Posts in category "Thoughts"

soft with scars

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It’s hard to imag­ine what life will be like when I’m still try­ing to sur­vive from one day to the next. I’ve never been more dis­con­nected with real­ity, but dis­tance is what I need. At first it was days; now weeks have started blend­ing together. Stretches of time feel shorter as they get longer. It’s been more than a month since I took a step out­side, and about as long since I’ve seen any­one but Heather. I can’t even remem­ber the last time I answered my phone or made a call.

Every day, it feels like I’m falling deeper into a hole I can’t seem to escape as I slip fur­ther away from myself. I used to enjoy being inspired and cre­ative, but some­where along the way I stopped dream­ing. The lines in my face tell me my body has paid a price of it’s own. It’s left me unsure of who I’ll become; if only I wasn’t so fond of the per­son I used to be.

My new ther­a­pist is shock­ingly young com­pared to the man who retired and forced me to look for some­one new. Every few weeks, we care­fully explore the thoughts I keep tucked away in the back of my mind. Heather often serves as wit­ness, to under­stand what I’ve been through and have to re-experience. It’s exhaust­ing to go into a past that pains me so much, but impor­tant work that I hate and need and want all at once.

girl and cat

 

Not quite two years ago, her stay with me began as refuge from an abu­sive part­ner. She was a frag­ile girl back then; pan­icky dur­ing heavy winds, blind to her own bur­geon­ing nubil­ity, uncom­fort­able around any­one else for more than a few hours at a time. Fortunately, my inse­cu­rity hap­pened to man­i­fest itself as a need to take care of oth­ers, and I found both val­i­da­tion and hap­pi­ness when I had the chance with some­one so deserv­ing. It’s hard to believe how quickly our roles have reversed. Now I’m the depen­dent, a posi­tion I have a harder time accept­ing than she does1, and one I’ll likely have for the rest of my life.

Through my strug­gle, I’ve seen her grow into a con­fi­dent young woman who knows how to cook a steak medium-rare (even though she’s a vegan), enjoys every chance to exert her sex­u­al­ity, and often under­stands more about my med­ica­tion than the doc­tors who pre­scribe it. I thought I knew what love was, but every day her unwa­ver­ing patience shows me how much deeper it goes.

Guild Wars 2 character with Eternity

Totally not compensating.

This is the face I wear most often as of late, while explor­ing a world large enough for me to get lost in. I can set goals at my own pace, whether they’re sim­ple ones that leave me sat­is­fied enough to sleep, or com­plex, long-term ones that help me feel accom­plished enough to do big­ger things. Every day, I’m given the chance to be kind, gen­er­ous, and pos­i­tive, while keep­ing a dis­tance from the real world. I even started a lit­tle guild with my friends, and we recently claimed the hall which we’ll call our home; even if I’m not emo­tion­ally avail­able to them, this is how they stop by and spend time with me.

It’s hard not to hate myself when my issues are pre­vent­ing me from being the per­son I want to be. I’m in a rush to get bet­ter, when time to heal is what I need most. Heather reminds me that the suf­fer­ing I’ve been through is the rea­son she feels under­stood and safe. I tell myself that this time is just a chap­ter in the book of my life — a stop on the way to who I am — and that there’s more left to write.

  1. I keep remind­ing myself: she knows what she wants, and what’s best for her. []

to start with an end

The break­ing point hap­pened one night, when an acquain­tance I’ll call Thomas chided me for not get­ting back to him sooner about a din­ner invi­ta­tion. Thomas was upset enough that he needed some time off from hang­ing out. I didn’t under­stand, as he never expressed his con­cern, so I had no idea there was a prob­lem in the first place. I apol­o­gized for hurt­ing him, and pleaded with him to let me know next time so it wouldn’t hap­pen again. Still, the sit­u­a­tion didn’t sit well with me; my belated reply was due to the fact that I was in a dif­fi­cult place of my own, about which he never asked or con­sid­ered. I was left con­fused, and sad that I’d unwit­tingly hurt some­one so much as to need a break.

So I called my best friend at the time, look­ing for sup­port. “Avail?” was my usual code-word by text, to let him know I could wait until he had taken care of every­thing else, as I never took his time for granted. But this time, I was shaken enough that I needed more than just an ear, and told him, instead of ask­ing. When I finally got him on the phone, he dis­missed every­thing I tried to say, over­rid­ing it with, “This is what you need to do. Mark three months from now on your cal­en­dar, and call him then. He’ll for­get by that time”. I tried to explain my feel­ings over and over, that I wasn’t look­ing to make amends but try­ing to under­stand the sit­u­a­tion, and this was the most mean­ing­ful answer he could offer. I broke down when I knew I wasn’t get­ting through, when I real­ized he wasn’t an ally at a time I truly needed it, and that he never was.

Continue read­ing “to start with an end”…

in the absence of light

It’s been weeks since I left the house for any­thing but a doctor’s appoint­ment, maybe three times since November. I miss the win­ter, even though it’s right out­side my door. I miss my friends, even though they’re rarely more than a short trip away. It’s espe­cially hard not being able to explain the dis­tance. All I can do is hope they trust me when I don’t feel com­fort­able explain­ing, and try not to feel inse­cure about being so out of touch.

Sometimes, the thought of being away from my safety zone fills me with dread. Other times it’s just eas­ier to not do any­thing. I barely man­age the effort to wash my hair once a week, and the only rea­son I shave is to more eas­ily wipe off the vis­cid sad­ness that so often vis­its my face. I sus­pect I wouldn’t even be eat­ing if it weren’t for the fact that Heather enjoys tak­ing care of peo­ple to ful­fill her own need for secu­rity. She’s lived here a few months, and she’s already mak­ing sure the cats have their teeth brushed every day and all the bills are paid. I’ve barely known her for twice that time, and I’ve never been more depen­dent on any­one in my life.

It feels like I’ve taken two steps back, but I’m at this point cause it means I’m safe enough to start pro­cess­ing and under­stand­ing the things that led to me try­ing to hang myself from the rail­ing of my stair­case a year ago. I haven’t fig­ured out what it means to keep going, when for so long I believed my life was lead­ing up to that moment, and stick­ing around wasn’t a choice I made for myself. Just fig­ur­ing out how to write about such a large and com­plex expe­ri­ence is often too much. I’m left bro­ken when I sim­ply want to understand.

I’m learn­ing that recov­ery isn’t a binary process, but a jour­ney with strug­gles and tri­umphs. I still suf­fer the trauma of being moments away from dying. I’m still haunted by the guilt of sur­vival. With so many hair-triggers that lead to wholly con­sum­ing break­downs, I can’t deny I’m not the per­son I used to be. Right now, it’s hard enough just try­ing to be okay with that.

habits

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July was sup­posed to be my catch-up month. The one where I con­nected with a lover instead of being rushed to appre­ci­ate her at every turn; a chance to fin­ish house projects and all the clean­ing I’ve been putting off; maybe even time enough to go for a walk every day, or the patience to work on fret­ting cleaner bar­res instead of emo­tional doo­dling and clumsy interpretations.

chemo indica leaves

 

Now here I am, half way through September. Heather and I are at war with our respec­tive pasts, and wait­ing for relief. On top this comes her dad’s diag­no­sis of a metas­ta­sized can­cer of unknown ori­gin. We’re used to being strong for oth­ers, but the uncer­tainty of what may come makes us won­der if we’re truly ready.

If only my mind wasn’t already drift­ing back to those unhealthy and all-too-familiar thoughts. It’s hard enough let­ting go of the sense that every­thing will fall apart at any sec­ond. The depth of my strug­gle has changed me, and I’m still get­ting used to feel­ing uncon­di­tion­ally loved and emo­tion­ally secure. Thankfully, I have a part­ner who tells me every sin­gle day that I’m a good per­son, that I’m impor­tant, and that I deserve to be happy. Consistent reminders are what I need, how­ever small, cause the recov­ery process is going to take far longer than I first thought.

Guild Wars 2

 

We’ve taken to explor­ing the mas­sive world of Tyria in Guild Wars 2 as a way of cop­ing. Even when I’m away from my com­puter, I think of noth­ing but jour­ney­ing to new loca­tions, instead of the tiny prob­lems that seem impos­si­ble to sur­mount at even my best times. I’ve always been an obses­sive per­son, and my mind would be full of bad things right now if I wasn’t so busy find­ing the next point of inter­est, the next cham­pion to kill and loot.

It’s a way for me to get through the dif­fi­cult days, until they turn into a past that I can look at from afar. I know if I can turn the page on this chap­ter, I’ll have a oppor­tu­nity to become the per­son I want to be every day for the rest of my life.

steps into strides

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It’s nice to be at a point where I don’t suf­fer sim­ply by the act of exist­ing. With my head above water, I can pur­sue a sense of hap­pi­ness instead of con­stantly decid­ing whether it’s worth going on.

But I have to admit that the depth of my strug­gle is what gave me the tools to thrive now. When I was try­ing to sur­vive the most dif­fi­cult times, I learned that I could limit the effect of life’s inher­ent insta­bil­i­ties by being in bet­ter con­trol of myself. Through my jour­ney with social injus­tice1, I learned how to empathize with peo­ple and under­stand their expe­ri­ences. From hav­ing lost all my most fun­da­men­tal emo­tional bonds, I learned to be a more patient friend and deeper lover.

It feels like I’ve been strug­gling in ado­les­cence, and am now tran­si­tion­ing to the next major phase, one that will involve as much heal­ing as grow­ing. That means I need to prac­tice using these tools, cause know­ing how to be a bet­ter per­son isn’t enough by itself; time and per­se­ver­ance are just as impor­tant for a per­son with so much damage.

There are still bad days, moments of weak­ness, and ground­less inse­cu­ri­ties, but they’re get­ting less fre­quent and less intense, and I have more time than I ever thought I’d have. As long as I’m on the right path, each step I take toward find­ing my stride will get me to where I want to go.

  1. And with the sup­port of Shawn and Tiana mak­ing me feel val­i­dated about my feel­ings every step of the way. []