Friday, January 6, 2012

First world problems

Life is what you do while you are killing time until you die.  Really, that's all it is.  Maybe you'll die soon, maybe it will take a long time.  Maybe you will know lots of people.  Maybe you will spend all of those years alone; lonely is strictly optional.  Happiness is a state of mind, not a circumstance.  And yet, we expect people who are financially secure and stable and married and _______ to be happy.

Seeing my shaman was a good choice.  I have a lot of oppositional defiance response to people.  To him, in particular.  Oh man he triggers all of my, "No no no no no no no" buttons.  And no matter how frustrated I get with him I will always go back for more because I learn so much about me being with him.  I learn more about the shape and size of me.  I learn where I need to push back because I really truly believe something.  I know something is true no matter what his opinion is.

He tried to tell me that I have previously been just fine with Noah dating.  Uhm... no.  I have written records.  See, this is why I write.  I was fine with Noah dating other people during the first six months we were dating and I was living with someone else.  That's true.  But I was poly and Tom was monogamous because I couldn't stand him being intimate with anyone else.  He wasn't real motivated to go find another sexual partner either.  He wanted companionship more than sex and I still provided that.

Noah has different needs.  No, I've never been happy about him seeing other people.  I'm not shy with that information.  I have tried to accept it as part of him.  But I measure his dates in cuts on my legs.  I don't actually think it is good for our marriage for us to do nonmonogamy.  If something hurts me that much, he really shouldn't be doing it.  I am totally fine with it in theory.  I don't have a problem with other people doing it.  But knowing that my partner would rather be doing that with someone else rather than me?  Yeah.  That bothers me.  I don't say no.  Ok, I do.  But it's pretty rare.

My shaman contends that the real solution is for me to just work on being bothered until I'm not bothered anymore so that Noah can keep doing what Noah wants to do.  To be fair, he thinks that I should work on it because I also have trouble with monogamy.

I think it is more useful this lifetime for me to work on other parts of my life that are causing me strife. I only have so much time to spend beating my head against walls of shame and terror and anger and hatred.  It's going to come up around other issues whether I like it or not.  Nonmonogamy is complicated.  It takes a ridiculous amount of time and energy.  I don't have it to spare.  And I won't invest in this relationship fully if I know that I am just waiting for when he is going to pull away from me so that he can give a big chunk of himself to someone else.  Fuck that shit.  I guess I'm a selfish piece of shit but I think I deserve better than that.

The thing about first world problems is: they still hurt.  And you still have to live with them day in and day out.  No one expects anyone to be cheerful about third world problems.  But you are god damn expected to just suck it up for first world problems.  I certainly expect people to.  I will probably die like my grandfather having a heart attack out in the yard while working.  He was in his 80's.

Ok, I'm going to take the first world/third world out of this for the next part because it sounds dismissive and snotty and I don't mean to be.  I'm talking about my perception of the difference between rich problems and poor problems.  I'm using the phrases first world/third world reflexively because it is a common dismissive thought process.  But I should be better than that.

When I was a kid surviving was different.  The life I lead with my mother was different.  Being alive day by day was different.  Now that I am an adult I have a completely different situation in life but I am still the same person.  Surviving my childhood took a very different skillset than ... what am I supposed to say about adulthood?  I won't survive adulthood.  Ha.  What am I going to do with my adulthood.  How is the pattern of my days going to look in comparison to all I know.

What I know is a disjointed life.  What I know is work that comes and goes.  Unending sorrow and bitterness.  Trauma.  That's not all I know though.  I know how to work with my hands.  I know how to build things.  I know how to build people.  Shit dude, I made two of them.  That's pretty fucking cool if you ask me.  I'm defensive about being a good parent because that is my primary job.  I feel like I have to be judged on something and apparently that means I will some day be judged on whether or not my children are... I don't know.  Appropriate?  Kind enough?  Successful enough?  Smart enough?  Uhm.  Yeah.  I have no control over those things.

How do you talk about these subjects without blame?  Happiness is a state of mind, not a circumstance.  Uhm, yes.  But if I had been happy during my childhood I wouldn't have gotten out.  My niece is as smart as me.  I'm worried she won't be able to get out.  And my nephew won't get out.  At this point simple economics will bind them all together.

I feel I have satisfied any debt I owed my mother for the care she gave me as a child.  I have given her thousands and thousands of dollars, often to my own detriment because she was stealing my pay checks.  I don't owe her anything.

I am angry this morning.  So angry.  I woke up so angry I feel like the top of my head might come off.  I am still just me.  But I cancelled my therapy appointment.  I feel very defensive about that.  I know I need to continue therapy but I don't have anything I want to talk about in therapy today and is that relationship about meeting my needs or is it something I am doing so that I can check of check lists of what crazy people like me have to do on a set schedule for the rest of my life?

Today the opportunity cost of having to drive for two hours and spend about $18 in gas on top of $150 for the privilege of talking to my therapist... that's too high of a bar for what I will get out of it.  On many days it is the right choice and I shut up and just do it.  But today what I will get out of the session will not be worth the opportunity cost.  Why is that something I feel guilty about?  Because I feel like I have to be accountable to other people in order to ever be right.  I don't feel like talking to my therapist today.  So I'm not going to do it.  And I feel angry about having to defend that.  I really feel like I have to go down a long list of justifications about why.  Because I don't want to isn't good enough because I am crazy and bad and I need to go talk to a therapist.  Uhm, yeah.  That's fucking useful.

Do you know what I'm mad about right now?  The price of juice.  I don't need to go talk to my therapist to find my way down the rabbit hole of why that pisses me off.  I am even tactful enough to not write the story on the internet because such things actions are kind of tacky given why I am mad about the price of juice.  But I am going to go inside and tell my family the story.  And then I can stop being angry.  I don't need to pay someone else $150 to listen to the story so I can stop feeling angry.  Once I explain it to my family we will figure out what we can change so that I can have help changing the feeling of anger.  I can do something about my problems.  That's what makes it a first world problem?  My problems are all things that I can solve or out wait and they will go away.  I have short-term temporal problems right now.  Life is harder than advertised and all that.

Right this minute Calli is crying.  I have no idea why.  Noah is on duty.  I feel like I should stop what I am doing and go try to solve whatever is happening.  She would probably settle down more with me.  But she would demand to nurse.  I've already nursed her once today.  When she is upset like this she is especially rough.

These are problems that will go away.  Calli is already done crying.  I can hear her playing.  Maybe I don't have to fix everything.  Having Sarah here feels different than I thought it would.  I didn't know I could have another adult in the house so much and still feel so lonely.  Sarah has a lot of health issues and keeps a very different sleep schedule.  To be fair she has made remarkable progress towards being more in-synch with the kids.  We keep very different schedules.  And she has spent a lot of time by herself.  She's used to being silent in her room all the time.  It's different.  Sometimes it feels like we talked more when we were both on IM a lot.

I had a really exciting November.  I went out a lot.  I got to have a lot of really intense conversations.  It was wonderful.  I had a lot of interesting experiences I can sit and think about for a while.  That's not my life though.  My life is quiet, mostly.  There is a lot going on--don't get me wrong.  But it's house work.  And laundry.  And gardening.  And taking She-Ra to swimming.  And being home from the zoo/park/museum in time for nap or all hell breaks loose.  And laundry.  And trying to make sure Calli doesn't nap too early in the day or we will all pay.  And more house work.  And laundry.

I only make breakfast occasionally if I feel the desire to.  Like, a couple of times a month.  I make maybe four lunches a week.  I have to come with dinner three or so nights a week.  It doesn't get to be take out any more.

I don't get to be bitter about my problems because they are of my own choosing.  Why am I choosing to be bitter about the life I am choosing that no one else is forcing me to have?  Let's be clear here.  Noah is not pushing us towards saving.  He pays no attention and I could financially ruin us and he wouldn't notice for years.  Instead he is tolerating me forcing him into an ascetic life ridiculously cheerfully.  I am choosing every part of my life.  From how much I clean to how often I have friends over.  Why am I bitter?

I feel like I am not really choosing it.  I feel like it is forced on me because no one else wants it.  That's true and not true.  Sarah and Noah are both willing to do more when asked.  And when I stop working hard things keep going the house just isn't as clean.  I'm cleaning to please myself.  Ok, I feel upset that I have to work as hard as I do to have a house that looks the way I see my house in my head.  That's an interesting entitlement.

I was never really allowed to play.  I was a reader because I wasn't really allowed to have toys.  My mom always gave my toys away because she didn't want to clean them up.  She went through my room with trash bags several times and just got rid of everything.  I don't build attachments to things very easily.  I can't.  Things are easy come easy go.  I'll forget about it eventually, except those weird pangs some day.  When I realize that there is very little evidence of my life.  Only my sketchy memory and the random shit my mother chose to save.  Items that are essentially meaningless to me because I will never know the story attached to them.  I am invisible to myself because I have no reflection.  I have no one to tell me what they saw.

I have a lot of guilt around the fact that I make Noah and Sarah and the kids get rid of things.  I don't let them keep all of the things they have sentimental attachment to.  I can't.  We don't have room.  And really should not have a storage unit with stuff we will never use again that was important or fit or was relevant a long time ago.  No.  That's money that needs to go elsewhere.  It's not rational.  But the push back is that I require the house to be easy to clean.  That means we really have to limit how much stuff we have in our house and everything must have a clearly defined home or it must not live here any more because the clutter builds and builds and then my life is a nightmare.  I won't let anyone else make my working environment hostile.  I don't go take a shit on your desk at work, thanks.

But then you have to figure out how much space should belong to each person.  It's hard to define.  I feel like my day and life will be better if I stay home and save money and instead talk to Noah and Sarah about the stuff we can have some effect on.  I can figure out actual compromises and do actual work instead of just telling more stories about my mom.  Today, maybe just for today, I don't really want to talk about my mom.  I hate that most of my stories about her are so awful.  She's my mom.  I love my mother.  Irrationally.  Completely.  Intensely.  Why was my mama so mean to me?

Because my mother had problems.  She didn't choose to handle them well and the collateral damage was massive.  That happens sometimes.  At this point my actual problems are all fairly small and easy to isolate.  I have a lot of lasting damage, but I feel like it's maybe time to start leaving the scab alone.  Maybe just for today.  That's good enough.

Why am I choosing to be monogamous?  If I reach down in the pit of my stomach it is because I don't want to be a free person off living my life.  I want to be part of an intense dyad.  I want to be one with Noah.  I don't want him to be a free person off living his life either.  I want us to be sharing this life.  That's why I married him.  I have an easier time collaborating with him to do elaborate role play situations about pretending to sleep with other people than I do finding extra curricular sex that doesn't make me feel like shit in some way.  The opportunity cost is so very high.

I don't think I want monogamy because of ideals, necessarily.  I want to be able to stop thinking about this part of my broken.  I don't want to have to deal with keeping a tight leash on my compulsive behavior and only meting it out in small carefully considered not-quite-destructive doses.  God it's a lot of work.  I'm tired of doing it.  I am so very conflicted about sex.

My shaman told me that broken is a component of whether or not you have a range of emotions and a range of intensity within different emotions.  Like if you always go from 2/3 to 9/10 and you stay in only two or three emotions you are probably in a broken place.  If you have a range of emotions and a range of intensities... sure.  That's how you feel.  Why not.  It's not broken it's just where you are.  I like how he alternates challenging me and affirming that I am already fine just how I am.  It means I get to pick how I grow.  Well, that's part of why it didn't work as a closer romantic relationship.  I couldn't deal with how much I would have to push back.  It's very hard for me.

Sometimes I wonder if my shaman has consciously created a personality for me.  He speaks about his multiples fairly frequently.  Fairly casually.  I know that he alternates between very distinctive approaches in how he talks to me.  It's part of why I like him less around other people.  He is so very different.  He really is a different person, one I don't know or like as much.  He can listen to me and not challenge me and go down a laundry list of points to affirm that who I am and how I am is working well in every way.  At the same time he can absolutely force me to speak in detail about all the specifics of why I am doing any of the things I am doing.  It's hard to be honest enough to be worthy of the conversation.  I can't do it very often.  It is too hard to be present with him as intensely as I am present with him.  Maybe that is why I don't like him around other people.  I am also attuning to the other person instead of him.  Hm.  Interesting.

It's probably time to go in and start working on my first world problems.  It makes me really happy that I know I can walk in the door and explain what I am upset about and talk about the root of why I am upset about it and have people be sympathetic and give a shit.  Then we can figure out how to solve it.  Because we will.  This life thing will happen.  Today will end and tomorrow might be anything.  Some of my first wold problems won't be solved yet, but they will.  All I've got is time.

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