[Journal] Emotional navelgazing

Tonight Manthing asked me if he could catch up with a woman for coffee. For anyone who’s been around this blog for a little while (or anyone who has read my ‘about me’ section) knows that our relationship doesn’t exactly conform to your norms. We are in an open, polyamourous relationship and it works for us, we’re happy with it and that’s all that matters at the end of the day. In this post, I ask that you do not judge, try to convert or otherwise criticise my relationship mechanics because you do not agree with it. That’s not the point of this post

But tonight manthing asked me if he could catch up with a woman for coffee, and I was gripped by a sense of panic. After sitting down and talking about what was bothering me, I came to two conclusions.

The first, the idea that if he finds someone he likes, that he or she would reject me as his partner, she would make me feel unwelcome in her presence, she would throw my position physically, socially or financially in my face or she would otherwise disagree with the idea of sharing time with Manthing.

The other is that, in his adventures, he would find someone that made him happy, and while I’m entirely happy in my relationship with him, that I would fail to find connections with people outside our relationship and would end up jealous and unhappy.

During our talks, I realised that these issues, and many more, came down to one thing. My ex boyfriend and our ex girlfriend. The relationship I had with them has coloured my perception of the world so drastically that I hardly noticed until I stepped back and asked myself “Why?” Why am I upset? Why does this cause me distress?

In one relationship I was undervalued. I was cheated on multiple times. I had a partner that wanted a parent and a secretary. Someone who had no motivation of their own, no drive to improve themselves as a person and, rather than fighting, he simply shrugged and gave up and was happy with “I tried”. I did love him, but by the end it felt hollow and one-sided. I felt like slapping him and screaming at him to try and keep me, rather than rotting away like a corpse in a basement. I did love him, but by the end, all that was had been tainted by the bitterness and anger that I held against him for failing to walk beside me as I moved forwards in my life.

That left me with the impression that I had no value as a person. That I was expendable, replaceable at a moments notice. It told me that I wasn’t worth the effort of stepping away from the PC, that my happiness came second to someone else’s. It taught me that I was an idiot to trust people and that I would ultimately end up getting hurt.

After Manthing and I became an item, there were many challenges we had to face as a couple. The greatest is something I’m still fighting to this day – that I have an intrinsic value as a person, and that anyone that truly loves me will show me this every single day.

After some time, Manthing and I became involved with a girl. To this day I’m still madly in love with her, and I find my heart aching when I come across the photo of her sitting on the couch in my jumper. I miss the way she smelled and the softness of her hair and her skin. I miss her laugh, the way she could light up a room just by walking in, her stunning smile and I miss knowing her intimately, physically and otherwise. A few months ago I found a video she had made for us when we were together. She sang a beautiful song. I couldn’t watch more than a few seconds before I was in tears. But, while things were wonderful while they were good – she proved that there was very little in the world that made me happier than both her and Manthing being a part of my life at the same time – the note the relationship ended on… well, I would take broken bones over that heartache any day.

While there were many unaddressed issues of her own health and her lack of management thereof, what sealed fate was the fact that she commited the cardinal sin against someone with a chronic, uncontrollable illness and told me that she couldn’t cope with it. That it was getting to her. She told me that MY illness had become HER problem. I understand that, after a time, it can be wearing to see someone you care about face battles you can’t fight. I do. But what was said to me that evening was unforgivable, and it reinforced my greatest fear – that someone I had opened my heart to and truly loved with every part of my being, that they could cut me down where I stood by using my own personal hell against me. She had proven that, with my conditions, being in a relationship outside of Manthing simply wasn’t possible because my health was too much of a burden on others and that I would have been so much better off either never having revealed my Achilles heel, or even loved to begin with.

And so I find myself tonight sitting here and trying to make sense of the thoughts rushing around in my head. I listen to the way part of me desperately yearns to make meaningful connections with people, and I hear the other part of me that says “No, it’s too dangerous. You will only find hurt and loneliness” and I don’t know which one is more right than the other. The real question begging an answer is “Can I allow Manthing the chance to find happiness (alongside me) and am I willing to risk not finding it myself?”

Life is inherently one giant risk. We risk traveling through our mother’s body to the world. We risk our lives leaving the house. We risk our ego every time we speak to people. We risk being hurt when we give them more than a “hello”. What I ultimately need to decide is whether my happiness, and manthing’s is ultimately worth that risk. Because a part of me deep down inside still believes that it may be worth it. Not every time, but sometimes. And that sometimes can make all the difference.

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[Journal] Dear blog, I still love you and myself.

It’s funny how deflecting things and avoiding them can get easier and easier the more you do it. My 2015 ended in some major health issues (which I’m still dealing with), some catastrophic friendship failures and a good helping of correcting bullshit in my life. One thing I’ve prided myself on lately is that, for all my bitching and moaning about things that upset me, I still make effort to change them – why bother complaining if I’m not going to do anything about it?

My blog has been very quiet in the last few months. Between emotional, physical and the rare social expense to my energy, I’ve been left with not much to engage in things I’d like to do and have spent more or less all my ‘free time’ trying to mitigate the crippling exhaustion I’ve been dealing with. It’s not ideally how I would like to spend my time, but it’s what I need to do right now, and I’m making a pointed effort to place myself and my needs – as a physical body, as an emotional person and as a loving creature – first. This means certain things have been discontinued, boundaries of friendships have been made clear and even (god help me), standing up for myself, politely, when things upset me. The last is something I have a great deal of trouble doing, but you have to start somewhere.

I suppose the reason for this blog is that, while most people are shouting about “it’s 2016, time for a new me!”, I wanted to make a point of saying that I’m going to continue on with the positive changes in my life that I made in 2015, and will keep attempting to develop myself as a person and to meet my needs. I’m putting it down in this blog for two reasons.

The first being that it’s been a bloody long time since I’ve shown my blog any love. I miss the wonderful connections I’ve made with people here, the unconditional love and support I’ve received through my tough times and as a promise of sorts that my resolution to make myself a better person involves really outlining what makes me me in comics. I’ve found it a fantastic medium to convey bits about myself that I couldn’t otherwise describe, and if my scribblings make a difference to just one person who feels a little lost with the shit they’re dealing with, then it’s all been worth it. That and I get to draw stuff. Fuckyeah.

The second reason for this blog post is that this is now in writing. This is a contract I’m making with myself. Not just for this year, but as an ongoing thing. This is my way of etching in ‘stone’ my agreement with myself, and I feel anyone who reads this blog can bear witness to it, and hold me to this should you think I’m not meeting my own goals in a healthy way.

Dear Abigail from this moment onwards,

This is a promise you are making to yourself. Not just for 2016, but from now on. You need to remember this when you are in both good times and hard. Even if you can’t apply it every day, you need to remember it is here. From now on, you must remember:

  • You are loved. So very loved. More than you realise. From now on, you must remember to be gentle with yourself, because there are people that think you are incredible, even when you can’t see it yourself. You also must learn to love yourself. This doesn’t have to mean stroking an ego, but it means treating your body with care. Nurturing your creative side when you need to. Laughing because you can. Sleeping when your body needs it, regardless of how much you want to watch Netflix. Not fretting over things you can’t change. You need to stop putting yourself through your own punishment and learn to live with the body you have, and love it because it’s the only one you will get.
  • Abi, you must learn what your boundaries are in friendships and you must learn to apply them firmly. You don’t need three hundred friends, but you do need people that build you up and encourage you as a person. You need people that don’t always put their own needs first and you need people that, though they may not be there all the time, people that will be there when you need them the most. People that do not respect your boundaries as a friend are no good for you and will use you because they have no boundaries of their own.
  • You need to realise that friends are not family. Yes, you are allowed to be close, but trying to replace the empty space in your heart left behind by a bad family will only end in more unhealthy relationships. People who value you, and who you value, will be around in your life because they WANT to be there, not because you call them brother, sister, mum or dad. And sometimes it can be hard to accept this, and that’s okay. You have all the time in the world.
  • You need to stop putting on the brave face. The war is over, the battle has been won. You don’t need to keep on keeping on. Take time out to rest and look after yourself. Even the best warriors need to sleep. If you need to cry to feel better, then cry. It doesn’t make you a lesser person, it makes you one that tends to your needs and this is a good thing.
  • It can be so easy to compare your own life to others, and see nothing but shortcomings. You don’t live the same life as them, nor they you. You will do nothing but make yourself unhappy if you put them side by side, because you have climbed mountains to be where you are today, and you are still standing. Remember how far you have come and realise that it’s okay to have days where getting out of bed and surviving is your biggest achievement. That is enough.
  • Abi, I want you to learn to love again. I want you to let your guard down and put trust in people that deserve it. I want you to realise that sometimes the first step towards love is to forgive people, and that sometimes that person is ourselves. We are only human, and if gods can err, then what pedestal do we put ourselves on by thinking we would not do the same?
  • I want you to live more. I want you to appreciate the small things like the smell of rain or being out with friends, but I want you to do this in a way that won’t harm yourself. Stop pushing yourself so hard to have fun, because the day after isn’t worth it sometimes. Not all the time, but sometimes.
  • I want you to break these rules when you need to. Only you can be the judge of that, and I will hold you to this. Follow your own gut and stop looking for the approval of others to do what YOU need to do, because nobody else is going to know if you don’t.
  • Most of all, Abi. Keep dreaming. Go to far off places, read books, write stories, make beautiful things and turn the world around you into something beautiful. When all else fails and our body doesn’t want to work, we still have our dreams. And when our body picks itself back up, we will march towards them again.

You are an amazing, talented, young woman that is worthy of love. You are not broken. You’re just built differently to others, and those worthy of your love will see this and never hold things beyond your control against you, and they will never throw your illnesses in your face. Stop being afraid of this, please.

It won’t always be easy, and sometimes you will need to sit in a blanket and cry because things aren’t going the way you want them to. But don’t give up. Never give up. Your body may be against you some days, but you are still a warrior woman inside with a passion that burns bright enough to illuminate the world around you. You will make it through the dark night and, when you do, the sun itself will be jealous of how bright you shine. Love yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be true to yourself. Never stop being you.

– The Abigail that believes in you.