New Shoes

I base most of my fashion sense on what doesn’t itch.
~ Gilda Radner


I think this new life i have fashioned is starting to chafe, a little. This new way of living that involves higher functioning has brought a calm and peace to which i am not accustomed. I’m most familiar with drama and chaos, it’s happened regularly, and frequently, since i first drew breath. I’ve spent many years now, whittling it away, carving something sturdy and serviceable. Stripping away soft, rotted bark and patiently (okay, not always that patiently) working to reveal its true shape hidden in the fragrant and vital hardwood beneath.

This work has become a daily part of my life. I pick it up when i will, and carve a little as it pleases me. However, as its form becomes more clear, i’ve felt excitement stirring in my nethers. Not sexual in nature, rather of something soon to be born. I am coming forth.

Yes, Hi, it’s me and my flowery way of communicating; that’s part of it. Part of me, part of who i am as a one of a kind piece of art. I am a sculpture that fashions itself. Behold!

I’m being silly, but honestly i’m hoping to lift myself out of this mood by so doing. I’m low. I’m tired and somewhat afraid. I know these feelings, but underneath them, another has been simmering slowly – it’s an uncomfortability. I’m blaming lack of familiarity, along with a smattering of boredom.

In past times such feelings could quickly land me in overwhelm. My response to such would be to either shut down, or nope right outta there. In short, to dissociate in some form or fashion, out of proportion to what was currently happening and how i felt about it. These days i’m practising mindfulness and staying present, i.e. conscious and in control. I’m working on sliding* and switching* as seldom as possible.

Also, i’ve been working hard to cut down on chaos by managing my system, calming my thoughts, eliminating problematic friendships and associations, and pursuing age appropriate levels of maturity. It’s working well, but it feels weird, like there’s something missing in my life. I’m guessing this is caused by a couple of things. The easiest to identify is the one where this is simply not what i’m used to. It’s like if i wore sweat pants all my life and suddenly started wearing jeans. It’ll likely take some time before i feel comfortable in them.

Sometimes, when people survive an experience that might have killed them, say a car accident, they find themselves seeking more dangerous situations. It’s been studied at length and thought to be some survivor’s guilt, along with a desire to recreate that intensity of emotion. To feel that alive again. When one isn’t constantly in fight or flight mode –when the threat is finally eliminated– it can almost feel like something’s wrong. My life hasn’t been legitimately threatened for some years now, and i find it at times unsettling. Part of me is still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Being safe, being an adult about things, only having the people i want to have in my life – none of it feels natural.

Plus, when i lived with all of that ruckus (both around and inside me) before, i could practically sleepwalk my way through it. Everything requires my attention now. When i’m awake, i’m on. It’s all new and i’m exhausted. I’ve been concerned that my system might manufacture some drama just to feel “normal.” They didn’t get the chance.

Last weekend i blew a gasket.

The pavement slabs burn loose beneath my feet,
A chafing savage, down the decent street
~ Claude McKay


Until Next Time,
Peace and Love,
~H~

*Definitions can be found in my FAQs.



IMAGE: Flickr

Growing Up

Growing up isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, sure, but it’s integral to me having more of the life i want.

Every part of me, except the main me, is a child, in some form or fashion. They were all split off, frozen in time, or purposefully created, when i was very young. I think i’d stopped breaking myself off into pieces around 8 at the outside. My mother’s relationship with the man i called Daddy had been falling apart for a year or more by then, and took another year or so before its death throes were complete. For reasons i cannot fully ascertain or fathom, she fled their circle of friends and associates, cut off contact with everyone she knew save her parents, set up housekeeping in a small town with an underage boy, and began churning out babies.
Once we lived there i only had 2 predators to contend with (sometimes more, but not all the time), and the people who lived in my brain could handle 2 relatively easily. I’m as sure as i can be that the last new members joined my tribe sometime between 7 and 8yrs old.

It’s taken me a long time and a lot of work to get this far, maturity wise. I knew i needed to learn and grow and get more functional, but it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that i understood how much of a child i still was, in so many ways. My development was not only arrested by trauma, it was actively held back and hampered by a bunch of kids living in my brain. I would often jokingly say, “I’m ‘x’ years old, and i still don’t feel grown up.” There was a reason for that – i wasn’t. I only looked like an adult on the outside. On the inside i was a roiling tide of children. Even those parts of me that presented as an adult were merely a child’s conjectures and fabrications of what an adult was and how they acted. It was mighty humbling to see how immature i still was in so many ways, but it was the truth. It didn’t set me free, exactly, but it did give me tangible behaviours to work on changing.

After the initial mortification at discovering i was a big, poopyheaded babypants, i set about examining my various behaviours and holding them up in comparison to those i considered mature and good at “adulting.” I soon noticed something that gave me a burst of self-esteem. Turns out that i had surrounded myself with a variety of folks who were rather adept at various grownup-type stuffs.* I knew people who could pay their bills on time and keep to a budget. I had friends who kept a tidy home and person. I have friends with a remarkable level of mastery over their emotional responses. I know those who manage relationships respectfully and navigate life’s problems with careful, critical thought. They live life on life’s terms, and live it well.

Further, i marked that i had pulled away from relationships that fared poorly in a cost/benefit analysis. I saw that i’d eliminated abusive and/or go-with-the-flow family members, along with many i didn’t even know (which leaves one – just sayin’). And more than that, i’d toned down my involvements with local “friends” that i only had because i associated with them when i was manic. I now know that party buddies aren’t necessarily friends, and i discovered through social media and a few sober interactions that i wasn’t interested in anything more than shallow niceties:

Them: Oh hi, i haven’t seen you in forever! We should do coffee!

Me: Yeah sure, i’m free whenever, just text or DM me and let me know when!

(I learned it’s just something that some people seem to think they should say, and i’m happy to play the game, because i know it’s just empty words and they won’t follow through. I’m not mad about it, in fact it’s preferable to me. I’d rather not have to come up with a not-hurtful or not-rude reason why i don’t want to hang out with them anymore. If they wanted to hang out with me they would. I see it as them trying to be polite and not hurt my feelings, which is nice. I’m fine with a bit of light, mutual bullshittery.)

So, while it was hard on my delicate little feelings to see just how far i had to go to grow up, there was evidence that i was already working on it. Setting myself up for success, as it were. My circle of friends had become of my own choosing, and they were people who had something i wanted. They modeled a quality or behaviour that i wanted for myself. My friends today are people i want to be more like, in some way. I like being around those whose comportment i see as that of a good human. A lot of my friends today are very accomplished by the world’s standards, and to do that, one must embody some traits that i categorise as mature. As in, “behaving like an adult.”

I’m pondering all this today because i need to be as grown up as i can possibly be with respect to a particular area of my life right now. It’s extremely important, and how it plays out will definitely change my life, whether for good or ill. I must carefully consider what i want, how much i want it, and what i’m willing to do to get it. I must manage my emotions and keep a level head. I’ve invested a great deal, and it’s time to start collecting, or cash out. And if that happens, i’ll have to be the most grown up i’ve ever been.

As they say, i’m hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.
<insertincrediblydeepandunfortunatelynothistrionicsighhere>

One of the oddest things about being grown-up was looking back at something you thought you knew and finding out the truth of it was completely different from what you had always believed.
~ Patricia Briggs



Love and Peace,
~H~
* These are things i identify as being what adults do. These are basic, surface definitions and personal to me. If your house is a shambles or you’re always late, it’s not for me to say why that is – it’s for you. It may be because you need to grow up a bit, but it might be due to something else entirely. Things that i identify as problematic for my life might not bother you one whit.

IMAGE: Annie Spratt