Posts tagged with "growth"

50/50

I’m writ­ing as a way of prac­tic­ing self-com­pas­sion. Weeks get lost to the cus­tomers and com­mute, and when time off involves not think­ing or being around peo­ple, it doesn’t leave much room for per­son­al growth.

The prob­lem is that noth­ing feels real or true unless I write it down. The changes are start­ing to flow togeth­er, and I’m at var­i­ous stages of progress on sev­er­al fronts. There are no begin­nings, no ends, no chap­ters, no dis­tinc­tive tran­si­tions I can sum up neat­ly in a title. The lessons stretch out to years instead of months. Development has giv­en way to evo­lu­tion. It seems sil­ly to write about a feel­ing that won’t last from the first time I hit Save Draft to Publish.

I’ve been reach­ing out to new peo­ple cause it felt like every­thing I was doing was wrong. Marie came to feed the cats, not know­ing I was back from the hos­pi­tal. I broke down in her arms, and she bab­bled at me over break­fast, excus­ing her­self for talk­ing so much cause she was ner­vous about not know­ing how to help. I asked if she’d watch a movie with me, some­thing to do that was nor­mal and not cry­ing. It helped.

Jason’s also been talk­ing me through the upheaval. Advice is eas­i­er to accept when it comes from a sur­vivor, espe­cial­ly one who nev­er pre­sumes to know what’s best for me. He’s become the stick prod­ding me for­ward one small step at at time, a voice of rea­son in my ear that reminds me to keep on doing this until liv­ing is like breath­ing again.

It’s a reminder that I’m here only cause peo­ple believe in me; they’re the ones tip­ping the scales when it feels like I might as well flip a coin and let fate decide what I can’t.

lessons learned on the path to awakening

Order mat­ters. Timing is impor­tant. It’s help­ful to arrive at the point where things can only get bet­ter, but los­ing every­thing takes time. Making mis­takes is okay. Being unable to cope is okay. Not being ready to say it back is okay. Life is a bal­ance between hold­ing on and let­ting go. Some peo­ple should nev­er have chil­dren. You’re only over some­one when you don’t need to make a con­scious effort to stop think­ing about them. The first step in tak­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty for your needs is com­mu­ni­cat­ing those needs.

cat

Cats are lit­tle bun­dles of non-judg­men­tal, unas­sum­ing, food-con­di­tion­al love.

I need to be with lis­ten­ers more than talk­ers. A day spent writ­ing let­ters that will nev­er be read isn’t a waste. Some peo­ple don’t know how to help, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care. It’s impor­tant to make peace with one’s suf­fer­ing. You nev­er stop grow­ing with the right peo­ple in your life. She nev­er loved me more than the words I wrote. The last thing I want is to be ignored when I open up. It’s okay when friends pri­or­i­tize their kids before me. It’s okay to pri­or­i­tize myself before any­one else. Always be mind­ful of long hair when cuddling.

Foxhole party

There are peo­ple who love me enough to save my life (and pants are option­al at their parties).

The ones with a lit­tle bit of dark­ness to them tend to be more inter­est­ing. If a guy in a suit is cute like me, that means I’m cute like him. Lisa is my third cat and that’s enough for now. I deserve to be hap­py. A bad trip doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean a bad expe­ri­ence. Strength is often qui­et, recep­tive deter­mi­na­tion, rather than chest-thump­ing pushi­ness. Being kind to dif­fi­cult peo­ple is just as impor­tant as being kind to bene­fac­tors and friends; being kind to myself is most impor­tant of all. 

stay is a sensitive word

I haven’t been able to come up with a way of explain­ing the absence. I guess I’m still fig­ur­ing out where I stand at this par­tic­u­lar moment, and what it means to keep going. Many days were lost to the flux of ambiver­sion, when all I was try­ing to do was sur­vive the bal­ance of how much space I need­ed with how much com­fort I could only get from oth­ers. Suffice it to say, I’ve learned the impor­tance of tak­ing the time just to feel okay, which has most­ly involved enjoy­ing the games I’ve put off play­ing for so long, spend­ing time with those who make me feel wanted+needed+awesome+loved, and draft­ing as often as possible.

girl and cat

My birth­day came some­where in between, a day I got to pick all the shows, eat dirty bird, and nest with the cats on me when they weren’t in the cud­dle train. It made the whole day mine, not because it was some­thing I asked for, but because some­one want­ed to give that to me.

I’m slow­ly let­ting my guard down, let­ting myself share new songs in the dark, so the pos­i­tive expe­ri­ences become a per­ma­nent part of me. Making new mem­o­ries is a step towards sooth­ing my his­to­ry with heart­break. The com­fort I find in our embraces car­ries me through the time we’re apart, but feel­ing safe is still very for­eign. Just touch­ing fin­gers is a vul­ner­a­ble step, and it’s like being on a tightrope every time I put aside my inse­cu­ri­ties to make progress. Thankfully, she hasn’t let me fall yet.

Magic: The Gathering and beer

Most recent­ly, I start­ed work­ing at the busiest com­ic book shop in the city as one of the res­i­dent Magic experts. It’s left me try­ing to find my bal­ance again, even though the job is part-time and nev­er feels like work. The posi­tion most­ly involves run­ning the tour­na­ments, trading/selling/organizing cards, and giv­ing peo­ple game advice; things I already love doing in my spare time. A nice bonus is the fact that a new friend hap­pens to be one of the reg­u­lars at the Modern Constructed tour­ney, and I get to root for him and see how he does between matches.

Shawn even came in to say hi and give me hugs on my first day. Reminders all around that make me feel worth­while, instead of just believ­ing it. It’s the dif­fer­ence between know­ing some­thing in my head to my heart, a gap I’m start­ing to bridge with help from the right people.

mother dearest

The last time I saw my mom was on a trip she took to see me in Ottawa, along with a few oth­er fam­i­ly mem­bers vis­it­ing from out of the coun­try. I had table ten­nis prac­tice one night, and instead of drop­ping me off, they decid­ed to come watch. So five of us piled into her van, and halfway through the dri­ve, my vision start­ed grow­ing blur­ry. I’d been work­ing full shifts, then enter­tain­ing the guests every night, and my body decid­ed it didn’t want to con­tin­ue coop­er­at­ing. With the aches get­ting sharp­er in my head, I told her I couldn’t play. She sharply asked why. I explained.

My moth­er has always been an emo­tion­al dri­ver, and on top of that an “emo­tion­al” per­son when she doesn’t get her way. With me rid­ing shot­gun, she decid­ed to make a U-turn into oncom­ing traf­fic. It was an attempt to go home in a huff, except there are things to con­sid­er when doing this in a vehi­cle, like the fact that every­one around you is also mov­ing in their own giant met­al sledge­ham­mer. When we crossed over the medi­an, I saw an SUV head­ing towards me at full speed, and in that moment, there was only the dis­tinct real­iza­tion that this is how I died. It was some­thing I’d always won­dered, and the sat­is­fac­tion of my curios­i­ty was greater than any sense of fear of what was about to hap­pen1.

But we were saved by the grace and reflex­es of the per­son dri­ving the SUV, who slammed on his/her brakes, and there was no col­li­sion. My mom con­tin­ued speed­ing back home in her mood, like she hadn’t near­ly maimed us all. I knew in that moment she didn’t care about me or my well being; all she cared about was how she couldn’t show off her son in front of the fam­i­ly, and how that made her look.

I nev­er looked her in the eyes after that. And when she left, I nev­er saw her again. It was already her last chance. Proof that I still didn’t mean any­thing to her as a per­son, that I was just an orna­ment to her my entire life. 

Fast for­ward many years lat­er. A phase where I find myself learn­ing about hate and for­give­ness, how to let go of one and prac­tice the oth­er. I decide to con­tact her again, let­ting her know that I’m not ready to for­give her yet, but I’m open to talk­ing. She asked what there was to for­give, as if she had no idea what she did wrong. I thought it was an odd thing to say; after all, how did she explain why we hadn’t spo­ken in years? I made no assump­tions though, and brought up a few things to refresh her mem­o­ry, the inci­dent above being one example.

All she could say was that she was going through a dif­fi­cult mar­riage, so I should under­stand why she act­ed the way she did. Then she meek­ly tried to mask her guilt with excus­es about mak­ing sac­ri­fices for me, as if a child’s accep­tance or for­give­ness is some­thing that can be bought and this is why she owes me noth­ing. Through it all, she refused to apol­o­gize, or even acknowl­edge that she ever hurt me. Perhaps say­ing sor­ry would mean admit­ting to her­self that she’s done these hor­ri­ble things to her only child, her fault things got so bad he cut off all ties, and that real­i­ty would be too dif­fi­cult for her to deal with. To this day, she’s in com­plete denial about her role in any of my suf­fer­ing, and she doesn’t even care enough about me to feel bad about it.

I’m learn­ing to accept that my mom would rather give up the chance at rec­on­cil­ing than do some­thing as sim­ple as apol­o­gize, cause it means her sense of pride is more impor­tant to her than her only child. This is exact­ly what makes her a bad par­ent. Separating myself from her so many years lat­er was just as easy as the first time.

If only I wasn’t still deal­ing with the after-effects of her influ­ence; I’m only now learn­ing not to judge myself the way she did the entire time we were in con­tact, how not to hate myself for being less than per­fect, how not to feel worth­less when I don’t have con­stant val­i­da­tion. So many of my demons can be traced back to her. Parents are sup­posed to nur­ture, instill­ing strength and con­fi­dence and sta­bil­i­ty, while help­ing their chil­dren explore a sense of iden­ti­ty. Instead, she dan­gled love and favour and reward in front of me only if I met some ridicu­lous stan­dard in school or played the piano or did exact­ly as she bid. Otherwise, I was a bad per­son, the child she didn’t want.

It’s been some­what trau­ma­tiz­ing to re-expe­ri­ence these trig­gers again when try­ing to resolve issues I’m deal­ing with now. Sometimes I hate myself for being so bro­ken, but it’s eas­i­er to for­give my mis­takes and accept myself when I real­ize such a tox­ic per­son has had so much influ­ence on my life.

  1. Although maybe that was also cause I knew it was a sit­u­a­tion com­plete­ly out of my con­trol. []

slow plays and hybrid strains

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

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.