You move at an astonishing pace, everyone focused on some fragment of their imagined futures. I found it hard to make friends in a place where everyone is trying to get somewhere else. No one sits still and enjoys the place they’re in because they believe where they’re going is a million times more wonderful. Bound to conformity, I fell along beside them, deciding that I’ll be happy when… I’ll be happy when I lose weight. I’ll be happy when I am no longer waitressing. I’ll be happy when I have a boyfriend. I’ll be happy when I’m a working actress. This pre-planned future of happiness meant that where I was at the present moment wasn’t good enough. I was only a fragment of a person, one who will become whole once the expectations of myself are met. I placed extraneous demands upon myself in order to reach the expectations I felt you asked of me and when I was incapable of meeting them, insufferable words swirled around my mind. I thought that I was not enough for this world. I was unattractive. I was un-lovable. I was a mess. I was fat. I was hopeless. I defined myself with ugly words and believed them to be true. I became this created version of myself. And, when she became unbearable, I drank and cut and ate and slept with boys to escape her. But, I am a product of my thoughts and so she always showed up again. Life exhausted me and I felt as though I was never given a manual on how to live life like a normal person. And, I was so tired of trying. I tried to change my life, I tried again and again, but you see Los Angeles, you are very difficult. I felt as though everything I did was futile. Here I am blaming you for the pain that existed within me when the truth is that I was the problem, not you, I just didn’t see it at the time. I was twenty-five, accustomed to sadness and I didn’t know what to do; so I flirted with the idea of dying. If I didn’t exist anymore, I wouldn’t be in pain. That was surely the solution.
I didn’t die, but I didn’t change either. The first year and a half I stumbled through my tunnel vision version of life trying half-heartedly to manipulate reality to concede to what I wanted. The pressure of the entertainment industry coupled with the superficiality of you found me in and out of eating disorders, trying to appeal to the level of beauty you demanded. The amount of importance you put on looks was never something I could quite accept. There are so many other things besides physical qualities that make a person beautiful. Our bodies are merely the vehicles in which our souls inhabit this earth. Someone’s thoughts, their behavior, their spirituality, their humor – that to me is beauty. Nonetheless, you never asked my opinion, and because I wanted to be an actress and I wanted to fall in love, I tried to play by your rules. But I was severely depressed and increasingly lonely in a city full of people. Each period of starvation ended with a binge. Pizzas, burgers, cakes, whatever I could use to fill the cracks of loneliness speckling my insides. When I finally reached a weight that I could recognize as normal I cried, for I was still not happy. I looked in the mirror and felt just as unattractive as I was when I was at my heaviest. Apparently losing weight wasn’t the magical solution to life that I had anticipated it was. I lost weight but I still wasn’t pretty enough. I was taking acting classes but I still wasn’t talented enough to get booked. I was sleeping with men but I still wasn’t good enough to love. I was working two serving jobs but it still wasn’t enough to pay my bills. Never enough. Never enough. I lived in lack. I hated myself for everything I thought I was and everything I thought I was incapable of getting. I was filled with cracks. No matter what I went after to fill me up, I was always left feeling empty.
This was all imagined of course - the idea that I was not enough for this world. In reality I was just an alcoholic who was deeply depressed and needed help. I never thought of myself as an alcoholic. After all I was only twenty-five and it was socially acceptable to drink as much as I did. Well okay, it was socially acceptable to drink as much as I was drinking in public, perhaps all of the time I spent getting drunk alone in my bedroom was a bit questionable. And the drunk driving, that I’m sure was frowned upon too. But still, even though I knew I needed to drink less, I thought I could manage it on my own. As I’d come to find, alcoholics can’t do that, that’s why they’re alcoholics. If I wasn’t living within you, then I would not have been working at the comedy club, and I would not have made friends with a man that was sober, and he would not have pointed out my alcoholism to me when I was incapable of acknowledging it myself. It is because of this series of events that I ended up in sobriety. It is because of my sobriety and the environment you allow for it, that my life began to change.
Within your borders I learned to love myself and, with that I learned how to receive love from other people. This was something I was incapable of doing before, but now the walls around my heart have wilted and I have allowed people in. I also learned how to unselfishly love others. I now know how to care for people without checking the boxes off of a pre-conceived agenda of what I can get from them. I met many people I love, truly kind and beautifully hearted. I fell in love with a boy who wasn’t right for me but my heart didn’t seem to care and I felt what it was like to be loved back. I met a woman and told her all of my secrets and she never once made me feel ashamed of them. I met many people who didn’t like me and I found myself not bothered nearly as much as I used to be. They taught me that you can’t control who likes you and often their distaste is not about you at all, so just be kind and let them deal with the anger in their hearts. You are filled with special people, many of whom helped save my life and who will remain in my world forever, even if our communication drifts and our lives stop intertwining. For these people who exist in your boundaries, I will always hold a special place in my heart for you.
I can conclude that trying to live according to your standards of how a person should be was not working for me. The moment I gave myself permission to let go of how I thought I should be and decided to love myself for all that I am is the moment I finally felt free to be myself. The world cracked open for me and it became mine to explore. I threw your rules out the window with the rest of my baggage and began to build a life for myself centered around things that bring me joy. When I arrived in Los Angeles I hated myself and I didn’t want to be alive anymore. But because of my experience in this complex, difficult, competitive, beautiful city, I became a girl who loves herself and is excited to be alive. That to me is a miracle and I have you to thank for it.
As far as my dream for movie stardom, you stole that from me. I wanted to create art that meant something to people. Situations that the lonely would watch and feel a sense of hope and connection to. But you are absorbed in a business. A highly competitive business that mostly everyone that lives in you is working towards. You told me I had to look a certain way and thus the extra layers of pink flesh that occupied my body was unappealing and needed to disappear if I was ever going to be successful. You kept telling me ‘no’ and I felt untalented because of it. I lost my love for acting. I didn’t want to play by the rules you required, I just wanted to make art that mattered and you made that extremely difficult. Perhaps that’s okay. Maybe I was never meant to be an actress. Maybe my love for acting was only meant to bring me to the place that would end up saving my life. Or perhaps I just need to find a different way in some other place to fall in love with it again. I honestly don’t know and for once I’m okay not knowing. There is a happy ending, though in terms of my art. I met a boy earlier this year who inspired me to start writing again and I became enamored with it more then I ever thought I would. It’s interesting the series of events that take place in our lives. I wonder had I not met him, this boy who writes, would I have started writing again? Would I have found this outlet of creative expression I so greatly need? Maybe that’s why he was in my life, not to become some great love story, but to help me realize a new dream.
What I got from you was nothing I came for. It wasn’t fame, or love, or beauty I received, it was life. I began to see the world differently. It’s not a dark and hopelessly difficult place. It’s filled with magic. Yes it’s messy, but it’s through messiness that beauty is created. I find you filled with contradictions; you are beautiful yet ugly, complex yet simple, diverse yet filled with many of the same. But, because of all of that, I became strong. And with that strength I had the courage to leave a life I found comfortable and move to a strange city seeking adventure. You must be of a particular type to make it in Los Angeles, and I am simply not that. Though it was nothing I anticipated, I feel I got from you exactly what I was suppose to get, and now I feel confident that it is time for me to move on to something else. Our chapter has closed and a new one for me has begun. I don’t know what Portland has in store for me and I think it’s best that way. I’m going to continue to follow the things in life that bring me joy and open myself up to wherever they lead. Thank you Los Angeles for everything you have taught me, I am incredibly grateful for the experience we shared.
All my love and much more,