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.
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.
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.
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 injustice, 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.
I can tell I’m getting overwhelmed cause of the mistakes I’m making. Fruit is going bad on the counter before I have a chance to eat/cook it, a dose of medication is forgotten here and there, missed payments lead to interest fees; I’m losing control of little details that are normally simple matters for me.
Maybe it’s cause I’m constantly trying to catch up. On projects I keep putting off cause of my responsibilities. On life after losing the last two years to a depression that left me crying more often than not. On top of all that, I’m trying to juggle a job, a relationship, and the energy it takes for me to heal, while enjoying every moment as it comes. Even though I’m in a safe and stable place now, I still struggle to cope with how quickly things are changing. I miss being able to record my thoughts and experiences here, but I can’t afford the time it takes to get into that zone.
The hardest part is explaining to people why I’ve been out of touch for so long. It means going into a painful (and recent) history, and it’s not easy to get into that emotional space, let alone think about things that are difficult to relive, let alone open up to someone, let alone worry about how they’re going to react.
It’s been more than a week since I had a night alone. I never thought I’d be able to handle this kind of stimulation again, but most people work during the day and my shifts involve running the tourneys when they’re off, so I still have mornings to myself. I can tell how quickly time is passing cause the gaps in my photo folders are turning into months.
Being around so many people gives me a chance to work on my altruism. It’s always been easy with people who are important to me. Now I’m trying to fall into the habit of being kind to the ones who are neutral, to try to truly understand their reality so I can acknowledge their happiness or suffering. It’s a way for me to remove my bias, including whether I think they deserve either of those emotions, and always a humbling exercise.
Still, I wish I could explain what I was feeling. So much of myself was defined by my emotions. I remember riding the bus, losing myself to the warmth of the sun on my face and the swelling sound in my headphones. Nowadays, every scene plays out like all caps slug lines in a screenplay. Nothing has changed but the dosage, and I don’t know if that’s a fact I should take comfort in.
Not to say there aren’t difficult times. I don’t have much control over triggers, and I’m not ready to deal with certain parts of my life yet. I’ve had to keep a distance from toxic people and situations to gain a sense of stability before I approach them again. It’s a way for me to give myself time to heal, after realizing just how much needs to be done.
Winter has always been difficult at times. At –15 or below, breath becomes a layer of ice on the windows when parked outside, and I can do nothing but wait for the car to warm up again so I can see enough to drive. At that point, it means I’m sitting in the car for longer than my commute. I try to take it as a good way to practice patience, but it’s a hard wait after an eight hour shift on my feet. It’s still winter in all it’s muffling glory though, the time in the year I most appreciate living in Canada. Girls and cats alike are more affectionate too, and I don’t mind being the source of heat.
I tend to get up around sunrise now, and every time I step outside before the rest of the world wakes up, it feels like I’m born again. It’s a chance for me to hit the reset button on the last day. To let go of the past, even if it happened only seven hours ago, and become a blank slate.
I also gradually broke the habit of checking my feeds after feeling jaded about news and media, then coming across this article. After months of abstention, I can say that I’ve gained time and lost nothing. It’s left me feeling increasingly disconnected from the world, but I know that means I’m beginning to learn what really matters.