The unspoken rule of college is claiming seats for the semester. Once somebody consistently sits somewhere, that’s their seat. And the earlier you show up on the first day, the more likely you are to get your preference. I prefer to have a visual sight over most of the classroom because I’m always prepped for threat. I have a easy escape if I can see a threat coming before it can hurt me, and I’m always closest to the exit. Sitting in the second row of my Communications 101 class room, I can’t see everyone as I would usually prefer, but now it’s because of a threat .
I know he is just sitting there directly behind me. Not doing anything at all, just existing, taking notes, talking to our mutual classmates on either side of him, but each time I have to look at his face an icy river flows through my veins and I clench my fists. I feel like I make a pained face and wince away turning my body into itself. It’s just his face. I don’t even know his name.
My therapist gave me this analogy: “You’re seeing something that looks like a grizzly bear, it’s big, furry, and had claws, but it’s not a grizzly bear its a raccoon. Maybe it’ s a grizzly bear but its behind a fence, and it’s not the same one.”
I know this. I know it’s not a real threat. But my body is trying to alert me to something that looks like the threat that hurt me before that I didn’t take notice of. Slowly, I’m unraveling the past that has made others around me notice the same things. They notice I am very capricious and dual-natured, both loving and apathetic, cold and happy. It seems strange, but through deep analysis, I figured out why and how this dual-nature came about.
I did this little survey called the Jo-hari window, it has the user pick 6 characteristics that they think I possess. I picked 6 as well, these fall into one of 4 boxes, the “Known to self and hidden from others” box. If they pick one of the words that I also picked, it goes into the known to others and to self. If they picked words that I didn’t pick, it goes into another box, “Not known to self, but known to others.” If consensus grows on certain words they become highlighted against the others.
Sitting back, I know that the reason I can be both loving and apathetic/cold is because I keep my emotional distance, but I care deeply when I feel allowed or safe to do so. Sometimes I don’t notice I’m totally emotionally detached until I say something so unempathetic in a situation that requires at least a hint of empathy. I lash out without thinking because I have no emotional forethought.
To conclude this daily life post, I also want to address the antithetical ideas that surround my duality. I also am so emotional. It comes in many waves, spurred from things I can’t predict sometimes, and if recognized as a trigger of emotion, swell up and spill over even more; as if they were all the sudden given approval and allowed to overwhelm me. Maybe this recognition just seems at first like a swelling and then crashing wave, and maybe I’ll soon adapt to be the sand, able to withstand the constant crashing, and able to change with the rising tide.
I wont wince away anymore, cringe internally and externally. I won’t avoid it, but face it all.
(Aside: This is a piece I wrote for the Matrix magazine that I am the junior editor of.)
When the cheating starts, the fighting, the lying, the crushing anxiety. When the fear sets in, and the threats start coming in waves and you want to crawl inside yourself and never leave. When you hide yourself, not your face or your body but you, the colorful, nurtured, lively you. The one who dances in fields in their dreams and has flowers in their hair.
No that person is hidden underneath the shame. Underneath the lies.
The biggest lie is that there is only one way to love.
I was told that loving was limited. The prince and princess and their one love.
Heterosexuality. Monogamy. A singular unity between two people.
This is a lie.
I was scared to question my feelings. I was scared to share with my friends my doubts. They’d say: “No, there is no way you could be a lesbian.”
And I say lesbian because, yet again I thought, it can’t be possible for me to like more than one. I must be greedy. Lustful. Out of control. I must be ravenous for some kind of contact.
But I’m not. I just have a capacity to love more than one gender and more than one person. And that was a well too deep for me to look down into, and when I did look I thought it was just an illusion and it was actually shallow. Shallow as if being more capable to love more than one gender and more than one person was crippling to my heart.
Then, knowing that monogamy and heterosexuality was an incapability of mine, I was unable to love at all.
The Happiness of meeting again after a long time
There are lots of ways that people can be separated. Whether “separate” meaning ending of a relationship, friendship, or bond; or meaning separated by distance and time rather than breaking off that relationship, being apart is painful.
I’ve had friends all over the world, some which I’ve been able to see yearly or more and others that I have never seen.
I have friends I’ve grown up with that became the closest and most important people in my life graduate high school and go far away for college. It hurt to be apart from them. It hurt to lose the physical connection we had and to lose the fulfilling meetings we used to have regularly. But we had retrouvailles when we were finally able to get together during summer, winter, and spring breaks.
Separation changes relationships and changes people. Communication and visiting become more special, but also more difficult. Talking to one another can become a chore, or become monotonous because the same questions are always being asked. “How was your day?” “What did you do?” “How is everyone back home?” “How is school?” “What are your classes like?”‘How was work?”. After a while it feels like there is nothing more to say over the phone or via text.
It feels like the distance between the two of you is prying a wedge between you even more than you thought it would.
It’s costly on everyone in many ways. Seeing friends means gas money, spending money for activities, and food. Seeing friends means a plane ticket home or to them, expenses of travel and the like.
Being apart from friends means you might make new friends and lose those friends, or the flux of new friends is whittled down to the ones that you actually like talking to you, rather than the ones which are just convenient to converse with. The difference between a study buddy and a real pal. It costs time and effort to be happy, to stay happy, and to preserve the happiness that you have with those you love most in the world.
The hardest part about these expenses, is making sure they are worth it, and remain worth it.
Something being worth your time is far from something which is just convenient. Although, convenience does assist in keeping things that are worth your time.
Convenience is having a neighbor that you can barrow things from politely and they have the same relationship with you, but you wouldn’t invite them over for a heart-to-heart about your dying uncle and the struggles of cancer in your family.
The kind of person you invite over for that serious conversation who thinks you are worth their time is the friend that maybe it isn’t all that convenient for them to see you. That’s why it is special when you see each other, because when you do, both of you have planned that chat, that cup of tea or coffee, that special meeting spot, or the favorite seats in your living room. The date’s been on your calendar and it has been something the two of you texted about for weeks. Making sure both could be there around the same time, prepared and with lots to say.
But also with this best friend, you don’t always need something to talk about. Silence can convey what you need it to as well. Because sometimes all you can say is “I’m so glad you are here,” with me because I need you and you are worth it and I love being with you because I love you.
And you know they are thinking the same thing and don’t need to say it.
Harmony in the those moments of retrouvailles.