Love Goggles

I think i’m having an epiphany.
Are you allowed to have those when you’re down a rabbit hole and swimming around in a bottle?

I don’t know, but my inclination is No. It’s not legitimate. You are in your cups and so you cannot trust any thought or feeling you have.

No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
~ Inigo Montoya

This has been the hardest year of my adult life. No, really. I went back to therapy, and BAM! my beloved Ms T tells me i’m looking for homeostasis, in other words, a return to what i was meant to be under ideal circumstances. The word some might use is integration, but for me it isn’t that. That word means an end to the split off parts of me that saved my life. They made a childhood full of torture, survivable. Yes, they make me (diagnosably) crazy and frustrated and put me in embarrassing situations and make messes i have to clean up. Yes, they drive me nuts (diagnosed). But they stepped in, when i was a child, and took unspeakable, excruciatingly painful, evil things so that i didn’t have to. I owe them a debt i can never fully repay. Yes, i know they are me. I don’t mean to sound arrogant or superior here, but in all my efforts to communicate my experiences, i’ve come to believe that no one can fully understand what it’s like to be a multiple unless you are one. (And thank you, for every bit that you do get, and/or at least extend yourself in the effort.)

Homeostasis means healthy, to me. My body and my mind working at peak capacity. So, my Bits N’ Pieces will still be a part of me, but no longer able to take over the face and cause difficulties. No more lost time. No more reflexive disappearing. I will still feel them and maybe even hear them in my brain, but they will just be for me. No one else will have to encounter them, or deal with them. I am not in danger anymore. I’m in a safe, good, healthy place. I want them to know and feel that, and i want to take good care of them, like my children (they are), for the rest of my life.

It’s a lot of work, and it’s constant. The choice to be present and feel my feelings, experience my physical sensations, and think my thoughts in real time, is all the time. It never ends. I’m always exhausted. I struggle with insomnia, but when i can sleep, i can sleep for 8,10,12hrs straight. I have to commit and recommit to what i’m doing every day, all day.

And then this pandemic hits.
It engages me on every level i’m working on. I’m trying to be a better, kinder, healthier human, and it challenges me at every point.
People not thinking what i think they should think.
People not doing what i think they should do.
Trying to escape from religious and tribalistic thinking confronts me at every turn.

A couple of posts ago i talked about seeing people through love-goggles. It’s been seeping into me ever since. As i do the work in front of me, i’m learning who i am as a person. Shucking off all the protective measures that are like reflex. This isn’t just about my system, it’s about every breath i’ve ever taken. I had to fight for my life from before i could walk or speak. This stuff is ingrained. It’s my skin. My armour is my skin, my breath, my heartbeat, my blood. Every minute of every day, for almost 2yrs now, i choose to let go. To trust. To believe. To aspire for better and actively work towards it. To see myself for who i am and acknowledge it to others.

And this pandemic, now. FFS.
It has neon-signed every issue i have. It has Sisyphused all my burdens. I’m in constant crisis.

I’ve found the blessing in it. I had to. I want to live, and more than that, i want as much quality of life as i can get. Yes, i dare it. I want more, and more, and better. And this is what i’ve learned from doing the work. There is more, and better, and i can have it.
But it requires great effort and intention.

So, the pandemic. Yes, it highlighted all my issues and exacerbated the stress i was already under. And i backslid into old ways of thinking and acting. I was angry –enraged, even– at everyone who wasn’t doing what i thought they should do. I lashed out, with provable justification, at everyone who wasn’t behaving correctly. And every time i did, i felt like a bag of shit. Then i’d chide myself, because i was clearly in the right, so i was doing/saying what people needed. I was being brave.
But i kept feeling awful about it. So awful.

But i’d written this piece about love-goggling, and i kept thinking about it. I kept thinking about my son who believes things that i know are dangerous and provably wrong. I kept thinking about my friends who are taking terrible risks that i would not take. I kept thinking about how, when my mental illness overtook me, how those friends were the ones that were there for me, in the flesh, to help me when i could not help myself.

I asked myself: Is my rage helping me, or anyone else?
Is the fact that i can prove my rage is justified making me feel any better?
Does my tsk-tsking and finger-shaking make me feel good?
The answers were No. No, and Only for a very short time.
And that is when my mind and heart turned to love-goggling.
How am i going to be in a good relationship with my son when he believes things that actively put his family and others in danger? Love goggles.
How am i going to live in a community that largely believes in and supports political viewpoints that i find abhorrent? Love goggles.
How am i going to engage with an online audience that seems consistently arrogant, cruel, judgmental, and tribalistic? Love goggles.

I may be a Pollyanna. I may be a Milquetoast.
Maybe.
But today i can live in my own skin and i can give a shit about everybody.
Every. single. body.
And that feels good and right to me.

Knowing Me Knowing You*

As i continue to know myself better, so do i know others. What i’m learning is that i know so little as to be laughable, yet the pittance that i’ve gathered is worth more than anything else that could be considered mine.

I thought i was so tragically unique.
I’m not like most people. I’m odd. No, but i am. I’m so very different.
I took the tests they gave me growing up, and they confirmed it.
Various teachers and helpers of every ilk and stripe echoed it.
When i was grown, i formed deep and lasting love relationships of my own choosing and my uniqueness became less tragic, and more romantic. As i had my unconditional love reflected back to me by non-abusive people, i began to accept, and even like myself a little. I began to see myself as the muse of all the poems and love songs where the subject is a mass of contradictions and is loved/desired in spite of/because of them. She is mysterious, enigmatic, deep, ethereal, unknowable, beyond you.

So dramatic. Such art. Much longing.

As i mature and deepen as a human, i see more beauty in truth. In flesh, bone, blood, breath. Enduring mystery has lost it’s appeal, and i’m not as interested in things that are, at least historically, unknowable. I’ve become far more curious, however. And that curiosity is naturally extending itself beyond my own borders of skin and brainspace. I reach out into the spaces outside of me and i want to know more about it, and them, and you.

And i can see something.

I see that you are like me, and i see that you are not like me.
I can define you, but i also know that i can never quite define you – just like me.
I see that i can sometimes be something, and sometimes not. Take patience, for instance. When i’m happy and well-rested, i can be very patient.
Where my boys are concerned, my patience could be my mutant power.
Sometimes though, no amount of happiness or sleep is gonna stop me from losing my shit, and sometimes, no one can cause me to lose it so easily as my husband and my children.

I know you get it.
I know, because i see you are the same. Maybe not exactly, but enough that you understand. For you, perhaps you had a great example of parental patience at home and so you just easily model what you grew up with. Or maybe your parents were terrible at it, and you made and have kept a vow to never be like that with your own kids.
You have your own story and your own reasons and some subtly or even wildly different motivations… But it is enough that you get it.

I see that you are multifaceted and contradictory and conflicted and ambivalently ambiguous and weird, just like i am. I also see that you aren’t like me at all. You cannot be. You were not born to the same parents or under the same circumstances or at the same moment as i was. You did not live through the same situations as i. You may have lived through similar things, but you did not process them the same way i did, nor did you react to them in the same way. But you may have reacted in a comparable, or otherwise homologous, fashion. Even if you didn’t -even if our reactions were miles apart- perhaps you can relate anyway. You may have felt emotions on par with mine and given consideration to expressing them as i did. Or maybe, as was so often the case with me growing up, you just reacted, as there was neither the opportunity or inclination to consider anything; the reflexes of a child that follow many of us well into adulthood. They most assuredly have in my case.

You may have zigged while i zagged, but i get why you did it that way. Or maybe i don’t. Sometimes i don’t get you at all, or some particular facet of you is too much like me that it hurts too much or i am too afraid to look at it and see. Maybe as i grow i’ll be able to or maybe i never will. I don’t know, but i do know that i can quickly and easily find many more things that i have in common with you, and that is what i want to do and what i will do. It’s who i want to be. I like me this way. I like you this way. And hey, even if i don’t like you, i find you ever so much more tolerable. And you being relatable makes it easier to like you – even if it may only be parts of you.

The better i know myself, the more like me and relatable i find you. I experience on a deeper and deeper level how we are all alike and yet not.

All of this may sound strange coming out of my agnosticism, but i don’t think so. These observances may be somewhat metaphysical, but they’re not spiritual for me in any way.
I’m learning who i am, and making decisions about who i want to be and what i want to bring to the earth’s table.

To help. To unite. To teach. To share. To love.

Happy Sunday,
Love and Peace to All,
~H~

*This was a Facebook post of mine from Friday that i suppose could do well here, too.