creating a home

Home is a feeling of safety and security. It’s where you can relax and be your whole authentic self. It’s where you feel welcome and a sense of belonging. It’s comfort.

As I remember it, I don’t think I ever felt entirely welcome at home as a kid. It was not an emotionally warm or supportive place. My parents split when I was 10 and they lived close enough to each other that I spent half the week with each. I think my mom was more accepting of me, but the emotional temperature was always chilly; my dad was warmer but critical, and it got worse when he and his girlfriend moved in together — I felt actively unwelcome.

I attended university in my hometown so my first time living away was when my boyfriend and I moved across the country to a big city. It didn’t take long until the relationship became strained (at least to me — I think he thought everything was fine). We had an apartment together in an expensive city and neither of us could afford to move out. I didn’t feel comfortable; I felt trapped.

We moved back. My mom’s house was bursting at the seams. My dad (and his girlfriend) had moved to a smaller house. There was no room but I didn’t want to go back to someplace where I felt unwelcome anyway. My boyfriend’s family took us both in, which was very generous of them, but I never really belonged and the sense of being trapped returned. How can you break up with someone when you’re living with them and their parents? (I did try my dad’s place after all. I lasted three weeks.)

Much time has passed and Wolf and I have made a home together. (It still counts even though he’s living away right now for work.) We are entirely at ease together, entirely accepting, and I now have the warmth and welcome I always craved without knowing what was missing.

Our home is comfortable and cozy, a safe haven where we can close the door and lock the world out. The comfort of one’s own bed, especially when coming home after a trip, is well known. But for me, home is also where my fridge and pantry are, which means that I can eat food that I know won’t cause me health problems whenever I might be hungry and not have to rely on anyone else’s schedule or tastes. It’s also where my yoga mat, ankle weights and other gear are, which means I can do the stretches and exercises that keep my back and hips happy. So it represents my physical comfort as well.

And now that I’ve paid off the mortgage, there’s an extra feeling of accomplishment, contentment and security. Bliss.

 

F4Thought

reflecting and looking forward

“No peeking”, a Sinful Sunday photo from May 2016.

Well, 2019 was a year. Fortunately there was more positive than negative.

IBS-friendly diet and improved energy

In late 2018, I started managing my IBS using a FODMAP-based diet and by January 2019 I could tell that it was having a positive effect, and not only on my digestive symptoms.

The most unexpected — and utterly delightful — effect was that it largely resolved the fatigue that I’d struggled with for over seven years at that point, despite having undergone every relevant test my doctor could think of. As a result, instead of being constantly dragged down and only randomly experiencing the occasional unpredictable ‘on’ day, most days are now good days and if I get blindsided by some surprise fatigue, reverting to a conservative diet and waiting out my digestive process for a maximum of three days almost always resolves the issue.

For an accidental discovery, it’s had a huge effect on my day-to-day life. A few years ago, the combination of fatigue, poor sleep, depression and then antidepressants meant that I never knew for sure if I’d have the energy, cognition or focus to a given thing at a given time. (A few weeks after I tapered off the antidepressants in April 2018, the cognition and focus came back, but fatigue remained.) Eventually I got tired of disappointing myself so I just stopped planning anything and instead would decide on the day whether I was up for doing the thing. Which was me doing my best to cope, but it wasn’t very effective and it had exacerbated my inherent tendency not to make plans or have goals.

I now have the energy to plan and set goals, though I’m not actually very good at either of those things. So I’ll be working on that in all areas of my life, especially food (shopping, prepping, cooking), and sexuality (specifically exploring the factors that may be contribute to my low libido).

meditation

At the beginning of 2019 I started going to a weekly meditation class with a Buddhist group that meets conveniently near my place. I’d been thinking for some time that meditation would probably be good for my buzzy brain. And during my most recent meditation, I became aware that even though my brain is still far from quiet, it’s perceptibly quieter than it was when I started a year ago. It’s nice to feel that sense of progress.

I’m not practicing regularly at the moment but I’m working on making it part of my routine. And I’ll continue going to the classes because I find them helpful and I like the people: folks who are actively working on themselves to to decrease criticism and increase compassion are people I want to be around.

Wolf’s new job

Another significant change was that at the beginning of 2019 Wolf got a good contract job in a nearby city. For a change, we’re now both working at the same time, so things have suddenly gotten much easier financially, although he now has the expense of his own apartment and utilities. I’m in the process of paying out our mortgage early (we’re currently in payout limbo as the request has been made but the bank hasn’t withdrawn the money yet), so there’s a financial freedom on the horizon for us.

It’s not a secure enough job for me to consider upping stakes yet. But we’re making efforts to remain connected despite the distance, and he’s going to look for enjoyable things we can do when I come to visit to help with my project to have more pleasure in my life.

solitude

But with Wolf away, I’m once again alone here. It’s less than ideal but nowhere near as difficult as when he was overseas doing his doctorate: I tend not to get especially lonely; we talk on the phone every day and see each other every few weeks; neither of us are dealing with depression and/or anxiety the way we were before; and I still have support from Jaime.

Some time ago, I discovered that I couldn’t answer the questions “what do I like? what do I want?” in relation to sex. I now see that I struggle to answer these questions at all, for anything. I think this is largely because other people’s needs and wants seem much louder to me than my own. (It’s no coincidence that my epiphany occurred only after Wolf had been away for the better part of two years.)

But there is a mental quietness that comes from being by myself virtually all the time, enhanced by the fact that I keep the house literally quiet most of the time too. That literal and figurative quiet allows me to listen for my inner voice.

I’m going to make the most of my quiet time, keep trying to figure out my answers to those questions, and see what I can do to remain tuned in to my gut even when I’m not alone. I currently subject myself to a certain amount of mental chatter via social media, but I’m considering cutting down in order to be more deliberate with my energy; no decisions made yet on this point.

car theft

Our summer was marred by the theft and subsequent destruction of our car. Someone came in the back door of our house in the early evening and stole a handful of keys that were right there, including the car keys. I experienced a bunch of difficult emotions, chiefly anger, but in the end it didn’t hit me as hard as I (and others) expected. It was too much to process at once (similar to grief in that way) and I was concerned that perhaps I was at risk of burying the emotions rather than processing them. But I’m able to think about it now and while it’s still a bit sensitive, I don’t feel the need to avoid it, so I guess I’m OK.

Despite various anxieties I experienced that made it difficult to buy a new car, I did buy one, and I like it. Rather than getting a colour that would blend in, I got red because it’s my favourite colour, and despite the fact that some people judge drivers of red cars. Rather than getting a standard licence plate I got a personalised plate because it makes me happy to see it. It was an exercise in determining what I like and want, and prioritising my own pleasure.

I still have some anger, sadness and frustration about this episode, but I trust that it will ease over time and that giving it some attention today will help that process. We’ve taken some steps already for increased security and I’ll give some thought to some others, all with the goal of keeping my response reasonable and proportionate and not turning into an angry misanthropist in a walled compound.

looking forward

I’ve spent a lot of time over the holidays planning, which is unlike me. But I think I’m ready for planning and strategizing now in a way that I wasn’t before, thanks partly to the meditation I’ve been doing. (One of my common intrusive thoughts while meditating is my to-do list, so it would be helpful if I gave it its own dedicated time.)

This process of listening to my gut and planning has given me a clearer idea of what I want to do with this blog going forward. Having realised and accepted that I still have unresolved issues around sexuality, I want to work on those and I’m going to try harnessing the power of memes to give me a kick in the pants to get that stuff done 🙂

 

F4Thought

all angles

The silt in my mind has been settling out. I’m feeling more like myself. I’ve been trying to finish things — projects, books, whatever — and not immediately start new things, so eventually I can clear out my backlog of brain clutter. Years’ worth.

I need clarity. I need quiet. When I’m on my own (so much of the time these days) I like silence. It’s not oppressive: it’s utter calm. It’s the only way I seem to be able to hear my inner voice, which is hoarse from almost never speaking.

What’s that you say?

Sinful Sunday: It’s all about the image.

Sinful Sunday: It’s all about the image.

laundry and loneliness

I was doing the dishes, my mind wandering as it often does in the circumstances, and I remembered a little incident from when I was about 13.

I was at my mom’s house (my parents were separated, soon to be divorced) and she said she thought it was time for me to learn how to do my own laundry. I was stricken; I may have cried. She dropped it.

I actually like doing laundry now. So what was that reaction about?

In recent years I’ve realised that I never felt like I had much emotional support from my parents, and they were both emotionally distant, though in different ways. Imagine that a baby’s parents are killed in a car accident leaving a child-free but dutiful aunt and uncle take on the responsibility of raising her. That was my childhood.

The laundry thing wasn’t about laundry; it was about my mom doing something as part of taking care of me and threatening (utterly without malice) to take away one of the few bits of support I had from her. It was about learning to be independent because no one else is going to help.

I guess I don’t often notice feeling lonely because lonely is my normal.

it’s just everything

It’s been an unforgettable summer, that’s for sure.

In mid-July, someone broke into our house (well, came into — the door was unlocked because it was daytime in this small, sleepy city) while we were both home, grabbed a fistful of keys from beside the door and tried to steal our car. They didn’t get far. Couldn’t drive stick. But they got house keys so we had to get the locks changed immediately. Office keys. My spare bike lock key, I think. The key to Wolf’s tool chest. We got the car towed from where it sat partly blocking the alley, had the ignition reprogrammed, and parked it a few blocks away, but even so, they found it, stole it, torched it.

It has weighed on my mind. I’ve got a new car now but I haven’t quite wrapped up the insurance claim. It’s become a source of some anxiety. And I’ve been busy. So it’s not done yet. On Friday I got a notice to renew the plates on the old car even though they know it’s a total loss. I guess I need to deal with that..

Wolf has moved back to the city where he worked the winter academic term. I’ve gone to visit twice — the first time having borrowed my mom’s car, the second as my new car’s inaugural trip. I like this new car. I like the colour. The last time I had a new car was almost 13 years ago; I didn’t expect it to end like this. I worry about the new one a bit.

In August, I masturbated a lot compared to my previous average. Not deliberately. I was just trying to pay attention to my body, listen when it whispered in my ear. In September it stopped whispering again. I don’t know why. Perhaps because I’m on my own now and I’m just busy all the time?

I renegotiated the mortgage so I could pay it off earlier. I want to be thinking about repairs and upgrades, but mostly I’m thinking about security. I’m getting a utilitarian fence this fall. I need to take down the old one, though frankly I could probably get most of it down by leaning on it. Are the eavestroughs going to make it through another winter?

My new term of dance classes has started again. I took a trip to do a workshop earlier in the month, and replenish the well. It helped but this still feels like a slog — lesson planning and choreo for a show and another, earlier show that I was given a last-minute invitation to perform at.

Dance is the one place in real life that I socialise. I work from home in silence and that’s how I like it. People take so much energy. And some of them get angry — actually angry — about the weather. Remind me why I’m friends with these people? Am I even?

I spoke to my dad. Things are better than they’ve been for a while. But the last time I talked to him was already two months ago. It takes so much energy.

First I had no ideas about what to write. Then a few, but no time. Then they backed up, and then it was overwhelming — where to start? No time, no time. Easier to say nothing than try to spit out half-formed thoughts.

It’s just everything.

Sinful Sunday: It’s all about the image.

Sinful Sunday: It’s all about the image.

room with a view 6

Japan, Nov 2018

Anonymizing my image through the medium of laundry 😉

Boobday is a body-positive meme where women share images of their bodies in order to show that there is beauty in all of us. With confidence comes power and with power comes confidence.

Boobday is a body-positive meme where women share images of their bodies in order to show that there is beauty in all of us. With confidence comes power and with power comes confidence.

Sinful Sunday: It’s all about the image.

Sinful Sunday: It’s all about the image.

mile high 38

Tomorrow is the medium-sized dance performance that I mentioned last Boobday. It’s part of a larger (and potentially very tiring) event that I’ll probably take in as well, at least in part, so I’m going to be a bit of a wreck by this time tomorrow. Fortunately my energy level has been largely keeping up with the busyness, and that’s a minor miracle. It’s not sustainable in the long or even medium term, but for now I’m good.

The first leg of my trip to Japan in Nov 2018

Boobday is a body-positive meme where women share images of their bodies in order to show that there is beauty in all of us. With confidence comes power and with power comes confidence.

badge Boobday

mile high 37

Things haven’t calmed down much in the last two weeks, though I am successfully getting through the busyness.

I’m now powering through a number of dance performances, including a small one this weekend, a medium-sized one next, and then a big one the week following. I enjoy it but there’s a lot of admin to be done, and 10 minutes of dancing can be surprisingly tiring even though it’s not super intense — it still basically lays me out for the day.

 

This photo — the only one I took — is from a little solo trip last fall. It was warm so for a change I’m not wearing my standard travel outfit.

Boobday is a body-positive meme where women share images of their bodies in order to show that there is beauty in all of us. With confidence comes power and with power comes confidence.

badge Boobday