All the (fucking) feelings

I don’t even know tonight, what it is. I don’t know if it would even help to pinpoint it, but it just feels like all kinds of things, everything.

Hurting and hurting. Like physically, in my chest and in my legs and my head. A heaviness, a sadness, a thick inarticulable aching sort of blanket tucked around me. Things feeling fuzzy yet poignant, tears rising and falling, rising and falling.

*

There is someone i knew, not very well, a young, very kind person. With a really beautiful singing voice, with an energy that I could feel when I was around them. A person I was drawn to, a person with an intrinsic sadness yet so much openness also. A person born in the wrong body who did so so much work to make it right for them, so they could feel at home. They finally furnished themselves, with all the right parts, and then they died. Suddenly, during Pride week, in this pandemic. I have no right to feel so sad about it but I do, I feel bereft, i feel robbed, it was not their time, they weren’t finished yet.

*

Earlier I did that thing where you’re just doing something normal and ordinary and then you find your vision blurry and your cheeks wet and it’s a surprise, almost, to be crying because there was no real preamble, no conscious thought or swell of discernible feeling. It’s a bit silly honestly, and i got self conscious about it and mumbled an apology to my wife (“sorry for being a baby”) and with great tenderness, she smoothed back my hair and said, “It’s okay. You’re *my* baby” and she meant it.

*

Like many people, i watched a black man be murdered in front of the world by a white police officer two weeks ago. Watched that man beg and call his mama and fight for breath, his cheek grinding the pavement, his neck under a uniformed knee. Watched him go unconscious while that huge white ugly face loomed above him, expressionless. I have been to births but I have never been there when someone’s life left their body. Yet, we all were. Strangers, millions of us. We all were there, and i don’t think I’ll ever be the same.

*

I wrote my parents a note this weekend, advocating for my daughter, to whom we still permit them occasional internet and phone contact. They’ve been pressing her for details about us, about our lives. Passing on kisses and hugs to us, as though everything is okay. Making her feel guilty and like she is betraying us. In my email i told them that I want them to think of her first, their granddaughter, and put her back at the centre of things – but not in the middle. Told them i hope she never has to reconcile the grandparents she has with the parents they’ve been to me. I also told them i threw their cards and cheques in the garbage, that they should keep their professations of love and money solely to her, coz i didn’t want them.

And that is true but it also isn’t true, because I do want it. The love, I mean. I won’t ever get it, I know that now, but I do want it. I do want parents who love me, who show it and profess it. I hate that it still hurts me that I don’t.

*

Someone i didn’t know very well read me today, in a way that was both unnerving and comforting. She saw me, somehow, with very little effort and called attention to a part of me i usually hide, with something that felt like love. I don’t know why she did that, it was brief like a cloud passing over the sun and then we reverted back to our usual roles. But I’ve found myself folding around that moment, hands cupped in to myself, holding close how she reflected me, with gratitude and also grief.

*

Father’s Day is coming up. I actually forgot about it this year until i was reminded, and then a realization slammed into my diaphragm, that i didn’t remember coz it’s not actually relevant to me. I don’t have a dad I can celebrate.

*

Our daughter made slime tonight, a new recipe. I saved the day from ruin with cheap hair gel from the grocery store – the internet lied, it was not the “Best Slime EVER,” and there was much crying, googling of rescue measures, and frantic phone calling. Though to be honest, after nearly every drop of that three dollar, priceless magical goo was dribbled in, as her eyes shone, as her small hands kneaded the fragrant sticky formula with the kind of bliss i can hardly recall, i would have bought three thousand more bottles, just to sustain that moment.

*

Today was a bad missing day, we each have those sometimes, even on the same day now and again. Because of travel limitations i don’t know when I’ll see her again, and she’s my best friend. She lives across the sea from me and things have been really hard lately but our love, in its intensity and magnitude and longevity, also takes my breath away. Tonight I just wanted her to be for-real close, not just imagining like we have to do behind our closed eyelids all the time, but like in the same room on the same couch feet tucked under us and i could reach out and grab her hand, close.

Squeeze it once, twice. Our signal that we’re right there, not leaving, through all of it. The breathing, the grieving, the minutiae of the seconds making up a day and the gains and losses and feelings.

All the fucking feelings.

shittest of shits: 3/30

that is today.

i worked but i don’t even know how. i was somewhere else. i forgot to eat lunch. i drank water though.

my body feels terrible, my brain feels terrible, my head feels terrible. i’m small and ashamed and stuck there. it is hurting all over, inside and outside. i feel totally alone.

all i’ve felt like doing all day is crying, and now that i actually can, that i have a minute just for me, it won’t come.

i don’t think i have anything else to say.

emotional lability: 2/30

at work, i often use ‘labile’ to describe an aspect of someone’s health. i might describe someone’s blood pressure as labile, for instance, which is not a good thing – it means it is unstable, going up and going down but not staying steady. i thought of this word today, in terms of me. how i was doing.

i didn’t even know that ’emotional lability’ was an actual term, but when i googled it, i was like, yup, that fits, that was me today. at first i was okay, feeling kinda good, adult, productive. and then i crashed into the pit. i was weepy, i was enraged, i was ashamed, i was scared, i was young, in quick succession and then back again to adult versions of all the same.

which is what happens when you don’t eat and drink your feelings. fuck.

there were good parts in the middle…i rode my bike in the sunny windy afternoon, got my heart pumping. i didn’t find that i wanted to eat bad stuff, i didn’t feel particularly hungry today at all. though i am hungry right now…i am going to have to do something about that before bed, i think. (actually, right now. banana and almond butter to the rescue! trying not to goop on the keyboard.)

i know part of my (disproportionate) irritability at my family earlier was being hangry, though at the time i felt justified and was pretty sure it was just coz they were so self-centred and annoying. and then i slammed a door (not on purpose) and stomped into my room and laid flat on my bed and breathed for a bit, and scrolled social media mindlessly for a bit more, and then i got up and apologized to them, because i really was being a horrible grump because of all the feelings that i wasn’t numbing with the gin & tonics that were starting earlier and earlier in the daytime hours.

***

pocketbrit and i didn’t talk much today. caught in our own personal hells, i think. it never feels good when we don’t talk. i think i realize how much i rely on her to check in when we have days like today, and it makes shame burn in my chest. (and shame is a clusterfuck.)

this morning, when she hadn’t replied to my messages, i was only curious. it was unusual but not unheard of, and when i checked the weather, it was a beautiful day there so i figured she was outside.  by noon, i was more worried and also feeling ashamed and rejected. as mid-afternoon approached with no word, i was a mix of worried, and when she replied by saying “i’m here” i was angry relieved confused ashamed hating myself for being a fucking lunatic.

tonight, as i’m sitting here, missing her, i’m struck by the process of worrying goes for me, and how ashamed i get when i worry. how untrue the stories i start to author are, and how reflective of trauma they are. how i dip into and out of being little, and how being little hijacks my ability to be rational and understanding and fair. coz the things that i start to hear and feel are things like, she stopped caring. and she forgot about me. and it always ends with, i did something wrong and now i have to guess and if i don’t guess right it’s going to be even worse. 

and usually, at that point, my adult brain steps in, tries to soothe the small one. attempts to settle her with more likely stories. like, she’s busy. her phone died and she didn’t notice. she’s gardening, you saw all the plants she’s looking after, that takes a lot of time! to maybe her parents are really after her today and her head’s really bad. but as the hours went on, even the adult starts panicking. she’s hurt. she’s sick. she’s really really not okay, and you don’t even know. and then, always, you wouldn’t even know if something bad did happen, no one is going to tell you anything anyway because you live across the world and besides, you don’t even count and then both little and adult ones are a mess, and the shame gets even huger because this is not even a normal response to someone not seeing my messages, i’m being a total loon and i know it.

and then my shame activates her shame, and our little ones start to box, and soon it’s a triggerfest, where we all feel like garbage and none of us gets what we want or need, where we will both go to bed with our small ones activated and scared and mad and sad and missing. which feels absolutely terrible, the worst, when what we want is to feel connected and close.

but sitting here now, and even earlier, i knew we were okay. we are okay. we have done this before, been here before. i’m not leaving, and neither is she, there’s too much here for both of us, it’s why it hurts so big, coz there’s such a big space left when we’re absent. it was a shit day coz it was shit day. and she will tell me and i will tell her and we will love and understand each other through it, like always, when we are better able to. we will smooth it out among all of us, and i think, i hope, that tomorrow will be kinder.

 

 

a new start: 1/30

i’ve wanted to come here for a long time. have in fact drafted about 5 or 6 posts, sat here several other times with the cursor winking at me, judging me. i don’t know why i could never just take the plunge and publish something.

except…i do, and it’s coz starting over is scary. and it’s also coz there’s so much to recap that i get totally overwhelmed trying to figure out how i’m going to capture it.

so, maybe i just don’t have to capture anything. maybe i can just jump in, and commit to one day at a time, for maybe the next 30 or so days. and then we can see where it goes. maybe, once i’ve gotten in practice, i’ll feel like going back and writing some of those hundred or so posts on the words we started with. maybe i’ll tell you about the shit sandwich of an ending with my long-time therapist. maybe i’ll tell you about the amazing trip i took to the UK to see pocketbrit a few months ago, before the world shut down. and, maybe i won’t. maybe this will just be space for whatever comes.

***

one of the things that brought me here today is actually that today is another another ‘day 1’ for me, a commitment to my health. over the past several years, i’ve done quite a few rounds of the whole 30, and i always feel better when i do. i first did it to support my wife, who was making dietary changes because of her autoimmune issues, at the suggestion of her naturopath. surprisingly, i discovered that some of my own food intolerances were similar to hers, with some additional ones thrown in, and that some of my chronic discomforts/health issues were improved when i refrained from consuming these foods.

when we are doing well, i’d say we typically eat whole 30 about 70% of the time. since the shutdown of the world as we know it, however, we were eating 100% crap, not to mention drinking like fish. and, i look and feel it. bloated, sore, swollen, irritable, impatient, full of self-loathing. (i mean the latter doesn’t ever really disappear, it just wanes slightly.)

so i thought i’d commit (to myself) to write here about how i’m feeling. how my body is doing. how my mood is. and pretend that it’s about the whole 30, knowing that it’s a tiny bit that, but mostly, that it’s about getting back to me and this space, and trying to tune in with where i’m at.

i have to warn you, it will likely be raw and not all that cute. with no eating or drinking feelings, no therapist, continuing to work (i’m considered essential so have been working throughout the pandemic) with no social outlet, full-on physical distancing mode whilst at home, and also supporting a kid to do distance learning while the wife works in the home office? nowhere much to go, and no one to go anywhere with? yikes. i’m not selling it, lol.

and, i hope it will serve to keep us connected, pocketbrit and i. we still talk every day by text, but the phone and video calling is more sporadic. we both have less time on our own, and although we have more free hours in some ways, it seems to get filled with the bullshit minutiae of pandemic times. so, we miss each other, really really hugely, lately.

i hate it.

***

so maybe i’ll actually start today’s entry, now. (i thought i was avoiding the preamble but see above at all the ambling i have done!!)

i woke up, late, from really interrupted sleep, from a series of odd and upsetting dreams. the latter of which was one where i was living with my mom, who suddenly believed me about my dad having sexually abused me. didn’t require evidence, actually believed me. apologized to me. loved me and hugged me and was on my side.

but the dream was also full of other things that are big sources of shame. the examples may have been trite, but the themes were obvious. (my brain is an asshole, not remotely subtle.) like, having people not believe me  about something (in the dream, it was that i didn’t like soda.) having made mistakes that led others to judge me (as being irresponsible, impetuous, fill in the blank, my dream was full of this theme. the one running through it was that i missed a deadline at university that everyone knew about, everyone but me.) having to tell someone something very difficult, and hurting them (in the dream, it was a man who was courting me. madly madly in love with me, thought i was the most gorgeous wonderful person in the world, and i had to tell him i wasn’t into it.) being ‘too late’ and having to live with the consequences (in the dream, i was stuck retaking a full-year biology course, even though i had already taken it, and it was going to affect when i graduated.) ridiculous, but i was already exhausted by the time i woke up because of the life i had led in my dream.

the rest of the day didn’t pan out too great either. i got blisters on balls of my feet, going for a walk. i wanted to buy a bike, but there were none in stock. i picked up the wrong hardware to repair something, and my wife was mildly annoyed and i got triggered, and then so ashamed for not being able to stop my descent into littleness. i wasn’t there for pocketbrit, who really needed a friend. my kid suddenly wanted to talk to my estranged parents, after weeks of being completely disinterested in skyping with any of her grandparents.

and, hearing their voices in my house was just horrible. as bad as it always is, but maybe a bit extra, after the dream. i never go on camera, or talk to them, but it doesn’t matter. i have to hear them talk to her, and her to them. and i’m torn between needing to listen, needing to be a good parent, wanting to make sure they’re not being inappropriate with her by pressing her for information, or making her otherwise uncomfortable, and wanting to fucking run. wanting to dive under my covers with pillows over my head, or flee from the house, into air that doesn’t ring with their voices.

but here’s the thing, none of the options are good. none of them are better than the others. they’re all equally shit, because i hate that they are in our lives, in any form. i hate the posturing and pretending, i hate our daughter listing off all the things she wants (knowing she will get them in the mail in 2 to 3 weeks time), i hate them buying anything for her, i hate the birthday cards and cheques they still send us, despite us not opening or cashing them in nearly five years, i hate that the scenario in my dream will never come true.

my mother will never choose me. she never has, and she never will.

four hundred & somethingy-something

**trigger warning for angry, somewhat crass references to child sexual abuse**

tonight, i went through all the blog posts that i didn’t write over this past year.

all the words we carefully chose, sitting, lonely. the huge spreads of days i didn’t write, all the dates, all the half-written posts that continue to sit, waiting to be completed.

and i felt this crazy huge swell of grief.

scrolling through all those words, all those dates, all those months, it was like looking at scratches on a wall in a prison cell. it made me feel so sad, not in the least remembering some of the major, life-shifting goings-on that happened during those days.

i hit a major, major impasse with my t. like major. like nearly six months of not seeing her, not seeing anyone, feeling completely alone. of being suicidal, of pinching myself so hard that i was covered in bruises, of very seriously considering checking myself in to hospital to keep safe. of shoving everyone in my life away, including pocketbrit. i doubted everything. that any of the abuse happened. that it mattered remotely to anyone, including me.

i received a note in the mail from my dad in may, his version of an apology. for “any indecent act” he did in my childhood. a two-liner, a bomb he dropped into my life after (blissful) months of no contact, never to be referred to again. he doesn’t even know i got it. no one has asked and i still haven’t acknowledged receiving it. i mean honestly, what is the point?! don’t get me wrong, i panicked and shook and dissociated about it for days…and then i got angry, so fucking angry. how dare he. how dare he treat it so casually, how dare he “apologize” to me and ask forgiveness in two lines, in a fucking note?! plus, to which indecent act was he referring? rubbing me and sticking his fingers in me when i was three and four and five, and then listening to me masturbate? or did he mean when he got me to jack him off? did he mean the confusing relationship where he would come to me at night and whisper how disgusting i was as he did things to my small body and then get up in the morning and teach school and then come home to coach my soccer team? all of it feels pretty fucking indecent to me. all of it. i want to scream, suddenly, thinking of this again. i’m pressing my fists hard into my eyes to keep in the tears, i’m so tired of crying.

huge roadblocks in my marriage. frightening moments in parenting a child with a likely mental health diagnosis in her future, trying to support her whilst feeling entirely decimated. health scares of all sorts. really, really big blowups with pocketbrit, desperately sad and angry ones where horrible words were said and retracted, where scars were healed and new ones laid, alternately. surgeries of family and friends. persistent and unrelenting back pain. stupid job with stupid long hours, repeat ad infinitum – and containing the worst of my mental health crises during vacation/time off. euthanizing our beloved elderly cat at home, burying him in the backyard, and the ensuing and horrible grief of his absence. a new feline family member added, a few months after. the joy she brings.

and, finally, after much discussion and planning and waiting, meeting sweetest pocketbrit. hugging her for real. hearing her laugh with my kiddo, in my house. cooking and drinking and teasing and hiking and doughnut-eating and napping and canoeing and movie-watching and loving littles. it’s only been four weeks since she was here but it feels like a dream. except, it happened, i have the pictures to prove it, and the glow in my heart when i remember her, when i remember how we were both exactly who the other thought we were, and the comfort in that. the security in that. the longevity in that.

because we created this blog to keep close to each other, to connect. and the thing is, for all of the days that we didn’t write here, we did connect. every single day, we did: via text, email, silly photos, phone, or video call. every single one of the days that we didn’t write here, we connected. sometimes less, sometimes more. sometimes angrily or defensively or with shame. when we were little and when we were more grown up. but every day.

that’s something to be proud of, too.

so, yeah, we’re going to figure out this blog. because i love the idea of it, i love the outlet of it. we are both treading water pretty mightily at the moment, and daily survival is a bit higher on the list than the blog, but we will work it out. i hope the two people who read the blog with any regularity will still be here, though if not, that’s okay too, it’s always been for us, here, at the sea.

three hundred & sixteen: excitement

the overwhelming emotion i feel about seeing pocketbrit, in a mere four weeks…

Image result for excited face

*

it also makes me think of the pointer sisters song, i’m so excited. which is a rockin’ song, to be sure, although not my favourite of theirs. and i am even somehow managing to not feel ugh about it, because my mom really loves the pointer sisters and generally i’m pretty ugh about my mom.

*

at this point i’m just grateful to still be here, to even be able to be excited about anything. i know i keep saying i’m shit whenever i show up to write one single entry every blue moon, but i’ve been extra particularly horribly shit, and so has pocketbrit.

the upswing is that we are finally meeting soon, and i am going to hug her really tight to me and possibly not let go for several hours, which should make for an interesting airport experience for a lot of people. and i’m excited. really, really excited.

 

two hundred & eighty nine: imagination

i don’t know what we’d do without our imaginations.

this whole blog is based on a cottage by the sea that pocketbrit and i have entirely co-imagined: the fire pit. a swing on the porch. a tall stone fireplace with our worn grey sofa. our new addition, a rocking chair, wide enough to fit small ones and the grown ups who love them.

when we are lonely, and scared, and sad, we have to imagine each other there, together. currently, we don’t live near enough to do anything but that…imagining hugging and being close. imagining snuggling. drinking hot cocoa and walks in the rain and hunting for puppies. weathering storms internal and in the skies both.

but the love here? the closeness, the care, the tenderness? is anything but imagined. our friendship, the respect, the desire to be present for each other? is beyond real.

and means so much more to me than i could have ever imagined.

💜

two hundred and eighty one: vile

interestingly (in contrast to my esteemed british co-conspirator), when i think of this word, i imagine it being said with complete and utter disdain and disgust. like, to be used only for the grossest of the gross things that happen.

like sexually abusing little kids.