Saturday, August 02, 2008

Why Mama Might Need Prozac...

Remember my therapist in Virginia? The one who told me I might want to lay off the caffeine after our first session and who told me, in the midst of my moving angst, that she didn't think I *required* medication to cope with the transition? Remember her? Yeah, well perhaps she should have cozied up to me on Thursday evening at the movie theater to witness my totally inappropriately timed emotional meltdown, brought on by...ABBA.

Yeah, that might have been the tip off she needed to see that "gee, this chick is a hot mess and could benefit from something to take the edge off."

It was our anniversary, and Husband indulged my (and possibly, to a much lesser degree, his) girly side, and took me to see "Mama Mia", the movie adaptation of the Broadway musical based on ABBA's music. Being a child of the 70's, there are two musical nostalgic certainties in my life: ABBA and the BEE-GEEs. I have very clear childhood memories of singing along to my K-Tel ABBA record, in all it's vinyl glory. I thought blue eye-shadow, feathered hair and shiny lycra bodysuits were the pinnacle of beauty. Never was there a more reliable microphone and audience than my hairbrush and mirror--cliche? Very. But true.

I always have a hard time getting into musical theater or film. The initial rush of embarrassment for the actors, because, dude, you just broke out into song out of NOWHERE, needs to wear off before I can really settle in and enjoy it. It is such a huge deal for me to suspend my disbelief in such a way as to accept this spontaneous burst into song and perfectly choreographed dance that I giggle like an 8th grade boy when they hear someone say something like, "Thank goodness it's "hump" day!"

But eventually I settle down (which is more than I can say for boys--my 33 year old husband still giggles when he hears the word "duty". Whatever, Chandler.) As a matter of fact, once after showing West Side Story to a group of my freshmen students while studying Romeo & Juliet, I offered extra credit to anyone in the class who could, within the context of our course material, successfully break into spontaneous song and dance. A couple of kids took the bait, asking questions about the assigned homework in out-of-key warbles while boogying around their desks. I don't think I ever giggled so hard in the class room, but I did give them their extra credit, because, please. That takes balls.

So anyway, the lights go down, the corny singing starts, Husband and I are giggling to each other about the cheesiness of it all. The whole movie is truly one giant karaoke orgasm. And then a washed up Meryl Streep is cajoled by her almost equally washed-up best friends to get dressed up in the garb of yesteryear, and they "Dancing Queen" themselves into oblivion through the town.

I do not know how or why, but my friends, I found myself BAWLING. Tears streaming down the face, ache in the tummy sort of crying. And all I could ponder as I wiped tear after tear away was, "What the hell is wrong with me?! This is cheesy and silly and funny. This is not tear-worthy. They look ridiculous up there!"

Oh yeah. I guess that's it. Cheesy. Silly. Fun. So incredibly outside of what I am these days.

I used to be these things. I'm not ashamed to admit that there were many Saturday nights in my early 30's when I could be found, microphone in hand, room spinning precariously, among a handful of my favorite girl friends, at the Peyote Cafe in Adam's Morgan, DC, straining to see the words on the karaoke machine, my contacts dry from hours of cosmos and cigarette smoke. Also, on more than one occasion, we could be found dancing on table tops at Cafe Citron in Dupont Circle after flirting shamelessly for free drinks from boys who didn't stand a chance with us. Those days, which started out as weekly events, slowly dwindled to every couple of months and then, as we hit our mid-thirties, were reserved for special occasions like bachelorette parties.

It's been three years since I did anything like that, and while I don't want to do it now (please, is there anything sadder than the aging party girl?), watching that scene of the movie pulled at a little piece of my lost self and reminded me of who I, at least in part, once was. And that part of me did more than shimmy to the bar with utter confidence that I'd be served the second I got there, or belt out the 80's hits with my best girls. I was simply a more confident, in control and happier "me". I was in my element. Not just in the bars, but in life.

I'm not in my element now. And I've found that not being in one's element presents a curious challenge. You can either sink into the mire of insecurities (I'll never make friends here; I'll never lose the weight; I'll never get pregnant again), or you can woman up and deal. I've not been dealing since we got here. I've had on a brave face for the most part, I think. But I find myself also doing things like needling Husband about his work hours and wondering why more friends from home aren't filling my email inbox with long and lamenting correspondence about how much they miss me. Poor me. I am sinking in the mire.

But I need to give it a rest and recapture that sense of myself that makes me feel whole, and get back into the game of being me. I used to be really good at it. But I think I might need some help. Maybe not from Prozac, but from someone who knows where I can get it, just in case...


Emi said...

I miss having you guys 1.5 hour flight away as opposed to 5 hours away :-) Hubby says.. "we just have to go visit them".. I say hell's yeah.. but when is the question.. we will figure it out.. Make sure the slightly extra emotional is not due to little baby bro or sis in womb..apparently I did a little "nesting" today and hubby accuses me of being preggo.. yikes.. so you better check... :-)

Love u

Becca said...

I'm really sorry you're having a tough time. We moved from a small town where we had tons of friends, a great church, and I knew my way around with my eyes closed to a large city with few friends where I got lost every day and with a toddler who suddenly hated being in the car (that we were suddenly in about four times as much because of the getting lost). It was such a hard time for me. I sobbed in the grocery store once because I couldn't find the hummus and knew right where it would be at our old grocery store and I just wanted to go home so bad. Anyway, moving is really stressful. I hope you begin to feel more like yourself soon.

Sarah said...

Moving sucks! Especially moving far away. You seem to be handling things way better than I would be, though.

Random tangents: 1. Ben said he'd see Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 for our anniversary-- ha!
2. Feel-good sports movies never fail to make me sob, no matter how predictable the ending.

Alice said...

Even if I'm at my non-hormonal best, Dancin' Queen makes me a little vaclempt, if I'm only slightly emotionally labile? Serious waterworks. It must be that perfect mix of nostalgia, melancholy and swedish poppiness.
Moving is hard, I read somewhere it's like right up there for stressful life changes after marriage and child birth. Don't beat yourself up, and seeing a pro may be exactly what you need to get through a tough time.

Anonymous said...

we don't have prozac, but we do have some limes and rum for some good strong drinks and you are welcome to stop by anytime!
ps - i love your writing and how, even in a blog post like this that is obviously about not-so-fun times, you maintain such a great sense of humor about life. i'm waiting for the screenplay. :)

Anonymous said...

Moving is NEVER easy. Take it from someone who moved 12 times in 20 years. The first six months are the hardest, but you're doing a great job of adjusting. You've already joined a music group and have a friend in your neighborhood. (At least that's what I've picked up from your blog posts) You have to mourn what you've lost before you can fully enjoy what you have. You're fine! It's wonderful to read about all of your new adventures, you have such a talent for turning any situation into a humorous one. I think of you often.

Crystal said...

Aww, hugs! You're doing a great job of getting yourself acclimated to CA, and you've only been here such a short time. It WILL get better! I cry every time we move, even when it's only a few miles down the road, so be sure to cut yourself some slack.

Julia said...

This reminds me of the story about the African laughing sickness. Everyone was so crazy stressed out and anxious that an epidemic of laughing broke out-- people would laugh for hours and even days. Your body always knows what you need to release... cry more, laugh more and sing at the top of your lungs. I promise you'll feel better!
Best wishes, and thanks for sharing all your stories!