Might as well remember it

I didn’t really like my last post. I didn’t think it was very good writing. In fact, the only parts I was fully on board with were the title and the last line.

To be fair to myself, I did write it while sitting in the Platinum Mall of the Metrocentre, surrounded by a steady stream of uneasy looking old men waiting for their wife to finish shopping and trying very hard not to accidentally make eye contact.

I really just posted it because I thought, fuck it, I wrote it now, might as well remember it. Nice concept, inadequately executed; better than un-executed, or so I’ve been told.

I was sitting by the river, and I was thinking

What is it like to be the water of the river?

Always moving on, with no likelihood of ever returning? Unstoppable and unrelenting, always fresh and vital, always forging onwards, never able to stop and rest? Accumulating all the matter of things that enter the river? All things external to you, now yours?

What is it like to be the rocks of the riverbed?

Bearing witness to the world of constant flux above, moving ever subject to the same essential laws, courses changing only minutely over time? Feeling the infinitesimal wearing of the water as it takes part of you with it as it goes?

What is it like to be the scum accumulating in the slow bends of the river?

The water you sit on dynamic and churning, but some invisible force holding you in place; separate and trapped in stasis, almost but not quite in reach of the flow?

What is it like to be the river itself, bigger than all these parts and yet each of them at once?

Ancient and ephemeral all at once, yet always subject to the steady weathering of time? While so many parts of you rush and gush and tumble and splash, you stay your course, steadfast and grounded, yet knowing even you cannot ever be eternal?

What is it like to be the atoms of the water or the rock? The hydrogen or the carbon or the silicon that lends itself to this mission, and will be part of many missions more?

So fundamental, so first principle, having seen so much, having been so much? The seasons, the years, the millennia fail to make their mark on you, but will you end? How could you know?

…alright Yve, I think that’s enough river for one day.

Unavoidable things

Does Yve shit in the woods?

Just fucking barely.

After I dropped Makaloo off at school this morning, I returned to my car and was immediately met with a disturbing sensation. My bowels required evacuation. And urgently. I was planning to head over to the cafe at a nearby country park to do a bit of typy-typy. Could I make it there? Well, it was either that or shit all over my fucking heated seat, so I guessed I’d have to.

It was an eight minute drive of putting more faith in sphincter muscles than I was remotely comfortable with and, even once I parked, I wasn’t convinced I could make the thirty or so metres I would be required to perambulate to reach the toilet .

I made it to the main doors, but then…crisis struck. The building was closed. There was only one option left. I dashed back to the car, grabbed a packet of baby wipes, then doubled back so I could slip round the side of the closed visitor centre, the situation in my GI tract growing ever more desperate. There were dog walkers to one side and the car park to the other. I was surrounded. I stalked further and further into the nettles and brambles, hoping to reach a sanctuary far from where any sane people would dare to tread. There was no time to think. No time to strategise. I was running on instinct, adrenaline and primal necessity.

Finally I reached a ditch, hidden from the passers-by the best I could tell, and far enough from the beaten track that the discovery of my deposit wouldn’t be inevitable. It was over in seconds, but I remained in my squatted position, hind-quarters exposed, for a minute or two at least, awash with the kind of relief that reminds you how trivial most of your worries are. During that time my gaze landed serenely upon the long, dark windows of the visitor centre. A clear line of sight. Anyone in there could have witnessed the entire thing. And to my back, I realised, the car park still but metres away, the tree cover sparser than I had imagined. A driver pulling into any one of those bays would have come by a harrowing eyeful.

I didn’t care. I could have been encircled by a mob of jeering spectators at that point. This was bigger than pride or self-respect. This was a matter of simple biology.

Once I’d dealt with the aftermath as best I could, I bushwhacked my way back out of the greenery, not back the way I’d come but pressing on until I emerged further along the mainstream route. I’d simply been taking a detour, nothing suspicious about it. And then I kept walking, wanting to put both spacial and temporal distance between myself and recent events.

While I was walking, I found myself repeatedly amused by the idea of a dog unearthing the poorly concealed prize, and returning to its owners smeared in my disgrace. Under many other circumstances this kind of thought would have me feeling terribly ashamed for being such a disgusting inconvenience. How dare I be so irresponsible? But in this instance, there was just nothing that could have been done. I did my very best with the situation I was presented with. If events had unsavoury implications for other parties in the future, well, shit happens.

Forty-five minutes later, I was returning to my car when I heard a couple on the other side of the trees trying to call their dog out of the undergrowth…

Blanket inhibition

I attended a writers’ talk this evening and, while I was listening, a few questions bubbled up that I wanted to ask. But the time for questions didn’t come until the end. By which point I’d forgotten all but one, and I was second-guessing whether it was relevant, whether it was a question that would contribute to the discussion, whether it mattered, whether it was selfish…let alone how to word it. So I didn’t ask it.

I had made the decision on my way there that I would ask a question because it was a show of support to the writers giving the talk. But I rationalised not asking the question because I thought no one would be interested in the answer except me, or maybe the writers wouldn’t want to answer it because it was a bit sticky.

The thing is, this sounds like anxiety. And in past similar situations, it’s felt very much like anxiety. But I’m beginning to believe it’s fabricated anxiety. The underlying problem, if I excavate my psyche, was that too much time had passed for me to be connected to the question anymore. At the point in the talk where I got curious, I had to stop myself interjecting or raising my hand to ask it there and then, and I was disappointed and frustrated that I couldn’t, but this is such a common occurrence for me that I didn’t even notice it until I came to write this post. By the time I was able to ask questions, it didn’t feel important anymore. But I knew that I’d decided that it was important, at least enough to ask, so I was rifling through the sock drawers of my mind trying to find a justification compelling enough to sway me. And I found plenty of justifications, but they were all for different things.

For a long time I had assigned my timidity when it came to asking questions to the bracket of social anxiety or shyness. I’m realising more and more how much it seems to be a feature of my unofficial ADHD. For many years I’ve had to repress my natural inclinations in order to conform to society’s expectations. But while I got very good at blanket inhibiting the ‘wrong’ response, I’ve never gotten all that good at the ‘right’ one. I often understand what it is, but I almost just as often still fail to execute it. This created a sad vacuum of inaction in my life that I’ve harboured a great deal of shame for, and while I’ve been working to deconstruct both the vacuum and the shame cage around it for over two years now, I still don’t fully understand its mechanisms.

If only I could have accepted I was different, instead of convincing myself I was worse.

If only we could all.

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.