Learning to Crochet

Yeah. It’s exciting, I’m sure. I sort of learned how to crochet a few years ago. I made a scarf and an afghan, both of which are crooked but warm! I’ve thought about actually learning how to do this properly, so that I could make better quality items, but I’ve waited and waited.

A few days ago, my mom suggested buying a book made for kids, because they are usually full of pictures and clear descriptions. Yesterday, I bought a set of crochet hooks and this book:

So, I get points for a fast, proactive response. That’s good. (Maybe 2 points so far.)

Yesterday, I also worked through the first 35 pages and 2.5 projects. Here’s a glance at the better two so far:

Beaded Bookmark

Water Bottle Sling

I get 3 points for motivation and follow through with these projects. And! I needed to adapt the water bottle project twice in order to make it practical for larger bottles (taller net and much thicker strap), so that’s another 2 points, since it has worked out well. (Total: 7 points)

Today, I finished the water bottle sling, but I have been struggling with the next project (a beanie hat), because my normal style of crocheting is very tight. Essentially, this hat starts with a spiral line, and the smaller and closer together my lines are, the harder it is to get the correct shape and size. So I looked up a website to help me learn to make looser stitches. And I’m practicing the skill instead of getting frustrated or being elitist (read “stubborn”)! Here’s today’s work compared to yesterday’s:

That’s gotta be another 2 points, because I’ve been fighting with this for a few hours so far, but I AM making progress. (Total: 9 points)

So why does any of this matter? Because earlier in my life, I would have just talked wistfully about wanting to improve but taken no initiative (0 points), or bought the book with the intent to start “later” (2 points), or started into the book but stopped the first time that things got a bit difficult (3 points), or pushed past the initial difficulties but stopped after attempting the beanie hat 3 or 4 times (7 points). But right now? Right now, I am taking it slow, giving myself time to learn the abbreviations and techniques, accepting mistakes in stride and redoing sections for practice. I am learning. I really am. 

Is crocheting important? No. Could I live a fulfilled life without it? Absolutely. So does it matter that I am taking my time and applying myself to learn a new skill, even though it isn’t going perfectly yet? YES. This sets a precedent for learning future skills and achieving bigger goals. With each stitch and completed project, I prove to myself that I have more potential than I thought. I see myself learning and improving, and I believe in myself more.

This matters more than I can convey. I could change my life, just by tangling string in an intentional way. And that, that makes it worthwhile.


Walking the Long Path

Right now, there’s some long term stuff that’s starting up. It looks like it’s going to be difficult, and I’m really limiting who I tell about it until a little further down the line. Have you ever had an experience that looked differently at various stages throughout your experience of it? This feels like one of those, so I’m going to wait until later to form a strong opinion of it.

Some days, I feel like things will be fine, and on others, I don’t have energy for much. I wanted to touch base with anyone who cares to say “I’m sorry that I missed a few updates, but it is probably going to happen a bit more in the near future.” I can try to write simple, emotionally shallow posts that don’t drain my reserves or to write about deeper, truer things when I get the chance, but it may take me a while to get back to 100%.

Thanks for understanding.

Game Therapy: Dragon Age 2- Finale

This post’s featured image comes from Bioware’s official game site.

I wanted to do a final post for this series, to look back at what I have found through the process of looking at myself through my avatar’s eyes. It may or may not be of interest to you, but I need a bit of closure.

Overall, I’m not too disappointed in what I have found. There are some posts that were harder than others, usually the ones about being a kid who had to grow up fast or who pushed herself too hard. These ones hurt because my life didn’t play out in a way that gave me freedom or peace; I didn’t get to be ‘just a kid,’ in as much as kids can’t be carefree when they are tethered to mental illness (theirs and/or a family member’s).

What do I still feel when I think of those posts? Empathy. Compassion. I need to be kinder to myself, to create a space to rest and be satisfied with myself, even if I’m not always running myself ragged. Even if some days, I just stroll through the daisies and watch the bumblebees hover between them. Because that’s a part of life too. 

I am allowed to enjoy things without the world imploding.

I will have to start a new character in a different game after a little while, and see if she has a lighter back story. I hope she will. I hope she will be happier too.

So what now? It still feels unfinished somehow. I guess that maybe I’ll take the time to tell Abigail Hawke the things that she and I really need someone to say to us.


So, Hawke. Champion of Kirkwall, huh? That sounds like a heavy burden, but it’s also a sign that you did something. For better or worse, your life mattered, and that’s more than most can say.

Ouch. I just realized how that sounds. Like Bethany and Carver didn’t matter at all. Like none of your friends from Lothering mattered. Like only the people who get thrown into the fire but manage to survive are worth remembering. I’m sorry- I guess I’m not very good at this.

What I was trying to say is that you changed Kirkwall, made it better for a lot of us. Now you have a title that tells the world what you’ve meant to us. But I guess that the title isn’t what you want either. Knowing you, you’d probably trade it in a heartbeat if you could get your family, your friends, or your lover back by your side. 

You lived with your heart, you know that? You poured yourself into people- learned their problems, stood by their side against their enemies, and protected them when they couldn’t protect themselves. It might not feel like it mattered right now, living in that big house all alone, but I’m sure that it mattered to them.

Do you remember the way they looked at you? How they laughed at your jokes and smiled when you came in the room? Do you remember how Bethany idolized you, how Carver measured himself by what you had accomplished? You meant the world to them.

Maybe you didn’t get to have all the time you wanted. Maybe you didn’t get the life you wanted. It’s sad, but that was never promised to any of us. I… I didn’t get those things myself. My life can feel very empty indeed without the faces and voices that really captured my heart. But life is what it is, and we endure.

Please keep living and loving, Abigail. I know you’re hurt and scared and angry because of him- you must be!- but there is still a path for you to walk. Let me walk with you. I promise we can stop as often as you need, that we can sit down for a while, turn around to see what we’ve missed, and jog ahead to make up old ground. Whatever you need.

Maker’s breath, but you’re brave! I just can’t help but be moved by all you’ve endured. You’re so strong, and not because you win fights, but because of how richly you’ve been able to live- how fiercely connected to the world and its people you have been. All of this would hurt less if you had lived it half asleep, like so many do, but you charged head long into the fray and it’s been impossible to stop you since.

You are an amazing, strong, beautiful woman. Nothing can diminish you. Nothing. 

Unexpected Call Back

Yesterday, I heard from one of my friends from high school. And she didn’t hate me. I’m not sure what to do now.

Maybe I should back up. 

I haven’t talked to any of my high school friends in over a decade. During school, I pretended to be someone else. I was even more socially awkward and going through a gangly limbs phase and deep in depression without knowing it yet. Then I hit college and things started to fall apart. I started failing classes. I got my diagnosis. I became suicidal again.

I came home. Slept as much as I could, to avoid being awake (and in pain). Cried. Alternated between anger and sadness (and forced numbness) over the 300+ people (yes- I counted them once) who stopped talking to me once they found out I was suicidal.

Because abandoning someone who thinks that killing herself is the only way to stop her constant agony… Abandoning her is a very helpful thing to do.

Now, I get it. People in the state I was in are not easy to be around. They radiate pain and anger. They are actually incapable of thinking of anyone else because the pain they’re in is so severe that it blocks out everything else. I know why people abandon us.

All that I’m saying is that it made suicide look like the right option, because 300+ people already believed their lives would be better without me in it.

So, to hear from someone who predates this period (but was also directly burned by it) is… Terrifying, I guess. Part of me wants to reach out. Part of me wants to scream, “What do you want?! Leave me alone!” But, despite it all, I am committed to growing as a person, so I need to see her, just to know for certain what it would be like.

Pokémon GO, With a Side of Suicide

When I go to one of the nearby parks with my husband to gather pokéballs and other items, we bring activities along to fill the time. Basically, I walk in a small circuit to activate all of the pokéstops, then we settle down at a table to read books, write emails, sketch, or whatever. Every 5 minutes, I get up to walk another circuit, and he stays at our table. Lately, I’ve been reading essays for my Book Club posts.

Yesterday, I was preparing for a few upcoming posts, and I encountered a piece about suicide. From the very beginning, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with reading the essay, because I’ve had multiple active suicidal periods and long-lasting passive ones. (Active suicidal thoughts come from the planning phase: how, when, etc. Passive suicidal thoughts come from the contemplative phase: the nature of suicide, the essence of pain, one’s profound isolation, past failures, evidence for or against one’s existence, etc.)

While reading, I kept playing Pokémon GO. I would spend 4 minutes reading about despair and 1 minute walking and checking for Eevees. Normally, Pokémon GO helps make me happy, providing me with a simple, enjoyable activity. I tend to use this type of saccharine-saturated entertainment to help to offset the pain from broken relationships, unequal rights based on petty and inconsequential personal traits, tragedies on the news, political tirades, and other things that make me lose faith in the world. It helps a bit, but it never takes away the sadness completely.

Yesterday, however, Pokémon was not enough to protect me from the dark grip of suicide. As I said to my husband, it was a bit like being a recovering alcoholic sitting outside of a bar; the longer you stay there, the more you remember about why you used to go there so often and why you could stay inside for so long. I felt my tension building, but I pushed on and kept reading.

I push past my discomfort in order to grow. If I stop trying every time that something gets difficult, I will never learn new ways to approach things, and they will never get easier. So, as a general rule, I push myself a little farther than I think I can go, in the hopes that I will discover that I can handle more than I thought.

Yesterday, I stopped reading the essay with only 4-5 pages left, because I couldn’t take it any more. My chest was tight. My throat felt constricted. My shoulders and arms were tense, like I needed to punch someone or break free from restraints. My mind was a weird hybrid of surface calm (my practiced numbness) and deep distress. I couldn’t continue.

So I stopped.

And I gave myself assurances that it would be ok. Because the world will not end as a result of me finishing or skipping the rest of this essay. And I asked my husband to walk around the pond with me. We held hands. I tried to focus on the sights, smells, pressure on my fingers… To come back to the present and regain feeling. It went ok, over all, but I probably shouldn’t be so accustomed to involuntarily shutting down during my day.

Oh well. It is what it is.

This week, I need to play Pokémon GO without interspersing in large chunks of pain. I need to let myself just enjoy living in a world with augmented reality (which is really cool technologically). I need to make time to relax and enjoy my life, because it is important. I am important.

Game Therapy: Dragon Age 2- Unpacking Part 4

Here is another shot from foxybcosplay, and you can see other images from this photo shoot and more of Brooke’s work on her deviant art page.

I’ve been thinking about what I said before about Anders, and how I keep choosing to romance him even though I know that betrayal is coming. Why do I do that? What does it say about me? 

The strangest thing to me is that I just feel peace over it all, like there is nothing wrong with walking into pain over and over again. Like giving someone special the chance to hurt me so many times is fine. Maybe it is. After all, what does this really reveal about me?

I think that I’ve really grown as a person. I used to shut people out when they hurt me. Sometimes, that would even be the end of our relationship entirely. (Hurt me once and you will never touch me again.) It was very effective for protecting myself, to be sure. The problem is that no human can live forever without hurting someone, even if they love that person.

Instead, today, I am able to look at my husband and say “He is going to hurt me some day. Sometimes, it will be small and only scratch my pride. Sometimes, he will do or say things that reach into my core and crush a part of me. I know that. And I’m going to let him, because I know that I’m no better equipped to hold his heart than he is to hold mine. I will hurt him too. Sometimes, it will be minor and sometimes, it will feel life threatening. He knows that too, but he’s still giving me that chance.”

Love involves risks, being brave enough to let someone get close to you. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean that Hawke and Anders have a healthy relationship by default, but they spend 9 years of their lives together before everything gets to the explosion point. I’m not sure when Anders becomes consumed by anger and despair- I suppose it’s probably around or after year 6. By that point, it’s easy for me to understand why Hawke stays with him, but things do get messy after that. 

I like to think that those uncomfortable quests (the ones where he flat out lies to you) are signs of Hawke’s trust and desire to see Anders restored to his original state. The results of these quests says more about Anders/Vengeance than it does about Hawke. The only bad thing it says about her is that she sees what she wants to be true, rather than seeing things as they are. She needs to believe that Anders can be saved, that the demon can be removed, but she can live the rest of her life with him. Everyone around her can see that Anders is slipping further and further out out of reach, but she won’t listen to any of them.

I don’t think that I have this problem, honestly. As a pessimist/realist, I don’t often become trapped in unrealistic expectations for outcomes. I have more trouble believing that things are going to be earthshakingly fabulous than believing that they will be difficult. In addition, I’m not interested in changing my husband or my friends. I want to support them if they decide that they need to change part of themselves, but people are people, not projects.

So, whether I should or not, I feel pretty calm about my approach to love. That’s good enough for me.