Regret(s) (254)

I’ve got plenty of regrets. I’m not going to go into all of them, because well, that would end up being an incredibly dull and longwinded post serving nobody, not even myself.

Today my mum brought up my brother with me. Apparently somebody drove into the back of his car (yet another in a series of unfortunate car dramas of his). She made a comment along the lines of “it’s like somebody up above has shoved a huge arrow pointing at him to attract car accidents”. I think I smiled, shrugged my shoulders in a kind of¬†well, good way. She said I thought I’d tell you that because I thought you would like it…think he deserves it.

The way she does this, randomly brings it into conversation completely freaks me out. It makes me panic and dissociate. It doesn’t feel safe. I said that he drives like a complete idiot, so he does deserve it for that, yes. She didn’t take the hint, or rather, she just ignored it, as she has a tendency to do, and then said “I don’t get it, your relationship with him is worse than ever now, youre the one that said that you had a good relationship with him now”. My panic grows, my shame grows. I say that I don’t remember saying that. She tells me that I did, the day that I told her what he’d done (and yes I did say that). It’s her narcissistic way of saying that I’m now making it all difficult when I was perfectly fine with it back then. Its the insinuation (likely in my head, but I also don’t doubt that my mum is very much thinking it), that I chose how it is now. That I didn’t want them to tell him. That they said they would do whatever I decided. And they still would.

And I could…I could tell them to tell him that they know, to have it all out there, and risk him never coming back. And they would. So as far as they are concerned, they’re doing the perfectly right thing. They’re amazing parents. It makes me want to shrivel up in shame, even now just writing it. Because as far as they are concerned, the upset that I am harbouring (that they don’t even realise I am to the extent that I am), is entirely unfair and unjustified, and all because I’m selfish and too much, and making them out to be awful when they’re not. Except they aren’t taking any of the rest of it into account. They aren’t considering that my dad said literally¬†nothing about it to me until I said that it was making me upset. His response was to completely and utterly pretend it didn’t happen. And then, when forced to talk about it with me, it was a family meeting that felt like a very cold business meeting. I was in tears being stared at by my parents who remained sat in their chairs. I was forced to come up with a plan of what we would do. I was forced to hear over and over about how if they told him, he would never come back. It takes no account for the pressure of all of it placed on me, it takes no account for the total control that was removed from my clutches and placed into theirs. I didn’t choose to tell. My mum asked and asked and asked until I said that yes it had happened. She already knew. I told her I didn’t want my dad to know, she said that he had a right to know and that she would be telling him. I was immediately forced to say what I wanted to do about it. At which point I think I said what I did about having a good relationship with him now that we were older. That things were different. I said it because it was true, and because I needed a grasp on staying as is was for a bit. Not having the rug pulled entirely out from under my feet. She was throwing everything at me in the most terrifying situation to me. She paid no real attention to the fact that I was very much not okay, she made it all about her, made a big deal about how she had to go to bed because she felt sick.

No regard has ever been given to how traumatic that day and the days following were for me. And I’m not surprised, they have no understanding of trauma. They laugh at the idea of somebody having PTSD who hasn’t been serving their country in war. It’s a preposterous concept. But what really hurts is that they have no desire to understand. To do some reading, to think about how to help, or what I might need. All the while thinking they’re being so amazing, and that I’m being difficult and extra. Making a big deal out of nothing. I hate the shame that I carry because of it. The shame that makes me cry and makes me want to hide, just for putting it out anonymously on the internet.

My biggest regret is everything that has come since telling. The not shouting, the not putting it all out there, the not bringing my brother into the huge mess that he doesn’t know exists but that he himself created. The staying close to them, the still seeing them, the not talking about it. The getting increasingly closer to my dad again, to the point where I don’t know if I would ever be okay with leaving them, even though I think that that might be the best thing I could ever do for myself. I don’t know how exactly I would do it different, and I know that no way would ever be perfect. But I just really regret the way that I did do it, even if it was the best I knew how at the time. It feels like the biggest mess that I won’t ever be able to clean up.

two hundred & fifty-three: commitment

even though i haven’t posted here for a really long time, most days, i have looked at the daily word. and wondered if this would be the day i started again. if this would be the day i could scrounge together my courage to post. i know no one really has noticed, no one but me, but every day, my silence here has prickled and poked at me, mocked me, shamed me.

it has been a really, really hard go these past several weeks, friends. i am tired of hearing myself say that, but it’s been really true. again. fuck.

i have been so so ashamed for not being able to follow through on this blog. well, my follow-through on many things has been shit, but on this blog especially. because the commitment i made about writing here was to myself. it was about engaging in a routine, in a healing activity, in a daily practice. my commitment was to creativity, to get writing again, to shoot photos again. to reflect, even if just quickly, on this list of words, and what they mean to me.

and, i also committed to sharing this blog with my best friend, who lives really far away, who suffers similar pain, whose body bears similar and also different hurts, whose mind, like mine, bites and tears at itself far more often than not. i am sad that i have abandoned and failed her, too.

*

the year i fell in love with a woman, i couldn’t have wed her legally, even if i wanted to (which i didn’t; i thought marriage was a bullshit patriarchal institution and i had zero desire to do it, to the chagrin of my family and friends). back then, queer folks had commitment ceremonies. and they were emotional, and beautiful, and sad all at once, because they were unrecognized by the law. it was a political and social act with little clout.

but by the time we had shacked up and bought a cat together, all canadians could legally wed. and for the first time in my life, i wanted to get married. i wanted to bind myself to her legally. i wanted that stupid piece of paper recognizing us as a couple. i wanted to put a ring on it. i wanted to procreate and live happily ever after. i wanted to make the same public commitment to her that my friends were making to their opposite-sex partners. i wanted a wedding cake (and she wanted a different one…so we had two, haha).

it was a very good party, we were told. not for us, as our mothers only united long enough to ruin things mightily, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.

*

in my spinning and my pain, i have managed to orchestrate a divide between my young daughter and i that i fear i can’t repair. she has been going through some really hard things, and i haven’t been there for her. i have been judgmental and harsh, prickly and impatient. we argue all the time. i have not liked her very much lately, because she dares to request that i be her mom, and i can’t handle it. i haven’t been able to handle much of anything. and i see how i have failed her, how she has steeled herself against my rejection: in her body’s language, in her lack of turning to me, in the tone of her voice, in the tilt of her chin.

i have detached myself from her, from everyone i love in a variety of ways, big and small, because i have been caught in a wind tunnel of self-loathing and hurt. and i hate myself the most for doing it to her, coz she’s only little. and she has interpreted my psychic absence as disinterest about her. that she is not important. that she doesn’t matter. i hate me for it.

just now, after writing all of that, i curled around her sleeping body, and i soaked her pillow with my regret and my shame and my guilt and i whispered all the things i don’t have the courage to say to her yet, and also all the things that she doesn’t ever need to hear: my apologies. my mistakes. my fears.

and then after that, to the rhythm of her heart, i whispered my commitment to her, which is really a commitment to myself: to be gentle. to be gentle. to be gentle.

Forgiveness (121)

I think I actually made an ‘ugh’ sound and scrunched up my nose when I read this word out today. Lost in my own world despite being in a busy classroom. Because, well, fuck this word.

I don’t agree with any bullshit notion that somebody will never move on from the things that happened to them until they forgive the perpetrator. Really, come on, that’s so fucking minimising and arseholeish to suggest. It’s not that I am vehemently against the notion of forgiveness, (and I’m most definitely not vehemently for it), it’s that I just don’t agree that I need to rise above all of it and ‘forgive in order to find peace’….don’t mind me, I’ll just be over in the corner puking.

And, maybe I would forgive them, except one thing I am extremely set on is that I will not ever forgive them, unless they actually come up to me and ask to talk about it. To face it, stop pretending, apologise, and are actually meaningfully regretful, and also, seem to actually understand the fucking colossal effects of what they did. Until then…fuck forgiveness. No fucking way.

*****

The one and only person that I do want to forgive (and maybe forgiveness actually isn’t even the right word), is myself back then. For doing what she did, for surviving how she did, for not choosing to do the things that adult me wishes she had. Maybe that’s not really about forgiveness, but about accepting the situation…but from where I stand today, feeling so hateful towards a younger me, forgiveness maybe does feel like the right word. Maybe? I don’t know.

 

twelve: gentleness

over the past three years, this has been one of the words that nearly always makes me want to cry. just the idea of it, the sound of it, the feeling of the word in my mouth, is enough to get that sparkling feeling in my eyelids. but also, being held gently. touched gently. looked at with gentle eyes. gentleness in general, but especially, the idea of being gentle with myself.

i remember actually doing a google search a few years ago on how to be gentle to yourself. because i had no fucking clue. i read through it all voraciously – i really needed to understand these search results, the why of it, the how, all of it – it seemed my life depended on it. i remember this article coming up during my search, and i printed it off and carried it with me until really recently. it grew tattered, stained, with the ink faded along the folds, but even now, these words are a lullaby to my soul.

i’m marginally better at gentleness with my self, these days, and part of that has been about embracing the younger parts of me, the terrified little one who is just desperate to be loved and held and to have her big big feelings contained. who just wants safety, care, presence, and steadiness. who did not have a lot of gentleness at home. in fact, she had more than her share of sternness, brusqueness, and ‘toughening up.’ she is tough, so tough, but she just needs some softness. we all do, i think.

*

i also have my daughter to thank for helping to connect me to my wee one. for facilitating my learning these useful, life-saving skills for the child in me. for grounding me, for demonstrating how kids are, how they think, and what they need.

sometimes, when i’m able to stay adult in the midst of a difficult fury-storm with her, when i can listen to all the outlandish things she says, as she rages and stomps and pummels me with unfair words, if i open my arms, she will just fall in, limp, melting into my embrace, soaking my shirt with her sorrow.

as much as possible, i want to be her safe space to land. i want to become what i never got, both for her and for me. i want to gentle us both into stronger, softer people.

*

today, i was at the hairdresser, and at one point, in the midst of doing her job, she stroked my cheek (i think in sweeping my hair away) and tears sprung to my eyes. why would she be so gentle with me? also today, in the middle of getting a hug from my therapist, after a hard session, she said (softly, entirely unexpectedly and without provocation) that she loved me. my knees nearly buckled from the love in it.

i could listen all day to people criticizing me and manage to deal with that. but gentleness is my undoing.

*

in searching for a poem i was sure i wrote on the topic (which i haven’t found…pocketbrit, have i ever sent you such a thing, on gentleness?!), i found pages and pages (and pages) of times when pocketbrit and i used the word gentle with each other.

nearly always, being gentle with her is second nature to me. i want to be gentle to and with her, because i adore her, and it is one of the easiest things to do (especially with little pockebrit, the sweet little imp that she is, with two of the brightest, saddest eyes i know).

but just a few days ago, i was not gentle with her, nor was i gentle with myself. instead of not siding with the meanness of our pasts, instead of not contributing further to our suffering, i added my voice to the mix, helped feed Shame and Fear until they got so big they swallowed us both up. and, as you can imagine, it was fucking terrible. sent myself spinning, helped to send her spinning, both of us into orbit, far away from each other’s galaxies. into the lonely, dark depths of our pasts.

i have missed her dearly. we are making our way back, heavy with regret, cloaked in guilt, still shrugging off the vestiges of shame for the words we chose, the actions we were compelled to take, the choices we made. with oceans of sad in our hearts for the conflated hurts and traumas we carry, and how they veil our eyes and prevent us from knowing the truth.

so, i’m ending this night at the sea, alongside her slumbering form, and i’m gently smoothing the hair away before i kiss her foreheard goodnight. very quietly, nearly under my breath, i am saying my favourite part of max ehrmann’s poem ‘desiderata’:

…be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.