Posts tagged with "love"

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. []

sweet surrender

All his life he had been active, doing things about the house, looking after patients, thinking, studying, writing. How good it was to stop doing, struggling, thinking, to leave it all for a time to nature, to become her thing, her concern, the work of her merciful, wonderful, beauty-lavishing hands.

—Doctor Zhivago

Time is giving me the chance to feel hurt without hate. If only the process didn’t make the indivisible moments so overwhelmingly painful. The idea of being normal seems like a modest goal, now that an act as simple as washing the dishes becomes a burden I can’t bear. It’s the reason I don’t trust myself behind the wheel of a car, the reason song and film do nothing to help me retreat.

As a result, our lives have been reduced to the simplest means of survival. I play my games like a full-time job, slowly processing things I’ve kept in the back of my head as a means of staying safe from myself. We eat, we sleep, we start over again. My responsibility is to myself now, and it’s a good day if I can get one productive thing done, from a simple shower to a step outside. And if even that proves too much, I’m learning to be okay with that too, as time is measured across experiences and lives, not by the moments in which we stumble and fall.

Heather

When she sees me trying to shake the thoughts loose, looking for support on cold tile, I’m told to take as much time as I need to get better, and reminded she won’t leave if I never do. I don’t have to hide my feelings or moods, cause she doesn’t judge me for the depth of my sadness, nor hold my anger against me. Every day she grows more tender than the last, even as I fall and break apart, and I’m learning to understand how, when I have such a hard time accepting the shade of a person I am right now. It’s such boundless affection that finally makes me feel loved because of who I am, and not what I do or offer or represent.

After so many years living at arms-length with everyone around me, it’s a feeling that’s impossible for me to take for granted. I can’t help but internalize every way her grace brings me joy. Every time she thanks me for letting her take care of my needs and wants.

And with this foundation, I learn how to be a person again, as I try to write my way out of this hole.

so we beat on

Life at the comic book shop continues to be the Empire Records fantasy everyone dreams it to be. Maybe that’s why someone walks in every shift to hand in a resume. Even people who have no intention of looking for a job ask if there are any openings as soon as they see the merch catered to every genre of geek.

The fact that there are only a dozen among us means the crew is tight. I get to play back-cash DJ and turn up the electronica that’s come to define this period of recovery. Still, there are days when the computer breaks down on a night when I’m running a tournament by myself, I have to do all the pairings manually, and getting home to a hot shower is the purest relief.

dog in snow

Having a steady stream of plans mixed in with work means I’m constantly waking up to an alarm. It’s wearing me down, but my need for stimulation is outweighing my need for sleep. For now, at least.

I don’t write anymore cause I get my validation through people. The right ones set aside time for me, listen as much as they speak, and don’t treat me any differently cause of my past. I haven’t felt the need to sort out my thoughts — one of the main reasons I used to write — as much as accept myself. It’s a matter of patience at this point, and weathering the rough periods.

Arcade Fire — Reflektor tour

Arcade Fire on their Reflektor tour, featuring Stephen Harper as tambourine-playing box head.

That means I’m still learning how to take care of myself. Still coming to terms with the fact that love is so rarely clean or tidy or in our control, but realizing that’s okay. Still trying to believe that I shouldn’t be embarrassed of anything I’ve suffered. Still figuring out my idea of happiness, what’s meaningful and what’s possible.

hey, c’mon

He’s only 40, an age I’d still consider young for a doctor. I see the features of so many of my Chinese peers in his face, though he’s actually an Irish expat. Family and a restaurant sealed his parents decision to emigrate to the Emerald Isle when he was too young to speak. It explains why his conversational diction is impeccable while some spoken consonants are merged or lost, a familiar accent from being born into a Cantonese family. This immediately puts me on my guard. I’ve rarely gotten along with those peers; the culture hasn’t been kind.

But I’m not here for myself. I didn’t even make the appointment, which is why I don’t know what to say.

Thankfully, he takes the lead and takes his time. The questions cover a motley gamut, and I can tell how comprehensive his notes are through the clacking of the keyboard.

At some point he asks if anyone came with me, and I tell him who’s in the waiting room. He kindly offers to speak to her on my behalf, but she already knows. It’s the only reason I’m telling this story another time. I can’t help admitting how humiliating it is to be so dependent on others, to need people like her so desperately sometimes that I can’t imagine how I’d survive without them.

Without any change in his procedural tone, he says this sentiment is part of our Chinese guilt. We disappoint our parents by not being strong enough to live up to their expectations as self-reliant adults, but they prevent us from growing up by treating us like children and refusing to let us make our own decisions. He knows, cause he’s gone through the same thing. At the same time, he never condones my feelings, offering a reassurance that we all handle things differently, and that we can’t do it alone sometimes. It tells me he doesn’t just listen; he cares.

Before sending me off with a dose of Pristiq, he hands me a sealed envelope — on it written “emergency room letter” — and tells me to give it to the doctor at the Queensway-Carleton, while carefully suggesting I have nothing to lose at this point. It makes sense, but I’m not ready. Not yet. This is good for now. She’ll thank me for taking this step, one that’s as much for her as it is for me.

After, we hold hands in the car while waiting to be composed enough to be seen in public, bass lines washing over us like heartbeats, an affirmation of reasons for and the things I love.

moment by moment by moment

It’s turned into a month of improvisation. Even my regular events are being rescheduled, so I’ve lost the only anchors I have to a normal week. It’s hard to make plans when I don’t know how I’ll feel from one day to the next. Harder when I don’t know the next chance I’ll have to spend with the people who love me the way I need to be loved. I can tell it’s been too long when I start to dwell on my insecurities, and the days feel more and more heavy.

I’m letting this period be a way for me to ease away from alternating between iso­la­tion and anxious clinging. Being busy is forcing me to pay attention to the current moment. To be present with the person I’m with, but more importantly, with myself. Otherwise, I can’t handle the thought of how much stimulation I’m facing.

cat in slippers

Slippers, because she needs to find ways to be more comfortable in her day-to-day life.

Dolly’s been sleeping on my duvet again, an old habit of hers. It’s a sign that fall is here, as she prefers to swaddle in the dark when it gets too cold by the window. She also recently decided to start sleeping on my pillow1, and I can feel her purring through my skull, a new and unexpected development in our relationship. I love the fact that I’m still learning things about her, that she’s still capable of change as she approaches a decade with me. As always, I have the fall to thank.

backyard garden

A lot of progressive trance has been in the mix during all this upheaval. It’s a genre I’ve never purposely explored until recently. I’ve been trying to figure out how to make my own covers interesting by adding lots of dynamic elements and making sure phrases aren’t used too often. These DJs do the exact opposite with lots of repetition and minimal elements, yet somehow make each song a journey in itself. It’s a pleasant puzzle to try to solve. Now I have many new addictions that have been perfect for night time rides and counting yellow highway lines.

I wonder if these songs will end up reminding me of a time I’m constantly being broken down so I can heal properly. The old ones don’t mean the same thing anymore.

  1. Although I can’t figure out how she fits on it by herself to begin with. []