Tiana recently shared this great article with me. It’s written as a guide for personal growth within one’s relationships, but I find myself well familiar with the concepts it covers; being accountable, empathetic, grateful, introspective, and responsible are all things that tend to come naturally to me. I’ve also been actively working on (or struggling with) being more patient, forgiving, resilient, autonomous, and optimistic in the last few years.
Instead, I use this checklist as a reminder of the qualities I should be seeking in others. If I’m going to invest any of myself into someone else — whether that’s time, energy, or feelings — they should have a general comprehension, if not a certain level of competency, in all these areas. I’m no longer in a place to teach someone how to be honest about their emotions, take responsibility for their actions, or listen with intent.
It’s difficult to let go of this basic expectation when I’ve already done a fair amount of work on myself to understand and practice these ideas. Spending time with anyone who reminds me of the person I used to be makes me feel like I’m regressing, and it doesn’t take long before I lose interest in their company. At this point, I’m doing everything I can to move forward, and that means being involved with people who are already good at relationships. It’s so much easier for me to let down my guard and give myself wholly to someone when I have a mutual foundation to work with.
My three-year anniversary with Heather came and went without fanfare or ceremony (or even notice, on my part). Our time together went by in a blink; being chronically single for me, and trapped in an abusive relationship for her, made the three years prior to that feel like an eternity by comparison for each of us. It was only halfway through that I realized part of me was keeping her at a significant distance.
When we first started spending time together, I was drawn most to her innocence. The way she viewed the world with an open mind made me feel comfortable in a way I immediately found attractive. I could tell her calm demeanour belied a darkness though; she knew a tremendous amount of pain in her short life, and that made her the same kind of old soul as me. Still, I never dared imagine things may work out between us, cause my previous lover was completely unexpected in both the coming and going, and the experience left me raw. Somewhat conversely, I was also too numb to believe anything was real. It was only a couple weeks after Heather entered my life that I tried to hang myself, and surviving meant everything felt posthumous.
Continue reading “to drink all damage into love”…
It’s been months since I had an appointment with my therapist. I’ve needed the time to work on myself before making further progress with him; a sign that I’m at a point where there’s a sense of direction, instead of relentless confusion and dread. Now it’s a matter of absorbing the concepts I should know by now, developing healthier emotional habits, and letting time heal what reason cannot. As my body recovers from the physical repercussions of depression, finding the energy to do these things gets a bit easier each season.
As a result, I’ve been picking up new responsibilities in my primary relationship, which I have to carefully balance with my personal goals. Maybe that’s why my wants have become such simple matters. Some days, I look forward to nothing more than eating ice cream after dinner, or playing a game until my thumbs are raw. The distillation of my dreams has given me another childhood, which I’m determined not to squander.
Part of the reason I stopped taking pictures is because I needed to believe Heather was real. To prove to myself that she wouldn’t suddenly disappear and only exist as a collection of pixels on my screen, like others lovers of my past. Mostly it was because everything was terrible, and just being conscious was a burden. Some days I was too sad to walk or eat, let alone decide what lens to put on my camera or how to frame a shot. The start of any relationship tends to be a time of wonder and excitement for me, but I don’t remember those years with particular fondness.
Continue reading “whales in the bodies of tiny fish”…
“Suzanne is forty years old and has never had a close relationship. She spends most of her spare time reading books and browsing the web. Suzanne is most comfortable with casual, friendly relationships where nothing very personal is discussed.
Suzanne is married to a man who is out of touch with his feelings. He’s more interested in being married than in being married to Suzanne particularly. He has few friends, and does not expect closeness from Suzanne. He wants a woman just so he can fulfill the conventional role of husband. Their relationship is based on traditional roles, not on real intimacy. They rarely confide in each other.
Suzanne has smoked marijuana her entire adult life. She insists that she is not addicted — she tells herself she only does it for recreation, and that she has control. Besides using drugs on a regular basis, she tends to drink in settings when she doesn’t feel as socially capable as others.
Suzanne became depressed, but was not in touch with her feelings of abandonment and defectiveness. She spent much of her life making sure she was not in touch, and trying to escape her feelings.
Continue reading “escape artist”…
It’s getting harder to write.
Not that the spirit is unwilling, although that was the case for years, when the things I needed to talk about most were the exact things I needed distance from. At this point, the flesh isn’t even that weak, but a lack of certainty in which to ground my perspectives has become an obstacle. The biggest sign I’m getting older isn’t the white hair in my moustache, but the recognition that I’ve shed some youthful arrogance that used to feel like wisdom.
Do I let fate reward my bravery with an extra crew member, or give it the chance to fuck me over by killing one? Or do I avoid the choice completely?
It’s easier for me to accept a bad outcome if I remember that every decision is made with the best intentions, and the only goal is survival.
HBO shows and games with consequential choices based on randomized events have been a huge influence on my thinking. Media with mosaics of morality, while characters grow and evolve across several spectrums (along with my opinion of them). Where decisions have to be carefully made with limited information and resources, then balanced against competing interests from foreign spheres of influence. Situations where a person can make all the right moves, and still fail through circumstance.
Continue reading “consider this place”…