one hundred & seventy three: fine

at first i thought that my comment on pocketbrit’s post was pretty much all i wanted to say on the topic…except it seems that her post has disappeared, and now i don’t remember what i said. so i’m going to try again.

i think all of us live in what i like to call opposite-land at times…we say one thing while meaning another. and it’s all in the delivery, right? ‘i’m fine’ accompanied by a downcast gaze, or quick, snappy body language, or a blazing stare all mean, quite clearly, that the person is not very fine at all. but for pocketbrit and i, who built our relationship via text on a screen (on a forum for survivors of sexual abuse, then over email, now using a chatting app), it was sometimes hard to tell tone. however, i learned fairly quickish (yet slower than most, likely) that for her, fine usually did not mean that she was okay.

i tried to search through our chat history using the word fine but it came up with about 75,420,291 hits…okay, a slight exaggeration, but it is a word that comes up between us frequently, and hurts us both. she won’t believe it, but i don’t think she’s wrong and i’m right in how we use it, not even a little. it is more just that this one small word has managed to highlight so completely and painfully the worst and biggest hurts from our past, the ways they have settled in our bones and continue to injure us in the now. it is horrible and amazing both, how quickly it can flip a switch on our communication, how much power it wields. and tonight, it makes me mad that i let it so often, when i should know better. (oh hello shame, you wily arsehole.)

as she has written about previously, my sweetest pocketbrit was not permitted feelings in her family; her role was as a peace-keeper amongst her brothers, her dad, and even between her parents. there was no room for her to feel anything. no one asked, and no one, within or outside her family, dug beneath the facade of fineness. any unfine feelings she did have were quickly swallowed in order for her to stay safe, to survive.

being fine was the only option for her, really, for years and years (and i’d argue, even now) and that’s an awful thing to come to terms with. re-experiencing the aloneness of a forced fine-ness is fucking terrible, bad enough as an adult, but even worse through the heart of a child. a child who wants to be rescued; who wants to be seen and known and adored and held, like all children do. like we deserved.

i know pocketbrit’s story. i know it, and i understand it. i know that her need for fineness when she is anything but is not to do with me. i know it’s about protecting herself, and most of all, i want her to be safe. god, it is so so important to me that she is safe, that the wee ones inside are safe. and when i’m firmly planted as an adult, her fineness/not fineness doesn’t affect me in the same way as when i’m less adult. it doesn’t hurt. i can think, ah, pocketbrit needs to stay safe, okay. it is in those moments that i can ask whether she’s really fine, or whether she needs to be (as she referenced in her post). it’s those times that no matter her response to that question, whether it’s truthful or less truthful or angry or barricaded, that i can stay steady. if she says she’s fine and she’s not really, it may be mildly frustrating, sure, but i don’t spin out. i can be fine, truly fine, in the face of however she is.

the crap part is, i haven’t had many of those moments lately, where i’m fine, or anything approximating it. i’ve been very unfine lately. and so has she.

and that’s when it all goes to shit, really. when we’re both little and needing. when we’re tired or missing each other. when we want to have our needs met without having to ask, without having to say the words. when we need to be remembered by the other, when we can’t do it ourselves. basically, when our traumas get all tangled and knotted between us and suddenly we’re wading through a colossal triggery mess.

for me, the hook is the word fine, a little, yes, but mostly it’s about doublespeak. when i’m young, or if i’m not sturdy in my adultness, my terror with hearing things are fine (when the circumstances are so shit that there’s no possible way they could be) comes from knowing that i am expected to know, and that because i don’t, i will have to guess, that i will have to search, and that i will inevitably get it wrong.

coz that was my entire childhood. i grew up with a mother who had an endless number of triggers, it seemed. who metamorphosed into a petulant furious child when she was hurt or upset. and her lack of boundaries, her volatility, her inconsistency, made for very confusing, unsafe times for child-me. coz when my mom was hurt or upset, she raged, she lashed out with whatever was nearest, she slammed things around, she screamed in my face, but worst of all was when she would go completely silent, for hours or sometimes days.

it made my stomach drop out. it was clear i was being punished, but she wouldn’t tell me why, or what. during these silent periods, when i asked for something she’d sometimes respond, but with no eye contact. she would serve me food, turn on the taps for my bath, but in silence. and if she did meet my gaze, her eyes were empty and dead. she handled me like i was a thing. it was like i had disappeared, like i didn’t exist, and i absorbed her disgust like a sponge.

for years, when this happened, i would flail desperately, trying to make it right, trying to fix it, trying to get her to look at me, to love me. and then, in a distant, quiet voice, looking somewhere over my shoulder, she’d say that she was fine. it didn’t matter. and there was no correct response to that. the only right thing was that i was wrong, regardless. my existence, my presence, was wrong.

so it’s a little bit the word fine, but mostly it’s the perpetual wrongness that’s my trigger. the feeling from long ago, of being trapped, of having no clue what to do but being pretty certain that it will be wrong no matter what. the helplessness that swallows me whole when i’m faced with a word that has so many shades of meaning, that is so super charged.

so yeah, when i’m already triggered, or when i’m young already (or teetering on edge of it), when i’m lost in shame, hearing pocketbrit tell me she’s fine creates instant panic. it feels like i have to guess and i know i’ll get it wrong, and then many times, i’m flooded with anger and blame (to cover my terror) and then it’s already gone to shit, hasn’t it.

so here are my solutions around using the word fine. we should:

  • identify exactly how we’re feeling every given moment
  • only say the word as it’s meant – as in, all is well over here!
  • stay safe at all times so we never resort to past coping mechanisms
  • check our shame at the door, or if we experience it, be able to dial it back asap
  • remember that we love each other
  • remember what love is, period

yeah they’re shit solutions. i know. i knew it when i started trying to write them. it’s coz there aren’t any solutions, i don’t think.

saying fine is not a problem to be solved, to start…i mean, yeah, all the things that are glued to it are problematic, but we didn’t paste them there. we didn’t choose them on our own, though we are the ones who have to deal with them.

update (as of may 12/19): even though the original entry was only a couple months ago, i was struck by the fact tonight that this word hasn’t come up in ages. i mean, we certainly haven’t stopped triggering each other, and we’ve had some absolutely horrific arguments since then…one in particular for which i need to do a whole lot more repair with one of her young parts…but not about this word. progress? i think so. i really do. coz even after reflecting on all of this again, even thinking about all the hard stuff we’ve been through together and on our own, all i feel is love and gratitude. she’s the friend for me.

backdated; finalized on May 12/19

one hundred & seventy two: pride

this word actually reminded me of the endless lectures we got as kids, usually regarding doing our ‘jobs.’ we often got accused of having a lack of pride if we didn’t delight in our 500 chores (washing/drying/putting away dishes after every meal, vacuuming the entire house, dusting, scrubbing toilets and sinks, washing the floor, wiping mirrors, putting laundry out onto the line, taking it off, folding it), or if we didn’t do them up to their standards.

in particular, it makes me think about one of my dad’s most regular speeches about how our family was a team, and as team members, we all needed to do our part, we all needed to contribute, they worked so hard to provide all these things for us, how our laziness, lack of enthusiasm and pride in our chores was an insult to them, was proof of how we were ungrateful, selfish, spoiled kids. i can hear the pseudo-patient, long-suffering tone of his voice even now, and i simultaneously roll my eyes outwardly, while i feel my insides shrinking up.

the one persistent, childish fuck you for my apparent lack of pride was one i maintained as long as i lived in their house: i kept my room a a total mess. and even now, i tend to be more messy than tidy, and it is yet another example of the way they have a hold on me, even still. my doing the opposite of what they would do just shows how much control i continue to let them have. it’s ridiculous. insta-shame.

*

my parents were incredibly stingy with praise and in being proud of us. they were proud of us to other people, but rarely in earshot. they bragged about our accomplishments to their friends (as reflections on themselves as excellent parents, mostly) but were very intentional about keeping our sense of pride in ourselves miniscule. we learned that ‘getting a big head’ was one of the worst things that could happen, and any sense of self-confidence was evidence of this. compliments or praise that we shared with them, from teachers or our friends’ parents, were considered highly suspicious, and their intentions were always questioned: ‘what are they playing at?’ and ‘hmm, they’re probably just buttering you up because dad teaches their son.’ compliments paid to us when they were present were quickly batted away: ‘oh you don’t know what she’s usually like at home’ or ‘oh but you should see the state of her room’ and ‘we just wish his math grades would reflect that!’

i don’t know why they were like this. i don’t know why some pride was sanctioned but others wasn’t. i don’t know what they thought would happen if we were proud of ourselves, or if they showed that they were proud of us. we would like ourselves? we would be comfortable in our own skin? we would get better than them?

(though honestly, isn’t that the fucking goal of it all?! i think so. i desperately want our daughter to be better than us, to struggle less, to achieve more, to be happy, to be satisfied, to be loved, to be safe. i want her to be okay. i want her to be as big as she wants to be, to take up as much space as she needs, to chase whatever dreams she has, to have the hugest expanse of what is possible for her lying ahead. why would i want to curb that? why would i want her to pack herself away?)

i don’t get any of it. yet i get all of it, very intimately, because i live with its effects, every minute of my life.

one hundred & nineteen: good

i spent my whole life trying to be good.

good enough. good for something.

*

looking back, i actually was a really, really good kid. i didn’t make a fuss. i monitored myself, my behaviour, especially at school. i didn’t talk back. i didn’t talk much at all. i was an A+ student, i was delightful, i was diligent. i did my homework. was kind to my peers. strived to be my best. was quiet, was acquiescent, blended in. they never came to my parent-teacher interviews, there was no need, my mom said. they knew i was doing fine. they didn’t want me to get a big head. i was fine. it was all good.

*

i bet all they had to say was that i was a good girl.

that i was so good, that good girls didn’t tell. that good girls didn’t like it, didn’t do that, didn’t let them.

that would have been all they needed to say, but once. because no one ever said that to me. i could never be good enough, i never was. no matter what. and i was desperate to be good. to be right. to belong.

*

i’m sorry because this all feels totally disgusting. i hate this word. i feel sick and i’m not good. i’m not good at all.

eighty-one: outside

i wish i could launch myself outside of this brain of mine. i just want to be outside of me entirely. outside of this body, this head, these thoughts, these emotions. i know it’s just coz i’ve just been a bucket of triggers lately, but still. get me out.

*

i feel like kids play outside way less than they used to. when i was a kid, i would spend hours outside, with my cousins or my brother, or on my own. singing to the trees. playing with my dollies. throwing the ball for my dog. catching tadpoles, making forts, befriending worms. searching for four-leaf clovers. hanging from the monkey bars. running through the sprinkler.

*

when it was warm, i used to climb outside my window as a kid after i’d been put to bed, i’m not sure how old i was. six maybe? seven? when i was sure the coast was clear, i slid open my screen and jumped down (i can still feel that thud under my bare feet) to the green grassy carpet below. usually i’d sit and pet my cat, sing to her, but lots of times, i remember being sad, tucking my knees up to my chest and feeling the tears spill down my legs, as i sat on the ground, in between sheets and towels that were hanging to dry on the clothesline. i felt safe in there, hidden. and when i was done, when it was getting dark or when the bugs got too bad or when the tears had stopped or if i got sleepy, i’d push the square weathered step stool that was used to hold the laundry basket up to the wall under my window so i could clamber back in.

i don’t remember ever getting caught. or having anyone ask me about it…i mean, they must’ve known i did it. how many mornings must my mom have moved the stool back? or did they notice at all?

*

when i was in my early teens, i remember summer nights, outside with my friends, riding bikes, bouncing balls against the school walls, playing tag by streetlight in their richly-kid-populated neighbourhoods (mine was full of old people and babies). drinking gigantic slushies together with the same two straws (or with red twizzlers – yum!). all of that was as close to bliss as i could imagine, then. free and wild. sweaty necks, dusty shoes, smiles glinting in the night.

Pain #2

Reading pc’s post again tonight brings tears to my eyes. She writes beautifully about the ugliest of things and she’s put words to things that I had zero desire to try to write about yesterday.

I want to add some more. And I suppose there are two types to this. The physical pain, and far worse, the emotional. I’ll start with the former.

  • The bruises on a body from ‘kids being kids’.
  • The feeling of suffocating when your head is held underwater and however much you flail and try to get out of their grip, you can’t.
  • Or when their hand is over your mouth and nose, or around your neck and you can’t escape.
  • When their body is on top of yours, pinning you down.
  • When your arm or leg is held so hard you end up bruised.
  • When you are hit or pushed down or threatened without the requirement of words even leaving their mouth.
  • When their penis is down your throat and you cannot escape. When you gag and can’t breathe, and the only air you can get into your lungs is when they release the pressure of their hand on the back of your head and you can pull back just long enough that you can breathe through your nose again before they thrust your head back forward and you’re suffocating. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat x 100.
  • When you disappear to wherever you can, because the things they are doing to your body are more than you can cope with.
  • When doors are slammed on hands. Objects thrown at faces. Plates and glasses smashed on the wall behind you.
  • The sweet sharp pain that is self inflicted in order to try to bring yourself back to the present, or punish yourself, or just feel *something*. Or rather, actually, to so often feel nothing, to numb everything happening in your brain and body, to remove yourself from it all.

And yet, the actual physical pain and fear is short lived right? Ha. No, not really. Because the emotional pain brings them back all the fucking time. Periods become triggers where your body feels like it’s still happening, over and over, where your memories torment you. And all of these things come back, out of nowhere, when you least expect it, when you might be having a good day, and then SLAM. Hit in the face with this shit, out of nowhere, for no reason that you can pinpoint.

And as pc has said, all of the other shattering things.

  • The fact that they chose him, yet again. The fact that you’re not chosen. The knowledge that you won’t ever be.
  • The fear that has your knees curled up to your chest whilst you sit on the floor of the shower for half an hour hoping that the water will wash it all off of you.
  • The birthdays, the christmases, the fathers days, the mothers days, the lunches, the dinners, the family gatherings, the celebrations.
  • The never ending silencing.
  • The earth shattering loss of parents that can make you feel orphaned, and alone and like you won’t survive it.
  • The shame. The white hot, flushed cheeks, sweaty bodied shame.
  • The fucking ocean of grief. And the ocean of grief that you haven’t been able to cry for in years.
  • The years spent taking care of yourself because nobody else will. The putting yourself to bed and the crying yourself to sleep at night.
  • The feeling unseen, unheard, unappreciated, unloved. Unloveable.
  • The taking all of it on so that you can retain some semblance of control.

There are so many more. This list isn’t even close to exhaustive, but I have another post I need to write.

Loud

Today I went for a smear test. I’m in my twenties, I’ve never had one before, and like any person, I don’t like the sound of it. I didn’t talk it through with anybody, didn’t even tell anyone. Not my therapist when I saw her last night, not pocketcanadian when I was telling her about what was going on in my life.

I booked the appointment when I happened to be at the doctors (a rare thing) last week for an infected finger. I was thinking that I could push through, be normal for once. I thought, naively, that if I didn’t tell anyone and didn’t talk about it, and forced myself to go, that I’d be okay. That I’d be able to do it. Be normal for once.

Instead I woke up anxious, after an anxious and otherwise a bit unsettled sleep. I layed there, thinking maybe I should just not go. And then I put it aside, those doubts, locked it up, and showered, and left. I got there, I walked in, I sat in the waiting room, and the nurse called me.

And she was so loud. She spoke to me so loudly that I knew the old man outside would surely be able to hear. And that was it really. That was all it took, her loud loud voice, that made me scared, brought my little one right to the surface, and made me immediately ashamed and closed off and scared, and brought tears to my eyes.

There’s something so harsh about someone being that loud. It isn’t gentle or understanding, it isn’t soft. It’s scary. Loud voices unsettle me.

Anyway, I held it together. I listened to her, answered her questions. I got undressed, exposed myself, layed on that table, her loud voice talking about what she’ll be inserting into my vagina, my brain trying to block her out and keep my shit together. And I am…

…and then that loud voice asks me to open my legs. Tells me I need to open them more, that she can’t insert it, that she needs me to open my legs really wide.

And I am done. Freaking out, tears running down my face, jumping off the table, apologising. Memories playing behind my eyes.

And don’t get me started on the embarrassment of leaving through the waiting rooms that followed.

There’s something about loud voices that I don’t like. That scares me and induces a trauma response. I tighten up go into higher alert, don’t trust and am wary. It’s not gentle and doesn’t feel safe. Basically, I don’t fucking like it.

*****

What I really want to do right is put my good headphones on my head, and put some music on loud enough to drown out my brain and body, so that I can hopefully sleep. I might just do that. That seems like a good loud.

twenty-eight: nurture

this one would make me more sad if i weren’t so tired.

i think of nurturing as being something mothers do. and i had a mother who could be nurturing, but who also took it away with little notice. so it was not something to be trusted.

when i think of nurturing, i think of little, small, innocent people, who require patience and love and consistency and steadiness so they can develop and grow. i hope i was sometimes a mama like that when my daughter was smaller, and i want to keep being that for her in meaningful ways as she grows bigger. i want to be a nurturing, loving presence for pocketbrit (both big and little), and i want to be that for little me, who still has a chasm of hurt in her chest for what she didn’t get (and got instead) all those years ago.

nineteen: tiny

i am already feeling triggered just reading this word.

i tried to make the feelings go away by imagining innocuous, innocent tiny things, like an ant crawling over a leaf, or how my daughter’s soft, smooth newborn feet felt in my palm.

but what i kept thinking about was how small we were. when it happened, when we were hurt and violated and used by members of our family. we were tiny.

both hands, then, could probably fit into one of his. i still needed a booster seat on my chair, which i also needed help climbing into. i was lower than my kitchen countertops – i had to go onto my tippy-toes to be at eye-level. i believed in santa (and would for another several years). i wasn’t in school yet.

fucking tiny.

i’ve seen pictures of pocketbrit, she hardly reached his thigh.

and i just don’t understand any of it. how they could do those things. how the signs that we weren’t okay weren’t noticed. why wasn’t anyone paying attention? what was everyone else doing? were we so little we became invisible?

it’s also a shrinking sort of shriveling, sick feeling i get when i think of it now. and like i might drown in the grief of it.

eighteen, part deux: lesson

i feel like unlearning some of the lessons of my childhood might take me the whole rest of my life.

i absorbed useful ones too, i’ll have you know, in among the total shit ones. those would include stuff like, being kind matters. biting on popcorn kernels will chip your molars. kittens really appreciate lullabies. it is best to be a nice, quiet girl.

the biggest lessons, the ones that have the deepest networks, the most pull, are the oldest. and they include biggies like, you are a wrong person. you make everything worse. you are unworthy of love. you will end up alone.

i don’t think those things were actually said, out loud, or with any sort of directness. it was far more subtle. but i studied these lessons, deeply and constantly, and they sunk into my very cells. these lessons were the very water in which i learned to swim.

sometimes i wonder who i might be if i grew up learning i was enough. that i was special and funny and wonderful. that i was important. it feels like wasted potential, wasted years, a wasteland of a life, that i have to unlearn so much of the garbage that was deposited in me, like a thing, like a receptacle. that sounds bitter and angry and i guess it is. i don’t stay here for long, but yeah, right now i’m just fucking pissed off that along with my full time, paying job, i have to work so hard (and pay two other people to help me) to sort, re-sort, and un-sort a mess that i didn’t fully make.

ugh. ugh. ugh.

seven: companion(ship)

my apologies for the delayed post…i have a very silly job with unpredictable hours and i wasn’t able to get to my post on time. which you’d think would give me some sort of advantage, but this post will likely prove how untrue that is!

part one:

honestly, the first thing that came to mind was that of companion animals – which in this day and age can range from anything from a lizard to a miniature potbellied pig, it seems. but i was more thinking of our own pet, our old, creaky cat, who has been our companion since we rescued him as a sick, skinny, sneezy little tabby in the spring of 2002. he’s having a pretty rough time right now, and we are really trying to love him up extra (despite some of the gross, noisy, and annoying habits he has developed recently) because we’re fairly certain that he’s near the end. he has lost most of the muscle he had as a younger guy, his bones clunk when he sits on his haunches, we can’t seem to get ahead of his overly active thyroid (despite medication), he moves so much more tentatively, his litter box aim is horrendous, and sometimes he just wanders around yodeling aimlessly, as if he has forgotten where he is and what he’s doing here.

but he is still my guy.

he still knows exactly when i need him. will make his way to wherever i am, in whatever state of despair, to roost on my chest, or press himself against my thigh, or stretch a paw out to touch my arm. despite being mostly deaf, he still does his squinty happy eyes when we talk to him, and starts to purr at deafening volumes, even without us touching him. honestly, his purr my favourite thing about him, it’s SO SO loud (ask pocketbrit! she can hear it when we speak on the phone!) and when he’s really pleased, kind of squeaks at the end of the exhale. it’s the best.

there was one time when we tried to give him away. i don’t even remember quite why, i think it was because of my then-partner (now wife)’s terrible asthma and allergies, which were particularly bad for a couple years in 2004-2005. neither of us wanted to do it. in fact we could hardly stand the idea of it, but her health was really suffering and we didn’t know what else we could try. so we arranged for him to go to one of our friends, who lived in the country, a lovely woman who adored animals and would take wonderful care of him.

from the moment L picked him up, in his little harness, and packed him in the car, we were a fucking disaster. i remember sitting on the kitchen floor, leaning against the wall, sobbing, and looking across to WOPC, similarly splayed out, leaning against the stove, doing the same. it was so horribly quiet. no cat toys. no whiff of stinky wet food. no purring. no chattering back at us, as he wove around our calves, no racing us up the stairs, no chirping out the window to the birds. it was abso-fucking-lutely awful.

and it was for him, too. he cried ALL night, L said. ALL NIGHT LONG. she couldn’t handle it. called us at 6am and said, i think this is a bad idea. he misses you, he was looking for you, his heart is broken. and when the car pulled back in our driveway a couple hours later and we were reunited, he took one sniff at his bowl, bit my partner on the arm (retribution) and then promptly laid between us on the couch and fell asleep for hours. and then his two mommies apologized and kissed his nose and face and held his paws and cried some more and vowed never to leave him ever ever again.

and we kept our promise. he has moved with us five times over the years. he has flown with us across the country to our parents’ houses. when we have gone on vacation in more recent years, we always have people come and stay in the house with him, because he’s not the kind of cat who you can just leave. he needs companionship, ours in particular. he’s a one-family cat and we have stayed a one-cat family, because he’s ours and we love him so, so much.

part two:

i also thought a lot about my grandfather when i was musing over this word…what companionship is. it makes me think of aging, somehow, of how the old couples who have stayed together often seem to love, above all else, each other’s company.

shortly after my grandmother died, after a long horrific battle with cancer, my grandfather was decimated. we all were. i was, particularly, because growing up, she was one of the only people i ever felt was in my corner. one of the only people who protected me from the rage and impatience of my mom.

when she died, i was fifteen, and i didn’t understand it. losing her convinced me that god wasn’t real, couldn’t be, and if he was, that if he was selfish enough to take her away from us, i was permanently unsubscribing to his fan club. i was angry and i was grieving and i felt so, so alone.

but just shy of two years from when my grandmother took her last breath, in the bed they had moved to the den on the main floor of the house he had built for their family in the 1970s, my grandfather started spending a lot of time with this other woman, who had also recently been widowed. and what freaked me the fuck out was that mrs s was nearly exactly like grandmother. her hair was the same, her glasses were the same, she wore the same perfume, which really upset me at the time (27 years later, i still have, tucked in my underwear drawer, a small bottle of my grandmother’s perfume. which, to this day, transports me to her arms, when i was small enough that she could wrap them around me). mrs s was soft spoken like her, even had a creaky voice like her.

so of course, i hated her. and for awhile, i hated him, too. i missed her and couldn’t imagine how he didn’t. (alas…that was the point, but i was too young to know it then. it was more that he missed her so much he couldn’t bear it.)

all i know is that at some point, i grew up, and grew to love mrs s. she was a very kind, sweet woman, who wasn’t trying to take anyone’s place. she was just loving my grandfather. and she absolutely made him better and happier. they never, ever moved in together, continuing to walk and drive the five blocks from each of their homes in their small rural town, eating most meals together, planning, planting, and then harvesting their separate gardens together. they baked bread, made pickles, made tomato juice, volunteered at the local senior centre together, and sat dozing, side-by-side as the nightly news blared from the television. they went on road trips together. held hands when they went for walks together. she made his eyes sparkle and kept a spring in his step. they brought meaning to each other’s lives, staved away the loneliness of their respective widowhood.

i remember my grandfather shaking his head at one of my aunts, after she teased him about saving money by moving in with mrs s. still shaking his head, he turned to me and said, you know, dolly, i will never get married again, i will love your grandmother until the day i die. mrs s just keeps me from being so lonesome. and that stayed with me. he, like all of us, just needed company. companionship. presence.

and when his health started to fail and he made the decision to sell the house in which he raised four girls and in which my beloved grandmother died…and then decided to leave the small town in which he and mrs s had lived most of their lives and into to an assisted living facility for seniors in the big city (nearer to my parents and one of my aunts)…he didn’t last much longer. they spoke on the phone (despite her advancing dementia) but it wasn’t the same. he lost weight. the light in his eyes dimmed. he was fearful. he got quiet. he was preparing his exit, i think.

so maybe companionship is that thing to which we all strive, our whole lives…that sense of being absolutely comfortable and comforted by another’s presence. the sharing of the mundane and the important and all that is in between.

part three:

it’s so interesting that companionship came the day after a post on friendship, because i think there is overlap. but i also feel like it refers to something deeper and more significant than friendship. that it is a comfortable, easy state of being between two people…the kind of deal where you just enjoy being together for hours, speaking or in silence, regardless of what you’re doing. where you can be yourself without pretense or need to self-edit. where bras and words and hairbrushes are optional. if you’re grumpy, you’re grumpy. if you feel like taking a nap, you nap (and unabashedly snore like a chainsaw, if you’re me) (although this makes me feel pretty squidgy, coz snoring is SO EMBARRASSING AND GROSS). if you feel like not showering and laying on the sofa for seven hours, intermittently reading and watching terrible TV, that’s what you do…maybe even whilst eating popcorn for breakfast and cereal for dinner in the same set of pajamas in which you awoke. and you do it because there’s no reason not to, because the other person will barely register any of it, because how you are is completely and utterly fine with them. they do their thing, you do yours, but you always come back together.

it necessarily includes love, intimacy, comfort and acceptance of the other person. maybe it happens over time. maybe it happens when you know someone from the inside-out. maybe it’s an acquired (and advanced?) potential stage of any relationship. i don’t know. i have it with WOPC, and when i imagine meeting with pocketbrit, i feel like that comfort…that level of intimacy…is exactly what we have too, and what will continue to deepen.

(also, i bet that i can stay in my manky old pjs longer than she can before showering…we’ll see how companion-y she feels about that bit.)