You are not a burden

We are not burdens. Let me repeat, we are not burdens. Taking things a step further, this idea that someone else needs more of something from us than we do, based on our perception of their state is a cop out, denying us our own truth and self care. No one needs us more than we need ourselves. There is no heroes award in being a martyr. Instead these actions tell us that our own lives don’t matter. Which means we don’t matter. There is no growth in that.
There is no true self discovery, reflection, or accountability.

We cannot work on ourselves if we are looking to others for the distractions of their problems. It creates a codependency that is unfair to all participants. That is not to say we don’t offer guidance when asked, a shoulder to lean on in difficult times etc. Those things are still important because others are not a burden either. This does not include times when people are acting abusive towards us as that is never okay, and should never be tolerated. It’s about learning how to help while still maintaining our own boundaries, independence, and acknowledgement of our own needs.

You are not a burden. Our struggles and our grief are not a burden.

I am still working on the burden part. I am still learning how to tell people when things are challenging. To open up and allow them an opportunity to offer a level of comfort in an non-attachment way. My boundaries need this comfort to not come from a place of codependency, but in the past I have not allowed people the chance to even try. I have been unfair to both myself and those who love me. To truly give, one must be open to receiving.

So I want to apologize for all the times I decided to carry my struggle in silence, effectively shutting people out. I want to keep improving on myself in this way. I wish to show by example the importance of self care while helping others from an interdependent standpoint. I will continue to work on achieving the balance of letting people in, without feeling like a burden, or worry about becoming codependent in our struggles. I choose to not view life as a struggle. I choose to thrive.

I choose to remember that we are not burdens.

The Picture That Jealousy Paints Doesn’t Usually Match the Reality of the Situation

“You’ve always enjoyed the chase,” I say to my partner while we’re getting ready for work this morning. “but then again, so have I.”

“You’re right,” he confirms, “That’s part of what I worried about when we started dating. That the chase would be over. We would no longer be keeping our relationship secret and you would lose interest”

“I get that, I panicked about that too. What I think works with us is that we’re able to get the best of both worlds. We have relationships outside of each other where the chase is still relevant, but the comfort of a long term partnership.”

“But I still feel like the chase is happening with you,” he counters.

“Yes I agree,” I follow up, “and I’m wondering if that’s because subconsciously we’re trying to… assert our dominance in the relationship? Like there’s enough comfort in our relationship being solid, but not too much comfort where we just kick our feet up and say ‘whelp, this is it’.”

“Exactly, and in past relationships, once we hit the point of comfort, it was ‘here are your rules, you can’t talk to these people, you can’t do these things, you have to spend a certain amount of time with me’. With you, there’s no hidden agenda. You don’t stop me from living my life.” he explains.

**

This conversation played over and over again in the forefront of my mind when my partner tells me that his best friend from high school was planning to come and visit. They had a friendship that was more than platonic but they never dated. Whenever he spoke of her, my mind drew the conclusion that she was the one that got away. The ultimate chase that could lead to a far superior happily ever after for him.

The jealousy with her was always there, but never enough for me to let that anxiety get too overwhelming. She lives across the country and the last time they had seen each other was when they went to Japan two years ago, a year before we started dating. They would speak on a somewhat regular basis via Facebook and he would never hide that fact.

I would express the jealousy and envy I had in regards to his relationship with her, here and there, but assured him that I respected the friendship and supported it, which wasn’t a lie. I would ask questions about her and listen intently to stories about high school, their trip to Japan as well as the dynamic they had, and found solace in the fact that she lived further away.

In an effort to show my support for their friendship, a few months ago I had inquired to him about whether or not she would be interested in coming to visit, allowing them to catch up as well as giving me the peace of mind of getting to know her. As I had mentioned in my article about where my jealousy comes from, I felt that if I had that opportunity to meet her, and she was able to acknowledge the relationship I had with my partner, the lingering jealousy would dissipate and allow me to put more energy into supporting this friendship that made him happy. I would be able to experience compersion instead of inadequacy.

The experience with his recent intimate friendship, the woman that didn’t acknowledge my presence in his life, still festered when he told me recently that his long time friend was interested in coming to visit in the next month or so. On top of all that, I was sick for the first time this year, and hormones were running rampant from PMS. The feelings of inferiority lingered and snowballed, thinking about the past they had, the ‘firsts’ they shared and my inability to compare to this woman who I had only heard stories about. I formulated a picture of her in my head of someone who had no interest in meeting me, and my partner taking off for the whole weekend to make up for lost time with the high school crush he spoke so fondly of.

**

It was a perfect storm of nagging anxiety and hormones that caused me to break down. I very rarely allow feelings of jealousy to cause me to lose my cool, but this day was an exception. When he would bring up that he had conversations with her, I never heard any discussions involving me, and I had it in my head that he didn’t discuss me out of fear of pushing her away. That his life outside of his friendship with her would hinder their dynamic and I was only an obstacle. That there was a chase, and I was the hurdle that could bring the whole thing down. I pictured her as someone who would come to visit and lay claim to my partner; that their history would trump anything I had with him. I would be a 3rd wheel to the stories they shared and I would be ‘the new partner’ who didn’t know him anywhere close to the level she did.

I lost it. I was passive aggressive and angry. I pushed him away because that was my defense mechanism out of fear of getting hurt. I had been rejected so many times by family and past relationships that I couldn’t handle the idea of being rejected by my partner, or his best friend. His defenses rose because of his experience with past relationships that had rules in place claiming that he wasn’t able to speak to her, as well as other important women in his life. It was a difficult few days of poor communication (thanks Mercury) and us having our guard up from our own past trauma.

We came to a potential solution where he would speak to her about his boundaries as well as mine. I was still slightly on edge, expecting him to put it off out of the fears I assumed he had. He assured me that, if she did respond poorly to boundaries being laid out, that it would be on her, although he knew that it wouldn’t come to that.

I know I can be stubborn sometimes but, I’ll admit, he was right. He was right about the whole thing. He laid out the boundaries and she explained her fears and anxieties which, low and behold, they were the same as mine. She didn’t want to be a 3rd wheel to our stories about his more recent life. She didn’t want to insert herself into our relationship, just as I didn’t want to do the same to their friendship, which caused us to never reach out to each other. In fact, she was worried that if she maintained the extent of intimacy with my partner that she had in the past, or attempted to become too involved in our relationship, I wouldn’t allow him to maintain that dynamic with her.

My partner was right about another thing too: her and I get along great. This shouldn’t have surprised me, but it did thanks to the fantasy of her I had created in my brain. I felt as though she was far more his type than I was and that, with their history, I would never be able to match her. However, much like any relationship, we offer different things that simultaneously meet my partner’s needs. At the same time, we share a lot of similarities that allowed us to form a friendship of our own in a matter of days. Similarities that, as my partner has pointed out, all the important women in his life share.

We have been able to communicate boundaries with each other as well as boundaries in terms of my relationship with my partner. The anxiety I felt towards her has dissolved completely and, while a healthy amount of jealousy is still present, I know that I’m able to discuss these feelings with her and she will acknowledge and understand them. The tension that was present in her relationship with my partner seemed to have also dissolved, allowing them to pick up where they left off before him and I started dating.

As I’ve discussed before, jealousy happens. How we handle those feelings is the deciding factor in whether its healthy or toxic. Sometimes, we handle jealousy in a very unhealthy way and it can be hard to control when other factors are involved. I’ve spent the last few days beating myself up over it but the more I write, the more I realize that this ‘perfect storm’ needed to happen to fix a friendship while also creating a new one.

**

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The Wound from Cutting out a Toxic Parent Never Truly Heals

“I think she is killing herself to please you. She worships the ground you walk on. She didn’t do this for herself.” – Meredith Grey

I had never really watched Grey’s Anatomy until recently. I caught the odd episode here and there, back when it was on the air, but that’s about it. I saw it on Netflix while I was looking for a new background show a few weeks ago and decided to give it a try.

The quote above came from the episode I was watching today. There it was: the trigger. All the feelings that I’m able to suppress, for sometimes months at a time, came rushing back. I was thinking about my mother whom I cut off for good (for the 4th time) about a year ago. I’m more confident that this time around, it actually is for good, but that doesn’t stop me from having days where I yearn for the maternal relationship I haven’t had since I was 9.

One thing I’ve learned from the multiple attempts at separating myself from that psychologically abusive relationship is that, the pain never really goes away. Even though these days are becoming less frequent, when you lack a parental relationship, you tend to still wonder the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘whys’. Social media posts about how people could never live without their mom make me wince. TV shows where you watch the psychological effects destroy the sons and daughters of absent parents cause feelings of empathy to surface because you know what that’s like. Three years ago these things would make me pick up my phone and reach out to her because “it might be different this time. Maybe she’ll realize.” but this time around I won’t be drinking the koolaid.

Sometimes all it takes is a little karaoke and dancing in the kitchen

My go-to when these triggers happen is to drown myself in misery. I listen to the music that got me through my teenage years. I watch shows like Shameless and Jessica Jones so I can relate to the characters and continue to grieve over the maternal relationship I lost at a young age.

Today was different though. My partner and I came home and cleaned, alternating what music we played while we did so. During one of his songs, knowing full well what kind of day I was having, he grabbed me and danced with me in the kitchen. When The Black Parade (my song) came on, I ran into the living room and sang passionately (horribly) into my daughter’s LOL karaoke machine.

The pain never goes away, but coming to terms with that knowledge makes it easier to cope. Being aware that triggers will happen and bad days are normal reassures me that I made the right choice to sever that relationship. I would rather have a bad day from time to time, than be living my life striving to be someone I’m not, for a maternal relationship that I’ll never have.

**

If you enjoyed what you read, head over to the Links page. Let’s connect.

You can also Ask Me a Question. This helps me with topics to write about. Polyamory, relationships, attachment parenting, feminism, communication and mental health are just some of the topics I read a lot about and have formed quite a few opinions on.

Thanks for reading!

A performance piece

We have this idea of what trauma looks like, these ingrained beliefs about how trauma is experienced, spoken about and lived through. When it doesn’t come in these expected packages, it can be very hard for people to wrap their head around. Often times, it’s not the act of listening they are there for, it’s your emotional response they are craving and wanting to be a part of. As a society, we have become so addicted to the pain of others that we reject the stories (and judge those they belong to) when the performance doesn’t live up to our expectations. We misinterpret the intentions of those who stop hiding it, and those who are no longer reliving their trauma when they tell us about it.
“Well if you’re no longer reliving the trauma, why bring it up? Why focus on the negative? Why can’t you JUST be positive?”
Because I’m not living my life according to someone else’s projections of what is, and what is not something.
Because I do not subscribe to the belief that “negative” is inherently bad, and that we need to just be “positive”.
Because I no longer feel shameful for my story. I no longer feel shameful for my own actions, nor the actions of others towards me.
While I am not defined by my past, will not deny my history either.

Being bisexual is just a phase

Featured image credit: Vashito

“Mom, I have something to tell you.” I anxiously brush the hair out of my face, unsure of the direction this conversation will go.

She doesn’t even look at me when she says “What?”

I take a deep breath.

“I like girls” I said. She looks at me with a doubtful expression.

“So you’re gay?”

“Well, no not exactly. I like boys too. I’m bisexual” I reply. She laughs and continues cooking dinner. “I’m serious.” I clarify, even though I thought it was pretty clear that I wasn’t joking.

“You can’t like both. This is just a phase, you’re doing it for attention. You’ll grow out of it.” I’m dumbfounded because I’m not sure how to reply other than explaining that it isn’t just a way to get attention.

“Does me liking girls bother you?” I ask. She stops what she’s doing to look at me.

“I don’t care if you are gay or straight. You can like girls or you can like boys. You can’t like both, that’s just greedy.”

**

I’ll never forget that conversation with my mom shortly after I met my first girlfriend. At the young, impressionable age of 14, you feel as though your parents know everything, especially when there’s emotional abuse and manipulation involved. I questioned my sexuality, maybe even doubted it, but all the signs were there. My heart would race whenever Megan would walk into the room, she made me smile so hard my cheeks hurt and those lips, those soft, incredible lips that I couldn’t get enough of. We spent most of our time getting into trouble together. We skipped school a lot to go to the mall or hang out downtown. We would end up in detention together passing notes. How could my mother be right? How could I feel the way I did about her, but also be attracted to men?

The seed my mother planted about me seeking attention spread, shaking my confidence and eventually caused the relationship to disintegrate.  From that point on I only every pursued men. Occasionally I would get drunk with some friends and it gave me the excuse to hit on and make out with girls I found attractive, but was too low on confidence to ever ask them out. Any attempt to do so without alcohol in my system was an awkward interaction of compliments and women taking them in a ‘no homo’ way while I was screaming “Full homo!” in my head.

It wasn’t until last year that I asked a woman that I had been crushing on for years if she’d be interested in coming to a Christmas party with me. I did so in a way where it wasn’t overly clear whether it was a date or a friend hangout, which looking back, I can understand why I did it. My confidence still wasn’t there and I wasn’t sure how to deal with rejection if she said no. We had so much fun that night and after a few drinks my anxiety started to wash away. I watched her light up while she enthusiastically spoke to people she hardly knew while we were outside smoking. That’s when I felt the pace of my heart start to pick up.  When the night began to come to a close and we were getting ready to leave, I leaned in and kissed her. This wasn’t the normal drunk, sloppy make-out session I’ve had with other drunk girls in the past. This was one of those soft, sincere kisses that make your heart warm and your brain stop.

We spoke about it a few days later and I discovered that the kiss wasn’t reciprocated due to the alcohol consumption: she felt the same way I did, so we made plans to see more of each other. The anxiety and nervousness was always kind of there whenever we would hang out; the words from my mom still plaguing the back of my brain without me consciously realizing it. Given the lack of experience I’ve had with women due to this, I found myself questioning everything I was doing. Am I being too much? Should I do more?  I realize now that I was putting a lot of pressure on myself as well as the relationship we had. When she spoke to me about labeling that relationship as an ‘intimate friendship’, I took it hard. I thought of it as a downgrade (which it is most definitely not at all but more on that later) and began blaming myself, my mother’s words ringing in my ears. This all happened shortly after my longest relationship had ended so I was still repairing some of my own internal damage which I had not taken into account.

We reconnected a few months ago and once again found ourselves kissing unexpectedly, only this time it was different. There was no questioning what I should or shouldn’t be doing. There was no wondering what she was thinking or forcing a relationship past what we had because I felt like that was something I had to do. We’re great friends that can have riveting conversations, an amazing time together and who are genuinely attracted to each other. Why would I ever want to push things further than that? The relationship label never defined or validated my sexuality. My feelings and attraction towards her, or any woman I’ve felt drawn to did. Being bisexual was never just a phase, a choice or a way to get attention. It’s part of who I am and I’ve finally been able to fully accept that.

 

**

If you enjoyed what you read, head over to the Links page. Let’s connect.

You can also Ask Me a Question. This helps me with topics to write about. Polyamory, relationships, attachment parenting, feminism, communication and mental health are just some of the topics I read a lot about and have formed quite a few opinions on.

Thanks for reading!

Sometimes it’s Easy to Mistake My Anxiety for Anger

Photo by Tmedia Photography

Have you ever had one of those days where you’re constantly worried that something bad is going to happen? Whether it’s logical or not, the thoughts creep into your head, you have nasty butterflies in your stomach and your chest feels so tight that you can hardly breathe. Whether your partner is talking to someone new, your child is sick, you have a yearly review at work or… literally nothing (sometimes there’s no real cause for the overthinking and panic), the feelings fester and get worse. The preconceptions stack and build and become so irrational that if you took a step back and thought about things logically, you would see how absurd your thought process is. This is what anxiety feels like.

Day in and day out this is what it can be like for me. Often the triggers can be so small, but can still hugely impact my perception. A simple song, quote, an out of context portion of conversation, or post on social media can send me spiraling into internally asking questions and coming to the most ludicrous conclusions.

“What if the girl he’s talking to is cooler than me? What if they make fun of me behind my back? What if she’s convincing him to leave me? He’s going to leave me.”

“Did I leave my straighter on? I can’t remember if I turned it off. What if the cats knock it off the counter? What if it touches the shower curtain and the whole place lights on fire? How will my animals get out? What if no one knows before it’s too late?”

So on and so forth until I’m thinking of the absolute worst case, far fetched scenarios. It’s exhausting because logically I know none of this will happen. I’m continuously fighting against my brain, every single day.

My partner will come into the room mid anxiety attack, clueless of all of this, and ask me about something. I have a tendency to snap back about insignificant things because I’m so worked up about the imaginary scenarios.

“Why didnt you take out the garbage??”
“This kitchen is a mess.”
“Where are my keys?!”

Luckily my partner and I have gotten to a point in our relationship where he can differentiate between the two. It wasn’t always like that though, there was a substantial period of time where he would follow up with:

“Are you mad at me?”

At which point, I would partially snap out of it and apologize, explaining what I had been dealing with before he walked into the minefield.

It’s so easy to mistake anxiety for anger. This doesn’t justify the way I handle myself when I’m overwhelmed. This is something I’ve been working on every day and having him there to listen to my fears, and help me dissect them, does make a huge difference in how I unlearn this toxic behaviour.

**

If you enjoyed what you read, head over to the Links page. Let’s connect.

You can also Ask Me a Question. This helps me with topics to write about. Polyamory, relationships, attachment parenting, feminism, communication and mental health are just some of the topics I read a lot about and have formed quite a few opinions on.

Thanks for reading!

There’s No Point in Arguing With Those not Willing to Listen

No matter how good of a person you are, and how much you do for people, there will always be someone who perceives you, and your point of view, negatively. Even if you do everything you can to look at things objectively and offer calm, viable solutions to problems or issues, if it doesn’t fit their narrative, they won’t listen. Even if you carefully live your life and watch every step to make sure you follow what’s deemed acceptable by society, there will always be someone who will create their own image of you to make themselves look better. Even if you try to make things as fair as you possibly can, and offer the ability to discuss and negotiate situations, they will not always care to listen or offer the same respect that you offer them.

I spent a lot of years caring about what other people think, and living my life to maintain my image. Openly stepping outside of the comfort zone of what’s viewed as ‘acceptable’ by society would cause incredible amounts of anxiety and panic. This worsened when I became a mother, as I mentioned in my post about how I refuse to sacrifice my life to parenting.

When I left one of my past partners due to an extended period of emotional abuse, I had lost almost all of my confidence. They became vindictive and attempted to pit everyone we knew against me by manipulating stories to make it seem as though they were the victim. It used to bother me so much, and they knew it, which made it worse. They created an image of me, from small pieces of scattered information, to make it seem as though I was something that I’m not. Communicating and clarifying the actual situation to my ex partner, or defending myself, never made a difference. Every time I would try, they would cut me off and claim that it wasn’t worth an explanation. The accurate telling of events would only make it more difficult for them to be angry. It would only hinder their ability to spin the story how they wanted to tell it.

After multiple attempts to maintain and protect my image, and attaining the same result, I started to question why. Why was I trying to defend myself to someone who was clearly so unhappy with their own life that they’re trying to destroy everyone else’s perception of me? Why do I care so much? Explaining the truth won’t make a difference because they don’t want to hear it. I know I’m a good person with the best intentions. I know that I’m capable of empathy and understanding. I know that I can acknowledge my flaws, and apologize when I’m wrong. The important people in my life know this as well. So why do I need to try so hard to impress those that choose not to believe these things?

The answer? I don’t. I’ve learned to live my life for me, and that I’m not responsible for other people’s perception of me. Whether I live life to the epitome of perfection, or I live it the way I want to, they will always have something negative to say, and that’s on them. How they talk to, and about me, is a reflection of them. How I react is a reflection of me.

**

If you enjoyed what you read, head over to the Links page. Let’s connect.

You can also Ask Me a Question. This helps me with topics to write about. Polyamory, relationships, attachment parenting, feminism, communication and mental health are just some of the topics I read a lot about and have formed quite a few opinions on.

Thanks for reading!