I’ve been doing my best not to let my insecurities get the better of me. Some days I still do nothing but hurt, but it’s getting easier to accept myself during those low points. I’m fortunate to have friends who forgive me when I’ve been out of touch and out of time, even if they don’t understand why.
Deleting my Facebook account was the biggest step I’ve taken towards avoiding unhealthy media; one of those things people say they want to do, but can’t, cause it’s their only connection to some community or circle of friends. I decided the habit is too detrimental to my well-being, even if the same is true for me.
Pat and I have been playing EDH on top of our drafts, something that frequently involves him forgoing homework while I give up time to myself. The complex card interactions and unpredictability of the singleton format make playing a deck as much fun as building it. I’ve been running the Modern tournament he competes in every week, and afterwards, we head back to the warmth of the house and the company of the cats. Freezing rain becomes a reason to stay up late and crash and play more in the morning.
It makes me feel like I’m in university again, full of boyish vigour, young enough to have the freedom to act so irresponsibly, while old enough to know better. In moments between battle, I learn we’re all recycled stardust, that it’s possible for parents to accept their children despite their problems, and smoking gunpowder hash will serve for sleep.
Every now and then, Heather G stops by to leave me a small package of things like premium loose leaf tea, dark chocolate, and organic fruit; small treasures on which a shared life can be centred, and reminders that I’m never forgotten. In doing so, she’s become one of the people who provides me with the consistent reassurance I need, even though entire seasons may pass before we have a chance to connect. Her love and generosity carries me through the times we’re too busy doing the things we need to survive.
It’s been more than a week since I had a night alone. I never thought I’d be able to handle this kind of stimulation again, but most people work during the day and my shifts involve running the tourneys when they’re off, so I still have mornings to myself. I can tell how quickly time is passing cause the gaps in my photo folders are turning into months.
Being around so many people gives me a chance to work on my altruism. It’s always been easy with people who are important to me. Now I’m trying to fall into the habit of being kind to the ones who are neutral, to try to truly understand their reality so I can acknowledge their happiness or suffering. It’s a way for me to remove my bias, including whether I think they deserve either of those emotions, and always a humbling exercise.
Still, I wish I could explain what I was feeling. So much of myself was defined by my emotions. I remember riding the bus, losing myself to the warmth of the sun on my face and the swelling sound in my headphones. Nowadays, every scene plays out like all caps slug lines in a screenplay. Nothing has changed but the dosage, and I don’t know if that’s a fact I should take comfort in.
Not to say there aren’t difficult times. I don’t have much control over triggers, and I’m not ready to deal with certain parts of my life yet. I’ve had to keep a distance from toxic people and situations to gain a sense of stability before I approach them again. It’s a way for me to give myself time to heal, after realizing just how much needs to be done.
Winter has always been difficult at times. At –15 or below, breath becomes a layer of ice on the windows when parked outside, and I can do nothing but wait for the car to warm up again so I can see enough to drive. At that point, it means I’m sitting in the car for longer than my commute. I try to take it as a good way to practice patience, but it’s a hard wait after an eight hour shift on my feet. It’s still winter in all it’s muffling glory though, the time in the year I most appreciate living in Canada. Girls and cats alike are more affectionate too, and I don’t mind being the source of heat.
I tend to get up around sunrise now, and every time I step outside before the rest of the world wakes up, it feels like I’m born again. It’s a chance for me to hit the reset button on the last day. To let go of the past, even if it happened only seven hours ago, and become a blank slate.
I also gradually broke the habit of checking my feeds after feeling jaded about news and media, then coming across this article. After months of abstention, I can say that I’ve gained time and lost nothing. It’s left me feeling increasingly disconnected from the world, but I know that means I’m beginning to learn what really matters.
I’m writing as a way of practicing self-compassion. Weeks get lost to the customers and commute, and when time off involves not thinking or being around people, it doesn’t leave much room for personal growth.
The problem is that nothing feels real or true unless I write it down. The changes are starting to flow together, and I’m at various stages of progress on several fronts. There are no beginnings, no ends, no chapters, no distinctive transitions I can sum up neatly in a title. The lessons stretch out to years instead of months. Development has given way to evolution. It seems silly to write about a feeling that won’t last from the first time I hit Save Draft to Publish.
I’ve been reaching out to new people cause it felt like everything I was doing was wrong. Marie came to feed the cats, not knowing I was back from the hospital. I broke down in her arms, and she babbled at me over breakfast, excusing herself for talking so much cause she was nervous about not knowing how to help. I asked if she’d watch a movie with me, something to do that was normal and not crying. It helped.
Jason’s also been talking me through the upheaval. Advice is easier to accept when it comes from a survivor, especially one who never presumes to know what’s best for me. He’s become the stick prodding me forward one small step at at time, a voice of reason in my ear that reminds me to keep on doing this until living is like breathing again.
It’s a reminder that I’m here only cause people believe in me; they’re the ones tipping the scales when it feels like I might as well flip a coin and let fate decide what I can’t.
Order matters. Timing is important. It’s helpful to arrive at the point where things can only get better, but losing everything takes time. Making mistakes is okay. Being unable to cope is okay. Not being ready to say it back is okay. Life is a balance between holding on and letting go. Some people should never have children. You’re only over someone when you don’t need to make a conscious effort to stop thinking about them. The first step in taking responsibility for your needs is communicating those needs.
Cats are little bundles of non-judgmental, unassuming, food-conditional love.
I need to be with listeners more than talkers. A day spent writing letters that will never be read isn’t a waste. Some people don’t know how to help, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care. It’s important to make peace with one’s suffering. You never stop growing with the right people in your life. She never loved me more than the words I wrote. The last thing I want is to be ignored when I open up. It’s okay when friends prioritize their kids before me. It’s okay to prioritize myself before anyone else. Always be mindful of long hair when cuddling.
There are people who love me enough to save my life (and pants are optional at their parties).
The ones with a little bit of darkness to them tend to be more interesting. If a guy in a suit is cute like me, that means I’m cute like him. Lisa is my third cat and that’s enough for now. I deserve to be happy. A bad trip doesn’t necessarily mean a bad experience. Strength is often quiet, receptive determination, rather than chest-thumping pushiness. Being kind to difficult people is just as important as being kind to benefactors and friends; being kind to myself is most important of all.