Posts tagged with "growth"

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. []

not choosing fear

Stepping out of my com­fort zone late­ly means let­ting some­one hear my mate­r­i­al before it’s ready, say­ing I love you with­out the expec­ta­tion of hear­ing it back, post­ing pic­tures of myself I find unflat­ter­ing, being an atten­tive lis­ten­er dur­ing dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tions, wor­ry­ing that spous­es will know my secrets but telling friends any­way, lis­ten­ing to songs that remind me of her, hold­ing impor­tant peo­ple account­able for hurt­ing me, ask­ing for help before I need it, accept­ing the fact that no one can be every­thing I need all the time, lov­ing some­one from a dis­tance, let­ting boys hold me when I’m upset,

girl kissing boy

dar­ing to dream that things will be okay,

putting myself first in the destruc­tive rela­tion­ships I can’t escape, say­ing no instead of find­ing excus­es, mak­ing love with­out some kind of reas­sur­ance about my looks first, let­ting myself miss the peo­ple I no longer like, being first to call after exchang­ing num­bers, not know­ing when I’ll be home and going out any­way, hop­ing I’m not judged every time I ask her to do that thing I like, giv­ing myself space from peo­ple who adore me but don’t nur­ture me, not try­ing to please every­one all the time, play­ing even though I have a decent chance of los­ing, not cut­ting some­one out after they’ve wronged me, rec­on­cil­ing with old lovers, empathiz­ing with peo­ple I hate, going out when I’m not high, spend­ing time around peo­ple I find dif­fi­cult, say­ing sor­ry and mean­ing it, try­ing to hit chord tones in gen­res I nev­er lis­ten to, and pay­ing atten­tion to the friends who call me on my shit.

so soft with scars

It’s hard to imag­ine what life will be like when I’m still try­ing to sur­vive from one day to the next. I’ve nev­er been more dis­con­nect­ed with real­i­ty, but dis­tance is what I need. At first it was days; now weeks have start­ed blend­ing togeth­er. Stretches of time feel short­er as they get longer. It’s been more than a month since I took a step out­side, and about as long since I’ve seen any­one but Heather. I can’t even remem­ber the last time I answered my phone or made a call.

Every day, it feels like I’m falling deep­er into a hole I can’t seem to escape as I slip fur­ther away from myself. I used to enjoy being inspired and cre­ative, but some­where along the way I stopped dream­ing. The lines in my face tell me my body has paid a price of it’s own. It’s left me unsure of who I’ll become; if only I was­n’t so fond of the per­son I used to be.

My new ther­a­pist is shock­ing­ly young com­pared to the man who retired and forced me to look for some­one new. Every few weeks, we care­ful­ly explore the thoughts I keep tucked away in the back of my mind. Heather often serves as wit­ness, to under­stand what I’ve been through and have to re-expe­ri­ence. It’s exhaust­ing to go into a past that pains me so much, but impor­tant work that I hate and need and want all at once.

girl and cat

Not quite two years ago, her stay with me began as refuge from an abu­sive part­ner. She was a frag­ile girl back then; pan­icky dur­ing heavy winds, blind to her own bur­geon­ing nubil­i­ty, uncom­fort­able around any­one else for more than a few hours at a time. Fortunately, my inse­cu­ri­ty hap­pened to man­i­fest itself as a need to take care of oth­ers, and I found both val­i­da­tion and hap­pi­ness when I had the chance with some­one so deserv­ing. It’s hard to believe how quick­ly our roles have reversed. Now I’m the depen­dent, a posi­tion I have a hard­er time accept­ing than she does1, and one I’ll like­ly have for the rest of my life.

Through my strug­gle, I’ve seen her grow into a con­fi­dent young woman who knows how to cook a steak medi­um-rare (even though she’s a veg­an), enjoys every chance to exert her sex­u­al­i­ty, and often under­stands more about my med­ica­tion than the doc­tors who pre­scribe it. I thought I knew what love was, but every day her unwa­ver­ing patience shows me how much deep­er it goes.

Guild Wars 2 character with Eternity

Totally not com­pen­sat­ing.

This is the face I wear most often as of late, while explor­ing a world large enough for me to get lost in. I can set goals at my own pace, whether they’re sim­ple ones that leave me sat­is­fied enough to sleep, or com­plex, long-term ones that help me feel accom­plished enough to do big­ger things. Every day, I’m giv­en the chance to be kind, gen­er­ous, and pos­i­tive to vir­tu­al strangers, while keep­ing a dis­tance from the real world. I even start­ed a lit­tle guild with my friends, and we recent­ly claimed the hall which we’ll call our home; even if I’m not emo­tion­al­ly avail­able to them, this is how they stop by and spend time with me.

It’s hard not to hate myself when my issues are pre­vent­ing me from being the per­son I want to be. I’m in a rush to get bet­ter, when time to heal is what I need most. Heather reminds me that the suf­fer­ing I’ve been through is the rea­son she feels under­stood and safe. I tell myself that this time is just a chap­ter in the book of my life — a stop on the way to who I am — and that there’s more left to write.

  1. I keep remind­ing myself: she knows what she wants, and what’s best for her. []

maelstrom wanderer

It’s been too long since my last emo­tion­al break. I can tell I’m in rough shape when I start to car­ry the ten­sion of the last shift to my next one, most­ly cause I’m get­ting lost between peo­ple and projects, instead of unwind­ing and recharg­ing. My Mac Pro also breathed it’s last, and I haven’t had the com­fort of my famil­iar elec­tron­ic space in over a week. As I build my next sys­tem, I’ve turned to oth­er forms of hap­pi­ness to fill the hole. They’re often just as worth my time, but don’t often leave space for the intro­ver­sion I need to cen­tre myself.

stick shifter

Still; the fact that I haven’t writ­ten in so long is cause I have a chance to talk to Heather on a con­sis­tent basis. As a source of imme­di­ate feed­back (along with end­less empa­thy and atten­tion), she’s become the out­let I’ve need­ed for so long. On good days, our bro­ken halves make a whole per­son. But on her bad days, I’m not always ready to be the strong one, and some­times I can’t help but feel inad­e­quate when she’s she’s still hurt­ing or not fixed yet, even when I know I’m not the cause.

comfy cat

It makes me espe­cial­ly anx­ious to get over a past that’s stop­ping me from fur­ther growth. I just want to stop suf­fer­ing from and strug­gling with var­i­ous forms of trau­ma, so I can reach a sense of sta­bil­i­ty. But that seems fur­ther away than ever at times like this, when I’m not cop­ing with the things I can’t con­trol, and I won­der if I should be mak­ing peace with it all instead of fight­ing it.

steps into strides

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 injus­tice1, 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.

  1. And with the sup­port of Shawn and Tiana mak­ing me feel val­i­dat­ed about my feel­ings every step of the way. []