feels like falling

Before play­ing at Slaysh we decided to call our­selves The Jeff Band, fea­tur­ing Jesse as front­man and Father as Dad. Our half-hour set con­sisted of five songs, Jesse charm­ing the audi­ence with his ban­ter (as always), and not a sin­gle unre­cov­er­able mis­take made.

When there’s only one take, it’s easy for me to get caught up in focus­ing too intently and los­ing my place. That’s why no mat­ter how much I prac­tice, I’m always ner­vous about play­ing solos and car­ry­ing vamps. Nevertheless, it’s good to know I’m still capa­ble of such feel­ings, and that in some ways, we’re for­ever children.

Howard the Fox Project

Howard the Fox Project on her Godin 5th Avenue, an arch­top with curves in all the right places.

Slowing down hasn’t been easy. Being effi­cient is an old habit of mine. Only now do I under­stand how much passes by when you’re con­stantly going at full pace. I’ve been savour­ing every expe­ri­ence, hold­ing each one in my aware­ness and let­ting it be as intense as possible.

If only it didn’t feel like I’m falling every step of the way, con­stantly expect­ing to land on solid ground. I’ve never been so unsure of every­thing. The book says it’s nat­ural to expe­ri­ence some unnerv­ing ground­less­ness when the foun­da­tion of old beliefs falls away, but know­ing this is all part of the process doesn’t make it any eas­ier. I never would have expected to be going through so much upheaval at this point in my life.

French toast loaf

French toast loaf is the most inge­nius thing since syrup.

Good com­pany has been help­ing me ride out the storm. People have been nur­tur­ing my sense of secure attach­ment by say­ing the things I need to hear, help­ing me get shit done, and tak­ing the ini­tia­tive to make plans. If only it didn’t leave me feel­ing even more over­stim­u­lated and dis­tracted at a time when I’m con­stantly try­ing to remain focused and present.

the edge of a waterfall

There’s so much hap­pen­ing at once that it makes my head spin. Sometimes I won­der what it’d be like to be the one writ­ten about, to be on the other side of that lens. What would another per­son say about me? Would it be dif­fer­ent from what I think of myself? And would I like what was said?

I haven’t been able to write, not from a lack of time or desire, but because I can’t keep a straight thought for long enough to get it on a page. Even when I can get myself to sit down for an hour, I just end up in an end­less cycle of inspired writ­ing and crit­i­cal revi­sions. I’ve been ques­tion­ing every­thing. I don’t know what I’m work­ing towards, where I’m going to end up, or even what I want any­more. It’s easy to get over­whelmed by it all, so I have to remind myself to take every­thing one day at a time.

It’s no longer about resolv­ing strug­gles and learn­ing to grow, it’s about fun­da­men­tal changes in the per­son I am and the way I define myself. When you’re unsure of who you are, noth­ing in the world seems sta­ble. Maybe that’s why the good doc­tor asked me if I was scared of chang­ing. I told him yes, but only because I don’t know if the per­son I am now would like the per­son I’ll be later.

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tin cans and string for years

Man can­not remake him­self with­out suf­fer­ing, for he is both the mar­ble and the sculptor.

—Alexis Carrel

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.

torpor

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.

girl in snow

Pointer of quarry, tamer of cats.

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.

cat in cat bed

 

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.