Letting Go (Way Too Late)

I’m doing some summer cleaning- going through my possessions and getting rid of things. This week, I’ve managed to get rid of some items that I’ve kept for too long.


Nail polish, some of it from Christmas 1999 or something, all of which survived my last polish purge. These are the bottles which are really separated and gross. I kept them because I hadn’t used them up yet. I have a problem with getting rid of things that are “still good.” Bah.

The sweater that was one of my defining shirts in high school. I wore it very often and was told that it looked good on me. I’ve tried it on, and it’s rather ill fitting now. It’s quite snug, uncomfortably so, and in the last decade, I’ve lost patience with shirts that end abruptly at the waist. I like the way a longer shirt looks, how it’s sort of reminiscent of a dress, making it just a bit feminine, while wearing it over pants balances things back out. My body looks better in clothes that don’t really try to bisect me. I’ve kept it this long because I thought I would “shrink back into it.” I have, but I don’t need it any more.

The orange fuzzy hat I used when I unsuccessfully campaigned for a fictions office during a mock government camp. I meant for people to remember me, or at least my hat. The problem was that I hated campaigning… And being outside while other people were campaigning. It was so annoying to be hounded down by everyone I saw when I was too polite to say “Piss off. I’m just trying to get to the dining hall,” or anything. I just stayed inside more and more during free time, and I completely lost the election. 

I was sad, but proud, so on the day after our results came in, I knew what I had to do. I wore my fuzzy hat again, and went to my appointed position dutifully, acting like I had only worn the hat because I enjoyed it.

Advertisements

“It Doesn’t Affect Me.”

I’ve been spending a bit of time cleaning out my inbox over the last few days. I’ve gotten the total unread count down to 2,670 messages as I write this, which is a big improvement. I can’t remember how high it was when I started, but I think it may have been near 3,400 unread (who knows how many read). At this point, I’m finally back to November 2015, so you can see that I have a ways to go.

One of the last emails that I have deleted/archived was about one of my friends from high school youth group having two babies. Presumably twins. I don’t know. I deleted it without reading it. And I murmured to myself “Why would I care? It doesn’t affect me,” as I did so.

I have felt like this pretty often throughout my life, but no one seems to understand me. It’s hard to connect to others because of this.

Several of my friends have gotten married. I haven’t gone to any of their weddings… Well, I went to one, but I was coordinating the reception, so it was tolerable. I don’t care about weddings. I don’t know anything about the relationship being celebrated:

  • Do they respect each other?
  • Have they been honest with each other or have they been showing their “best selves”? Do they know each other, or are they actually strangers?
  • Will their marriage actually last?
  • Are they caught up in lust or childish fairy tales, or do they understand what it takes to build a relationship?
  • If I choose to expend some of my limited emotional energy in caring about their marriage, will I get hurt by them? Will they make fun of each other, fight publicly, or tear each other down? Will I just watch them die slowly?

So, I’m not really happy when people get married. I’m apathetic. 

Realistically, these people’s marriages, pregnancies, and other life events don’t affect me. At all. I’m not… The only friends that actually know me well (the current me) are a couple thousand miles away. I’m not even a part of their lives any more, much less a part of the lives of people I knew from high school, college, etc.

So yeah. She has two kids (or two more kids- not sure) now. Kids I’ll never see. Whose names I won’t need to know. I should care because… Why?!
It sucks to be alone.

Game Therapy: Dragon Age II, More to Unpack from Part 2

I feel like I need to reiterate that in Game Therapy posts, I’m processing my reactions to content included in the game and the insights I can glean from the world I build around the game. It’s usually been easier for me to be honest about my struggles when I don’t even perceive them as mine, but as my avatar’s. I live vicariously through my protagonists, but I always need to insert some of myself back into them. It usually isn’t deliberate, and I think that I’m able to be more honest because it’s subconscious.

That’s what makes it valuable to examine my characters. That’s also what makes it difficult.

4. Responsibility Comes First and 5. Pushing Past Exhaustion:

I don’t want to write this. What can I say? Yes, I will push myself into an emotional meatgrinder if I think it will keep someone I love from feeling even a pinch? Yes. I have done that, still do that, will probably keep doing that. Why?

Because I don’t matter.

How can I still be stuck on this?! I have been wrestling this same monster forever! I thought I had made some progress along the way. Why do I still shudder inside when I even think about this issue?! WHY?!?  😩

😔 It’s just so depressing to feel like I’m not making any progress. I feel like that guy who was sentenced to push a boulder up a mountain for all eternity… Let me look up his name. Sisyphus. My Greek mythology is rusty these days; sorry. Broad strokes: Sisyphus pushes a boulder up the mountain, but it rolls right down the other side. He isn’t allowed to stop until the boulder rests atop the mountain, which is impossible, so Sisyphus travels to the Boulder and begins again. The same thing happens again and it will continue to happen for eternity. He will never ever succeed.

That’s how I feel. 

Like I will just keep sacrificing my happiness and wellbeing for the sake of others (4). Like I will just keep running myself ragged in an attempt to meet people’s expectations of me (5). Like I will never ever be comfortable enough with who I am to just stop. To rest and maybe even enjoy who I am.

I really want to make it one day. To balance the boulder at the top- maybe even to build it some sort of pedestal to hold it in place- and to be done fighting every day. Or even to just ignore the mandate all together and see if I can choose my own path without the universe unraveling.

One day.

Game Therapy: Dragon Age II, Unpacking Part 2

It’s time for me to come back to my last post and examine the contents. This one is kind of complicated, because it includes both an experience and recounting that experience to someone. I will try to account for both layers.

  1. Desire for Intimacy: I use this story consistently, and I can’t really imagine a romantic relationship that doesn’t involve a deep knowledge of one another. Someone who wants me needs to take all of me, including any pain or baggage that I’m carrying.
  2. Selective Vulnerability: Hawke has never shared this story with everyone in her party. Some of her companions would end up fighting with her over her father’s ideals. Some wouldn’t care. She only shares this part of her past with those who really seem to know her.
  3. Growing up Fast: Hawke’s father really asked a lot from a child. She didn’t get to relax and enjoy her childhood. I imagine that she smiled enough to avoid attention and laughed for time to time, but she probably also brooded when no one was watching.
  4. Responsibility Comes First: Obviously, Hawke didn’t want to kill her father, but she did it, because she had sworn she would. She didn’t want to lie to her family either, but she did it. In a single day, Hawke sacrificed most of her life for the sake of her family’s safety and her sworn duty.
  5. Pushing Past Exhaustion: The escape required a lot from her physically, but it didn’t matter. Realistically, someone probably couldn’t do that much running in a few hours without training for it beforehand, and the emotional burden and adrenaline rushes would take a toll as well, but it never matters. Hawke always gets her family away, finds her father, and escapes his captors because she needs to.

I think that’s about all that I can see in this story, and I don’t want to start grasping at straws here. Happily, two of these traits are positive, which is better than last time, at least. 

The desire for intimacy has brought me some really good friendships and a marriage that continues to surpass my expectations. It turns out that the type of people who text you again after you break down crying over coffee and childhood trauma are also the kind of people who are also willing to show emotions and discuss hard things. It’s a real blessing.

Selective vulnerability is also good, and a healthy development for me. I lost A LOT of friends when I left college unexpectedly. Like, all of them. Even the ones who tried to keep up contact with me weren’t able to break through my pain to reach me, which isn’t their fault; however, I watched many relationships atrophy and change after my diagnosis became public, which was their fault. Treating someone differently all of a sudden is a choice, not an accident.

So after that, I became… bitter. That words is insufficient. I was angry, hurt, scared, unwilling to trust, and more. I was vitriolic. NO ONE WAS GOING TO HURT ME EVER AGAIN. I WOULD LEAVE THEM FIRST.

False vulnerability became a club, and I slammed people with it as soon as possible. ‘I know we just met, but *insert major pain that someone else has already abandoned me over*, so yeah- go ahead and leave now.’ And many people did. It was great. I could rejoice in my correct understanding of selfish, mean humans. I could be safe.

One day, someone stayed. I hit her with my pain, and she stayed. I tried to scare her off, but she wouldn’t leave. Together, I learned how to build deeper friendships, and later, I learned that I don’t need to wear my pain for all to see. I can feel it without needing to tell anyone. Being vulnerable is a choice.

So yeah. The first two behaviors are actually healthy, and I’m partially pleased by it. I just can’t be fully happy because I read the other three as I typed them, and I need to talk about those as well. Eventually. This is enough for now.

Game Therapy: Dragon Age II, Part 2

In “Game Therapy” posts, I’m going to unpack some of my thoughts and interactions with the games. Despite the fact that some games I discuss have been out for a while already, I will include spoiler warnings for those who need them.

This entry contains spoilers for Dragon Age II, regarding the prologue, act 1, Hawke’s family, the Legacy DLC, and some party banter with Fenris and Anders from throughout the game.

Terms in italics are defined and described in a separate post, just in case any of my readers are unfamiliar with this franchise.

I started this series a little while ago, and I guess I’m ready to continue. I guess. Nothing else has come up regarding the insights from part 1, so I think I’m probably ready to continue on through Abigail Hawke’s story to her father’s death. It’s still her backstory, oddly enough; the game content hasn’t even started yet. Oh well.

At the beginning of Dragon Age 2, we know two things about Hawke’s father: he was a mage/an apostate and he’s dead. A bit later on, some party members comment on your skills (if you are a mage) or on your sister Bethany’s skills (if you aren’t).

Fenris comments that you/Bethany are capable of resisting temptation and worthy of respect, although he still dislikes both Anders and Merrill.

Anders comments that you/Bethany are very well trained, especially for someone who has been an apostate for their entire life. He compares the training Hawke’s father provided to his mage child(ren) with that provided by the Circle.

In order for children who have grown up outside of Chantry control to possess a strong aversion to dealing with demons (and gaining blood magic), it is very likely that they were taught this by their father. In the Legacy DLC, Hawke and/or their surviving sibling express disbelief regarding their father’s use of blood magic and his stance against it. So I believe that Hawke’s father would not want to live as a blood mage.

Meanwhile, many mages throughout the game series express the belief that “death is better than tranquility.” It’s a pretty common viewpoint, and it carries through all three of the games thus far. The basic argument is that having your emotions, personality, dreams, hopes, relationships, personality, etc. torn from your body and living as an empty (but efficient and safe) husk isn’t really living. So I don’t think that Hawke’s father would want to be tranquil either.

Which leads me to the backstory issue: fulfilling the promise to watch over him and Bethany.

No matter which class my Hawke is, she always has this burden on her shoulders; to kill members of her family if they start making deals with demons, become possessed, or are made tranquil. Even the mages swear to do this. It’s just how I feel that responsible magic use should be governed. As I mentioned above, Hawke’s father died before the game began, and Hawke was surprised by evidence of his blood magic during Legacy, so I know that she didn’t know he had already broken the rules. Instead, we have this:

It’s always a story that I tell to a party member. Who it is depends on several things (which side I’m taking in the mage/templar war, who I’m romancing, etc.), but it’s always one of the charged characters- someone who really, really cares what Hawke does in this war. So, usually Fenris or Anders, I guess. Honestly, it’s usually Fenris regardless of romance status, because I just feel like he needs to know where I stand on controlling magic.

So, outside of gameplay, but at some point during the 10 year time span of Dragon Age 2, my Hawke finds a time to talk to this person. Somewhere private, like their house or mine, or maybe outside the city somewhere. And we talk. About my family members who are still alive, and about those who haven’t made it this far.

Sometimes, I lead with Bethany/Carver’s sacrifice- talk about how they threw themselves at an ogre so that we could escape, but got killed in the fight. How we had to fight the beast anyway, and how by the time the battle had ended, it was too late. About how mother blamed me (Hawke) for their death like I had just pushed them onto train tracks or something, and how I had to just silently take that blame and anger because she’s my mother and I’m not allowed to hate her. And how she still blames me. STILL! And how I want to have my own turn to mourn the death of my sibling, but just feel like I can’t as long as she’s going to keep lashing out at me, because I always need to keep my guard up.

And how she blames me for whatever happens to the other sibling four years after we arrived in the city. (They either: die from a plague, join an elusive order and are pretty much never seen again, or are integrated into either the Circle or the templars.) If they died or joined the hidden order, it’s because I respected their wishes for their life. If they left home and got caught up in the mage/templar war, it’s because I respected mother’s wishes for their life.

I often start with these parts because in some ways, it’s a part of my story that my friend already knows. It’s a bit safer to discuss… it lets me test the waters. If all goes well, then I take a deep breath and move on.

I tell them about my father: how he lived, what he stood for, and the promise I made to him. I talk a bit about running from village to village, losing everything to keep our mages free. About leaving friends, homes, possessions, then about not making friends at all because I knew I’d be leaving or about wishing I was free to fall in love, but knowing that I could never ask someone to join our crazy lifestyle. About how I’ve never lived anywhere for more than 3 years until we came to this city, to Kirkwall. About always being chased by the templars for the crime of wanting to live as a family.

I tell them how one time, we stayed in a village for too long and the mage hunters caught us. How my father told me to take the family and run, how we locked eyes, and how I knew that he might not be coming back. How I forced my siblings and my mother to run, how we found a safe place to hide, I put Carver on guard duty, and returned for father alone.

How I tracked his pursuers from our trashed home and eventually found their camp. How I saw my father sitting among them, unbound and at peace, which he never would have done. How my heart sank as I realized that he had been made tranquil, that my father’s spirit had been killed while his body lived on.

How I took a deep breath, steeled myself, tightened my stomach, and struck him down swiftly (with poison or a very focused spell) so that he die before he could tell the templars about the rest of us. Maybe he already had. I couldn’t know. But he would have, because he had no emotional ties to us any longer, and the logical course of action would be to assist the templars in catching the rest of us.

My shoulders usually shake a bit as I tell this part- muscles tight, body poised to run, physically remembering my desperate sprint away from their camp. The third one that day- first from our home, then back to town, then out into the wilderness again in a long winding path that would keep them from being on our heels for our whole journey too a new home.

As they listen in stunned silence, I finish up with how I was exhausted and emotionally devastated by what I had done as I rejoined my family. I describe the pain in their eyes when they see that I’m alone and how steady my voice was when I told them that the templars killed father. (And it’s true, of course, because they destroyed the man that he was, but it’s also a lie, because I stole father’s final breath.)

And then, it fades into pain and silence. Maybe mother blamed me for father’s death, and maybe she didn’t. Maybe Bethany cried. Sometimes, Carver understood. Usually though, I’m just… alone. Liar. Murderer. Breaking my family into pieces through ultimate betrayal.

I run out of words. I stare at the floor. at my hands. I remember that I’m sitting in a room, that I’ve been speaking to someone else. And he says something, but I don’t hear the words. There aren’t words big enough to contain “I’m so sorry that you had to kill your father with your own hands because he made you swear to do so as a teenager and failure to do so would have broken your vow to him and endangered your family and I can’t believe that you’re still going on after all of this and that you manage to smile sometimes or joke about anything at all.”

It’s too big for words.

But I hear the sentiment. The “it’s ok” and “I know your secret crime and I still care about you” feelings. So I rest in that acceptance, and I let the world drift away.

I’ll start again tomorrow.

 

The First Step is to Try

Well, I have an art failure for you today. It’s a little sad, I suppose. I was certainly hoping for more​.

In college, I learned the basics of suminagashi, which is Japanese paper marbling. I made a lot of novice errors (cloudy water, poor form in lifting the paper, shaky hands, etc.), but I loved it. I’m a bit of an otaku (roughly “fangirl/fanboy” in Japanese), so I tried to learn the traditional style of marbling: hundreds of concentric circles in alternating colors. I don’t think that I have any good prints from those efforts, so here’s a few random ones:


These are all small collections of concentric circles, warped out of shape by a bumped tray or stray breath, for reference.

The thing that I enjoyed about the traditional style was the… Zen nature of it, I guess. I had to be calm and focused completely on the task at hand. To be still and only move my hands. To relax and lose the day’s stress or sadness. It was difficult. I was bad at it, but it was worth doing.

Fast forward a few years.

I’m in my home, trying to do this again using what I have on hand. Acrylic paint? No good. Thinner acrylic paint? No. Water mixed with acrylic paint? Nope. Watercolors?! Umm… Kind of, but it’s very pale. Huh.

Now, I know that I should have sumi ink for this- it’s a dry calligraphy ink that comes in small cakes and suminagashi is named after it. Roughly. That’s really broad strokes, and I’m treating “sumi” like its a brand name, which it isn’t, and I don’t tell you that it’s just the word for “ink,” which it is, and I can’t remember for the life of me if it’s actually “sumi-i” or not… You get the idea, right? I’m not an expert.

Anyway, the paints were one problem; the other was this:


I bought a purple tray specifically for this. I can’t see the color floating on the water because it’s in a purple tray! 😅 Why didn’t I think of that in the store? They had clear trays!

Oh well. Live and learn.

Follow Up on Kuno

It’s been a little while since I had the panic attack over Kuno’s response to the poisonous flea medicine and I’ve been watching her constantly. Poor girl hasn’t had much privacy, but I needed to know if she was still being affected. 

There is still a small amount in her fur, which really bugs me, but the bath was so stressful for her that I wanted to avoid bathing her again if possible. It’s been a couple of days, but she seems fine. Actually, she seemed pretty normal as soon as she was dry- tired, but with her personality showing through.

Here’s some photos of her in case you were worried.

Just finished eating some treats

Taking a nap on the bed

Relaxing in the front room