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…“
Continue reading “projector”…
I was doing well in terms of sticking to my bi-weekly writing schedule. Putting my mind to something and being responsible to myself became a nurturing routine. Then October came and I lost the plot.
It can’t just be love, right? I can’t be the only one who thinks she’s beautiful. Her gentle smile has me convinced it’s an objective fact.
It’s the appointments: dentists, gastros, perios, shrinks. They all happen to fall within a few weeks, some of them up to three times. I know they’re all there to help me, but I’ve had a frustrating and difficult history with most medical professionals. At this point, I simply wouldn’t have the patience to sit in a waiting room if it weren’t for Heather there to support me every time. At least I found a competent psychiatrist; the first one who’s ever truly listened to me before prescribing any medication.
Continue reading “wake me up when October ends”…
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”…
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,
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.
Dolores was more than a pet. She was capable of profound love (or burning hatred), and that loyalty made her feel more like a little person than a companion. With the ability to recognize people through windows, I’d often find her sitting on the sill at the front of the house, waiting to greet me with a chorus of raspy meows when I came home from work; a ritual only special guests may be privy to, if they’ve presented the princess with enough presents.
I adopted her in university, and she was a constant presence through many residences, housemates, girlfriends — we even shared our space with other cats for years at a time. When finding me after a few moments apart, she’d come lean against me with an arched back, inviting me to scoop her up, and I’d make a point of spending a bit of time to cradling her like a baby, even if I was just passing through. Sometimes we’d lie in the blankets and stare into each other’s eyes; there was as much comfort to be found in her purring as my warmth and attention.
I could tell our bond was special from the start, and being fearful that I’d never share anything like it with another cat again, always made sure to cherish every second.
Continue reading “Princess Dolly, 2003–2018”…