love

Clarity

Posted in general, love on October 3rd, 2016 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Clarity

“I knew you were trouble as soon as I laid eyes on you.”

The road to Hell, as the saying goes, is paved with good intentions. Both my sins and the trespasses upon me are many — the intention to make amends, the intention to change, the intention to love, the intention to help, and the intention to heal. Some have met with success. Others have done more harm than good. I can recognize my own hubris and presumptuousness.

“I’m easy to please. Just do what I say, and don’t do what I say not to do.”

Until recently, my head has been full of voices — not the false phantom voices of insanity, but a more insidious refrain anchored in reality. The silver tongues of friends and lovers, flattering in one ear, while accusing in the other. Advice twisted by rose- or shit-coloured glasses; always, always couched in concern for my personal needs and well-being. Opinions biased by experience, desire, and wishful thinking. I am asshole. I am brilliant. I am crazy. This is who I am. This is how I should feel. This is how I am broken. This is why I do the things that I do. This is how so many have abused and mistreated me. These voices became more influential and persuasive until I was dependent on them, and I lost the ability to think for myself or to make independent decisions.

You know my rules. I’m starting to think you like drama.”

“I got this. I got this. I got this. I got this. I told you, I got this.”

I am not your master. I am not a puppet. I am not a toy. I am not a pet. I am not your everything. I am not your afterthought. I do not want your pedestal. I do not want your self-serving protection. You are not my therapist. You are not my caretaker. You are not my keeper. You do not have the right to assign yourself any of these roles. I do not exist to bolster your self-worth, either as a trophy, or to make you a martyr. I am not a merit badge for your sash.

“You want to give me everything, but you can’t do what I tell you to.”

“I knew when you came to me that your marriage was over.”

I am a person — truth. I am a monster, sometimes. Beautiful, perhaps, in my flawed way, and fierce. I do my best to be a decent person, but life has made me what I am. Like a mirror, to be close to me is to be willing to confront the dark truths that you do not like about yourself. The function of the artist is to observe and reflect. No promise was ever made that art must be pretty. I do not wish to be coddled and told that I am not a monster. I need those who can see the firestorm behind my eyes and confront it, unafraid. Those secure and strong enough to temper — and be tempered by — my heat. Those who can view me objectively as an equal, without fawning or subservience. Those who do not attempt to control me, or to presume what is in my best interest, regardless of intention. Did I not listen? Or have I listened too much?

“I promised myself that I would always love you unconditionally.”

So many sides of the same multi-faceted die; to help me, to hurt me, to serve me, to insulate me, to rescue me. Whichever way it is cast, I am infantalized and stripped of my autonomy. I am ashamed and humbled for allowing myself to be manipulated in this way. I can forgive, but I cannot forget. Never again will someone else tell me who I am, how to feel, or what to think.

“You are becoming the person I always knew you were.

I am the person you all refused to see.

I Walk Alone

Posted in health, love on July 6th, 2016 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on I Walk Alone

Another month frittered by; the weather is warmer, though the mornings are often brisk and windy. I attended the Artistreet show in Minneapolis on June 25th. As someone more accustomed to high-attendance comic conventions, it was probably not a show I will repeat, but I did enjoy the opportunity to chat with some other local artists. I will add one or two more small conventions to my schedule this year, ending the season with the stellar MCBA Fallcon.

Last week, I made the decision to discontinue going to professional therapy. Either I am too entrenched in struggling with things on my own, or else I just cannot open up in the correct way to find it helpful past a certain threshold. I do feel that it helped me crystallize the areas where I require the most work. I have started listening to audio books, and I found them better suited to my needs by offering specific coping strategies and mental tools. Two books, The Willpower Instinct and Never Chase Men Again, have caused major paradigm shifts for me. My two biggest issues can be boiled down thusly —

Problem: Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Daily feelings of anxiety have decreased significantly, but individual episodes have become more acute and panic-attack-like. This includes symptoms such as elevated heart rate, physical agitation and discomfort, and a sensation of my head being full of “white noise” or static. Overwhelming thought patterns lead to irrational, counterproductive, and self-destructive behaviour to relieve the pressure. Fatigue and catastrophizing cause me to react to others based on imagined worst-case scenarios. Highly damaging to relationships.

Solution: Reduce or eliminate triggers until self-control and emotional stability has improved, integrate physical (cardio with weight training) and relaxation exercises, maintain a healthy diet and consistent 8-hour sleep schedule.

Problem: People-Pleasing and Healthy Boundaries

Difficulty distinguishing anxiety-created imaginings from legitimate concerns. Inability to establish and enforce healthy boundaries in situations where I am uncomfortable or feel the need for approval. Putting others’ needs before my own to the level of self-harm. My fluid sense of identity makes me over-eager to conform to others’ ideals. All of these contribute to a rubber-band effect of underlying resentment, until I break and snap back in a hurtful way.

Solution: Continue building egalitarian, trustworthy friendships to overcome fears of abandonment and rejection. A conscious effort to increase empathy and become a better communicator. Compassion and kindness meditations to forgive myself and others, and cleanse out negative thinking. Release of past baggage and improvements to emotional availability. Continue to strengthen and solidify the Self through artwork and other acts of creative expression.

Recommended by a friend, Baggage Reclaim is a wonderful resource.

I have stopped romantic dating; it was an interesting experiment, and I have learned about people, but it is not for me. I have been out with at least two dozen men, most of which I never saw more than once, though for no more exciting reason than lack of interest or incompatibility. A few I connected with have made the jump into my circle of personal friends. Any opportunities for a relationship to form have been intentionally or unconsciously sabotaged. Two things are going on; the first is that at this point, I am comfortable and want to be alone. Non-sexual snuggling with a friend is enough to satisfy cravings for intimacy. My romantic relationships have almost all been long-distance, room-mate type scenarios, or otherwise stunted and emotionally unavailable in some way. I am freaked the fuck out by honest, genuine, and reciprocated closeness with another human being. A relationship with me absolutely must begin on the foundation of friendship to have any chance at longevity.

The second thing, if I am honest, is that I am still terribly wounded by my loss in January. Yes, I was unhappy. Yes, it was unhealthy. But my heart still aches for someone I am crazy about to adore, to pamper, and to spoil. Very little in this world brings me such happiness. I do not enjoy baking or cooking much anymore. But now, I can only fix myself and ride these feelings out. Perhaps in time a man with the softness of heart, strength of character, and depth of thought to handle me will appear. Someone who will not merely tolerate my intensity, but bask in it. Someone that I cannot keep my hands off of.

Raise my umbrella to the sky and soldier on — I walk alone.

Healing

Posted in health, love on June 3rd, 2016 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Healing

My beloved city of Saint Paul has been often dark and stormy of late; the rain is still a welcome miracle to this drought-scarred Texan. Therapy is going well, I think. It has primarily consisted of unravelling the damage both created and churned up by the relationship I left at the beginning of this year, and further, why I have struggled so much in the process of letting it go. Two people, so unfathomably toxic for each other — one defensive, insecure, unpredictable, and controlling, in my opinion — and myself, anxious, free-spirited, lonely, and too enthusiastic. Incompatible life goals selfishly swept aside by both parties from the beginning. Two broken assholes, bewitched by each others’ charms, caught in fleeting moments of togetherness and hope. As I touched on in this video, failure is anathema to me; a dogged and motivated problem-solver, it has been difficult to internalize the idea that I cannot fix anyone but myself. Nor is it my right or responsibility to; it is, in fact, the height of arrogance. The guilt and shame I felt for abandoning the relationship — for giving up — sent me into an emotional tailspin from which I have only recently recovered. Also, I have undergone the unwieldy task of sorting out my real issues from what I was patronizingly, and repeatedly, told were the issues. The amicable divorce from my best friend of twelve years, and smoothly-coordinated cross-country move, were never a source of trauma for me. It was the relationship.

I am getting professional help. I possess the self-assurance to show my face to the world and own my mistakes — mistakes that have informed me, that will not soon be repeated. I hope that he ultimately finds what he needs and wants out of life. He remains, in spite of everything, one of the most beautiful and fascinating men I have ever known. I regret that I lacked the experience and wisdom to have not entered the relationship at all — we might be friends still. I regret the subtle signs, and flashing warnings, that I ignored along the way for love. I do not regret the precious time we spent together.

A few weeks ago I began casually dating, learning to navigate those waters, while gradually rebuilding my confidence and self-esteem back to its previous state. Overall, it has been beneficial and positive. My lifestyle and workaholic ways do present a challenge to finding a compatible and suitable partner, but I have a clear vision of what I am searching for, with an increasing knowledge of what to avoid. I have shared many meals with kind and interesting people. In particular, I have spent some time in the company of patient, well-adjusted individuals who have helped me learn to trust men again, after this breakup, and an unpleasant rebound that left me feeling gross and manipulated.

I am rediscovering what it feels like to be treated like a person, and to have my needs considered in a genuine, non-self-serving, and respectful way. I am improving my ability to honour consistent and rational boundaries. Relearning how to share my thoughts and openly discuss feelings without fear of anger, judgement, or reprisal. Relearning what it feels like to communicate without having my words twisted into the worst possible conclusion. I am grateful for the chaste intimacy, tenderness, and insight that has been shared with me by men who recognized my current fragility — and responded appropriately. I am not only healing through this, but I am being made stronger. The journey has not been easy, but I am finally allowing myself to be happy.

I am a person. I am no man’s manic pixie dream girl.

Love and the Boogeymen

Posted in health, love on March 24th, 2016 by Jin Wicked – Comments Off on Love and the Boogeymen

Winter held one last hurrah here in the Twin Cities, unceremoniously dumping a sorry coating of soggy slush over the area yesterday. It was just enough to gnarl the highways, as everyone has apparently forgotten how to drive after a month of cleaned streets. Today I went to a diagnostic evaluation so I can begin regular therapy sessions. Exhausted, and running on only three hours of sleep after working into the early morning, I stumbled into the office fifteen minutes late. Hair unkempt, bottom lip raw from chewing and picking, a dark grease stain on my jeans from dropping a hamburger in my lap while eating and driving the night before — this is my messy life now. Two diverging tracks of growing professional success, while my personal life lurches around me.

Everyone I meet treats me so kindly. I can’t be that bad.

“What do you feel your problem is, exactly?” my therapist asked.

“I’m an asshole,” I replied.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not always an asshole. Last year was a gauntlet of intense self-examination and development, with the focus on improving social skills and personal relationships. I am doing well in this regard. You have to know me intimately before the monsters rear their ghastly heads; before the fears of abandonment and insecurities come out to play. I struggle to respect boundaries. I am so hungry for approval that I will subjugate my own desires and needs until I explode. The anxiety feeds spiralling thought patterns that press me into doing and saying — often hurtful — things I do not really mean. I can be selfishly relentless in pursuit of targets I desire. There is more, but it all boils down to an inability to completely see other people as separate from myself in the context of close relationships. In my opinion, anyway.

Two hours of background and my abridged personal story later.

“What do you hope to achieve with therapy?” I was asked before leaving.

“To not be an asshole anymore,” I answered.

Generalized anxiety disorder with elements of depression. I am highly functional. I am no danger to myself or others. Never a cutter, never a self-harmer, never violent, and loathe to raise my voice. Paradoxically, self-aware. I understand what is wrong but I lack the knowledge to fix it on my own. I need help.

I’m afraid you’re going to leave, so I fight hard to hold you closer.

You’re afraid I’m going to leave, so you distance me away.

For years, I have known a particular couple that is obnoxiously adorable, and no less crazy about each other than the night we met. Their synergy and joie de vivre is infectious, and I would be a liar if I denied it was a variable in the equation that eventually led me here. I want that. Barely a handful of men in my life have ever rendered me starry-eyed and breathless; face burning, and blushed, and tongue-tied. I want that. Each in turn has left me heartbroken. I wonder, for how long will I be doomed to repeat this cycle? Where is the man who sets my heart on fire; with the ambition and drive and strength of self to walk shoulder-to-shoulder with me? Who makes me laugh like no other? Who forges his own path in the face of adversity, and will go down fighting?

I looked at you and thought for the first time — this is what I want. Forever.

What have I done? What have I done? What have I done?

Going about the business of my life, surrounded by the thundering drumbeat of humanity — I catch a glimpse of pudgy cheeks damp with tears, topped up with blonde ringlets and wedged underneath a mother’s chin. I want that. My body is rebelling against me. Regardless of this situation, my clock is running down; perhaps earlier than expected. Volatile moods and symptoms that only recently have enabled me to connect the dots. I no longer have a palatable reason why I chose to deny myself this fundamental part of existence. What for — piles of paper and paint smeared on canvases? A haughty notion about lives devoted to the pursuit of art? Nothing endures in the end. These things were never mutually exclusive. My heart agonizes with a previously-unknown emptiness, and the shaky uncertainty that it can ever be rectified.

I want that. What have I done? I’m an asshole.

I see the therapist again next week.