Day 166 With Dora- A Two Way Bond

Last night, I ran out to the store quickly to get some last minute items for a surprise house guest. I left The Flutenist with Dora and our guest and set out to the store. Success! Got the stuff! A few hurdles along the way, but I cleared them fine! Hurray!

I got home and found out that Dora had not been herself while I was gone. She was sad and listless. “She kind of wandered around,” they said. After I returned, she stayed right with me, often laying her head on my lap or snuggling close, for almost an hour.

She’s been doing this when I leave her inside for 45 minutes to mow our grass. (Dog + lawnmower = trouble, I think. ūü§Ē) I finish up and come in and then she naps on my leg for more than 30 minutes. If I get up, she looks at me carefully to be sure I’m not leaving again. I just thought it was separation anxiety; she is a rescued dog, after all. But now?

It looks like affection to me. Given a choice, Dora would rather be with me than on her own. Me- the person who was a toxin passively killing those around her. Me- whose death would not have been remembered or noticed by anyone. Me.

(Depression and being actively suicidal create some horrible thoughts. I am not saying I believe them, but I need them here to show the contrast.)


Here, Dora is waiting outside the bathroom for me to finish brushing my teeth. She chose to do this, instead of playing with her toys.

Over and over, Dora chooses me. Me. I hope that one day, I’ll understand why.

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.

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.

Love that Never Was- Part 1

I was thinking about holding onto scraps again, and I realized that there are several interactions with people that I regret, which would be ok if I didn’t get hung up in them for a few weeks at a time. So in an effort to release the baggage and get some closure, I am going to try writing letters that I will never deliver to people with whom I need closure. These ¬†are fake names and so on, for privacy.

Well, this is awkward, but I guess I should just start, huh?¬†Things never really were weird between us, and we used to be able to talk about even really intense stuff. I just… you were pretty great, you know?

We were good friends and we laughed a lot. It all worked so naturally. I still remember the conversation that ended everything. You asked me if I knew any girls who liked you, and I paused forever, and said no. I paused because I didn’t know if I should say that I did or not. I had thought about dating you, I’ll admit,¬†but you had never said anything that made it seem mutual! So then, when we were sitting in the hallway, and you asked me if¬†anyone had a crush on you, rather than if¬†I had a crush on you, it just didn’t seem worthwhile to take that risk of saying yes.

I know that you visited my family and met my parents. I know that meeting a girl’s parents can be significant progress towards being more than friends, but¬†I also brought my¬†best friend home the break before that! You were another close friend, and I put you in the same category as her, because I had no reason to think of you as anything else. It didn’t mean anything, even though they liked you and¬†everything went smoothly.

I can see it now- the subtle things that I didn’t understand at the time- why you avoided certain topics with me, why you let me take your Star Wars cardboard cutout, why you regularly made time to fight the Borg with me in the Star Trek arcade game, why you were there for me when I needed someone to process my diagnosis with. Why we didn’t really talk much after that conversation in the hallway, when I said no. It looks like you cared for me, and sometimes, that makes it awkward, because we haven’t spoken in years, we both married other people, and I still have that paper cube from your dad’s office. (I’m using it for grocery lists.)

I don’t really know what to say to you, even now, because we have nothing. We are nothing. And it’s your fault. You never took the risk of¬†telling me how you felt or explicitly labeling the times that we hung out as¬†dates. You were a friend, I interacted with you like a friend, I¬†wondered if we could have been more, but you never gave me the slightest sign that you were ever interested in me as anything else. You’re a good guy who finished last because he never actually signed up for the race- just ran along behind people who were actually competing for a prize.

So, I’m not going to feel guilty about not¬†recognizing your subtle mind games any more, ok? If it had really mattered to you, if you had really cared, you¬†could have said something. It’s not my fault that I did not see¬†something you were trying to hide. So, congrats on your success. You fooled me, and I never suspected that you wanted anything more from me than what you had, so I ultimately discarded my budding feelings for you since they were pointless.

I’m sorry for yelling. I just hate that a single conversation can still bother me now. It’s been years. I just… I needed to say that. And you know what? It’s ok that we never dated each other. It’s ok that we never escaped the Borg either. Some things just aren’t meant to be. So take care, friend. I hope you’re living free too, not haunted by memories of me.

Artificial Friends

Because I have recently moved away from my last community of ¬†friends, and because I am very hesitant to reach out to local friends, I spend a good deal of time alone these days. The problem is that we weren’t really made to function well in isolation- we are wired for friendship, for love, and for connection. So what happens to people when they don’t get enough of those things? We improvise.

In my case, I’m creating false relationships with real people, and allowing myself to believe that I am growing to know them better through our continued, one-sided interactions. In layman’s terms: I’m binge-watching YouTube.

*sigh* I realize that this sounds pathetic, and it probably is, but it is working in the immediate term. I get to hear voices that aren’t mine, thoughts that aren’t mine. I get to laugh along with others and watch them learn new things. It’s like being in a group, but from the outside.

In a lot of ways, it’s just like my real life social interactions throughout most of my school career. I was present, at the edge of the group or in the circle, and I listened to other people talk. I laughed when they laughed, and I remembered what they said. I learned more about who they were, and I was there for a lot of their experiences, but I never really belonged. There is a real reason that I’m saying that, besides baseless sadness; I have actual proof that my friendship wasn’t really valuable to the people that I thought were my friends, and it has haunted me for 16 years now.

I need to move on. But it hurts.