Not so lady-like lumps

I have a lumpy head. Or, rather, I had a lumpy head. I just had the last couple removed earlier today. It’s the third time I’ve been in to Doctor Proctor’s minor surgery clinic. He’s a lovely man; very personable, humble and curious. I always feel a bit egotistical during our chats as he cuts open my scalp and pries out sacs of gunk, because he asks me considerate questions and responds so warmly to my responses, and I never really ask anything back because I’m a bit scared to interrupt his work by talking when he didn’t specifically prompt it. And not even because it might impact my scalp, just because I don’t like to interrupt people when they’re working.

By the time it came to today’s appointment, I half wondered what the point was, because I’ve barely noticed these remaining offenders since having the last two removed. They were, of course, removed in order of severity, with the biggest and most painful going first in the most traumatic of the de-cysting procedures, where I even got to enjoy the thrills of cauterisation when I was a bit too bleedy. There’s really nothing quite like the bubbling, hissing, crackling sound of your flesh burning, vibrating against your skull. Now that we were down to the least troublesome, I wondered if removing them was worth the trouble.

I’m not particularly squeamish and, adequately numbed, it’s not like I find the removals especially perturbing. Each time, however, I have found myself with shaky, sweaty hands by the time the stitches are in. It always feels disproportionate to the amount I suffered during the procedure. I mentioned it the first time, in case it was a side effect of the anaesthetic, but it didn’t seem to have a neat explanation. I’ve been trying to dredge up the parts of my degree that taught me about the biological response to pain, so I can speculate on whether, if the pain receptors are blocked, the body still has other ways of knowing it’s been hurt that may result in me having this kind of reaction. Maybe I’m just bluffing myself into thinking I’m fine and the shaking is a manifestation of how fine I’m not.

I’d become quite self-conscious about my lumpy head. Specifically, the idea of a romantic interest feeling them during a moment of intimacy made me squirm. My ex teased me about them and, while I don’t think his intention was to make me feel bad, it pushed on some tender spots around feeling unfeminine and thus unattractive, and created a problem where once there hadn’t been one. Beautiful women don’t have lumpy heads. I was surprised to find myself so affected by an ugly idea like this. It wasn’t the kind of person I thought I was, and it led me to unearthing a bunch of other ugly ideas that I’d pushed down and papered over.

While the lumps were objectively causing pain and discomfort, the blight on my self-esteem was probably the main reason I wanted them gone. It feels like a nice bit of closure to realise that, at the same time as I was going through the process to have these blemishes upon the silhouette of my scalp removed, I was also doing the inner work that disentangled their existence there from my sense of worthiness.

So I guess now all the loose ends have been nicely stitched up.

Give me more

There is a part of me – a significant, and close to the surface part – that enjoys a good bit of pain. A part of me inclined toward overexertion, obsession, and prodding open wounds. Most of the time, if you give me pain, you’ll see me smirk with a glint in my eye. Go on, give me more.

I’ve often thought that, if I was ever unlucky enough to find myself in a hostage situation, or being tortured for compliance or something, I’d be quite likely to get myself killed. Because I’d fucking brat. Like, don’t get me wrong, I am terrified of both death and authority, I’ll be a very good girl up to a point, but push a certain button in me and I will resist you relentlessly, I will goad you into punishing me, and all the while I’ll be smirking bitterly with a glint in my eye. I think the term is defiant. It’s like I never grew out of seeing how much I can get away with.

I’ve had to temper that to be a decent parent, because I can’t afford the recovery time. I’ve had to tame myself. But I think I went too far.

I wrote over a year ago about wanting to undo my taming, and I wasn’t talking about this masochistic wildness, but it’s all linked. The ability to both hurt and be hurt is integral to the human animal. The ability to wound, but not kill, and be wounded, but not die. And while that does apply in the macro, I also mean it in a more local sense. If you cut yourself, that part of you shouldn’t wither away; it should heal. And if a certain part of you is repeatedly taking punishment, it shouldn’t wear down to the bone; it should callous. It should resist. And resistance, well-practiced, makes it stronger. That’s a fundamental quality of being alive; it sets us apart from mere objects of creation. It gives us agency. And while we can’t help but be subject to this quality in lots of ways, there are many other ways that we unconsciously forgo it, and instead submit ourselves to external factors.

If we cower from pain, we become less than we are. And if we treat others as if they can’t take the pain, then we don’t give them the credit they deserve.

We’re living in a strange world – a world where you can avoid a lot of pain if you want to. But not all pain. If you’ve gone the avoidant route and haven’t conditioned yourself to withstand it, then what’re you gonna do when the pain finally comes? Because it will inevitably come.

I’ve been living in a bit of a fantasy for a while thinking I could become who I want to be without so much as a bit of chafing. Because it’s so easy to find an existence that doesn’t necessitate friction, and it’s even easier to get used to it once you have. And, also, honestly, I was really fucking tired of pain, so it was nice to believe I could be free of it for a while.

I know that part of my submission was biological – I fundamentally changed in ways I couldn’t have imagined through experiencing pregnancy and motherhood, and my drive to be the soft, warm welcoming arms that an infant needs and thrives within conflicted with any desire to be hard, rough or seasoned. This was probably a phase I needed to be in. But as my son grows, what he needs is ever more complex, and ever less about me. And as I grow, my ability to understand my own needs is ever more advanced, and ever less ambiguous. I need more pain. And I’d better make it good.

Twice round the block

I decided to start running a few days ago. I ordered my shoes, they arrived ahead of schedule, and then I bashed my foot and knelt on a screw while modifying my son’s bed. Which I found quite amusing, because it’s a bit of a pattern for me to injure myself right after I’ve decided to do something physical, as if my brain didn’t provide enough self-sabotage on its own. I also found it interesting that both of the body parts in question are the sites of prior, more significant injuries that will likely impact my ability to run long term. Like my body was saying Oh, shame, look, you can’t run, remember your dodgy foot and your dodgy knee? Aww man, you’re gonna have to sit this one out, I think. Nothing you can do, not your fault or anything, just maybe just come back to it one day when everything’s healed. Or, you know, maybe not, it’s up to you, no pressure. Running’s probably just not for you anyway to be honest, I’d probably just find something better to do. That’s probably best, I’d say.

However, I wasn’t even in the vicinity of that wavelength this time. I don’t know by which virtue I escaped it, but escape it I did. So I jogged on my mini trampoline for half an hour this afternoon, testing out my apparatus. And it was fucking fine. Then this evening, I took it to the streets. And I ran two whole miles, I think. Well, that’s what my Christmas Fitbit says, anyway. And it was fucking fine.

We’ll see how I feel tomorrow, but my inkling that I need to lay the gauntlet down for myself with an absurd running challenge of some description is getting more vicious. So that should be interesting.

And I’ve ordered myself some running socks. Things are getting serious.

Lay me down

Lately, I have been waking up in the middle of the night, because my brain has decided that that is a good time to worry about all the things I’ve said and done the previous day, and how I shouldn’t have said or done them, or should have said and done them differently.

That’s not a usual thing for me to do. And it’s really not helping my already precarious sleeping situation.

But it might make sense. My son started school part-time this week, and thus I’ve been spending a lot of time driving around and whiling away aimless, unproductive hours here and there in between my childcare duties. I’ve also spent a lot more time than usual with his dad, with whom I have a festering wound of a relationship, to be quite frank about it. And on top of that (or, more likely, because of it) I’m feeling an increasing pressure to conform to societies expectations; get a respectable full-time job and a home closer to the city. Be more like Daddy.

But I’m not like Daddy.

And I don’t want to be like Daddy. I want to be like Me. The full and glorious, spectacular Me that Daddy never really understood. There’s a lot of noise and distraction in my head right now, and I probably just have to ride out the turbulence. But I’d be doing everyone a disservice if I caved now. Yeah, I want some of the things that Daddy has. And, yeah, I fucking resent him for having them and that’s an issue I’ll just have to keep working on. But compromising myself to try to get them isn’t going to lead me anywhere good.

And it certainly isn’t modelling the values I want to nurture in my son. He doesn’t want me to be like Daddy either; he wants me to be like Me. He might even need me to be like Me, so that he can learn it’s entirely acceptable to be exactly whoever He is.

I need to get real here. I need to be able to withstand the dissonance I’m experiencing right now. Because this is my life. It isn’t anybody else’s. I have the privilege and responsibility of making my decisions. Past traumas, criticism, external judgements, self-doubt; I need to stop paying attention to them. I need to stop giving them power.

My goal has never been a comfortable life. My goal has been an extraordinary one. And every time I bail out and choose comfort, because I’m too scared that the people who say what I should want is a comfortable life are right, I’m failing myself. I can’t keep failing myself. I only get one shot at this. And I’m a fucking good shooter. Why would I shoot for a team other than my own?

Strange blessings

My neighbours are kind of shitty neighbours. They’re loud and dirty and often behave in ways I find inconsiderate. They’re low to medium grade annoying a lot of the time. When other people experience them they tend to comment things like they don’t know how I put up with it, it would drive them mad, they’d be raging at them after a few days. I, on the other hand, don’t really mind.

I like living in my flat. And yes, I even quite like living next to my shitty neighbours. Because underneath the crude, obnoxious, substance-loving exterior, they’re just…good enough people. They’re trying their best. They very truly mean no harm. They’re good enough.

At first, their shittiness itself was a relief to me, because I’ve spent so much of my life feeling like a burden, an inconvenience and a liability that I always enjoy being unequivocally not the worst. But then, as I learned to accept and appreciate them as people, they taught me to accept and appreciate parts of myself that I’d still up to that point been keeping estranged.

So I’m actually very grateful for my shitty neighbours, because their shittiness was exactly what I needed.