Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.
I’ve been discovering that I don’t know how to take care of myself. Not in a practical, everyday sense, but a cognitive one. Consistent psychological abuse during my formative years meant I never had the chance to develop some important life skills, like how to nurture my emotional needs, how to make mistakes, and how to view myself without judgment. The poison was in the wound, you see, and the wound wouldn’t heal.
So far I’ve just started recognizing these issues in therapy, and it all makes me feel damaged and defective, likely why I’ve been hiding these parts of my life from others for so long. But I’ve been hiding them from myself most of all. It’s hard to go through the painful but necessary process of grieving when I’m alone; always easier to ignore things and keep going.
I asked Tiana to help me through this, cause now I know I can’t do it by myself. It wasn’t easy. Even the simple idea of asking for help makes me anxious. People who’ve had major roles in my life have hurt me or let me down in a very significant way, so trusting others has always been hard, and I’ve avoided being vulnerable for so long because of that.
Luckily, Tiana responded the way I needed her to, and it’s been a great comfort to give myself up to someone I can trust. To be able to cry in front of a person without feeling guilty about my emotions or how I’m making them feel. To be able to talk to someone who’s receptive and attentive and gentle and caring and appreciates my openness as well. To be the little spoon, cause everyone needs to be held sometimes. She lets me let go, and for the first time, I’ve been able to surrender myself fully and still believe that I’ll be okay. I can sigh with relief instead of sadness.
These are still baby steps though, and the whole process is terrifying. My sense of control is what makes me feel safe, even if it’s detrimental to my growth, and I’m still learning how to give that up. But I tell myself it’s progress nonetheless, which is what I need now.
The holiday season is officially over when it doesn’t feel right to watch Christmas specials of Only Fools and Horses. The Trotter boys are out of their element, trying to strike it rich in exotic locales, and the Peckham flat is too far away for things to feel normal. Still, watching them makes me miss the UK more than ever. I’ve taken to episodes of Sherlock to get my dose of London nights until I can find a way to make it over there again.
Over here, it’s been a faithful Canadian winter. Bouts of varied snowfall, record-breaking lows, and a spot of freezing rain here and there. My guitar must be achingly dry as the modest humidifier helplessly fails to maintain balance against the constant churn of the furnace.
I’ve been picking her up again, rebuilding my blisters and re-learning old songs. Sometimes I wonder how I was ever able to play certain passages, but knowing I have before makes it easier the second time around. This time it feels a little different though. I have a better reach and a more confident picky, along with some new pains that have found their way into my hands.
The cold that permeates the house means Dolly prefers sleeping in her bed over any one spot, and I can carry her around with me from room to room to keep me company. Byron is rarely far away. Even though he’s not as affectionate as Dolly, he’s still my cat in the way he comes to walk on me when I wake, and the ritual playtime we have after teeth are brushed.
With the cats forming a little nest wherever I go, and the view of ice and snow just outside the window, I have little reason to leave the house nowadays.
When Karen’s at yoga, Aaron and I take turns cooking dinner and playing with Ryan and Ruby (read: keeping them occupied and out of trouble). Then we gingerly convince them to eat what they can (good days involve utensils), make sure they’re bathed, and put into bed with a story if they’ve been good. Everything is manageable as one but easier with two, especially when the simple act of getting rice into a child’s mouth can turn into an ordeal.
This is when I get to experience the joys of having children in manageable doses. That means not having to deal with diaper changes, and reading the same 30-word book only four times instead of 400.
Ryan used to be particularly excited to see his Uncle Jeff, leaving Aaron and Karen to wonder what got into him when I was around. Now that he’s a bit older, his face doesn’t carry the same glow when I arrive anymore, and he’s happier to see the marbles I brought. But Ruby is beginning that phase of enamour, and constantly clambering into my lap to involve herself in what I’m doing. Recently she started asking me to carry her (which I’m told means membership in an exclusive club consisting of her parents and me), even though she’s just learned to manage stairs by herself.
They seem to grow by inches every week, and they’ll soon be old enough to take care of themselves. I’ve learned to appreciate the little chances I have to be truly part of a family like this, especially after deciding last year against ever having kids of my own. And I don’t feel the need for children anymore cause this will always be enough.
At some point along the way, I discover that I’m terrible at being alone. I need someone to care for / spoil / love / give my existence meaning. Echoes of a trying childhood I’m just now sorting out. Otherwise, I’m constantly feeling empty instead of fulfilled.
Once a week I’m torn down so I can be rebuilt again, and some days I wonder: what of me will be left?