Posts tagged with "pain"

to drink all damage into love

My three-year anniversary with Heather came and went without fanfare or ceremony (or even notice, on my part). Our time together went by in a blink; being chronically single for me, and trapped in an abusive relationship for her, made the three years prior to that feel like an eternity by comparison for each of us. It was only halfway through that I realized part of me was keeping her at a significant distance.

When we first started spending time together, I was drawn most to her innocence. The way she viewed the world with an open mind1 made me feel comfortable in a way I immediately found attractive. I could tell her calm demeanour belied a darkness though; she knew a tremendous amount of pain in her short life, and that made her the same kind of old soul as me. Still, I never dared imagine things may work out between us, cause my previous lover was completely unexpected in both the coming and going, and the experience left me raw. Somewhat conversely, I was also too numb to believe anything was real. It was only a couple weeks after Heather entered my life that I tried to hang myself, and surviving meant everything felt posthumous.

Continue reading “to drink all damage into love”…

  1. I relate it to the concept of an “uncarved block” or “pu” in Taoism: a state of receptiveness, before the taint of experience, that gives one the potential to see things without judgment or prejudice. []

laying low

At some point, the most I could do was sit by the window and face the lawn. It’s hard to say how many hours were spent looking outward, interrupted every now and then by food I could barely taste or swallow. For a person who needs to stay active to cultivate a sense of worth, it was a sign I was beyond her reach, and at a point where I was no longer able to help myself.

When she began to cry, I asked what was wrong. “I didn’t think you’d give up”, she explained, something made apparent when I couldn’t manage a veneer of pleasantness for the sake of being polite to friends or strangers alike. I once told her I would stick around for her sake, but in that moment we both understood it was a promise I couldn’t keep.

Self-portrait

I wonder if I’ll ever be able to. It’s hard to remember what life was like before I was so emotionally exhausted. Even when the external sources of stress are far away and my head is above water, it still feels like I’m drowning. When that generically redolent scent of taxi leather hit my nose, it used to mean I had a plane to catch, a flight to take me out of the country, an adventure awaiting; now it’s a portent of deafeningly silent waiting rooms, and psychiatrists who know too little and talk too much.

I keep my fretting fingers trim but the calluses keep healing over, cause I can’t concentrate long enough to improve (also why it’s taken me so many months to write this). The house is a barely contained mess. My phone is overflowing with notes, texts, voice mails, things I can’t keep on top of. It’s been forever since I talked to Darren, even longer since I made a trip out of town. I’ve grown sensitive to loud noises. I barely recognize my own face.

That’s how I know I’m not ready to process parts of the past yet. Going so many years without a reprieve has left me drained of coping resources, and when I’m barely managing my needs for safety and survival, there isn’t any room left for growth or improvement. I need more time to heal, to replace upsetting memories with new experiences, to be in a stable place before revisiting the most traumatic parts.

Heather by the window

For the moment, that means working with my natural energy patterns and momentum as I try to develop healthy habits. It’s left me up at odd hours, eating irregular meals, and largely house-bound. Heather tends to my needs and never leaves my side for more than 15 minutes. I’m fortunate to have a small support group helping me look after things — dropping off groceries, bringing my car for maintenance, paying the bills, driving me to appointments — small tasks that seem daunting when so unsure of myself. Misun even offered to help sell the house and fly me to France so I could live under her care indefinitely; if only one could be carried by the love of one’s friends alone.

It pains me to be here waiting, feeling like I’m missing opportunities for happiness every day, but I’ve learned that progress can’t be rushed. Not just cause I have to tread so carefully through the past, but because I’ve been down for so long that it feels like it’ll never be up again. That’s why I have to trust her when she tells me things will eventually be okay. Until then, I spend my time lost in the Dark Tower, appreciating a sobriety I wasn’t prepared for, looking for duels in the borderlands, trying to feel normal again.

steps into strides

It’s nice to be at a point where I don’t suffer simply by the act of existing. With my head above water, I can pursue a sense of happiness instead of constantly deciding whether it’s worth going on.

But I have to admit that the depth of my struggle is what gave me the tools to thrive now. When I was trying to survive the most difficult times, I learned that I could limit the effect of life’s inherent instabilities by being in better control of myself. Through my journey with social injustice1, I learned how to empathize with people and understand their experiences. From having lost all my most fundamental emotional bonds, I learned to be a more patient friend and deeper lover.

It feels like I’ve been struggling in adolescence, and am now transitioning to the next major phase, one that will involve as much healing as growing. That means I need to practice using these tools, cause knowing how to be a better person isn’t enough by itself; time and perseverance are just as important for a person with so much damage.

There are still bad days, moments of weakness, and groundless insecurities, but they’re getting less frequent and less intense, and I have more time than I ever thought I’d have. As long as I’m on the right path, each step I take toward finding my stride will get me to where I want to go.

  1. And with the support of Shawn and Tiana making me feel validated about my feelings every step of the way. []

what fool hath added water to the sea?

O earth, I will befriend thee more with rain,
That shall distil from these two ancient urns,
Than youthful April shall with all his showers

—Titus Andronicus

I lost my life as I knew it, piece by piece, over days and weeks and months. Now things will never be the same. In moments of crisis, everything has been distilled; what’s gone is gone forever, and what remains is what I will carry for the rest of my life.

And as the threads unraveled, I tore myself from the world away, my face unable to bear the burden to others.