Is This Who I Am Now?

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Since the post I wrote on meeting up with Elizabeth again earlier this year, I’ve seen her a few more times. We always end up staying together for hours. But I’ve realized something. I don’t have feelings for her at all anymore. The times we meet up, I’ve initiated it. It’s on my terms. We exchange voice notes often, but it sometimes takes me days to reply. Just because I don’t feel the desire to talk to her. Well, it’s not just her… I’ve become terrible at replying to my messages from anyone.

I’ve been going through a challenging period in my life the past couple of weeks and I’m not sure about anything anymore. I had a therapy session today and when my therapist asked what had suddenly made me emotional at some point, I wasn’t really sure how to answer that. Because I’m not sure myself. I did mention some stuff, but I couldn’t seem to find all the words for everything that was going through my mind and to verbally express how I was feeling.

One of those things is about Elizabeth. I feel like I’m just using her. I never thought I’d be one of those people. But here I am. And I don’t even feel guilty about it, like I would have in the past. I call her when I get lonely. Not because I want to see her, but because I want to experience that intimacy she provides when we’re together. When we’re sitting having drinks and she has her arm around me, or holds my hand. There are no feelings involved, other than the physical sensations of her soft skin, the warmth of that. Relishing in that. But no emotional feelings. I feel emotionally empty. Especially with regards to her. I don’t trust her either. We discuss how we’re both enjoying being single, but intimacy is missed sometimes. Even though neither one of us wants to be in a relationship at this point in time, I find our moments together satisfying. But once we part ways, I’m glad to be without her again.

The evenings never go further than that. Although she slept over at my place on Sunday evening, it was more a case of convenience. We slept in separate rooms. I have no interest in sexual intimacy with her. Not with anyone. In that, I feel broken. Maybe one day I’ll have the courage to share those parts of my story.

I feel like I’ll never be able to love anyone again, not in the romantic sense of the word at least. I’m feeling disconnected from life. From myself. From love in general. And I’m not sure how to break through this glass wall. I see those people I care about through it, but I can’t reach them. They, along with my more “human” emotions, are out of reach most of the time these days. That little crack in the glass during my session was quickly mended and now I’m just empty again.

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Circumstances Can Change

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Sometimes it feels as though things will never change. But life is a constant state of change. Nothing stays the same. It may for a while, and this while may feel like forever, but there’s no escaping the fact that at some point in time change will come.

This is where I currently find myself. A couple of months ago I was still living with my dad, working for him and getting paid peanuts, and working on my business with no real prospects. Life seemed pointless. Hopeless. I felt stuck. I’ve actually been in this “stuck” place for years, and didn’t see it ending anytime soon.

But then I moved in with my older friend M, and things started changing for me. In December I had met a potential client (in a restaurant where I was talking to a friend and he overheard me talking about my business), and he told me that he was looking for a freelance graphic designer and social media manager. He gave me his details and asked me to contact him in February, which I did. I started working with him beginning April, and it’s been great. It’s a lot of work, but it’s work I enjoy, and he’s a wonderful client. Easy to talk to, open and transparent, and most importantly, quick to respond and get information from. We have a 3 month contract for now, but he told me that he wants to make it more permanent. We had our first end of month progress/update meeting and he’s very happy with my work, so it’s all looking very promising.

As regular readers of my blog know, I found it very stressful and frustrating working for my dad. Just being around him and my step-mom in the office affects me negatively. Add in all the other things going on in the shop and it’s just too much for me. With this new client, I get 3x my salary, so I’m much better off. Their business is still struggling, so that, along with this new job, made me decide to give my week’s notice. They can save the money they pay me every month (at least for the next two months), and I’m free to focus on my own business. I’m far more productive and relaxed working from home. I also have two more potential website design clients, so that will be additional income if all goes well.

I thought I’d never “escape” my dad, but now I only see him if and when I want to. I actually feel like an adult. Free. Staying with M is really great and we get along perfectly. She’s become a real mother figure to me and I’m learning a lot from her. Therapy is also going well, especially now that we’ve switched from weekly 30-minute sessions to 1-hour sessions. My therapist pointed out that I wasn’t doing so well with 30-minute sessions. When I had my sessions at her office in the clinic we’d often run well over, but when we switched to her other location a couple of months ago, time was more limited. And that’s when it became obvious that I was struggling with only 30 minutes. So now we’re on weekly 1-hour sessions and things feel more settled. We’ve also gone back to having it at the clinic as the way there is less stressful and overwhelming for me. My stress and anxiety levels have decreased and my mood has been better overall.

So, a lot has changed in such a short amount of time. I feel like I’m still adjusting to all the changes, and certain things are still overwhelming and anxiety-provoking, but it’s slowly getting better. At the beginning of this year I never imagined I would be here. That life would look different. But it does, and I’m so grateful. To M, for taking me in and showing me that I am worthy of life and love. To my therapist, for always having my best interests at heart and for all that she does to help me.

Circumstances can change. It’s so easy for those of us who are so used to constant disappointment to wonder when things will blow up again, waiting for the other shoe to drop (this saying doesn’t make much sense, but I’m using it anyway), but I’m determined to just embrace how things are in the here and now. Because right now, I’m happy.

She’s Back…

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On Monday after work I met up with my ex, Elizabeth. During one of my “episodes” a little while ago, I impulsively sent her a message. I wasn’t expecting a reply, and wasn’t even sure whether I wanted one. But a couple of days later she sent a reply and I was genuinely shocked when she told me that my message was a wonderful surprise. We sent some messages back and forth for a few weeks. We were supposed to meet up the weekend, but I took a rain check and we met on Monday instead.

I didn’t know what to expect going in. I kept an emotional distance and was prepared to leave as soon as I felt things weren’t going well. But that didn’t happen. Instead, I found that I was having a nice time catching up with her. Even more unexpected were the genuine apologies for her behaviour in our relationship, and acknowledgement that a lot of the issues came from her side. She had started therapy some time after we had broken up and been diagnosed with ADHD which made so much sense and put a lot into perspective when looking back.

We ended up spending that whole afternoon together and I only got home just after 11 that evening. We were having such a good time, and the alcohol kept coming (with both of us being on meds, we discussed that this can’t happen again). It felt so comfortable and familiar being with her. We sat intimately close, closer than I’ll allow anyone else to sit next to me when talking. And when we walked to another place for another drink, I was freezing (alcohol has that effect on me, while it makes her hot) and she put her arm around me to help keep me warm. That felt amazing. She told me that she has been wanting to get back into contact with me for so long, but thought I was angry with her and never wanted to see her again. That she had missed me so often, and how glad she was that we can be friends now.

I discovered that my feelings for her haven’t changed all that much, but I also have my guard up. My therapist told me to keep my boundaries in mind whenever I’m with her. Only thing is, I’m not so sure what my boundaries for her are, or should be. She invited me to two events this weekend, but I’ve got a nasty cold and need to rest and recuperate. But, if I’m completely honest, I’m also using that as an excuse to keep some distance from her so I don’t get swept up, and giving myself time to figure out exactly how I feel about all of this. All I know right now is that I was happier during the time I spent with her on Monday than I have been in months. I realized this after she told me the same thing. Right now I’m a little confused, but I guess that’s normal.

Maybe we can be friends after all. Do I want more? I don’t have to know the answer or make any decisions right now.

The best thing I feel I can do in this situation is take things slow and at my own pace, and see what happens.

Self-Respect & Boundaries

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When I was in the clinic last year and while attending the Tuesday group sessions, we often spoke about boundaries, and, using DBT, ways to enforce those boundaries while maintaining self-respect.

While I’ve become better at setting and stating my boundaries, the follow through doesn’t come as easily. I may do well for a while, but then give in for some reason or the other. Maybe it’s because I’m feeling lonely (not to be confused with being alone). Maybe I feel bad for the person. And sometimes, maybe because I feel the need to fit in and avoid conflict (as in the case of my dad).

I’m still a work in progress, and don’t know if I’ll ever become an “expert”. But that’s okay. The important thing is to remember that I have the right to set and maintain these boundaries.

With that in mind I’ve decided to make a list of things I’d like to remember when it comes to my self-respect and boundaries. This list may change and grow over time, but for now this is what I’ve got.

It’s not my responsibility to fix or heal others.

I have the right to say “no” without feeling guilty about it.

I have a right to my own opinions.

My feelings are valid.

I have the right to my own space and time.

I don’t have to explain my reasons.

I’m allowed to change my mind.

I have the right to walk away when a situation or person makes me uncomfortable.

My needs are also important.

I have the right to ask for what I want and need, just as the other person has the right to say “no”.

It’s okay to be different to those around me and not force myself to fit in.

Is there anything you would add to this list?

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A Dizzying Few Weeks

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For the past three weeks my stepmom’s parents have been here, which means they’ve been staying in my room. The first week they were here, I stayed at M’s place. She was supposed to be there with me, but went into the clinic a few days before, so I ended up staying there alone. It was nice being alone and away from the family, but I still had to go into work and see them every day. I’ve realized I really can’t live alone because I’m terrified at night, and sleep badly because of that. Maybe having a dog sleep with me will help with that. Maybe I just need a being present in the house.

I saw quite a lot of M during the weekend I was there as she got day passes. We went out for dinner and coffee. I really love this woman. There was a really beautiful moment on Saturday. I had had a bit of a sensory overload situation while we were out, and she just hugged me tightly while I was “shaking like a leaf” (her words). She held onto me for quite a while, which really helped me slowly start to calm down. We went to go sit down, because I was feeling very disoriented. After a while of silence, and when I was starting to feel better (it took a while after I had gotten back, alone, to her place to feel completely better) she started talking to me. I apologized for what had happened, and she told me there was no need to apologize. She told me that she loves me, and sees me as a daughter. That I’m special to her and bring so much joy to her life. When she said this, I didn’t know how to respond. What do I say? Thank you? I love you too? You too? Do you really mean that? What? I was still in a “weird” space, hence the confusion I think. It took a while for me to say “I also love you”, to which she replied, “I know. You show it.” That made me feel better. Okay, so I’m not a complete freak then, I thought. It was only a few hours later when her words really hit me, and I felt the warmth of them. For some reason when I’m in the state of mind I was in earlier, I don’t really feel, and if I do the emotions are dulled.

When I got back to my dad’s house, I spent the rest of the time in my stepbrother’s room, while he slept on the couch downstairs. It was a full house again, and uncomfortable. Had family from Sweden visit as well (my stepmom’s brother who lives in Sweden got married here last weekend), so meeting lots of new people too. Wanted to bang my head against a wall. Okay, maybe I did. It helps, okay, even if I lose a few brain cells in the process! I got my room back this week at least (which is weird, since stepmom’s parents spent one night somewhere else, then came back and slept in my stepbrothers room, leaving this morning) and am only now starting to feel “normal” being in my room again. I still feel a bit all over the place and confused, as if I don’t belong in my own bed, but I’m getting there. I don’t know why my mind struggles with orientation in space (and change) to this degree. Here’s another example of what I mean. There was always a ladder in a specific place in the garage where I park my car. It helps me judge how far in to park. One day my stepbrother had moved the ladder, and when I drove into the garage and it was in a different place that day, a little more to the right, I suddenly panicked. I felt disoriented and stuck. Then I got furious. It took quite a while for me to calm down and realize that I could just move it back. Logically, I know I don’t need that ladder in that specific place in order to park properly, but that logic doesn’t matter to my mind/brain. Everybody now knows not to move that thing, and if they need to use it, put it back where it belongs immediately afterward. Please tell me I’m not the only one who experiences things like this?

I’ve been having a lot more issues with my dad lately too. I don’t back down as much as I used to. I feel stressed and he makes thing worse every day. He’s constantly complaining, criticizing everyone and the country, and being far more negative than is even normal for him. I can’t remember when last something positive came out of his mouth. I just can’t take it anymore. He’s driving everyone (except his darling step-daughter) crazy. I know I need to get out of working there with him, but I still can’t find any other work. Some days I feel I could strangle him. The temptation is huge, but I know I’ll be even worse off in prison. So there’s that.

There’s more I can write about, but I just can’t right now.

On a good and positive note, my uncle and I have started a new tradition. On the first/last Sunday of every month we’re going to take a drive to our favourite place (about an hour away) and have our favourite ice cream and sit on the beach. Tomorrow is that day, so I’m really looking forward to that.

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“Hold On”?

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I don’t believe that suicide is selfish. It may not be entirely rational. But selfish, no. I understand why people do it. Those who have left me behind… I’m not mad at them. They were in pain, they felt like they were a burden to the world, that everyone would be better off without them. I get that. They weren’t a burden, at least not in my life, but I never got to tell them that.

We don’t know how much time we have on this earth. We don’t know when someone we love will leave this world, either through their own hands, those of others, or “natural” causes.

Sometimes we have to say goodbye to someone sooner than we thought. Sometimes there’s no warning. It doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t seem right. But that’s the reality of being alive.

Love, You’re Still Here

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Slowly making its way into my consciousness
The feelings came first, then the memories
And I saw you everywhere that night
As the old year started fading away
I knew I’d have to face the new year without you
But your shadow wouldn’t let go of me
It felt like just yesterday you were by my side

Remembering the previous December…
The restaurant where we had our last meal
The sandy beach we sat on that night
Welcoming in the new year together
The way you clung to me when you got scared
As if I alone could keep you safe

I’ve tried to forget you, erase you from my life
Removing all traces of you from my world
But the heart has a harder time letting go
I’m not sorry for loving you
But I am sorry that love wasn’t enough
To keep you with me, to keep you close

I had thought you were my whole world
But I realize you were just the center of it
Now, even without that center
The grass still grows, the sun still shines
Everything looks pretty much the same
But the atmosphere has changed somewhat

I loved you like no other, I adored you
I had felt safe and content in your love for a while
When you told me you don’t feel the same anymore
It tore me apart, down to my core
How could love fade so fast?
And I wonder, did you ever really love me?

I avoided talking about you, thinking about you
But I didn’t know I’d have to pay attention soon
I had to feel it, open up to the pain again
In order to finally let go fully and completely
It’s been a few days and you’re fading once more
I’ll always love you, but we were only meant
For a season, for a while, and that’s okay