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.