The Art of Broken Pieces

“When you write, you should put your skin on the table.”
~Louis-Ferdinand Celine

I’m afraid to write too often or too regularly, because i’m afraid of what might come out. I’ve made a firm commitment though, to share how i deal with how my brain works, and to deny it -even to hedge a little- would lead me to stumble on my path. I’m as committed to stumbling as little as possible, as i am to telling you about it when i do, therefore i must write. As much and as able as i am to do so, i will.

Even if all i end up being is an excellent example of what not to do. Heh.

So yes, i am feeling somewhat fatalistic today. Which is odd and also amusing when one considers that i don’t believe in fate at all. Not a whit. Maybe it’s not so much fate, as it is this feeling that comes over me when i’m at the keyboard – the feeling that i MUST do this. The caged bird singing and all that, how poetic, tralala. I’ve expressed myself artistically in other ways, but i was too dysfunctional to pursue any of the opportunities that came my way as an adult. As a child, my seethingly jealous and envious mother did all my sabotage for me. I don’t know if i’ll ever be any good at writing, but i know i have one thing going for me, and that is that i’ve found my voice. I may never bash out any fiction (the mere thought makes me perspire), but when i write anything about my own thoughts and my personal life, i am exactly me, myself, and i. Which is darkly amusing, because i am many parts making up a whole person.

What do i want to write about today? I guess i want to write about what i’m going through right now, which is pretty much what i always write about. About a month ago, something happened that is the worst thing to happen to me since i’ve gotten my mental health on track. I’ve got one full year of no full blown mania or depression, no police or judge involvement, no voluntary or involuntary hospital admissions, and manageable levels of dissociation. I haven’t had two months of that, let alone thirteen and a half, since i went off the rails in 2006.

So i am deep in the shit. I’m going to do everything in my power to maintain my streak, but the pressure’s high, and i know that i might fail. I know some people bristle at the use of such words, but the word “fail” doesn’t bother me at all. I understand that sometimes it can help to shift someone’s perspective in a positive way to use different words. For instance, instead of the word “fail” i could call it a “stumble” or a “learning opportunity”. If that’s what works for you, then you keep doing it. You’ve got to tailor your plan of personal growth to suit your personality. I find a tremendous amount of freedom in calling a thing what it is and just dealing with it head-on. For some people, calling something they did a failure could be detrimental to their health, and i get it. Try not to hurt yourself anymore than you’ve already been hurt. Because of my upbringing, i loathe euphemisms and pop psychology is tough for me to take. Calling a thing what i think it is, helps me stay real and honestly connected to myself and my surroundings. What i mean to say is, just because it would be a euphemism for me, doesn’t make it one for you. Yours may be more accurately called a “learning opportunity”. Geez, i hope i made some sense, there. Heh.

You call what you call it, and i’ll do the same, and neither one of us is necessarily wrong. Although you might be. (I need a smartass font.)

Another word that i use that can make some people uncomfortable -even my therapist doesn’t care for it- is “broken”. Maybe some day i won’t use that word to describe myself anymore, but i can’t see it happening. I was profoundly abused as a child, and i’m broken in ways that will never be fixed. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life trying to emulate what normal looks like to me, and despite my best efforts, i’ve never quite gotten the hang of it. Once the most important thing became to know myself and be myself, the first thing that was abundantly clear to me is that my childhood broke me, and i will never know what i could have been or done with my life had i not been so broken.

As with most things though, i do find that there is a line to walk with this knowledge. I’ve seen what happens when the freedom that comes from acknowledgment becomes an excuse not to bother trying to fix the things that can be fixed. I have dived deeply into the waters of self-pity and while i believe i needed/deserved to and i’m glad i did, there came a time when i knew it was time to get out, shower, and dry off. I will never be returned to my original state, but i can stitch the wounds and set the bones.

I see myself as a piece of Kintsugi, which is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery using lacquer that has been mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. Instead of hiding my cracks, i decorate them with something beautiful and those mended bits become the most precious parts of me. It’s not to say that i take a perverse kind of pleasure in being this broken, it is more that what others might see as useless and throw away, i put back together. And not just in a utilitarian manner – i did so artfully, and now it is even more beautiful and precious than it was in its unbroken form.

Freedom.

I have been broken and i have failed and i am free.

I am currently repairing the chip in my bowl with gold.

“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
~Leonard Cohen

Love and Peace to All,

~H~
P.S. Did you notice how i started out writing about stumbling and then got on to failure? I didn’t until i was proofreading. Welcome to how my brain works – she is an interesting bit of stuff. Heh.

Aftermath

 

“States are crumbling
Walls are rising high again
It’s no place for the faint-hearted
But my heart is strong
Because now I know where I belong
It’s you and I against the world
We are free”
~Muse, Aftermath

I thought i was fighting my depression. I emerged from my last round with Mania, with my glove that delivered the knockout punch held high, only for that smug bastard Depression to step into the squared circle and call me out. I had no choice but i was already so tired that i just kept pulling him in for the clinch. That SOB easily slipped my hold and clocked me with a combination.

Sucka.

The mass shooting in Orlando was at least a standing 8 count. I was dazed initially, but now i’m pissed. Depression likes it when i’m angry because it makes me vulnerable. And when i feel vulnerable i go somewhere alone and curl up in ball and try to stop my thoughts from eating me alive. Stay away from me when i’m like that because i will lash out at anyone, for no reason other than unfortunate proximity. This isn’t a fair fight. There isn’t even a referee.

**********

I don’t really talk about my sexuality at all. There was just so much inside that needed to come out and be subjected to endless scrutiny. Heh. I didn’t start to really know myself until well into my marriage, so a firm (le hahaha) definition of my sexuality came through the process of my middle-aged self-discovery. Sure, the feelings were always there, but i was raised religious. Severely sexually abused and religious. So everything was all twisted up inside and i had to undo a lot of knots and clip a lot of loose threads to reveal the original weave.

Currently, and to the best of my understanding, i’m a married, monogamous bisexual. My first preteen fumblings were with a girl, my first consensual sexual experience was with a girl, my first relationship was with a girl. I thought all of that was wrong and shameful, and so i hid it. I was well into my twenties before i realised i wasn’t obsessing over certain females because i wanted to look like them, rather that i wanted to be with them. I had no serious relationships with men until my husband. I’ll tell you bluntly that, although i tried to play at it a couple of times, i just used men for sex. I sought women for connection.  I never thought about marriage. I wasn’t driven to be in an intimate relationship with anyone, regardless of their sex. I found it difficult enough to be present for my sons. I had a couple of close girlfriends, but there was zero attraction. Meeting my husband changed everything, of course.

Once i finally had my very own person, i felt safe for the first time in my life. I began to think for myself. I began moving away from people and things that hurt me. I started making up my own mind about things, which included the big three: religion, politics, and sex. Once i had religion squared away, it was glaringly obvious that i’m bisexual. It wasn’t anything that required therapy or prayer. I’m capable of an intimate sexual relationship with a man or a woman. For that matter, i’d include trans, intersexed, and gender fluids on my list of possible partners as well.

As i stated previously though, i’m currently monogamous, and intend to remain so, if everything goes as planned. And because of my situation, most people don’t realise i’m queer. I’m not regularly subjected to hate, whether casual or targeted. As a woman i can relate to always being at least slightly afraid for my physical/sexual safety when i leave my own home, but i’m a cisfemale married to a cismale. No one gives us a second look when we hold hands or openly flirt with each other.  But make no mistake, i’m queer, and the terrible events on June 12 in Orlando felt like a jackboot on my neck.

I was raised to hate myself for myriad reasons, but the hatred i was taught to have for the LGBTQIA community slipped another in there; a silent destroyer. I kicked that lying motherfucker to the curb many years ago, but there are scars of course.

~Like the time i had just left my dead mother’s side as she lay in her hospital bed, only to be pulled aside by a family member and be told my mother had been deeply concerned for my soul, as the whole family was, because they feared i was dating a female. Was i aware i was going to hell?

~Or all the times i was “encouraged” to confess all my homosexual encounters so that i might be prayed over in tongues with much wailing and gnashing of teeth and funky chicken dancing all designed to break the evil “soul ties” i’d created, and banish all the demons that i’d invited in with my abominable behaviours.

~Or the time i lost a treasured friend because after a year of intensely close friendship, she found out my first relationship was with a woman.

~How about the fact that some of my most important relationships would become tenuous if i was too “out”?

As with all of us who aren’t heterosexual, living in a heteronormative world, i have more examples, but not as many as those of you who clearly present as lesbian, gay, trans, or otherwise queer. I’m absolutely gutted for you – for all of us. I’m trying to channel my anger appropriately, but it’s very difficult. I want to aim it at the places that hurt me the most, but it’s probably not productive. At least, it’s not when i’m this busted up inside. Let me make it clear though – i HATE religion, particularly the one i was raised in, but i see all of them as harmful and intrinsically evil. Let me also make it clear that i do not see most of its practitioners that way, but if i was the king of the world…

Anyway…

“From this moment
From this moment
You will never be alone
We’re bound together
Now and forever
The loneliness has gone”

I will continue to fight this blasted depression, and i will win. But i want you to know that i’m sorry for my complacency, unconscious and unintentional as it was.  I will do my clumsy, goofy best to take a more active role in the community. You are not alone.

I’M HERE. I’M QUEER. GET USED TO IT.

~H~

Thoughts That I Have That Are Mine and Are Not Yours Because They Are Mine PT. II

heart1

“The heart wants what it wants.”

About that…

My heart gets it wrong. A LOT. I mean, a lot a lot. And my heart doesn’t “know” anything. It’s just one of the areas that manifest the feelings generated by the thoughts in my brain. And as i’ve mentioned before, my brain doesn’t always work well or properly – and my choices in both sexual and non-sexual relationships is often a stark example of that fact. So yeah, sometimes i want relationships that aren’t good, healthy or otherwise beneficial to me. I’ve often heard it said that the heart wants what it wants, and the tone of resignation that usually accompanies its utterance. It seems to hint that one is helpless against its desires. That against the onslaught of emotions (especially romantic ones) i’m just along for the ride, and i should just allow myself to be swept away. “Don’t fight it, H. The heart wants what it wants, after all.” Insert shrugged shoulders and a deep sigh.

It almost seems like an excuse to me. Like, i want the person that i know isn’t a good choice to be in a relationship with, so i’m gonna blame the destructive inevitability of my heart’s desires to abdicate responsibility for this choice that i am indeed making.

And so while i’m not gonna stop enjoying love expressed through art -the poems, the ballads, the epic romances, the sweeping historical novels and all the rest- i need to see it for what it is and what it is not. What it is, is the way we communicate with each other regarding how it can feel to care for someone. What it isn’t, is the organ with which i make decisions. Not simple ones like whether or not to return a passing smile, and certainly not much more complex ones like with whom to marry and/or make a family.

You may think that’s obvious, and maybe it should’ve been, but it certainly wasn’t to me. Based on results, i was choosing my relationships on the whims of some nebulous idea that my heart was its own little person, with a mind of its own. I thought my heart always knew what was right for me, even if i didn’t know it intellectually. That -along with a large dose of religion and an absurd belief in romantic predestination- led me to make some (mostly) disastrous choices in both friends and intimate partners.

What happens in my heart when i meet someone i’m attracted to, whether for friendship or something more, is not something i should follow blindly. Nor am i helpless to resist such feelings. Sometimes my taste sucks, sometimes i’m just plain wrong, and sometimes the feelings simply aren’t reciprocated. Perhaps they aren’t returned as much as i’d like them to be, or (the worst) they stop being returned at all. That last one has happened to me many, many times.

Getting dumped is the absolute shits. It’s painful, and for me, embarrassing and shameful. I was the family scapegoat until i slipped their grasp, but i wasn’t able to shake the feeling that everything that went wrong around me was my fault. I was terrified of rejection and it caused reflexive blame, self-loathing, powerlessness, and a pervasive sense of doom. Quite often it also triggered depression or mania or other behaviors associated with my mental issues. Sometimes the price i paid was high, and very often my children and eventually my husband, paid too.

My heart though? My heart just wanted them back. Every one of them. It wasn’t until i got some distance from them along with some traction regarding my mental health that my feelings were gradually overridden by my brain. I see now that some of them weren’t right for me, some of them were no longer a good fit, and some of them had done me a huge favour by leaving.

Thoughts That I Have That Are Mine and Are Not Yours Because They Are Mine

“The heart never lies.”

Ah, bull pucky. Besides the fact that my heart isn’t the place where my feelings come from, and my heart doesn’t have an agenda, my feelings come from my brain and my brain not only has been through some stuff, it may have been born or otherwise emerged from my formative years with some serious defects or flaws or quirks, or whatever you’d prefer to call them. To be blunt, i’ve had some screwed up ways of looking at things.

I was indoctrinated by religion, pummeled by years of abuse, and systematically and vigorously taught not to think for myself. My upbringing showed me a twisted version of love, and skewed my perceptions about people generally, and relationships specifically. And no, i didn’t know in my heart that something was wrong. I thought it was normal. It didn’t feel good all the time, but sometimes it did. It felt natural and comfortable absolutely. I didn’t realise that how i’d been raised was spectacularly wrong until i was 21 years old.

As a result, i’ve had a number of crappy relationships with crappy people. I’ve remained loyal to people who were utterly unworthy of such for ruinously long periods of time. Such is my loyalty that i’ll tell you that with very few exceptions, it was them that ended the relationship and not me. (Except with men, but let’s save that particular ball of crazy for another time.) I loved them and wanted them in my life, and my physical response was a varying combination of an elevated heartbeat that either feels all bursty with the joyousness of human connection, or painfully aching and rather clenched with the threat of that connection being ended.

These were people who said awful things about me behind my back. Some had assaulted me physically and/or sexually. Some were only in it for what i gave them, be that my body, my time, my money, or even just my unconditional support and my i’ll-never-leave-youness. People who didn’t particularly want me, but for whom i was better than nobody. And my favourite, those who thought it was either their calling or their duty to be in my life. And i’ll be brutally honest and tell you that although i sucked at relationships of any kind, regardless of whether sex was involved or not, i wanted them all – every selfish, cruel, judgmental, unavailable one of them. They may have been one, or all of those things, plus others, but i’m trying not to dwell here (no really, heh). The important thing is that they weren’t good for me, either for a period of time or for all my time.

They used me up. They sucked me dry of everything i had to give and then summarily dropped me. Now, my capacity to give was admittedly limited, but i didn’t really know that at the time. All i knew when they ended the relationship was that i’d done something wrong, that i’d screwed things up again, somehow. And to be fair, i think some of them were as clueless as me -about themselves and their own machinations- and to them i just seemed to become unsuitable friend material. But my heart, which we’ve established is actually my brain, was crushed because i wanted them.

In fact, my heart thought i needed them. It reached out towards them and urged me to fix things. It imbued me with a desire to make things right regardless of the cost. And on those occasions that i obeyed its desperate pleas, it rewarded me with feelings that might qualify as blissful. I’d be floating on a pink, fluffy cloud and gazing down at the apple trees and honey bees and snow white turtle doves. However, life with the person i thought i wanted in my life was never harmonious like the song by The New Seekers. My heart was manifesting the things in my brain that were dysfunctional.

The parts of my brain that functioned fairly well were pretty sure that it wasn’t going to work out, and i was going to get hurt all over again.