Welcome to Word Vomit Wednesday! A series of blog posts about a specific topic from current events that I, and sometimes the rest of the Internet, ruminate obsessively about. All thoughts/opinions/experiences are my own; I don’t claim anything that I write to represent anyone other than myself.
Hey all! The first month of the new year is coming to a close and I ended up taking a much longer hiatus from the blog than originally intended (my bad) and that’s partly due to a mix of a lot of travel, some big changes happening in my life, as well as this month being a very tough one emotionally for me. More on that later. First, I want to tell you about some of these changes I’ve been making. The most significant change for me this year, after living in New York for nearly 11 years, is that I will be leaving and moving back to Tucson this summer. I don’t know how long I’ll be in Arizona for, all I know is that I am viewing my time there as a Sabbatical to help me work on things I am passionate about, be closer to my family, and figure out where I want to go next. This breakup with New York has been in process for the past year and a half, maybe even two years. At this time I finally feel ready to make the move and embrace what happens.
I first started seriously thinking about leaving when I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and PTSD and was looking at it purely through a health lens. My thinking went, if my nervous system is overstimulated and causing me to be in pain to the extent of not feeling capable of holding down a job or just living my life generally, living in an overstimulating environment might be a major contributor, right? While that is true and perfectly sound reasoning, I wasn’t entirely convinced that I was actually ready to make the change. My logical self and emotional self were not quite at odds, but were definitely in conflict. My health became priority #1, but I struggled to rectify the idea of leaving New York when I still hadn’t accomplished what I set out to accomplish by moving here in the first place. Big dreams like being the first woman to win a Producer of The Year Grammy or having a creative presence everywhere from stage to big screen, to goals that society tells us we need to be, like being a fully independent human with a house and well-paying job by age 25 hadn’t exactly panned out as planned. I had to come to terms with the fact that me being able to live and thrive is more important than killing myself over standards that were set by those who would never even consider my particular reality. I had come so far and so close to having the career I wanted that to admit to myself that over 20 years of studying, performing, working my ass off to establish myself that this path was not right for me anymore. I felt like I failed myself and I needed to process that too.
As I spent this last year feeling pretty lost, I realized that the reason I’m even here and have gotten to do and experience the things that I have is because a 7-year-old Katie realized singing was awesome, that music held a space for her that no one and nothing else was able to when she needed it, and decided to dedicate almost every waking moment to learning and mastering as much as possible. I’ve been living my life based on the dreams and aspirations of a 7-year-old kid which is pretty wild if you think about it and also entirely understandable why, at 30, I would now have different needs and visions for myself. I owe a great debt to that kid though. She had the imagination to dream big, the audacity to ignore those who felt she was weird and unrealistic, the undying belief in her own worth and potential, and the dedication to continually work hard at something she was so passionate about. That kid was pretty fucking awesome and I owe her a lot. I think she’d still be proud of me and unbelievably stoked by the things I’ve been able to do and the people I’ve met and been honored to work with even though I’m not the rock star she intended for me to be. Kid Katie, thank you.
Career and dream stuff aside, there’s NYC itself. For anyone who lives or has lived here, it’s really unlike being anywhere else. The city is so dynamic that it’s almost like another person in your life. That’s the main reason why I’m calling this move a breakup because it feels like the end of my longest, most serious relationship. In fact, it is my longest and most serious relationship. Once the thought of leaving popped into my head, I was all of a sudden being bombarded with memories at every turn. It was as if New York was bargaining with me saying, “But remember all those times?” Of course, I remember those times. Like any new mutually felt relationship it was the beginning of an exciting new world opening up. The newness, endless possibilities for adventure and success were intoxicating and even the challenges gave way to immense growth and opportunity. I was able to start fresh in a place where I barely knew anyone which gave me the freedom to shed old roles that I never felt were me and try on some new ones. There were really great times. And drunk times, times of being in sheer awe of where I was while walking through Central Park, the frustrating times of waiting for the MTA to get their shit together, great concerts, weekend trips, beginnings of some of my most valuable friendships, then end of some very toxic ones, and also some of the absolute worst times. Times that I thought would finally break me.
I’ve grown a tremendous amount as a person and have learned so much about myself as a result of living here. What I know about myself right now is, that at some point I went from living here out of excitement and possibility to living here out of fear of what a failure I’d be if I left. Not the best ingredients for a healthy relationship. I’m also at a point where I finally feel clear again about what I want to be focusing my time and energy on and the things that were once challenges here, are now obstacles getting in the way of that. So, this is what leaving New York will mean for me: I’ll be able to focus more and be more consistent with this blog, put up the accompanying podcast, and work on a book that I hope to turn into a graphic novel and have published. It’s been difficult to give what I want to give to these projects while living in a place where it takes so much time and energy to just take care of the bare essentials of survival. Now that I’m committed to these projects and have more clarity of a path, leaving for more open space and room to think and live is a no brainer. I’m feeling extremely grateful that I am no longer afraid to take that leap. Thank you New York for helping me arrive at this place.
Just as new years are opportunities for reflection and instituting change, we are who we are and we bring all of our parts of us with us into the new year. I’ve had some trouble posting this blog the past couple of weeks because my PTSD has been acting up. The continuation of stories and discussions from the #MeToo movement coupled with this month being the 4-year-anniversary of me being raped has been very emotionally and physically draining. As I write this, I feel like every muscle in my body has been lifting weights for 72 hours straight even though all I’ve done is read and watch The Shannara Chronicles on Netflix. Dealing with flashbacks, conscious and unconscious triggers, reemergence of uncomfortable feelings of shame, guilt, and rage has meant I’ve needed to be more loving and gentle with myself during this time. This part of myself and my experience is also still very hard for me to talk about.
Thankfully I’m getting better at healing. I know that these feelings will not last forever. Experience has taught me that I’m stronger than the shittiest moment that my brain puts on loop, and that gives me hope. As we enter 2018, I’m feeling extremely grateful, strong and excited. We all have a lot of work to do so, let’s make the changes we need at the pace we need. Let’s keep important conversations and actions going and discard anything that no longer serves us. Onward and upward!
Katie Louchheim just dumped a f*ck ton of word vomit on you so, as a palate cleanser go check out her cool new blue hair on her Instagram @ktjlouch. Happy New Year!
Recommended Listening: “(There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me - Dionne Warwick