Posts tagged with "self-improvement"

you die, all you do is die, and yet you live

I never intended ther­apy to take such prece­dence, but it’s become the re-occurring event around which I work all my other plans. I’m still learn­ing how to be an emo­tion­ally healthy per­son, while unlearn­ing the destruc­tive habits I devel­oped to sur­vive the rela­tion­ships of my past. They affect me every sin­gle day, and I know I’ll be doomed to recre­ate the dra­mas of my ear­lier life unless I have out­side help. At the same time, it’s not a process I can rush. Every ses­sion leaves me emo­tion­ally exhausted, and I need a healthy dose of happy to recover1. It also takes time to process what I learn, reflect on ongo­ing behav­iours, and put new tech­niques into practice.

I’m for­tu­nate to have found a com­pe­tent ther­a­pist with whom I’m com­fort­able, espe­cially when doing cog­ni­tive work that often leaves me unsafe2. After so many months, he knows enough about me and my his­tory to under­stand the kind of guid­ance I need. There’s no struc­ture, but he always lets me start. As a per­son who’s spent his entire life being socially sub­mis­sive, the role rever­sal is a wel­come change. It’s a reminder that the time is mine, that I’m free to be myself, that I get what I want out of our hour.

Sometimes, I catch myself wish­ing he would val­i­date me with­out the need to explain myself, but he con­sis­tently remains the neu­tral ally (albeit one with plenty of com­pas­sion). I’ve learned that it’s impor­tant he never side with me out of loy­alty the way a friend might, so I can trust his opin­ion is always bal­anced and fair. Other times, I wish he would sim­ply tell me what I need to know, but he lets me come to real­iza­tions by myself, to make sure I’m always in con­trol, and to avoid influ­enc­ing me by the act of mak­ing a sug­ges­tion. It’s a unique role in my life that he plays well.

I dread the pain, but still look for­ward to every ses­sion. So much of my progress is tied to the mem­o­ries I’ve kept in the back of my head and the emo­tions I’ve left to expe­ri­ence. It’s an oppor­tu­nity to show myself com­pas­sion, while flex­ing men­tal mus­cles I don’t get to use often enough nowa­days. Not to men­tion the grat­i­fi­ca­tion and hope that comes with uncov­er­ing long-seated, self-defeating thought patterns.

Heather hasn’t been com­ing in with me lately, but she still comes with; I don’t need her as a wit­ness as much as a sup­port when it’s over. It’s com­fort­ing to know I have a part­ner who accepts me now amid all this uncer­tainty, and will con­tinue to no mat­ter who I become. She’s the one who tends to my wounds at home, the love I’ve been miss­ing my entire life, the rea­son I’m strong enough to do this work. The least I can do is strengthen my bond with her by learn­ing to be more a trust­ing, patient, and accept­ing person.

  1. Something that usu­ally involves turn­ing into a blitzed-out her­mit for a few days. []
  2. I’ve always won­dered what other people’s expe­ri­ence with ther­apy is like. I don’t know a sin­gle per­son who goes on a reg­u­lar basis. []

slow plays and hybrid strains

Darren stopped by for a stay on the way to Montreal for his first multi-day hol­dem tour­na­ment. The first and last nights ended up being the only ones we had to our­selves. Otherwise, it was a mix of friends and strangers, sati­vas and inci­das, com­ing and going through the house each day. I’m glad he was along for the ride, even though I’m always up far too late when we’re together, and it’s get­ting harder on my body as I get older.

Theros draft

Theros draft at my place on release day. I walked away with 1st, but it was off a missed rules call (by me) in my match against Shawn, one that would have made a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence on the tiebreaker. I’ll always remem­ber the night I won Xenagos and a Thoughtseize (which cov­ers both my entry fee along with Darren’s), but the vic­tory will for­ever be tainted.

It’s feels like I’m a dif­fer­ent per­son, liv­ing a dif­fer­ent life, every time we hang out. The dis­tance between us means the change we expe­ri­ence is always sig­nif­i­cant enough to notice. This time my rela­tion­ships have changed the most cause I’ve started com­part­men­tal­iz­ing peo­ple, appre­ci­at­ing them for their strengths instead of expect­ing every­one to live up to some lofty set of expec­ta­tions. My needs have always been the same, but I’m get­ting bet­ter at mak­ing sure they’re met after finally fig­ur­ing out what they are. I’m also bet­ter at read­ing peo­ple, detect­ing under­tone, and under­stand­ing social inter­ac­tions, thanks to Shawn’s exper­tise rub­bing off on me.

In terms of self-improvement, I’m try­ing to be more under­stand­ing of the world at large, while reduc­ing my hate and increas­ing my patience. I’ve also started to ana­lyze and resolve the trig­gers that keep me from being the per­son I was meant to be. The strug­gles I used to have only a few years ago seem so ado­les­cent in com­par­i­son to the things I’m work­ing on now. My pri­or­i­ties have matured, or I’ve grown in ways that have made old issues obsolete.

I’d never have real­ized any of this if Darren hadn’t showed up to pull me so far out of my reg­u­lar life that I lost track of what day it was and the women I’d loved and the feel­ing of cold. I learn as much about myself as I do about him when we’re catch­ing up.

sprung

I’m rid­ing on so much momen­tum it feels like I’ll never come to a stop. This is a dras­tic change from only a short while ago, and I can attribute it mostly to the chances I’ve had to apply the lessons I’ve learned. Being able to prove to myself that I still have things to dis­cover, that I’m still refin­ing myself as a per­son, has left me feel­ing con­fi­dent and hum­ble lately.

420 protest on Parliament Hill

April 20th is the one day I wish I owned a BeaverTails stand. Protesting doesn’t get any more peace­ful than this.

Making peace with myself used to be a strug­gle. Now that I’m actu­ally happy with who I am, I real­ize how low a bar that used to be. I’ve been through stretches like this before though and they’ve never lasted, so I’m still approach­ing it all with cau­tious opti­mism. At least now I’m wise enough to know that hap­pi­ness is some­thing that needs to be worked at con­sis­tently, in the lit­tle ways, and I’m strong enough to keep it going.

Jon-Kabat Zinn has been help­ing me on this path too. I’ve been lis­ten­ing to a series of his mind­ful med­i­ta­tion exer­cises, and I carry a sense of calm through the day when­ever I hear his voice. Every now and then he offers gen­tle advice on doing this kind of work, like how impor­tant it is to give your­self per­mis­sion to feel what­ever it is you’re feel­ing, and I’ve been dis­cov­er­ing that so much of it has rel­e­vance in other parts of my life.

tides

I’ve been look­ing for new inspi­ra­tion and lis­ten­ing to as much new music as I can find recently. I haven’t dared go into much of my old music. I sup­pose that means I’m not yet com­pletely over some­thing or other. Thankfully, peo­ple send me new songs all the time (this gem cour­tesy of Mansour Chow), and often it keeps me going until the next addiction.

I haven’t picked up my gui­tar lately either. For the first time, the break has been self-imposed, though out of a desire to pur­sue other inter­ests more than any­thing else. Also pos­si­bly the fact that I lost two months of growth when I chipped my thumb­nail, and I’m not inter­ested in learn­ing any­thing that requires a thumbpick right now. Ever since my dad gave me Larissa as a birth­day present two years ago, I haven’t able to put her down until now. I’m hop­ing it’ll reset a few bad habits, and give me more focus when I start again.

Practicing gui­tar has been the one tan­gi­ble way in which I could tell I was improv­ing. Now that I’m tak­ing a break, I’ve been faced with an unset­tling sense of stag­nancy, cause I’ve always held self-improvement as one of my main rea­sons for liv­ing. But I’ve also real­ized that it’s not always pos­si­ble to con­tin­u­ally improve, so I’m try­ing to be happy with who I am at the moment, and accept that it’s nat­ural to go through cycles of growth and stag­nancy, pain and heal­ing, frailty and strength.

it is impossible to stop the motion of snow at night

I got what I wanted for Christmas.

Piles of it. Sheets falling from the sky, melt­ing instantly on your wind­shield, forc­ing the traf­fic to 20kph on the high­way. So much that you have to brush off your car if you leave it parked for more than a minute, but the sky glows orange for you to savour every second.

house in the snow

 

Not that I cel­e­brate Christmas, but I do enjoy the trap­pings of the sea­son. The lights and the dec­o­ra­tions and the spirit and the snow. I’m just sick of the con­sumerism. It seems per­verse to see all this fancy paper wrapped around a box only to be torn off and thrown away. To see peo­ple scram­bling to buy things just to have some­thing to give. I’ve got it just right, where I don’t exchange gifts with any of my friends cause I don’t want either side to feel obliged. I’d rather give a present when the time is right for both peo­ple, and save my money so it’s some­thing spe­cial every now and then. The last thing I want is to be a scrooge, but the older I get, the more I feel like that’s what I’m turn­ing into.

The hol­i­days are the only time I truly veg out. I watch more TV on Christmas day than in the entire year com­bined, marathon reruns of Dog the Bounty Hunter and Parking Wars and Cake Boss. Shows that are fas­ci­nat­ing in short bursts with the right com­pany and snacks, but never good enough to make a point to watch on my own.

trees and night

 

I was lucky enough to spend some qual­ity time with a cheap elec­tric gui­tar. The body was dusty, the strings were dirty, and the into­na­tion left some­thing to be desired, but the action had me feel­ing like all the time I’ve spent with a stiff steel-string acoustic has paid off. About a month ago I put down a $200 deposit on the nylon-string beauty I’ve always wanted (with the promise that I’d get my deposit back if I didn’t like it) so I could wrap my arms around the body, run my hands across the glossy fin­ish, and feel the fret­board beneath my fin­gers. Guitar has been my only ther­apy lately. The only thing I can throw myself into and for­get about every­thing else, the only part of myself that I can tan­gi­bly tell is improv­ing, some­thing I need to be feel­ing right now.

I’ve never been this uncer­tain about the future, and it’s freak­ing me out. I already had a feel­ing 2012 was going to be a new start. My projects would be done by the end of the year, I’d have a nice lit­tle break, and I’d be ready to begin again. Now I’m forced into that real­ity, and life is soon going to be very dif­fer­ent. I don’t know if I’ll be able to han­dle it, but I sus­pect I won’t have much of a choice.