Making it something

Lately, just as an exercise to prove I’m not self-obsessed, I’ve been trying to think of posts I could write that don’t start with ‘I’. I’m not very good at it.

Maybe all I’m good at is airing my dirty brain laundry.

I’ve also been thinking about ways I can introduce additional streams of income into my life, and one of them would be to try to make this blog something. To try to figure out what it is that makes some people like it, and do that more, and show it off, and find more people, and then…I don’t know, make some t-shirts? Solicit donations? Sell a fucking writing course? That last one is a funny joke for myself.

But it’s probably a good job this blog doesn’t have a large readership. Because I’m clearly using it as a form of therapy, and I quite like the feeling of speaking into the abyss. I know people see it, I enjoy getting the odd like, and I really appreciate it when people reach out directly to tell me that they’ve read it, and that it was an enriching, or entertaining experience for them. And I also quite like that that doesn’t happen all that much. I quite like that I don’t really get comments on my blog, and I wonder if I somehow repel them, because at one point, quite a long time ago, I started getting a few, and my entire being got all spiky and wanted them to stop intruding on my life. And I felt guilty about that for a while, because I felt obligated to want comments, because this is a blog, and that’s what blogs have. And then I reminded myself that this can be whatever the fuck I want it to be.

If I made it something, though – if a lot of people were to read it – it probably couldn’t be whatever the fuck I want it to be anymore. I wouldn’t just get the odd nice message, I’d get opinions and judgement and demands. And I’d get spiky, because I wouldn’t be able to ignore them.

All of this is assumption. I don’t really know what would happen. But I think about it. And that’s a problem I have. I think myself out of things before I’ve even given them a chance to exist. Before I even know if they’re viable. Because I’m scared they will be, and that will mean things have to change. And I’m scared I can’t handle it.

But maybe I need to start finding out. At long fucking last, maybe I need to try anyway. Maybe I need to risk success.

Just a piece

I’m not here to challenge you.

Should I be?

I wrote somewhere around here about reading (or, more accurately, listening to) Untamed by Glennon Doyle and having it floor me. Because when I listened to her stories about herself and her life, I vividly saw myself and my life, completely different and yet somehow the same. And her revelations became my revelations, and her transformation became mine.

So I recommended very strongly that my best friend read the book. And she did. And when I excitedly asked her what she thought, she said yeah, it’s a good book, I’m enjoying it. But that was it. That was as far as it went for her.

I hope. That a few people read this blog and experience some kind of vicarious revelation, however small. But maybe they don’t. Maybe they just quite enjoy reading it sometimes. Maybe, sometimes, I just write a good post, and that’s as far as it ever goes.

I deliver myself to you. Just a piece. Just a sliver of a story. What you do with it is none of my business.

But maybe that’s a cop out. Maybe I should try harder. What do I want to give to you?

Maybe just whatever you want to take.

Sifting sharp pieces

Something I have realised I need to do some serious work on right now is owning my mistakes, missteps and failures more authentically.

I instinctively absorb blame whenever a situation doesn’t go as I’d like. Because of this, and because of the story that blame creates in me, I will ruminate over how to make it better, and how to be better, endlessly, if the wiser part of myself doesn’t intervene. But I am also so cripplingly ashamed of being at fault that I dare not speak it. I want to fix the problem, fix myself, and never make the same mistake again, so I can move on and never have to look at how wrong, and thus unloveable, I was in that moment.

This creates a strange dichotomy whereby my inner world is swirling with blame and shame and deep remorse, usually far outweighing the requirements for the situation, while my outer facade dances around the admission of guilt, and clings to all the reasons why it both wasn’t so bad and wasn’t all my fault. I’m suffering enough, I don’t need you to add to it.

And that’s entirely right; I don’t. But what I’m learning that I do need is a space to openly admit the exact boundaries of my failings; to examine them with considerate and compassionate eyes, and to find validation that they don’t in fact make me the terrible monster my shame would gleefully tarnish me as.

There aren’t many people in the world, I don’t believe, who can hold space for that kind of deconstruction of events, particularly in the throes of conflict, so it’s not that I should try to do this the in the raw, unfolding moment. But I’d probably be better served removing myself before I start to hear the defensive claims of victimhood or rationalisation gush from my lips. Take a breath, take a step back, save it for later. Save it for a space where I can tip all the failings onto the floor, and sift through for the pieces that are mine.

And then fucking loudly announce to the world which pieces are mine, and revel in the freedom of the proclamation.

A mild quarrel

I had plenty of sleep last night, and woke up feeling lively. My son and I danced, and made stamp pictures, and talked about Pokemon, and were out earlier than usual to get some things to supplement our breakfast from the local shop, which we then enjoyed as a sort of mini morning picnic on our picnic step close to where I alarmed some passers-by the other day. I was having a lovely time.

And then it all changed. And not because something terrible happened. But because I was involved in what was, probably, from the outside, a mild quarrel, but what my brain perceived as me being accused of being such a terrible mother and all round person that it was barely believable.

I won’t be so uncouth as to go into further detail, but it’s fair to say that, while my brain had plenty of fodder saved up to fuel that interpretation for me, it probably wasn’t what was actually happening, and even if it was, my body did not need to take it so personally.

I always feel ashamed when my trigger gets pulled. For being so weak as to allow it. Giving someone that kind of power over me is a deeply troubling occurrence. But I also get inarticulate and kind of stupid; I lose all the faculties that my most primitive sense of self-worth is attributed to.

The shame is compounded when my son is a witness. Yuck, I never want him to see me like that. Disempowered. Reactive. Defensive. Small. I want to be able to lead him by example through difficult conversations with equanimity, compassion, curiosity, and integrity. In those moments, I fall woefully short of the standards I strive towards. I worry that all the good work I have done will be somehow undone in a moment of weakness.

I am fairly confident this shame spiral is an over-reaction. I am fairly confident that – based on everything I know about trauma, shame, people – if I was an outsider looking in, I would deem it a gross over-reaction. But I’m not an outsider looking in.

I have spent the day trying to recover from this fucking mild quarrel where nothing particularly bad happened. Luckily (or maybe unluckily), it happened on a Sunday, when my only expectations of myself were to run and to write. There was plenty of time to dig in.

I can always tell when I’ve been thrown out of myself because I roam the house looking for anything and nothing. I also do this when I’m excited, but when I’m excited the roaming is an attempt to regulate the surge of energy coursing through me. When the gun’s been fired I’m looking for something to fill the void where the bullet once was. I caught myself doing this within minutes of being left to my own devices, at about half eleven this morning. It took me until half nine tonight to get myself back.

And I am back. I’m good. If that’s what it took then that’s what it took. It used to take longer. Be nice if it didn’t take anything.

Holding hands

I try to live my life believing that if I do what feels, to me, like the right thing, something good will come of it. It may be invisible, it may be tangential, but it will be; something, somewhere.

That’s not the kind of thing a human like me will ever be able to prove. And it’s not even the kind of thing a human like me can always remember to believe. But it’s a choice I try to make.

One thing that felt right for me to do was to train as a Reiki practitioner. That decision changed the trajectory of my life to the extent that it’s pointless to speculate on whether it was good or bad.

But one specific thing that happened not long after I finished my certification was that my grandad had a stroke.

I got a call from my mother after the last of my night-shifts at a job I’d just quit and she said I should probably come, so I did. He died in the night not long after I arrived, but I got to see him before he left.

And because I’d just done my Reiki certification, I felt empowered to do some Reiki on him. Now, Reiki is Reiki, it’s neither here nor there in this story, because regardless of whether Reiki did anything for my grandad, the important part was that to do the Reiki, I placed my hands on him. I held his hand in one hand, and placed my other hand on his arm. And this felt totally alien to me, and a little bit silly. Because we never really touched in my family. And if I hadn’t become a Reiki practitioner, I probably would never have been bold enough to touch my grandad on his deathbed. And what else can you do, really, to comfort a dying man who’s lost the ability to move or to communicate, whose mind is swimming in chaos as his synapses drown in blood?

My family in the room commented that he seemed to be responding to the Reiki. Maybe he was. Or maybe he was responding to something far less esoteric.

I was watching Me Before You the other night, and a scene where one character is holding another character’s hand in the hospital triggered this memory to bubble up. Because of course they were. Of course that’s what you do. Of course it is a basic human need and a basic human response in scary, sad and perilous times to physically reach for each other.

I wasn’t there for a lot of my grandad’s last days. I didn’t see how the rest of my family behaved in that time. Maybe I missed the parts where they held him or stroked his hair. But what if I didn’t? What if, aside from all the utilitarian stuff, that was pretty much all he got?

I fucking love touching people. It’s probably my favourite love language. But it just wasn’t done in our family. So, watching Me Before You, I had the terrible thought, what if that was all he got?

And what if, trapped in his reeling, disorganised brain, that was the only thing that reached him? What if, lonely, frightened and confused, what he needed more than anything was for someone to hold his hand?

It’s probably best not to wonder. But I’m glad I learned how to do Reiki.