It’s nice to be at a point where I don’t suffer simply by the act of existing. With my head above water, I can pursue a sense of happiness instead of constantly deciding whether it’s worth going on.
But I have to admit that the depth of my struggle is what gave me the tools to thrive now. When I was trying to survive the most difficult times, I learned that I could limit the effect of life’s inherent instabilities by being in better control of myself. Through my journey with social injustice, I learned how to empathize with people and understand their experiences. From having lost all my most fundamental emotional bonds, I learned to be a more patient friend and deeper lover.
It feels like I’ve been struggling in adolescence, and am now transitioning to the next major phase, one that will involve as much healing as growing. That means I need to practice using these tools, cause knowing how to be a better person isn’t enough by itself; time and perseverance are just as important for a person with so much damage.
There are still bad days, moments of weakness, and groundless insecurities, but they’re getting less frequent and less intense, and I have more time than I ever thought I’d have. As long as I’m on the right path, each step I take toward finding my stride will get me to where I want to go.
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.
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.