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Life Lessons from Pacman…sort of April 16, 2015

Posted by shaunphilly in Personal, Polyamory.
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Sometimes help comes from the places you are running from

Sometimes help comes from the places you are running from

So, earlier today I was playing some Pacman. I know, that’s like totes retro, but I was doing that shit before everyone else! Actually, I think I played like 3 games before a few weeks ago.  Damn, when did I become such a poser? Whatevs, it matters not because I was totally eating some chumps (that’s what I call eating the ghosts) when I noticed that I totally got distracted by something else and lost a life.

And I was all like damn, that sucks. Now I only have one extra life, I should totally bag this shit and start over. And then it occurred to me.

Dude, you just made a mistake, and you have more life left. Now stop whining and eat some fucking ghosts.

In other words, it’s not over yet, and from here it is all uphill if you manage to get over your shit. Yeah, you done fucked up, fool (he says to himself ironically). Now it’s time to realize that it’s ok to fuck up. Now it’s time to eat some motherfucking chumps.

pacmanchart

So, here’s the thing. I know some of you out there reading this hate me. I don’t care. I don’t hate you. Hate won’t help anything. One of the reasons I was so fucked up over the last couple of years is that I loved you all, at least to some extent, despite my pain that you caused me. And yeah, I know I caused my share of pain too. And I regret that, because I know I made it worse and because I hate hurting people I love. I don’t expect these words to matter to you. That’s not my problem anymore. I’m saying them because they are true, and because the truth matters to me more than looking weak, flawed, or what you’ll say in response.

So, keep calling me a sociopath. Keep calling me an abuser. Keep calling me anything that it feels good to call me. I will not be defined by misdiagnoses or my past mistakes. I’ve already, several times, admitted my own guilt. Everyone knows that I am flawed. But we’ve moved past the damnation of old religion, and we, as people with some wisdom, history, and culture beneath us can realize that deeds may scar us, but they do not cripple us if we learn to heal well.

And not all of us heal well.

And I know there are many of you out there that love me. And believe me, I believe it. For the first time, I actually believe it the vast majority of the time. You know who you are. Some of you I have had some distance from (for good reason), and some have been a daily part of my life. You are all lovely, and I am sorry for being a jerk sometimes and for asking for so much from you when I was not always giving as much back as I could have. I’m working on it.

You are not my strength; my strength is within. But you are the reflections of my strength, and I can only hope to be the reflection of yours.

I want to thank a few people, specifically, because they are all people who deserve some recognition. I cannot name all of you, and so I will use (hopefully amusing) nicknames or initials. I think you should all recognize yourselves.

pactheistD, Holy crap have I known you a long time. Seriously, we dated when I was in 10th grade. I mean, you knew me as a teenager, and you are still around. I’m glad. I hope the best for you, knowing that the next few years couple possibly be hard. But I believe in you (I almost said I had “faith” in you, lol), and think you can finally find true happiness.

N, you and I have known each other for something like 25 years. And getting to know you again, over the last few years, has been amazing. You are truly kind-hearted, brilliant, and perhaps a bit too dedicated. But you are lovely, and I feel honored that you share my affection.

RedPepperLover69, you are more patient, rational, and diplomatic than I could ever be. Your contributions to difficult things I had to write in the last year made me turn in different directions than I would have seen on my own. You are a good friend, and I will look forward to your many concoctions, parties, and your questionable taste in veggies.

My Southern Belle, we’ve had a strange path ourselves.  Distance is hard for me, but I feel like you are worth the patience, extra effort, and work it takes to overcome that. I feel that our similar experiences over the last year drew us together. I am quite glad that we are close, and that you have been so loving. I love you.

Pickle, We’ve had a few rough moments. Man, did we meet each other at the wrong time, perhaps. Or perhaps it was the right time. In any case, you’re energy has led me through some dark months.  I needed a lot of my own time, as you know, but you who were there many times when I had trouble bearing the hard nights. Thank you so much, and I love you.

RabbitDarling, you and I have gone from one side of a spectrum to another. There was a time where you were able to say words that hurt me very deeply, and I know that this hurts you to think about. None of that. You are more than forgiven (as I have said). Since then, you became (to me) to a person who continues to inspire growth, change, and the belief that when we’re out of fucks, sometimes it’s just better to bare ourselves to the world and hope they see us for who we want to be rather than who we sometimes end up being. Thank you.

Wangleschnifter, I do not know how to put in words how wonderful you have been for me. The start of us coincided with the beginning of the bad times. And yet you have the grace, wisdom, and heart to have been one of the central pieces of my life. You make me laugh, you make me smile, and you are lovely beyond measure. I plan on tolerating you for a long time to come, if I am ever so lucky.

And…

What do I call you? You. You know who you are. What are you to me? What are we? I don’t know. But I’m finally getting to the place where I’m not sure it matters much what label there is. You have been the best influence on me that I have ever known. And yet, perhaps in part because of this, you have been the one to teach me that I don’t need that influence from anywhere but within my own damned self (with the occasional re-direction from outside, when something is in my blind spots). I once thought I could not live without you. I now just think that I would strongly prefer not to, because the world is less beautiful without you in it.

And there are others, but there’s too much to say. I’m tired. I should sleep.

And so I need to close this, because my well has run dry for today. I stand before you all, naked, vulnerable, and a little bit scared. However, my fear is not from those who hate me, from people that love me, or even from myself. My fear is from lies I tell myself, and I’m no longer interested in being deceived, either by myself or others. I’m no longer interested in running from my fear.

γνῶθι σεαυτόν

For if you do, you might learn something. If you don’t, any knowledge you gain shall be purely accidental, or at least not earned.

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A bit of optimism, if I can allow myself to see it July 31, 2014

Posted by shaunphilly in Polyamory.
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I have a lot of people who love me. I know this, intellectually. Most of the time, I can feel it as well. But sometimes I can’t feel it. Sometimes, my own lies get in the way. My lie, an illusion which obscures reality all too often, is that I’m not worth being loved.

Therapy, over various points in my life, as well as many open conversations with loved ones, has shown me the deep feelings of lack of self-worth which are responsible for this set of experiences, so I have a fairly good grasp of the nature of this problem. But this problem is one that expresses itself in a different way, as a polyamorous person, than it did previous to that. In a strange way, a way which has become a focus for my continuing personal growth, therapy, and knowing myself, the more people in my life who love me, the more my own lack of self-worth becomes exposed.

It’s almost as if hearing, feeling, and seeing acts of love towards me keeps poking at the part of my mind which whispers, perpetually, you don’t deserve this. This voice is not merely the voice of all my past mistakes and transgressions. No, that’s too simple. it’s deeper than that.

The feelings of little self worth are not the result of mistakes I have made, the mistakes I have made ultimately come from this feeling that I do not deserve love. This is an old realization, and implementing the changes which would help heal this wound is not a quick and easy fix. Were I capable of merely snapping my fingers and fixing it, I’d be further lying to myself.

This feeling compels a strong desire to be loved, as a kind of cover or disguise for this feeling, and when I get it I feel guilty as if I had manipulated that love out of people. I have trouble believing, sometimes, that the love I receive is because of who I really am. I don’t really have an alternate explanation for why it exists, but my mind flutters away from this uncertainty and insists that it must be some illusion or lie.

In moments of sober reflection, it becomes repeatedly obvious that this feeling itself is the illusion. The distortion in reality, the lie I tell myself, is the persistent sense of something being wrong with me. Not that I am perfection incarnate (as if that idea had any meaning), but that my lack of self-worth does not spring from anything real. There is a difference between the recognition of responsibility and the illusion of worthlessness.

It’s a very specific kind of illusion, one which not many people share. And for those close to me, understanding that this illusion is persistent and deep is the key to understanding how I hurt. Not understanding this illusion is the first step in mis-attributing my insecurity for something else.

It’s a problem which belongs to me, ultimately. And I’m becoming more and more aware of how used to an environment of cold, persistent, lack of validation I lived in most of my life. I’m coming to the realization that I grew up in a world where vulnerability was seen as weakness, encouragement was rare, and love felt like it was something to be earned, and taken away as punishment if I didn’t follow along the right way.

The polyamorous world is not immune to such things, being full of people. Having the intellectual, cultural, and often selfish insight into the possibility of “loving” more than one person does not imply the necessary creation of an actual healthy environment. A world of transactions, rights, and rules follows from this, all too often.

But, because the polyamorous world is full of people, sometimes it is actually wonderful. The problem for me, right now, is allowing myself to see the good. The other side of that problem is to trust my instincts when I sense something is off. In other words, I need to trust myself, trust other people, and allow what’s happening around me to inform me, rather than the fears in my mind.

 

Allowing people into my world

Ginny has been having a good summer. She has made, strengthened, and re-connected relationships (we both have) which have extended our immediate group of friends and acquaintances significantly. Our social life has grown, and Ginny has people close to her who are providing her with joy, pleasure, and love.

And this has been an emotional challenge for me, especially since the last few months have been hard, emotionally. All the while this has been happening, that deep and uncertain part of my mind reaches its tendrils up to my consciousness and says she’ll be happier with them, forget about you, and you’ll eventually be alone. But those voices are not reflecting reality. Those voices are dark reminders of the deep places I have been in my life, the fears of loneliness and of the impending solitude of dismissal, separation, and death.

These deep feelings are instincts I desire, very much, to be quiet. Because there is another option, one which will lead to greater happiness, fulfillment, and health. These people are not trying to take anything from me. These people just see what I see; a beautiful, intelligent, and loving woman and they are drawn to her. My feelings of fear, pain, or jealousy are from a place which has no real foundation.

But the fact that they are not real does not mean I can afford to simply ignore them. No, they must be dealt with. They must be communicated. They must be taken into the sunlight, to either whither away and die or to be exposed for what they really are. Only by examining the illusion can we hope to counter it.

So, rather than keep these people at bay, I should be inviting them in. In a non-polyamorous context, these people could be threats (although, not necessarily), but as a polyamorous person I have no immediate reason to fear them. This fear is my illusion insisting itself into quasi-existence, forcing me to move left, right, down, and inward like a puppeteer. And if these people are any possible source for harm, I will see it; not through the hazy fog of fear, but with the sober, intelligent perception of experience.

To allow my experienced perception to operate at full capacity, the haze must be cleared. The shining brightness of daylight, of trusting and open seeing, must not allow the lies to tug at my leg, begging for attention. I must learn to better trust myself. I have cognitive and physical powers which have been honed by time, places, people, and circumstances. The time for fearing has come to an end, and I must move forward believing not only that people love me, but knowing that I love myself.

Because I deserve that. Because we all deserve that. Because the surest way to act such that I wouldn’t deserve that is to believe the lie.

We all have our own lies. Mine is lack of self worth. Finding what our own lies are are the only way to avoid the traps which they set all around us. If you have not yet spotted your own lies, the conclusion is not necessarily that there are no lies to be found. A person who cannot admit to their own flaws, illusions, and insistent uncertainties either cannot see them yet, or the lie covers so much of them that they become lying incarnate. Such people are a danger, ultimately to themselves but in the mean time to people around them.

Luckily, for us, the people we surround ourselves with seem to be aware of their own imperfections. We may not all have solutions, at least not yet, but at least we’re trying to see past our own lies. I cannot say the same for others.

Screw them. There are other people worth my time. I’ll make more effort to not allow my fear become a distance between us.

Welcome, friends!