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 been too long since my last emotional break. I can tell I’m in rough shape when I start to carry the tension of the last shift to my next one, mostly cause I’m getting lost between people and projects, instead of unwinding and recharging. My Mac Pro also breathed it’s last, and I haven’t had the comfort of my familiar electronic space in over a week. As I build my next system, I’ve turned to other forms of happiness to fill the hole. They’re often just as worth my time, but don’t often leave space for the introversion I need to centre myself.
Still; the fact that I haven’t written in so long is cause I have a chance to talk to Heather on a consistent basis. As a source of immediate feedback (along with endless empathy and attention), she’s become the outlet I’ve needed for so long. On good days, our broken halves make a whole person. But on her bad days, I’m not always ready to be the strong one, and sometimes I can’t help but feel inadequate when she’s she’s still hurting or not fixed yet, even when I know I’m not the cause.
It makes me especially anxious to get over a past that’s stopping me from further growth. I just want to stop suffering from and struggling with various forms of trauma, so I can reach a sense of stability. But that seems further away than ever at times like this, when I’m not coping with the things I can’t control, and I wonder if I should be making peace with it all instead of fighting it.
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.
I can say that now.
It’s hard to tell exactly when everything became too much for me to handle, but I knew I reached stable ground when Marie said it was nice to see me smile. It seems like she’s only seen me at my worse — when I’m not coping and trying to rationalize all the wrong things — but she still welcomes me every time without any expectations, and that’s the kind of acceptance I need at this point in my journey.
Not to say there aren’t struggles, especially months like this, when I’m dealing with colitis flare-ups on a daily basis and the constant feeling of being overwhelmed. Between the time I spend to nourish myself, finding peace with so much of my past, and this love that found me, I’ve started to understand how life can catch up to a person without warning. There’s barely a chance to process the developments in my head, let alone record curves and colours with a camera.
I’m anxious to get to the point where I can start growing instead of healing, and living instead of surviving. Being okay means it’s easier to deal with the insecurities and moments of weaknesses I face on my way there.
Life at the comic book shop continues to be the Empire Records fantasy everyone dreams it to be. Maybe that’s why someone walks in every shift to hand in a resume. Even people who have no intention of looking for a job ask if there are any openings as soon as they see the merch catered to every genre of geek.
The fact that there are only a dozen among us means the crew is tight. I get to play back-cash DJ and turn up the electronica that’s come to define this period of recovery. Still, there are days when the computer breaks down on a night when I’m running a tournament by myself, I have to do all the pairings manually, and getting home to a hot shower is the purest relief.
Having a steady stream of plans mixed in with work means I’m constantly waking up to an alarm. It’s wearing me down, but my need for stimulation is outweighing my need for sleep. For now, at least.
I don’t write anymore cause I get my validation through people. The right ones set aside time for me, listen as much as they speak, and don’t treat me any differently cause of my past. I haven’t felt the need to sort out my thoughts — one of the main reasons I used to write — as much as accept myself. It’s a matter of patience at this point, and weathering the rough periods.
Arcade Fire on their Reflektor tour, featuring Stephen Harper as tambourine-playing box head.
That means I’m still learning how to take care of myself. Still coming to terms with the fact that love is so rarely clean or tidy or in our control, but realizing that’s okay. Still trying to believe that I shouldn’t be embarrassed of anything I’ve suffered. Still figuring out my idea of happiness, what’s meaningful and what’s possible.