Why I’m Afraid to Admit I’m Happy

One crazy year can kill you. The old you. Kaitlyn Flannagan for Observer

Everything changed this year and I’m scared. It’s new for me. I don’t want to fall.

This year I couldn’t hide anymore. My heart blew open and exposed my wounds.

This year I was so broke my bank teller judged me. “Living on the edge?” he asked.

This year I cried so hard I couldn’t breathe.

This year I sold the rights for my column, The J-Spot, to Universal.

This is the year I moved out of my parents’ loft at the ripe age of 36.

This is the year I fell in love.

This year I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe.

This year I confronted Harvey Weinstein on national television for assaulting me.

This year justice caught up to him. When I saw a picture of him in shackles, I either felt too much or too little. I didn’t want to think about him at all.

I thought back to a moment, ten years earlier.

I ran into him, briefly, awkwardly, painfully at a Hollywood party. I was afraid of him. It was a year after the incident in Cannes. He asked me if I was still writing. I told him I wasn’t. I had just moved to L.A., and the whole world was new and unknown, almost overwhelming.

He said, “That’s a good thing. If you’re not writing than you must be living.”

Strange to think of his words, strange to think of him in any other way than a criminal.

These last three months, I haven’t been writing. So I must be living.

This whole world is new and unknown, almost overwhelming.

I’m almost afraid to say it (can I whisper it?), “I’m happy.”

Here is my disclaimer: I am afraid of this new life. Despite my better judgement, I cling to what’s familiar.

When my back pain flares up, I am nothing and I’m convinced I will lose everything.

When I can’t write, I’m nobody. When I don’t post to instagram, I’m irrelevant.

But my old identity is dying. (I hope!)

My storythe one where I will never be happy, have money or realize my dreamsis false.

The old story where men take and take from me only to discard me is wrong. My old story that I must win the gold or hit it out of the ball park every goddamn day is bullshit. One crazy year can kill you…the old you.

I am still superstitious. I am afraid to write about the man I love. I am protective of my new life because I have never experienced anything like it. Imagine living in the dark and then the lights turn on, you look around and see the love that was always there. But you doubt it. Is it real?

When everything is changing and things I’ve wanted so badly are coming true, I find myself obsessively grasping for what’s wrong. I store the hurt in my body.

My pain has a map. There are years of index files, of history, in my back, my groin, my hips, my breasts, my feet, my heart and my memory.

***

I wore a white unitard that fanned into a short skirt. Mom had sewn gold beads across the bodice.

Skating was magic. In my routine, I skated to Debussy’s Claire de Lune. I swept through each bend and extension like a ballerina. I launched into a Layback spin. My back arched, my body folded in half, while the world spun by upside down.

As I flew passed audience applause, I leaned into a Spread Eagle. My body formed an x. My legs opened wide and my arms reached far. My blades carved a half-moon at full speed. I was free.

They loved me. I loved them. They loved me. I was elegant. I was like a swan. I felt…”I’m going to win the gold.”

The Double Loop jump was ahead. I owned that jump.

Gearing down, I bent my knees and leapt. My arms pulled in tight, turning, turning, and landed. It was solid. The music hit a crescendo.

They cheered. I looked up and smiled. They loved me. They really did.

I tripped. My toe pick got caught on a three-turn, a move I could have done in my sleep. There was a tremendous burn in my right groin. Pain I had never felt before.

I had a Double Lutz comping up in the far corner by the zamboni. I didn’t know what to do. I had to make it through.

I flung myself up in the air but my leg wouldn’t hold. I crashed. The music stopped.

They had to come out and get me.

They all saw me hunched over, crying, injured and pained. They saw me fall.

I learned good things are ripped away from me. I learned I wasn’t lucky. I learned that at the height of my glory, I’d fall.

I quit skating because my body didn’t work anymore. I had torn all my hip muscles, and I wasn’t eating so the muscles ate themselves.

Dad had taken me skating almost every morning before school. Dad stopped taking me skating. I felt that loss too.

I went on to other things like modeling, college, Hollywood and men.

Last summer it was the worst. They say it gets worse before it gets better. But it got worse after it got worse. I dated a guy with a pocket square when I’m a circle.

Pocket Square eventually texted me, “I can’t be with someone with so many issues.”

Everything was delayedmoney, love and happiness.

I was in the fifth year of living with my parents.

That summer was hot in the city. Nobody wanted to be there.

I took out one of those Pay Day cash loans at a 400 percent interest rate. It started to really add up. I couldn’t swing it. I was negative 500 in my bank account. I felt like a piece of shit.

I went to the Hudson River and thought about throwing myself over the ledge, but the drop was only a few feet and I can swim, so it was just a bad idea all around. The water was so dirty.

I sobbed until I got tired.

I heard one of those Eat, Pray Love, internal voices. Just hang in a little bit longer. It’s all coming together. Maybe it’s just what I wanted to hear, but I didn’t care. I clung onto that hope like I cling on to my bad patterns today.

I sold the TV rights to The J-Spot. I meditated every goddamn day. I wrote gratitude lists. I imagined the life I wanted. I read self help books. I fought for happiness.

I was ruthless.

***

I met him. Turns out I’d been friends with him for years. He was there all along.

We went to Iris Smyles’ Halloween party. He was talking to a girl with horns (she was some sort of monster) and I was jealous.

Friends don’t get jealous of friends.

The following week I told him I had feelings for him.

Two months ago, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

I won’t tell you what I said because I’m too superstitious.

But I can give you a hint. I’m happy.

Why I’m Afraid to Admit I’m Happy