Covert Recalibration

I surprised myself today.

I’ve had a rhetoric going for a while that I don’t really have trouble doing what needs to be done, but I’m bad at doing what I want to get done. Because there are no consequences to not doing the things I just want to get done. And I don’t want to do them, to be clear about the wording, I just want them to be done. What I want to do is just have a nice fucking time, which unfortunately usually equates to watching too much YouTube.

But something snapped in me last week – just a subtle break – that caused my insides to shift a bit, and suddenly the world looked just a little bit different. And I realised it was quite possible for me to take more personal responsibility…without fabricating anxiety to flog myself into achieving.

So I made a schedule. In Excel. With colour codes. I block scheduled twelve hours of every day, put in the bare minimum of what I need to get done, left some leeway for the things I’ll want to do, and filled the rest of the hours with all the glorious things I want to get done.

And then I didn’t stick to it. Which is, of course, completely and utterly predictable.

But here’s the fun and surprising part. I didn’t stick to the hours I needed to get done, because if I just do what I need to do, rather than adhere to the standard of excellence I naturally incline myself towards, it doesn’t actually take as long. And then, because I hadn’t burned myself out on my prerequisites, and I’d mapped out a space for specifically this task, I just got on with what I wanted to get done. And I didn’t wander off, or feel like taking a nap, or find myself suddenly compelled to run a hot mid-afternoon bath. So now I’m four hours work further forward on a project that could lead me somewhere good. And, like, I also got my dishes done?

Somehow, somewhere, I’ve recalibrated my priorities. And, by golly, I’m pleased with the results.

Easy enough

Jesus fucking Christ I started this blog over four and a half years ago.

Imagine if it had been successful???

Could have changed my fucking life!

The thing is it did. It has completely served its purpose every step of the way – it has done everything I’ve ever asked of it. I just never asked it to be any of the things that one may ascribe to outward success.

So, what happens if I do? If I do ask it to perform some acts of material progression beyond the accumulation of words? Will it deliver? Will I deliver?

What a scary question.

I have been hanging over a precipice – an upturned Fool pretending to be a Hanged Man, if you’ll forgive the Tarot reference – for too fucking long. I have known what I should do, and have still not done it, for too fucking long.

And I’m not saying that BLOGGING is the thing I should do. But standing in my own power, and my own truth, and my own desire, and trusting myself to deliver most certainly is.

I don’t know how long I will live. Maybe I have a good fifty years left. Maybe I’ll perish far sooner. Maybe, maybe, we’re all gonna be ageless robots soon, limited only by the longevity of the Universe. But I know I have lived more than long enough to have learned my lesson by now. And every day I choose not to live it, at this point, is just a fucking waste of a very precious resource.

So okay. Maybe I broke my nervous system with a peak experience I wasn’t equipped to handle. Maybe there is now an anomaly sitting in my intuitive faculties that I simply have to live with. It doesn’t change the fact that if I do the things that feel right to me, by and large, good things happen. If I move toward the things that feel aligned to me, my life gets more beautiful. Who the fuck cares about the rest of the noise? Stop the fucking hand-wringing over whether it’s okay. Pay attention to the evidence. Live a-fucking-ccordingly.

Easy enough to say.

Retrieve the fucks

Someone keeps stealing my fucks.

I had a nice week of writing and running the week before last. And all those steps and all those words were pulling my life into order. And all that directed effort was coalescing into a sense of purpose. I was sleeping better, I was eating better, I was doing better. Instead of just bobbing around in a haze of complacent contentment, which belied the undercurrent of anxiety that told me I couldn’t stay there forever, I was proactively steering my ship toward faster waters and clearer skies.

And then my ship was broadsided. The impact was jarring and scary, not least because it was so naively unanticipated. And while the crew in my head took up their action stations, the vessel itself spun soundlessly back into the safety of the quiet haze.

Apparently, liking metaphors as much as I do is a sign of trauma. So that checks out.

I tried to keep writing and running. But it was taking more effort, and creating more pain. My life had been pulled back out of order, by something I couldn’t control, and writing and running were small by comparison. I am a writer, so I kept on writing. But I’m not a runner, so I stopped running. The fucks I’d given to running, I relinquished to my attacker instead.

What a fucking stupid mistake. Claim the fucking fucks back, Yve. They are your fucks to give. Don’t let that fucking fucker steal your fucking fucks! Fucking not again. Fucking never again. Fucking no.

Okay. Okay. Let’s get them back.

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.

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.