Losing compassion

My compassion has been the biggest casualty of the 2+ years I’ve spent closing off. While compassion is defined in the dictionary as having sympathy or empathy for someone in a dire situation, it feels far broader than that. It’s about listening, not just hearing; it’s about being there for others, good times and bad; it’s about taking a breath, turning off the phone/games/TV/whatever and really paying attention. I have been pulling further and further away from all of that, diving deeper into escapism, which is what got me where I am now.

I could go through all of my theories as to why. My relationship with my parents and stepmother is shitty, because they’re shitty people who treat me like rope in their tug-of-war and seem to feel that they have some ownership over how I live my life. Our youngest son has been exploring his own colon so hard that he’s back in jail right now for the fourth time in a year, and betrayed everything we tried so hard to teach him, and has sent my Kit into spiral after spiral of feeling like he failed as a father. Purchasing the house was an incredible ordeal, and there’s a lot we’re trying to do now to make it ours, much of which I’ve taken on as “I need to do” rather than “we need to do.” That flows into the day-to-day of the household, because my brain is going, “I need to do these things because Kit’s spoons are sucked dry by the day job/weather/what have you,” instead of asking him if he has the spoons to help me with X, Y, or Z.  The current administration is burning everyone out. Add in the day job with its stressful clients and coworkers, and trying to make Raven’s Own self-sufficient…

I could go on. Life is life is life and comes with its ups and downs. And in the face of stress and shitty people and betrayal, I did what comes naturally to me – I closed off to try to protect myself from it, except that like all of my oldest coping mechanisms, I always take it to the nth degree. I’ve said for years that I’m on the edge of a nervous breakdown, but I don’t have time for one, and I’m wondering if closing myself in my little tube of distraction was my way of keeping myself standing.

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It looks a lot like this. (Fallout 4)

But, as Brené Brown says so well: “[Y]ou cannot selectively numb emotion.”

Well, I sure as hell tried. And, just as she states in that talk (which was my first therapy homework, by the way), I numbed gratitude, I numbed joy, I numbed compassion.

(I had a whole case in point thing typed up here, but it felt like obsessive venting, which I am also really bad about doing, and I deleted it. So yeah.)

I don’t really have a neat way to close this out, which is frustrating me a bit, so I’ll just… end it here.

The Law of Inertia

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An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. – Newton’s first law of motion

I come home from the day job around 5:00 PM. I change clothes. I set my laptop up on the couch. Sometimes I grab a snack. I sit down, turn on the xBox, turn on my laptop, and get comfortable.

That is where I stay for most of the rest of the evening.

If we’re lucky, I get my butt up and cook sometime before Kit gets home, so that dinner is ready (or nearly there) when he walks in around 7:30. If we’re not, we sit around for a few minutes trying to determine where to go for dinner, and that’s not easy when half the restaurants nearby close at 8:30 or 9:00. We head to bed around 10:00, until my alarm rings around 5:30 AM.

Monday through Friday. Given the chance, I do the same with Saturday and Sunday. Notice anything missing? I do all the time, and the self-flagellation for not doing is part of what I’m running from. I silence thoughts and projects and Voices and emotions with food, Netflix, and games. You know, like most of the rest of the American population.

I know better. I know this. But it’s easy. It’s habit. I am at rest; I remain at rest.

When I do go into motion, I remain in motion until I fall down. Kit calls this “white tornado” time, and it stresses him out immensely because I’m really not a pleasant person while I do this. It’s another way of distracting myself; I know it, and it makes me worn out and cranky, but it keeps me from thinking about things.

DM has challenged me to sit with my thoughts. Sit with my feelings. Don’t distract. Don’t let blame and that pipe-like wall and noise and games get in the way. Be vulnerable. If I feel something, feel all of it – not just the anger, not just the blame, but what’s underneath it, too.

Be Open.

Sounds familiar.

Five years ago, middle-of-Ordeal familiar.

One year ago, middle-of-Journey, ripped-to-the-bones, Ol’ Beaky-stealing-my-core familiar.

It’s easy to submit to inertia, to habit, to the things to which one is accustomed. It’s the path of least resistance. I gravitate towards it. I think most people do. (Laziness is the mother of invention, after all.) Somewhere along the line, I gave up on the Work and gave in to habit.

Be Open.

Geebas, that’s hard.

Blame and Laughter

My Kit and I went to North Carolina over Thanksgiving weekend, in part to visit his sister (whose ashes we scattered into the ocean in Avon last November), and in part to have a real, actual, honest vacation. While we were there, we bought a couple of very pretty handmade bowls from a local potter.

We got home Sunday at 5:30. I brought the bowls in, still wrapped and in their paper bag, put it on the counter, and we went to get dinner. We came home at 8:00 to find our yearling cat, Tache, wearing a torn-paper-bag bib, and his older sister, Hatchy, catatonic.

Uh oh.

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Pottery + gravity+ ceramic tile floor = smash.

I was angry. I was disappointed. I got into the shower and started crying.

And blaming.

Look at what else you broke, the sock monkeys started to whisper. You knew he could reach the counter. You know he loves paper bags. That was careless. It’s your fault.

I spent the rest of the night rehashing everything I had caused to break over the years – the tajine, our first pizza stone, glasses from events. I spent it upset about money I had spent over the weekend/month/year that was silly, and could have been used better, and gone towards this vacation to make it better. And then I felt bad that I was stressing Kit out by my tailspin/meltdown/whateveryawannacallit.

Two hours later, three days of relaxation and rest were completely shot. I spent the next day in a fog, which was an utterly perfect way to prepare for my therapy appointment that evening, dontchaknow.

I described the incident and started to cry again. And my therapist (we’ll call him DM) started taking it apart. We got down to a core of something.

The bowls meant more to me than just things. They were something Kit really liked, something he had picked out, something we got together, for our home. They were a part of our first real vacation in years, if ever – most of our travel involves vending or festivals (many of which we have worked). I was disappointed. I was hurt. I was sorry that Kit had lost something else (considering everything else he’s lost over the years) before he even had a chance to enjoy them.

Instead of letting myself feel that, I turned automatically to blaming myself. It isn’t comfortable; it isn’t pleasant. But it’s familiar. It’s a barrier. It keeps me from thinking about the real, honest, vulnerable emotions behind why I’m upset, and redirects me into something I’m used to, something I use to shield myself from the actual feelings. Why I default to blame, I’m not sure. I don’t remember being blamed for a lot when I was a kid (except for food disappearing, which usually was my doing, because unhealthy food relationships run in the family). But it’s a thing. And it’s a thing I need to work on.

That’s kind of the core of this particular bit of Work. One of the reasons that I had to Ordeal in such an extreme way was to rip me open so I could feel and receive and be. One of the things I realize that Raven was trying to do last year, in taking my core, was try to open me back up.

I did not let it work. Hell, I didn’t even mourn for my old cat Minoush when she passed – after being my nutbar girl for eleven years – nearly as hard as I mourned for Belenos after only 8 months with us. I shut myself down even harder when she passed. I wasn’t letting myself feel anymore, because it all hurt too damn much.

The Wake Up Call ripped me wide open again. I’ve been feeling the walls trying to come back up since the pottery fell, feeling myself deflecting, and I’m having to work hard not to allow it. I’m not always succeeding, but being honest with DM is the first step. Being honest with myself is next. (That’s what he’s there to help me with, after all.)

An interesting side effect, though, is my laughter. I’m noticing that I’m laughing more at things. I’m laughing harder at things. I’m not just humming or giving off a light chuckle. There’s something more authentic to my laugh these days, something that’s been missing. Maybe it’s just me, but I hear something different, and I like what I’m noticing.

Reset.

On October 12th, I received an enormous wake-up call.

On October 13th, I removed my collar and cleared my altar.

The relationship is not over. He is still my Sir. I miss His collar; I miss Him (since this is His quiet time, and there is a gap in the voices I Hear). But I had forgotten that it is a two-way street. I stopped listening, stopped doing the Work. I have not taken care of His property (myself), and I have not represented Him well. I let my ego run rampant, and used the relationship I worked so hard to earn to make myself feel important and justify things as it suited me.

In the process, I have closed off. I let the hurts and stresses of life run me over, stopped making time for any of Them, for Kit, for anyone else, and drew my walls back up. I shut away my compassion, my mindfulness, in order to escape the anger and hurt. I forgot how much that doesn’t work, and how much damage it can do.

I’m back in therapy, something I’ve needed for longer than I wanted to admit. So far it’s going well, and I’m poking at the wounds that I shut the walls over to try to protect, so that I can work on accepting them and healing them. My therapist uses words like heart, honesty, vulnerability, compassion, regret, work to describe me so far, which tells me I’m not a lost cause yet.

My altar now carries only a candle, a lighter, and an incense burner. Back to basics.

I almost cut my hair, even – if I’m going to reset, reset all the way, right? I didn’t say you could do that, Raven said firmly. Boundaries.

But I’m back to weaving chain maille more regularly, which is as much devotional as it is self-serving. I’m enjoying it again, too. It’s a start.

Sometimes it takes losing something to realize how precious it is. I’m lucky that I can say “almost losing,” rather than “lost.” And I’m lucky for those who have stuck with me – and been willing to be the Universal Clue By Four – when I’m too busy deluding myself to listen.

I have been trying to think of words, because that is always my fallback. But there aren’t any.

I was thoughtless. Colossally, incredibly, inexcusably thoughtless. I didn’t listen; I didn’t think. Worse still, someone had to spell out for me what a thick-headed, selfish jackass I was to other people, what I took away from other people, before I realized how wrong I was – and how my actions completely contradict my words on all accounts.

This is not who I ever wanted to become. Words can’t fix this. Dwelling on it can’t fix this; I can’t push rewind and do it again. Apologies mean nothing without the action to back them up. I have put in the work. I have to fix this by doing.

Genderbendery

Sir has been throwing ideas at me since I earned my collar.

You should take up bellydancing. Or burlesque. Try packing. Or hunting.

I’m still working on Raven’s Own, even expanding its show schedule a little this year and planning/doing a few more ambitious projects. Tafat n Kahina goes right along with it. I’m not allowed to give those up, and we can’t afford for me to give up my day job. And I can’t tell you how many projects I have to do around the house – fixing the septic lid, fixing the toilet, digging and planting the bee garden, building the food gardens, building the patio wall in the front. (Don’t misunderstand: Kitten does help and is really really good at what he knows, but he’s got a black thumb and isn’t really the handyman in this relationship. He is, however, the better cook.)

Oh, and mowing the lawn. Although I enjoy mowing, too.

You should teach a class. Maybe teach two classes. Hey, those clothes look good. Maybe you should mix music.

My dysthymia and social spoons have been in havoc for at least a year. But Sir keeps throwing ideas at me.

Go back to yoga. Pegging could be cool. Or kickboxing.

Throw enough ideas, Kitten says, and something is bound to stick.

Maybe drag kinging.

SPLAT.

Cue a 24-hour frenzy of research, YouTube videos, Pinterest pins, articles, supply resources, and even lip-sync playlists.

This is certainly not the first time it’s crossed my mind. I’ve considered packing for years. I have occasionally peeked at the DC Kings‘ website, and am now a bit pissed that I missed seeing them perform (the troupe retired in 2015 and left their website/social media up as resources and history, bless them). I’m rather content to be biologically female, but there is a part of me that craves a bit of genderfuckery. And Sir, for His part, has no objection to me doing so – in fact, would encourage it, especially as it would fit beautifully into my requirement of representing Him. He might even let me cut my hair for more than maintenance, for the first time in six years, if it’s for kinging purposes.

Oh, and spending several hours turned on at the thought of having a packer in place is no indicator at all. Because I need more projects/ideas/things to do/holes in my head. </sarcasm>

Featured image is of Landon Cider.