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Intrapersonal Investigations

Explorations into how we interpret actions, communicate intentions and can relate to the world in a healthy, uplifting manner.

Transition to a homeless shelter on the forecast.

It’s looking like I’m going to be transitioning to a homeless shelter likely at the end of the summer.

I don’t want to do this but it isn’t looking like there’s going to be anything else beyond couch surfing that I can do. It means a number of things.

I need to go through my clothes and really get rid of most of it. It’s possible I can store some things. Hopefully my bed and aerial hoop.
I need to go through my files and get rid of anything that isn’t pertinent to my situation now.
I need to go through my things that are decorations and other stuff for ‘housing’ and either get rid of it or store it.
I need to store my tent and camping things and art supplies that I don’t want immediately on me.
I need to separate my smoking.
I need to condense my circus props and chose what I have on me all the time and what I have at Karina’s. Glass to Karina’s. Costumes to store here.

Sigh.

Apparently the psychiatrist you get is the one you get and you can’t even wait for another one because that’s the one you get. I’d rather die than see him again but I’m going to have to. So I wonder if it just means that I have to kill myself.

Or if I decide to live….

The psychiatrist.

I was so offended about a diagnosis of BPD that I bitched at the first psychiatrist until they left it off their diagnosis.

I’m still offended. But only because BPD seems to be the new ‘this person is at fault for their own condition’ diagnosis that they use to not help you.

Because according to Dr. Talarico I am so fucked up that there’s just no point in doing anything long term to help me achieve safe, stable housing of my own because I’d fuck it up anyway. So I need to do a whole bunch of things that won’t help me get safe stable housing so that I can not be fucked up because only then will I deserve housing.

It’s funny because the fact I don’t want to use up my five visits with each practitioner until I’m ready to actually deal with my mental health proactively apparently means I’m just avoiding seeking help. Fuck you you smug fucking shit. I have five visits with each of them. They never mentioned whether it’s five per year but I don’t think it is. I think it’s just five visits. And if I use them up dealing with my ‘mental health’ that is really affected by my housing situation first, I won’t have them to deal with my actual mental health problems which I’m not sure at this point what they are because my housing situation has been so onerous for so long.

Apparently this means I don’t want help and maybe I’m not nearly as fucked up as they thought originally. But also so profoundly fucked up there’s no point in helping me. Yay.

I want to die rather than see him again but all he’d do is shake his head and chortle “Wow. People with BPD are so pointlessly crazy, it’s a good thing we never helped her. She obviously didn’t want help.”

Understanding is a trap.

Symbolic interaction is a branch of sociology that looks at the way that we perceive objects and symbols in our world. We have rote understandings of categories and often our understanding of other humans is blind to anything that might threaten its foundations- and while this can blind us to bad things and we want to avoid this… it can also blind us to good things and this is equally not good. When we rely on our understanding of someone to explain their actions it can be an extremely limiting thing to do to someone even if your understanding is charitable. What you perceive as a mental health issue may not be what you think. Relying on understanding to avoid having to listen to people or pay attention to what they are doing versus saying sets us up for failure.

How many times have I run into people that have an entirely different understanding of someone I know than I do? Many many times. Sometimes I know this person well. Sometimes I don’t. More often I find that for myself, I have used ‘understanding’ someone to take the place of communication, boundaries and healthy relating.

If I do this, others may too and I’ve seen situations between people and myself and people and other people go down because something fundamentally changes their understanding of someone. How often has my mother told me to keep many parts of myself to myself for fear they be used against me? Often. How hard did I rail against this thinking that if I could just explain it right I could MAKE people understand me? Very. How many times have I used the words to describe my life and understood that the person I was hoping to understand me only understands what they can understand from their own life perspective and rarely more? … on some level? Almost always.

I can only speak to how I perceive the world.

I used to think that understanding was a necessary component of any relationship that a human could have. Subsequently I spent six years with someone who fundamentally could not understand me and refused to try for the painful work it might take them to do so. Instead we spent years using the same language to describe different things and feeling a false understanding that laid the foundations for a shit castle when it became clear that there would never be understanding on either part. That I would always feel trapped and they would always feel abandoned.

The work that was required for me to stay with them would have been entirely self serving, I was better off with them than without them. I would have been settling, to my own benefit. They are happier without me and I am a more whole person without them. Which is what I wanted regardless of how hard it has been.

I think we have the option to understand ourselves. Being open to outside perspectives that don’t fly with your own understanding and being able to reconcile them into a new understanding is fundamental and often lacking in humans. It is often extremely beneficial to avoid this hard work because the benefits of knowing ourselves intimately are so ephemeral and useful in all skills but unattributable as a specific skill.

But outside perspectives are externally based and almost always lack the necessary information to be fully rounded. Most external perspectives on my life at this point are “why can’t you just get a job and work hard at it and only it and see where that takes you?” and to fill them in on the reason why gives them a whole lot of other things I need to explain in order for them not to take the significant words (mental health, life stability, personal choices) and construct their own sentence about my life that isn’t exactly true.

I do think that strangers have one of the clearest views on us. I’m highly personally invested in this because I met a lady randomly in a vaguely rough area of town (we’d seen a dude get sucker punched and then kicked out the night before) and she told me I must be doing something wonderful with my life because just from the way I spoke I was so intelligent and my voice was so calming and that everything was going to be ok.

Super invested in that outside opinion.

But the reality is that I present well until stress comes and I create a lot of that myself because I’m unable to let go the flawed coping skills I learned as a child for dealing with a reality on two different fronts that not everyone had to deal with. I perceive reality quite differently from day to day and sussing out what’s in reality and what’s not is incredibly hard for me.

And as to outside opinions I feel I cannot trust them. People want to create a narrative of you they understand. Even if they don’t have all the facts… I had always prided myself on being explicit about the things about me so that people could form the right opinion.

But symbolic interaction (as a sociological thing which is still as close to religion as I get) is where humans can observe the same thing differently. Is a beer can on the side of the road a sign of irresponsible drinking or a sign of a good night out? Depends on the viewer. In this way I can tell people about my life and they won’t understand about my life…. they will understand my life based on their experiences of what I describe. NOT what I describe. I feel it’s rare that people will listen and attempt to reconcile what is described with what they think of first.

I now believe that the idea that we can understand others and understand symbols (anything, a thing, a concept, a house, a famous person, a piece of writing) in any objective single way is harmful to our society and our brains.

But I do believe that we can connect with people. And that connection isn’t based on understanding. For me connection is noticing the flavour someone adds to a room and loving it. Not all flavours of person are for all people but some are more palatable than others. Some flavours interact well and others do not.

I feel like the assumption that connection does not require understanding explains vague “i hate this person even though I don’t know them” feelings for people that cannot reconcile connection without understanding and the people who mistake understanding for connection.

And if that’s the beginnings of hated, it’s also the beginnings of love as we come to understand the people we are connected to.

Politicians who have personally experienced child poverty in Canada as children.

Representation is important right? I got to thinking about this somehow the other day and came up with a question the internet had no answer to. How many politicians in Canada grew up on welfare? How many were poor in Canada and rose to the level they did? I don’t care how they did it… I don’t care if it’s part of their bootstrap success story and they use it to cut welfare rates for kids like me. I don’t care why. I just care that it’s  possible.

So I looked at around 300 MPs wikipedia pages and garnered little to no information. I’ll admit that I stopped at 300 and didn’t finish the rest of the 38 because I was just so tired of it. I was at the time also sending them all an email to ask if they had experienced child poverty in Canada as a child and if so, for how long?

From wikipedia:
There’s a politician that dropped out of 9th grade, educated himself and rose to the position of MP for the shady side of Hamilton.

There’s a politician that grew up in said shady side of Hamilton. But it isn’t clear as to whether he was poor or he was just surrounded by poor people.

We have almost the same number of people who immigrated to Canada from conflict areas as First Nations politicians and neither group perfectly fits my research paradigms. I likely can’t even begin to imagine what they’ve experienced. I would never want to denigrate that or dismiss the weight of it or to say that the weight of my experience is like theirs. But I am looking for politicians who might conceivably have a nuanced understanding of my experiences spending much of my childhood on welfare.

And there’s a lot of women and minorities which pleases me. But little info on what their parents do.

If there WAS info on parents it was almost always for a politician under the age of 40: parents were lawyers, parents were politicians, parents were political volunteers, parents were cops, parents were teachers, there were a few working class backgrounds but not many.

From my emailed question:
I gotta say I absolutely shit the bed on politicians with last names A-B. They got a weird email with no real details on why I wanted the information. One has since responded openly but I don’t expect a lot of super warm responses. Politicians with last names C-Z got this email:

Greetings and hello, I’m trying to answer a question for myself that I have not found any research on. Thus I am conducting my own. Contacting you is only part of my research but could circumvent a monumental task for me trying to find the answers to.

The question is if any current Canadian MPs or MLAs have personally experienced child poverty in Canada.

It would help me greatly if you were able to tell me if during your childhood your family spent any time on welfare, and if so, how much time?

I am defining my research by considering a person whose parents were collecting welfare during their childhood as having had an experience of child poverty in Canada. I realize there are other experiences of child poverty and if you feel you have one, please elaborate.

Lack of response will indicate to me that you have not personally experienced child poverty in Canada.

Thank you for your time.

So far:
One politician experienced child poverty such that they knew their family was accepting help from social programs and this was until sometime in their teen years. This is enough a part of their identity that their aide knew of this.

One politician knew that their family was having rough times during a time when they moved a lot and doesn’t know the specifics of how the food got to their table but recognizes it may have been difficult.

Alex Nuttall: Has publicly gone on record about his childhood on welfare: https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2016/07/29/rookie-mp-owes-his-rise-to-barrie-delacourt.html

I’ll update this as I go along.

An Inspirational night of traumatic comedy with Mercy the Clown.

Intro and greetings and salutations and compliments to the crowd. I’m a messed up human here in a clown nose to talk to you about all the ways I’m messed up in the hopes that one) you will laugh, and two) you might learn something. Maybe about messed up humans. Maybe about yourself even.

TW: Trigger warnings, I think they’re important and I’ll explain why later but for now let’s leave this at: You may find this talk triggering.

  • If you find yourself plagued by memories that don’t usually bother you but for some reason you just can’t get them out of your head… you may be triggered.
  • If you find yourself confused by why you’re SO MAD about the content of this act or just SO MAD in general after this show… you may be triggered.
  • If you find yourself counting things that you are able to avoid counting because you know that you have OCD but it’s usually more manageable than this… you may be triggered.
  • If you feel like you’re going to have a heart attack and die panicky… you may be triggered.
  • If you find that in the coming weeks you can’t remember barely any details about this show at all other than that you were physically present and not drinking or doing drugs… this implies (to me) a level of disassociation that says you might be triggered kind of ALL THE TIME.

Disassociation is a strange term; not everyone knows it so I’ll explain it at length, but in my own words: Disassociation is when your mind leaves your body. It’s fun and dandy when we’re in traffic and we don’t want to be there so POP, mind goes elsewhere and all of a sudden you’re turning into your driveway with no real recollection of driving there. Disassociation is also a tool taught to people who have any likelihood of being tortured. But it’s all well and good to be a soldier disassociating on purpose and it’s a WHOLE NOTHER STORY when you’re a child that’s learned to continue existing by disassociating because living in your body in reality is TOO painful.

And BING BING BING. That’ll be one of our topics for the evening and is also one of our prime sponsors! This act as part of a larger act composing Mercy’s ENTIRE LIFE has been brought to you by: Flawed Coping Mechanisms. Just because you can continue existing via this tool does not make the tool useful later. In fact, it is the inverse of that.

I learned about disassociation in a second year sociology class about identities; in a section of my textbook defining people with persistent issues surrounding identity as a result of trauma. And here I am as a twenty one year old whose known since she was thirteen or so that there was something seriously wrong and I’m thinking ‘Uh oh. What does this mean if I do that?’

So if disassociation is new to you, this doesn’t mean I am telling you that you are bonafied for sure as fucked up as I am and need help before you do all kinds of crazy things… But it is (perhaps) an indicator that… maybe. Something is rotten in the state of denmark…. if you can follow the metaphor that denmark is the state of your mind and you’re hamlet. So listen to Shakespeare kids if you don’t want to end up stabbing someone’s dad through a curtain… if you can follow the metaphor that the curtain is your crazy ass rationalization of why it’s ok to stab someone.

Now I’ve heard it said; once, that wearing a red nose makes you a clown as much as wearing a tutu makes you a ballerina, so we’ll be dispensing with this- – take off clown nose- – because I don’t need no stinkin’ clown nose. The funny comes from inside, and it sure is all I can do to laugh these days because it’s all so hilarious. And because I heard it said once I shall proclaim it now: tragedy and comedy are two sides of the same theatrical coin. Things can be tragic and hilarious and things can be hilarious because if they’re not hilarious they are tragic.

It is hilarious being a person that lives with trauma. Living with trauma is HILARIOUS because it makes you do all sorts of fun and exciting things. And as a person on the inside wonder ‘why do I do all this fucked up shit…?’ (We’ll get to talking about the fucked up shit) but you start to piece it together eventually. And I spent about seven or so years actively working very hard on uncovering what in the actual fuck is wrong with me… and about fifteen or so knowing something was probably fucking wrong with me.

And only now can I accurately, with precision; and IN RETROSPECT, pinpoint just HOW a sane person could have actually gone about not doing those crazy things I did.

A huge part of this pinpointing has been learning what triggers are as a whole concept… and then learning what MY triggers are, these are two very different things. Your trigger isn’t just when the same thing happens to you. Or is referred to. Or shown. Or discussed. Your trigger is anything that brings you back to the place where your trauma feelings were made. And this is why it makes me mad to see people resistant to trigger warnings.

The trigger warning isn’t really for the traumatized person. I handle conversations about bullying very well. Know what I don’t handle well? Laughter. For years I thought if someone were laughing they were laughing at me and it took many many excursions of crazy to realize that some people laugh when they’re nervous.

The funnest part about my triggers is that they’re so complex and so weird that not only can I not predict them, I can be in situations and places and with people I thought were safe, I *KNOW* are safe because I’ve been here before and done the things… but -pow- something’s different! Situation/place/people NOT SAFE! And I do something crazy. Like quit yet another job because I’m so well acquainted with the idea that if I have a problem not only will asking for help NOT help but it will make the problem worse… like completely cut off friends and burn bridges based on patterns I haven’t talked to the pattern person about. Like swearing in a professional setting where you’ve been talked to about how swearing is not ok and you have firmly dedicated yourself to NOT SWEARING in that scenario. Overwhelmingly it has been proven to me that I can’t avoid my triggers and I can only loosely know what they are.

So if a trigger warning isn’t for me… whose it for? Why do we need more trigger warnings and not less? Well. A trigger warning is for the rest of the world. A trigger warning informs them that there’s traumatized people running about and this is one thing that traumatized people might be traumatized about. I put a trigger warning on this talk because I can’t tell what you’re going to take from this. I specifically don’t talk about the traumatizing things that made me traumatized. It was hard to edit all the personal exposition of the WHY of my crazy out of this talk about the practical business of living with the cray cray. I don’t think that removes the need for a trigger warning. I think it actually makes the trigger warning MORE necessary.

Because the human language is a fuzzy and imprecise; an over complex and too simplified thing all simultaneous and at the sametimelike. English is language fun. It’s the subjects and places and people that we feel safe in where we let down our boundaries that we end up getting triggered the worst. If I lead you into this talk with no warning it could be triggering it could be really easy to just laugh and joke about how crazy I am and end up hurting someone in their journey who isn’t in a similar spot to where I am in my journey.

Language is one of those great levelers. I can mean potato to be food that goes in one’s mouth, or I can mean potato as in I put too much food in my mouth and now look like a potato. Where we come into this being a problem is communication. “That’s a potato” is entirely defined by what you’re describing as a potato. What if you’re trying to describe a concept or feeling that isn’t tangibly present to give definition to your words?

And so there’s a process to communication: what we describe a thing that we have perceived about the world and we do so through the level of communicative skill we have; our verbology; our thesaurasaurianness, as we perceive that thing. What we communicate then lies in between you and the person you’re trying to communicate with and they perceive what you say through all the layers that make up how they perceive the world and this helps them understand what it even is you’re talking about and formulate a response which they convey to you through THEIR communication abilities.

Which all makes me surprised and grateful that we aren’t just flinging our poo at each other all the time.

Because humans perceive the world differently. It’s one thing to say this but it’s another thing to know it and one of the best ways to know this is to have a super twisted perspective. I’m weird. I know other people can be at least as weird as me but I’ve also met people who are weirder. When you’re young, you think everything that happens to you is normal and then grow up to find out that maybe your normal isn’t everyone else’s normal.

When I took a cultural anthropology class, one of my favourite professors would patiently remind her class of caucasianish, middleclassish students to ‘take off your ethnocentric glasses!’ those glasses; through which we see the world, that contain our cultural values, opinions and hang ups that we must take off if we are going to view another culture through a remotely objective lens. One of the ways that she used to analogize culture to this group of caucasianish, middleclassish students that collectively didn’t get it was the kitchen dance.

The kitchen dance is what happens when you get your whole family together for a holiday or other event of significance where food is cooked. Everyone whose in the kitchen knows what they do in the dance, everyone has their role in the kitchen and through this way that the family jives together creates our family experience. Where this becomes super apparent for us is when we go to our partner’s family gathering and we maybe don’t know what to do in the kitchen dance. Maybe your kitchen dance includes men and your partner’s family kitchen dance does not. Maybe you come in and jive super well with the kitchen dance and everyone’s cooing about how you’re already a part of the family.

What if your kitchen dance is a no holds barred; no topics sacred brawl? What if all the moves you learned at home don’t actually help you in a rational and sane dance with other humans because you’re standing there ducking and weaving and trying not to get hit when someone’s trying to give a good frame and actually dance with you.

This is how miscommunications happen. This is how we can feel like we’ve been explicitly clear to someone about something and then have them do exactly the thing that we did not want… the words we use do always not mean what we think they mean. And yet we keep using them because we’re tapped on options beyond learning another language.

So those crazy things I did. I’ve alluded to a few things that are sort of crazy but did you think I was joking about it? Let’s go through it.

I am pretty fucking crazy. I’m here on stage in a costume telling you how crazy I am. Trust me, I’m leaving somethings out.

 

Recently, I let my roommate eat all of a jar of honey I’d felt rather strongly about and then saved the jar for her on the off chance that she had thought it was her honey and would surely be mad at me for eating my own honey because she might think it was hers. I came clean about this when they asked if I was leaving my jar for tea to go into and explained that yes I had wanted to do that but wanted to make sure she didn’t think the honey was hers. She did not; in fact, think the honey was her honey and urged me to see honey as a communal resource. I had been viewing honey as a high expense food item and would not have used her honey and only bought my honey when I’d gotten a job (that I lost because I was crazy). Because honey is for wage earners.

Once upon a time, I threw a diaper at a teenager. And the super secret point here where a sane person would have done something different to avoid finding themselves yelling incoherently and hucking that diaper at a teenager and then having to get into a trailer park level screaming match with the teenager’s mother… what a sane person would have done is throw out the diaper that appeared in their yard randomly one fall day.

What a less sane but still working on being sane person could have done was to ask their partner to throw out the diaper that appeared in the yard.

What I did was different than that. Knowing what my problem is so that I can ask for help with the problem is hard for me. What I did was stare out at the diaper resentfully and try to figure out it’s existence as if that was going to do something about this irrational feeling of trespass to find a diaper in your yard you didn’t plant there. Eventually after ruling out my elderly busybody neighbor and the road which was about twenty feet and a hedge away… I decided it was totally the people who lived behind me who happened to have a herd of children. So over the winter I stared at the diaper of resentment and stewed.

So lo and behold one fine spring day when I was staring out resentfully to the yard I saw  cloud of dust in the back corner. There was a teenager emptying their vacuum into my yard. At this point, my vision blurred and rationality stopped being a thing for me and the aforementioned crazy happened.

And this last concept in my crazy is that I’m suicidal. Suicide is and has been one of the first things I think about in response to a problem for over a decade and that’s really only since I put together the concept that if you want to… you can actually die and stop living. I was thinking about suicide before I had the concept fully down pat that living was a thing we do and its a thing we can not do if we do things to make that happen. I was clued into the idea that it may not be a super good sign about your childhood if you were thinking of all the ways you could die so that you could not live at the age of eight and nine. I only really conceptually figured out the idea of suicide at around fourteen or so.

But as an ADULT. I came to the conclusion not too many years ago that it was probably my life’s purpose to kill myself publicly and gruesomely when I was eleven years old when my personality changed and when the bullying was the worst. If I had, my crazy brain tells me, perhaps the international community might have looked at bullying before columbine. And then my crazy brain told me that not only did I miss out on my one chance to give my life meaning…. that I was probably responsible in part for school shootings.

I dealt with that. I figured it out. I rationalized that no, probably no community; not my local community and certainly not the international community, would view my young tragic death in context of anything other than itself.

Surprise surprise a few months later when I realize that maybe I still have a chance to redeem my life’s purpose if I suicide in protest of another issue. And that’s how I ended up getting rounded up by the police and trucked into the psych ward. Because we don’t tell the governmental workers on the phone explaining how something’s messed up about our paperwork and now we get to wait just how suicidal we are. Our mental health resources hard at work. You can bet those cops had me within an hour.

I will never not think about suicide. What this means for me is that taking care of myself and choosing to LIVE is an active choice every day. Simple things like self care are hard to make yourself do when you’re not one hundred percent sure that you will not end up running into traffic. I work on this.

But more than that, it means that I have a twisted perspective through which I see the world. The way that I have continued on is that I decided that you (I) don’t just get to give your life to a cause the easy way. If you (I) are dedicated to a cause you will always be able to give more to that cause with your LIFE and your actions throughout it rather than your life by dying for it. There is nothing in suicide that you can’t do better by living. If there’s thirteen reasons to off yourself and stick it to someone… you’re ALWAYS going to stick it to them better by living and reconstructing your life’s meaning for yourself.

So hey there. *Snap fingers* potentially disassociating audience. Yer awful quiet there. I know that the funny dropped off a bit at the end but this is the vital information that I want to share with you. And so I’ve told you the ways that I learned a lot of this information. And if the way YOU learned about this information is sitting here in this audience… let’s have a talk after the performance. There are resources that can help.

An inspirational traumatic comedy night with Mercy the Clown.

Concepts: This is a first draft. There are likely some parts that will come out, get put in and otherwise changes will occur.

 

Humans, friendship, interaction, perception, shame, communication, boundaries, abuse as perceived and done, power dynamics, bullying, privilege, mental health, intention, mental health resources in Canada

 

Introduction: How did I get here to be standing in a clown costume about to tell a big room of people a bunch of highly personal things and THEN hopefully have them laugh at me while I do it? Well. It’s a big long tapestry of bullshit and I’ve had the chance, luck and privilege to be able to weave it into something that I am starting to like.

 

Tragedy and comedy are the highs and lows of life. When we can laugh at the absurdity of all the tragedy around us and within us I believe that we can remove stigma and shame… that we can hopefully find some brevity and common ground in this world where common ground is so hard to achieve.

 

We all have tragedies in our lives. And at some point, we ALL have to read some bullshit meme about how if you’re experiencing negativity it’s because of all your negative thoughts, you negatory negatron… right at the moment you are going through something that is starting to feel unmanageable. If you’re really lucky, you’ll hear this in person. If your family horseshoes are malfunctioning; you’ll hear it in response to you asking for help with the unmanageable bad feels that you don’t know how to deal with anymore.

 

It’s not you. The person you asked for help doesn’t know how to deal with them either.

 

Most people in our society do NOT have a plan for how to deal with negativity. They have a plan for AVOIDING negativity and if that doesn’t work they are fuck out of luck and they shut down their higher empathy and cognitive processes and shunt it onto the first person they can because oh god oh god the bad feels. They are not comfy. I am not those people. I will follow you into the dark. But OH BOY if you aren’t interested in a plan to get OUT of the dark and just want me there to hold my flame in the darkness for you to feel like things might be a bit better… maybe put up some lights. Make it comfy… except it’s the FUCKING DARK and I by all that’s good and green I will leave you there if I have to because I don’t live in the dark anymore. But I’m not afraid of it.

 

Call out question: Who here was bullied? Expected response: everyone.

 

So you might think y’all have something in common but really you all have your own experiences of bullying and your own way that you dealt with them. Your experience is different than theirs (point) and their experience is different than that person’s (point) and all y’all’s experience is different than mine. They aren’t better. They aren’t worse. They’re YOURS. But they could be getting in the way of your empathy; because our language is imprecise and our society doesn’t communicate well. We use significant symbols to communicate meaning. The term bullying for example… when I tell someone that I was bullied; more often than not people don’t understand how I could possibly have PTSD because of BULLYING. Because they don’t have the conceptializational ability to figure out what kind of bullying will give you PTSD when they feel they were bullied and they got by just fine.

 

Reality is hard to deal with for me now because I have mental problems PTSD is the most manageable of the bunch. 😀 I didn’t get here because I started life with a chemical imbalance. I got here because I spent six to eight hours a day, monday to friday, every school day of the year from 1992 to 1999 being so pervasively bullied that my little amygdala was running on overdrive expecting the next time the kids were going to physically put me in the garbage can, or the next time they were going to mob me and mash chewed up candy in my hair. I didn’t have friends as a child, I had people that were sometimes just as mean to me as the bullies were and because I was a little psycho, sometimes I was mean to them too. I wasn’t able of forming authentic relationships as a child because by the time I was nine I was already so traumatized I was a mess.

It never just one kid, it was a big group of seven or so; boys and girls; but that extended into any kid for whatever reason at any time their little lizard brain told them they needed to feel better I was the acceptable kid to be mean to… this includes teachers. If you know me, you know how much I love singing… I didn’t sing in front of another soul from the age of 9 to 13. “A choir teacher will change your life indeed.” So this atmospheric reality bending situation that a school counselor when I was eight literally sat me down and told me I was asking for it all because I was ‘acting like a victim’…  All day. Every day. Anyone, Any time. All year. For YEARS.

I have ten thousand hour’s worth of practice in victimization. I’m a master.

 

And because I’m a master, I also have superpowers. Honest to god superpowers. Need to find something? I’m an expert finder; I notice everything. About to break down? I’m on it and with you because  somehow… I can tell. Freaking out? I will talk you right off that ledge because I do it to myself on a regular basis. Need someone to sit with you in the dark and make a plan for how to get out? I got you.

 

But I have weaknesses too. The crazy; as I like to call it, has always plagued me. I spent twenty six years on this planet thinking I knew who I was and how I operate… and yet .. having these insane problems and though I do have some pretty amazing problem solving skills… when it comes to emotions and feelings I had some debilitating deficiencies that meant I spent twenty six years running around on this earth being absolutely bat crap crazy totally unaware of how crazy I was… and since I’ve just been aware how crazy I am… I’ve not stopped running around. But this is why I don’t trust young people.

 

This isn’t to say that I think young people are all running around with no idea of who they really are… In fact. I think that young people know the core thread of the truth of who they are inside better than anyone… but what they don’t always know is what they are carrying. Young people come rolling out of high school disorientated and thinking they’re about to be adults and all their time has trained them to be thus. But it’s a LIE! Formalized schooling is the most gaslit institution that I’ve ever experienced and for that matter it’s likely the most gaslit institution YOU’VE ever experienced as well. You take all these kids from inequitable situations because we live in an inequitable society and you tell them they’re equal in that space. Except they aren’t. Because every day they go home and have to deal with whatever inequitable spaces they come from.

 

My family did the double life like nobody else. Until I realized (when I was twenty fucking six years old) that I viewed home life differently than my younger brother because school was SO bad for me… and that my brother hadn’t had an easy time at school but for him, his most pervasive bully lived at home. I never realized. I always thought my dad had kind of crossed the line a few times with me and moreso with my younger brother… but that he’d always been trying and certainly he could have been worse – But coming to realize that the ‘he could have been worse’ bit was something my dad himself planted there. As he reminded us fairly commonly: he could be beating us with 2x4s. It was a threat and one that he expected good feelings and rewards of being a good father for not following through on.

 

Now here’s where we mock my father. Because this is a person who complains bitterly about his life and the evils of feminism and how his demonic ex wife has stolen everything he worked  for and turned the kids against him. Well. More than once my mom described her husband as the grasshopper who played fiddle all summer … guess who was the ant: my mother, my amazing, wonderful and talented mother. And all this is the most generous perspective informed by the change in my opinions from a teenager that formulated every single world view she had to excuse her father’s piss poor behaviour… because society had not enabled my father to be his best.

My mom pretty much always worked and when she wasn’t working because she’d had a child or lost a job because childcare fell through… she was on welfare. My dad was perpetually lying to welfare to get a single person’s pay when my mom worked enough to put him off of welfare if he’d been honest: welfare being designed to keep people like my dad off but failing to do so… instead keeping everyone who needs it off.

The first job I remember my dad having was having gleefully swindled his way into teaching an afterschool class on inventing to the local high school. Because HE was an INVENTOR. Sadly this job went like his inventions… it was made clear he has no credentials and he was asked to leave… what he invented that first round was actually kind of ingenious… and I really have seen it in the years since. It’s one of those wheels that you screw into the bottom of your cabinet and slide your bagged spices into and then it spins and you can see and store your spices.

Well. My dad saddled it with a bad name, (the space wheel) an ugly prototype and tried to market it himself. Would you buy an ugly white round wheel with triangles of plastic that you slide your spices into? It was functional but gross. I can’t remember if he wasted one of the inheritances we got on that or if he just went into debt and declared bankruptcy that time.

Getting an inheritance when you’re poor is the cruelest irony. Because if you don’t have enough for a down payment on a house and you most likely don’t… but you have enough to kick you off welfare… well. You just try and save that money and use it to better your life poor person. Good luck with that. My family got inheritances three times.

The second time my family got inheritance money my dad had a new invention. And that inheritance was definitely wasted on this paper mousepad glued on four sides that cleans the ball of your mouse so that the ball of your mouse doesn’t get all grungy AND YOU CAN WRITE ON IT. Do we remember mouses that had balls everyone? Well. My dad invented this at the EXACT time that laser mouses came out. Mousepads were not in vogue. And because they weren’t made of recycled paper from the get go because that’s expensive David Suzuki refused to endorse them. But that’s my personal beef with David Suzuki. It wasn’t his job to endorse this cool thing that I’ve definitely seen around these days because they’re so retro but useful… It just would have changed my life maybe.

The second inheritance my parents weren’t on welfare. They were running a cleaning business. Or rather, my mom was doing all the administrative work of getting clients, billing clients and keeping clients that my dad was busy pissing off and getting them fired from. Is it any wonder my mother makes more as a single woman than she did working with my dad?

Well for one, he’s not there to spend her money. My dad loved all the things that upper middle class people do. And he demanded to have them on a welfare wage and then later on a lower middle class wage. At the same time I was struggling in university during their third inheritance that my dad tried to run through but my mom managed to get the down payment for a house together out of… my dad was gloating to his friends about how he liked to spend five hundred dollars a month on whatever he wanted because that’s how much he thought my mom spent on cigarettes. The money came to her. They paid for a semester of school for me one of those years and some of my books. And then after that the money was gone.

During the off times when we didn’t have money to be ‘investing’ in my dad’s piss poor inventions. My dad wanted to be a writer… but he doesn’t read and is very poorly cultured. In this time, he produced a screen play called the producers… failing to realize or care that there IS ALREADY a critically acclaimed screen play called the producers… and he wrote a star trek Christmas special. Which was poorly received.  That and he wrote a lot of hate mail.

Who here remembers times before the internet?! I’m raising my hand. But really we just had intermittent internet access because of finances before my dad discovered porn was on them there tubes of interweb. Did anyone else ever go through the files on the computer and just read all the word files? … just me? Well. I told you was weird (alternate answer for a few , Congratulations, you’re my kind of weird).

When my parents homeschooled me for grade six, I read all the hate mail all saved on the computer that my dad wrote to various people, officials, organizations and etc. My favourite started DEAR PIGS. And this is how I developed my trolling skills before trolls were a thing.

But to say that I had a weird childhood is …. Understating it because now I have the crazy.  (Maybe she’s born with it) *whisper* Maybe it’s years of inconsistent care from a narcissistic douchewaffle of a father and more years of consistent trauma at schooooooooolllll.

Some brief and un-brief examples of my crazy:

I quit every job I ever had until I was twenty nine years old within three to five months because I had no conceptualization that if I was having a problem at work that it could be fixed by telling someone about it and then having them fix it. This resulted in a resume that does not just lie. It resulted in a resume that RELIES on LIES and or clever misappropriations of the truth.

 

Despite all the evidence to the contrary… I never thought of myself as an angry person, but I also always knew that I was a really hyped up kid. Reading an old psych evaluation they mentioned an “undercurrent of rage” which I was very surprised by seven years later. I had begun my lifelong love affair with metaphors by the time I was a teenager and I used to describe it like a graph. So there’s nineteen year old Amie explaining what she’s observed, that if everyone on earth has this emotional level and they have spikes and drops into high emotion low emotion…. like so (motioning a like with spikes and drops like a heartbeat) mine looks like a fucking earth quake graph. There’s too much going on inside me for there to be a consistent baseline of emotion.

 

The back room guys at the book store I worked at used to say I have berserker rage. This was during the great American Canadian dollar parity of ’07 when people thought that if they were just the most massive douche canoes that they could get the books for the American price. Not caring that the book was printed in Canada and the American price is a lie. No sir. You cannot pay the listed American price, the book was printed in Canada and paid Canadian costs to print and the factual price of this book is the Canadian price and that is the price you must pay. Yes. Absolutely complaining to me and refusing to complain to my manager because that would take time for you is going to change the overarching publishing and global finance trends that influence what’s happening here. Totally you’re not doing this so that you can feel better about your stupid life. Right? Right.

 

I once threw a wet soggy diaper at a teenager. This sounds bad. It wasn’t my diaper. And I was certain it didn’t come from the road which was about thirty five feet away with my shed between the diaper and said road. I was certain it didn’t come from the sweet but nosy elderly neighbor on the other side of the complex… and so I’d long ago at the point of the throwing decided that it came from the young family that just moved in that kept loudly tromping from their door around the side of the house they lived in right behind my fence. They had a stroller and teenagers. So the diaper appeared some time around November? It stayed there all winter as I went to the glass door and gazed upon my yard resentfully. Resenting the diaper. I refused to throw it away. I refused to touch it. I refused to deal with it. I froze.

 

For me, discovering what I’m feeling, and then using that knowledge to ASK. FOR. APPROPRIATE. HELP. has always been hard but when I was young I was particularly bad at it. What I needed to do was ask my husband at the time to remove the diaper for me. That’s not what I did. Instead… for months. I stared at this diaper and resented it. Then one day in the spring I was staring out at my yard resentfully and lo and behold. There was a flurry of activity in the corner by my back fence. The cloud of dust and general debris flooded into my yard and I saw this teenager face and their little dirty little teenager paws shaking out their vacuum dirt compartment into my yard.

 

I exploded. Yelling incoherently I slammed my door open; my vision blurred and narrowed until all I saw the diaper, I picked up the diaper… and I threw it at the teenager. There was no stopping me. I was not in control. It being soggy from a winter outside, splattered all over my fence and said teenager who ran away. Then her mother came out spitting mad (rightfully) and denied the diaper came from them, we argued about it until I got it across it could have come from NOWHERE else by referencing the sweet elderly but nosy neighbour and the thirty five feet of space between road and my yard. When that happened she began threatening me (not ready to climb over the fence and fight me) to “watch where I step.” to which I responded, “Try it.” And that’s how my silent summer feud that never had any resolution or further incident began.

 

And those are just some of the funnier examples. I’ve become periodically convinced that certain people were simply out to use and hurt me when they were not in fact evil abusers… I was just incapable of stating my boundaries. I thought if I needed to state a boundary that it was the end of the world and I had been wronged. And everyone that makes you state your boundaries is EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEVIL. Well… I hurt a lot of good people this way. Because eventually I observed and I grew and I realized that the common thread in me having issues with others and not issues with other others is that the people who had good boundaries with me. Had good experiences with me. The people who had bad boundaries with me were intense… and short friendships where we both ended up hurt with each other. This pattern continued until I realized that predominately I really was the problem.

 

To then say that everything I know about boundaries and how to set them and communicate them is something I learned intentionally on my own as an adult… is putting it lightly… I didn’t just start with no information… I started with MISINFORMATION, nobody in my family was allowed to have good boundaries. My father ensured that. It’s been a crash course in humanity for the past few years for me and I’m more human now than I ever was before.

 

But I exist within this dominant society that is … objectively terrible. Its inequitable and the cards it dealt me out were different than the cards it tells me it handed me. We all get told as children “you can be anything” but really they aren’t talking to everyone in the room. Don’t get me wrong. Everyone has a bright future… some of us just have more work to do to get there. And that second portion is what we don’t talk about, acknowledge or WARN PEOPLE about.

 

We do celebrate it… but only after the successful person has succeeded. Because… our society can’t deal with negativity. We don’t honor the struggle, and we do honor other people’s right to treat their kids and their wives and their husbands pretty much HOWEVER THEY WANT.

 

I like to say we don’t live in a rape culture, we live in an abuse culture wherein rape is a subsection of that. Where your specific situational placement in society dictates to whom you may be abusive. In our society, there’s a whole set of more or less generally accepted situations where people can shunt their bad feels onto another human. I know this in my soul because I grew up watching my father explode in rage and intimidation on random people. The service desk, because he broke the TV he wants to return and knows if he yells enough he can get it returned. Cashiers, for the grave sin of asking his postal code because their boss makes them. Specifically only the flight attendants he thought were pretty while he was decent to the ‘ugly ones’.  The park ranger; because we sailed onto the beach and didn’t see the no fires sign that he wants to alert us to. Telemarketers; when they were a thing, for daring to be a telemarketer. My mom’s bank; because he thought they were a telemarketer. Tech support (which I took over calling when I was twelve or thirteen). And so on and so on. In the situations where he overstepped his placement within the abuse culture that we live in… the cops got called.

 

Let’s do a call out. After you hear the question just call right out with the number that your SOUL says is the acceptable number of events where your father either has an altercation with the police or the police get called on your father in your presence?

 

  1. I tricked you. The acceptable answer is “any”. But as you all identified we kind of aiming for a lower number. I’m pretty sure my dad didn’t look at me in his arms as a newborn and say to me “aww sweet baby girl, I’m gonna put you in fucked up situations your ENTIRE LIFE.” But he did. And so I’m here, a weirdly intense child come weirdly intense adult standing in a clown costume on a stage talking about personal shit to strangers.

 

I used to hold onto the idea that I had never seen the back of a cop car proudly in my soul. Until I ran afoul of the ‘we don’t be crazy to governmental officials who are telling us how insignificant our insurmountable problems are’ rule… and the cops got called on me: I got apprehended under the mental health act which gives police officers the ability to truck crazy people into the psych ward. Which is where I really needed to be.

 

While I don’t think that the resources of an ambulance (deserve to be considered an emergency service!) should have been wasted on me. I do feel it says something about mental health resources in Canada. Because in the psych ward, I thoroughly explained to the social worker there that my problems were most exacerbated by the fact I was perpetually almost homeless because I could never work enough to pay rent AND food (luxuries) and all she could tell me was that everything I was doing to was the right things and even if they were slow and appointments take me over a month to get that I was doing everything right. She told me that she hoped I lived… and that there was nothing that she could do for me.

 

I mentioned that I am privileged wayyyyyy back in the beginning. Let’s just have a collective laugh about privilege, because its something WE DON’T DO as a society. AHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA, privilege. But I am privileged. Insanely insanely privileged to be here on a stage talking to you folks rather than outside downtown asking for change. Both these futures were possible for me. THIS one … took a lot of luck. A lot of smarts. A lot of personal connections that other people might not have been able to make.

 

But really, here comes the tragedy: we don’t tend to use privilege as a tool to introspect and calculate our resources intentionally or to understand the world… we use it to talk about OTHER people’s lives. Which negates the power of the concept completely. Privilege is not ‘you gained something because you didn’t work for it’ Its “you never had to play the bad cards you had dealt to you and were allowed to play your good cards.” It’s not denying that you worked hard. It’s saying your hard work WORKED FOR YOU. It’s saying that you found yourself in positions from which you were ABLE to play the good cards you were dealt and have them work for you. In the card analogy, disadvantage is like having to put good cards in your opponent’s crib and then having your play fail when the cut card does nothing for you. The metaphor falls apart when we remember the card analogy isn’t about cribbage but privilege is not about what you GET. It’s about disproportionate consequences.

 

If I had only known how thin the tightrope was, how much I was carrying and how little my legs worked to be unicycling on a highwire from my childhood to what I thought was a bright future… I certainly never would have let my divorce go the way it did. The couple privilege I experienced for years was the most intense form of delusion. My poor expartner. He came from a family with no abuse and wanted to marry someone who was abused. Well. Hurt people hurt people. Part of what informed my negative opinion of my father is that I went through five years of treating my partner like crap sometimes and having to introspect and figure out why I thought it was acceptable. And I realized I had a choice and changed my behaviours. I did what my father couldn’t/wouldn’t. I came to the decision that I was abusive to my partner after we broke up and we never have talked about it but I suspect he is doing well and wish him all the happiness. How could he have known I wasn’t human yet?

 

Now that I understand (distinct from knowing) how bad it really was… I can hold my hand of cards to my chest and say honor it and say “wow… despite all these shitty ass cards, I’m still living what I think is the best life that I had access to… and because I have these shitty ass cards I can understand other people who are living them and I can stand and represent and say it could have been me and USE my privilege fight for them.

 

 

 

 

The polypath lives inside us all: How looking for the polypath in your life will warp your reality.

I think a lot about poly and abuse.

The backstory to this is that I will never ever ever EVER be able to forget the way that my very abusive father’s eyes lit up when I tried to explain to him what polyamory was. Even then I realized there was something wrong with the way he was thinking about poly having just heard about it… I was coming from an authentic place… and none of the things that happened in the past few years that displayed how much of his abuse over the years seemed VERY intentional… and really. It wasn’t necessarily intentional always… I don’t think he’s that smart. I just know that as an adult when faced with problems and things to overcome… I always have a choice. He always had a choice and the pattern of his unintentional behaviour both harmed others and garnered him rewards which he to this day complains bitterly about losing.

I spent my twenties looking for abusers and looking for safe people; and sadly, I spent my twenties PROFOUNDLY UNAWARE of what actually makes someone harmful to me. Turns out all my conceptualizations of what ‘safe’ were are wrong and that’s because I still don’t exactly have a concrete understanding of what ‘safety’ is. How do we achieve it? I will forever be the student in this I suspect because the more I learn, the more I find safety is a complicated equation that never really results in one hundred percent safety. But it’s the act of computing it that makes you safe.

So then what’s the answer? If we are worried about being victimized or seeing our friends victimized it can make us look for the polypaths that could be around us.

Polypathy isn’t  behaviour… it’s a pattern of behaviours that is hard to diagnose from the outside. The real polypaths in your life are going to do everything NOT to look like a traditional polypath and if you aren’t closely involved with them for a long period of time you may never know. Indeed. You might think they are not polypaths because they don’t treat you that way but because they only treat people they know they can ‘win’ against that way.

The fun thing is that no mater their subterfuge and hidden nature, they can’t help themselves. Their behaviour will come to light in one way or another. The patterns will add up through observation and you can make them known… Or you can try to help them not to be polypaths. I do believe that because this is rarely intentional behaviour, that looking for polypaths specifically will lead you to feel that you are surrounded by them.

More than that… if you’re always looking for the polypath outside… you may forget the polypath INSIDE.

17098150_1411838442224034_5642268014528236238_nLet’s have a talk about how easy it is to hurt someone. I really like this Peter Levine quote because it exemplifies how easy it can be to traumatize someone.

Let’s talk about how hard it is to be an empathetic witness in EVERY situation at a moment’s notice and how people can drop the ball for a variety of reasons… usually many at once. ALMOST like it is difficult to be an empathetic witness all the time and might require a tool box of skills that our society doesn’t teach or foster no matter how much it values them. And so we have a lot of people running around trying to do poly and all the while poly thinkers are still learning themselves and poly is still a new method of inquiry.

Poly requires a toolbox of skills that I knew I needed. I kind of wanted to be poly but more I wanted to see the world through their eyes. I knew I needed to work on things but until I tried poly I didn’t realize how much work I had to do… I’m now a few years into the serious work and piggybacking on the good work I’d been doing in the almost seven years of adulthood prior to exploring poly.

I came from an intimidating, belittling, and profoundly violent-for-the-fact-dad-wasn’t-beating-us-with-2x4s-like-he-always-said-he-could home. I grew up with a conceptualization of boundaries that involved not talking about them or knowing that if I laid them out for people that they would EVER be respected. I think this is more common than people realize or I’m just projecting my reality onto everyone. People tell me it’s not common. I just think everyone’s family goes to the extremes my family went to but WAY more people experience the things I have than anyone realizes.

I could have ended up as a polypath. I worry still sometimes about the abusive FLEAS. I say this because abused people who grow up in abusive environments often either grow up to be abused or become abusers. … we know nothing else unless we work for it and the work is SO SO SO HARD. So I have a lot of empathy for the polypath.

But let’s come back to the polypath inside all of us.

The polypath inside us is sort of like the id. The polypath inside us knows we’re right and that what we want is right. It wants us to feel good and not bad and it is indiscriminate about making us feel good and not bad. It will defend us DEFENSIVELY against bad feels like shame, embarrassment and sadness. It will make us feel good by going about getting us what we want regardless of cost.

There’s a polypath inside you. And our poly rhetoric actually only gives it a lot of tools to do what it does more effectively. The polypath whispers on your shoulder the same way that the perfect poly person does.

Both of these shoulder entities are pretty harmful.

How do we combat this? What does our toolbox look like?

  • Communication: Not just the act of communication. But all the checkmarked ticky boxes that have to be fulfilled for us to communicate authentically need to be on our mind when we think about communication. These ticky boxes I’ll try to summarize and I won’t get all of them.
    • You need to be able to express your feelings.
    • You need to know what your feelings are. (This one’s such a big point it really needs its own post)
    • You need to be able to catch yourself when you’re lying to yourself.
    • You need to be able to admit when you’ve been wrong.
    • You need to be able to use words your partner will understand.
    • You need to be able to understand the things your partner says to you.
    • There are more.
  • Boundaries: Which we can communicate. It’s a big deal. Needs it’s own point even if it’s a subsection of communication.
    • Knowing what you like.
    • Knowing what you DON’T like.
    • Knowing how to ask for what you want to happen and how to ask for what you don’t want to not happen.
  • Authenticity: This is the follow-through portion of being able to communicate what your boundaries are at any given time. Because where you’re at changes. Being able to navigate how you are feeling and being authentic will help**
  • Knowledge: Your knowledge of polyamory and what it means to you (this is part of the boundaries section sort of) will help you protect yourself from being abused. If someone is all about trying to use their knowledge of poly to make you behave certain ways then your own knowledge is your combative defense against those people. Being able to discuss why you think they’re wrong is important. This takes work and time. I discuss the power dynamics knowledge can leave us with in The ladder of citizen participation: The threat of non-participatory poly and the ladder of relationship participation.
  • Pattern recognition: Are you able to tell when you find yourself in a pattern of behaviour? Can you see them in others? Do you have the words and tools to accurately describe the patterns you’re seeing to someone else? If someone tells you about a pattern they see in you… how do you respond?
  • Introspection: Are you able to use these tools on yourself? Or only on other people? In my opinion, we should first be using all of the concepts we learn as part of our journey in polyamory on ourselves. That we will be able to teach best by example and that understanding the concepts comes first from understanding how they affect our lives and how we are affected as a result of them.
    • Understanding your reactions and where they are coming from. Are you hurt, embarrassed, infuriated or all three? Why for each of the three? Do they affect each other? Does one feeling blend into another?
    • Understanding why you want something and what you’re willing to do (and not willing to do) to get it lets you be intentional about your desires.

You must know yourself to know all the other things. All of these skills build on each other, require each other for advancement and cannot be achieved in solitude without each other part… AND OTHER TOOLS I DON’T YET UNDERSTAND. This is not an exhaustive toolbox list.

Some things to think about.

** Authenticity alone doesn’t ensure a person isn’t behaving abusively. Abusers authentically believe they NEED to be abusing you.

What if all the things you love were never meant for you?

The older I get the more I realize how poorly I was situated in life to try succeeding. I always knew I was behind other people…. Not for lack of smarts, charm or anything else… But simply that other people have parents that were able to teach them how to survive.

How could I have expected to thrive in life having no notion of working as anything other than a draining exercise in futility that fires you because your life is beyond hard.

Rather. I was raised watching my mother quit or get fired from jobs; because childcare fell through or because our home life was unstable… Thanks again dad.

I spent my twenties leaving jobs because of my trauma issues. How could I believe that I could ever improve a bad situation if it seemed like it was turning bad. What even was a bad situation? I gave more of my soul than I could bear and fell apart constantly.

The system is designed to make people like me go away.

But if I go away. It will be for good.

And I still have this deep sense that I have something in me that could make the world a better place. It’s the kind of thing I need to be alive for.

I still. No matter how much I try to tell myself I don’t have to… I still have this strange obligation that I could be making the world better.

I want to help.

But it’s me that needs help.

Enshrining poor boundaries and poor self care: “Empowerment” and how it can entrench you into a toxic self relationship.

15873492_954233588043575_961442668506654094_n
This reads like the horror story of my life.
There was a time I’d have identified so hard with this I’d have broke my computer screen. Perhaps my heart grew cold in it’s own way, but I see the enshrinement of poor self care here as a big ol’ problem. Allow me to elucidate:
 
This meme reads to me like a recipe for “How to feel bad and lose friends”. 
Accept apologies they never gave.
  • Without talking to them about it so that they can never actually change their shitty behaviour. 
Make excuses they never gave an explanation to justify.
  • Because you’re totally a mind reader and can understand the gravity of their situation without them ever explaining it. Remember. When you can’t make exuses for them. Only then may you talk to them about it. But carry all the intolerance you’ve acquired by feeling trodden upon into the conversation so that they know it’s a big deal now. Not that they knew it was a big deal before… but living in the now is important. And now it’s a big deal.
See the best in someone who may not be showing you their best.
  • Clearly people only treat you badly because they have their reasons. They’re still great people because obviously you don’t matter because if their best doesn’t look very nice you can just believe differently and see other qualities that will CLEARLY justify how they’ve treated you. Remember. Don’t ever talk about trying to be our best to your friends, that might imply you don’t already think they are at their best and might hurt them.
Make time for others because you put off your own personal needs for the wants of others.
  • Busy is not in your vocabulary. If you feel bad or drained or tired you just lock that shit up in the bad feels box and disassociate until you get through the thing because YOU’RE A GOOD FRIEND.
And yet we wonder why we burn out when we live like this. We would NEVER expect our best friend to do this. We’d make excuses as to why they couldn’t do what we expect of ourselves. It’s terrible and horrifically bad to live this way. 
 
We wonder why we shift from one person to the next hoping to get the same things given back that we put into a relationship without ever explaining why or stating that getting as much as we give is a need that (unmet) will destroy us. We have good opinions of people until their actions can’t be reconciled anymore with our view of why a person is doing what they are doing to us… and it tends to be a pattern for people. It was for me. 
 
We stand in the rain, hold our flame outside our bodies and wonder why it goes out when we never took the time to refuel because we were so busy notifying other people their flame was about to go out and getting them to go refuel. We actively drop our flame and go refuel other people’s flames and feel broken when no one eventually does it for us. 
 
And yet, we don’t feel like good people when we try to have boundaries. We’re trapped in this dominant idea of selflessness as goodness; this idea of love as this overwhelming feeling that we cannot fight that ‘changes us’ to enmesh us to our partners… This toxic toxic toxic self relationship that harms us and NO ONE CAN PROTECT US BUT OURSELVES.

This is something I’ve heard in a lot of different ways from most of the best people in my life and felt myself… that I don’t feel like I’m behaving lovingly when I have effective personal boundaries.

It feels the opposite of loving to me. 

How do we combat this?

I think part of the puzzle is to STOP enshrining poor communication, boundaries and self care.

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