Posts tagged with "Heather G"

no man an island

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 cri­sis1. 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 Heather2. 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 world3. 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”…

  1. During a par­tic­u­lar­ly bad day a few years back, Heather asked her to send me a text in sup­port. She replied, “Jeff and I don’t text”. Not only was that com­plete­ly untrue, it was a real­ly shit­ty excuse for her to do noth­ing. []
  2. I’ve since learned a great deal about the qual­i­ties that make a rela­tion­ship healthy and suc­cess­ful. Consequently, my stan­dards have risen. []
  3. Part of my ven­ture into polyamor­ism is because I want to expand my sup­port net­work. I’m inter­est­ed in hav­ing more peo­ple care about me, per­haps cause I’m eter­nal­ly try­ing to fill the hole left by my par­ents. []

the time that we kill keeps us alive

I’ve been doing my best not to let my inse­cu­ri­ties get the bet­ter of me. Some days I still do noth­ing but hurt, but it’s get­ting eas­i­er to accept myself dur­ing those low points. I’m for­tu­nate to have friends who for­give me when I’ve been out of touch and out of time, even if they don’t under­stand why.

Deleting my Facebook account was the biggest step I’ve tak­en towards avoid­ing unhealthy media; one of those things peo­ple say they want to do, but can’t, cause it’s their only con­nec­tion to some com­mu­ni­ty or cir­cle of friends. I decid­ed the habit is too detri­men­tal to my well-being, even if the same is true for me.

kitty commander

Pat and I have been play­ing EDH on top of our drafts, some­thing that fre­quent­ly involves him for­go­ing home­work while I give up time to myself. The com­plex card inter­ac­tions and unpre­dictabil­i­ty of the sin­gle­ton for­mat make play­ing a deck as much fun as build­ing it. I’ve been run­ning the Modern tour­na­ment he com­petes in every week, and after­wards, we head back to the warmth of the house and the com­pa­ny of the cats. Freezing rain becomes a rea­son to stay up late and crash and play more in the morning.

It makes me feel like I’m in uni­ver­si­ty again, full of boy­ish vigour, young enough to have the free­dom to act so irre­spon­si­bly, while old enough to know bet­ter. In moments between bat­tle, I learn we’re all recy­cled star­dust, that it’s pos­si­ble for par­ents to accept their chil­dren despite their prob­lems, and smok­ing gun­pow­der hash will serve for sleep.

thoughtful note

Every now and then, Heather G stops by to leave me a small pack­age of things like pre­mi­um loose leaf tea, dark choco­late, and organ­ic fruit; small trea­sures on which a shared life can be cen­tred, and reminders that I’m nev­er for­got­ten. In doing so, she’s become one of the peo­ple who pro­vides me with the con­sis­tent reas­sur­ance I need, even though entire sea­sons may pass before we have a chance to con­nect. Her love and gen­eros­i­ty car­ries me through the times we’re too busy doing the things we need to survive.

learning to surf

The last few days have been rough to say the least, and I’m still try­ing to sur­vive moments of cri­sis while bat­tling hunger and exhaus­tion. Times like this are a les­son on how strong the pri­mal will to sur­vive is, when the mind shuts out every­thing except doing what needs to be done, cause there isn’t room for pan­ic or surrender.

I’m learn­ing to accept these spells as a sim­ple fact of life. There’s nev­er going to be a sin­gle defin­ing moment from when I’ll for­ev­er be okay, when I can say they won’t hap­pen any more. Being well takes as much effort as patience, hap­pi­ness, and for­give­ness. It’s both the work and adven­ture of a life­time to become a bet­ter per­son in so many ways.

Sometimes Heather G sends me a quote or teach­ing, and relates to me how it’s help­ing her with her reac­tions or trig­gers. With her unflinch­ing­ly calm demeanour, I couldn’t imag­ine her hav­ing any of these kinds of issues, but it’s a reminder that every­one can use a lit­tle bit of work. I used to think she was sim­ply a nice per­son; now I under­stand her kind­ness has been con­scious­ly and con­sis­tent­ly cul­ti­vat­ed over many years1.

As a per­son with­out a dark past, she has no under­stand­ing of what I go through in these times, no idea how to han­dle me, but it doesn’t stop her from car­ing so much. Sometimes that means stop­ping by for a talk even if she’s not sure I’m home, or drop­ping off a meal from one of my favourite restau­rants, or giv­ing me a small but mean­ing­ful gift. It’s a tru­ly self­less empa­thy, one that doesn’t need a rea­son. She cares sim­ply because I suf­fer, not because she agrees with why. I don’t know many peo­ple who show any­one that kind of com­pas­sion (not even them­selves). And yet she con­sid­ers her­self a begin­ner on the path of awak­en­ing, when there’s so much I already have to learn from her.

For now, I’m fig­ur­ing out how to embrace the wounds, and let the anger, fear, and hurt flow through me when my cop­ing mech­a­nisms aren’t enough. I know I can’t change the world, but I have the pow­er to change myself and how I han­dle things. Or as Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf”.

  1. She once went on a silent med­i­ta­tion retreat in Tibet, where 20 peo­ple live togeth­er but don’t talk for three days. “Little eye con­tact through­out and silent, mind­ful eat­ing”, she tells me. Like a mind­ful­ness boot­camp, that sounds as intim­i­dat­ing as any mil­i­tary one. []