Posts tagged with "girlfriend"

keeping the rage tender

Fall has fallen, and I was ready. I was waiting. I was trapped for months on end, when my body wouldn’t cooperate or anxiety got the better of me. Even hearing Townes Van Zandt sing to me about snow in Raton was enough to make me miss winter again. I’d live vicariously in any form of visual media I could find, just to remember what it was like to feel the tingle of sun on my skin.

Now I can go out, but on my own terms and for the sake of it, not just therapy or a doctor’s appointment. It’s given Heather and I a chance to date — to dress up for each other, to trade secret glances about people who might be the other’s type, to hold hands and show each other off — instead of all the coping we were left doing after falling into the relationship so suddenly.

portrait of Heather and Jeff

Rachel Weisz has nothing on dem brows.

Ever since she began her career, I found it difficult to deal with how little we saw each other. It felt like we were barely connecting or having meaningful experiences when we had such limited time. Now that she has a better shift and a carpool, we have an extra hour and a half together on weekdays. Combined with Jesse committing to hangouts twice a month to play games or jam, it’s made a huge difference in the way I approach my goals and plan my time.

They’re small steps, but after so much regression, I tend to be happy with any movement in the right direction. Still, I wonder if I’ll ever find a balance that won’t leave me frantic, one that’s conducive to getting my introvert needs met while letting me feel secure in my relationships.

Continue reading “keeping the rage tender”…

to drink all damage into love

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 mind1 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”…

  1. I relate it to the concept of an “uncarved block” or “pu” in Taoism: a state of receptiveness, before the taint of experience, that gives one the potential to see things without judgment or prejudice. []

whales in the bodies of tiny fish

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 season1.

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.

underboob

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 past2. 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 fondness3.

Continue reading “whales in the bodies of tiny fish”…

  1. There have been many steps back on the journey forward, enough for the progress to be indiscernible from a week-to-week (or even month-by-month) basis. []
  2. It’s strange to realize that my drive to photograph things was partially a way of dealing with my abandonment issues. []
  3. At least I feel secure in the knowledge that Heather stuck by me when I was literally at my worst. []

facing eternity, or the lack thereof

Heather managed to snag a job at a great company on the other side of town. She started her training last month, and I couldn’t be more proud of her for making the cut after months of resumes and applications, hope and patience.

While it makes sense for her to start working, I’ve been forced to deal with an unsettling void in the house — like the deafening silence of a blackout, when the electronic hums and glows cease to provide their perpetual company. We never spent more than an hour apart before this, when she might have stepped out to grab some groceries or a prescription1; nearly two years where we couldn’t help but be closely in tune with each other’s needs and moods. Now, it feels like we barely have a chance to get our dailies with a bit of extra content before it’s time for bed.

Cadem Forest in Plains of Ashford

I always travel with my menagerie of cats; this month with Zuzu, Cat of Darkness at my feet (in celebration of Halloween) and Brill on my back (who’s actually a tiger cub).

Losing so much of each other has been a difficult adjustment. I wasn’t ready for this. It wasn’t a decision I made. I’m not use to being so alone, or even taking care of myself, for that matter2. When she’s away, the void makes it painfully clear how much I surrounded myself with her. I can’t even write without mentioning her, cause there’s rarely a decision I make without considering her first, whether it’s how we’re going to spend our time or what I’m going to say next.

It’s a difficult reminder of many years spent without a partner or parent to rely on. I’ve been trying to reclaim my independence by picking up small responsibilities. Something as simple as making my space more comfortable, whether it’s a thorough cleaning or new lighting arrangement, turns into a chance to succeed and feel accomplished. Even games become little projects, ways of exercising my creativity or keeping myself sharp.

I knew Heather would eventually be working, and I’d be alone. Now the day has come, and I’m constantly wondering: who am I when I’m by myself? What do I do to fill the hours that she’s away?

At least it’s given me a chance to write again. The break hasn’t been entirely intentional. Part of it is the fact that writing takes energy, and I rarely have any to spare when I’m trying so hard just to feel okay. Another part is the fact that I haven’t needed this in the same way since I met her. She’s become an important outlet, one who always makes herself available to me. There hasn’t been the same longing to write, cause I haven’t needed to vent, or sort out my thoughts, or feel validated.

Nevertheless, this period of emptiness has become a chapter in itself. A change that will be a great deal of the rest of our lives. I’m stuck here, while the days stretch out before me with endless possibility. The hard part is finally stumbling into the life I’ve always wanted, finding a partner who fills in my gaps in all the right ways, but not being ready for it all.

  1. Aside from a few days she spent visiting her family last year. It was the first significant amount of time we were away from each other since we met, and I had a panic attack before she was out of the city. []
  2. She still handles the meals, and has a system where most things are done in the slow cooker; all I need to do is pour the contents of a bag into the pot and turn it on at a certain time, although, some days, even this can slip my mind. []

quiet revolution

Depression has added an extra cost to everything I do. Something as simple as buying groceries means making sure my energy levels are carefully paced for a few days before I leave the house, and being too burned out to do any form of interaction for a few days after. If something goes wrong during the process — a night of poor sleep, a sick cat, a loss of motivation, a colitis flare-up — and I run out of spoons, the problems cascade and I end up having to cancel my plans.

That’s why I choose to spend time with people who understand what it truly costs me to function; they happen to be the ones who are consistently reliable, very understanding if I have to cancel, and put as much effort into maintaining the relationship as I do.1

Heather portrait

Heather started tapering off her dose of venlafaxine cause she feels stable enough to take the risk2, and wants to start working without the associated mental haze. Even though music is still a joyless experience, the fact that she’s getting excited about Halloween again is a sign that she’s finally healing.

She doesn’t mind carrying more emotional labour (and I remain willfully ignorant, for the time being), cause she knows I’m playing life on hard mode. My job is to make sure she feels appreciated for doing more than her fair share. The crises we’ve been weathering together since we met means our honeymoon phase was cut short, but neither of us mind, cause intimacy is what we were missing for so long.3

self portrait at 35

The fact that it takes me fewer days be to comfortable around anyone when my insecurities get the better of me means I’m gaining some small form of equanimity. I still have moments when I feel too damaged to be happy, too worthless to be loved, or too broken to be fixed, but it takes me less time to realign my perceptions with reality. The lows aren’t as debilitatingly deep either.

I’ve been using the momentum to take small steps out of my comfort zone; spending more time in difficult situations, learning to be emotionally vulnerable, exploring new ways of expressing myself4, processing parts of the past I’ve tried my best to forget. Even though I’m anxious to feel normal again, I’m forced to recognize my limitations and keep myself paced. I know I’m not where I want to be, but I’m moving in the right direction. That’s enough to keep me going for now.

  1. Also, perhaps not-coincidentally, usually people who have deal with some form of depression or chronic illness in their lives. []
  2. I still have no idea whether mine are keeping me afloat, but the fact that I don’t suffer any side-effects means I’ll be on them for the foreseeable future. []
  3. Finding my underwear washed and folded one day — a responsibility I’ve never shared with any girlfriend — gave me the weirdest boner. []
  4. The only luxury purchase for me this year has been an Impact LX-49 MIDI controller. []