Posts tagged with "self-evaluation"

projector

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…1

Continue reading “projector”…

  1. It blows my mind to know that Heather’s love for me isn’t conditional, that she loves me deeper that I’m even able to understand at the moment. []

I don’t sleep, I sit and stare

Autumn in Canada is often as short as it is beautiful, but this year we lost it to winter in just a couple weeks. I suppose I’d mind, if there were more reasons to leave the house, but at this point I’m content to live in my cozy wonderland, even if it means dealing with the ennui.

It’s hard to tell exactly why I’ve lost so much will be productive when my mental health is improving, though I suspect they’re indirectly related. Maybe I no longer feel the need to validate myself or occupy my time with huge projects. I have to wonder if the medication is making me a fundamentally different person, and whether it’s to my benefit overall.

That’s not to say that my emotional scars don’t run deep. I still worry about my worth, my attractiveness. Still worry about losing Heather to some freak accident. Still worry what people think of me. Still get embarrassed about things I did when I was 15. Still feel indignant about the way I’ve been treated by people I haven’t spoken to in years. The ghosts of the past still haunt me; I’m just not as scared by them.

Magic playing couple

One of my major projects this year was the design and construction of my first MTG cube. Now that it’s built, I get to enjoy it with my friends, but that also means I finished an activity that took up a lot of my time, and I’ve yet to replace it with anything as deep and engaging.

Usually, I’m a busybody when there’s so much happening in my head but the most I’ve been able to do this month is browse the depths of the internet, wide-eyed, waiting for Heather to finish work, counting down the time until I see friends on the weekend. I never thought I’d live long enough to grow old, and here I am in my late 30s with my metabolism finally catching up to me.

As the days stretch on it feels like I’m walking a darkened path, one that leads in an unknown direction, and I’m too scared of the floor falling out from under me to be excited. I suspect that’s why I’ve been roused to inaction. Nothing can go wrong if I don’t take any risks. As a person who’s still recovering from a lifetime of trauma I’m okay with playing it safe for now, even if it means my world is smaller and the sky less bright.

an eternally new now

I’ve grown hesitant when it comes to writing about my emotional state. More often than not, I’m in a completely different headspace by the time I hit publish. It’s left me feeling like I’m perpetually waiting for a chapter to end before I have enough perspective to get something down. Days turn into weeks into months into scenes getting ever smaller in the rear-view mirror. By the time I have the words, I’m lost in a new scene again.

It hasn’t given me much of a chance to be mindful or present. I can only hope my camera will help me remember the details as they pass.

4/20 protest on Parliament Hill

The 4/20 protest on Parliament Hill this year was blessed with mild weather and good friends.

Most recently, I’ve been having contiguous days that weren’t filled with misery or hopelessness, and the fact that I can make “days” plural is a small wonder. I can’t explain it on anything other than a new dose of anti-depressants — 2mg of aripiprazole to top off the 100mg prescription of desvenlafaxine I’m already taking — but I can tell it’s working. The bottom isn’t as deep when I’m feeling low. My reaction to any setback isn’t immediately giving up (on life). Being buoyed by two little milligrams feels like a cheap answer after searching desperately for meaning and reason for all the pain for so long, but I’ll take it gladly.

Continue reading “an eternally new now”…

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.