The thorny way of things

I wrote this post the night before my grandpa died, in November 2014. The irony in how happy I was going to bed with such a positive outlook on things to come, and how awful the following weeks were is just an extra little thorn in my side.

I just spent a little while looking through photos from my exchange. It was about 4 years ago that I spent 6 months of my life living and going to school in Australia. I have looked at these photos many times before, but tonight was different. Tonight I realized that I don’t know who the girl that looks like me in those photos is anymore. She has changed and grown over the past 4 years to the point where she isn’t as recognizable as you might think she would be. I was surprised to find myself thinking this. When I got back from my exchange I didn’t know who the person in my high school photos was. Now in my masters I don’t know who the person in my exchange photos was. I do know who I am right now, for better or for worse. I think I finally realized that the person I am now needs a break, she needs to visit the adventurous and (somewhat) more carefree person that she grew to be while on her exchange. The person I am now realized that she is ‘alone’* here, so why not be alone somewhere new and exciting. She needs to be set free again.

I have the opportunity to do a road trip with one of my best friends this summer, and I’m going to take it. I have the opportunity to visit family and friends in Europe this summer, and I’m going to try my best to take it. I have the opportunity to apply to programs all over the world once I am done my masters, and I am going to follow through with that. I am going to try to not think about the amount of work it will take to achieve these things and just accept that they are things I want in my life, and that they are worth it. More worth it than stressing and spending time on school work that I could instead spend doing more exciting things. As much as school matters, I need to be happy, and I need to set myself free from everything that has put on hold things that I want to do in my life. Tonight I am going to bed with a smile on my face, memories on my mind, and dreams filled with fresh possibilities and excitement. Thank you self, for finally giving me a break and making me feel like its going to be okay. I got a glimpse of this when I went to a concert by myself a few weeks ago, but the whole picture is a much better feeling. As Said the Whale sings in their song ‘Banks of the English Bay’ “one step in the right direction won’t change the world but it’s a start”. Man when things line up, they really line up nicely.

* I say I am alone here because I don’t feel that I have friends. Yes I have friends, just not in this city. Yes I am somewhat social with people at school, but they are not true friendships (at least not yet). My family is isolating. So essentially I am alone here, as alone as I would be somewhere new…and this is somewhere old.

 

Little Thoughts 3

Here is a post called “Sleepless Nights” from April 2011. I’ve been having some lately so it felt relevant.

Each one is different, no matter how often or scarce they are, and I never know quite what to expect.

Sometimes there is company (in person or through text), sometimes I am left to my own devices.

Tonight is filled with surfing the web, the acknowledgement of the need to study, a few songs on repeat, and a major longing for a walk to the water to watch the moonlight dance on the surface.

Unfortunately I will not be able to take this walk. I do not want to go alone at night in the dark, and I don’t want to run the risk of calling and waking someone to join me as it’s exams, and my go-to people have one tomorrow (I think, I’m almost certain).

Perhaps I will have enough patience to wait until morning, when the sun is just coming up. It means I will miss the moon dance, but it also means I get to see the sun come up from it’s slumber and wake the world from it’s unconscious dreamy state.

Such a state I am hoping will hit me soon, however I am doubtful. It is a master at eluding me at the best of times.

Family.

I’ve mentioned my family in previous posts, so you have an idea of them – if not you can find the posts. I recently found out that after the third time applying I finally got accepted into an SLP program! I was beyond thrilled. My dream job is going to be a reality! It made everything I did this past year (moving away, taking some undergrad courses, volunteering in a lab) completely worth it. But this victory feels a little hollow without family to be honest.

I called my parents when I found out, and I could tell they were happy for me, but because of how my parents are it felt a little empty. I’m not sure what I was expecting, they said congratulations and made all the right excitement noises. I guess I just wanted something more. I told my grandma, and that was hard because it means I can’t visit her as often as she likes since I am living farther away now, but we talk on the phone and that’s okay. I mentioned before how I don’t have contact with my brother or sister outside of social media. I was really feeling the need to tell the world I was finally successful, and so obviously posted on all my social media outlets. Weeks later they still haven’t liked the post. It hurts because I took the time to congratulate and celebrate them when they had babies, but they can’t do the same for me (okay I know getting into a program isn’t the same but it means the world to me right now). They like people who they haven’t talked to in years when they post about big things happening in their lives. I realize I’m asking a lot by wanting them to like the post because of how they have essentially abandoned me, but it doesn’t feel like its a lot to ask. My boyfriend and I are living with his sister and her husband now. I would say we know each other a little but not lots. They took me out for drinks and dinner to celebrate. It just made me sad because these people who were strangers 9 months ago took the time and money and everything to celebrate me, and my own family couldn’t even press the like button. I miss my family, and I hate it because I don’t want to love and miss them when they don’t love and miss me back.

I’m super into this band called Said the Whale and they have like two perfect songs for this. The first song is called “I love you” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAyU_Fbr77Y) and Tyler wrote it about his siblings he doesn’t know. I just find the emotion behind the song and some of the lyrics so relevant, and its kind of about loving them because they are family, even if they kind of suck or you don’t even know them. The second song is a b-side from their new album (check it out – its golden) and its called “F*cks to give” (sorry no video at this time). It has this one line that says “I don’t want to love someone who doesn’t love me back”. I’m not sure what inspired this one, but I definitely understand the feeling from that line. It’s so exhausting loving and hoping and waiting for family that just doesn’t reciprocate, but I can’t help doing it anyway. Tips welcome.

When times get tough

Recently I have had to ask the academics I have worked for as a research assistant for references. I have been applying to research jobs because that is the skill set I have and I did not get into the professional program I wanted (although fingers are still crossed for the call to get off the waitlist). It has been really difficult to tell them I did not get accepted. Everyone was willing to help me by writing references for my application. I felt like because I did not get in I had wasted their time. Well, everyone except my supervisor that is. I felt stupid and like I could have done more, even though I really couldn’t have.

The email replies from everyone tell me a much different story. Their replies are full of support. They tell me they are sorry, but they also tell me that I am capable. This implies that they believe in me, and that this rejection does not define my abilities. They are happy to give a reference for me yet again. I end up crying after reading these emails because I am so relieved that they don’t think I’m an idiot and maybe they do think I’m an okay person and that they maybe even think I am smart. Growing up with emotional abuse kind of messes with how you imagine other people will react to situations, so when they react like normal good people I feel overwhelmed. I have this special folder in my inbox that I called ‘encouragement’. In it I save all of the emails that are full of support and that tell me I am capable. Lately, I have been reading these a little more often. I need that little extra push to keep going right now, to believe that I AM capable and I CAN make it through this setback. I think that for me, having this little collection really makes a difference when I am not getting the encouragement in my current supervisor situation. I hope that one day I can be in the position to send a student or someone an encouraging email like the ones I have, to give them something to help them keep going when times get tough.

Relationships.

Having a relationship is a lot of work. Whether it is family, friends, or romantic, it is a two way street and requires an investment of time and emotion among other things. I mentioned in a previous post that the first person I dated wasn’t so nice. Our relationship ended through text, and it was awful. To this day I am still upset with how I acted and how he acted and just everything about the situation. So anyway I have this concept stuck in my head now that if I say something wrong or whatever through text that my current relationship will end because of it.

Now the rational part of me says that I am being irrational and that this relationship is different. There is a much higher level of respect and there is love, and a much stronger foundation in this relationship, to the point that a text message wouldn’t end it, no way. Not to mention that my current boyfriend is a complete sweetheart and is constantly trying to be supportive which must be exhausting considering the amount of crazy in my life lately. So anyway throughout our relationship, and especially because it is a long distance relationship, I have had to get used to expressing myself through text and sending messages I might not want to send because I am afraid they will set something off. Normally things go just fine and my rational self gets a pat on the back. Tonight just felt different, and there was no pat on the back for rational me.

I am having a hard time with my supervisor and was trying to explain this but my boyfriend just wasn’t getting it and so I got frustrated. I tried to voice why I was having a hard time tonight and he just wasn’t saying what I wanted because he was trying to problem solve while completely missing the point of why I was upset. I didn’t need problem solving, I needed a hug. My emotional reaction was on overflow and so I couldn’t even explain how he was hurting instead of helping. I ended up responding with just a string of letters out of frustration and not wanting to say something I would regret, I could see this potentially turning into an argument based on my past relationship experience even though my boyfriend and I haven’t argued before and I thought the string of letters might break the ice somehow. He said “Alright.” and then after a few minutes “I didn’t really have a response to that”. It just made me feel so crappy and like there was a total disconnect between us, I read the text as really cold. I really just wanted to feel loved and supported and like I was a competent person but him saying that just made me feel really sad and small. I felt like I had in the midst of the text breakup. So I hurriedly said goodnight even though I had no intention of going to bed anytime soon, and I didn’t include my usual heart emojis as a hint that I was upset. I know that my boyfriend didn’t do anything wrong and that he was doing his best. But I also feel like now I’ve put a wedge between us and added strain to our relationship that wasn’t there before because of my avoidance and passive aggressive tendencies. I almost want to have a big argument, but there is not really anything to argue about and I also don’t want to argue and end up breaking up somehow. The worst part is I just want to call him to be comforted but I’m crying and I don’t want to seem ridiculous for crying about something so irrational, and I really don’t want to make him feel bad for replying to my random string of letters the way he did. So instead of calling or telling him I am upset, I will sit here and continue to cry until I fall asleep. I will wake up tomorrow feeling sad and hurt, and hope that things go back to normal. I wish that I had been taught how to appropriately respond to and deal with these sort of situations and emotions, but unfortunately emotional abuse from parents does not provide that sort of necessary education. I am working on my irrational responses but its a lot of hard work and its not easy. Maybe one day I will figure out how to act like a normal person when these things happen, but until then I guess I will stay teary.

That one time I wrote a poem

I’ve been sitting on this little piece of writing for awhile, it was in my head when I woke after a dream. I’m not even entirely sure if it’s finished or if I even like it. But, for me it’s done, I’m not going to fiddle with it anymore. So now here it is for you to enjoy, and I hope you do.

I was sitting looking up at the stars
Waiting for you to meet me here
constantly
wondering where you were
wondering what was taking so long
hoping you would come soon
wishing that you knew what I was going to say
grasping for an idea of what you would say back
and then you came up from behind and hugged me.

Feeling claustrophobic in your arms was new,
definitely a first,
before I had always felt love and security.
Now I felt that your touch was crushing me,
like you were stopping me from breathing.
The scent you wore was choking me,
as I looked up at your eyes I realized it was over.
They no longer sparkled with colour in the moonlight,
they were simply black.
You were no longer my perfect love,
everything that was wrong was all that mattered now.
No mystery or magic was left,
all that had kept me coming back before was gone.

Out of nowhere
with no warning
I no longer loved you.
Out of nowhere
with no warning
I was alone, even with you still by my side.

Emotional Intelligence

For as long as I can remember I have been labelled as an emotional person by everyone I know. I was also labelled as meek by many teachers, and when it came to personality quizzes I always felt I matched the introvert best. I am easy to cry (even when laughing too hard), I take offence probably too easily, I am no good at accepting compliments, and I feel deeply affected when something happens (good or bad). Being emotional however, did not automatically grant me emotional intelligence, and as a younger person I would often be upset without knowing why.

One example that comes to mind is the first death I experienced (and I also just feel like sharing this particular story today). When she was alive I remember loving my Nana dearly. She was my favourite grandparent, the one who took me to the movies and gave me cookies as a bedtime snack. I remember watching her put makeup on in the mirror, warming up the plates before putting dinner on them, and hearing the ice clink against the glass in which she had her nightcap. I remember family get togethers at her house, the smell of her perfume, and how there was always a candy dish full of chocolates. I remember her taking me to church and thinking that one day I would join the choir because they sounded lovely and it would make her proud. At one point she got sick, I believe that she couldn’t breathe properly and so had to be put on machines at the hospital. I remember going to visit her, she couldn’t talk but she would write notes to us. She promised we would watch the movie ‘The Sound of Music’ when she got out of the hospital. Unfortunately she never did, I was about 10 years old, and after that I hated hospitals because they made me feel sick. I remember crying a lot, I didn’t really understand why specifically she had to leave when I would rather have her there than my grandpa (her husband). I went to the funeral wearing a blue dress with multi-coloured geckos all over it, and I remember thinking that it was inappropriate to not wear black. I remember sitting in the front row and watching this woman that I didn’t recognize as my Nana’s friend just wailing a few rows behind on the other side of the church and wondering why she was there. I remember the dream I had either a few days or weeks after in which my Nana appeared as a glowing flame-engulfed person with angry eyes. I thought she was angry with me and I was scared, to this day the image is burned in my mind. I was sad for a very long time after her passing – even to this day I am emotional about it. Every year on the anniversary of her death I take a day to myself and watch ‘The Sound of Music’. For a time I wondered if I wasn’t dealing with my grief properly, but I don’t think that is necessarily the case anymore.

I have mentioned in previous posts that my life hasn’t exactly been cheery lately. At some points I have felt completely overwhelmed and like my emotions are controlling me. I wanted to gain control of my emotions so that I could appear cool and collected on the outside as protection from some of the less than friendly people I have to deal with. But when I tried I realized that suppressing my emotions is not effective for me. In fact, when I tried to suppress them they just came flooding out anyway. Gaining emotional intelligence meant putting labels on what I was feeling and really looking into myself to figure out what was making those feelings happen. It meant accepting that it was okay and even an advantage to have these feelings that felt overwhelming. Putting labels on feelings was beyond hard – to me they were just how I felt, I didn’t want to label them because it meant I would have to confront what was wrong and that felt like it would be overwhelming. Working on identifying where my emotions were coming from also caused some confusion. Sometimes I would feel angry or sad without really knowing why or having a reason to. I would be going about my day and suddenly a wave of sadness or anger would come over me. I didn’t understand but I would be nicer to my co-worker or stay away from my mother at home. Recently I heard a really emotional song and felt like I was going to pass out because not only was the song emotional and about loss, but the feeling the song evoked in me brought up my own experiences and I became extremely overwhelmed. I am still working on the emotional intelligence thing, it is really hard.

Awhile ago I came across the term empath. From what I have read, it seems that empaths are individuals that are extremely sensitive to not only their own emotions, but those of other people as well. Finally my emotional experiences made sense to me. It made sense that my happy and sad emotional experiences were over the top sometimes. It made sense that I ‘knew’ my co-worker was going through a hard time and needed someone to be nice to her. It made sense that I would avoid my mother because I ‘knew’ she was angry and I didn’t want to be in her line of fire. I’m not saying I am an empath for sure, but I know that I strongly relate to most if not all of the empathetic qualities that the empath articles talk about. So as much as I think I have benefited from gaining some emotional intelligence, I also think that it can only help me so much. I think that being an empath (in theory/my mind anyway) I will not be able to control my emotions, since I am so affected by others around me and tend to take on their emotions. What I am working on now is accepting this, and trying to find balance in my emotions so that instead of drowning in them I am able to ride the wave, whatever it throws at me. Giving myself the empath label also makes me feel confident that I am able to be an amazing S-LP (if I get accepted into the program, fingers crossed I get called off the waitlist) because of my ability to put myself into ‘other people’s shoes’. I am not sure that I fully buy into the whole holistic healing thing, and I realize that the label of empath fits into that category. I am a scientist in training, but a natural dreamer so it can be challenging for me to balance both sides – I guess at the end of the day I just really have an overall issue with being mentally/emotionally balanced. This is almost an ironic thought because my physical balance is also not quite right due to an ankle injury. I’ll save that story for another time.