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.

💜

Meeting (280)

Last September when we started this blog the idea of meeting each other was something that we were talking about, but hadn’t actually made proper plans for. Who would go to who? Or would it be better to meet somewhere completely different? Meet in the middle? (Though not literally, as that would be the middle of the ocean after all.)

It was something that scared me and excited me both. I asked to go over to Canada, as I thought that pocketcanadian’s family could provide some useful distraction. (Whilst we know each other very well neither of us are being blind to how difficult it could be, and strange it will be, to be sat face to face after all this time.) So what time of year? How long for? Would I stay in a hotel or at their house? Still lots of questions. Then pocketcanadian booked time off work, we talked about it some more, and then I just did it, booked the flights. In the ‘just do it and worry about it later’ way that helps with my anxiety. I’ve never travelled alone via airports, I don’t even like flying. I’m going to be a bag of sleep deprived nerves, anxiety and worry. But it’s booked. It’s been booked for 6 months now, and I’m excited. And nervous, and anxious, but really very excited. As in there is a list of things to pack already stuck on my fridge. There is a purse with canadian dollars and my passport, and a couple of clothes that I got which are ready and not going to be worn beforehand.

It’s going to be bizarre, landing in Canada, going through security, picking up my suitcase, and walking out to try to find my best friend that I’ve never even been in the same country as. What’s that meeting going to be like? Will we hug? Or will that feel too weird? Will I cry (with my lack of sleep, heightened anxiety, and unfortunately I think pms)? Probably. Will she cry? If I am, probably. Will we feel at ease? I doubt it, not right away. Will we just stare and smile at the other without really saying much, like we did the first time we video called each other? (Seriously people, it was goofy grins for hours. We’re ridiculous.)

My week after that first meeting is going to include a few more; meeting those people closest to pocketcanadian. Her family and her friend. Those meetings will scare me too, but they won’t be as important to me as that very first one. 💜

Loving (276)

We’ve had a heavy list of words these last few days…the kind where you read them and thing ugh, fuck, I don’t want to write about that. And so I’ve been reading them and then ignoring them, waiting for something easier to come along. But hey ho, that doesn’t seem to happening so I’m just going to get back into it before my list of words that I haven’t done piles up even more.

I want loving people in my life. Um, duh, pocketbrit, who doesn’t?!? But I’m actually kind of embarrassingly desperate to have loving people in my life. I used to wish something terrible would happen to my parents (which I would’ve been devastated about – it wasn’t that I didn’t love them) in the hope that somebody else would come into my life who would be so gentle and loving and caring, and really look after me. Not just physical me, but emotional me. And I don’t just mean I wished it once, I mean I wished it a lot of the time. As a kid I was drawn to books with orphans in them, or kids that have had a really crappy time only to be taken in by somebody, to finally have that loving paternal relationship where they are finally safe. I would obsess over those adult characters that became loving guardians, and in my own inner world, I used to pretend somebody was coming for me, it was just a case of waiting it out.

Here’s the part that really hurts my inner parts: I’m an adult now. Nobody is coming. It’s too late. They might be little, but this body is not.

Lately things have been terrible with my therapist. Something she keeps bringing up is my problem with attachment. She’s said before that she doesn’t think I have ever truly felt safe. And now she has repeatedly mentioned how as soon as I start to like somebody (and feel more relaxed, more safe), I panic, and then I push them away. It’s not safe to me. The phobia of attachment, and the phobia of attachment loss.

Lately I’ve been pushing her really hard. Though honestly I’ve routinely been pushing her away since I started with her a year and a half ago. I’ve threatened (and tried to) quit countless times. It’s so difficult because I’m desperate to have her love me and care for me, but the moment we have a really good session, or she’s feeling caring and attuned and attached and I feel a little safer, let my guard down a little, it’s like sirens go off in my head. Guaranteed the next session she will say something that I take the wrong way (because I’m subconsciously on high alert for clues that she’s actually not safe, that I need to leave), and it all turns to shit.

I don’t have many loving relationships in my life at all. The friendship that I have with pocketcanadian is the biggest exception. And that’s surprising, because there is truly a lot of love. Even though this one too is fraught with regular pushing from both of us, it’s still standing and it’s still strong, and that surprises me and also doesn’t surprise me. I think we work hard at it, I think there’s a lot of common ground and understanding and leeway given. My therapist and I have talked before about how it’s been different with pocketcanadian, how I’ve managed to let her in, and not leave when I start to panic…what we came up with is that the friendship of ours took place without the direct contact of a normal relationship. There was almost this barrier to hide behind. We knew the most intimate details of the other, without even knowing the other’s name at the beginning. It was backward, and it kept a physical distance between us that allowed me to gain an emotional closeness without panicking. Of course as the emotional bond got stronger, the more I loved her, the more I relied on her, the more panicked I would get. But the amazing thing is this….we both love each other, and we both already understand, already expect it, and we both fight to overcome that flight response. Every single time. Something about the physical distance, and the anonymity leading to very deep truthtelling between us, meant that this friendship could become the most genuine and loving one in my life. That I have ever, and I’m certain will ever, have.

In contrast, I very recently told my other closest friend something that I was terrified to. And, that there was more I want to tell her. This is a friend that I have known for the majority of my life – a best friend that I see fairly regularly, that I used to spend all of my time with. I have never told her any of this part of my life because I have always been too scared, despite her sharing similar with me. But her response to the little that I told her? Extremely loving. I balled my eyes out for an hour and a half afterwards. But after the crying settled, I wanted to run. I still want to run. Every time I think about it I feel a swell of panic in my belly. And i keep telling myself that despite her loving response so far, she’s going to not believe me or be so disgusted when I tell her about my brother. In fact I convince myself that that will happen. And so I tell myself I won’t ever see her again, I’ll remove her from my life.

It’s crazy this attachment shit. It’s crazy how I desperately long for a loving relationship, and then panic and destroy the relationship as soon as it begins become loving. I know this is my trauma playing out, that it’s not my fault, but it’s also just so shameful.

 

two hundred & sixty one: fight

i don’t know why i didn’t think of this word in terms of arguing…i mean, there was a lot (a LOT) of fighting that went on in my childhood, between my parents, between us kids, between parents and kids. and goodness knows i’ve had some awful fights with pocketbrit.

but what this word made me think of was the the sense of fight we have in us. as in fight or flight. as in, that instinct that kicks in, that lights a fire in us. that sense of fight that sometimes ebbs away, when we become very old or very sick or very hurt.

*

the first association i had was to a song i really love, and i don’t really know why i love it like i do, why it speaks to me like it does. it was maybe when i heard it? what i was going through at the time? i don’t know. but the chorus of the song says “take me to the bar/where a sweet voice in the back of my skull, says/take me to the bar/and see if i can fight…take me to the bar/where a sweet voice in the back of my skull, says/take me to the bar/and straight to bed all night.”

and i guess i just pictured someone who had just been through a really, really hard time. who has not been up to their usual tricks, who had been on their own, who had not been themselves. and they are asking to be taken out for the night, as a test almost, to see if they can do it. if they still have that spark, that fight. and then, knowing how difficult it might be, that they’ll go home, exhausted, to fall straight to sleep.

i could relate to that, i guess. that sort of testing of oneself. in the early days, i felt like that a lot, about nearly everything. how will it be to go to the grocery store, driving a car, taking a shower, getting my hair done, getting a pap test, knowing what i know? how will it feel to work? how will i mother? what will it be like to see my old friends, the ones who knew my parents? will i still take on ignorance, like the person at the bar in the song? can i still fight?

everything felt different after remembering, every single thing, although i looked exactly the same in the mirror, and i couldn’t guess how i might be with it all. i’m still figuring it all out.

*

last summer or maybe fall, pocketbrit and i wrote a scenario (and then recorded it) about our first meeting at the sea; i wrote the first day, and she wrote the second day. in them, i came to her, and we rented a little cottage from a little old lady who left us her two dogs. we slept in two twin beds in a loft at the top of the cottage, and went for walks with the woofers, read, drank gin and tonics, took turns cooking meals, went and retrieved my lost luggage at the airport, and just got to know each other.

in her scenario, while we watched the sun set from the porch swing, i fall asleep against her shoulder. when she shifts, i wake up in that utter jet lagged confusion that comes when you don’t expect to fall asleep, and she puts a cushion on her lap, and pats it, and without any fight, i lay my head on it, and go straight back to sleep.

i don’t know why it’s my favourite part of that recording, when she says that. but i love it. just the thought that i could (and would) do that, the trust in it? her gentleness? i don’t know. but it brings a lump to my throat, tonight.

*

our old tabby cat’s life force has been wavering for months, but now, it is close to his time. the sass and the fight has left him, in his wake only a bony, confused body, cloudy green eyes, matted fur. he doesn’t clean himself anymore. he seems to forget where his litter box is, and is starving all the time (or has forgotten that he has just eaten?) he can’t jump or chase anymore. we used to delight in teasing him (and having him tease us back) but not now. he spends his days following us around, meowing plaintively. napping in odd places. still wants us close but not always sure how close.

but he still purrs, so so loud. and he still lets us hold him like a baby, and blinks his eyes slowly when we talk to him. we’re giving him all the bacon and yogurt he wants. we just mop up after him. we don’t want to argue. our fighting days are long over.

 

backposted, written june 16/19

two hundred & fifty nine: sweet(ness)

this one made me think of pocketbrit, coz i often bid her goodnight by telling her to sleep sweet. and i am way way too sad to write much else tonight but it did make me feel a swell of love for her. we both have such trouble getting a reprieve from the meanness of our brains, especially at nighttime lately, and she has had an absolute shitpile of a weekend and will also have a pretty crap day tomorrow…so i hope she is resting. deeply and peacefully, quiet and safe.

on nights like tonight, when i’m missing her extra, it helps to imagine her tucked under the covers, soundly asleep, five hours ahead. there is a sweetness in thinking of the overlap of our nights, our stillness, knowing she is across the ocean yet under the same moon and stars and rising sun. i don’t know why it helps and catches my breath but it does, it just does.

Adore (235)

I adore my friend. And I adore how sometimes when I ask her if she loves me (because I’m little, because I need her to say it, confirm it, so I can believe it), she’ll sometimes say she adores me.

“Do you still love me?” ….. “I adore you”. 

Such a small little difference, but it makes my heart feel big and full. Makes me want to hug her really tight.

Guess what? I adore her too.

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 & 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.