A problem shared

I like to talk about my problems. To give voice to them. To allow them to exist. To own them. To be honest about them. It lets me feel free. It reminds me that I expand far beyond the bounds of my problems.

I use this as a place to talk about my problems quite a lot because talking about them in conversation with others tends to lead to unwanted consequences. Like bad, unsolicited advice. Or worse, misplaced sympathy. Misplaced sympathy makes me feel physically sick. Don’t feel sorry for me just because I have more self-awareness than you, motherfucker.

I am not complaining about my problems. I am holding space for them. I am honouring them. I love them. They are so interesting, and they teach me so much. I am positively captivated by them, and they are literally my reason for being. Don’t rain on my problem parade.

I love it when other people talk about their problems, too. When they stand and bear witness to their own struggles, without seeking to be shored up or consoled. Just wanting to be heard. I fucking love it. It helps me feel less alone. Less fucked up. More seen. More acceptable.

Maybe, whilst I amuse myself taking stock of my problems here, my words will reach some people who enjoy how they land.

Truth tellers

I’ve been watching a lot of stand up comedy lately; mostly to pacify my building anxiety about the masters thesis I’m procrastinating, and maybe a little bit so I didn’t just get my 3 year old a Netflix subscription. If I cancelled his subscription and spent that time working instead I’d probably be a much more functional human being right now, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

Maybe I should have been a comedian. I like attention, I’m pretty good at regurgitating my own words a hundred times over and not really getting bored of the sound of it, and I’m even pretty funny provided you give me a few months to prepare.

I’ve never actually even remotely considered the possibility of a career in comedy (if we discount this right now), primarily because I’m so terrible at improv. I often come up with hilarious ideas during conversation and proceed to convey them in the most bland, tone deaf way one could possibly imagine. And everyone falls silent, looking a bit perplexed. And then, three days later, while sitting on the toilet, I finally craft them into the masterpiece they were always destined to be. And the only one to witness it is the baby slug that has emerged from a crevice near my shower screen to be today’s sacrifice to the toilet gods. Because yes, barring written testimony, I will still be flushing it.

…Not because I care about the testimony, that would just probably demonstrate a level of consciousness I wouldn’t feel comfortable flushing down the toilet.

Maybe I should be conducting more thorough testing of the gastropods that find their way into my bathroom. Just what is the level of consciousness that I do feel comfortable flushing down the toilet?

There’s an idea of comedians as society’s truth-tellers. Because comedy allows us to broach difficult subjects in an accessible way, by relieving the tension of taboo with a punchline. It breaks our defenses so we can let new ideas in. Sometimes. Maybe. Or maybe not. Sometimes, maybe, the tension is relieved too quickly and we get to skirt around the discomfort entirely. Maybe the art of comedy is holding just enough tension to change you, without you actually thinking you’ve been changed. Transformation disguised as entertainment. What delicious subterfuge.

I’m crap at holding tension. I’m an all or nothing kinda gal. I’m either flirting with you with no intent to follow through, or I’m conceding wholeheartedly to make us all feel better. Maybe the art of comedy would be a useful hobby for me.

In Spirit

My last post made me feel a little bit vulnerable. Like I wanted someone who actually knew Adam to tell me it was okay to talk about him like that. Like the idea of showing it to them made me want to crawl into a hole and cover myself with mud.

I have learned throughout my life that I am highly unusual in the way I experience love, and the way that I communicate about it. This is mainly because love to me is – very viscerally – an intense, free-flowing, transcendent, abundant, radically inclusive sensation. I feel it powerfully, for lots of people, at lots of times, and it isn’t correlated particularly to whether anything ‘warrants’ it. The way I experience love, on a day-to-day basis, is the way other people describe love when they’ve taken mind-altering substances. And, unlike Adam, instead of learning to embrace it, allow it, and let it flow through me, I encased it in layers of sickening shame from a very early age so that it had no choice but to explode out of the fissures at inopportune moments.

So now I am weird.

And I often worry about coming off as a creep, or intruding where I’m not welcome, because of how many times I have tripped over my own clown feet trying to navigate the dichotomy of intense love and intense fear living in the same house. My house. My confusing, inappropriate house.

It may be that I never learned to operate the dial that people have, to moderate their feelings to appropriate levels. Maybe I don’t have a dial. Maybe I don’t even have a switch. I spent a lot of my life trying to hide my whole house-full of flashing feelings under my skirt with a flushed look on my face. Constructing an artifice of unconvincing stories to justify my awkward stance and panicked, darting eyes. It was exhausting, ineffective, uncomfortable, and really, really weird.

By the time I met Adam, I was enacting a life experiment; to accept and integrate my radical version of love. And I was being pulverised by it. But Adam was the first person I met – possibly the only person I’ve ever met – who embodied that radical version of love. And so I learned it was not only viable, but also vastly preferable to anything I had ever known before. And so I kept going.

Nearly six years on, I’m comfortable that how I love is how I want to love, and it’s pretty easy for me to allow that. Until I have to walk on these creepy clown feet. But at least I’m there in spirit. Which I guess is where he is, too. Begging the question: Does it actually even count at all if you’re only there in spirit?

My face, their shit.

I have a habit of giving my power away in the very moments when I should claim it.

No, it’s not a habit.

It’s a deeply embedded instinct for survival that, presumably, at some point, served me, but no longer makes any sense in my life.

I’m very clear with myself that I’m responsible for how I feel, not the external environment. When something is troubling me, my primary focus is on my own perception of it. That’s how I consistently endeavour to live my life, and it works well for me. I am good at being happy.

But I have a raging inflamed pain spot that blinds me to this reasoning in certain moments: When a certain someone close to me brings me all the bullshit they’ve accumulated in relation to me and slams it down on the table to win an argument, it seems I am compelled to just shove my face in it.

I try hard not to serve up my own bullshit in these kinds of interactions. The result of that is often incomplete, though the effort is always earnest. But why, oh why, oh why, oh why do I keep eating theirs? We both know it’s not food. What the fuck am I doing? This is not the correct response to the situation. They must be wondering as much as I am what on earth has possessed me to take this course of action.

If, instead, I could just lean back and say to myself “hmm, that’s an awful lot of bullshit for just one meal”, well, there are a lot of conversations that wouldn’t have been quite the ordeal I turned them into. If I could just keep my distance from the bullshit, I wouldn’t need them to stop serving it up. Obviously I’d be quite entitled to the preference. But their bullshit isn’t the problem. My face is.

Oh, wait, I see what I’m doing. I think if I eat it it’ll be gone. That’s part of the reason it’s so soul destroying. Because there’s always more where that came from. No matter how much clean-up I do, I can’t turn off their bullshit machine. In fact, all I’m doing is clearing space for more, and making myself sick in the process.

Gosh, this is so quintessential vintage Yve. What a perfectly preserved relic.

Well, here’s hoping that this absurd and offputting visual has triggered some kind of behavioural amelioration in me.

Tough love

I think I’m sliding into a new awareness of myself in relation to others. It’s too subtle to call a levelling up, but I’m hoping I’ve at least passed a checkpoint, because I don’t want to have to do these past few weeks over.

I’m in an awkward phase right now where I’m feeling the need to chase down the disharmony in my life. I’ve spent the last year or so cultivating peace, so this new strategy doesn’t appeal, but it’s either that or let myself stagnate. The growth is where the challenge is. And for me, right now, that is in my most difficult personal relationships. Personal relationships that I may prefer the luxury of writing off. Personal relationships it would be perfectly reasonable to encourage writing off.

It’s important to detach the idea of having them go the way I want them to, and having them teach me what I need them to. I regularly get stuck in the former because I resist the latter, which causes pain and makes me want to reconsider. But the only way out is through, and they are teaching me. And I’m starting to feel the effects.

Maybe I’m learning the hard way, but then that wouldn’t be anything new.