Posts tagged with "vulnerability"

quiet revolution

Depression has added an extra cost to everything I do. Something as simple as buying groceries means making sure my energy levels are carefully paced for a few days before I leave the house, and being too burned out to do any form of interaction for a few days after. If something goes wrong during the process — a night of poor sleep, a sick cat, a loss of motivation, a colitis flare-up — and I run out of spoons, the problems cascade and I end up having to cancel my plans.

That’s why I choose to spend time with people who understand what it truly costs me to function; they happen to be the ones who are consistently reliable, very understanding if I have to cancel, and put as much effort into maintaining the relationship as I do.1

Heather portrait

Heather started tapering off her dose of venlafaxine cause she feels stable enough to take the risk2, and wants to start working without the associated mental haze. Even though music is still a joyless experience, the fact that she’s getting excited about Halloween again is a sign that she’s finally healing.

She doesn’t mind carrying more emotional labour (and I remain willfully ignorant, for the time being), cause she knows I’m playing life on hard mode. My job is to make sure she feels appreciated for doing more than her fair share. The crises we’ve been weathering together since we met means our honeymoon phase was cut short, but neither of us mind, cause intimacy is what we were missing for so long.3

self portrait at 35

The fact that it takes me fewer days be to comfortable around anyone when my insecurities get the better of me means I’m gaining some small form of equanimity. I still have moments when I feel too damaged to be happy, too worthless to be loved, or too broken to be fixed, but it takes me less time to realign my perceptions with reality. The lows aren’t as debilitatingly deep either.

I’ve been using the momentum to take small steps out of my comfort zone; spending more time in difficult situations, learning to be emotionally vulnerable, exploring new ways of expressing myself4, processing parts of the past I’ve tried my best to forget. Even though I’m anxious to feel normal again, I’m forced to recognize my limitations and keep myself paced. I know I’m not where I want to be, but I’m moving in the right direction. That’s enough to keep me going for now.

  1. Also, perhaps not-coincidentally, usually people who have deal with some form of depression or chronic illness in their lives. []
  2. I still have no idea whether mine are keeping me afloat, but the fact that I don’t suffer any side-effects means I’ll be on them for the foreseeable future. []
  3. Finding my underwear washed and folded one day — a responsibility I’ve never shared with any girlfriend — gave me the weirdest boner. []
  4. The only luxury purchase for me this year has been an Impact LX-49 MIDI controller. []

tin cans and string for years

Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.

—Alexis Carrel

I’ve been discovering that I don’t know how to take care of myself. Not in a practical, everyday sense, but a cognitive one. Consistent psychological abuse during my formative years meant I never had the chance to develop some important life skills, like how to nurture my emotional needs, how to make mistakes, and how to view myself without judgment. The poison was in the wound, you see, and the wound wouldn’t heal.

So far I’ve just started recognizing these issues in therapy, and it all makes me feel damaged and defective, likely why I’ve been hiding these parts of my life from others for so long. But I’ve been hiding them from myself most of all. It’s hard to go through the painful but necessary process of grieving when I’m alone; always easier to ignore things and keep going.

I asked Tiana to help me through this, cause now I know I can’t do it by myself. It wasn’t easy. Even the simple idea of asking for help makes me anxious. People who’ve had major roles in my life have hurt me or let me down in a very significant way, so trusting others has always been hard, and I’ve avoided being vulnerable for so long because of that.

Luckily, Tiana responded the way I needed her to, and it’s been a great comfort to give myself up to someone I can trust. To be able to cry in front of a person without feeling guilty about my emotions or how I’m making them feel. To be able to talk to someone who’s receptive and attentive and gentle and caring and appreciates my openness as well. To be the little spoon, cause everyone needs to be held sometimes. She lets me let go, and for the first time, I’ve been able to surrender myself fully and still believe that I’ll be okay. I can sigh with relief instead of sadness.

These are still baby steps though, and the whole process is terrifying. My sense of control is what makes me feel safe, even if it’s detrimental to my growth, and I’m still learning how to give that up. But I tell myself it’s progress nonetheless, which is what I need now.

a million distractions to keep me warm

Two hours later, I woke up without any sense of direction.

Now I’m trying to figure out how to stay awake so I can be tired enough to fall asleep again. The fatigue isn’t enough to keep me down. I had a big breakfast, something I haven’t done in as long as I can remember, owing to the fact that they used to be the ritual of a person with weekends and a need for rituals.

At some point along the way, I realized it’s easier to take care of my friends and help them fix their problems. I can’t figure out why I’ve avoided dealing with my own, but I decided that as long as my distractions are fulfilling and healthy in themselves, there’s nothing wrong with that. Sometimes, there’s nothing else one can do.

In turn, they’re helping me through this odd passage of time, where I find myself unsure of what to do or feel. I’ve had to open myself up to give them a chance to help me. It always leaves me vulnerable at first, but when they listen and understand and support me, all my insecurities go away. It’s a tangible love that goes far beyond words and intentions.

this is interlude

I wasn’t ready for the snow. I pictured myself at home with nothing better to do than sleep in as it was falling, but instead I’m too busy to enjoy it. Now there’s nothing left of the snow that has fallen, cause fate seems to be conspiring with the weather to make this Christmas anything but white.

Unfortunately, this is when I need to be buried under snow. I’m convinced the winter will wash everything away, and I’ll emerge clean again.

boy plays with man

I don’t know what to do with myself lately. Ever since Will was born, catch-up time with ____ has been a call he gives me every now and then between methods of public transportation as he makes his way home from work. I just want to talk to someone and have their undivided attention, cause it’s the old habits I miss the most, the late nights when you’d rather stay in someone’s company than sleep. But the only people who understand are also the people with their own lives, and too often I’m left to my own devices.

As a result, I’ve been feeling vulnerable. I hold myself back from reaching out to the wrong arms, the ones who touch my face and drag their nails across my skin, the ones with familiar smells and comforting weaknesses, the ones who appreciate the things I want to be appreciated for, but none of whom can give me what I need.

pictionary

Dennis’s socks.

I’m sure I’d feel as lonely as ever if I wasn’t so over-stimulated and ready to be by myself for a while. This probably won’t happen until some point during the holidays, and even then, I had plans on catching up on personal projects and chores I can only bring myself to do once a year1. Maybe this is adults mean when talk about how time passes more quickly when you’re older.

I’m in between places now, unsure of where I am or where I’m headed. But at the very least, I know what I’ve been through and what’s behind me.

  1. i.e. Cleaning the floorboards and walls of the house. []

the lives of songs

She told me she tried to find this album I used to put on when we were huddled in the darkness. The problem was that she could only remember the cover, and it was after we stopped talking for the third time or something cause otherwise she would have asked.

Then she was in Chapters one day. This book of best albums of the 2000s fell down, and there it was, Ágætis byrjun, open at the page. “What are the chances?”, she asked me.

Sigur Rós Ágætis byrjun

I used to think of her listening to the songs I gave her with another guy and grow jealous. But I could never say I didn’t have my own memories associated with that album, lying between a wall and warm body on a bed swollen with covers in New Jersey. I watched Jón Þór Birgisson sing into the pickups of his guitar, his ethereal voice gently making the strings tremble, in a summer romance so long ago.

That was my introduction to Sigur Rós, and in the same way I passed this album on to her. It made me feel so vulnerable to be next to her in those moments (whether she realized it or not). Every time it came on was an emotional flashback, a short-circuit to this part of my past about which I’ve told so few.

I used to hope she kept the songs I gave her to herself, and that she didn’t use them to woo another guy the way I had always tried to with her. Perhaps I was a little possessive about my music and somewhat judgmental on who I deemed to be deserving enough to hear it. Eventually I realized that it’s not fair of me to feel that way. She had shared so many songs with me in turn, giving me as much as I’d given to her, and I’ve since passed those songs on to others.

Now I wonder who else will eventually experience these songs, and what memories of their own they’ll have when they hear them.