Enjoyment for Its Own Sake

I’m at the fire pit again today, and unlike last time, when there were a few people at home but none with me, this morning, I’m the only one home.

It feels a bit weird because I should be working on things around the house. Maybe I should hand some of the paintings. Maybe I should finish painting the sitting room. Maybe I should wash dishes. Instead, I’m just sitting here.

I’ve just been journaling and trying to soak up the atmosphere, because I don’t often do things without having a friend or my husband along to support me. It feels like there is value in doing this, in validating myself by choosing to do something simply because I want to do it. It’s odd, and it’s a small step, but maybe it’s enough for today.

The little girl next door likes to talk to me, and their dog loves to race Dora up and down the fence. Now, the dog from the other neighbors has come out and she’s baying at both of them. I could ask my neighbors if their dogs could come over to play, but I won’t. I’m not feeling that social.

My journaling hasn’t really led me anywhere, but it’s good to write things down. I wish the issue I’m wrestling with were simpler, but people are complicated. Life is complicated. Even if pure truth were to be revealed to me, I’d still only be happy if it turned out I was right after all. Otherwise, I’d probably need to stomach the inescapable reality.

Time to extinguish the fire and go inside. We’ll see what the rest of the day holds.

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EmoHero: Hope

This is based on a challenge I have joined on habitica, and I don’t know what to expect from it. The premise is to reimagine your emotions as people- heroes and monsters, specifically- and to describe them in more detail. I honestly have no idea what this process will be like, but I’m going to try anyway. All entries on this topic will be tagged with EmoHero, if only for my sake. If anyone is interested in looking at or joining the challenge, here it is.

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This challenge was created by Take This

Ok. My tasks are to “turn one of my positive feelings into a hero” and to “list my hero’s strengths and weakness.” Then, if I can find “small changes I can make in my own life to play to their strengths,” I’m supposed to include those as well.

So far, I’ve written about love, caution, and fear. I dropped off the challenge pretty early on, and saw other participants talking about the value of putting in the effort to create several heroes for themselves. Technically, the challenge has already ended, but I’m going to try pushing through. Here we go.

What other good traits or emotions do I even have? (That might sound dumb, but I think it’s pretty typical for people with chronically low self esteem to struggle with this question, so I’m not worried about it.) Moreover, love was an emotion that is essentially pouring myself out for others, so it’s not… I don’t have the words for this. Essentially, pouring out too much of yourself is unhealthy and focusing too much on others and crushing yourself into paste because you think it will help them is unhealthy. I need to find something that is just valuable in and of itself.

Maybe it will help if I list positive feelings in general:

  • love
  • joy
  • humour
  • relaxation
  • hope
  • confidence
  • kindness
  • acceptance

I’ve found a strange middle ground between states of being, emotions, and personality traits, and I’m not going to split hairs trying to divide them. It doesn’t seem worthwhile, and I’m more likely to wind up distracted by that task than to be helped by it. Maybe, Hope is a good choice. (As in other entries, bold is the hero, plain is the emotion.)

As someone who has been actively suicidal multiple times, my idea of hope is inextricably tied to the will to carry on. Hope isn’t really optimism for me, in that it doesn’t involve dreams, plans, or excitement over what’s coming. Instead, it’s something dense and strong, like an iron ingot or an uncharted diamond. Hope carries a huge burden without being damaged, and it is very hard to break. I’ll start with that diamond idea and see where it leads.

Hope the hero could have diamond powers, perhaps, but what does that look like? We have Emma Frost’s diamond skin that makes her invincible or Rarity’s temporary gem-based summoning powers a la Green Lantern. I can’t think of other precedents offhand. What does hope contribute to the total picture? Essentially, hope buys time for other emotions and people to turn the tide. No matter how dire everything else looks, hope keeps me going until I am strong enough to believe in the future again.

That sounds like a shield to me. Hope has the ability to produce and maintain a diamond shield over the rest of the team. Ok. That’s a fine start.

I had to go and check, but Love got shields and healing. If they’re on the same team, then the most obvious interaction I can find is when the heavy hitter goes down, Hope throws up a crystal shield and Love starts healing them. When things are most dire, this combo is pretty helpful, but does Hope do anything when the situation isn’t dire?

For me, hope is primarily active when everything else has failed me, but occasionally I’m doing well enough to feel hope even when things are going ok. I wonder if that sounds silly. I feel hopeful when I’m teetering at the edge of death, and I struggle to hope when things are neutral or going well. Honestly, I’m usually just waiting for the shoe to drop when my life is going well. I know it won’t last, so I’m just waiting for the good times to pass.

Yeah, at this point, I think that the best thing I can say is that Hope has latent powers, because I see the potential for them to take action at other points in the battle (and in my life), but they need to be mentored or trained to develop further. On an emotional level, I’m going to need to continue forward in a stable emotional state that allows room for hope and growth. I’m not sure how to do that except to just keep putting myself out there, keep trying new things, and keep pushing through old walls.

Hang in there, Hope. One day, you’ll know who you are and what you’re capable of.

Looking Back at Month 1

It seemed worthwhile to look at everything that’s happened since we got Dora a little over a month ago. It slips away too quickly otherwise.

  • I have started talking to several new people routinely. Mostly about Dora, when I’m with Dora, but still- we recognize each other now. That’s pretty good for a hermit.
  • I have started taking the car much more often. My husband and I share a car, and I feared becoming house-locked because without my own car I wouldn’t feel free to join things. It happened, but slowly. Now, I take the car at least 3 days a week- dropping off my husband and picking him up- mostly because of Dora.
  • I’m using public spaces for my own purposes. It’s cold. Really cold with windchill, and I can’t walk my dog outside for long periods of time. But Dora needs exercise and leash training. So I go to the stores. Pet stores, home improvement stores, any place that allows leashed pets. I still feel a bit guilty about it, but I do it anyway.
  • I talk to strangers as one off encounters too. Again, it’s usually about Dora and with her, but still, having a handful of positive conversations with dog lovers about how well behaved Dora is, how cute her ears are, how nice she looks, how old she is and so on, does brighten my day (which I could use).
  • A friend of mine has been coming over to play video games and hang out for about an hour, three days a week. She works at a school nearby and has an awkward break between her morning duties and school starting. It’s been good to see another person routinely.
  • I have asked people to accommodate me. If something is scheduled and I feel exhausted, then I contact them and ask to reschedule, or to change things somehow to allow me to complete it anyway. (As opposed to worrying about being a burden to the extent that I never allow anyone to be kind to me.)
  • I talk, sing, and laugh more during the days (because I’m not alone). Having Dora around to interact with does help ease the social isolation. I know she’s not an eloquent conversationalist, but she’s a responsive listener. That’s something.

There are probably a few more changes, but I think my husband was right about the benefits of getting a dog quickly and then training it ourselves (via co-training). Dora has been good for me.

“I am…” Part 2

⭐️Note: This is a follow up entry for “‘I am…’ Part 1,” which was published two days ago.

I decided to write a new list as a kind of diagnostic activity. (Regarding the method: I just wrote the whole list in one sitting, in under 5 minutes, as a stream of consciousness.) So, am I getting better or worse? Has anything changed in 11 years? That’s what I wanted to find out. (See the full list above in the featured image.)

I obviously still like self-awareness, as I went out of my way to comment on my fears and insecurities. I also don’t like being defined by my roles, so I did not mention social ties, career or education achievements, or other things that might set up expectations from my audience (or even from myself). Roles are socially constructed, and thus artificial, anyway.

I see about 8 items that are fairly positive, or as postings as I ever am, I guess. I am looking to the future with hope, believing that things can get better, doing what I can to get there, and I am acknowledging my progress. That’s all good.

I also still have a ways to go; I am afraid that people will not approve of me, so I hide my brokenness and myself. I don’t talk to people who like me, even though they would probably be happy to hear from me. I am living a very small, isolated life.

Is it better? I think so. There are fewer sentences about pain and desperation, although the pain is still there. Are things changing? I guess so, but right now, it doesn’t feel like I am happy or free.

Overall, it’s a pretty bittersweet update.

“I am…” Part 1

I found a list of descriptions of me that I wrote in high school in an old, forgotten notebook. It is strange to look back on it… And sad as well. There is only one semi-positive phrase, and the rest of it is negative. Well, mostly. The featured image should show you what I mean.

See, some of this is sad, but some of it just strikes me as pretty self-aware. I lament not feeling loved or being hugged by friends and family, but also comment that I am terrified of both love and touch. (They are both tied to vulnerability and being known, which makes them scary.) I note how hard I am on myself and immediately comment that I am my worst enemy. That kind of thing.

So while these insights are still depressing, I can’t see them as bad per se. After all, personal change cannot occur without awareness of problems. 

But I’m sugar-coating things to feel a bit better about them. Awareness honestly didn’t lead to change. I didn’t grow as a result. In reality, rather than in theory, I only ended up using this self-awareness as fodder for debilitating self-talk. Signs of my weakness, personal flaws, proof of my inherent brokenness.

That’s the thing- awareness and contemplation are necessary for growth, but they don’t guarantee growth. It’s up to us to choose which path we will walk. 

If only I was always strong enough to take the healing route! But there have been, and likely always will be, days when I only have enough energy to continue towards more pain, because the familiar path is always easier to walk.