Posts tagged with "relationships"

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.

to start with an end

The break­ing point hap­pened one night, when an acquain­tance I’ll call Thomas chided me for not get­ting back to him sooner about a din­ner invi­ta­tion. Thomas was upset enough that he needed some time off from hang­ing out. I didn’t under­stand, as he never expressed his con­cern, so I had no idea there was a prob­lem in the first place. I apol­o­gized for hurt­ing him, and pleaded with him to let me know next time so it wouldn’t hap­pen again. Still, the sit­u­a­tion didn’t sit well with me; my belated reply was due to the fact that I was in a dif­fi­cult place of my own, about which he never asked or con­sid­ered. I was left con­fused, and sad that I’d unwit­tingly hurt some­one so much as to need a break.

So I called my best friend at the time, look­ing for sup­port. “Avail?” was my usual code-word by text, to let him know I could wait until he had taken care of every­thing else, as I never took his time for granted. But this time, I was shaken enough that I needed more than just an ear, and told him, instead of ask­ing. When I finally got him on the phone, he dis­missed every­thing I tried to say, over­rid­ing it with, “This is what you need to do. Mark three months from now on your cal­en­dar, and call him then. He’ll for­get by that time”. I tried to explain my feel­ings over and over, that I wasn’t look­ing to make amends but try­ing to under­stand the sit­u­a­tion, and this was the most mean­ing­ful answer he could offer. I broke down when I knew I wasn’t get­ting through, when I real­ized he wasn’t an ally at a time I truly needed it, and that he never was.

Continue read­ing “to start with an end”…

maelstrom wanderer

It’s been too long since my last emo­tional break. I can tell I’m in rough shape when I start to carry the ten­sion of the last shift to my next one, mostly cause I’m get­ting lost between peo­ple and projects, instead of unwind­ing and recharg­ing. My Mac Pro also breathed it’s last, and I haven’t had the com­fort of my famil­iar elec­tronic space in over a week. As I build my next sys­tem, I’ve turned to other forms of hap­pi­ness to fill the hole. They’re often just as worth my time, but don’t often leave space for the intro­ver­sion I need to cen­tre myself.

stick shifter

Still; the fact that I haven’t writ­ten in so long is cause I have a chance to talk to Heather on a con­sis­tent basis. As a source of imme­di­ate feed­back (along with end­less empa­thy and atten­tion), she’s become the out­let I’ve needed for so long. On good days, our bro­ken halves make a whole per­son. But on her bad days, I’m not always ready to be the strong one, and some­times I can’t help but feel inad­e­quate when she’s she’s still hurt­ing or not fixed yet, even when I know I’m not the cause.

comfy cat

It makes me espe­cially anx­ious to get over a past that’s stop­ping me from fur­ther growth. I just want to stop suf­fer­ing from and strug­gling with var­i­ous forms of trauma, so I can reach a sense of sta­bil­ity. But that seems fur­ther away than ever at times like this, when I’m not cop­ing with the things I can’t con­trol, and I won­der if I should be mak­ing peace with it all instead of fight­ing it.

diner

Sometimes we go people-watching at the Elgin Street Diner at two in the morn­ing. Not just cause it’s one of the only places still open, but because it tends to be too busy before then. It’s hard to point some­one out or steal a glance with­out being noticed when the tables are all occupied.

We try to fig­ure out rela­tion­ships from the way peo­ple sit, sto­ries from the state of their shoes. Mostly it’s young drunks, try­ing to set­tle their stom­achs with some grease before head­ing home. Frat boys from the bars, clus­ters of girls in tight dresses from the clubs. The ones who’ve had too much are easy to spot: when they aren’t mak­ing a bee­line to the bath­room, they’re star­ing at their plates, won­der­ing how much warn­ing they’ll need for the next run.

But every so often is an enigma, like four men in cargo shorts who aren’t young enough to be sin­gle, but not old enough to be divorced. The cor­po­rate logos on their golf shirts belie the no-upkeep, don’t-care-anymore look that comes with father­hood. It’s a breed rarely seen out beyond nine on a Thursday night, and one that looks espe­cially out of place at a time when the only cars on the road are taxis and cruisers.

I don’t judge, but I sure do wonder.

Elgin Street Diner

This is our way of escap­ing the reg­u­lar lives we lead, before catch­ing up on enough sleep to beat morn­ing rush-hour on the way home, and back to another day of real­ity. No one told us about the roles we had to play as adults, or the respon­si­bil­i­ties that come with it. To com­bat signs of aging, share onion-bacon pou­tine, chocolate-banana milk­shakes, and a slice of peanut-butter cake every now and then. Just an hour here is plenty, as long as it’s done on a reg­u­lar basis.

When we’re fend­ing off exhaus­tion to spend one more moment in each other’s com­pany, shar­ing food we shouldn’t eat and words we shouldn’t say, I know I’m the only one she wants to be with there. It’s more proof to me than the things she writes and the rit­u­als we share. So many peo­ple take that kind of unspo­ken faith for granted, but it’s still new to me, and I’m learn­ing how much I need to be spe­cial to someone.

Level 8

Shawn and I go deep once a week, usu­ally with a decent amount of psy­cho­analy­sis mixed in with our Magic matches. I real­ized I still need ther­apy, but in a dif­fer­ent form from what my ther­a­pist could offer1. I need to work with some­one who isn’t restricted by time lim­its when I’m in the mid­dle of extremely time-sensitive events, and it’s vital that I work at my own pace, since it’s easy to rush things (that should be dealt with very care­fully) when it costs $180/hour. He also stretches me out in all the right ways, and I’m learn­ing that phys­i­cal com­fort is often just as impor­tant as emo­tional validation.

Shawn admits it’s all pop-psychology since he has no for­mal edu­ca­tion, but he’s spe­cial­ized in peo­ple and rela­tion­ships for so long that it’s no less effec­tive. Sometimes, it’s scary to work with some­one who func­tions at such a higher level of under­stand­ing of the world. I recently heard Jon Kabat-Zinn say, “Buddha was not a Buddhist”, which I started repeat­ing to Shawn when try­ing to relate mind­ful­ness with mod­ern reli­gion. He fin­ished my thought by say­ing, “and Jesus was not a Christian”, an idea I’d only come to after a lot more research and reflec­tion. He was able to reach the same con­clu­sion by exam­in­ing pat­terns in his exist­ing knowl­edge; an extremely pro­found and impact­ful con­cept to me, which I was still try­ing to fully grasp, was applied com­mon sense to him.

That means I’m occa­sion­ally con­fronted with how narrow-minded I can be in com­par­i­son. It’s mess­ing with things I take for granted, like my ideas of right or wrong, parts of my world-view I’ve held for so long and with­out ques­tion. Sometimes, I real­ize the per­son I was until that very moment would have done things I’d now con­sider embar­rass­ing (being judgmental/intolerant/hateful), based on igno­rance, parochial­ism, or naïveté. Thankfully, I’m also get­ting bet­ter at accept­ing my past self(ves) by under­stand­ing all the influ­ences that have led me to think a cer­tain way. It also helps know­ing that the truly impor­tant thing is that I have the power to change now, and that it’ll affect me pos­i­tively for the rest of my life.

Shawn used to say I was a wiz­ard stuck on level 7, always on the cusp of lev­el­ling up. I had enough wis­dom and intel­li­gence and other attrib­utes to be a much more pow­er­ful char­ac­ter, but was still a mage who couldn’t start his main quest, due to a very low stat in his rela­tion­ship score. This was hold­ing me back because rela­tion­ships are a huge part of my needs; ironic that I’m also so bad at them.

I’ve learned a lot in the last few months though, through a new aware­ness of deeper parts of myself, and a view of the world that’s get­ting more objec­tive. I’m apply­ing these things by pur­su­ing healthy inter­ests, which cur­rently means build­ing my rela­tion­ships and prac­tic­ing uni­lat­eral virtue. While the lat­ter has been both empow­er­ing and hum­bling, it’s also dras­ti­cally shaken my under­stand­ing of my rela­tion­ships, my needs, and my past. I can tell I’m only begin­ning to fig­ure out the dynam­ics of peo­ple and how they func­tion, but Shawn says just com­ing to that under­stand­ing means I’ve finally reached level 8, and with that foun­da­tion, I can begin the next part of my journey.

Then he gave me a high-five. My ther­a­pist never did that.

  1. Not that he was bad in any way. It’s just that the nature of open­ness tends to get more com­pli­cated when money is involved. You know some­one truly cares when they lis­ten with­out hav­ing to get paid, and it’s eas­ier to be com­fort­able with that. []