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.

Don’t step in the manure

I have a deeply ingrained belief that I am a liability.

I have fiercely internalised the idea that the world would be better off if I just didn’t get involved. Which conflicts greatly with my burning desire to just get involved with, kind of, everything in the whole entire Universe. But it also conflicts greatly with my other fiercely internalised idea that if I’m not getting involved, then I don’t actually deserve to exist.

Apparently, you see, in my head, my responsibility is to get involved, but in a very precise way that only ever contributes unambiguous benefit, and never inadvertantly hurts, inconveniences or remotely troubles another human being in the process. And I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. And, to be honest, even if I did figure it out, I’d never be, like, one hundred percent, totally sure that my involvement didn’t, at some point, make someone uncomfortable, so it’s probably just better that I don’t take the risk and instead just sit over here apologetically trying to take up as little space or attention as possible.

And that’s obviously bullshit.

Wanna play?

I went out last night and I currently have the alcohol shakes, but I’ve been excited about writing this blog post for the last four hours. During which time I’ve also been hiding in bed, mostly in the fetal position, listening to Brené Brown and Dax Shepard talk to people, with my eyes closed and three water vessels within arms reach, waiting for the world to stop swaying quite so much. And also very glad that I didn’t accidentally go out-out any time close to when I need to be a parent. My fingers can just about hit the right keys now, so I’ll press on.

There’s a certain threshold of alcohol beyond which I am simply not able to control my actions. Once I’ve crossed that threshold I’m basically just a product of my inputs up to that point. It’s like the human checks out and just leaves the program to do whatever it’s going to do. I’ve always felt like other people seem to more gradually progress toward incapacitation, while my brain seem to drop off a cliff quite a bit before my body stops being able to do stuff, but that could just be a disparity of perception.

I generally try to give the cliff a wide margin, because I’m always a bit scared what the human will find in the memory banks when it finally comes back online. And I know if I get anywhere close to the cliff, I’ll probably think it’s a good idea to down my drink and see if I can fly. So I try to keep my distance, but sometimes it sort of sneaks up on me.

Cliff-diving wasn’t on my agenda for last night, but there were at least a couple of drinks put in front of me that I wasn’t expecting and certainly hadn’t accounted for, so…wheeeeeee!

Now, I’ve been various shades of offputting drunk person over the years, and it’s often quite instructive as to where I most need to do my work at that time. A latent and unacknowledged rage toward men…my self-worth being tied to my perceived value as a sexual object…feeling trapped in a relationship because of what I’d been conditioned to believe love was supposed to be… You know, all the usual stuff. But this time, rather than pointing out my most tender emotional wounds, I was gifted a moment of delightful searing clarity for a completely different reason. Because last night, when I jumped off the cliff, I became my four year old son.

Seriously; I was just running around, having a nice time, getting up in everybody’s business, touching everyone, talking to random strangers trying to get them to play with me, missing all the social cues when people weren’t really interested in playing with me, not really understanding what was going on around me but using my four-year-old logic to come up with my own explanations, and then using those explanations to come up with ways to try to get people to play with me.

And, I don’t know, I mean, yeah, an adult acting like a very extravagant four year old is annoying and certainly not acceptable in polite society, but, like, I feel like I can’t be mad at myself for just wanting to play, you know? Like, yeah, you definitely need to get a bit better with boundaries and consent, Yve, but your heart was in the right place.

Coincidentally, when I was writing a description of my son a few weeks ago, after going through all the unequivocally glorious things about him, I added “his excitement can lead him to get disruptive sometimes – respecting other people’s boundaries and personal space is a big lesson for him at the moment”.

So, basically, I’ve come to the understanding that, if I’m ever going to go out-out again, I’m going to require adult supervision.

I hope I’m feeling brazen

As soon as I typed the phrase “I have a tendency to hyperfixate on people“, a voice in my head said you’re gonna have to write about Polaris again now.

While my parasocial celebrity fixations are largely wholesome and harmless, my real-life fixations have most often been of the variety that could be labelled toxic. Mainly because my brain loves the drama of emotionally unavailable men, and literally can’t get enough of the fucking chase. Give me obtuse statements to obsess over the meaning of and it’ll keep me occupied for days. Give me imaginary hoops to jump through to get you and I will be gleefully bounding all week. I genuinely enjoy it. It excites me. It’s fun. But, I mean, it’s also clearly interacting with my childhood trauma. It’s not healthy, and it invariably leaves me with the same feeling I get if I binge eat 800g of chocolate. Alongside the inevitable carnage, obviously.

Polaris exists at the intersection of these two breeds of hyperfixation.

For a brief moment in time we had a paper-thin, at-a-distance reciprocal connection. During that time, I recognised the familiar sensations of a very powerful hyperfixation developing, only at that time I just called it love. And honestly, experientially, hyperfixation is love as far as I’m concerned. Who knows what it would have become if allowed to run its course.

Much like Guy Martin, I found myself sort of uncomfortably attracted to him, because I couldn’t quite figure out what to make of him and thus couldn’t decide if being attracted to him was an acceptable course of action. Over the years I would come to understand; acceptability was entirely irrelevant. Reading his messages made me feel like the fourth minute of Hot Knife by Fiona Apple, on 1.5 speed, loud and through good headphones, and the sensation didn’t wear off on the rereads. If I still had access to them, I’m willing to wager I’d still feel like that. I was, and always will be, profoundly elated that he ever existed in the same Universe as me and I got to know about it.

And then he bounced, so naturally, the chase was on. Why did he leave? Was it something I said? Let’s analyse every word and figure it out. Was it something wrong with him? Let’s list all the fucked up things about him that might exist that could account for this behaviour. Am I a worthless piece of shit human and that’s why he disappeared? Probably, but maybe we can convince him that you’re not if we carefully craft some sort of outreach initiative. My faulty programming had a fucking field day strategising the hunt.

But that’s just the surface level. Simultaneously, something deeper was happening. Something…spiritual.

The day after my first message from Polaris, I wrote a song. I’ve written quite a lot of songs in my life. I don’t exactly write them intentionally – they just sort of come out of me sometimes, when they’re the only adequate way to express myself to myself. I don’t know what to do with most of them, so they get stuck in the limbo of just being a vocal melody that I’m too scared to reveal to anyone. That’s what happened to this song too. But when I started this blog and I needed a tagline, the only thing that seemed right to use was a lyric from that song: following the flow, the flux, of living, breathing days. I always thought I’d change it because it was a lyric, not a tagline, but nothing ever rose to supercede it. That line neatly encapsulates my intention in a way I will fail to if I actually try, and for the purposes of this post, it demonstrates that Polaris awakened in me something I’ve been trying to nurture ever since. His impact endured.

Thus, my life is demarcated by Polaris. Before and after. The way I’ve chosen to live; the discoveries and recoveries I’ve made; the things I’ve created…everything I’ve become beyond who I was before can be cleanly and unequivocally traced back to him. That should be a fucking uncomfortable statement to make, but it’s not. Polaris was a hyperfixation. But Polaris was also a soul-changing event. Polaris was divine intervention. If you’re sensing biblical vibes here, then yes, I am living in the year of the Lord.

There hasn’t been a day that’s passed since I ‘met’ Polaris that I haven’t thought of him. And I have object permanence issues; I forget my own son exists sometimes when he’s with his dad. I’ve never met this person – as far as I’m concerned, he has no physical form. Yet, long after I was starved of any new Polaris-related input, there he is. It isn’t about him. It could be about him, too; he might be as magnificent a human as I believe him to be, I simply do not know. I had to learn to live with the agony of not knowing. Fucking Schrodinger’s Star. But I don’t even remember him at this point. He’s just a nebulous mass. It’s about what he represented for me. And will probably always represent.

So many things converged to create the experience I had with Polaris. It was nothing short of magical, and it was also too fucking much for my human self. It obliterated me. And then it transformed me.

And because I am who I am, if I was going to transform, then it only made sense that it would be through connection with another human that I would access that transformation. But this was certainly not how I imagined that kind of thing would go. And, my god, what an awkward aftermath.

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.