Maybe

Saw my therapist last night after work. The session was much more difficult than usual, and I’m still upset and drained from it.

But she took good care of me while also pushing me to do the work, and didn’t let me pull back until the very end.

Like, I panicked a little when I saw there were only 2 minutes left (technically – she leaves space between sessions for occasions just like this one), and she noticed and said something like, “Just say it” because she knew I was breaking down and didn’t want to lose momentum. So I blurted out whatever it was and then she talked me back down so I wasn’t crying anymore by the time I left.

And even though I felt, like, beaten up, in a way, she told me it was good; that it was working.

I agreed.

But man – I am still really feeling it today.

The good thing – in addition to the bits of progress being made in the room – is that I’m consciously aware of my internal efforts to disengage from some of the things she repeated to me last night, which is what I usually do almost as a habit. If I don’t like something, I don’t accept it into my mind, and then instead dissolve into melodramatic despair and loneliness at how bad I am at expressing myself and how nobody “gets” me.

This time, so far, I’m managing to not accept, but also to not dissolve – I’m remaining still, in my mind. I’m allowing myself to believe that it’s at least possible that the things she said to me over and over are maybe somewhat accurate. And I’m trying to remember them, and what they actually mean, just in case.

I’m thus far preventing myself from deliberately misinterpreting certain things which would feed my pre-existing misinterpretations of myself.

If that makes sense…without having to go into detail.

Anyway. I’m exhausted in pretty much every way. But sometimes even small alterations in how one perceives themselves and the world around them are actually really huge steps.

I feel like – even though my heart hurts – this might be one of those times.

Therapy and Writing

I went to see my therapist last night. It was the first time I’ve gone in a long time…several months, anyway, and then even longer before that. Hopefully this will be the start of something a bit more regular now, though. At least for a while. It wasn’t an emergency session, exactly, but it was much needed, and very last minute. I wasn’t sure I could wait until next week, so was trying to figure out if I could go in the morning today or tomorrow and just be late for work. But she had an opening that no one else was taking last night, and she told me to just come in, so I did.

She’s the best. Takes very good care of me.

I’d made a list of the things I wanted to touch on, and while I’ll wait to delve into some of them more fully next time, I’m pleased that I made it through the entire list to some degree.  I also made sure to mention right off the bat that, while I was grateful and relieved to be there so quickly after asking about seeing her again (she’d just been thinking about me the day before, too), I was also extremely nervous.  Much more so that I thought I’d be.  It reminded me a little of the first time we met.  We talked a bit about that night, as well.

I forgot to tell her about my meeting with the Library’s Writer In Residence last weekend, but we can talk about that later. I told her about this blog, but then spoke more about communicating and trying to express myself better in general, rather than feeling the need to talk more about creative writing and the like this time. It wasn’t even a conscious decision, really. Just a result of the organic nature of our conversation at the time.

My meeting with the Writer In Residence went extremely well, however. It was very positive, and pretty much changed my mind yet again on how to move forward and strengthen my manuscript, and that was completely unexpected. I went in with a plan I wanted to float by her, and some questions that were on my mind, and instead, she was so supportive of the story and the characters and the way things are currently laid out, that I left feeling like I didn’t need to change very much at all. She gave me some valuable tips and advice on how to make specific lines more powerful, but as far as the structure and execution of the story itself, she was very pleased with what she’d seen.

It had been quite a long time since I’d been able to talk about writing and the process of putting a whole novel together and to even just revisit those characters and that story with another writer. I’d gone in ready to tear a few things apart and rebuild them, and left feeling like that may not be necessary, and that I can make what I have all the stronger and more powerful just by changing some of the language and sentence structure.

Not that line editing isn’t a huge chore in itself, but if I can get that all tightened up, bit by bit, I think I will be closer to my goal for this book than I’d anticipated prior to having that meeting. My plan is to work on one chapter a week, but since it’s now Thursday and I haven’t started working on this first week’s chapter at all, I’m not sure I’ll be able to live up to that plan, but we’ll see. I have several other things on the go at the same time, so I am not sure how much time I can devote to this right now, anyway. It was definitely a positive kick in the butt to get me focusing on it more again, though, so I am hopeful that I will be able to maintain that bit of momentum as we move forward into the dark times.

Also known as winter.

Volunteering

This morning, I went to my first volunteer shift at a place called Hands On Exotics.  They are a shelter/zoo of sorts, accredited by CAZA but not open to the public.  They take in mostly animals on the more exotic side of the spectrum, from rats, bunnies and ferrets, to parrots and other bird species, to a whack of reptiles and snakes, all the way to a lynx, various lemurs, a porcupine, kangaroos, a quokka, skunks, foxes…and the list goes on.  Many came from being either pets that were given up, or illegally owned, some from other zoos, but not matter where they come from, each individual critter has a story.  And the people who work at Hands On Exotics do their best to give each one of them the best quality of life possible.

They do a lot of outreach with many of the animals – birthday parties, presentations, fairs and other shows.  Some of the animals have appeared in film and television, and some are even capable therapy animals.  Any funds earned are funnelled back into the centre and the maintenance/improvement of the animals in their care.

A former co-worker and I once talked about possibly hiring them to do a birthday party for US, and we planned to only invite a handful of people so that we could mostly have the animals all to ourselves!

I actually haven’t ruled that out, if I could save enough for it and find a place we could do it outside.

Anyway, any doubts or concerns I’d had about volunteering there were laid to rest during the orientation session, but I really didn’t have a good sense of what it would be like until I worked my first shift.  That’s what I did today.

I did basically 3 tasks, and there were a couple on the board that I didn’t even get to, but already there’s a ton to remember, and to keep in mind.

I started off in the small rodents area, where I had to wash/change/refresh all the food and water dishes.  There were rats, ferrets, sugar gliders, a bunny, hedgehogs, and an opossum.  Or possum?  It was sleeping and I can’t remember what the sign said.  Anyway, most of them were pretty easy, even though I was slow at it.  I did each thing one at a time so that I wouldn’t forget anybody’s bowl.  The only real issue was the bitey ferrets.  Two of them were okay and mostly ignored me, but the other two (and I was warned) were not going to make it simple for me.  I locked them into one part of their cage so that they couldn’t get at me while I changed their bowls out.  But then I had to drop their ladder back down so they could get to their fresh food and water.  I put on some gloves to give me an extra layer of protection, and just as I managed to loosen the ladder, one of the little boogers nipped at me.  But…gloves, so no harm done.  They look at you so innocently and cute, too.  I considered it to be part of my initiation.

Up next was misting the reptiles.  Only 4 get misted on Sunday’s – a chameleon, an iguana (who loves it), and two different kinds of python.

Yeesh.

Luckily, it wasn’t as involved as I’d feared, and I was actually okay with it.  I kind of liked it, too, because it was refreshing after getting so sweaty earlier.  I didn’t finish that part, though, because I was up in the bird area changing papers in the small bird cages, and when I went to check on the misting situation, everything had already been put away.  I’ll try to be more on top of that next time.

The bird cages were interesting.  I was paranoid about any of them escaping, so that took me longer than it should have, too, but I’ll get better at all of it as I go.  I talked to the birds a bit as I worked, too, since I’m a stranger, and all.  There were two in the final two cages that weren’t impressed with me at all.  I think one just got tired of me taking so long.  The other was in a bad mood today to begin with, so her patience was only ever going to last so long, anyway.  I started going back and forth between the two until I got both done, so it took a while, but was a success overall, I think.

Plus, one of the bigger birds in a cage across from the ones I was working with started talking to me!  Naturally I talked back.  Well, responded – not talked back.

Anyway, there was a lot of “hello” back and forth, and then a few rounds of, “I’m a pretty bird!”

“You ARE a pretty bird!”

Made me laugh.

It was around the time that I was finishing up those last two bird cages when something completely random and never happens…happened.  I won’t go into details because they are not important.  What’s important is that I got to go into the lemur enclosure for a few minutes!!!

One my first day!!!

There were two occupants left in there because everyone else had gone out to a show our something, but the more outgoing of the two spent some time on my shoulder, and the timid one let me crouch next to him while he had a snack.

And I freaking love lemurs, so this was pretty ,Cush the greatest end to a shift I could have imagined.

I’ll go back next weekend, and see if I can get things done a little faster on my second go at it.

For now, my exhausted body hurts.  Time for beer.

Hope Springs

Yesterday’s main event involved taking Brody to get groomed.  He was in dire need of a bath and a haircut and just an overall fresh start.  I’d fallen way behind on his upkeep, much to my shame, so I’m more determined to not let it get anywhere near that out of control again.  Hard to catch up again once you fall behind, and while he’s not the only thing I am behind on, he is an important one.  Sorry Brodykins.  I’ll try to be a better Mamma Sue in the future.

I’m still not a very good pet mom, but I’m trying to get better.  Definitely trying, but with questionable results, apparently.  Time will tell.

The upside to the day was that I got to kill time with Kristi for the afternoon while Brody was in his very long appointment.  We went to Dollarama so I could grab some paint for an idea I have.  We got flowers and green grapes, then went to this grilled cheese place we’d passed earlier called Millwood Melt.  We ate our insanely delicious lunch outside at a picnic table and enjoyed the sunshine and gentle breeze.

Next up was a trip to Home Sense.  We…may have spent too much money, but was ridiculous good fun wandering around the whole store to make sure we’d checked everything out.  Canadian Tire and Pet Smart were wandered, as well, and I finally remembered to get the puppy a new tag with both of our current phone numbers on it.  Also grabbed some new winter boots for him and Soph, a flea comb to hopefully help maintain the goop that gathers under his eyes, and we found a conditioner that will hopefully help with his itchy skin enough to let me give him a bath more often.

He’d always get so itchy, and the shampoo I have makes it feel like all of the natural oils and stuff are gone from his hair after.  I was considering adding some olive oil or something to it next time, to see if that would help, but now I can see how this conditioner works before I try other things.

Anyway, guilt and shame at being a bad mom aside, it was mostly a really nice day.  Brody had a nap and then we went for a bit of a longer walk once it cooled down outside.  We may have also had some popcorn for dinner.  Made on the stove.  So so good.

I decided to water my wildflower seeds, too.  It had been a few days so I figured it couldn’t hurt.  When I went outside to do so, though, I had the happy surprise of spotting several little green sprouts poking out from the soil!  I’d just been telling Kristi of my tentative plans for “if anything grows” earlier in the day, and almost out of nowhere there are little spots of life springing up on my balcony already!

Now, I realize this doesn’t seem like a big deal to anyone but me, however this, too, is all new to me.  Aside from when I was a child doing such things with my mom (or watching her do them), I’ve never planted a seed on my own before.  I’ve never grown anything from seemingly nothing before.  In my head, I was kind of expecting to just be watering the dirt for a month before giving up and just continuing to try and keep my one plant alive.  I was randomly checking prices for potted wild flowers that are already growing, in case I was really that determined to have flowers on a balcony that barely gets any direct sunlight now that there’s a larger building next door.  I was expecting my seed-planting to go the way of those little boxed grow-your-own-bonsai trees, or something.  I was preparing myself for more failure and disappointment.

I was wrong this time, though.  There is life in that box of dirt; life that I helped put there.  It’s a week old today, and even though I will soon have to spread the little guys out (hopefully without killing them), at the moment, I haven’t failed.  They are growing.  Something I planted – little seeds I put into soil – they’re growing.

Maybe there is hope for me, after all.

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Being Mean For Honesty’s Sake

I often think about honesty, and truth, and the price of putting it out into the world. Like, I almost never speak or write what I actually think or feel. Even on here, I know it will be read, and for sure some among you will take whatever it is personally. That’s what we do; we assume everything is directed at us, whether it is, or not. I mean, the internet makes that much easier, because everything posted online has a degree of, if not anonymity, then at least distance and separation between the author/speaker and the individual reader/audience member. We can say and write whatever we want – promote our truth – and for sure someone out there will read it and think, “Fuck…is she talking about me?!” Whereas, if someone speaks to you directly, via letter, email, telephone or in person, there’s really no denying that you are the one to whom they are referring.

So I, for one, self-edit pretty much all of my actual self away. Or, not away, but hidden inside. I don’t express at least 90% of what I actually think or feel – at least. Probably more. Because it’s mean. There are compliments and such that are nice, so I try to say those, at least when they are true. Usually, though, truth and honesty is pretty mean, and it hurts people. I don’t like to hurt people, even people I don’t like, so I keep it to myself. To spare them. To spare you.

But what is that doing to me, I wonder? Keeping it all in? Surely it’s not the healthiest way to live. (And don’t call me Shirley)

I see and hear people purging what seems to be everything that comes into their heads, regardless of how it may make another person feel. Which I guess is great for them, but they’re mean. Many don’t even appear to try finding a way to express themselves without being hurtful. Either they don’t notice how their voices are being received, or they don’t care. Neither is a quality I want to nurture in myself, and I don’t even like people. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a better version of this inherently evil species. The best version I can be. Or, you know, just better than I could be, if I cared less.

This post went so differently in my head while I was riding to work on transit this morning! It was less vague, yet more stream of consciousness-y.

I think we get ruder and meaner as we get older. Older people will say stuff to your face and not give a crap about your precious feelings. They don’t need to hide behind the interwebs. They’ve got stuff to say and not enough time in which to say it all, so they get out as much as they can, while they can. There’s definitely no time for beating around the bush, or re-phrasing, and no point in keeping it all bottled up inside. Each new day is an opportunity to speak your mind. And now, with the internet, we can be different parts of ourselves depending on our communication method of choice in any given moment. We can show one semblance of truth on Facebook, another in an email, and something quite different to those in our immediate vicinity. It would be interesting to watch the internet generation get older – see how many selves they have when all of the feel like expressing their truth all the time.

I wonder what I’ll be like as I get older? Will I still try to remain quiet, or will I just start expressing my anger and hurt and whatever else I think and feel to whoever will listen? Will I even care if anyone is listening? Maybe I’ll just talk, anyway. To animals, to the air around me. I already apologize to inanimate objects on occasion, so it’s not a far leap to raging my way loudly down the sidewalk, really.

Would I feel better, expressing all these thoughts and feelings? Would it be a relief to just get it all out? Or would I see how my words affect people and just end up wallowing in guilt and regret all the more? (Though, I’d probably get lots of space to myself on public transit if I was speaking my thoughts aloud…food for yet more thought)

It’s so easy to say, “I want you to be honest with me”. But trust me – you really don’t.  Or to say, “Tell me how you really feel.”  Yet truly, you don’t really want to know.  I am not mean or rude enough to make my thoughts and feelings known – yet – but I am absolutely mean and rude enough to have them. I watch you and hear you express yourself, and sometimes it even hurts me, but so far I’ve resisted the temptation to reciprocate or follow your example. It’s not always easy, but I’d rather that than than have to live with the consequences of the effect my words would have on you. Also, I’ve been keeping it all to myself for so long that it’s not only a habit, but I’m also not entirely sure which ones are real overall, versus which are just momentary or reactionary “real”. Which will still be true tomorrow, and which are just lashing out in hurt or anger. When I think about it, it’s difficult to tell for certain. I’m emotional, just like everyone else, but I recognize that emotions fluctuate and change and come with varying degrees of intensity. What I think or feel in a given moment may just be a knee-jerk reaction that winds up not being accurate once I’ve taken a moment to breathe through it. So the idea of doing permanent damage to a relationship, friendship, and even a stranger’s day – all to satisfy a temporary need that may or may not make me feel better – is just not something I’m willing to do yet. It thus far does not seem worth it.

Besides, I’m also aware of how I hurt and insult and upset and anger people on a daily basis without even realizing it. That sentence doesn’t make logical sense, I suppose, but there it is. I know it’s happening, I just can’t usually tell when or why. When I do realize something specific I’ve done, some line I’ve crossed, it’s too late. The damage, however unintentional, has been done. That realization alone is enough for me to carry the guilt and regret inside me for likely the rest of my life. Having that person or people telling me how I’ve made them feel, or highlighting my error in being, makes the burden 100 times heavier. Maybe it makes them feel better to point out my shame, so I let them have their moment, or moments; whatever they need. That’s the only way I feel like I can even partially make up for what I’ve done; allowing them – allowing you – to express how it’s made you feel. But I know how that makes me feel, so I won’t reciprocate.

Usually.

Truth hurts. That’s what they say. It hurts because it’s often mean. It hurts because something we are afraid is true has just been confirmed by another. While part of me wants to be honest with you, and tell you what I think and what I feel, so far, I just can’t. Because even though it’s not my intention to do so, the truth – my version of it – would hurt you. Or anger you. Or confuse you. Or any number of other adverse ways in which it would affect you. Therein lies my frustration. I want to be open and express myself, but I hold back because of how it’ll affect you. Because of how affecting you in a negative way would feel to me.

So far, it’s just not worth it.

Though, at the same time, sometimes I’m drowning in unexpressed and unvented emotions. Yet I see you appearing to have no qualms about putting your thoughts and feelings out there, regardless of how it might make me or anyone else feel. Regardless of how it makes me feel. More and more I wonder to myself – if I am showing you more regard than you are showing me, and if I am showing you more regard than I am showing myself – how can I ever hope to find any sort of balance in my own life? It’s not my job to coddle you, and yet that’s exactly what I do. All the time. Every day. By my own choice. Not because I am a nice person. Not because I wish only to spread peace and love across the land. I’m not a unicorn.

I do it because, above all else, I fear a life without you in it.

Sometimes I just wish you felt the same about me.