two hundred & thirty two: slope

okay wtf is with the math terms? first angles, then slope? (ps my lovely pocketbrit will surely take issue with my saying math, apparently it is maths, plural. the brits are a weird fucking people, i’m just saying.)

i’m not even sure i have a photo for this. i’m trying to think of a one…there must be at least something, somewhere. okay, but as i started to write i had a couple thoughts about hitting the slopes…shit, the last time i went downhill skiing was ten years ago, a couple months before getting pregnant with our daughter, when i went on a cross-border bus trip with my friends. highlights of the trip: not the slopes, but 1) the amazing caesars they served at the chalet, 2) the absolutely horrifyingly amazing country music bar we went to after our first day of skiing (which culminated in me hugging the toilet, i seem to remember) and 3) cross-country skiing, on our last day, where the snow sparkled like a million diamonds in the brilliant sunshine. i was sweaty yet cold, exhilerated but exhausted.

not very exciting, but it’s what i’ve got.

two hundred & twenty nine: sea/ocean

this is a huge one.

i mean, it’s the whole reason we’re here, with this blog. coz it’s where we meet, most every night; or when we’re feeling sad or scared; when we’re lonely and needing to feel close. the sea is where we go.

*

i had my first flashback in a very long while tonight. it was not expected and it was vivid and it was horrible. i was on my own with our daughter (who thankfully did not notice i was losing my shit, i was in the bath, trying to steam it all away) but i had pocketbrit with me on chat.

and, like so many times before, she stayed with me. didn’t leave. kept talking to me and the wee one. held us close, at the sea. hand in hand, she waded into to the cold water, alongside my small one who wanted to wet her feet. and then, when her little teeth chattered, pocketbrit dried her off, and got her in warm fuzzy jammies, and took her into her lap and swung with her on the porch, back and forth, back and forth, until she was asleep on her shoulder, face buried in her neck.

and then she brought her into the warm, and laid down next to her on the sofa, with the fire burning low, and went to sleep, too. after telling me a million times how proud she was, how much she loved me, and after crying her own tears for what we all had to endure.

i fell asleep with the both of them too, for a couple hours. i woke up in a dark room, with wet cheeks and a huge lump in my throat. i was dreaming, i don’t quite know what about, but it was a good sad, it was safe, there was love.

*

i truly don’t know what i’d do without our cottage at the sea. i had no idea a place in our minds could be so real, could help me feel so close to someone, so comforted, so loved.

i go there often: on my own, sometimes, but mostly to spend time with our young parts. sometimes we go to throw stones into the surf, to rage and scream. sometimes we go for long walks on the beach, small hands in larger ones, to scout for puppies we hope to steal away from their owners so to cuddle them in front of the fire. some afternoons we just go and set up puzzles on the table, or put a movie on for whoever wants to watch.

so much napping happens on the worn grey sofa at the sea. so much snuggling. and a lot of swinging on that old worn porch swing, where soft cushions and fuzzy shawls and blanket cocoons abound.

i swear it’s a real place, our place at the sea. it’s certainly real to me, and i think, to her. i can hear it, if i close my eyes. can smell the beeswax candles, the sprigs of lavender on the mantle, the wood crackling in the fireplace. i can see the gentle orange of the flames flickering on my eyelids, and can sense its warmth. and when we text each other, urging the other to tuck in, to stay close, i feel that too. and our code for i love you: two squeezes of our hands. all of it.

the sea has saved me. i don’t know how much more plainly i can say that. i don’t know what i’d do without it. and i don’t want to find out.

two hundred & twenty eight: blood

i was seriously going to write a post about menstruating, but i thought that may be somewhat off-putting.

it was bizarre that my next thought was about this shawn mendes song, because anyone who knows me will tell you that my knowledge about pop culture is pretty limited. especially current-day pop culture. but i had the main chorus of this song repeating itself in my head, and then when i went to search for the lyrics, i was struck by the depth of what he’s written, especially for a mainstream pop song. which is apparently based on his own struggle with anxiety. so i guess i’m a bit of a fan, then? of a young, hot canadian dude with ridiculous abs who also puts his mental health out there for public consumption (not that he hasn’t been rewarded heartily for it, but still.)

and then i thought about this one day when i told pocketbrit how many hours i’d slept that night (it was something terrible, like 3) and she told me it was bloody appalling. which i then imagined her saying it in my mind, and it made me laugh out loud. and i realized that it probably would sound adorable and thus i really needed to hear her actually say it, and after one thousand eye rolling emojis she actually did send me a video of her saying  bloody appalling. TWICE! (and, fyi, it is still one of my favourite videos she’s ever sent. in fact i’m still grinning like a total moron just thinking about it.)

two hundred & twenty six: angles

i actually had a series of photos in mind for this post, from a long time ago, when i was taking a photography course (more to foster creativity, not really a how-to, though goodness knows i could benefit from that!) and doing a lot of experimental (aka fucking weird) stuff. playing with depth of field, mostly, but also shooting from odd angles.

so here are some of them.

backdated from May 12/19

two hundred & twenty five: home

like many of the words on this list, this word seems innocuous at first, but then sneaks up and sucker-punches you in the stomach.

coz it seems to me that home is where your family is. or the place you grew up. where your parents live. home becomes a bit more loaded a term for people who don’t see their parents anymore, like me. (i had never before considered this, but i just realized i might not see the house in which i grew up, ever again. and my eyes filled and i’ve gotten so fucking sad about not seeing my room or my things or my old toys in the basement crawlspace or the planter that my grandfather made on the back deck and that’s ridiculous, i know it is. fuck.)

*

and home is safety, right? yeah, it’s where you live, but also, home is where the heart is. home sweet home. there’s no place like home. love makes a house a home. make yourself at home.

why do i feel like barfing?

*

one of my longtime friends from the city in which i grew up, when she’d come to visit, always commented on how we made all of our apartments so cozy, so welcoming. like a home. it always struck me as a funny thing to say but i think i know what she means now. we always had textiles and art on the wall. interesting things from our travels on display. plants spilling over shelves full of our books. photos in meaningful frames. we painted the walls to suit our taste, even when we rented. we grew flowers. dug gardens. made it our own.

even now, her house, in which she has lived for over nearly two decades, does not really reflect her. her zany sense of humour. the things she loves. it’s a space in which she lives, but i see more of her in her school classroom than in her actual home.

*

during a trip to see her good friend, pocketbrit described her house as being homely, and i thought, sheesh, that’s a bit harsh, but then it occurred to me to take a little boo at some online dictionaries. i was right to do so, coz in the UK, homely is the equivalent of homey; she meant her friend had made things warm and inviting and comfortable, whereas here, to call something or someone homely is fairly insulting and nearly means the opposite. i sent her screenshots of the two definitions and told her she’d best not tell my wife our place is homely when she comes, or she might end up sleeping in the shed. 🙂

*

in my 20s, i learned that i could make home wherever i went. that the feeling of home lived in me; that i could find it halfway across the world in the most unexpected places, at the most unexpected times. that home was a feeling as well as a physical place.

more recently i know that being loved, being seen, being known, is like coming home. i had to search to find this one quote, because it felt like it fit perfectly, but i only knew the gist of it from seeing it somewhere else. but this is what it is: “home isn’t where you’re from, it’s where you find light when all grows dark.” (pierce brown, in the second book of his trilogy) (which, full disclosure, i haven’t read.)

*

i used to make a point of calling pocketbrit’s flat home, referring to the place she grew up as your parents’ place. it was an intentional reframing of home that felt so important, somehow, and i never knew if she noticed my weird obsessive insistence on differentiating between the two. i did it because i wanted her to know that she could make home wherever she was, that she could build it, that she could be it.

a noble effort, but so silly. semantics. coz we both know that home is where you grew up. no matter how shitty, no matter who touched you in the night or how many times you were ignored or overseen, that was home. that’s what we think of. where our parents live, the place that was supposed to be safe but wasn’t.

so yeah, that’s why this word aches. because even the notion of home gets all twisted up and backwards in our bodies. and hearing it in other people’s mouths, or as a point of nostalgic reference, is yet another reminder of what we didn’t have, how different our experience was.

how much we still want the sense of being at home, of coming home, no matter how shit it was, or is still.

two hundred & twenty: closeness

sometimes, when i’m feeling really small and sad, i have this feeling of needing to be close. like, if it were possible to climb up and wind myself around someone, right up in their neck, hiding in, i would do just that. if it wasn’t weird, i would bury my face in to their softness and they would just hold me really close and we would stay there until i wasn’t so petrified, until the intense neediness for hearing their heartbeat and feeling their warmth abated.

*

i remember hugs and kisses being something that were owed to people; also something that was offered at family gatherings when people arrived or when we went to bed. it was expected. i’m sure i liked some of the kisses and hugs but really it was an assembly line, one relative after the other.

it was the same thing at home, really…before my brother and i laid side by side in his bed or clambered up into the big cushy rocking chair with a book, we’d dutifully find them to hug and kiss them goodnight, but then would tuck ourselves in afterwards.

i can’t think of many snuggles with my parents, is that weird? i do remember one time, when i had the stomach flu and was lying on my parents’ waterbed, watching tv with my mom. some awards show, i seem to recall. and i sat up suddenly, feeling horrifically sick, and threw up in a towel my mom held with cupped hands in front of me. and she didn’t get mad, she didn’t yell, she just stayed there, and held it, and that must’ve been so gross. i remember this often as an example for how she must have loved me at least a little bit.

or maybe she loved her comforter more and wanted to save it, i don’t know.

*

i do remember wanting cuddles, and getting them. my grandmother. my grade two teacher, who i loved with every inch of my seven year old heart, and who i followed like a puppy. (i adored her, i just wanted to be close to her, especially when she was on recess duty, so i could hold her hand, feel her warm next to me. she didn’t even have to talk to me. i just loved feeling her hand in mine.) a trusted family friend, who was soft all over and who smiled and called us ‘sweetie.’

*

sometimes pocketbrit takes my little one (i know i’ve said this before, it’s no surprise that after 220 days i’m getting redundant), and when she does, i often feel her leave me with an audible sort of thumping whoosh. and i don’t know if pocketbrit can feel her arrival, but her little body has the sense of being pressed so so so tight in, arms thrown around her, face pressed into her neck. my wee one doesn’t even move, it’s like she just wants to be part of someone else’s body, no space in between, so incredibly desperate.

and ugh, the hurt of it, how much we wanted closeness. how much we didn’t get it. how it doesn’t seem even possible to quench this boundless need with the love and closeness we do get today.

these are the times when i feel most tender towards her, when i feel the simplicity and rawness of her deepest desires: to be held. to be close.

and then i just want to rock her forever, never let go. poor love. poor sweet love.

two hundred & sixteen: wholehearted

i was thinking of this word, these past couple of days, and i’m not sure i do very much wholeheartedly anymore.

i mean, it sounds so positive and good, right? being dedicated with the entirety of your heart to something, having so much sincerity, really committing fully to it.

it’s just that i have a good one-quarter to maybe even one-third of my heart cordoned off, blockaded, protected. i don’t bring the whole of my heart very many places anymore.

coz when i have brought all of me (and i used to do this, all the time) and i inevitably get trampled (coz i will), it is fucking terrible. and terrifying. because there’s nothing left just for me, there’s no little corner into which i can retreat and howl and hide. there’s just hurt and hurt and hurt.

i mean honestly, do you know how dangerous it is to live wholeheartedly? yeah, pretty sure it’s not for me, no siree bob.

*

i know i’ve referenced brenĂ© brown already this past week but i can’t help it. she has a new special on netflix right now that is so, so good, and is an expert in shame, so we have that in common (the latter, not the former, lol). i find her incredibly likeable and relatable and awkward, and she is an engaging speaker, which i respect. and even though i tend to resist people promoted by oprah just because i can’t stand how she stamps her gigantic O on everything, i find myself making an exception for ms brown.

anyway, long story short, she has these ten ‘guideposts’ for wholehearted living that fascinate me. i’ve read them on other websites before, or maybe seen them in list form on her own website, but what i really need to do is read this one book of hers, where she explores them further. here they are – and i’ve taken the liberty to rate my progress in relation to each of them, just for shits and giggles:

  1. cultivating authenticity – letting go of what other people think (nope)
  2. cultivating self-compassion – letting go of perfectionism (double nope)
  3. cultivating a resilient spirit – letting go of numbing and powerlessness (again, no)
  4. cultivating gratitude and joy – letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark (i wish…but alas, no)
  5. cultivating intuition and trusting faith – letting go of the need for certainty (i’m sorry, but letting go of certainty sounds like a stupid idea)
  6. cultivating creativity: letting go of comparison (i’ll give myself 0.5/1 for this one)
  7. cultivating play and rest – letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth (also 0.5/1 here)
  8. cultivating calm and still: letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle (i’d be more than happy to let it go – you mean to say we’ve all been choosing it all this time and we can just…not?!)
  9. cultivating meaningful work: letting go of self-doubt and ‘supposed to’ (bahahahaha newwwwp)
  10. cultivating laughter, song and dance: letting go of being cool and ‘always in control’ (finally! one i’ve got!)

so basically, i’m 2 for 10. abysmal. mostly in the letting go categories, if i’m honest. i can cultivate all kinds of things, i’m all over that shit. but it’s when i try to remove resistance that i drag my heels extra. pun intended.

*

i guess i also feel like wholeheartedness requires an innocence that i no longer have. a naivete that i cannot subscribe to, knowing what i know now.

but i want to be challenged on this. i actually do want to live from my whole heart, i want to trust, i want that earnest sense of okayness that must pervade the lives of those who go forth with every corner of their heart open. i want to know how to do that, i really do.

two hundred & fifteen: built

i forget sometimes that mine and pocketbrit’s relationship was built upon the common experience of trauma. that we met online, on a forum where we could be anonymous but also share our stories and our struggles. and that what brought us there was the pain and hurt and desperation we were feeling daily.

and then we have days like we have recently, where we are both young and spinning and triggered, where we lash out and hurt each other and isolate ourselves, and i remember. and i hate it. i hate that she knows it. i hate that we’re so hurt and hurting, that our ability to tolerate and foster love and intimacy has been so profoundly affected.

i got a book from the library yesterday called baffled by love: stories of the lasting impact of childhood trauma inflicted by loved ones. i don’t usually read books like this; i’m steeped enough in my own experience of trauma (and deal with it enough in my work) that i get overwhelmed easily. but this one seems different, it is easy to read, and i appreciate the author’s voice in telling her stories along with the stories of her clients.

by page 20, i had already found words that resonated with me deeply, that made me remember that i’m more than a big bag of triggers covered in skin; that i have more to offer pocketbrit than just activating her own hurt. these are those words: “trauma is hard to speak about and hard to hear about. but stories unshared don’t disappear; they return in relationships, silently taking prisoners. if the trauma remains unknown, unspoken, and unconscious, it does harm. telling your story to a compassionate witness, in contrast, can be healing.”

and that’s what my pocketbrit is: a compassionate witness. she is one of the most important people to whom i tell my stories. she is the person with whom i work through the majority of my core wounds. it is my relationship with her – the one built on all of this ugliness, all this stuff i want to forget – that is helping to heal my heart, that makes me feel like i might one day be okay. it is so fucking hard sometimes, but so far, despite the hard, despite the hurt, it is always worth it.