Posts tagged with "girlfriend"

projector

A while back, my ther­a­pist asked, “Do you think Heather will love you, regard­less of whether you’re active­ly con­tribut­ing to the rela­tion­ship?”. I told him I was­n’t sure, cause I was still try­ing to under­stand the con­cept of uncon­di­tion­al love. As a child, my par­ents told me they would­n’t love me if I was­n’t a good boy, and a good boy would do exact­ly what they want­ed. The affec­tion they doled out was direct­ly relat­ed to how well I did in school, or how much I impressed oth­er par­ents. They used it as a tool to con­trol me, and this dynam­ic has influ­enced my under­stand­ing of rela­tion­ships to the point that it feels like I con­stant­ly need to be mak­ing efforts in them (or they’ll decay).

So my ther­a­pist instead posed the ques­tion, “Do you think Heather will love you, no mat­ter what?”. My first reac­tion was one of con­fu­sion; I heard the same ques­tion as before. When I real­ized it had com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent impli­ca­tions — would Heather still love me if I was an axe mur­der­er; if I was racist; if I burned the house down; if I did­n’t love her back — it dawned on me that I was pro­ject­ing this mon­u­men­tal require­ment on myself to be con­stant­ly mak­ing efforts towards the rela­tion­ship. It was­n’t an expec­ta­tion Heather was bring­ing, but my own; one I pro­ject­ed on her due to my child­hood trau­ma.

To real­ize that I was doing this in such a spe­cif­ic and sig­nif­i­cant man­ner was a shock. My mind inad­ver­tent­ly made bounds in log­ic, and every time Heather said, “I’ll always love you”, I would hear, “I’ll always love you, as long as…1

Continue read­ing “pro­jec­tor”…

  1. It blows my mind to know that Heather’s love for me isn’t con­di­tion­al, that she loves me deep­er that I’m even able to under­stand at the moment. []

semi-poly

I hope I’m not belabour­ing the point when I say I’ve suf­fered a lone­ly exis­tence. For much of my life, I’ve kept those clos­est to me at arms-length, out of a sub­con­scious fear that they’d hurt me. I could nev­er turn to my par­ents for any kind of sup­port, cause they were more con­cerned about how I made them appear than how I felt; I had no sib­lings with which to form an alliance when they became my great­est ene­my. The best friend I car­ried into adult­hood was a per­son who nev­er tru­ly under­stood me, and my best friend after that aban­doned me at the first sign of dif­fi­cul­ty.

Managing my rela­tion­ship needs has been a life­long strug­gle. Much of the grow­ing I’ve done (or been forced to do) is inter­twined with the soli­tude I’ve faced; being able to change myself gives me a small sense of con­trol in what would oth­er­wise be a messy and chaot­ic exis­tence. An added dif­fi­cul­ty is that I keep evolv­ing, and my social needs evolve in turn. It takes years to devel­op the kinds of rela­tion­ships that nur­ture me. I’m in the mid­dle of a tran­si­tion, and my sup­port net­work is the small­est it’s ever been.

Living with a part­ner has helped, but at some point my attach­ment to Heather grew unhealthy. It’s not fair for me to put so much pres­sure on her to be my lover, friend, ther­a­pist, care­tak­er, gam­ing bud­dy…every­thing. When I start to resent her for my needs going unmet, I know I’m in a bad place and need to check myself.

Continue read­ing “semi-poly”…

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.

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. []