Issue #86: The Breakdown I Had Last Month and What Finally Helped
An update on my separation.
Morning Person is a weekly newsletter packed with obsessively-curated recommendations and ideas—let’s get to it!
📺 “Wellmania.” on Netflix: In this charming new Australian series, Liv is a food writer who is suddenly forced to reckon with her unhealthy, hard-partying ways in the name of saving her career. Or, as Liv irreverently puts it, “I need to de-garbage my gut so I can get back to New York to a job, which is ironically being a professional garbage gut.” Though a bit goofy at times with more than one plot hole, the premise is worth suspending reality for: The series offers a tender and funny take on what “wellness” really is, and what happens when we return to our true needs and take care of ourselves and others.
📚 Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld: “You should not, I’ve read many times, reach for your phone first thing in the morning,” Sittenfeld’s latest novel begins, “which is how I’ll preface the fact that when I reached for my phone first thing one morning and learned that Danny Horst and Annabel Lily were dating, I was furious.” [Ed note: This is exactly how I felt about Timothée and Kylie, but I digress.] Sally Milz is a sketch writer for a late-night comedy show when her very Pete Davidson-esque cowriter (“pasty skinned and sleep-deprived and sarcastic”) begins dating a (“gorgeous, talented”) movie star. She begins poking fun at the relationship in a sketch until she, to her surprise, becomes entangled with a pop star. Written in emails and timestamped days that mirror the quick pace of prepping for a late night show, it’s a fun, quick read that reminded me of Sittenfeld’s talent (I also loved Prep and Rodham).
🎥 ‘Showing Up’ in Theaters: Kelly Reichardt’s movies aren’t for everyone—or, at the very least, they take practice. The first time I tried to watch her 2019 film ‘First Cow,’ I made it fifteen minutes before abandoning its glacially slow pace. I may have done the same with her latest, ‘Showing Up,’ if I hadn’t seen it in theaters. But give it time. The sweet and sentimental movie, which stars Michelle Williams as Lizzy, a ceramics artist living in Portland, will envelop you in its warmth given time. Lizzy treats her art gently, her landlord (Hong Chau) with restrained anger, and her cat with benevolence as her life unfolds around her. To quote everyone’s favorite film critic, “It feels like a real, like, you know, ‘go to the theater’ film movie.”
A few more things… Lots of people are talking about Ann Napolitano’s Hello Beautiful. If you’ve read it, let me know what you think! Looking forward to seeing ‘Air,’ a Matt Damon movie about Nike’s creation of Air Jordans and celebrity endorsements. Also curious about “The Diplomat” starring Keri Russell on Netflix and “The Last Thing He Told Me” came out on Apple TV+ on Friday if you enjoyed Laura Dave’s book! But enough of that, let’s get to it…
“You should be more upset,” he pointed out, fairly. We had been talking about separating for months, yet I still hadn’t cried.
“I am upset,” I insisted, “I just have to hold it together.” There were books to read, conversations to have, couples therapy appointments to attend, school assignments to complete, apartments to tour, and internet to set up. I didn’t have time to address the rolling simmer of emotions just below the surface, so close I could hear my voice crack in my response to him.
In the past, any time I’ve sensed that big emotions are about to bubble up, I can practically see two options before me: break down or keep moving forward. I can’t remember a single time I haven’t chosen the latter. Keep moving forward.
Though it would take too long to go into the psychology of why I do it (my therapist has her theories, I’m sure), I am a near-professional at compartmentalizing my feelings. Usually, it’s as easy as flipping a switch: I can take on more work by simply convincing myself I’m capable. In strength classes, when the weights feel too heavy, I literally pretend I’m a robot and get through the exercises without so much as a wince. I’ve juggled my full-time Master’s, book edits, newsletter, and personal obligations/chaos by doing the same. It’s mind-over-matter to the extreme.
And then, almost exactly a month ago, I finally lost the luxury of choosing. All at once, I began to cry hard for three days straight. Here was the breakdown I had spent a lifetime avoiding—and it came without warning.
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