Needing and waiting (and kittens)

IMG_20131027_173327Last night I had a dream, well two actually, where the first one was about kittens being killed by twisting their necks (a definite ‘what is wrong with me?’ brain production) but this piece is about the second one. So, the second dream I think was a little less shocking than the first one, although I don’t remember it as vividly as the kittens (really, what is wrong with me). I remember it was about waiting, needing, yearning, craving something and having to wait until the need/yearning/craving becomes so big and painful that my body could not deal with it any longer and wanted to scream. I’m sure I was waiting on something important but almost nothing could really justify this feeling of such a massive NEED. It was almost like a poison that redirected any attention towards anything, straight to the ‘need’. And I don’t even remember what it was.

I remember waking up with the though ‘what is wrong with me (kittens) and then, ‘needs and waiting are the same’. Great thought, and I believe it even made sense at the time. This morning, not so much, but I’ve been trying to make sense of it a bit better and I think I meant ‘unmet needs and waiting are connected’. Or something…. I haven’t fully figured it out yet but here goes.

When I crave something that I really want, when having to wait for it patiently, this feeling of need grows and grows until I can hardly contain it. This goes from really wanting to have a sandwich/biscuit/coffee to really wanting to kiss someone that doesn’t know my desire yet, to wanting some help because I can’t cope with X. The pain of the need grows when I have to wait, either because I can’t get the thing I want myself and need to wait for someone to give it to me, or because I feel I need to restrain and control myself out of decency/pride. And sometimes I wait because I want ‘it’ to happen without me needing to ask for, or push it. Sometimes I will wait for someone to stop doing something, and as I wait this need for them to stop grows and grows and grows until it becomes so painful that I need to scream ‘please stop making so much noise when you brush your teeth!!! ‘. At the same time, when asking for something we really want (like kissing someone we hardly know), this direct expression of our needs could very well chase them away. So we wait, wait until the time is right, or for it to just… happen.

And I realise that waiting for certain things is perfectly appropriate, we can’t be like little kids that will, without filter, tell others exactly what they want (‘I want a lolly/ pee/see grandma in Australia’) even when it’s not really appropriate or realistic. To tell someone what I want even feels a little bit childlike and egocentric. I think there might even be a bit of a feeling that if I want something that I need help with getting, I might not really deserve it? Let’s say I need help, not with simple things, but big things that affect my life greatly. Now, I’m not sure if I need the help of my friends or family, in a way I feel I need to be able to do this by myself, but I kind of want their help, yet I haven’t asked for it. I’ve waited for a very long time for help to arrive, such a long time that the feeling of wanting things to change, for something to arrive to end the waiting,  grew into something that was bigger than me. And then I asked for help,  and that feeling of waiting for something to arrive popped like a bubble, because I had put all my effort in blowing it up so much.  Even though I’m not much further ahead than I was, at least now I am focussing on the actual things I’m working on, instead of sitting here waiting, for this big thing to go away, and this other big thing (like ‘being okay’) to arrive.

And sitting there waiting and wanting, needing, it could become all that I thought about. Waiting for a change, instead of changing, waiting for help instead of helping myself or just asking. Waiting to feel better, and not realising that sometimes/often I already felt better. I managed to discount feeling better because I didn’t feel better ‘enough’ yet to justify how long and hard I’ve waited for it. I wanted fucking ‘Disney world on drugs’ feeling better, not just ‘ hah, the sun is out’-better. As this need and wait for change grew and grew and grew, I felt that the only change that was going to satisfy and justify this need/want, had to be a big change. Another flat, job, country, yet again. As the feeling of need grew with waiting, I blocked my ability to make small changes, one step at a time and ask for help along the way. Even though I think that’s the way things change and how ‘feeling better’ arrives, instead of expecting ‘it’ to just land on my doorstep, complete with instructions.

So wait, and need. I still don’t know what my dream was about (including the one on kittens… what is wrong with me?!), but it had to do with the pain of waiting on the thing that I need, a pain that grows and grows and grows until it is bigger than the need and getting the thing I need doesn’t satisfy anymore. And at the same time, waiting is sometimes necessary to get what we need. Sometimes things need patience, like a casserole sometimes things need time to get ready. I guess the thing that is valuable to work with is knowing when to wait and knowing when to get/ask for the thing I want or need. And making mistakes on the way is kind of the only way to learn. And there is no shame in that.






Language is a metaphor

metaphorLanguage is a metaphor. Words are an inadequate but courageous attempt to describe the things we want to share with the world. My name, pronounced completely different in another language means all of me and none of me. It’s merely an arrow above my head that makes it easier to point out the ‘me’ in the ‘us’ or ‘them’.

The words I use to describe my feelings are the ones that my parents and other teachers have taught me to use. I have learned to apply them to different situations, with their approval or by using them as an example, to then accept them as true. For example, I have boxed up a feeling and labelled it ‘frustration’ or ‘anxiety’ and left it at that. When opening the box, a long time after the labeling happened, I might find that there is quite a lot in the box that I’ve labelled wrong. An example is that when I was about 6 years old, I used to tell my mum I felt ‘dizzy’ after dinner. My mother was very worried about this, but what I actually meant was ‘nauseous’, which is slightly less worrying. This went on for a few weeks and doctor’s visits, all because I simply could not think of the right word for the uncomfortable feeling I had, but thought ‘dizzy’ was close enough. woops…

If language is a metaphor, it tries to use a figure of speech to label something beyond words, so that we, or others might find it more recognizable. I think we have a desire to share what we feel or think, and we really need language for that at some point. Sometimes labeling thoughts or feelings makes it easier for others to understand and empathize.

In Biology we label plants for example by classifying it, so we can then recognise its properties and character. This gives us a better idea of how to treat the plant, but also tends to restrict us in seeing how it interacts with the rest of its particular and unique ecosystem. Talking about feelings is often experienced as restrictive and might feel like it minimizes whatever is in our heads. I think this is because it’s hard to also explain the entire context in which they occur (our life).

I think when feeling frustration, or anxious for example, I can label it as such and be done with it. When doing a deeper and very honest attempt to explore these feelings however, I might find that there are other labels that I could have used. Anger maybe, or disappointment. There might even be sadness because I have lost or missed out on something I really wanted. The same might go for anxiety. Behind that one big (and paralyzing) label, there might be insecurity, anger, sadness. They are emotions that might even have something to do with someone else, and  not having one’s needs met by these other people (intentional or unintentional). They are harder projects to deal with, and harder labels to carry around, so sometimes it’s easier to dump them all in my big personal box with a big personal label on it. (“don’t worry about me, I’m working on it”)

Feeling depression for a long time is another very personal problem. Recognising what is behind that word (which describes a syndrome) I might find sadness, or anger or a desire for something that should have been given to me (like care, or comfort). This makes it a problem that might possible mostly lie in the past, and which I have carried with me all this time. It might have been a survival strategy from back when I needed it, but is now sabotaging my life because I never tested its use within my reality now. And although it goes from being hidden in a box to merely being wrapped up in other metaphorical words, they might become packages that are more movable, less obscure and might even be opened because they are no longer that scary.

If I would label a feeling as depression, it can become an unresolved thick blanket-like label that is acceptable, recognisable, as well as un-identifiable. It means I can dump all the ugly feelings I go through in that one big box and put a neon arrow above it which I can point to when wondering or being asked about what the hell is wrong with me.

If I label that feeling as anger for being neglected when I really needed care, anger for being taught the wrong things when I was younger, sadness over never having the attention of a certain parent, and possibly even a child-like feeling that I am not supposed to be proud of myself and happy, then that becomes something to work with. They are again labels, but they represent the actual feeling better, they are again just a figure of speech, but they might be closer to what is actually going on. They make the feelings I have more recognizable and therefore hopefully easier to understand and approach.

And I might find other words yet again for those feelings after looking at them for a while. As in biology, classifying is infinite. At some point though, I might have to stop classifying when I have a pretty good idea of what is going on, and start working on them and how they affect me. A good start is to explore what makes me feel better, using the little packages I uncovered as a guide.

I guess I use metaphors a lot, I think it makes me understand myself and others better. It is all just a figure of speech for things that I, in all honesty, have no way of perfectly describing. My sadness, joy, anger, may feel nothing like yours either, but I hope you can relate.

I think, just to milk this metaphor for what it’s worth, the idea of carrying around a big labelled box full of feelings makes it hard to move, and hard to resolve. Taking away that label and seeing what is actually going on inside the box is hard as well, but at least I can work on it one bit at a time. Then possibly at the very end of it, when the big box is finally empty, I can flatten it and chuck it out*, leaving room to breathe.




*I meant ‘recycle’ but it didn’t fit the metaphor :-S …

Who I am

who-am-iI tend to make old mistakes, again and again. Sometimes I think it’s because they are less scary than making new ones. One of them is trying to find out ‘who I am’.

I try to blend in with the culture I blame for my twisted thoughts, my presumptions, my obsessions. Like a chameleon I change my dress sense every time I change environment; nonchalant, hippie, sexy, feminine, outdoorsy, there is no end. And none of them are me, yet all of them are. Who am I? How do I dress/behave/feel to express my original self? Who even cares besides me?

I have my coffees in cafes that allow my laptop as a canvas for my futile attempts to poetry and thought trains that go in circles. No one really needs to read my verbal excretions, but god I do need to get it out of my system. But when I try to be a writer, a poet I fail. ‘what would I have to do, what should the quality be for me to BE this thing?’ When can I honestly say to people ‘yes, I write’. The question itself castrates me, and everything I’m trying to verbalise freezes into other people’s words and writing styles. I get stuck in writing the thing I think you might want to read. I get stuck in trying to portray myself as smart, clever, sympathetic, strong, optimistic, all-knowing.

I’ve had many jobs and job-titles, have moved around in different cities, different countries and never found myself in any of them. I think I wanted to be something/someone but could never find the right setting to become that person. I looked for other settings, without really knowing what it was that I wanted to be. ‘If If find the right setting, will I then automatically and finally become ‘me’?’

So there is the old questions: ‘Who am I, who do I want to be?’. And I’m growing to dislike this question because the answer is always going to be crap. I don’t want to be a manager or an employee of the month,  not a lady or a rebel, not a servant or a mistress, not promiscuous or a saint. And at the same time I want to be all of these things every now and then. But why should I aspire to be things I can define myself by with just one word?

If I NEED to define myself as something, in order for me to know how I am supposed to behave, what does this mean if I become sick, or poor or depressed. If this means that I can only be one or two things at a time (and include the appropriate behaviour) it could then mean that my whole being could be defined as sick, poor or depressed. I think this would not be helpful in any way.  I think a better alternative to this would be to perceive myself as a (complex, ever-developing, emotional) person and maybe suffer from these things every now and then.

If I feel like I need to behave a certain way because I decided that this definition is ‘me’, I am restricting myself and my creativity starves. It means I can never write a thought unless it makes for good reading. It means I cannot behave in a way that is going to provoke change. Defining myself as something pacifies me and makes me feel that I have no choice but to behave as expected.

Maybe I’m already who I want to be, who I wanted to grow up as. I’m not a manager, or employee of the month, not a lady, a rebel, a servant or mistress, promiscuous or a saint. I’m not even a writer. Maybe I am merely capable of being these things with different amounts of success and satisfaction when I choose to be. Maybe I should stop searching for who or what I am and explore the things I’m capable of and enjoy being capable of. The things that are helpful, satisfying, and make me feel happy with what I’m doing. The most important thing about the outcome of my actions should be that it is helpful for me and my place in the world (incl. relationships, health etc) and not about whether I fit the definition I was trying to become.

My dad died 4 years ago today. I think he was searching his entire life for who he was or what he was supposed to be, and consequently became a person who did not enjoy his life, family and job. I think he only found the non-importance of this question, and started searching for the things that made him feel proud of his capabilities after we stopped speaking to each other almost 7 years ago. I think this year is the first time I can admit that I am glad that he did realise this eventually.

And I am sad that I missed it.

I need help

Help-Sign-Above-Water-007I need help. It’s one of the hardest things to say, even harder to admit to oneself. Having to say this means that I’ve used all my recourses to solve the problem, and have not succeeded. It means that if I don’t reach out, I will only continue falling down, do more and more damage, or make it harder and harder to keep fighting. It’s a very humble thing to say, a very trusting and a very vulnerable position to take. It’s scary as hell, incredibly hard yet I’ve convinced myself it is a sign of weakness.

Of course I want to be an adult, want to be able to do this all on my own and only CHOOSE to share something because I WANT to, not because I HAVE to. I should be a pillar of strength, one that only cries when grieving, only gives up when it’s useless, only need help when it’s a job for two. I shouldn’t be a bendy twig that cries when I’m sad or disappointed, give up when it’s just too hard, and need help to deal with things, when I just can’t do it on my own. No… That would be humiliating and childish.

At the same time though, at work I have no inhibitions to ask for help when I don’t really know how to do something. In our professional life it’s what we have to do. We have to depend on the help of others in the army, otherwise we will get killed. It’s what we have to do in school, otherwise we’ll fail/never learn. It’s what we have to do at work, otherwise we’ll muck up. These are the places where we can admit that when we don’t know what to do, we can always ask for help. When we don’t have the proper recourses or are just not strong/knowledgable enough, we can ask for someone to assist us. But to do it at home with our loved ones… god no. Even when we don’t know what to do with ourselves, or don’t have the proper recourses, suddenly asking for help is… the last resort.

It is incredibly hard to ask for help, but once I do it, without exception, it’s so much easier than the scene I had in my mind (where everything about me, my life and my relationship changes). I’ve never been disappointed in any of my friends or family who told me they needed help, from me or anyone else. Ever. Only when someone insists on not needing help and continue on damaging themselves and our relationship with each other. And actually it’s not disappointment, just a sadness for knowing how hard it is, and that feeling of ‘I cannot be weak and reach out’ is what kept them, and me from doing it.

I could see ‘the issue’ as a shackle around my ankle, something I have to drag around. And even though I’ve put it there, or allowed for it to be put there (because I was powerless or it was the safest option at the time), this doesn’t mean that I can’t ask for someone to help me take it off. The weight of the iron is what is making me weaker, so if someone would help me take it off, this would empower me. That makes sense, and everyone would understand that the help I need is not because I am weak, but because I am sensible and want to be empowered instead of trapped. Everything is simpler in analogies though…

When I say I need help, it should make me feel powerful, not weak. It should make me feel confident enough to trust people and make me look forward to being empowered. It should make me feel like a proper adult, not the adult that I though I should be when I was a kid. Also, as long as people are willing to help me, it means they have faith in me, which is pretty valuable, but often ignored. For a fear of weakness/hurt to be the reason for not seeking help, is like a fear of drowning to keep me from abandoning a sinking ship (I might get hurt vs. I will get hurt). Yet again, analogies are always so much simpler. Or maybe not.

King of Pain

There’s a little black spot on the sun today
It’s the same old thing as yesterday
there’s a black hat caught in a high tree top
there’s a flagpole rag and the wind won’t stop

I have stood here before inside the pouring rain
With the world turning circles running ’round my brain
I guess I’m always hoping that you’ll end this reign
But it’s my destiny to be the king of pain

(King of Pain – the Police)

I’ve had this song in my head for a few days (the Alanis version though, I’m of that age) and you know the moment where you suddenly start listening to yourself and hear what you’re actually singing about? I had one of those moments this afternoon.

A feeling of depression can be normal when something depressing happens. Basically when something pushes you down, it’s pretty normal to feel down about it. But sometimes nothing in particular has enough weight to press you down as much as you feel. And sometimes the initial cause of your depression has been taken away, yet you still feel like you’re stuck in the hole that was caused. “Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings and physical well-being” (thanks Wiki)

Moving away from the science and back to the song: I’m trying very hard to not speak for everyone here but I realise that it’s recognisable. I think the little black spot on the sun is recognisable, though I’ve heard it said differently before, like having a black border around everything , or a sense of blackness just outside your vision.

The little black spot sometimes grows and takes out a lot of the sun, but usually it’s just there, often quite small, and I can see it and hate it for what it is and what it can do to me. The feeling that every day is the same, every day you look up and it’s still there, it’s hard to imagine feeling different. It’s hard imagining one day you’ll wake up and the black spot is gone and you can be just like everyone else.

Sometimes it’s like things keep hitting you over and over again, and all you can do is go with it, take the blows, the hard days and wait for the wind to die down. Like a rag on a flagpole in a storm. And it rips, and it damages depending on how strong you are and how long it takes.

Standing in the pouring rain, a force of nature and there is nothing you can do but take it. And then there is the world spinning circles running round your brain.  I think that there is no time when one thinks more about the world around them than when depressed. I think it makes you look and assess everything and because of course the world isn’t cleverly designed, a lot of things don’t necessarily make sense. It can turn circles for a long long time before it makes sense, a long long time. I think often the question arises: ‘why is this happening?’. Sometimes there’s an answer to that question, but sometimes there isn’t.  That’s hard to swallow though, when you keep looking at that little black spot.

I have wondered before whether maybe someone special would be able to eradicate the little black spot (or ‘end this reign’). When the only person that might be able to do this came along and wasn’t able to do so I wasn’t necessarily surprised. He brought a whole new spectrum of feelings, happiness, comfort, fun, but that little black spot was still there, it’s stubborn. It’s been there for a long time and even though I feel happiness, it’s still there, no matter how hard I try to not look at it. Sometimes it grows when he’s near me though and he can see the shadow on my face. And sometimes he cries with me. I hate the black spot for that.

Maybe  I am the king of pain, my own pain, or so I try to be. I try to master it with will power and a small amount of masochism. I try to actively manage and limit it so it doesn’t debilitate me in my daily life and for years I have succeeded. It’s starting to rebel though and has come to invade parts of my kingdom I never allowed it to enter, when I work, run, cuddle,  sleep. Yet, seeing that the kingdom has strong borders, we’ll have to deal with this internally. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing to be the king of pain, as long as this means that I can control it as much as I can with the smallest amount of effort necessary. As long as pain doesn’t become my king.

This has become a bit of a depressing post, but maybe that’s okay, as I guess it’s about depression. I’m pretty sure there have been times in my life where I was ‘allowed’ to be depressed, and though I’m not sure if this is one of them, I don’t necessarily care. I think maybe it’s healthier for me to not try and get rid of the little black spot on the sun, but to try and accept that it’s there while the reason for it is still present. Maybe I should stop gazing at the sun and hurt my eyes by staring at the black spot.  Maybe it’ll just disappear on its own one day. I guess I should feel lucky that’s it’s a sunny day anyway, spot or no spot, because it really is a beautiful day out there.