I moved back from living in California after 5.5 years, to my parents home in rural, Warren, New Jersey. I have a group of five best girl friends from high school and twelve girlfriends from my college sorority that I roughly keep in touch with. Although everyone was welcoming and nice, with the occasional check-in texts of “Hey! How ya doin’?”, I felt lonely. And I didn’t feel better until I saw an Instagram post that said “As your life changes so will your circle”. This was a huge “A- ha!” moment for me because relationships, friendships in particular, change as we grow older and I had not really and truly recognized that until that point in time. (They say you can hear something a million times but you won’t really hear it, until you are ready to.)
On the east coast, I found my friends had less time for trips to the nail salon and hour-long phone sessions, due to grown up responsibilities such as jobs, children, husbands, fiancés etc. (Not that I was making many trips to the salon because of how sick I felt.) LA, however, was very different. My friends are at different stages and on different pages, therefore they had more time for the leisurely hang sesh. Before I saw that post, I felt so alone. Even more so than I had felt in LA! It felt like my friends didn’t even care that I had moved back home or that I was sick for that matter! (Keep in mind I thought I was dying. “Haha!”, you can laugh… But now, no seriously, I thought I was dying… and no one cared.) But when I saw that post, things changed for me. I saw all of the new relationships I had made since I had moved, and allowed myself to put my pride aside and fully dive into them with no fear and all thanks.
One of my girlfriends from LA called me a few days ago- which triggered me to write this entry- and cried her eyes out to me. My heart broke for her. Especially because I knew EXACTLY where she was and it is painful. Loneliness, I feel, is one of the most awful feelings in the world. It’s like you’re in a big room calling out and no one is listening… or a black pit in your stomach that’s slowly spreading to finally engulf you. You feel so A LONE. Nothingness. It’s so funny, that in a city as populated and as busy as LA is, it can make you feel like this… The loneliest person on the planet, if you aren’t the type to feed in to it’s “bullshit”.
Let me elaborate. I’m a hard worker and a deep thinker. Surface never entered my vocabulary until I moved to LA. Because it is made up of so many surface-like people. Most people that move to LA are independent, strong and are fighters. Some of them are exceptionally talented. Others just have a lot of grit. Usually the people I’ve met and have established ever-lasting relationships with, I didn’t meet or really start hanging out with, until after three years of being in LA. I still had my bestie from when I was thirteen out there with me for the first two years, so I didn’t need real, genuine connections because I knew I always had her to come home to. So everything was about networking for me. Even when I wasn’t working, I was “working” it. (“Oh! He’s a producer??” “Sure! I’ll go to the party with you,” I’d say to my love interest I met on the set of an indy-Pilot going nowhere. Only to come home in tears when he tried kissing me at the end of the night. My bestie would always say to me, “Why did you go?!” I always responded with, “I thought he wanted to be friends!” (This is a forever, on-going issue that I, until recently, had a problem with… I always thought people- guys in particular- just wanted to be my friend.) “He’s a douchebag… no douchebag wants to be your friend in this town!” my bestie would always say. (She’s very “Jersey” ;P ) I finally started believing her when she moved back to Jersey and I was left for dead with those wolves.
That’s when I started to widdle through the social climbers and the “I just wanna get in your pants-ers” and met some authentic, talented and amazingly REAL people. But it took time. And I used to always think how time was of the essence. I wasn’t getting any younger (though my skin never showed it, thanks to my genetics and “healthy-living” style 😉 ) and my career was going nowhere. I constantly put my career before friendships and relationships. During the 5.5 years I lived out there, the two other roomates I had, other than my NJ bestie, were never home. My energy somehow attracted these two “never-homers”, which led to my very hermit-style life. I had “friends” that I worked with at Skybar and “friends” in my acting classes or “friends” I met on sets or at networking events, but I didn’t have the time to further those relationships because I was constantly working. Which led to a very lonely lifestyle :'(
Let’s double-back a notch: My high school bestie and I moved out to LA after our other high school bestie decided to follow her heart and move in with a guy she met and fell in love with at a work convention. She followed her heart all the way to Orange County, California, and we followed six months later. We both had a hard few years, during this point in our lives, due to addiction and trauma in our families. I threw myself into my work and didn’t eat properly, resulting in my battle with an eating disorder… which I will get into at some point in another entry…, but I basically side-tracked myself and the pain I was going through, my thoughts, my need to eat and my hunger for connection, with my need to further my career.
My girl ended up getting married to the guy and moved away to Florida, and she said something to me that I still think about to this day… she said “I hope you don’t look back and regret all the good times you’ve missed studying for auditions.” Now, I hate regrets because I think everything is a lesson-learned and helps form the person you are today. But I do wish I would’ve given up a few more shifts or missed a few more auditions, in order to have spent more time with her and my other bestie out there, before they left. Now, also looking back on it, I couldn’t have afforded it, (and I am too hard on myself) but if I could’ve made it happen, knowing all I know now, I would’ve. She and I had a small falling out after that, in which the details are frivolous, but since then, have reconnected on a whole new level 🙂 Although she resides down in Bradenton, Florida now, and we don’t get to see each other or speak with each other as often, our relationship is even stronger and we have a better understanding for, and fully value, the strong women the both of us have become.
So… back to me fending for myself with the wolves… I finally started to see all that my bestie was then talking about, two years before I moved back to New Jersey. Unfortunately it was my body getting sick that helped bring me to this awareness. This was around the time I joined the Strait Jacket Society Comedy Troupe and also the time that my father and sister decided to both come to visit me within days of each other. (If any of you have ever lived somewhere else and had to receive a visitor, you know how draining it can be! Well I had two of the most stubborn and hard to please people come to visit me within two days of each other. Needless to say, it was exhausting! And the spiral for my health’s downfall.)
Now my lifestyle and workaholic tendencies were what were the actual problem, but the people that I still had so many issues with, were the trigger. (It’s interesting how many things make up a human life and accompany our way of survival… my body was being plagued by “fad diets and athletic trends” such as electrolyte-depleting hot yoga or candida cleanses (which I might add, I do not believe in any more. The “mucuos” I saw coming out of my butthole- I do not lie, was not candida but my mucousal lining due to my intestines being bruised and abused by liquids and spices deemed “healthy” but were actually harmful.) Anyways, while my body was being harmed by fads and trends, my soul was being worn down by my need to hang on to past grudges and anger I had refused to come to terms with. And my heart was being deprived of love and human connection. All this led to my health’s downward spiral and was the start for so many changes in my life.
But, like many trials and tribulations in life, there is always an upside 🙂 It also awakened my writing skills! But with creativity also comes judgement from your inner critic. And mine is definitely a lot more vicious than others. The sad part is that while I was going through this and depleting my immune system, I also was establishing so many new friendships and meeting so many awesome people! Unfortunately a lot of them didn’t understand and teased me often about “always being sick.” Looking back now, yes, I did get physically ill. But I also see how my heart and my soul fell ill. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I wasn’t nurturing myself. I didn’t have the energy to go out and have fun with my friends which led to more loneliness and more illness and created a vicious spiral. Being a lone is the mind of an over-thinker’s playground. I started to drive myself crazy. (My biggest fear!! Was I really going crazy?! Depression runs in my family!! Am I depressed?? Am I addicted to something?? Am I really going CRAZY??!!) I constantly thought that I was dying… BUT no doctors knew it yet. Hence, I was alone in a room screaming at the top of my lungs and no one was answering.
But the few “real” friendships I was able to establish and nurture in LA, were what got me through my time and pain there. And in the end, were the ones who advised me to take a break from LA, my acting career and the life I had built out there, and go back to New Jersey to be nurtured by my family. They loved me and had concern for my well-being and I was so thankful for them. These are probably some of the most powerful relationships I have ever had, because they were developed at some of the most significant points in my life! Whether it was my teacher, my “sista from another mister”, my mentor or my chill guy-friend, they all left a significant mark on my heart and helped heal my soul.
Now, after going through all I’ve been through, and realizing how IMPORTANT it is for humans to have connections, my new relationships I’ve made here, back in Jersey, and the reconnections I’ve established, are that much more powerful. I love stronger and am no longer scared of getting hurt… because I believe it is true what they say “It is better to have loved and lost then to have never loved at all.” I miss my LA friends more and more every day, but that sadness I feel for their distance is comforted by memories and all I’ve learned from them. Maya Angelou says during times of crisis, you need to stop and say “thank you”. Embrace it. Because it is a teaching moment, and you will be so much stronger once you’ve gone through it and come out on the other end. I’m a true example of this.
“So did you date in LA?” (Cuz you wouldn’t be lonely if you just dated in LA.) UGH! I hate this one. First, let me explain something… I was always in relationships growing up. Hell, I was boy crazy since I knew what a boy was! I played with my dolls and oogled over the Disney Princess fairy tales. My father was never around and when he was, he would take his stresses out of work on us, constantly yelling and picking on us for whatever we weren’t doing right. In high school and even college, I replaced his absence with abusive and toxic boyfriends. I jumped from one toxic relationship to the next. (Don’t get me wrong, I’ve come to terms with my Father’s tendencies- hell I developed them, I have to be! But I am also thankful for how hard he works and the life he was able to provide for me, my sister and brothers, but I needed you to see the big picture.) I see now how I reveled in the drama and you see now why I became an actor ;P So when I finally moved to California, I was done with these men and relationships. I knew they were toxic but I still couldn’t wrap my head around how to move forward with healthy ones… so “I didn’t have time for relationships!” (Another thing I picked up from my Father… the man who “never had time” for anything.) I dated the occasional Joe-schmoe for fun, but I kept all men I met cocktailing or dancing at “LA’s newest pop-up hot spot” at arms length. I also said it was because I was “finding myself”. But I see now that it was because I was scared. They wanted to use me and I could see it, but I was too scared to tell them to heeve-hoe and move on… What if “they were the person that could help me ‘make it.'” (Insert astonished face emoji!)
Make it. “It”. What really is “it”? I know I’m getting perhaps a bit too deep right now, but I didn’t realize that that “it” was inside me until I moved home. I started finding myself and getting in touch with myself while studying at Anthony Meindl’s Acting Studio (which I HIGHLY recommend)… and even more so, studying with Victor Villar-Hauser, whom has broken away from AMAW’s Studio now, and has established a prosperous and soul-riveting Studio that I even more so recommend for actors at any level or stage of the game (can you tell how much I am missing LA now… and class! Ugh! Sigh…) but getting back to me and my hunt for “myself”… the day I REALLY dug deep, my world stopped and my roots finally sunk in from my own two feet, was the day I looked in the mirror and told myself “I love you” and meant it. And that didn’t happen until I moved back to my parents’ home in New Jersey. It didn’t happen until I hit rock bottom. Until I laid in the fetal position on my bedroom floor which I laid on so many years ago as a teenager, also during a time I was “finding myself”, and cried my eyes out. Cried my eyes out for my health… for my pride… for my heart… for my body… my soul, and finally let myself feel sorry for myself. Let myself wallow in all the pain and misery and then told myself, “I would be alright”. That I’ve accomplished so much in my life already. That I’ve inspired so many people around me and continue to inspire myself. Until I could see all this and feel all this and look myself in the eye and tell myself that “I am beautiful” and really and truly mean it, I was not ready to be loved. Or to return that love.
My Mom had told me about an exercise Oprah spoke about on one of her “Super Soul Sundays” interviews, encouraging people to look themselves in the eye, in the mirror, every day, and tell themselves how much they love themselves. When I finally saw the interview my Mom spoke about, Oprah exclaimed, “It works! It really does!!” with such joy in her eyes, I could see how happy her soul was and wanted that too.
And now that I am, and have, I feel so empowered and ready for a healthy and loving relationship with another human being. A partner. I go to bed at night and ask God for three things… to bring me my husband, an acting job that will enable me to support myself and to continue my road to good health. And then I wake every morning thanking him for that beautiful day. I do this because I know now, that all I ask for is just around the corner. I have faith, I have peace and I love myself. That doesn’t mean I don’t have my days of ups and downs. Oh trust me, I am human and I do!! But every day gets easier for me in trusting that that step backwards was just another step to propel me two more forwards… and until then, I will be happy and thankful for the friendships I have made, the family I have that supports me and have become my rock and all the love that surrounds me. Because I am no longer lonely, I finally feel whole again 0:) And THAT is a huge accomplishment.