I didn’t know what to do.  I am living my dream, have amazing friends who make me laugh until I snort, the kind I want to grow old with.  I treasure my family.  I have everything I’ve ever wanted.  But sometimes, I get profoundly sad.  It usually never lasts for longer than 2 or 3 days, but it’s definitely there.  I think I’m just built this way.  My father tells me it’s genetic, that my grandmother was the same way.  Nothing is wrong in my life, and I feel completely satisfied, yet I become restless and sad and don’t know why.  I think it’s biological (and has nothing to do with PMS), but I refuse to take medication, as I’m not depressed, just prone to bouts of it every few months.  And 3 days in a few months isn’t a medication move.  So today, I figured out how to improve my mood.

I cried on the elliptical machine.  Cried with my eyes closed.  Finished working out, laid on a mat and watched the second hand of a clock, thought about gym class and growing up beneath orange gymnasium lights, the squeak of sneakers during dodge ball, climbing rope, locker rooms.  I felt more normal remembering how long I’ve been alive, that I’ve had a past that was just me, with gym class, math homework, and swimming lessons.  Chorus rehearsal.  I played the trombone.  I have a rich life.  It made me feel better knowing what I’ve accomplished on my own.  Even if they were small accomplishments.  The lead in the school play, a soccer goal, a massive sticker collection.

I walked 60 blocks listening to chick rock, realizing I needed to feel empowered and strong, and the only way I could do it was on my own.  I think it’s why I used to say I couldn’t be in a relationship.  I was scared of becoming co-dependent.  I turned into a caged animal because I allowed my esteem to come from exterior sources, because I could.  There was always a guy sitting there, telling me how pretty I was, how wonderful, smart.  Blah.  Blah.  All the stuff you hear when you’re in a loving relationship.  The problem was, I became reliant on what he gave and stopped giving to myself.  And that’s when I became a woman I wanted no part of.  This small little girl who began to worry if I was wearing the right things, or doing enough.  Man, it’s such bullshit.  I turned into someone else because I let myself.  I relied.  I weighed.  I felt empty and alone, worried I’d be left, worried if I did things the wrong way, I’d ruin things.  Fcuk that.  I am worth.  A lot.  As I am, no make up, frizz, stank, whatever.

In relationships, I was allowing myself to rely on someone other than myself for esteem.  Man, that’s just bad news.  So to build it up, I let myself cry, realizing the sadness would be temporary.  I gave myself permission to be miserable.  But I put a limit on it… didn’t allow myself to stew in it for days.  “Enough.”  Then I played my music LOUD.  I gave me what I give good.  Love.

I had to get back to loving me, knowing what I have is amazing because I’m the only one who can love the way I do.  I’m the only me.  I can stand on my own, don’t need anyone to fix me.  Can nurture, protect, and love.  Me.  Alone.  I give that good.  I don’t need to hear it to know it.   I don’t need confirmation or praise.  I don’t need.

After twenty blocks, I fcuking sang out loud.  Top of my lungs loud.  I’ve done it in the mountains of Italy, and dammit, in Times Square.  Let them look.  I don’t give a shit.  That’s my voice.  The one God gave me, and that is the one that matters most.  I’m precious because I’m alive.  Yes, I get sad; it’s part of me.  I don’t need any guy to walk around with a tool belt trying to fix me.  I have my own Dewalt drill, and I’ll figure it out because I was put on this earth with the skills to take care of me.  And I’m not giving up my tool belt.  Because I believe in me.  In my ability to stand tall, shoulders back, and sing with my eyes closed.  I have my own strength; I know who I am, and everything I need in this life is packed in these walls, in this skin.  Proud.  Strong.  Tall.  All in here.  And knowing that, let’s me be in a relationship, alongside someone who won’t try to fix me or tell me who I should be.  Me is good enough.



  1. One of the great mysteries in life is why we go from dysfunction to dysfunction looking to medicate pain and feel better. You have discovered one of the root causes. Our own sense of self worth. We do need affirmation of our self worth WHEN WE ARE THREE (3)! If we don't get it then, we spend the rest of our lives looking for someone or something to fill that hole in our self being. The truth is… we need to fill it ourselves. When we are three our parents "teach" us to know we are self worthy. If they don't, we may spend our whole lives looking to learn that lesson. NO… no one else can teach us as adults to love ourselves or to feel good. Only we can. You have… perhaps…. Happy 30th birthday Steph!

  2. I cannot say for certain what the catalyst is for these sad periods, as I haven't, in the past, been mindful of them. Though I am realizing that they're often followed by extraordinary acts of kindness shown toward me… as if I tell myself I'm not worthy of such love. When a MID asked me to move in with him, our relationship then tumbled into a very low place. I didn’t believe I was worthy. That, or something just wasn’t right between us, and I knew it, so sabotaged it. If I allowed myself to believe I wasn’t worth what he had to give, it would be a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the past, I felt too broken. How could anyone want me? But then after a few days, I’d reclaim it and wonder how I ever doubted my worth.

    The fact is, growing up I believe achievement was always emphasized. Achievement and being thin, quite candidly, were what I thought I needed to feel good. All the things from which I derive true pleasure are achievement-oriented, aside from my friends, family, and dog. Okay, wine, book stores, chick flicks… and of course, writing. It makes sense as achievement was the focus, and with achievement comes praise. If I didn't achieve, I didn't feel my worth. Independence was rarely the emphasis, so it has taken me years (still working on it) to shift my focus beyond looks and achievement to true independence. And yes, you can be independent and be in a loving relationship. I'm not worried about that.

  3. I have those days, too; I call them my canoe days — short periods that take a downward slope and then come back. In those times, I am overwhelmed by negative and conflicting emotions, mostly to do with myself, and have learned that, at the very least, these are most definitely NOT the days to make important decisions.
    It sounds like you are faring wonderfully — taking care of yourself, going to the gym, long walks, great music. As you said, it comes and it always goes.
    I just read Joyce Maynard's memoir, At Home in the World, centered around her affair when she was 18 with J.D. Salinger, but also about having children and the dissolution of her marriage. She's also someone who, from a very young age, has been extremely achievement oriented, as well as very emotive.

  4. Yesssssss…awesome! I too have gone thru the same thing, i think they're just checks in life. I assume most people do too. I don't think we can all just walk around all 'Pollyanna' all the time.
    Anyways, how's Linus??

  5. I gotta tell ya, if the two of you don't realize you "can", but don't "want" to live without each other, then it's not it.

  6. Great post, Stephanie.

    I love the word yawp. I was introduced to this bon mots when I was in 6th grade by a friend, Arrington. He was this fantastically cool 7th grader who was listening to The Dead Kennedys, Sex Pistols, Crass, The Violent Femmes-all of the stuff that was really not vogue to be listening to, but he didn't care-he was just himself. He was a guitar player(of sorts), and he introduced me to "Uncle Walt" Whitman(I went to private school), punk rock, and his own music called "Arrington's Flowery Lunatic Yawp". The recording was crap and the sound was terrible. But he was so independent, and was such a free thinker, that he totally "subverted the dominant paradigm"-the songs were fantastically, well, just, Him. Instead of the outside validation, he validated himself.He sang for himself, and he said what he wanted to-he lived deliberately. It took me years to finally do that myself, and now that I look back at it, I wish that I would have done it sooner. I looked for validation from women and relationships, when I should have been looking for it within myself.

    Again, great post. BTW-you own a Dewalt? Sweet. I have a B&D that I love with my life. It is old as the hills, but it seriously kicks ass. Been thinking about a Dewalt, however. Just to say that I have the power……

  7. I get like this, too. Working toward the process of getting what I want out of life is what I enjoy more than getting those things. The end of the chase is a let down.

  8. Thank you for this post Steph–right now I am sitting in King Library at Miami University (in Ohio, duh) and I really NEEDED to read this. As a senior, i find I do a lot of thinking like you just did here–it's not easy to be honest with yourself like that and finally just to say fuck it. I want to love me for who I am, because I rock. hard. and boys can really blow sometimes, but that should not matter. i adore you, a lot! Just wanted to let you know u have a big fan in this curley-haired college girl :)

  9. Stephanie,
    I often wonder if happiness is an ideal created by society as a cruel joke. Comfort, too. Maybe the world really is a vicious, brutal place, and the human really is doomed to a fate of sorrow laced with bouts of seratonin induced euphoria, instead of the other way around. It's up to each of us to decide how to interpret fantasy and make it our reality. Life is only as real as we make it, love is imagination. The only thing I know for sure is that every time I look at someone I love, I smile from my spine, something I cannot control, and the only thing that makes all this bullshiite worth the while.

    Peace to you, I wish you the happiness you seek.


  10. I wanted to let you know that I empathize with how you feel. I go through similar periods. They come like a dark storm cloud (almost like that little rain cloud that follows the blob on the Zoloft commercial)and carry your heart and soul and stomach down in a mini tornado. I cry for no reason at all and everything seems like a bigger deal than it is. Then all of a sudden the cloud breaks and the sunshine comes pouring in. It feels like when your sick and you finally start to feel better and you're so happy that you want to do smile and laugh and do a cartwheel or something like that. I just came to recognize when they were coming and know that they were only temporary and the cloud would lift just as it set. It is hereditary and for me, not tied up with emotional baggage, but physiological. People say it might not be hormonal, but I also think some women's hormones and emotions are tied into these epsodes, at least for me. It's unavoidable. Enjoy your time to cry and pour your emotions into your art. That's when masterpieces are made. Take care cutie, your Congress ave buddy, Heath

    PS, still waiting on my email flower pic:)

  11. The only people in Times Square that would pay any attention to that are those annoying-assed tourists with their fanny packs and fluorescent t-shirts. If I was walking through Times Square, and I saw you, a New Yorker, singing really loud, it would be a more than welcome change. I realize how arrogant it is for me, a guy from Toronto, to call other tourists "annoying-assed tourists", but I'll be a New Yorker one day, so I don't count. :P

  12. Ruts, slumps, bad days happen to everyone. It's normal, part of life. Without the bad days, you won't value the good ones. People have to find a balance, an even keel. Understand that if you experience ecstatic happiness then you're gonna have to experience painful misery. There's no way around it. With the hot summer comes the cold winter. It's part of nature. Depression does seem to happen in NYC more though. I figure that's because everyone here desires so much. Everyone wants more from their career, relationship, etc. It's all in our heads. We see other people happy in the city and we think we should have more. We get jealous. But then we don't think we deserve the good things that happen to us.

    Most of us have subconscious beliefs that make us feel guilty when something good happens and we have contradicting beliefs such as, "I have to (get married, make more money, etc.), but I maybe undeserving." Anyway, I really enjoy the way you tell the truth and how things are. It's very admirable to have the courage to do such a thing.

  13. I'm guessing this happens to quite a few people. It's still refreshing to hear I'm not the only one. Well said.

  14. I think this is was thing women don't think about themselves, enough. Maybe its our culture, maybe its the messages they / we get…but the things you said I wish I knew then, and all women believed now…

  15. Wow Stephanie. One of your most honest posts. Thank- you for sharing with that voice. We've all been there.

  16. I have sad periods too, suddenly sadness comes, and stays there for a few days. I dont' want to get any medication for it, because it's my strength. I need it to think about myself my present my past and future, to check if I'm fine, to re-find myself. And I sing loud too, crying sometimes, when I'm driving and no one can hear me.
    Then I feel better, empowered. It's my secret!
    I guess it's the same for you, if that's the case, take care of it. Sadness is not always bad.

    It was really nice to read about that on your blog, thank you for sharing!

  17. Perhaps you are one of those people that define themselves by what they give. All my life I have I found that I had trouble taking or receiving love, affection, or praise. I always feel as though I am perpetrating some giant scam on the person or persons who say good things about me. That if they only knew what went on inside they would turn away. I have sabotaged relationships to the point where I no longer even want to go after one, knowing in advance that in the end it will wind up with someone hurt, confused and trying to understand what happened.

  18. Word! ;) Totally agree on this one.
    Was in quite a dip for a few weeks last month. What made it a lot worse, was that I kept feeling guilty about my boyfriend. He wanted to 'fix it/me', and make me feel better, but he couldn't, so he got upset, hence me feeling guilty. See a pattern here? Turns out all I needed was some time for myself. And everythings ok now.
    You live and you learn huh.

  19. While I knew that I couldn't be the only person to have this happen on a regular basis, it's still a relief to read my feelings written by someone else.

  20. You touched me on this post, Stephanie. I'm also going through a period in my life when everything I worked for and dreamed would happen for me is happening.

    I'm a filmmaker who made a huge scipt sale to a major studio. It's the thing I had been waiting 8 years for since I decided in college that I didn't want to be a lawyer, but instead wanted to make movies. And you would think I'm walking on cloud 9 right now. You would think that all the pain in my life has just washed away and I'm this confident together guy who is just living life to it's fullest…but I'm not.

    While I'm happy and financially secure right now, it still isn't as perfect as I thought it would be. Producers and studio execs tear apart my script and make me silently wish they never bought it in the first place.

    Friends and family sit there and say to me, "It's about time" like I had anything to do with the fact that it took me 8 years to sell my first screenplay to a studio something akin to winning the lottery.

    Even 9 year old girls and boys who live in my apartment complex come up to me and ask me for my autograph because they're fans of the lead actor starring in my movie. Weird.

    Life has taken a dramatic turn for me and yet when it gets down to the heart of it, I'm still the fat kid who couldn't get with the hot girl in high school. Hell, I couldn't even get with the hottest girl at fat camp.

    I sometimes see my creative side as this mission I'm on to make all the pain from being fat as a child melt away, but it doesn't. How this translates into my relationships with women is another story.

    I do think in the back of my head I'm not good enough for her. I do think that if she met me in high school she'd have never went out with me…and that's the thing, I've made these amazing strides in my life, done things that other people only can daydream about and I still go through those 2 or 3 days a month where I'm that fat kid who became a watcher of the life I wanted to live, rather than a liver (that's probably not a word, I know).

    I'm more driven than most people I know. I tunnel vision and make things happen for myself. But at the end of the day, the stings of the past are always there to remind me that my life hasn't been the dream I thought it would be. I don't think I can ever live up to my own expectations and that makes me sad.

    That said, for the most part I'm happy and the life of the party and overly nice and generous to everyone I know…but yeah, it does come back and hit me once a month and I think that's completely normal.

  21. The best part of this blog is the amazing melting pot of interesting people it attracts.(Notice I'm purposely excluding the rude idiots). And to hear that all of us have similar issues going on is indeed a comfort. I spent the weekend with every other weekend lover, and when I asked him if what we have is 'enough' he replied 'more or less'. More or less? I felt badly about it for a few minutes until a) I drank enough wine I didn't care and b) realized that it's just more or less enough for me too – and that my unwillingness to give more will always limit it to that.

    I thought about a hosting a personal drama moment, but then realized it would take too much effort…I know I'm incredibly wonderful – if that's not enough, then he's not the right one, and I'm better off alone. More or less.

    Glad you feel better Stephanie, you're fantastic and you made my day today.

  22. Stephanie that sounds awesome. I think I'm well on my way to finding Mer and I'm happy. I know that I was the same way, it was his love that made me tick, his compliments, his affection, him. him. him. him. him. No more. Now that he is in my life again in a small capacity, its only made me realize that I don't need anyone. Being me, doing the things I like to do without anyone else to check in after is the best. I'm loving life right now and I'm so happy to hear good things about you…a string of good things. I'm loving that good stuff is coming your way. You rock.

  23. Stephanie, I always say that with great passion, you inevitably have great sorrow… It is because you are a passionate woman!

  24. Steph,
    I get the exact same way-
    thank you for empowering yourself and hopefully encouraging others to do the same.

  25. I always try and remind myself to love myself and give myself the attention I give others… I have sad days too, and I often think they are there to remind me of how good my life is.

  26. ok, I like this post… in this post are you…

    if you like, go to see my post:

    there are photos of bloggers I read and there is also your photo

    I'm sorry for my english

  27. Dear Steph

    Early morning here in toasty South Africa…and your post read like one of my early morning diary entries. Thank you, it's hella reassuring to know that others feel stumped by (and guilty of?) the fact that- well- they "have it all" yet sometimes just want to cry. I think, to be honest, it's the "modern" girl's curse: we tend to set our bars at "perfection" in every respect.

    I recently ended an "admired" 3-year relationship. While I feel the most oppressive sadness for having hurt a friend, and extreme exhaustion with having to explain my actions to the ol' gallery, I have never felt more myself and charmed with my imperfections in my life. And suddenly, good things are happening.

    Take risks. Sound that yawp sister.

  28. I think it's normal for everyone to feel down sometimes. Regardless of what's going on in our lives, whether good or bad, it's human. Just be forgiving of yourself and do for yourself what it needs – take a bath, sing in Times Square…I make french toast for dinner and that usually makes me feel pretty good.

  29. YAWP!! As you are. Yes. Not what you wear or where you go or how much you do. You are enough just as you are. Love can't be earned. It is a gift. As they say, you are a human being, not a human doing. Just be. You will be loved. Embrace it when it comes. (and Dead Poet Society rocks.) Peace.

  30. It's the burden of those who live life below the surface and really feel things to have moments of profound soundness. But it's that ability to live deeply that also allows us to pull ourselves out of that sadness — to be lifted by the simplest of things — music, words, nature, connection. And it's in those moments that true happiness exists.

  31. This was a very honest and wonderful put post. But some of us are still waiting on the post about how Bon Jovi changed your life.

  32. Goddamnit, I can't cry. I come close all the time: swelling in my throat, moist eyes, etc., but no real sobs. I suspect these dry runs are causing cancer or something. There's probably some glandular back-up occuring and growing toxic in my macho, blocked body. Wait, that's pretty sad. I may start sobbing, Gotta go. I AM SENOR NUMBNUTS.

  33. Faithfulness:
    Create for yourself a new, indomitable perception of faithfulness.
    What is usually called faithfulness passes so quickly.
    Let this be your faithfulness:
    'You will experience moments – fleeting moments – with the other person.
    The human being will appear to you as if filled, irradiated with the archetype of his or her Spirit.
    And then there may be – indeed, will be – other moments.
    Long periods of time, when human beings are darkened.
    But you will learn to say to yourself as such times:
    " The Spirit makes me strong. I remember the archetype. I saw it once. No illusion, no deception shall rob me of it."
    Always struggle for the image that you saw.
    This struggle is faithfulness.
    Striving thus for faithfulness, we shall be close,one to another,as if endowed with the protective power of the angels.'
    -Rudolf Steiner

  34. glad you found your way back to strong. and content. I know all too well that sometimes it can be difficult. sometimes simply weilding my cordless drill can make me feel strong and independent, (although mine's a Makita).

  35. "I felt empty and alone, worried I'd be left, worried if I did things the wrong way, I'd ruin things. Fcuk that. I am worth. A lot. As I am, no make up, frizz, stank, whatever. "

    Love this. I have let myself be the little girl that I don't want to be either…I want no part of it. As you so well put it above…We are worth.

  36. I think when fantastically good things happen in your life, it creates confusion. You don't feel entitled to a self indulgent cry anymore. You feel like you should be happy and when you aren't you feel ungrateful. Right after I met The Surge, the man of my dreams, I plummeted for the longest time. And I was so angry at myself. I'd wonder what was wrong with me.. Here I'd been carping my whole life about finding the right guy, and when I finally found him I slumped into depression. Being depressed when so many good things were happening to me made me more depressed! Depression is a strange beast.. coming when you least expect it..

  37. amen. very well said :)
    i sometimes feel the way you do & i'm so relieved to know that i am not alone :)
    more power to you :)

  38. Well, women all over the world have such days. You happen to say it out loud and that's a relief.Because even if we know the right words of encouragement, we rarely say them to ourselves. Thank you, stephanie!

  39. Long time lurker, first time commenter. This post resonated with me! I wanted to reassure you a few weeks ago about your 30th. I had been nervous about turning 30 a few years back but I can tell you it was the best birthday I'd ever had. And it just gets better, trust me!

    You will just keep stepping into, trying on, then fully owning and inhabiting that power, more and more, year after year, until you become a sustained, serious force to be reckoned with! That may not always be "pretty," and you may intimidate some, but experiencing that confident, self-reliant radiant power is well worth it.

    There are rewards to being smaller than All That You Are (encouragement, sympathy, etc.) but I believe the rewards for fully shining are far greater! And your writing talent won't lessen in the least. . .Just my 2 cents. Good luck.

  40. There ya be. Personal growth rocks.

    You found your marbles and Procrast lost his… yet again.

    Gosh, I needed that guffaw.

  41. Now, don't take that previous comment seriously! Just lightening it up and affectionately teasing you both…

  42. I get like this also. Especially after calling or texting or going home with HIM when I swore I wouldn’t. Thank you for this post. I REALLY needed it tonight!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.