Conspicuous playlists and things I shouldn’t see

When I was a kid, I used to spend a lot of time thinking about wishes. Like the working class youngun I was, I fantasised about what I would do if I won the lottery, and I also whiled away hours constructing the perfect wishes that, should they come true, would fulfill all my heart’s desires.

I’m a lot more suspicious of the concept of wishes these days. I’m too acquainted with complexity to want to risk taking such responsibility for my life. There are many things that I want, that I believe would give me the life of my dreams, but I know I don’t know the full ramifications of them manifesting in my life. So I prefer to keep things vague. Focus on who I want to be, and how I want to feel, and let life fill in the blanks. It’s not that I won’t pursue what I desire, but if somebody was to give me the power to click my fingers, I’m not sure I would take it. I still find myself pondering what I would do if granted a wish, but it’s more out of trepidation – I do not want to be tricked by a wily jinn.

I happened upon one of those pretty social media quotes that people like to post the other day. Something about being tired of being strong, and wanting to just have what you wanted. I don’t recall exactly. And I can sympathise with that. But I read it and I thought nah, I’m not tired of being strong. It kind of surprised me, to be honest. There are significant parts of my daily existence that you’d think I’d be over by now, yet it turns out I’m happy to keep grinding away with them if they’re making me better.

But the Universe has been playing a little game with me recently. Bizarre synchronicities compounding to propel me down a path and make the past feel altogether more present. It has been raising infuriating questions that I have no way of answering for myself. And it reminded me, there is still one area where I’m tired of being strong. Still one area where it strains me to bear the burden of not having what I want. And that strain has made me strong; incredibly capable of bearing other burdens and barely even noticing. But I am tired. And I would like to have what I want now. I have one wish.

Answers.

I don’t want to intepret the symbols anymore, I just want you to speak to me.

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.

Sounded goaty

I’ve been awake since 3:33am, after waking inexplicably from a dream about my ex where he required my reassurance that being attracted to a person who may not identify as a traditional gender wasn’t ‘weird’. Which is interesting, considering neither of us are particularly gender conforming individuals, but during our relationship we somehow got sucked into playing out really toxic, extreme traditional gender roles. Lots to think about, lots to think about.

But the closing scene of the dream was where the object of my ex’s befuddled affection was saying goodbye to him, and no-one was sure whether they were gonna go in for the kiss. I, as the sole onlooker, was both curious and uncomfortable, and thus unsure where to direct my gaze. Out of the corner of my eye I saw they were, in fact, going in for the kiss, and quite assertively at that. Somewhat taken aback, my ex seemed to lean away uncertainly and then, as the kiss continued, he let out a bizarre comedic noise that seemed to be an involuntary release of tension. Then the person left, and after a few seconds my ex said “sounded goaty”, and the person, who we both thought was well out of earshot, said “yeah. It did.”

And every time I think about it now I burst out laughing.

Precarious positions

I have too many tabs open tonight and their very presence is disturbing my soul.

Open tabs feel like unfinished business. And that’s exactly what they are – they’re research papers I’ve identified as important but have yet to thoroughly read. I don’t have time to read them now, so leaving the tabs open is the most effective way to ensure I read them soon. But it is very disconcerting to me.

The most disconcerting part is the risk that I will accidentally close them, or use them to visit another website without realising, or close the browser, or turn off my laptop without thinking. It’s the same sort of feeling as I get when leaving my laptop open in the middle of the floor, or stretching a wire taut across the room to reach the socket. Or, I don’t know, putting an egg in my pocket. Thought process: I’ll have to remember about that…agh, I’m definitely going to forget…maybe I shouldn’t do it…no, it’s the best option, I’ll just have to remember………fuck, I knew it, I fucking forgot.

I know, by now, that there is a very high probability that I will do the very thing I am trying to remember not to do. Just ask my laptop’s screen. Or my previous laptop’s screen. Or my phone’s screen. Or the multiple pairs of broken glasses, or all that spilt coffee, or the countless things I’ve left behind in hotels after placing them in convenient but inconspicuous areas of the room.

That’s what makes the open tabs thing effective – I’m leveraging the tension. The longer they stay open the more chance I have to fuck up, so I’d better get to them quick. It has a fairly short lifespan. If I don’t clear them tomorrow I’ll probably enter the stress exhaustion phase, at which point I’ll either learn to live with them forever or just close the browser without any attempt to save their links.