Lilies, Part 2

15 02 2014

The lily is dead.

Despite the care, the bloom came lackluster and lonely and died one night in the snow, flakes melting cruelly as the roots froze below.

There is not much to write about a dead flower that hasn’t already been said; water has no use and it would be yet more pointless to gild such a thing after its death.

As for me, I will have no more bouquets. My business has always been in fur and steel, and to fur and steel I will return joyfully. I will pull the lily’s roots and frame them as a reminder of the fragility of flowers.

And, and — to return to my own roots.

Empathy for the Devil

27 01 2014

I think one of the hardest things to do in life is to empathise with people who have actively wronged you.

There is someone whose very presence in my social circles has tormented me for the better part of a year. This person more or less stomped my and my partner’s faces into the dirt for absurd reasons — mine for the better part of the year previous — and then sliced us out of their life as though we were a step below offal. Don’t get me wrong; it was the liverwurst of relationships while it existed, but even so, I shared a very vulnerable part of myself with this person only to have it tossed out when the person decided it no longer served their interests.

The point here being that my revulsion is, in some ways, justified.

And I have a hard time empathising with them because they did something that, by my metrics, is almost unforgivable.

But I found myself reading their blog after having encountered them at a party and wondering what was going on in their life — like you do — and came across a post detailing their struggles with depression and suicidal ideation.

And I couldn’t help but find myself thinking: Yeah. I’ve been there. I feel you. I know that place.

Because as much as I want to hate them, vilify them for everything I had to put up with, spit vengeful venom, I can’t do it in the face of that. I have been down that road. I have been in the dark, windowless room that is hopelessness. I’ve been in that place, and I can’t hate someone who is in there. At the most callous, it’s like ambushing someone who is unarmed. There’s no worth in it; it’s ugly and speaks infinite incriminating tomes about your shallowness of character. In a kinder world, it’s kicking someone while they’re down.

Ideally I will never speak to or see this person again, but I can’t help but empathise with their plight, because in some ways, it’s my plight too.

And this is hard. It’s hard to let go of something that my lizardbrain cries out is protecting me. There’s nothing to protect myself from anymore. It’s hard to turn the other cheek.

I suppose these little growth spurts come most often when I stop trying.

I Who Is Not I

5 12 2013

The I who is not I is perfect stealth because of the faces she wears. Her hair is blue like mine but her face is painted at will, and sometimes she has no face at all when she wears the silvery suits. The I who is not I slinks in cotton and lace, cinches her waist, and moves with a grace dissimilar. The I who is not I peers over her spectacles smirking in the mirror and dreams of social subterfuge (contrast I, specters of simulation stripped). Yet underneath her false velvet is I who is I, made of steel.


27 11 2013

Today is the first time I have felt brave enough to write about him in anything other than brief mentions of profound sorrow.

At first we were light, playful, nakedly startled at our mutual discovery of the other. Tumbling over each other and ourselves came naturally, both with our words and with our bodies. We giggled over geeky tropes and conspired to climb mountains. We grabbed each other’s hands, seeing who could run faster, out of breath because we’d chain smoked so we’d have an excuse to keep talking.

His marriage initially made things uncomfortable, but as a powerful friendship developed, we chalked it up to growing pains. She and I are of similar minds, and we eventually commiserated passionately on everything and nothing at all. He spent hours pounding metal and came up with a lily in aluminum and copper. He smiled as proudly as it shimmered when I told him the defects didn’t matter — it was experimental like I was, and there will be no other like it. We made plans and mistakes, patching up the bruises lovingly, trying to squeeze into something that fit and noting when something broke in fits of excitement. The first time love spilled from our lips, I thought the moment peerless.

But even lilies wilt.

The storms that plague my head slowly flooded him, and our words were sharp like thunder and as volatile. Slowly the landscape around us burned, unnoticed by we who tried to protect the lone flower. I shivered against the rain, never realising that the lily was left dry and slowly withering. All I had to do was look down and water the lily, but I was busy looking up and cursing the rain.

We sat on his front steps on a brisk evening and he told me nothing was left. I, ever the atrociously-timed optimist, insisted it wasn’t so, and that I loved him and could improve. My heart broke at his doubt. Three weeks later, trying forlornly to talk about something, I plucked the blossom, saying that trying to save it now was futile.

We have only spoken passingly and awkwardly since.

I do not know if it will bloom again. Lilies are perennials and hardier than succumbing to a wayward kick, yet all flowers are delicate, and the roots have gone long neglected. Perhaps it will. But while the winter endures, I will hold the shriveled petals in my hands with nothing but regret for company.

Learning to Help Myself

19 11 2013

I talk an awful lot about mental health. I swear, I do other things, but the grisly specter of depression and the airless crush of anxiety are constantly with me and colour everything I do.

This time it’s at work. My productivity is, again, slipping. Alas.

My boss being someone I have a good working relationship with, though, and also an incredibly nice person, noticed and was as gentle as he could be about it while also making it clear what would happen if it wasn’t fixed. This is what happened at my last job, and I didn’t disclose nearly soon enough and didn’t advocate for myself at all. I have decided that whatever the outcome, I am not going to make that mistake again.

Yet my new company is much bigger and as such has a process for doing these things, which will probably require me to advocate for myself to my boss’s boss as well as his boss. For someone with an anxiety disorder with social triggers, it’s hard to describe the terror inherent in this. Both because I have to discuss some very personal issues with some very-higher-ups, but also because I am semi-publicly admitting that my brain does not work the way that others’ brains do and that I need to have something different to get me up to snuff.

Especially for a woman, when for us the response is often “she’s just overemotional” behind our backs, and especially in a male-dominated industry, asking for a special accommodation feels like admitting that I am less. I am not as able as my coworkers. I am not neurotypical. I need to try doing things differently, and the difference in this case will be conspicuous.

But the alternative is unemployment, and I cannot fall back on anyone now, neither for advice nor for pecuniary support. No one I know has done this before and no one I know can provide anything other than encouraging words. My boss is tremendously supportive of my needs, but he admits his knowledge of the situation pales in comparison to mine. The only person who can help and advocate for me is me, and this is new ground. I am afraid, but giving up is not an option, and I have to learn to be strong in the face of being my own worst enemy.

I have to learn to be able to help myself, and in this case, I have to learn to say my piece articulately and without shame. If I do that, I have done the very best I can.

Lyft: There’s A Mustache Ride Joke In Here Somewhere

18 11 2013

I’ve heard comments over and over from friends and passersby whenever a Lyft car passes on the street. They are without fail to the tune of:

“What kind of hipster wacko puts a pink mustache on their grill?”

I admit that I saw a few, rolled my eyes, and thought little else of it until I was encouraged on a Facebook thread to give Lyft a try instead of Uber. Being a novelty junkie but also incredibly socially anxious, I dithered. I’m really supposed to sit up front? Isn’t that too familiar? I thought, one of my more antiquated sensibilities perched fussily on my shoulder. Yet the disembodied voice of my ever-precarious bank account spoke practicality: If you’re going to be that way about the bus, you might as well take the cheapest option.

Having outwitted myself, I installed the app, fiddled around with getting it to see where I actually was versus the house down the street whose occupants once lit their basement on fire, and summoned my first Lyft.

After tiptoeing to the passenger-side window and receiving a friendly nod, I got in and was immediately comfortable. My driver, Roudimilove (who I have regrettably not seen again — I hope he’s well), chatted about everything and nothing with me, asked about what I did for work, commiserated on current events, and was all around a great guy.

I think I’ve taken a good 50 Lyfts since then (which was about 3 months ago), and at this point I take them not because I’m too lazy to take the T, but because I’ve met so many interesting people and at this point have had a few conversations pick up where they left off when I see a driver the second or third time. It’s cheaper than a cab, just ekes out ahead of UberX in terms of price, and Lyft cultivates a community of friendly people who either need a ride or have a ride to give.

The downsides — because there’s always one or two — are that there are not enough Lyft drivers around at a given time to guarantee that you’ll always be able to find one, and the risk of either getting a crap driver or having a bad experience. I’ve never had a bad experience with Lyft, though the possibility is always there. Considering how social it is, it’s possible that talking about a subject could accidentally make a ride awkward. The big downside for drivers is that drivers are not employees of Lyft; they’re independent contractors, which removes a lot of the protections that would be afforded if  a driver was actually an employee. There’s also the bit where Lyft advertises that drivers make $20-35 hourly, which I’ve heard differing reports on. Some are making quite a bit less because of gas prices and various other things.

All in all, the pros outweigh the cons, in part because I have to qualify my previous statement with the fact that despite the varying income, every driver I’ve talked to save for one has said they are very happy driving for Lyft and the company has done right by them.


Viva la ‘stache!

A Cavern in the Chest

12 10 2013

The night we went to the party is the night my mask slipped in a way I can never allow again.

I had been apprehensive. She was new and I felt encroached upon, and despite our cheerful and amiable agreement to talk about it in person beforehand, my chest was caving in. You know the press of anxiety on your chest (and you’re lucky if you don’t). Our sex life, mine and his, is mostly maintenance nowadays, while he does the fun stuff elsewhere, and considering my sex life is 99% him, sex is largely a chore. The SSRI makes even enjoying it tiresome. I’m bored, I said. I feel inadequate, he said. My old friend, inadequacy. Doggy style beggars me and you feel inadequate? I said to myself, dryly.

My chest caved in some more.

The scene earlier in the day went bad, I flashed back to an old abuser, his anxiety over me increases steadily every time something like this happens. He says he’s willing to keep trying, but actions speak louder than words and silence speaks volumes, and the silence of his actions is ringing in my ears.

We’ll go spelunking. It’ll be a fun adventure.

We got to the party and I slipped into the world I visit from time to time when I am alone. He wouldn’t move the car, afraid I would jump out. (He’ll never know I couldn’t move.) The doctor called it a micropsychotic episode, I call it slipping behind the veil. This world, that existence; that is where I live each day and pass it through the assembly line to be picked at until it looks human. I’ve gotten rather good at talking to myself without speaking.

Are we lost?

The familiar sting of a metaphorical slap came when I stumbled across the picture on the porch; self-satisfaction I will never have. Despite exterior calm, I shook, and no one knew it wasn’t from the cold. I shook for fear and love, I shook for things he’s getting elsewhere despite my crying out for novelty, I shook because I dared not cry. I still won’t cry. The pictures say it all — they’re not of me — but I was told this would happen. I was told I’d not just feel inadequate but be inadequate. The mask stayed up while the monologue turned to flames.

Isn’t there a map?

The cavern in my chest where my heart was expands each day; my heart lies within it but the cavern will never be big enough to protect it. Do I let the adventurers find it and prize it as loot, or do I play the asshole DM and summon a dragon when I’ve been backed into a corner? The bigger the cavern, the more demons come to reside in it, but the demons protect my heart. I have lost it before.

I guess we’ll have to find our own way out. Come on, we’ll do it together.

My mask is on tightly again, or I should say, I cannot let it slip again lest the world see more of my inner rooms. Existing in a constant state of panic is tiring; hiding it from the world, even more so, and sometimes the pressure builds up and I need a break, and then I break. He says he’s here for me, but I never wanted a brace; I wanted to walk again. He uses my rope on people further down the rabbit hole than I, and yet the broken one is me. He is satisfied with my unsatisfaction, and I see him walking out ahead of me, but I am not sure if I ought to follow. It’s warm here.

Let’s rest for a while.


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