Tag: silence

I Am My Own Ex

“If you treated a partner the way you treat yourself, would you tolerate it?”

Short answer: no.

Long answer: I’d dump my ass the way I was dumped.

Long nights of contemplation and bouts of fighting back tears have reinforced that I was not abandoned out of a lack of love. It was limits of tolerance being exceeded. We often see in one another potential, our ability for growth and change, the people those we love could be given the right environment. I created the wrong environment for Eurydice. In point of fact, I made it a toxic one.

I would not be able to see this if I have just hopped into another relationship. I do not want to create another environment like that for someone, anyone, that I love.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

I no longer hate myself. I no longer want to kill myself.

I love myself.

I just don’t like myself very much. And if I could, I’d dump myself.

I am my own ex.

And my harshness towards myself, the puritanical way in which I seek justice for the wrongs I’ve committed, creates a toxic environment for myself.

This is why I need therapy. The medication merely helps me recognize and arrest the extremes of my shifts in mood and thought patterns. It doesn’t happen immediately, but it does happen. I do have awareness. I can hold onto the mast when the storms come, rather than being swept into it. I can see the storm coming. I can’t stop it, but I can weather it better than I ever could.

A little voice – my contrite head weasel – tells me it doesn’t matter.

I lost the dearest part of my heart and I will never get it back.

As I said in a rather maudlin bit of Tumblr art, I understand this. It was a gift. And Eurydice can keep it. Or throw it away the way she did me.

I just have to learn to live without it.

I love myself. I just don’t like myself. I am my own ex.

I want to like me. Even in the midst of my anger and sorrow towards this gap between who I am and who I’m trying to be (and, thankfully, the increasing distance between who I am and that thing I was), I want to make things right. I want to appreciate myself on a consistent basis. I want to treat myself the way I want to be treated, the way I want to treat those I love. I want to never lose sight of love, to base all of my interactions on love, and live in love every single day just as much as I am living my truth, naked and unashamed of it, consistently and transparently honest with myself and those around me.

I want reconciliation. I want closure. I want reassurance that love still exists, that it’s still possible, that it’s going to be okay.

I’m holding back tears as I type this because it all feels so impossible and far away.

Okay. Deep breaths. Game face. I can get through this.

I have had experiences where an ex and I have slowly, carefully, gotten back in touch with one another. Repaired some damage. Forgiven one another. Acknowledged that love does not fade, even as we as individuals grow and change.

Reconciliation with myself has never been a goal before. Because I was never honest with myself to realize the environment I make for myself or the true nature of my relationship with myself. But I have to make it a goal. I have to be on better terms with myself. By myself. For myself.

This has to be a goal in therapy.

It won’t stop me missing other people. Friendship. Intimacy. Partnership.

True love.

“Missing people is a constant state of being.” Furiosa (the person I call Furiosa in my life) said that. Or something like that.

She and I don’t talk much anymore, either.

I know the people who still do talk to me mean well. That they are trying to support me. I do appreciate the love, and the spirit in which such support is given.

But for the people who have abandoned me, no. It is not “their loss.” They are not villains or cruel people. They should not be demonized for taking back space for themselves. They should not be cast as evil beings out to hurt me. I refuse to subscribe to that narrative. Please do me the favor of not hating the people who’ve hurt me. They didn’t do it out of spite. They did it to protect themselves.

I am left with pain and loneliness. I tell myself, rationally, that is the extent of the punishment I deserve. There may be some hope at some point in the future of things getting better. Of divides being bridged. I can’t let go of that hope. I fight to hold on to any scrap of hope I can, day and night, like I’m running out of time.

Being stripped of everything else, of every comfort and every piece of Josh-that-was, this is who I am. I do not know how else to be.

And someday, at some point, I’ll learn to like myself again. Reconcile with myself. Forgive myself.

Thank you for bearing with me until then.

I wish everyone I still love could have done that. But I understand why they didn’t.

I wish they would understand me. But I understand why they won’t.

I wish for just one kind word. But, cancerous as it is, I understand the silence.

I will learn to live with it.

I have no other choice.

Shadows and Silence

We have no control over the shadows we cast.

Shadow 1

For the purposes of this piece, the ‘shadow’ I refer to is not the Jungian concept of the ‘Shadow’ unconscious self, but rather the way others perceive us when we are not directly interacting with them. Just to be clear.

As inherently social beings, we meet other people on a regular basis. And like it or not, the more time we spend around those people, the more we influence them. It could be helping them see our point of view, pushing their boundaries, or introducing new things to their lives. Whatever it is, it leaves a part of us behind, like our shadow falling across the land we traverse with the light behind us.

Those shadows can be longer than we imagine.

It makes it all the more important to be careful of what we say and how we present ourselves. While there is no doubt in my mind that we accomplish far more with honesty than we do with deception, we must also do our utmost to be kind. Being polite and choosing one’s words is not the same as engaging in a lie. And while some situations do warrant direct, blunt, or even harsh language, it cannot be denied that such moments can change the shade and shape of one’s shadow. It can grow longer, falling over those we’ve encountered, lingering over those we leave behind, coloring their view of us and perhaps the world forever.

And, of course, shadows themselves make no sound. Shadows are silent.

Shadow 2

The more we communicate, with individuals and with the world around us, the more our shadows take shape. That shape is what remains behind when that communication stops. And even if our intentions were good, or came from a place within us that craves peace and safety and affection, the shadow’s shape can be or become something entirely different the longer the silence lasts. This is why the dearly departed are often seen through rose-colored glasses, or even placed on pedestals: they no longer can show us who they really are, or who they were trying to be. All we have left is how we saw them, how we heard them, how we loved (or hated) them.

The idea that people don’t change come from those shadows, and from that silence.

It is easy to imagine that someone who has hurt us or crossed a line cannot or will not change, because when we part ways with them, we only take their shadows. They, as individuals, live on and (hopefully) grow and change. Some, yes, will wallow in whatever mire caused us to break with them in the first place, but others struggle, strive, and attempt to make themselves and the world around them better. The only way we can know for sure, either way, is to have some form of communication with them. To allow their words and actions to change the shape of the shadow they have cast upon us.

If the person in question was unashamedly toxic or deliberately abusive or worse, then yes, the silence is best. I am not saying to engage in communication that is unhealthy for you.

What I am trying to say is this: we cannot remain silent out of fear and pretend the shadows upon us do not exist.

This is the power of communication, community, and therapy. It can change those shadows. We can see the other in different light, attempt to understand them, and overcome a number of negative emotions or obstacles to our own growth. This can be a frightening prospect. Making the effort to change oneself, and imagining the other complexly, challenges our view of the world and forces us to admit to our imperfections, as well as seeing others, potentially those who have hurt us or done us wrong, not as monsters of shadow, but human beings. Flawed human beings, to be certain, but no less beautiful or worthwhile for their imperfections than we are.

That fear of change can be powerful. It can actually encourage our silence. I discussed this in this week’s vlog. And here, as there, I heartily encourage you to break that silence. Talk. Discuss with someone you trust or a group that supports you the shape and shade of a shadow that falls across your life. You might see the light shifting to change that shadow. That change, that discovery, is a vector for growth, and while we yet live, we owe it to ourselves to seek that growth.

Stagnation is slow death. The dead do not change. Within our silence, there is a void, an emptiness that indicates a lack of growth. It is quiet in its comfort but insidious in its true nature.

It really is like a cancer.

And either it will grow, or you will.

The choice is yours.

Spoiler

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left it’s seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains within the sound of silence

In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
‘Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp

When my eyes were stabbed
By the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening

People writing songs
That voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools” said I, “you do not know
Silence like a cancer grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon God they made
And the sign flashed out it’s warning
And the words that it was forming

And the sign said
“The words of the prophets
Are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls”

And whispered in the sound of silence

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