On Dreams And Adapting

I had a dream about one of my exes last night.

Well, not exactly about her, but all the ridiculous drama – particularly near the end – featured quite heavily throughout. It’s likely my own fault for watching Bachelor in Paradise, but still. It’s had an odd effect on my waking life mindset today.

I’m angry.

Not raging mad, or anything, just a kind of over the bullshit feeling. It feels rather empowering.

Of course, I’m also exhausted, so that is likely feeding my grumpy ill-temper, as well, but whatever. I’ll focus on the empowering part!

It’s weird to stand outside of someone else’s relationship – romantic or even just friend-wise – and see a glaring imbalance within it. Weirder still is standing inside of your own relationship and seeing it – yet accepting it, anyway. Even helping to perpetuate it. Such an odd sensation to kind of hate it, and kind of hate yourself for standing for it, yet still kind of assuming that maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be. Maybe just for you, maybe just for this relationship, but still accepting it nonetheless. The logic side of you is disgusted with the whole thing. The emotional side of you is more conflicted and unsure how to proceed, so you just kind of sit there inside of it and wait for something or someone to tip the scales in a different direction. Sometimes you even think it’ll be you who tips them – just maybe not quite yet.

The ex in my dream was a compulsive liar, I think would be the term, in real life. I knew this very early on, and I adapted to basically take everything she said with a grain of salt. I think I spoke to this before, in that not believing her became a habit which was then transferred into my next relationship, until I realized what I was doing and willed myself to cut it out and treat that new relationship as the wholly different entity that it was. I still catch myself being quietly sceptical of those around me sometimes, though. I’m not sure if it can all be traced back to that relationship, or if I just have trouble trusting people in general. Same result, either way, though.

Anyway, the lies weren’t necessarily huge, and weren’t usually hurtful towards others. I figured it was kind of a defence mechanism to keep people from getting too close to the real person inside; that it likely stemmed from some deep inner self-hatred, the source of which I was never privy. It was always clear, however, that it had nothing to do with me personally. It was just a part of who she was, and I decided I couldn’t pick and choose which parts of a person I would love, so I chose to essentially ignore some of those parts, instead.

I do that will all living beings, really. No one is perfect, so I chose which parts I like and ignore the rest, if the parts I like outnumber and outweigh the parts I don’t, I mean. Like, I don’t love that Flynn poos on the mat more often than she poos in the litter box, but I love Flynn for much more than where she poos, so I adapt and tolerate and go on loving her fluffy self. I chose to deal with the things I don’t like because there are so many more that I do.

Same with the lying ex. I didn’t realize at the time how far-reaching some of the effects of those choices I made then would be, but still – I didn’t make them blind. I knew pretty much exactly what I was doing. I remember deciding to just adapt and go with it. I remember making excuses for that decision. I remember not being surprised when it all came back to bite me, but still being incredibly hurt by it. Not that I thought it wouldn’t, or that I was special, or that I could change her with my love. Nothing like that. I think it was more just choosing to adapt to it – to change myself a little bit instead.

I think a lot of people do that – maybe everyone, maybe more often women – but a lot of people, regardless. I can’t keep track of the number of times I’ve seen one person – often a guy – talk down at someone else – often a woman – and watched the woman just take it. As though maybe a part of her believes whatever he’s saying to be actual truth. And maybe it is, but it’s his truth, and she takes it on as her truth, as well. Maybe some part of me believed I deserved to be lied to by my partner; perhaps as penance for not trusting anyone to begin with (damn you, X-Files!), or perhaps just because that’s what I get when I don’t open myself up to anyone else, either. Maybe I felt I was strong enough to take it on when few others could, which in turn made me feel kind of special. Like an emotional superhero, loving those who feel they are unlovable.

Whatever the reason, it wasn’t the first time I allowed an imbalance to permeate a relationship/friendship, and it wasn’t the last. It’s interesting that watching a cheesy “reality” show could dredge up some of those old emotions to the point where they had to show up all throughout a dream that otherwise had nothing to do with them. Now it’s all swirling around in my mind again, even though I haven’t seen that person in almost 13 years now, I’d say. I guess it’s not really the specific person, anyway, so much as the feelings that evolved throughout our relationship and then escalated during our ridiculously dramatic relationship.

Like, people are mean – to each other, to other living things. Giving someone the power to hurt you is hard, especially once other hurt-y people have paved the way for them in the past. I think the kind of cool thing for me today, though, is that I’m more angry than hurt, and that’s a newer stage for me. I mean, I went through them all back in the day, too, don’t get me wrong. I was hella mad, I was vengeful, I was afraid and I was devastated. I was all over the place, dealing with that sense of loss. Even to the point of not really considering it a loss sometimes.

I remember, like, a day or two after i moved out, I went back to get the last of my things while she was at work. With her permission – she knew I was going in and that I’d leave my key once I’d retrieved the rest of my stuff, most of which she had thankfully packed for me so it’d be a quick trip. I knew she’d screw me over on a lot of it, too, because she didn’t really care if I ever got everything that was mine back, but still. It was mostly just stuff, with no real value to anyone but me, anyway. The first thing I noticed when I got in the door was that every photograph of me or us or anything to do with us had been removed from their frames and replaced with entirely different pictures. She’d essentially erased my existence from her life, pretty much overnight. That realization ruined me to the point where I stuffed as many of my remaining belongings into as I could into a garbage bag and booted it out of there, never to return.

Well, and I left my key. I’m not the asshole she expected me to be, after all.

I also accidentally left behind a few items that were personally very important to me, and never saw them again, either, which sucks. That hurts more now than the picture thing, actually. One hurt was in the moment, and the other – which was a direct result of the first – has had long-lasting emotional repercussions.

I feel like there’s a lesson in that…

Anyway. I’m grumpy today, and feeling less like putting up with other people’s crap than usual, which is probably a good thing.

I will, however, still put up with Flynn’s crap, because the things to love about her will always outweigh the…crap.

Writing Prompts – Day 2 of 12

Day 2:  The One That Got Away

You bump into an ex-lover on Valentine’s Day—the one whom you often call “The One

That Got Away.” What happens?

 

I realize that I’m not quite doing these things right, but at the same time, they are writing prompts, and I am writing about them. So suck it. I’m doing it how I wanna. Haha

Anyway…I’m going to delve into the vault of my actual past relationships for this one, just out of curiosity alone.

I was trying to figure out who I would consider to be “The One That Got Away”. I mean, every one of them dumped me, not the other way around, so in that sense, they all got away. Most of them, I was eventually glad they got away for various reasons, but there are three in particular that I miss, and still sometimes wonder what life would have been like had we not broken up. Of those three, one was unlike any relationship I’ve ever had, and was only ever meant to be temporary. It was more of a glimpse into what I would like to have for myself in the future, rather than any kind of permanent long-term thing. It was always going to end, and it was never meant to be 100%, but I feel like she’d be proud of the person I’ve become, and into whom I am continuing to grow.

She wouldn’t be proud relationship-wise, obviously, because a) I haven’t been in one for a good 7 years or so, and b) I never did find the kind of pairing she’d shown me I’d want for myself. Almost, but not quite.

So that leaves me with the other two, and they are actually more alike than different, as far as our relationships went, so for the purpose of this exercise, I can pretty much use both, instead of one or the other. In this case, they are sort of interchangeable. They are both also the closest I’ve been to realizing the kind of relationship I want someday.

They are not interchangeable as people – at all – but as far as what would happen if I bumped into either one of them on Valentine’s Day. Or any day, for that matter. It would all go about the same.

For some reason, when I first pictured this encounter, it took place in a restaurant. Why I would be in a restaurant alone on Valentine’s Day is beyond me, though. Unless it was McDonald’s.

And neither woman lives in this city, so bumping into either of them would be a surprise, to say the least. However, in my first instinctive scenario, both would be with their families. The families they built on after dumping me. Both had a child or children when I met them, and one has more now. Both are married (to men, because neither was actually gay to begin with – I’m just that spectacular for short periods of time), and both love their families; families of which I’d wanted so badly to be a part. So naturally, if I’m going to run into The One That Got Away, she’s going to be happily living her life with someone else, and – more importantly – without me.

That is going to simultaneously hurt me to my core, and make me happy to see her smile.

Maybe she introduces me as an old friend. Maybe some of the people at the table already know me. Maybe she’ll tell me a little about the job she loves, and about where she’s living now. She’ll definitely share something about the kiddo(s) I know and how they’re doing now, all grown up.

She’ll ask how I am.

I’ll lie.

Even though she’s obviously happy and enjoying her life without me, I won’t want her to know how I’m actually doing. It doesn’t even necessarily have anything to do with her – or not as much as it might seem – but not having a job I love and not seeing anyone right now…just all the “nots” that she has now and I don’t. I’m jealous and sad and blaming myself for not being good enough to give her the happy life she deserves, and is now enjoying right in front of me.

I’ll tell her I’m at least okay, that things are going pretty well, I’ll brush off the relationship question and deflect everything with humour.

Then I’ll leave, because even though I’m in McDonald’s on Valentine’s Day, I suddenly don’t have an appetite anymore, and I just want to go home. I’ll flip through some old photos and memories, imagine what might have been, and allow myself to feel for a brief moment as though she’d just gotten away all over again.

After that, I’ll pour myself a drink, break open a bag of chips, and watch some TV, because no one needs to feel that much misery over someone else’s happiness.

Especially not when it’s someone you love.

Writing Prompts – Day 1 of 12

Day 1:  Breaking Up With Writer’s Block

It’s time for you and Writer’s Block to part ways. Write a letter breaking up with Writer’s

Block, starting out with, “Dear Writer’s Block, it’s not you, it’s me …”

 

Dear Writer’s Block,

It’s not you, it’s me. I feel like I’ve never really been with you, anyway. Not really. Bumps in the road, maybe, here and there, but never really blocked. Not in terms of writing, at least. In most other facets of my life, most definitely.

So maybe I should break up with you there, too.  Break up with blockage in general.

The thing is, I’ve never really been one to break up with anyone. And while I communicate much better when I can take time to write things down, it’s not something I imagine I’d ever do via a letter. In person seems the better way – the more mature way – to treat someone you supposedly once loved. Or at least liked enough to want to be with in some form of relationship or other.

I’ve always been the one reacting to being broken up with, so I don’t really have any experience on this whole side of things.

I guess there’s a first time for everything, though, right? So maybe I should say to you what I would want said to me, if the shoe were on the other foot, and if you were breaking up with me, instead. Not that I ever want to be broken up with, but still. There’s no need to be cruel about it. Still, I am sorry that you’re getting my experimental first try at being the breaker-upper. I know how much it sucks, and yet I’m doing it, anyway.

So let’s see…I guess, first of all, Writer’s Block, we’re really not very good for each other. I can’t give you what you need, and you can’t give me what I need. That’s probably why I’ve never really been with you to begin with – I don’t think either of us ever really committed to being together, you know? It’s definitely worth trying for, and fighting for, but at some point, we both just have to realize that it’s just not working. And trying to force something that doesn’t work always ends up making things worse.

Maybe there is no second of all, actually. Maybe that’s enough. It’s not working, and nothing either of us could do or change would be able to make it work between us. I feel like it’s best for both of us if we move on, but I also don’t want to make decisions for you. I do, however, have to do what’s best for me.

And this is it.

Take care, Writer’s Block. Almost knowing you even a little bit changed me for the better, so thank you for that. Going our separate ways now will make things better still – for me, and I hope someday you realize, for you, too.

Sue

On This Day

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With Contessa at Jungle Cat World 2015

Today happens to be the 7th anniversary of what was arguably the worst day of my life.

Melodramatic, I know.

And for sure worse things have happened. But it’s not so much how the day itself went, as the effect it had on me then, and continues to have on me now.

I was pretty sure my life was over, and in some ways, I was kind of right. Obviously it wasn’t physically over, because I’m still here writing about stuff. But something broke inside me, and I’m not sure it’ll ever be repaired. I’m not sure it can be. I’m forever changed, and for the most part, that’s okay.

For the most part.

But that day, I stopped participating in my life. I stopped showing up. I stopped being present.

I stopped dreaming.

And none of that is okay.

I can, of course, look back and point out a thousand things I’ve done since that day that would seem to prove the opposite of that claim. I’ve written 4 very different novels and self-published two of them. I’ve opened an Etsy store of geeky crafts I make by hand all by myself. I wrote my first screenplay. I am a Guinness World Record Holder. I pet a freaking TIGER! I participate in a successful blog and podcast called the Mind Reels, and that has opened countless doors to opportunities that were unimaginable to me before we started. I’ve forged friendships with people I’d previously only watched on television. I’ve dealt with my MS fairly well thus far, as well as my depression, therapy, the loss of my Kate Kitten, and the addition of my current furbabies into my adopted family. I’ve got a great apartment that is tricked out to display my geekdom to…well, me, mostly. I don’t really have guests very often.

Anyway – clearly I’ve lived. I’ve been living. I’m alive. I’m gaining wrinkles and lines and scars like a freaking BOSS.

But none of that has really set in. I don’t have any confidence in myself as a person. I actually lost a lot of my swagger in 2003, which is a large part of the reason why I can have a teaching degree without ever having set foot in a classroom as a paid teacher. I just stopped believing I could do it. And then in 2007, I stopped believing I could do anything. I stopped believing I was a good choice to be here, in this world. I stopped believing I had anything of value to contribute.

So since that day in 2007, I’ve basically been killing time. And it’s pretty miserable. Even when I do awesome things, the feeling I get from having done it is so fleeting. So temporary. More like a dream of something that happened, instead of something I actually did or participated in. Because the walls are up now and they are very high – I can’t see over them. I just imagine what’s on the other side and once in awhile I imagine myself over there, too, but it doesn’t feel real. It’s just a daydream to pass the time, from one day to the next. For seven years.

Now, in my very logical brain, I know that this is my thing to remedy. I know it was a ridiculous response in the first place, and to drag it out this long is even more so. It’s become a habit. I can’t even remember how to be different anymore.

So what I need to do is find a new way to be different.

Which sounds simple, but even as I type it, competing thoughts exist in my head at the same time.

For example, I have what I think is an amazing idea for a themed bar/pub I’d love to open. I know it’s amazing because it’s somewhere I’d freaking LOVE to frequent. I have it all set up in my head, and some even on paper. I’ve researched a series of possible steps to take to make it happen. And then I remember – I’ve never worked in a bar, let alone run one. I’ve never run ANY sort of business before. I’ve never even been a manager, unless you count those months at the Great Canadian Bagel when I got promoted to manager of our kiosk because all the other staff returned to school in the fall. But I don’t really think that counts.

I have a pretty good idea about what customers want, as I’ve been in customer service since forever, and that alone makes me a great customer for others. But would it make me a great business owner? Not bloody likely.

But man, the place would be incredible. Maybe. It COULD be incredible, at least.

And that’s part of the problem, too, really. I see so much possibility in my head, but as soon as I try to get things rolling, they…stop rolling. Even my Guinness World Record attempt – while fun – was a far cry from what I’d envisioned. I don’t think I’m much of a leader. And I have no idea if that’s a chicken or egg thing, even. Do I feel like a bad leader and therefore no one is inspired to follow me? Or is no one inspired to follow me because I am not leadership material?

Is it all just a self-fulfilling prophecy?

If things had been different on this day in 2009, safe to say I wouldn’t have done many – if any at all – of the things I’ve ended up doing since. But maybe they would have been better. Maybe I’d be a better writer, or a stronger leader, or a full-time teacher.

But maybe they wouldn’t have happened at all. Impossible to say what’s for the best. All any of us have is what actually happened, and how we choose to deal with it.

And thus far, I have chosen poorly. Like that guy in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade who picked the wrong goblet.

I want to do better, but my mind is at war with itself, and it’s hard to know in which direction I should take my next step. Still, there is one key difference between now and that day 7 years ago.

Unlike this day in 2009, I’m now willing to take a next step.

And that could very well make all the difference in the world.

Besides – I really, really want to hang out in my imaginary pub. I’d participate the shit outta that if it were real.