Posts in category "Daily Life"

the beginning of me wanting myself

I had a date around this time last year. She was a teacher-turned-librar­i­an in her mid-40s with two kids, a pix­ie-cut, and thrift store style.

Before we for­mal­ly intro­duced our­selves, I rec­og­nized her from across the room and was imme­di­ate­ly struck by the way she car­ried her­self. There was a con­fi­dence when mov­ing about; clear­ing a table to sit at with­out a momen­t’s hes­i­ta­tion as to whether any­one would mind; inter­act­ing with the staff; bump­ing into an old acquain­tance. Something com­mon among par­ents and peo­ple in the edu­ca­tion sys­tem, lest they show weak­ness to a group of chil­dren (and the com­plete oppo­site of Heather, who’s shy and awk­ward and always tries to take up as lit­tle space as pos­si­ble).

We both under­stood how dif­fi­cult it can be to get to know some­one through a screen, and agreed it would be bet­ter to meet soon­er rather than lat­er. That meant I did­n’t know too much about her, aside from the details in her pro­file. I was com­fort­ed by the fact that she men­tioned All About Love by bell hooks under “A book every­one should read”, because Tiana hap­pened to rec­om­mend it to me ear­li­er that year and it became a big influ­ence on the way I approach my rela­tion­ships. Also by the fact that one of her needs was “under­stand­ing of sys­tems of oppres­sion”; as I drift fur­ther to the left on the polit­i­cal spec­trum, I’ve learned that I tend to get along bet­ter with peo­ple who have an aware­ness of social inequal­i­ty.

Continue read­ing “the begin­ning of me want­i­ng myself”…

days of heaven

I don’t get up to much late­ly. Living the life of a gen­tle­man of leisure does­n’t involve a lot more than the front page of red­dit, scrolling the infi­nite feed that nev­er leaves me bored. I also tend take a lot of naps; par­tial­ly cause I’m a poor sleep­er, par­tial­ly cause it makes the hours go by faster (and as a per­son who does his best to nev­er be sober, it resets my tol­er­ance).

Rideau Canal

On Ottawa’s bridge of locks, over­look­ing the Rideau Canal.

I want to devote myself to the pur­suits that inter­est me, but being pro­duc­tive has­n’t been easy. I haven’t had the inspi­ra­tion to write, the moti­va­tion to clean, the ener­gy to exer­cise, the dis­ci­pline to prac­tice, or the patience to med­i­tate. I only man­age to do the bare min­i­mum, which usu­al­ly just involves cook­ing a week of meals for Heather and some vac­u­um­ing before guests arrive.

It’s been hard to form pos­i­tive mem­o­ries cause I can’t con­cen­trate on any­thing for more than a few sec­onds. It always seems like there’s some­thing bet­ter to do, anoth­er but­ton I can press for a quick­er reward. Everything just becomes a dis­trac­tion from how bro­ken I feel.

chocolate poutine

Chocolate pou­tine, where the “fries” are chur­ros, the melt­ed “cheese curds” are marsh­mal­lows with vanil­la ice cream, the “gravy” is crunchy hazel­nut fon­due, and the “panties” are dropped. Then every­thing is cov­ered in Maltesers and driz­zled in choco­late sauce.

Maybe cause I’m old­er, grey­er, fat­ter, more tired, a shad­ow of my for­mer self. Most nights I go to bed feel­ing defec­tive or worth­less, then wake up feel­ing too help­less to do any­thing about it. A few months ago this would have been a sure­fire recipe for depres­sion, but now I’m try­ing to prac­tice non-action over weeks and months instead of days or hours.

Coming to terms with myself and my dif­fi­cult emo­tions — no mat­ter how unpleas­ant they may be — is help­ing me reduce my wants, end my com­pul­sive strug­gling to do every­thing bet­ter, and live more in the moment. For so long I’ve been try­ing to accept the things I can­not change, with­out also try­ing to accept the per­son to whom they’re hap­pen­ing.

Leaning into my trau­ma with open eyes and an open heart also involves pur­pose­ly think­ing about a past I’ve tried my best to for­get, and cry­ing1. It has­n’t been very pleas­ant, but I’m start­ing to feel like less of a vic­tim when I can con­front my suf­fer­ing from a posi­tion of strength and con­trol.

Heather and Jeff

I haven’t had a col­i­tis flare-up in a cou­ple years, which means I put on weight quick­ly, most­ly in the mid-sec­tion. These days I can’t fit into all my pants and rock a dad bod. For the first time in my life, I’ve been cut­ting back on por­tions and snacks.

None of this would be pos­si­ble with­out Heather, who’s been mend­ing the hole in my heart ever since we met. She’s the only rea­son I have the time, the resources, the strength, and the will to car­ry on. Anytime I feel like a bur­den, she reminds me that I’m a wor­thy one; a load she glad­ly shoul­ders, because I add to her life sim­ply by exist­ing.

When I over­hear her telling the cats to be good and take care of dad­dy before leav­ing for work every morn­ing, I can’t help but believe it. No one has ever loved me so much — not even myself — and as my bene­fac­tor, she wants noth­ing more for me than to be hap­py. I’m try­ing to take respon­si­bil­i­ty for that hap­pi­ness by show­ing myself com­pas­sion, even when I feel like I haven’t earned it.

  1. Only pos­si­ble months after I made the deci­sion to stop tak­ing arip­ipra­zole. []

lost weekend

I used to have a rule. If I ever feel like get­ting high and stay­ing home instead of going out and doing some­thing — any­thing — then I’d make a point to do the lat­ter.

Otherwise, it would mean I’ve giv­en up. That there’s noth­ing out there for me, and any­thing the world has to offer is no bet­ter than what I have in my house and on the inter­net. It’s a rule that served me well for years; one that kept me healthy and bal­anced and off my ass.

So when I found myself in my neck­beard nest after anoth­er month, not par­tic­u­lar­ly car­ing whether I got up or show­ered or shaved, I knew I was in a bad spot. Of course, just know­ing there’s a prob­lem isn’t enough to rouse one into action when basic hygiene hard­ly feels worth the effort.

Continue read­ing “lost week­end”…

don't add me to the weight you carry

For Christmas vaca­tion, Heather and I decid­ed to head to her home­town for a few days with her fam­i­ly. Every hol­i­day is unique­ly dif­fi­cult in its own way; this year I could tell it was hit­ting her hard­er than usu­al. She’s been my foun­da­tion since I met her, but under the strain of trav­el and the pres­sures of the par­ents, she began to crum­ble. It did­n’t help that her broth­er — who suf­fers from schiz­o­phre­nia — went miss­ing in November1.

cute girl

One of the high­lights was see­ing old fam­i­ly pho­tos, espe­cial­ly Heather at var­i­ous stages of her life.

To be help­less in the face of such hard­ship made me feel like a bur­den, per­haps cause I’ve been strug­gling to regain my sense of self-worth. The most I could do was be present and extra atten­tive to her needs as she sat in her chair each night and chewed the inside of her cheeks for com­fort.

Continue read­ing “don’t add me to the weight you car­ry”…

  1. The fact that we now know he’s home­less and liv­ing on the streets of Toronto is cold com­fort. []

I don't sleep, I sit and stare

Autumn in Canada is often as short as it is beau­ti­ful, but this year we lost it to win­ter in just a cou­ple weeks. I sup­pose I’d mind, if there were more rea­sons to leave the house, but at this point I’m con­tent to live in my cozy won­der­land, even if it means deal­ing with the ennui.

It’s hard to tell exact­ly why I’ve lost so much will be pro­duc­tive when my men­tal health is improv­ing, though I sus­pect they’re indi­rect­ly relat­ed. Maybe I no longer feel the need to val­i­date myself or occu­py my time with huge projects. I have to won­der if the med­ica­tion is mak­ing me a fun­da­men­tal­ly dif­fer­ent per­son, and whether it’s to my ben­e­fit over­all.

That’s not to say that my emo­tion­al scars don’t run deep. I still wor­ry about my worth, my attrac­tive­ness. Still wor­ry about los­ing Heather to some freak acci­dent. Still wor­ry what peo­ple think of me. Still get embar­rassed about things I did when I was 15. Still feel indig­nant about the way I’ve been treat­ed by peo­ple I haven’t spo­ken to in years. The ghosts of the past still haunt me; I’m just not as scared by them.

Magic playing couple

One of my major projects this year was the design and con­struc­tion of my first MTG cube. Now that it’s built, I get to enjoy it with my friends, but that also means I fin­ished an activ­i­ty that took up a lot of my time, and I’ve yet to replace it with any­thing as deep and engag­ing.

Usually, I’m a busy­body when there’s so much hap­pen­ing in my head but the most I’ve been able to do this month is browse the depths of the inter­net, wide-eyed, wait­ing for Heather to fin­ish work, count­ing down the time until I see friends on the week­end. I nev­er thought I’d live long enough to grow old, and here I am in my late 30s with my metab­o­lism final­ly catch­ing up to me.

As the days stretch on it feels like I’m walk­ing a dark­ened path, one that leads in an unknown direc­tion, and I’m too scared of the floor falling out from under me to be excit­ed. I sus­pect that’s why I’ve been roused to inac­tion. Nothing can go wrong if I don’t take any risks. As a per­son who’s still recov­er­ing from a life­time of trau­ma I’m okay with play­ing it safe for now, even if it means my world is small­er and the sky less bright.