Loneliness, or the fear of abandonment whenever I was dating someone, have been reoccurring themes since my childhood.
I’ve never regretted the decision to cut out my parents for the sake of my mental health, but that still means I lost the only people who had a responsibility to help and accept me (as terrible as they were at living up to that). It was a necessary but traumatic choice. Then I had a falling out with my ex-bestie, which came about after I realized he wasn’t the type of person I needed or wanted in my life, and further robbed me of stability. ____ became my best friend after that (even though I was extremely reluctant to label her as such after my experiences), until I finally stood up for myself and she decided she didn’t want to be held accountable for her actions. Heather and I compared notes afterwards to discover she was avoiding me every time I was in a crisis. I’ve had a lifetime of significant relationships with emotionally ignorant people who would never apologize or admit that they’ve ever hurt me.
Then there’s Pat, who acknowledged he was a being a poor friend for not staying in contact the last time I spoke with him. Maybe it was the fact that I was crying that pressured him into promising to call me more often. That was about seven years ago, and I haven’t heard from him since. I’m still mourning my relationship with Shawn for the same reason; a person who literally saved my life who no longer has time for me in his. Relationships with positive people whom I loved and looked up to, that withered when I stopped initiating contact, leaving me with more questions than answers. Relationships where I’ve done nothing wrong and still suffer a loss. Part of me can’t help but feel confused, and scared that anyone in my life may disappear simply cause they’ve lost interest.
Surviving the fallout of each experience meant I came out with really messed up expectations whenever it comes to other people. Even now, it’s hard for me to feel safe, no matter how close I am to someone.
My first truly secure relationship — one where I could express difficult thoughts and feelings without being blamed or abandoned or invalidated — started in my mid-30s with Heather. When my depression and colitis kept me isolated the last few years, I was particularly worried about being overly dependent on her. At the slightest hint of trouble, it felt like my world was coming down because she was my world. When I turned to other people for help during my lost weekend, I soon realized I have a wonderful network of friends and family.
Continue reading “no man an island”…
Now in the dark world where I dwell, ugly things, and surprising things, and sometimes little wondrous things, spill out in me constantly, and I can count on nothing.
—A Scanner Darkly
Winter has traditionally been a difficult time. In my youth, the holidays were filled with family gatherings where I never found my place. Then I started coming into my own, but everyone else began spending time with their significant others, leaving me an observer with a surrogate family. Eventually, I grew the need for a connection with people who could better understand the person I’d become, and again found myself in exile.
This year is no different. The weather has been particularly punishing, with extreme cold fronts that make any form of travel a literal pain. It’s a fine line between inspiration and oppression when trapped in a winter wonderland. Even after a week of Darren’s company, along with new instruments and some of the stickiest of the icky, I haven’t been able to shake this feeling of loneliness.
Continue reading “almost like the blues”…
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.
Darren stopped by for a stay on the way to Montreal for his first multi-day holdem tournament. The first and last nights ended up being the only ones we had to ourselves. Otherwise, it was a mix of friends and strangers, sativas and incidas, coming and going through the house each day. I’m glad he was along for the ride, even though I’m always up far too late when we’re together, and it’s getting harder on my body as I get older.
Theros draft at my place on release day. I walked away with 1st, but it was off a missed rules call (by me) in my match against Shawn, one that would have made a significant difference on the tiebreaker. I’ll always remember the night I won Xenagos and a Thoughtseize (which covers both my entry fee along with Darren’s), but the victory will forever be tainted.
It’s feels like I’m a different person, living a different life, every time we hang out. The distance between us means the change we experience is always significant enough to notice. This time my relationships have changed the most cause I’ve started compartmentalizing people, appreciating them for their strengths instead of expecting everyone to live up to some lofty set of expectations. My needs have always been the same, but I’m getting better at making sure they’re met after finally figuring out what they are. I’m also better at reading people, detecting undertone, and understanding social interactions, thanks to Shawn’s expertise rubbing off on me.
In terms of self-improvement, I’m trying to be more understanding of the world at large, while reducing my hate and increasing my patience. I’ve also started to analyze and resolve the triggers that keep me from being the person I was meant to be. The struggles I used to have only a few years ago seem so adolescent in comparison to the things I’m working on now. My priorities have matured, or I’ve grown in ways that have made old issues obsolete.
I’d never have realized any of this if Darren hadn’t showed up to pull me so far out of my regular life that I lost track of what day it was and the women I’d loved and the feeling of cold. I learn as much about myself as I do about him when we’re catching up.
I take care of this moment by taking care of myself. That means nourishing my sense of well-being by spending time with people who:
- connect with me on an intimate level
- give me their full attention and command mine at the same time
- understand and validate what I’m going through
Normally, the goal is to use the positive experiences from these relationships to buffer my emotional resilience when things get rough, but right now I’m just trying to get to the point most people consider normal.
It helps when people make me things like this. I had a Google search box as my browser start page for as long as I can remember, until presented with this board full of happiness, where every update is relevant to my interests. Tiana and Genevieve secretly collected cats for months before giving it to me just because, and somehow there were 91 followers before I even made a Pinterest account to follow this namesake board. These are people who truly understand me, and make me feel connected even when I’m not with them. This is what I need more of in my life.
We’ll get there someday, cuz.
I’ve also been reaching into my past and searching for closure, whether that means giving or receiving forgiveness. It’s humbling to own up to my role in someone’s pain without making excuses or laying blame to protect my pride, but being able to do so has given me more amour de soi. Mistakes will be made on my journey, but it doesn’t mean I’m a bad person, and it won’t stop me from becoming better.
Seeking resolution doesn’t always end well though. I’m trying to understand each response as a message about the true nature of someone’s role in my life, without being caught up in anger. It’s so much easier to forgive or accept someone when I start to understand their reality, even if they’ve hurt me rather undeservingly. I finally feel like I’m getting a handle on my interactions with people, instead of constantly being at the whim of their behaviour.
It’s been a period of such tremendous growth in myself and development in my relationships that it feels like I’ve been given a reprieve. I’ve been working on all the little things I said I’d take care of when I was better, one day at a time. Just knowing that I’m improving in some small way is often enough to keep me going by itself.
I still occasionally get caught up on the idea that I need to be perfect before starting down a new path, but Lisa always reminds me that the person I am already isn’t so bad. Growing is a gradual and lifelong process. I can do the best with the person I am, and that’ll always be good enough.