The Deserter

The Deserter is the last part of myself that I revealed in my post: Ending a Life. Represented by a young girl, it is the part of me that finds life too painful to keep living, that wants to escape, that wants to cease being real. The Deserter feels alien to this world, to embodied reality. It tries to sever me from everything, especially my emotions. But as Wakana said during our session on Tuesday, I need my emotions in order to be connected to reality.

Yuan cannot even bear to be present at her grandfather's funeral. She escapes to the kitchen and plays with her imaginary friend instead.

Yuan cannot even bear to be present at her grandfather’s funeral. She escapes to the kitchen and plays with her imaginary friend instead.

We walked through the darkness, the Deserter and I, and had a little chat. I didn’t try to convince it of anything, I just tried to understand – and to allow myself to feel. The walk in darkness gave me the safe space I needed to focus on this aspect of myself, with few distractions.

A major theme that came up was stability: knowing that the people in my life are reliable, both emotionally and otherwise. I have not had a lot of stability. The Deserter is angry and hurt because of the chaos, the volatile emotions, the abuse, the neglect, and most of all by people leaving my/our life. The Deserter asks, “If they are not going to be there for me, why should I be there for them?” It would much rather walk away. At least in solitude I can be miserable on my own terms.

I miss my friends who seem to have all gone their separate ways, with new friends, careers, homes, spouses, etc. People don’t randomly contact me just to say “hi,” and I feel awkward contacting them. If they do contact me, I don’t always get back to them. :-/

My mom has followed a pattern of engulfing or smothering me, then withdrawing, so I really don’t know what to expect from her. I think she’s trying to show me support and caring and give me space, but sometimes it’s hard for me to trust her – and sometimes she makes mistakes, so I withdraw my trust.

I had a really great weekend with Fox and Banji! On Friday, Banji and I went back to our undergraduate alma mater. We had dinner in town at a place we used to frequent, then walked around on campus reminiscing. Afterward we returned to my home and looked at some music I had composed, including a beautiful viola solo I’d completely forgotten about. Fox joined us on Saturday for dinner at Banji’s parents’ house; that evening I said ‘goodbye’ to Banji and returned home to enjoy a couple more days with Fox. I was feeling the healthiest I’d been in over a month. Then, on Monday, I had to say ‘goodbye’ to Fox, too.

I “woke” Tuesday morning feeling dead. I was exhausted and haunted by the anxiety dreams I’ve been having for at least a few nights now. I felt like I was going through the motions. Wakana brought up the possibility that I was sad about Banji going home, but I didn’t want to listen. She’s only 4 hours away; we can see each other again before the end of the month!

But the Deserter is not a rational being; it is purely emotional. It feels abandoned by the two people I most want to have a stable, mutually-loving relationship with for the rest of my life.

On one level my relationships with Banji and Fox are stable: I know I can trust each of them with my deepest and darkest emotions, that they will accept me as I am, that they understand me (at least to some degree), and that they want to remain in close relationship with me.

On another level – the level on which the Deserter operates – my relationships with Banji and Fox are very unstable: we spend short times together that are intensely intimate, and then they disappear. The Deserter can’t understand why I woke up alone Tuesday morning, why Banji hasn’t called me, etc. It’s angry and sad and beyond tired of playing this game! It thinks if I can’t trust the two of them, there’s no way I can ever trust anyone else – so it keeps me from making new friends.

I wrote a poem that I’d like to share, to give the Deserter a voice. I’m going to put it behind a link, though, because I’m concerned it might be a trigger for some people. Writing it was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done.

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Perpetual Clutter and the Attack of the Dust Bunnies

Today, The Daily Post asks:

Tell us about something you know you should do . . . but don’t.

I am absolutely horrible about cleaning up after myself. It’s not so much that I don’t care – I want my home to be neat and organized, really I do! It’s that … Well, I don’t know. There are several layers to it.

Part of the problem is that cleaning is a task that never ends. Sure, the bathroom might be sparkling, the dust bunnies vanquished, the laundry and dishes all clean and put away, every single item in its place NOW … but in a minute, it will be imperfect once again. Someone will use the toilet or take a shower or eat something. The clothes you’re wearing are dirty. The dust bunnies started respawning before you even finished vanquishing them. You’re going to use something, I just know it! and … now that item is out of place again. There’s the satisfaction of completing a task for about a moment, and then it is once again incomplete.

from theoppulentpoppy.blogspot.com

from theoppulentpoppy.blogspot.com

I’m just not willing to be constantly vigilant, ever doing battle with my own house. I’m a bit too preoccupied with homework and relationships and trying to be places on time to care about where I take off my slippers or the fact that there are dishes in the sink. When I see the clutter I know I should clean it, but there’s usually something else I’d rather do (such as blog about it!). Cleaning just isn’t rewarding enough for me.

from The Dapper Rat, an awesome and informative site that introduced me to the joys of having rats as pets

from The Dapper Rat, an awesome and informative site that introduced me to the joys of having rats as pets

For example, playing with my rats is infinitely more rewarding than locking the poor dears in their carrier and sticking my upper body in their stinky cage to clean it … just to find, a minute later, that they’ve pooped outside the litter box again. And in their minds, all I’ve done is take away their scent marking and filled their home with alien smells that they just have to cover up again. They’d much rather get to climb on me, groom me, explore, show off their intelligence, and eat tasty things.

I’m not sure if this is a legitimate problem or just an excuse, but I also feel like I don’t have a home for all my things. Organization relies on each object having a place where it belongs. Okay, so clothes go in the hamper or the drawer. Dishes go in the cabinet. Used tissues go in the garbage. Etc.

But what about the schoolbooks I use every day? This random thing I got in the mail that I have to do something about but don’t feel like dealing with right now? Coupons? the hard copy of the dragon I just drew? my backpack, laptop case, canvas shopping bags, etc? moisturizer … I think you get the idea. Sometimes I’m too lazy to put something back in its home after using it, but other times I don’t have a home to put things in! I need to give each item a place and return it to that place when I’m done using it.

But sometimes, my anxiety gets in the way. I want to leave this thing out so I’ll see it and know where it is. If I put something away, I might forget that it exists, or not be able to find it again, or it might be eaten by underwear gnomes. If it’s out, I know I have it; I can access it fairly easily.

Sound crazy? It’s partially based on experience: often I’ll clean up and later, when I’m trying to find something, I’ll remember where it was before I cleaned – but not where I actually put it!

from reelmomevents.com

from reelmomevents.com

And finally, it’s really hard to get rid of stuff. Papers take over the room because I don’t know if I’ll need them again for some reason. A lot of garbage just never gets thrown away. Stuffed animals are too cute to get rid of. This thing most people would recycle makes a great rat toy! My goal is to have entire walls covered in books, so clearly I must keep every book I own even if I never read it and don’t currently have the shelf space. I’ll need these boxes the next time I move. These clothes/shoes/other items are still useable, it would be a waste to just throw them away. I’ll donate them (but do I ever?) or sell them (in my dreams, perhaps, but not reality).

The worst is when something I don’t use, want, or need anymore has “sentimental value.” I might have forgotten I had it, but when I see it again it’s the most precious thing ever. I’m overcome with guilt at even thinking of getting rid of it. How could I? I might not have a place for it, looking at it might be painful, I will probably never use it again, but on some level it’s a part of me. A physical reminder of my past. Perhaps a gift from someone I care about – it would be betraying them to get rid of it!

Especially with the move back to my mom’s house, it’s so much easier to just let the clutter continue to sit there than to get rid of it. Going through things is emotionally draining for all the reasons described above: it never seems to end, I’d rather (or need to) do something else, I don’t know where to put each thing, I’m afraid I won’t be able to find it again, and I feel guilty getting rid of the things I no longer want or need (or do I? Maybe I’ll want or need it at some point in the future!). I feel so overwhelmed by all the stuff I have, sometimes I almost wish it would all just disappear.

Almost.

Viola Improvisation 1: Muted

I finally feel like I’m getting my music back. Yesterday I was having a hard time emotionally; I was too exhausted to deal with anything. But I was able to improvise – on piano and then on viola. I recorded all of my improvisations, but the last one (on viola) seems to capture my experience the best. I was able to be very intentional while expressing … well, stuff that’s been bottled up for too long.

I would love to purchase WordPress’s space upgrade in order to be able to post audio files, but in my current situation that would not be financially responsible. So, I ventured forth in search of a free audio hosting service.

I found PodOmatic and posted my first (entirely instrumental) podcast today. You are welcome to listen to my improvisation (mp3), or download it to listen to later. Here is a preview of the podcast:

viola-improv-1-screenshot