asked to audition in high heels and a bikini three or four times a week. I hate my stomach. I don’t like the way my thighs jiggle. I’m not very graceful in those heels. I cry on my way home from every audition and tell myself I’m just frustrated by the traffic on the 101.

It’s 2009. I’m told to “network” because it’s “all about who you know”. I meet a guy who claims to be a producer. He tells me he’s making a movie and wants me to be in it. I agree to go back to his apartment to meet the other producers. No one else is there. He tells me if I “do something” for him, he’ll give me the part. He tries to shove my head into his crotch, it hurts. I ask him to stop. I force a smile and tell him I have to be up early so I really should get going. I apologize to him on my way out and blame myself for believing him in the first place.

It’s 2010. I audition for a music video. Non-union. They don’t ask me to wear a bikini this time. They ask me to take off all of my clothes. I do. They take Polaroids. I wonder where those Polaroids are now.

It’s 2011. I meet an A-list actor and we begin having an intimate relationship. I tell myself “he’s busy” when I don’t hear from him for weeks between our get-together. After eight months, I finally get up the nerve to ask him if what we’re doing will ever be anything more. He kisses me goodbye the next morning and I never hear from him again.

It’s 2012. I meet another producer. This one’s legit. I know that because now I’m smart enough to do my research before I agree to meet someone. His resume is impressive. He tries to kiss me on the lips after our first meeting, standing under the fluorescent lights of the valet parking lot at Soho House. I turn my head so his lips land on my cheek. This producer will manipulate and sexually harass me for years. I will email him and meet him for dinner, again, telling myself that I’m “networking”.

It’s 2013. The legit producer sexually assaults me in his home. “Just don’t ever be alone in a room with Harvey. He’s the worst out of all of us”, he warns me as he forces his mouth onto mine. I drink a lot more these days. I tell myself that I asked for it.

It’s 2014. It feels like I’m getting nowhere in my career. I’m struggling to make ends meet. I take a decent paying job at a fancy hotel. My first week there, one of the bar owners comes into my office and asks me if I like to be spanked. “I guess this happens in every industry”, I think to myself as I laugh at my new boss’ joke.

It’s 2015. I get sober and start a blog. I spend a lot of time alone. I think about my time in the industry thus far and what could happen next. I have suicidal thoughts for the first time in my life.

It’s 2016. I book the lead in a movie. There’s a topless scene. If I don’t agree to do it, I won’t get the part, and I could really use a break right about now. So I do it. “The only good thing about ‘Krampus Unleashed’ is Amelia Brantley’s boobs”, someone tweets once the film is released. “How about that hot tub scene!”, a radio DJ exclaims during my interview. I have a panic attack when I find out that the scene and pictures of my body are on MrSkin.com.

It’s 2017. A producer in New York reads my blog and asks me to develop it into a feature. We meet for dinner in LA. It feels more like a date. We sign an option deal. A few weeks later, I post a picture of me and my boyfriend on social media and this producer stops responding to my calls and emails.

It’s 2018. I’m a fraction of the starry-eyed girl who moved to LA at 19 years old. My dreams have been crushed under the weight of men with power, who never saw my talent or hard work because they were too busy wondering what I look like without my clothes on or actively trying to take them off. I’m uncomfortable in my skin because I’ve been living in a body that hasn’t belonged to me for over 10 years. It’s belonged to those men whose words and actions have chipped and gnawed and sliced away at every ounce of my self-worth. I think about quitting. Wouldn’t it feel good to just walk away….

It’s 2019. I read this piece that I wrote a year ago. I think about sharing it, but I don’t. “It’s too much”, I tell myself.

It’s 2020. I seek help. I find the programs and the support that I need to begin healing from my traumas. I get sober again. I can finally say, with certainty, that the abuse, harassment, and assault I experienced, was not my fault.

It’s 2021. I’m finally sharing this piece I started writing three years ago because I’m no longer ashamed of my story. I am in awe of it. I’m proud of the young woman who never gave up, despite having every reason to do so. I understand now that who I am is not the sum of these experiences. I am so much more than that. I’m reclaiming my body, rediscovering my passion, and relearning who I am as my most authentic. It took a while to get back here, but once again, the possibilities seem endless and my dreams feel possible.

Presently: Poof

I blew up my life this year.

I went into 2020 feeling equal parts hopeful and desperate. I had been swirling around in a rut for a while and was craving some kind of change or monstrous upheaval, but I had no idea where to begin. I was dog-paddling because I was convinced that if I could keep my head above water long enough, someone or something would surely come to rescue me.

And then, 2020 happened.

For me, 2020 was a big mirror, and not one of those flattering, skinny mirrors in department store dressing rooms that convince you to buy the overpriced designer jeans. This mirror was cracked because it had been dropped so many times. And it was dusty because it hid under my bed like the boogeyman. And it forced me to take a long, hard look at myself. And what I found, was the monstrous upheaval I had been looking for for a really long time.

I’ve already written about some of the ways in which I’ve stopped looping on low self-worth, but to summarize, I’ll say it again… I blew up my life this year.

I left relationships that made me feel anxious. I got sober. I stopped giving my time and heart to boys who didn’t really want it. I set boundaries with friends and family who prefer the smaller version of me. I even left the comfort of my day jobs because I think it’s about damn time I do the kind of work that lights me up and not settle for the struggle. So, I’m entering the new year with a few less friends, zero potential love interests, and no job. And I’m pretty stoked about it.

For the first time in my life, I’m free-falling. I realized that I didn’t need a lifesaver to rescue me from the dog-paddling. I just needed to lean back and float down the hypothetical river, let it take me wherever it wanted.

I have no idea what’s going to happen. I have a couple months of savings, a great therapist, and an incredibly supportive family. I feel very lucky. Especially after the year we’ve had as a collective. I realize how fortunate I am to be able to find something good and empowering in such a shitshow of a year. I hope you found that too. And if you didn’t, I hope you keep looking. It’s there. I promise.

And I also promise to keep you posted on what happens with all this new-found space in my life. At the very least, I’m sure it will be entertaining.

Sending you all a lot of love. Here’s to 2021.

-A

Presently: Panicked

Full disclosure: I took one and a half Tylenol PMs a little over an hour ago and am currently fighting off my over-the-counter drug induced coma to write this. You know when you get an idea right before you pass out and you don’t write it down because you’re almost asleep and you promise yourself you’ll remember the surely brilliant thought in the morning, but you never do? That’s the place where this blog post is coming from, only I knew I wouldn’t remember to write this in the morning and/or would chicken out if I didn’t just do it right now.

I’m freaking out guys. I spent most of today eating raw cookie dough and an embarrassingly large bowl of pasta while simultaneously panic-scrolling the internet for inspiration and comfort because I just realized I’m thirty-three years old and don’t have any of the things I thought I would have by my mid-30s like a stable career, a potential husband, and the ability to pay all of my bills exclusively through the auto-pay option.

This obviously isn’t the first time I’ve felt like this, it’s just the loudest. As I crept closer to my 30s, I started to panic, but was always able to quiet those thoughts because if Jessica Chastain could “make it” in her 30s, I was convinced I could too. I’m not able to convince myself of that anymore and it’s all starting to feel a little silly if I’m being honest. I feel silly. Why did I think I could do this? Why did I let myself have all these big, beautiful dreams? Why have I spent the last fourteen years of my life sacrificing a normal trajectory only to feel like I’ve settled for even less than what I was always afraid of settling for? What the actual fuck am I doing with my life?

Maybe I’m finally starting to feel the effects of the pandemic in the way everyone’s been tweeting about for the better part of 2020. That feeling of lost time. I guess I’m just a little late to the pity party. This year has boggled my mind in the most unexpected ways. I didn’t know it was possible for us all to feel so collectively stuck with no clue how to make everything less sticky. Sure, there are glimmers of hope, more-so in recent weeks. But, if/when we get un-stuck, then what? We’re all a year older and a year madder and what do we have to show for it?

I have no idea. I’m fresh out of answers and just scooped a handful of cookie crumbs out of my wireless bra, so clearly, my reasoning and logic can’t be trusted at the moment. Maybe I’ll have some answers once the diphenhydramine wears off. If you need me, I’ll be under my weighted blanket for the next eight to ten hours.

Presently: Too Much

This may come as a surprise to all of you, but… I have a flair for the dramatics.

Growing up, I had a lot of feelings and a consistent desire to share those feelings with just about anyone who came within a one mile radius of me. I think I took to performing so easily because it was the first socially acceptable outlet I found for sharing all of my highs and lows. For whatever reason, the need to share my feelings has always been there and the only times in my life when I’ve felt really out of alignment was when I was hiding my feelings or manipulating them because I never wanted to be “too much”.

That’s a phrase I’ve heard a lot in my life. “You’re too much.” It’s funny, when you get that kind of feedback over and over again, being too much actually turns into the feeling that you’re not enough, or at least, that’s been my experience.

The OG readers may remember that back in 2015 during my first sober year, I had a massive breakthrough regarding my “enough-ness”. It was in October of 2015, I was hiking Runyon (the hard side, not the tourist side) and listening to Adele (I listen to mellow music when I work out, it’s a quirk). As I struggled for air, due to a rise in elevation, both physically and emotionally, I had a thought that didn’t feel like my own, yet felt like it was coming from the inner most part of my being, and all it said was, “You are enough.” I’ve thought about that moment a lot over the last five years.

Here’s the thing, having an Adele-infused breakthrough halfway up a Hollywood hot-spot was awesome and special and life-altering, but it didn’t fix everything. It’s not like I climbed down the mountain with a new pep in my step and lived happily ever after. In fact, I think it’s actually been the exact opposite of that. That moment was just the beginning. It was the first layer of my onion and I peeled it back, only to find thousands of layers underneath it. I’ve been picking at and peeling back those layers ever since, only to find thousands more.

I’m too much, guys. We all are. That’s life. I may be an emotional over-sharer, but I’m not an anomaly, I’m not special. I think if we all looked at our lives, we’d find that we all have stories and experiences and anecdotes that are packed full of pain, sadness, joy, love… and it’s a lot. Life is full of a lot.

I wonder what would happen if we re-framed this “too much” label. How would we love and care for each other if instead of classifying someone or something as “extra”, we realized that we’re all just a bunch of onions with an excessive amount of layers? What would it look like if we all felt safe enough to peel back those layers or even help each other with the peeling?

Okay, that analogy is starting to get a little gross, but you know what I mean. Or at least, I hope you do.

As I was trying to figure out how to wrap this up, I had another one of those thoughts that came from, well, wherever they come from. I get these thoughts a lot more nowadays. This one felt familiar, but also new. It’s a thought that’s come before, but it just one-upped itself.

It said “You are more than enough”.

Be more than. Be extra. Be excessive. Embrace how much you are because it means you have that much more to offer. Be too much.

Presently: Real

“From here on out, I am only interested in what is real. Real people, real feelings. That’s it. That’s all I’m interested in.”

My roommate is going to yell at me when she reads this because she knows I just quoted a movie I’ve never seen.

The first time I read that quote was on a dorm-mate’s AIM away message at UMASS, Amherst in 2006. I had no idea where the quote came from and I didn’t really care. I just sort of absorbed it and it’s been looping in my brain ever since… that loop has gotten louder recently.

Real people. Real feelings. That’s all I’m interested in. Yeah…

While deep-diving into some self-help/self-love/self-stuff this year, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I haven’t been very “real” lately, or at all. I’ve lived a pretty big chunk of my life dishonestly.

A momma-friend of mine told me the other day that according to some recent studies, most children learn to lie around the age of five. I definitely picked up that habit early on and ran with it. Of course, I’m talking about those little white lies to get out of trouble, and the bigger ones to garner some kind of attention, but what I’ve discovered to be the most damning lies I ever told, are the ones I told myself.

Something really interesting happens when you stop lying to yourself. When you dig around and get brutally honest… You kinda start to blow up your life a little, or at least, that’s what I’ve done.

I found that the more honest I got, the more I realized I had been doing things that weren’t very “me” and were actually bold-faced lies.

For example, earlier this year, I got a side job writing for a click-bait-y website. I used a pen name because I was so embarrassed to have my real name published under articles like “Which Frozen Character Are You Based On Your Zodiac Sign?”. Seems harmless enough, right? Wrong. I was lying. I was lying about who wrote these articles for the sake of a paycheck, and for a girl who clearly needs an audience and loves taking credit for her work, this lie was a big one. So, I quit. Sure, I miss the additional income, but I definitely don’t miss the feeling of settling for work I’m not proud of and hiding in plain sight with a stupid pen name.

Once I blew up my financial stability, I moved on to my love life. Normally, in relationships, I like to play it cool, or at least, that’s the lie I’ve been telling myself and the people I’m with. “I don’t need a label”, “I can have casual sex”, “I’m not sure what I want”. All lies I’ve been perpetuating for most of my adult life. Turns out, I like labels and I want an all-in relationship and when I sleep with someone, I usually get pretty attached (as do most women because when we have sex, our brains release Oxytocin the “love chemical” no matter what, while in men’s brains, that chemical is only released when the dude is in love).

Last month, I found myself six months into a relationship with someone who didn’t want the same things I wanted, and instead of being mad about it or convincing myself to hold on long enough until he did want those things… we broke up. It was actually one of the healthiest break-ups I’ve ever had because we were totally honest with one another and I walked away feeling like he and I could be friends in the future. No hard feelings. I’ve never been able to say that about an ex before.

Shortly after that break-up, I uncovered even more heart-stuff I had been lying about and finally told one of my guy friends that I’ve been harboring feelings for him, off and on, for the better part of a decade. Did that kind of honesty make me want to barf? Yup. Especially when he didn’t reciprocate those feelings (which I kinda always knew he didn’t). But, I’m so glad I told him because I can move on knowing I was honest. I’ve lied so much in the past because it seemed like the safer bet. It’s safer to pretend to feel nothing than to be vulnerable and feel everything. That’s not true. I found out vulnerability actually feels really good in most situations, especially in matters of the heart, because it’s honest.

There’s one more relationship I got honest with this month, and that’s my relationship with alcohol. For anyone who has read this blog over the years, there’s been a lot of ups and downs and back and forth with the drinking “thing”. One month I was sober, the next I was declaring I’d found a healthy way to drink, and then a few months later I was sober again. What I’ve realized recently is that… I am not someone who has ever had healthy drinking habits and a lot of my old posts on here were real-time struggles with alcoholism. I lied to you guys and I lied to myself. I have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism. I am 50% more likely than the average human to develop an addiction, and I did. That’s not to say I haven’t had what society considers to be a “normal” night out drinking with friends, of course I have, but those nights never came naturally to me. The overwhelming urge to binge drink has been something I’ve always struggled with and I think I’ve finally reached the point where I’m done struggling. That’s the funny thing I’m learning about all these lies… it’s a struggle to keep up with them. Telling the truth is just so much easier. Scarier? Sure, sometimes. But it’s always easier.

From here on out, I’m only interested in what’s real, and what’s easy, and what’s honest. That’s it. That’s all I’m interested in.

Presently: Divided

One of those click-bait-y internet memes popped up on my Facebook feed a few days ago. I usually scroll past them, but I stopped and read this one and I don’t remember exactly what it said. I can’t even tell you which of my social media friends posted it, but to summarize, it was talking about how in the last four years we’ve probably all learned a lot about politics, but we’ve learned even more about our family and friends. 

Boy, oh, boy, did that sentiment hit me in the face like a pillowcase full of bricks. 

I’ve learned a lot about you people, especially recently.

I’ve learned that I was raised by three women who are innately empathetic and adaptable, women who can hold space for new ideas and healthy conversations. I’ve learned that I’m really proud when people tell me I’m exactly like them. 

I’ve also learned that there are a lot of people in my family who don’t agree with my view points, both political and societal. I’ve learned that the people who don’t agree with me are a lot harder to talk to because the topics of conversation are so divisive and ultimately, engaging with those who don’t agree, makes me feel small, and it makes me feel wrong, and I find myself questioning just about everything and hesitating to speak up when I feel like I should. Part of the reason I took a social media break was because I was so tired of being brushed off every time I tried to engage with a member of my family who supports our current president or responds to my BLM post with “All/Blue/White Lives Matter” or spreads misinformation about the current Pandemic without fact-checking it or bitches about having to wear a mask. 

If you read this last paragraph and it resonated, this blog post is for you.

I’m so tired of your shit, guys. Seriously. It’s exhausting. Just in the last three months, I’ve had to sit through conversations where you say things like, “I don’t fact check before I post”, and “I don’t have time for politics”, and “Trump loves this country, why else would he be President”, and “If Jacob Blake had just complied…”, and “What about the looting”, and “If I get COVID I won’t die” and, “The left are a bunch of socialists” (that one is my favorite because every single person who has said that to me is benefiting from either social security, medicaid, or free college… so, like, socialism.)

I’ve tried to have these conversations with you, I’ve tried to voice a different opinion in hopes of having a healthy debate, but you’ve made me feel so stupid for trying. You’re so quick to dismiss me with an emoji or a “let’s not go there” or a “calm down”. I’ve come to the conclusion that you really don’t care. You aren’t saying these things because you want to have a conversation, you’re saying them because they feel good to say. Think about that. Responding to social injustice with “What about my life?”, feels good. Posting conspiracy theories about the CDC and the pandemic when over 180,000 Americans have died as a direct result of this virus, feels good. Listening to a racist, divisive, narcissistic president, who, from day one, has raged a war against the press as a way to keep his supporters from listening to facts and forming their own opinions, feels good. 

It certainly feels better than listening to me, right? I get it. Talking to me or people like me, who don’t share your views doesn’t feel good because it makes you feel wrong. And no one likes being wrong. I hate being wrong. I’m just as stubborn as most of you, in fact, I probably got my stubbornness from you. (See? We do still have a thing or two in common.)

So, we find ourselves in a really weird place. We’re family. We’re supposed to love each other unconditionally, but we’re suddenly seeing conditions in each another that are difficult to love. How do we fix that? How do we come back from this? 

I have no idea. I don’t know how I’m supposed to have Thanksgiving with you and act like I haven’t lost sleep over some of the things I’ve heard you say and seen you post. And I don’t think you want to sit across a table from me either because you know it’s going to come up eventually and I suck at biting my tongue.

And I don’t know what I’m supposed to say when I call you now. The silence from both ends of the line is screaming for us to have a hard conversation that we hesitate to start because we don’t know how it will end.

And I don’t know how many more months we’re going to continue to ignore each other and pretend that’s not what we’re doing. I’ll like a post of your kid, you like my new headshot. We’ll continue playing nice on the surface because if we ever attempt to unpack all of this stuff, it’s going to be so messy and uncomfortable. 

Seems like it’s easier to just agree to disagree, right? Play nice. Butt out. Don’t engage.

That’s certainly the easier way out, but I don’t want to do that.

I’ve re-written the end of this post about a hundred times. I’m realizing I don’t have a solution, and that scares me. I want things to go back to the way they were, but that’s impossible if we can’t talk to one another and listen to one another.

It’s funny… I remember the day after the 2016 election, I talked to most of you about my fears with this president. You assured me it wouldn’t be that bad. You said one president can’t cause that much damage.

Look at what one president did to our family. 

From where I’m sitting… I see a lot of damage. 

Presently: Back

I’ve written a lot on this blog about being an “all or nothing” person. I’ve always been the type to live in extremes, if I did something it was 100% or not at all. And that was nothing I’ve ever felt ashamed of or something I thought I should examine a little closer. I just figured that was how I operated in the world, and there wasn’t much I, or anyone else, could do to fix it because it didn’t need fixing.

And then 2020 happened.

What a weird freaking year, right guys?

I’ve thought about blogging a hundred times since my last post back in February and have an alarming number of drafts saved in my WordPress folder, that will never see the light of day. By late March, I started to get the feeling that maybe I picked the wrong year to re-start this blog because in the middle of a pandemic, while people are dying and everyone is sheltering at home and some are losing their jobs and there is so much uncertainty, who the eff cares what I have to say?

Truth be told, I didn’t have anything to say. I didn’t know where to begin. So, every time my mom, (who I still think is the only one who actually reads these things anyway), asked, I told her it didn’t feel appropriate. When really, I was just at a loss for words for the first time in my entire life.

Which caused me to retreat inward. I think a lot of us did that. I mean, we got blindsided by an effing pandemic, what were we supposed to do?

And while I was in there, in my head and digging deeper into my subconscious (with a little help from an incredible woman named Lacy Phillips, who I highly recommend you get to know), I figured a few things out, and well, I guess I found those words I thought I lost.

Life is really gray. I don’t mean that in a depressing way, although, life this year, as we all know, has been very gray and gloomy. What I mean is the world and how we operate in it, isn’t as black and white as I once thought it was. Trying to operate as an “all or nothing” person is actually very hard because it’s so limiting and what this world has to offer on a daily basis, even in the middle of pandemic, is not limited, it’s gray.

Maybe gray is the wrong word choice here. It doesn’t paint a very pretty picture, does it? It’s not gray, it’s nuanced and detailed and shaded and colorful. Colorful. I like that. Life is colorful.

I’ve been looking for the nuances, the “colorful” if you will, more lately. When the pandemic started, “colorful” was having days where I’d get up early and write for hours and other days where I’d be lucky to get out of my pajamas by dinner time, judgement-free. When it comes to my dry year, “colorful” is sipping on an alcoholic komubucha last night while simultaneously crying into a bag of French fries watching Obama give his speech at the DNC and not feeling “bad” about it. (I’ll blog more about the dry year thing later, promise.) When it comes to politics, it’s really hard to find colors, but they’re there. There is a bright, colorful middle ground somewhere and I think the only way to find it is to ensure the guy currently sitting in the White House, who loves to pit things and people against one another, labeling them “good” and “bad” and “right” and “wrong” and “black” and “white”, gets his eviction notice on November 3rd. And when it comes to each other and how we move forward from all of this, we’ll start seeing more colors when we start listening to one another.

The world seems so divided right now. It looks so black and white, everything feels so all or nothing. Take it from a girl who lived in those extremes for most of her life, it’s not the way things are meant to be.

I have a lot to say about this year, so don’t worry, I’ll be back soon. But in the meantime, keep your eyes open for a little more color, and let’s try to paint a prettier picture than what we’ve seen in 2020 thus far.

bah, humbug.

You know what’s harder than dating in your 30’s, in a major city? Dating in your 30’s, in a major city, and having to respond to every date inquiry with, “Sure, but I’m not drinking”. (I say every date inquiry like I’m juggling tons of men on a weekly basis and I should probably tell you now, that’s the exact opposite of what I’m doing.)

I’ve been asked out once so far this year, (heyo, still got it), and it was very sweet, but I declined for a few reasons. And the only one I’m willing to divulge in a public forum is… well… I’m not 100% sure I have any idea how to date at this point in my life. 

Dating without alcohol makes you extremely vulnerable and as you all know by now, the last time I met someone under sober circumstances, I fell pretty hard and pretty fast, and had my heart broken pretty bad. I mean, let’s be honest, I fall quickly no matter what, but it’s different when you take alcohol out of the equation. It’s different when your first date is over coffee and you meet at a cute little shop in the valley where you end up sitting and talking for four hours about everything from your obsession with Instagram dogs to his favorite classic films, and you open up about losing someone you loved when you were twenty-four and he tells you about losing his dad when he was a kid, and then you tell each other embarrassing high school stories to lighten the mood, until eventually, you realize what time it is and you invent some reason why you can’t sit there for another four hours, even though secretly, you’d really like to. So, soberly, your date walks you to your car and stops what he’s saying mid-sentence to tell you that you have the most beautiful eyes he’s ever seen and you know you can believe him when he says things like that, and it’s not just one too many drinks talking or something he’ll take back when he’s hungover the next morning. It’s very easy to fall for that guy under those circumstances. It’s very easy to give your whole heart to someone who didn’t really deserve it in the first place, even if his one-liners were perfect. It’s very easy to stop trusting your heart when it lets itself get so broken. 

When you take alcohol out of the dating equation, you have nothing to hide behind, no crutches, no take-backs. It forces you to be completely you. When you fall for someone under such honest circumstances it’s amazing, but when it ends and you realize that sober-you was wrong and misjudged someone so badly, and sober-you didn’t listen to that little voice those first couple of months saying “this isn’t right”, and sober-you ignored countless red flags because sober-you was so afraid to be alone with sober-you, well, you can probably understand how the idea of dating these days sends me spiraling rather quickly. 

I’m trying though, I am. I re-downloaded Raya and swiped right on John Mayer the other night. That counts, right? I know, it doesn’t. I just really wanted you guys to know that I’m on Raya.

I have a crush, a few of them actually. That feels like a good place to start, but will mostly likely also be the place where it ends due to my fear of rejection and unrealistic desire to be swept off my feet Notebook style. 

So, I’m probably screwed. And not in the fun way.

As one of my all-time favorite musicians, Don Henley, would say, I’ve been trying to get down, to the heart of the matter. I really hope I can do that this year. I hope I figure this whole love thing out. I hope I learn how to trust my heart and listen to my gut at the same time. I hope I find the nerve to ask one of those crushes out on a date. I hope I find myself at another cute little coffee shop in the valley falling for someone new, someone right.

But, in the meantime, I shall embrace single-lady life and be my own Valentine today. I plan on treating ya girl right with some sushi and a viewing of the new “To All The Boys…” on Netflix, (don’t roll your eyes, the first one was freaking great).

SuperAmelia!

You know how, when you’re on a really dumb first date with a guy you accidentally swiped right to on Raya and the conversation is moving at a glacial pace until the dude who put “hedge fund” as his job description (red flag #1) decides to ask you a really original, thought provoking, move-over-James-Lipton, type of question. So, as he sips his second black label on the rocks, and you chug your club soda, wishing the bartender had accidentally slipped you an ounce or two of vodka, he leans in, does the Hot Priest Smirk (but it’s not nearly as hot), and says, “If you could have one superpower, what would it be?” And then you answer as quickly as possible, “Flying”, hoping to God the check comes and puts you out of your misery.
 
No? Just me? Cool, cool, cool, cool… I digress.
 
My point is, it’s day 22 and I’ve discovered that I actually have not one, but two superpowers.
 
Superpower #1 comes with a Superhero alter-ego, named (by my roommate), Chloe. It’s recently been discovered that I am incredibly good at flirty texting dudes. How I’m still single, well, that’s a question for the ages, but I’ve become a go-to for my lady friends when they’re texting someone they like. A fact I am most proud of and in true LA-fashion, am also looking to monetize. Kidding. Sort of.
 
Superpower #2. I was getting a London Fog over the weekend with one of my closest friends/great loves of my life. We hadn’t seen each other since my dry year began, so naturally, one of the first topics of conversation was just that. I proudly told him I was on day 19 and then he asked, “How do you do that?”
 
It’s a question I’ve been getting a lot lately. I guess people asked me the same thing in 2015, but I didn’t have a clear answer and usually just shrugged my shoulders and chalked it up to some kind of divine intervention or something.
 
I’ve always known “why” I wanted to do a dry year, both this time and the last time, but “how” seems to have a more complicated answer.
 
I think that for starters, I’m just really stubborn. If I say I’m going to do something, I follow through, no matter what. If my life were a Shakespearean drama, this would probably be my character’s tragic flaw. I remember the first time I declared a dry year, a lot of people thought or said behind my back, “I give her two weeks before she cracks”, and though I never heard those comments with my own ears, I knew they were out there and the idea of proving some of my nearest and dearest wrong motivated me.
 
I’ve also described it as a switch in my brain that I can turn on and off. Like, if I decide not to drink for a year, I turn the sober-switch on and the desire to put anything other than water, green juice, and caffeine in my body has completely vanished. But, that’s not always true, in the past, this switch has been known to blow a fuse or be out-of-order, (see: Dry Year Attempt of 2018), so that visual doesn’t make for a very good “how”.
 
I think the best way to explain how I’m doing this, again, is to say, I’m consciously choosing to face my fears. Fears. Plural. There’s a lot of them. A lot.
 
The biggest of the bunch is the fear of failure. As I hinted at earlier, this isn’t my second attempt at a dry year, it’s actually my fourth. As hard as my first dry year was, I loved it so much, and I’ve spent most of the time since that year, trying to find my way back to the person and the life I had created for myself then. I knew that cutting out the not-so-healthy distractions would help me rediscover what I learned in 2015, but for some reason, it’s been almost impossible for me to follow through on another dry, distraction-free, period of time. I’ve tried a half-year, a month, another year, and shortly after each attempt was made, I managed to reason myself back into my old habits.  Failing all of those attempts, fed my dormant insecurities and feelings of not-enoughness until they were no longer dormant. They were wide awake and I was headed down a slow and steady spiral of self destruction, until I hit rock bottom.
 
I should clarify now that my “rock bottom” wasn’t drinking every day or even that excessively, though I did get pretty good at justifying a mid-week hangover. It wasn’t what I’d call “movie rock bottom” where the girl sits alone in her apartment drinking wine from the Franzia bag, blasting Taylor Swift, and crying to her dog because a boy didn’t call her back or the job she thought she booked or meeting she thought she had fell through (I swear that didn’t happen).
 
My rock bottom was a constant awareness that I needed help, but didn’t want to ask for it. I fell out of love with myself and I knew it and I had zero desire to do anything about it. There was a lot of isolation, depression, pretending I was fine. A lot of lying, to myself and everyone else around me. I never want to go back to that, and the fear that if I don’t follow through this year, that’s where I might be again… I guess that’s been my “how” so far.
 
The next thing I was going to write was, “overcoming fear is my superpower”, but I realized just now, that’s not what I’m doing. I’m not overcoming my fears, I’m using them to my advantage. I think that’s my superpower and I think it might be yours too. I think we’re all capable of taking what scares us the most and using it to be better. Maybe fear isn’t meant to be overcome or defeated, maybe we shouldn’t put that pressure on ourselves, to tackle such a beast.
 
Maybe fear is meant to be lived in and recognized and used in a way that motivates and pushes us to something great, to our full Superhero potential.
 
I like the sound of that. I’m going to go put on my cape now, maybe sip a green juice, cancel my Raya, see if Chloe can be of service, and figure out what other fears of mine can help get me back to better.
 

 

Happy 2020!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I love New Year’s. I love the idea of starting fresh and making resolutions and vision boards and setting goals for the next 365 days… clearly.

I’ve been prepping for this new year for the last month or so. I bought some great journals, made a couple of vision boards and set new goals for 2020.

One of my big goals (besides doing another dry year) is to be more open, vulnerable, and truthful. I wasn’t really great at any of those things last year. So, in the interest of vulnerability, openness, and honesty, I’m going to share what’s on my goal list and vision boards with you.

I’m using The New Hollywood’s “Manifesting Your Mission” journal this year to track all of my intentions for 2020. I LOVE this journal. I used it in 2019 and it was one of the few things that kept me (somewhat) sane during a hard year. I highly recommend getting yourself one. They’re available for purchase online through The New Hollywood’s website ($25).

One thing this journal talks about is setting goals vs. visualizations.

Goals are measurable things. Things you have control over. Some of my goals are:
-No alcohol for 365 days.
-Working out 4x a week.
-Starting my day with celery juice every morning.
-Hiking with my pup, Warner, on the weekends.
-Reading for an hour before bed every night.
-Daily meditation/journaling. (I’m using Commanding Life’s Daily Journal for all my journaling needs this year.)
-Spending less time on social media, specifically, spending less time internet stalking exes on social media.
-Finishing the 5th draft of my Vietnam script.
-Finishing the 1st draft of my rom-com.
-Finishing the 1st draft of my play.
-Shooting my short film by March 2020.
-Treating myself to a mani/pedi once a month because it makes me feel fancy.
-Spending more time with the amazing, smart, beautiful, creative, badass women in my life.

I have a few other goals, but these are the big ones, the ones that I think will not only help me have a healthier life physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but will also set me up for the success I want this year.

Which brings me to visualization. Visualization is for the things you want that may not be entirely in your control. Vision boards are like an ultimate wish list and I think that if you focus on these visualizations while simultaneously working towards your goals, it can be pretty magical.

Sharing my visions is scarier than sharing my goals. It makes me feel really vulnerable, knowing that people could read this list and roll their eyes while whispering “yeah right” under their breath. But, I’m gonna do it, so roll and scoff away if you feel so inclined…

-I want a contract on a soap opera. When I was 10 years old, a friend of my father’s, who was an actress on the east coast, told me that she really wanted to be on a soap opera. It’s stable, fun, creative work, and well, that sounded pretty good to 10 year old me and sounds really, really good to 32 year old me. I was lucky enough to do an episode of The Young and the Restless a couple of years ago and I LOVED that day on set. It was exciting and welcoming and I want more of that in 2020.

-I want to book a guest star on a prime time network show. And if I’m getting really specific with this one, I want to book a guest star on “This Is Us”. I really want to work with that cast and I think the writing on that show is beautiful. I’d love to say the words that those writers have written.

-I want one supporting role in a studio feature. I had a few close calls last year and some really amazing auditions for films I would’ve killed to be a part of. I really want to know what it feels like to call my mom and say “I booked it!”, after one of those auditions.

-I want to be in a holiday movie. One good, sappy, boy-meets-girl-and-they-fall-in-love-at-Christmastime, holiday movie. It’s been on my actor’s bucket list for a while now, so, let’s see that come into fruition in the next 365 days.

-I want to work with Hugh Jackman. Six years ago, I went to a taping of Inside the Actor’s Studio with Hugh Jackman and at the end of the conversation, Hugh took audience questions. I raised my hand and I asked Mr. Jackman, “Have you ever felt like quitting?” He said, “No. Not really.” And then he asked me, “How old are you?”, I said, “I’m 26.” And he said, “You have plenty of time and you’re going to be just fine. Don’t give up.” I’ve thought about that interaction a lot, especially in the last couple of years when I’ve really considered quitting. I’d love to work with Hugh and have that moment come full circle.

-I want to travel outside of the US. I’m 32 years old and I’ve never had a passport. I’ve never left the country. I made this a goal in 2016, but quickly realized that this belonged on my vision board, not my goal list because traveling is expensive and as a struggling artist, having extra income for travel isn’t as in my control as I wish it could be.

-And one more thing on my vision board, one that’s scariest to share… I want to fall in love. As you probably know by now, my heart hurt a lot this past year. It’s the biggest reason I’ve decided to do another dry year and take care of myself. I hope learning to love myself again will bring the other kind of love into my life. I mean, I’m not getting any younger, and Jim and Eva need some grand babies (yes, I’m deflecting with a bit of humor to make admitting this heartfelt desire a little easier).

So, there you have it. My hopes, dreams, and heart in writing. Maybe in 365 days I’ll look back at this and roll my eyes too, but maybe, maybe, I’ll look back and say, “I did it.” I really hope that’s the case.