Love, You’re Still Here

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

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Sun, Friends, and the “Silly Season”

I took the week off from work last week and it was glorious. I’ve realized that this time of year isn’t that bad when you’re an introvert, have sensory issues, but get to spend your time at home.

On Friday I was nursing a painful sunburn. I had arranged to meet up with my friend, M, the “old” lady I had met at group last year, on Thursday. We were going to go for a walk on the beach. I thought we’d grab a coffee (decaf for me) and just go for a short walk. I was wrong. We ended up walking a total of just over 3 hours that day, with an hour break for a drink and lunch. M might be in her late seventies, but she outdoes even me (in my mid-thirties) where exercise is concerned. She told me she had gone to the gym earlier that week. Damn, I need to get my ass in gear. I wasn’t expecting such a long walk, so hadn’t even thought of sunscreen. That stuff is expensive anyway, and I didn’t have any, neither does anyone else in the house.

I had such a lovely time with her. There were so many dogs along the way, and I got to play with a Golden Retriever on the beach for a little while, while M was talking to the owner. The highlight of my day! Something I really like about spending time with M is that we have stimulating, deep conversations, but can also just sit in silence watching the goings on around us. I never feel any pressure to be “social enough” or entertaining. I really value our relationship, and the acceptance, care, and peace I get from her.

It’s been so hot lately. Combine that with the sensory overload of the holiday season, and I’m not in the best, most peaceful mood. But I made sure to avoid entering that activity as much as possible this year by staying home. I had coffee with Jasmine on Saturday, and we both witnessed first hand how stupid people can act at this time of year. As M mentioned, “they don’t call it the silly season for nothing”. Jasmine and I really connected again on Saturday, and it felt like it used to before things went all haywire between us, which I’m so happy about. I truly value her friendship.

My biggest cringe factor when it comes to Christmas, is the gift giving and opening. I always find it so awkward. I actually hate it and can’t wait until it’s over. When someone hands me my gift, or they open theirs from me, I feel like disappearing into the ground. My idea of gift giving is when I’m out and I see something that reminds me of a person, or that I know they’ll like, and I get it for them. Spontaneous gifts. I don’t believe in getting people gifts just because it’s expected for that day or occasion. But that’s the way it goes, and most people like it, so I deal with it. I really liked and appreciated the gifts I got, and now it’s over.

I got to spend quite a bit of time with my uncle this week, which I enjoyed. It also felt like old times again with him too, and there were plenty of moments where I even forgot that he’s sick. Even though it’s scary, and at times I want to pull away from them, I’ve decided that I’m going to continue nurturing my relationships with my uncle and M. I told my therapist that I’m afraid of losing M, seen as though she’s not young anymore, but as I’ve seen, she’s in good health and anything can happen to me, so it’s not guaranteed that I’ll outlive her. But even if I do, that’s part of life. We get attached, we love, we lose people. That’s not a reason to avoid relationships.

I’m so glad that Christmas is now over. People are broke so the shops are quieter and I can do my shopping in relative peace.

And the best part? No more Christmas music!

I hope you all had a good festive season.

Finally Feeling It

I spent some time with my uncle yesterday. Since he was diagnosed with cancer, I’ve been feeling pretty numb about it. I have had fleeting moments of anger and disbelief though. Driving home after seeing him yesterday, a deep sadness came over me. The kind of sadness you feel everywhere inside your body and that just sits there. I couldn’t cry. Just feel it as it took my breath away. Such a deep pain with nowhere to go.

It scared me when I saw him yesterday. He’s lost so much weight, I don’t know how he has the strength to even stand. We went for a short walk on the beach and then sat there for a little while until he got too tired. When we got back to his place I only stayed for a few minutes so that he could get some rest. He told me that I’m the only person he looks forward to seeing and that he can really talk to. I’m glad that he feels like he can talk to me, and that he phoned me the day he was feeling at his worst. He doesn’t need people telling him at every turn what to do and what not to do. How to feel. Which is what the rest of the family does. He’s got doctors that do that. He needs family who will listen with no judgement. Who will be there for him. I don’t always know what to say. Most of the time I don’t say anything. I just listen. And apparently that’s exactly why he feels he can be open and honest with me.

We have a special bond. We always have had, even during those times where I felt far from him. The time it felt like I had lost him. I feel like I have him back again, and the thought of losing him forever, terrifies me. A part of me wants to push him away. To not feel the fear, the pain. But I also want to hold tightly onto him. I love him so damn much, and hate seeing how much he’s suffering. I wish I could just take it away from him. But I can’t. All I can do is be there for him. It’s so hard and painful though.

The one person I really want to talk to about this is my previous therapist, A. But I can’t. She knew the relationship I have with him, and was there when he moved out and I was having a hard time with that. I’m missing her even more than I usually do. I’m aching to hear her voice and see her face again. For a hug from her.

Tonight, the sadness is still there. But I can cry now. It’s got somewhere to go.

Growing In Assertiveness

I went out with Jasmine and my business partner/friend (Kim) last night. I had sent Jasmine a message last week, telling her that I have been feeling rejected and unimportant to her over the past few months, and that I miss her. She then invited me for sun-downers with her and Kim, as well as another mutual friend of theirs.

I really wasn’t in the mood to be with people, especially having to meet someone new, but since I haven’t seen Jasmine in months, I decided to go anyway. I’ve also been having some issues with Kim over the past few weeks and wasn’t looking forward to seeing her and talking more “business” (she has a habit of bringing business stuff up anywhere and everywhere). Our recent business meetings have been all about her and her own business and I was fed up. She’s back to her old pattern of constantly relying on me to help her with things she can easily figure out herself or Google. I’m trying to work on building up my own businesses and this is taking me away from that. I don’t get time to work on my own stuff because I’m constantly helping her out.

Last night when she started talking about our next meeting (on Friday) and how there are some more things she wants to change/add/remove on her website, I felt my anger rise up. I took a sip of my drink to buy myself some time, because I didn’t want to react immediately. Thanks DBT and Mindfulness. I told her that we’d talk more on Friday. Once the anger died down, I decided that I needed to talk to her about this now because I’m not sure whether I want to meet up on Friday anymore. Jasmine and her other friend were in the middle of a conversation, so I felt it was okay to talk to Kim about this quietly. I told her that I feel as though our meetings have changed. That I used to enjoy them, because I almost always left feeling inspired and motivated, and they had been a benefit for both of us. These days I just feel overwhelmed and frustrated. I wasn’t nasty about it, but made sure to use a firm tone of voice. She insisted on just one more meeting focused on her business and website, so we can get that out of the way and she can relax. I agreed, but told her it will be a short meeting. I’ve also decided that after this, I’m going to start charging her for any new work on her website. I’ve shown her how to do certain things herself, but she keeps losing the papers she writes the instructions down on. That’s not my problem. I’m going to make this clear to her on Friday. I just can’t continue on like this with her. It’s draining me. I know I’ve been enabling this behaviour lately by giving in to her demands. But at least I realize this. Being assertive doesn’t come naturally to me, so it’s okay that I slip up from time to time and don’t have it down perfectly. It will take time.

I left early last night as I was exhausted, and while I enjoyed talking with Jasmine, there were two other people there as well so we couldn’t just ignore the others. In the past I’ve always been afraid of leaving early, not wanting to offend anyone, but these days I find it much easier to excuse myself and not feel bad about it.

Assertiveness had always been a foreign concept to me. I took on the passive, people pleasing role in all of my interactions with others. Now that I learned there’s another way, I’ve realized just how much damage I was doing to my own self-esteem and mental and physical health. Assertiveness is vitally important, but it’s also damn hard if you’re not used to that way of communication and interaction.

A lovely online friend of mine created a new course on assertiveness and kindly sent me a copy. If you struggle with assertiveness, this course will help dispel common myths and help you toward achieving a healthier style of communication. Reading through the PDF helped me cement my decision to stop being passive, and it has lots of helpful advice and action steps, complete with examples. If you’re interested, you can find it on her website here:

How To Communicate Effectively & Stop Being A People-Pleaser

This is one of those things that will only improve with a willingness to change and lots of practice. Oh, and lots of uncomfortable feelings at first. But it does seem to get easier each time.

Contemplating Romantic Relationships

I’ve been single for the vast majority of my life. Part of the reason is because I find social situations challenging and overwhelming, so don’t go out much or meet new people often. Another reason is that I enjoy spending time alone and can quickly become irritated when I don’t spend enough time by myself and can end up feeling claustrophobic.

Even though I enjoy my own company, I get lonely sometimes. I’m human after all and crave intimacy and closeness. That intimacy and closeness isn’t just available in romantic relationships of course. Any type of relationship can have those elements, but for today I just want to focus on the one type.

One question that’s been on my mind lately is whether I want to be in another relationship at some point, or if I’m actually single at heart and would prefer rather staying single? It was a hard question to answer, so I took some time to explore it. Questions like these are also complicated because our answers can change over time. So this is where I am right now…

I’m not planning on actively pursuing a new relationship, but rather just keeping my heart open to new people and experiences and try take more chances that I would normally shy away from. I’m willing to put my heart out there again, knowing that there’s a chance I could get hurt. But my previous experiences have also shown me that I get through that heartache, and come away learning more about myself, others, and relationships in general. I don’t regret any of my previous relationships, because I believe that what I’ve gained was worth far more than what I lost. All the shitty experiences taught me something. Not only that, but I received other things that I wouldn’t have otherwise. An example of this is that my 4 year relationship led me to start work with an amazing therapist, and start the process of changing my life from the inside.

A while ago I told C, my therapist, that I’m happier alone. But I don’t think that was the actual truth. It felt true in the moment, but when I thought about it later, I found that it was more complicated than that. Because I remembered… In the beginning of my relationship with Elizabeth I was happier and more content than I’d ever been in any of my previous relationships, and in life in general in a long time. It wasn’t Elizabeth or the relationship itself that made me happy. It was a combination of that, as well as still having space and time to myself and being content in my inner world.

And that’s what I need in a relationship. There are times where I would prefer doing something, or going somewhere, alone. I have an anxious attachment style, so I’ll also need someone who will be secure enough within themselves to be okay with giving me reassurance when I need it. Anyone, no matter their attachment style, needs reassurance from time to time. I sometimes just need it a bit more often. The strange thing is, in the first couple of months of my relationship with Elizabeth I felt secure with no need to be reassured. The more she started pulling away from me in the last months (as I mentioned in another post, she’s the avoidant type; also nothing much changed in the amount of time we spent together, but somehow it was suddenly too much), the more insecure I became and that anxious style reared its ugly head. A big difference in this relationship is that I learned to communicate when something bothered me. I could confront when needed. Whereas in the past I was a doormat and would keep things inside (essentially a people pleaser and afraid of conflict), I now felt more confident and secure in myself to make my voice heard. The therapeutic relationship was one of the things that helped me develop this.

Before my last relationship, with Elizabeth, I had been aware of the three stages of romantic love, and got to see the first two play out. The first is well-known as the Honeymoon Period. I’m sure most of us have been here before. In this stage, everything is still new and seems perfect. It’s where we present our best selves. I’ll never forget the day Elizabeth told me that she feels like we’ve become just friends. Saying that things were becoming too comfortable between us, and she wanted to go back in time to how things were in the beginning. I of course knew that the Honeymoon Phase doesn’t last, and that the next stage, the Individuation Stage, is a natural progression of a relationship, and that was probably where she was finding herself. The lndividuation Stage is where “the good, bad, and ugly” parts of ourselves starts showing, and more conflict arises as both partners try to balance who they are in the relationship with who they are as an individual. At least that’s how I understand it. Relationships take work, and this is especially evident at this point in a relationship. I’m not willing to be with someone who doesn’t understand or accept this. I should have taken it as a red flag that Elizabeth’s longest relationship was 6 months (ours was as well), and she never spent much time single. I’m only using Elizabeth in this post as an example, not to blame or point fingers. I wasn’t perfect either, and all I can do is learn from that relationship. Thanks to this relationship I’m now a lot more aware of what I’m looking for.

I don’t know if I believe in “the one”. Some people find that one person they’ll be with for the rest of their lives, and in that case, they’ve found “the one”. But for the rest of us there isn’t only one person out there that we need to find. I believe that if we keep our hearts and minds open we’ll meet someone who sets our soul on fire. Most relationships may not last, but to close ourselves off to love is, in my opinion, much more heart breaking.

People Confuse Me

It’s been more than two weeks and I still haven’t received the deposit for the website I’ll be doing. I sent the guy a follow-up email at the beginning of the week, which has been read. I started using a mail-tracking Chrome extension a while ago, because the uncertainty of whether or not an email I sent had been received caused a lot of anxiety. The uncertainty of what I should do, “should I send it again, or just wait?” At least with this I can see that the email has been delivered and read, and now all that’s left to do is wait for a reply. Well, this wait has been tough. I need this job, as my car is just getting worse and desperately needs to be fixed. I’ve been wondering whether he’s changed his mind, or just been busy. I really don’t understand how a person can’t just take a minute or two out of their day and reply to a damn email. How hard can it be? I’m glad I didn’t do what I usually do and start on the website already. I’ve decided that I’m done stressing about this now. I’m letting go. I’ve done my part and the rest is out of my hands.

And then there are friends. I’ve been feeling a bit abandoned by Jasmine. As I mentioned here before, she has a girlfriend. I get that. I understand that it’s normal for communication to dip a little during these times and meet ups happen less frequently. But I don’t understand how a person can totally neglect their friends. It takes her more than a week to reply to a message, even though she read it the same day I sent it, and see she’s active online often. I haven’t met up with her in almost two months. She’s not the only one.

I’m going to be house sitting for my two best friends from Thursday next week until the Saturday of the following week, which I’m really looking forward to. They live about 40 minutes away. These two friends are the only one’s I feel I matter to these days, and who actually make an effort to stay in touch and get together. We don’t get to see each other often due to the distance, but the time we spend together is always amazing. Quality over quantity. The best type. I’ve only seen my other long time friend once this year, as she’s always busy. I wanted to see her when I house sit because she lives about 10 minutes away from there, and yesterday I was told we wouldn’t be able to get together because she’ll be away. I was so looking forward to seeing her, and was under the impression that I would be, since I told her quite a while ago about this. She said last night that she didn’t realize it overlaps with her trip. So I’m really disappointed. At least I have time away from work and the family, and my friends have two little dogs I’m going to be taking care of, so I won’t be completely alone.

I “Forget” People

I may have written about this before, but it’s really bothering me today. One of the most frustrating things about myself is that I seem incapable of holding onto an image of a person. I can miss that person intensely. I could have known that person my entire life and seen them nearly every day. Yet, when I try to recall what they look like, there’s nothing but a shadow. That shadow is blurred as well, so there’s no edges or silhouettes providing clues to their facial features, or even their body and the way they move.

When I walked into work on Friday there was a guy sitting talking to my dad. He left about 5 minutes later. I asked my dad who that was and he asked me how I couldn’t know, as that’s the guy that was sitting in the office talking to him for an hour the week before. The thing is, there were moments when that guy was talking the week before that I just stared at him (I enjoy watching people when they’re not aware of me), so you’d think I would have recognized him. Not so. I have to see the person a few times before I recognize them. According to certain people, this isn’t normal. I was once even told it might be ADHD related. That I’m just not paying attention. But that’s not always true. And I don’t have ADHD. Maybe something in my brain is broken. There have been a couple of times where I’ve seen a face in my mind during an extremely stressful moment, such as in a flashback or suicidal moment. I can count those on one hand though.

This has always been a part of my life. I remember a movie I watched as a kid. I can’t remember the name of it now. The boy in the story had just lost his mother, and told his father that he’s afraid he’ll forget his mothers face. The father told him that when you love someone you don’t just forget how they looked or the sound of their voice. This confused me. I thought that maybe it meant that I didn’t love my own mother or grandmother enough to remember what they look like when they weren’t around. Even if I had just seen them recently. I don’t think I ever asked anyone about this, but it haunted me back then.

There are a few people I wish I could “remember”, one of them being my grandmother, but I have to look at a photo if I want to see what she looked like, and I only have one of them. I can remember some exact sentences and things she said to me, but I can’t remember the sound of her voice. This really doesn’t help when you have attachment issues. It’s difficult to hold onto someone, to self-soothe with memories of that smile you got from an attachment figure or loved one for example.

I can’t even see an image of my dad’s face in my mind, and I just saw him an hour ago! Sometimes this thing is a blessing, but most of the time it’s just confusing and frustrating.