Monthly Archives: February 2013

pulling weeds and planting flowers

Few peo­ple have been able to fill the void lately. The ones who do sing to me the unashamedly erotic songs of John Dowland and help me test new decks.

Through it all, I’ve been try­ing to take five breaths every now and then, inhal­ing and exhal­ing a lit­tle more fully than usual. Trying not to live like it’s a fri­day every day. Trying to fig­ure out if I should apol­o­gize for using your song to score the moments I shared with some­one else. Trying to rec­on­cile my old Taoist beliefs with my new Buddhist views. Trying to be happy with the per­son I am, instead of let­ting dis­con­tent drive self-improvement.

house in the woods

 

Frigid win­ter days are teach­ing me patience and vul­ner­a­bil­ity. Some are eas­ier than oth­ers. I’ve been work­ing with the fickle swings instead of against them. Otherwise, it’s a con­stant strug­gle when try­ing to impose sta­tic order on inher­ently unsta­ble processes. The hard part is mak­ing plans when you don’t know how you’ll feel from one day to the next.

Jesse arranges

Back in the day when we were doing cov­ers of Frank Ocean songs. One of the most rec­og­niz­able things about Jesse’s room are instru­ments strewn about.

The great­est test of my progress so far will be an acoustic show Jesse asked me to play with him on Sunday. Anxiety has been get­ting the bet­ter of me lately, and the prospect of hav­ing only two nights of rehearsal does noth­ing to assuage this.

I’ve been keep­ing in mind that we were able to pull off a decent per­for­mance last time when I didn’t know the show was going to hap­pen until a few hours prior; one of those exer­cises to fos­ter pos­i­tive expe­ri­ences and com­bat neg­a­tiv­ity bias. Fortunately, Jesse is a great front­man to be behind, cause he com­mands the atten­tion of any­one watch­ing, also tak­ing the atten­tion away from ner­vous fin­gers and live jitters.

cat and girl

 

The jour­ney of self-discovery has been dif­fi­cult. When there’s a his­tory of trauma, it’s inevitable that an uncom­fort­able feel­ings get stirred up every now and then. I take care of myself by mak­ing sure I see the impor­tant peo­ple on a con­sis­tent basis and liv­ing in those moments. The lit­tle ways to heal are found in both the expe­ri­ences them­selves and the time one takes to inter­nal­ize those experiences.

This is how I learn that self-compassion isn’t self-pity, and that most peo­ple bring less kind­ness to them­selves than to oth­ers. To get on my own side, I’ve been visu­al­iz­ing myself as a child, just as wor­thy of care as any other. I would wish the best for that lit­tle per­son, and it helps me under­stand that I should wish the best for myself as well.

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.

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.