Welcome to For Your Consideration, a new series about things we love and love to do — and we’d like to give you permission to embrace your authentic self and love them too.
“Really, Kayla, you’re recommending your own recommendations column in an installment of said recommendations column?” you might think upon reading the title of this very special For Your Consideration. But I promise you that’s not exactly what I’m doing. Still, this particular For Your Consideration is about to get very meta, and yes, I realize that going meta less than three months into this series’ lifetime is a bit like if a television show were to try to do a musical episode in its first season. But here we are. I actually do make the rules! And this series has always been about more than just recommendations.
I pitched the idea for this For Your Consideration series less than one month after finding out that my girlfriend was cheating on me with someone I considered a friend. I was ruined and not feeling like myself and all the other horrible, seemingly indelible things one feels in this situation that I had (un)fortunately never previously experienced. I wanted to grant myself permission to enjoy dumb things at a time when it felt impossible to enjoy anything at all. I wanted a slightly experimental writing space where I had some semblance of control — a thing that most other parts of my life lacked. Plus, my friend who pretty much became my life raft during that initial month told me a really fucking funny story about changing her identity after accidentally liking someone’s very old photo when creeping on them, and I wanted to write about it.
For Your Consideration was born, pitched as a free-for-all recommendations series with a tinge of advice column. It became clear that that advice wasn’t just for you but for me, too. It became clear that it wasn’t just a recommendations or advice column at all. It was, increasingly, a de facto diary about the affair that shattered my life and the messy, uncertain, volatile aftermath that followed… dressed up as a recommendations and advice column and evasive enough about the specific details of my personal life that I could be discreet, that I could insulate myself from some of my own feelings, which felt insurmountable.
If someone was paying attention to these columns with a Da Vinci Code-like approach to teasing out symbols and clues about relationship drama, then they could probably figure it out. Like queer subtext but affair subtext, it’s there, microscopically subtle at first: that disconnect between her and me and reality that begins my essay on the wonders of listening to the same song over and over and over and the specific songs I list as having listened to on repeat in the past month. A person in a good relationship does not listen to two different versions of St. Vincent’s “Smoking Section” that goddamn much.
There were the little bits in there just for me, too. My ode to breakfast pasta was really an ode to some of the happier memories of our relationship, which is/was so tied up in food that I stopped cooking after the affair, haven’t really started again. As I note there, I don’t like to cook alone.
My personal life started seeping in more and more, the clues becoming more obvious. I admitted to being in therapy twice a week without mentioning that one of those sessions was always couples therapy, that my weekly trips to The Met weren’t just healing but lifesaving. Everything in New York City makes me think about her and about us, as if this city were a painted mural of our time together. The Met became the only place where I saw a different painting, the only place in this city where I wanted to be alive.
More walls came down for my FYC on weekly karaoke, an intensely personal essay that I nonetheless decided to distance myself from by writing it in second person. I hinted around singing “Before (s)He Cheats” week after week instead of just fucking saying it. Whose feelings was I protecting? I hinted around it all, called this the worst summer of my life without explaining why. I actually used the word “cheating” in my musings on candles, but I framed it as a hypothetical, once again distanced myself strategically.
I’m not merely writing this as a decoder to past FYC entries. I promise there’s a point to all this, a point that fulfills this series’ promise to be about the things we like and like to do, even though I’ve now spent much of this discussing being cheated on, certainly not something I would wish upon anyone. To an extent, what I wrote in my FYC on The Met is still true: to write about this all now, when I’m still very much living in it, feels like writing about drowning while drowning. But at the same time, I’ve been deliberately writing around it, afraid to name what haunts me because that somehow makes the demon more real. Am I ruining my previous work’s mystique by overexplaining the emotional underpinnings? Maybe. But I don’t feel like safeguarding this secret anymore. It’s too big a part of who I am right now.
Friends, don’t be afraid to write something down or say it out loud because you’ve told yourself that that somehow makes it more real. It’s already real. There are so many times I’ve wished none of this were real, that this life wasn’t mine, that what was/is happening to me were like a storyline on one of those television shows I’m always writing about.
Don’t be hard on yourself for doing things you never thought you’d do when your life starts spinning out of control. I’ll be the first to admit that I have been steadily, publicly losing it on social media in the wake of all this, and in many ways, For Your Consideration has just been a slightly more eloquent version of that — not a cry for help, per se, but a flare sent out to myself that I’m not okay, that none of this is okay. But hell yeah I’m going to light a candle about it and eat pasta for breakfast about it and sing karaoke about it. I’m going to slowly but surely remind myself of the underrated good bits of life and remind you, too. I know that I can’t write myself out of this, but I also can’t not write about it. I guess an alternative title for this one would be For Your Consideration: Let It Out.
This doesn’t mean that this series has suddenly shifted its focus. I don’t think that every iteration of this column will now be some variation of “hi I was cheated on, feel bad for me.” In fact, I think the opposite is true. Because I’ve finally written it, I don’t feel the need to write around it week after week, to view every goddamn thing through this affair lens. It might creep back in. But I’m naming the demon so that I can hopefully begin to keep it from touching everything good.