Making Connections

What began as a kind of crappy day off yesterday, ended up being rather remarkable.

I’d booked a vacation day with the intention of going to the zoo to visit Hudson et al, and I left later than planned, but at least I went.  The weather was pretty gross sometimes, and it rained quite a bit for a while, but I made quick trips to look in on some faves, and some I haven’t seen…all year, I think.  But most of my time there was spent with the bears.

And for once, the rain actually helped.

Steve and I hadn’t been with the boys for very long when it started raining harder than it had been previously.  We eventually decided to move into the sheltered area by Juno and, knowing he’s not a fan of rain, either, Steve called Hudson over to that area where he could also stay dry.  No one else was around, and Hudson lumbered into the spot next to the window we were at and made himself comfortable.  I’ve been that close to him before – when he was a young lad – but this was the first time he’d ever really stayed in one place for more than a few seconds.

I took several photos in the beginning, but not as many as usual, and it wasn’t long before I had put my coat on the floor so I could sit on it and Steve and I basically just hung out with Hudson for a while.  We talked to him and pressed our hands to the glass, and every time he made eye contact with me my heart about exploded.

Nearly four years after he left Toronto, I finally got the chance to re-connect with my favourite bear.

Next up was our weekly girls’ night, but only two of us were able to attend this time.  After arguing back and forth with myself all week about how I should go about these hangouts moving forward, I went still undecided to meet up with one of my best friends.  There are two, but this one I see more regularly, and I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to say any of what I needed today and open up better (despite the rising panic I feel every time I think about it), or if I would just relax and allow it to remain more superficial.

I ended up choosing Option A.

To a degree, anyway.  But still much closer to what I’d been hoping for all this time, so I’m fairly proud of myself. AND I was able to listen more closely, too.  There are I think two things I wish I’d said, but both are related to what she’s going through, instead of things I wish I’d said about myself.  I didn’t leave frustrated and upset and feeling alone for the first time in a long time.  I mean, I left drunk and tired, of course, but …satisfied.  More balanced.  Still some panic, but less than before.

I won’t say I turned a corner, but I did have a good day.  I connected with individuals I love.

That counts.

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I’m Still Standing

So basically, I was done with today well before I even left the apartment this morning. I debated whether or not to do even that much, but only briefly, because there’s just too much to do at work at the moment. In a way, it’s easier to just come in and do it than figure out what happened while I was off when I get back. Plus, in today’s case, I think being there in the heat and the ridiculousness of all the things that went wrong for me this morning would have been worse than coming to work.

Just, you know, to put into perspective how much my morning sucked.

However, there was no one big thing to which I could attribute my feeling that everything was spiralling out of control, but rather a plethora of small things that overwhelmed me as I was being bombarded by them. Despite just wanting to give up and go back to bed, though, I was instead able to take care of home problems as much as possible before I left, push the panic surrounding things I can’t control at the moment to the side long enough to realize that it’s probably not as bad as I’m fearing, and get myself to work. On time, even.

I haven’t really slept, I feel physically quite terrible, and I am struggling to focus on the tasks at hand…but here I am. Doing it all, anyway.

I realized that, while the frustration and panic and stress and fatigue made everything seem out of control, I can still actually function in small ways, and today that’s enough. It’s enough for me to feel a sense of pride in my ability to do the things I can do, even when it seems like there are so many more things that I can’t. Somehow, I was able to recognize that my feelings are still valid, even if there are all kinds of external reasons for feeling them more acutely than may be necessary. Maybe I get frazzled easily over little things sometimes, but even that is valid, because it’s how I feel. And that I am able to recognize that as it’s happening – as I stand in the eye of that emotional storm – yet still manage to keep up the struggle, makes me proud of myself.

I didn’t let the frazzled-ness win. What felt overwhelming didn’t actually overwhelm, because I’m still standing. Struggling, yes, and unsure as to how some things will turn out, but even that is a far more positive step than giving in and giving up. Any step forward is better than no step at all.

I think my therapist would be crazy pleased with me today, as well. And who doesn’t want that kind of validation, really? 😉

Change Seems To Be A Theme Lately

Did anyone else ever panic about not having a chimney available for Santa to come down on Christmas eve? I mean, not everyone grew up with a fireplace handy! The only one I had regular access to at Christmas was fake. No chimney – what if that meant no Santa?!

Thank goodness it didn’t, but still. A big cause of stress and anxiety for a time there.

As I lay in bed last night, I asked the full moon and summer solstice and fairy magic and anything else who might be listening for something – but I can’t exactly remember what. That’s probably not a good sign. I think peace was involved, and contentment; to realize what I would need in order to find such things. I don’t remember. Guess it wasn’t that important, really. Another wasted wish. Dreamed later of something going on in my childhood home, and how the trees weren’t the same anymore. I don’t think in reality that the trees are even still there, so yeah. They definitely aren’t the same. I can’t remember what was going on in the dream, either, but missing the trees I loved didn’t stop me from being in a good mood, at least.

So there was that.

I approached someone yesterday with an idea as to how I might be able to do more; be of more use. It was turned down, no discussion required. Wasn’t a very good idea, I guess, but was worth a shot. Always worth a shot, even if it means stepping into yet another insurmountable wall.

If love is love is love, then shouldn’t I be able to have sex with as many guys as I want and still be just as gay as always? Is it about sex or love? Because the two are not mutually exclusive – at all. And sex is sex. You can’t choose who you love, but who you have sex with is usually more of a choice, I think. Maybe our labels need to be more clearly defined. Either that, or people need to stop getting so caught up in them.

I keep running into situations wherein someone doesn’t believe me. With most people it doesn’t matter, but when it’s someone close to me…I’m not sure what I’ve done or haven’t done to warrant not at least giving me the benefit of the doubt. Am I that much of a liar or attention-seeking drama queen or disappointment to the rest of the human race that others are easier to believe – to have faith in – than I am? So weird. I mean, I get not listening to me. As I’ve said, I bore myself more often than not. But that’s different from just not believing I’ll do what I say I intend to do. I feel like I am let down on a regular basis, too, yet I still believe most of what people say; naively so, in most cases. And considering I was in a serious relationship with a chronic liar, that’s still pretty hard for me to do; to not assume everyone is misleading me. Sometimes I wonder if I should even bother making the effort, when it’s clearly not reciprocated from multiple others. Tit for tat, right?

I said ‘tit’.

I’ve learned how crazy lucky I was to get my apartment when I did, and for the rent I did. Even though it has gone up a little each year, I am paying far less than the move-in rent if I were to become a new tenant now. Far less. It’s more than a full paycheque to move in now. I wouldn’t even be able to afford to look at the place, and compared to most buildings, the size of my unit is huge.

I said ‘my unit is huge’.

Was just chatting about TV shows we used to watch as kids, and one guy was adamant about not having watched Wonder Woman when he was growing up. Which is too bad for him, because Wonder Woman is hot! What is it about guys – of pretty much any age – preferring to watch other guys doing things, instead of hot women? Guys would rather watch other guys play sports, solve mysteries, drive cars and motorcycles, save lives using their superpowers – even when they’re wearing tights and silly costumes. Seriously – what is up with that? At what point in our evolution did we decide it was more manly and preferable for guys to enjoy looking at and up to other guys instead of women? Especially strong, independent women. Women who didn’t need saving, and who could think for themselves. How did we become a society that prefers Superman – who gets weak in his tight-ed knees for a woman – over Wonder Woman – who does her own thing and keeps her head on her shoulders rather than becoming hysterical with emotion at every turn? That women are pinups and yet gay is still not okay? Mixed message much?

Speaking of guys, I fully eavesdropped on a couple of young fellas on the subway yesterday after work. One caught my attention because he announced that he was 20, and that college was hard for him. When I turned to look at him (in part to see why he was so loud about his age and such on public transit), I saw this beautiful young thing with dark wavy hair, dressed in a white t-shirt that set off his tan nicely, and sunglasses perched casually atop his head. The friend he was talking to was more plain looking, maybe more shy, but definitely stood out less. I listened to how they spoke to one another, and it wasn’t long before I realized that the beautiful one was on the spectrum somewhere, and that they hadn’t seen one another since they were in elementary school together. I don’t think they even went to high school together, though they both seemed to still be in touch with other people they knew from back in the day, so maybe it hadn’t been as long as it seemed since they’d last seen one another. For certain they’d both changed in the duration.

The beautiful one wanted to be assured that he was cool (the way he adjusted his shirt and sunglasses as he asked the question was adorable, too), but it was much more important that he know he was a good person. He brought that up a lot, and the plain one confirmed it for him each and every time.

You’re a good person – trust me!”

The plain one was obviously a bit uncomfortable with some of the conversation, but he was also extremely patient and didn’t appear to do or say anything to make the beautiful one feel like he was anything less than an appreciated old friend. He mentioned once about how they’d all been stupid kids back then, and that other people had probably changed, too. I got the feeling that not everyone had been as patient with the beautiful one’s social differences as the plain one was being now. Maybe not even the plain one himself. But now, they spoke of what college was like for the plain one, how it was a great experience, and where he lived now versus where he attended school. The conversation actually flowed pretty easily between them, for the most part, and by the time the plain one was preparing to get off the subway (at the same stop as me), he discovered that the beautiful one was supposed to have gotten off two stops prior, but he didn’t even mention it because “I was talking to you”! It struck me as this really kind of sweet interaction between two guys – there was even hugging before they got off the train – that demonstrated how much more of a good man this 20-year-old kid already is, as compared to many people twice his age. He didn’t belittle the beautiful one, he didn’t talk down to him, or make fun of him or hate on him in any way – like how so many of us treat those who are different. Maybe things would have gone another way had the plain one been with a group of buddies, or something, but on his own – totally stand up guy that most of us could take lessons from. I was happy to witness it, myself, and wondered how many others took a moment from their self-absorbed commute thoughts to pay attention to something good happening right next to them, too.

Not that they were right next to me. They were just louder than my thoughts, for a change.

And that one kid was really beautiful. I couldn’t stop glancing over at him. Ridiculous.

Learn To React Out Loud

I’ve realized that most of what I know of my friends and their lives – including the ones I talk to almost every day – is gleaned from posts they make online, as opposed to anything said to me directly. That realization hurt at first, until I made the realization on top of it that I do pretty much the same thing.

Except that I don’t really post much online, either.

It’s possible that’s where some of my communication frustration is coming from. Haha

I lean more toward not posting things online in public forums because a) when it’s in writing it’s harder to revise and re-state, b) the general public has no business in most of my bizness, and c) I’m of the notion that those I do choose to share with are closer to me in some way; I trust them with more of me.

So be it in person or via text/email, I much prefer small groups and individual conversations to mass online postings. In a way I choose those trusted few very carefully, but in another way I really just run on instinct. I’m crazy naïve, and of course just want to be liked (emotionally I’m, like, 8 years old on a good day, but most of the time I’m pretty much still an unborn fetus), so my instincts are often steered wrong just by those factors alone. I usually consider what I want to say before I say it (so writing is easier; I’m just not a fan of the public), but I also try to consider who I’ve decided to say it to.

Writing a personal blog each day is ridiculous for someone like me, but one can’t grow and improve unless one ventures out of their comfort zone once in awhile, and thus far I’ve remained mostly inside my comfort zone as far as this little project is concerned. I want to say I’ll work on changing that, but even as I think about typing it, I am also tempted to just let it be. So we’ll see, I guess. I want to keep those closer to me, the chosen few, still closer than this, and to venture further outside my comfort zone with them, too. With them more, actually.

But I guess sometimes I can talk about something other than what I did today, or whatever.

Like fear.

What are you afraid of” and “what scares you” are questions that come up all the time, to celebrities, to potential relationship partners, to friends sitting around a campfire splitting a bottle/several bottles of wine.

I’m not saying alcohol is necessary for conversation, but it definitely helps!

I once did a presentation in high school about fear. I actually can’t remember what it was for, or what I even talked about, specifically. I just remember I started off my presentation with the first 20 minutes of the original When A Stranger Calls. The whole, “have you checked the children” babysitter/phone call bit.

The calls are coming from inside the house!!!”

Guys! Some of the scariest 20 minutes put on film, if you’re me. And apparently if you are some of my classmates that day.

I, myself, am afraid of lots of things. Most things, really, but to varying degrees. I learned very early on in life to not react to some things, because my reactions would make everything worse. If someone thinks it’s funny to scare you and they don’t get the reaction they wanted, they stop trying. I bottle a lot of that shit up, even to this day. Sometimes it’s even practical – if you encounter a wild animal, don’t run. It makes you look like prey. So freezing up on the outside and screaming on the inside can actually be helpful in some situations.

Not in most, though, so training your instincts to do that is not the greatest idea, and it’s incredibly difficult to re-train yourself to scream on the outside once you’re older. I’m still trying to learn how to react out loud; to actively defend myself instead of freezing up.

I’m afraid of any kind of violation, be it of my person or of my home/safe space. Both at once would be unimaginably horrible. Yet I do imagine it, all the time.

I am afraid of the elements, mostly wind and fire. And water, though I guess the chance of a tidal wave coming off Lake Ontario is pretty slim. I think I am less afraid of dying in some sort of natural disaster as I am of losing someone to it. The animals; friends; family. I spend so much time being afraid and trying to prepare and/or avoid catastrophe that I feel like I would survive, but lose someone important to me, and spend the rest of my life re-playing it over and over in my head, trying to make the outcome different. Even losing Alysia – I wasn’t there, but there are still nights even now when I imagine all I would have tried to do to get those kids and Frankie the Kitten out of there safe. I mean, all I think or wish I would have been able to do. Just…anything to make the reality different. I would possibly just freeze in that situation, too, but not necessarily.

I remember once when I was living with Lizz in our cute little house, I was home alone, in the living room, when I heard a cat jump down from her bedroom window and in trotted Kate. Moments later, another thump of paws hitting the floor and Dodger appeared to grace me with his handsome presence.

Then there was a third sound in the back bedroom, and we only had two cats.

They both heard it, too, and together the three of us stared at the dark hallway until a massive raccoon sidled into the light, looked at us, then went into the kitchen to eat all the cat food.

Frozen in my chair, I placed a panicked call to Lizz, who was on her way home from work, and kept an eye on the cats and our unwanted visitor. Everything was fine – more or less – until the raccoon made its way back into the hallway and disappeared. About 2 seconds later, Dodger and Kate took off running after it. I’d heard about how vicious raccoons could be, and how quickly they could kill a cat, and panic washed over me again, but this time it kicked me into action instead. I raced after the cats, yelling the whole time, and they were so startled that they came back immediately. I kept them with me until Lizz came home, but by then the huge critter had made its way back outside through the window from whence it came.

Or from wherece it came.

Anyway, the point is, I was terrified and I froze, but once I was more terrified for the cats, I sprang into action hero mode, if only for a few seconds.

I’m afraid of spiders, though more because of their unpredictability and the whole jumping thing. I don’t like the jumping. Nor the crawling in my mouth while I sleep. Bugs in general…let’s just stay as separate from one another as possible.

So yeah – basically I am afraid of weather, animals/insects, and other people. This is what makes it difficult to leave the house.

However, I am also afraid of embarrassing myself. It’s a different kind of fear, but it ends up having the same result. Often, my ability to freeze and not react has helped me not embarrass myself, though. Or, at least, embarrass myself less.

Like, my first MRI, I did all this research so I’d know what to expect, but still, as I slid into the tube and felt the machine pin my arms to my sides, and looked up to see the cage over my head and the top of the tube inches away from that, I sucked my breath in – and froze. The tech asked if I was okay, and I said “yeah”, which forced me to expel a little bit of air, just to make sound come out. I felt like kicking and screaming and oh-HELL-no-ing my way right back out of there, but that would have been humiliating. One of the techs was hot and I didn’t want to make a bad impression, so I reminded myself to breathe, and let even more of that air out. Then in, then out. And repeat.

Since then, I’ve been admittedly kind of an expert on the whole MRI thing, and even give a little coaching to anyone I meet in the waiting room who’s nervous about it themselves.

I don’t like causing a scene. It gets me into more trouble than it’s worth sometimes, but once in awhile it helps. I just never really found the balance, because I’m still so focused on the freeze and stay silent than I am on what a more appropriate and beneficial reaction would be in some circumstances.

I haven’t found other ways to defend myself, even though my go-to doesn’t really work out very well most of the time.