Wordgame: Split

I have had two memorable experiences of a visceral split in my life. I’m not referring to a mere change in external factors, but rather a feeling deep within me of being torn asunder.

The first, when Polaris disappeared, was abrupt, catastrophic and incomprehensible. The only way I could describe it at the time was as the Universe being split in two, and I felt desperately stranded on one side of the chasm. The second, when I was embarking on a relationship with the father of my child, began as a bizarre and uncomfortable stretching, until eventually I felt that I, myself, had split in two. I could choose where to place my consciousness, but I wasn’t fully present on either side, and the halves were irreconcilable.

I hypothesise that this splitting was the sensation of disconnecting from my true self.

When I met Polaris I was very disconnected. I was broken and beaten from a lot of toxic situations that I had, to a large extent, willingly endured. I was exhausted and disillusioned; living in the aftermath, in a world that had become desaturated. Polaris brought colour. He wasn’t the only one; I was experiencing a pivotal moment with or without him, but he was a significant catalyst. He mirrored to me the parts of myself I had mistakenly disavowed, and highlighted the parts I had carelessly betrayed. He confronted me with all the things I wanted to be.

And he started doing this, it must be mentioned, unknowingly, before we’d even spoken, because of the way life delivered him to me. I was incredibly resistant to the very idea of him at first, despite also being inexplicably compelled. There was even an aspect of revulsion. But he kept being presented, and the resistance developed into curiosity. When we finally did speak, it didn’t take a lot. A floodgate was opened within me, and the ensuing torrent was thrilling, terrifying and confusing in equal measure. And it carried me. To a different place. To a beautiful, fantastical place, drenched in power and possibility. And I resisted that too.

Until I didn’t. And the moment I fell hook, line and sinker for the fantasy, he was gone. Presumably, because his work was done.

But mine was not. Because I had attached him to the fantasy. I had attached him to the power and possibility. I had attached him to the sense of wholeness I had found. And when he left my life, I felt suddenly bereft of all the beauty I had so recently discovered. I had no idea how to reclaim it.

I spent the next years trying diligently. Learning, and working to accept, that all of that beauty was actually within me.

By the time I met Babydaddy I was in the best place I’d even been, and I’d gotten there on my own steam. But I was still fragile. Untested. Unweathered. Babydaddy presented a challenge to my healed chasm. He still lived with a rift whose magnitude rivalled my own in younger years. At first, the challenge was fine; it felt like an opportunity for growth. Intimate contrast. An exercise in holding my ground in the face of his fear. And that was the stretching. I was dubious about living that way long term, but it felt valuable and instructive in the moment.

When I got pregnant, though, the scale tipped. The challenge was too great. I let my own chasm gape once more. I knew how to vault over it now, so I wasted much of my energy doing so, in order to avoid the real work. I wasn’t bereft this time, just exhausted from straddling incompatible worlds. I had to make a choice: disconnect from the beautiful, fantastical place I had worked so hard to recover, or leave the relationship and heal my chasm once again. It wasn’t a choice. But I still took too long to make it.

During the second, incremental split, I had been aware that it was happening. But I didn’t trust myself to know what was best. I didn’t trust, in the face of opposition, that I could live in beauty and grace. I conceded that I must be wrong about the world. That I needed to let go of the fantasy, and this was the way to do it.

It wasn’t. Because that wasn’t true for me. I was living a life that wasn’t true for me. I was out of integrity. Denying myself wholeness. Denying myself a sound structure. I made myself unseaworthy.

I’d like to think I’ll never make that mistake again. But life is long, and full of twists and turns. Who knows what calamity could emerge to shake my very foundation? And every new day is an opportunity for microfissures to appear. All it takes is a little complacency, and I’ll be splitting down the middle all over again.

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.