You guys. Were you as disappointed in me as I was about the whole expired equines experience from my last post? That hazy memory shakes me in my core, from my clavicle down to my hip bones, my kidneys and colon and liver all quake about. Reliving that memory is like going all the way back to the end of 2013/start of 2014.
I guess that’s the thing about changing how you live: sometimes it’s eight steps forward, seventeen leaps back. Which means just one thing: there’s very few places to go but up. (Whoa, was that some crazypants math or what? Was that 0 + 8 – 17(2) ≤ up?)
Admittedly, I first hit up the < of that equation by falling into an old pattern of self hatred. Try as I might to convey a convivial state about my feelings of self, the old me lurks just below the surface. You should wear your hoodie backwards, with your hood over your face she whispers. Why can’t you just stop thinking you matter? She makes a compelling point when I’m already low. Which is why dead horses get beaten.
See, that beast of a voice in my head craves validation. Getting someone to say they don’t love me (as I’ve made many ex boyfriends say to me), or having someone balls out admit they don’t want to date me, feeds her soul. It energizes her. In a way, it soothes her. There it is. Her truth. Spoken. It gives her the right to start saying more. Like How do you even have friends? And It’s a wonder you even bother to get up every morning. And You don’t deserve anything. Everything you touch turns to shit.
It’s fucking sick, right?
So, I had to go about shutting the beast up as best I could, taking a large needle and thread and shoving it through her top lip to her bottom lip, stitching her up one piece at a time.
First, I made an apology, and I made it good. I knew even it fell on deaf ears or blind eyes, I had to do it.
Then, I went on a long, meandering, foggy hike. (Fog not necessary for up, but helpful.) And with the help of a friend, it occurred to me that there’s a reason I wind up shouting like a little tea pot at inopportune moments: it’s because I bottle all the steam up and never let it release.
It goes back to my fatal flaw in relationships of all kinds: I am afraid to be honest. I am afraid to be heard. I am afraid that what I have to say and what I feel will come across as too much for someone else, and I am afraid that my feelings are, in general, really stupid because I have so damn many of them. And I somehow think that steam-bottling is the kind thing to do. The nice thing.
Except (ah, isn’t there always an except?) when I do finally lose my control – because I feel threatened on a level I can’t handle anymore, or because I’ve had way too much to drink on an empty stomach and every inhibition I’ve layered like baclava is stripped away – it comes across boldly but badly.
My friend helped me get to realizing this in what was maybe the nicest way possible. Without blame, or shame. Simply stating the facts. But then instead of letting the conversation dwindle there, she said, “So, let’s talk about how to not have this happen again. The only way to not have this happen is to practice doing it differently.”
And from there, we discussed the wild (to me) idea of saying whatever it is I need to say in a better moment. Not having it be about trusting them to do the best thing with it – because let’s face it, we can’t ever really trust that – but at least saying something like, “You really hurt my feelings” or “I feel very confused by what just happened and I care about you and would love just a simple adult explanation.”
Finally, I forgave myself. I reminded myself that I’m doing the best I can. That my heart is not a curse, but a blessing. That beasty voice started to recede, and I put my hoodie on correctly.
And now, some inspiration for next time: