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. []