Letter about the way out of Hell

30th of august 2019

Hi A

I wrote something today. But it’s not something for the internet. I’m not even sure it was for you. I think it was for me. A letter that I can’t send because I’m not ready to let it go, let alone receive it. That needs to be okay today.

I’m thinking a lot about you. I had so much I wanted to write, but none of those things left my fingers today.
It’s been a week of trying to do the right thing. And I even think I succeeded. But I don’t feel success. I feel like dying. Or fighting like hell to live. But I feel like life, real life, life that isn’t just surviving, is too far away.
A few days ago, after doing one of those right things that I truly believe was right, because I helped a friend, I think I left myself shattered into pieces. After that, on the way home in the train, I was thinking about finding my way out of Hell. I know that’s what you are trying to do. Our friend is trying to do it. I have spend my whole life doing it. And I wrote this in my notebook.

Finding our way out of Hell is painful.
It feels like the opposite of healing.
But that doesn’t mean that’s true.

I believe in a way out.
I believe they (you and our friend) will make it.
But my own experience with making my way out is

The people who pushed you into Hell (whether by malice or desperation or ignorance or negligence) will try to keep you lost there.

And then I added a sentence that have been stuck with me for a year and a half now.

Help isn’t coming

That’s the hardest thing now. I’ve spend half my life asking for help and I’m finally waking up to the fact that help isn’t coming. All the stupid therapy I was sent to. All the therapists that promised they could help. All the false optimism in my family believing I’ll get better. It’s all a lie. Even if the people telling the lie doesn’t know they are lying. It’s still a lie. It’s still untrue. It’s exit signs pointing in circles keeping me lost in Hell. And I don’t know the way out.
I believe in the way out. With all my heart. I promise you A. I promise. I believe in it. For you. For our friend. And if I could just get a little guidance, a compass, a map or something. And a hand to hold. I believe even I’ll make it out. Hell isn’t all there is. And if it is, I’ll tear this world down and build a new one. One without Hells like this. I refuse to let you or me or anyone live in this Hell if I can find a way to stop it. And I’ll either find a way or make one. Or die trying.
I hope you know that.

A, I’m desperately trying to find a way to life. I am feeling like all the ways I have leads to death. And as we both know I’m okay dying. I’m not okay surviving like this. Not much longer.
I know my pain and my desperation and the pull toward death is so strong inside me. So I wrote this today, to tell you, to remind you that I am more fight, power and stubbornness than I have reason and common sense. And I lack neither of those.
And I know that I was gifted a light that you weren’t. I wish you were. I wish I could give it to you. But I know you have to ignite it for yourself. I can only use my light and hope than you’ll draw inspiration from it. I know I deserve better. I know I have value, and that never wavers. Even when the whole world tells me otherwise. That part of me is indestructible. That part of me refuses to break. And this sentence won’t make sense to anyone but me, but I still need to write it. That part of me is in the safest hands I know.

I have so much good in me. So much I want to give and share. And the world has so much hurt that I want to help heal. I want to make this a better place before I leave it.
I want to build mirrors for people like me, so no one like me has to think they are worthless or not welcome on the world. So someone like me doesn’t feel alone.
I want to heal hurt and save everyone I can safe, even if it’s just one person and even if some days it feels like that person might be me. I am worth saving. And so are you. And I hope, with all my heart, that I don’t fail to save you. I know I am not supposed to be the only person who saves you. But I want to help save you. I want to help you make sure you are safe and saved and finding you way out of Hell, to life or at least to Here. And then I want to keep saving and rebuild this world. Because the systems of this world was build broken. They were build wrong. And I believe I have a responsibility to help make it better.

But I can’t do any of this if I don’t find my way to Here. To living. Away from just surviving. And these days it’s killing me that I have all this fight and power and stubbornness, so much sense and reason and intelligence and I want to use all of it on finding my way Here. And the way is blocked and I need that stupid hand to hold. Not because I am to helpless to walk it alone. Because that hand to hold might be both the compass and the motivation I need to actually get out this time. And I don’t think that makes any sense in words, but I don’t have better words right now.

And that was a lot of words that wanted out. I was just trying to write that I might not write any real letter today. I guess I was wrong.

Next Friday I am busy. And I am not sure I’ll upload. I’ll try to write something earlier in the week. But here is a heads up that I might miss next weeks letter. And I feel like I am allowed to do that because I told you in advance.

Lookind forward to hearing from you

Letter about the pain of just surviving

25th of August 2019

Hi A

I’m feeling like giving up on getting this letter written this week. Not because I don’t have so much to say, it has just been a bad week. With the exception of a visit from a friend. We watched movies, ate pizza and she got to see my new home. I needed that.
But today I had a migraine and had to sleep for a few hours, and before that I was just feeling bad and got nothing done.

My brain lies to me sometimes. Last weekend it shouted at me that “no one cares, no one cares, no one cares” over and over and over. I know it’s not true. But I couldn’t get it to shut up. And in part it felt like no one cares. And I am not sure how to work on that feeling. I know, in my thoughts, in my mind that I have amazing people who cares about me and who I care about. But somehow that knowledge doesn’t reach my feelings.

I care a lot. About the people around me. About my impact on the world. About my responsibility to make the world a better place. I take great care not to hurt people and I feel it in my bones when I fail to live up to that. I’ve even (after decades of fighting for it) found a way to care about living. I am not sure where or how I found the commitment to staying alive. But I did. And I want to stick to that.
But there is too much pain. The world hurts and it hurts to live in. I feel out of place and unwelcome and not at home in the world. Sometimes it feels like something inside of me is broken and will never be able to heal in this world. I’m okay with dying and I always have been.
What I am not okay with is living like this. I refuse to live with this pain. I refuse to live with this feeling of being wrong. So I started asking for help 16 years ago. Help me. Help me fix this. Help me heal. And all I’ve discovered is that help isn’t coming.
Society promises help. Over and over. My parents promised me help. Over and over. But help isn’t coming. Everyone asks me to patient, to hang on, to give the therapists another chance, and this next psychologist is probably much better than all the precious ones. But it’s all a lie. I don’t think anyone realises they are lying to me. But I do. And it hurts. And it hurts so much that they refuse to hear me when I call out the lie.

The last week has been bad. Very bad. As in thinking about going to the psychiatric emergency room at the local hospital bad. But last time I talked to them was a very bad experience and I don’t want to do that to myself again. The nurse there knew nothing about autism, and I hadn’t been diagnosed yet so she was very condescending about that, she didn’t understand simple things I told her about the sexual abuse I went through, and she refused to respect that I was uncomfortable with physical contact even after I specifically told her that I was not okay with her touching me.
The last psychiatrist I talked to there shouted at me because I told him about my anxiety about therapy and took it personally and demanded to know what he had done to give me anxiety. He also refused to listen when I told him it wasn’t about him but a lifetime of bad experiences with therapy. That just made him keep shouting.
My doctor is very nice about my problems, but for the past year she has told me she is put of options. There is nothing let she can to. I feel given up on, I feel lost, I feel worthless. I feel like on one cares about my long term health and that it doesn’t matter if it kills me to live this way.

I’ve been telling people for a long time that whatever it is inside of me that hurts, that feels broken it is killing me. And I spend most of my life wanting to let it. But fighting to stay alive.
In part because something inside me refuses to break. Something inside me is unbreakable and strong and powerful. And I want to honour that and fight for it. There is a part of me that is pure “Fight me” and pure power and pure I am better than this and how dare this world not help me reach my full potential. Because I am impressed by my own potential. I am in awe of the power I have inside. And I am angry at the world for not allowing me to flourish and grow and live and give to the world, instead of trying to chop me to pieces and make me tiny and fit in to little boxes that never made sense to me.
And it is killing me to live like this. To live with the wounds the world inflicted on me. Unable to heal. Unable to reach that power because somehow a wall was made between me and it and no matter how hard I try I cannot reach it.
I am hurting. All the time. All the time. I cannot live like this. This is not life. It’s barely surviving. And I want life too much to accept just surviving. It’s not enough for me. And death becomes an beautiful peaceful alternative. Better than surviving. Because I feel I am denied life.

I can’t write more today.
I don’t have time or energy enough to edit. I should have. But hopefully next week will be better and I can write again.

I am thinking of you A. I care about you. I am fighting. Just like I know you are.
I am here if you need anything.

Looking forward to hear from you

Letter about rain, about reevaluating what I give, and a weird kind of anniversary.

This one is a day early. And unedited. I needed to post it now. I couldn’t read it. I’m sorry for that. Maybe I’ll edited it some time in the future. But for now this is what it is. I hope that’s okay.

15th of August 2019

Hi A

Do you own a pair of rain boots? My only friend in the town I live in have no rain boots. And even if he did there is no chance he would leave the comfort of his chair and his computer screen and hot coffee to go jumping in rain puddles with me. Would you?

My nephew would. Be his parents would have to join and he lives in a different town and at this time of day he’s definitely asleep.

It’s raining. A lot.
Nothing calms me like rain. I love the rain. I feel safe and at home in the rain.

The sound of rain is more like music to me than any piece of music I have ever heard. But then again I don’t listen that much to music. I love the silence too much. Or maybe I just feel the world is too loud and too much and I can’t bear to add more noise to my life as it is. Even if that noise is music.
But rain. Rain is the most beautiful sound in the world. And today it’s raining. I walked home missing my rain boots. Wondering if I should change footwear when I got home and go for a walk. I love walking at night. The rain would only make it sweeter.
I woke up to the sound of the rain this morning. When I hear the rain outside it almost sound like it’s knocking on my window asking me to come out to play.

I like the way the rain feels upon my skin. I’ve never owned an umbrella and have no intention of ever buying one. When it rains I feel like leaving my coat at home. I want to invite the rain to touch me. I love it. Shutting it away behind closed windows, hiding from it under an umbrella, keeping it off me with a raincoat feels wrong. I want to open the windows and stick my arm out and feel the rain.
And point is to get soaking wet and cold. That makes getting home and taking wet clothes off and taking a hot shower so much better. Then it is warm blankets and hot chocolate and maybe I need to bake something.

I love what happens when it rains. The light changes. The world becomes grey. All the brightness fades from the world. The light dims.
The world go quiet when it rains. Not the skies. They make all the noise. Sometimes the rain is loud. But it’s a good kind of loud. Sometimes there is thunder. But the people go quiet. They go inside. They hide away.
I saw it once in my friend. Stepping out in the rain he curled up as if he wanted to make himself small and hide inside his coat. And in the same moment I felt myself uncurl, stretch out and open up to the rain. As if I wanted to hug the skies and welcome the gift of rain. My body wanted to make itself big and open to catch as many raindrops as possible.
The world does the same at night. People do the same at night. They go inside, they become quiet and they go to bed and go to sleep. And that’s when I feel awake and alive and go for long walks in the dark.

I like the dark. The grey. The way the light dims and the quiet begs for company. I feel at home there. I feel like I belong. In the rain and in the night. I was never meant to live in and be awake during the day time. I am a creature of the night. I am made of sadness and raindrops, of quiet and the warm and kind sort of darkness, a darkness that lets you be alone. If I could choose for myself I would probably go to bed at sunrise. That would be wonderful. I could live my whole life never having to wake up in the morning, but a life without stars and the night sky and rain would be meaningless to me.

I know it’s crazy for me to take long walks in the dark at night. I know it might not be safe. I know I am at risk. But I feel the darkness calling. The quiet and the night is too beautiful to not enjoy. And I hate that I have to think it might not be safe. And I think about it every time. I think about what pockets my keys are in. I think about the few people in the streets, are they men or women, are they alone or a group, are they drunk, are they safe. Am I safe? I think about who to call if something happens and I think about how to defend myself. But I have so many friends who can’t step outside their home after dark. Out of fear. And I will not let fear rule my life. I want darkness and night and starlight and I want to jump in puddles in the rain even at night. And I do so.

I love doing these things. I do them a lot. And doing them alone isn’t bad or not enough. It’s perfect. But I think having company once or twice, having someone to share these important things with would be nice. Not every time, not every day. Just sometimes.

Do you have any rain boots? Would you go jumping in puddles with me sometime? It’s okay if you don’t. My nephew won’t outgrow playing in the rain for while.

I won’t let fear rule my life. I don’t let fear rule my life. I think sometimes fear has a hard time getting me to listen. I’m not sure why. I’m not reckless. Except for my long walks alone at night.

I’ve been thinking about a thing I do. I was recently called very intuitive. That’s new. I agree with the statement, it’s just that people tend to call me intelligent (which I definitely am) and this was a new way of seeing myself. Intuition is not something people around me has talked about or valued. And I suddenly have a new perspective on the things I do and feel and the way I look at the world. Not a perspective that is clear or that I understand. But it’s there and it’s new and I want to explore it.

I sense so much from other people. Things I don’t understand. I have a lot of friends with challenges and sometimes I feel as if I see right thought them. Like all the walls around they put up to keep people out are made of glass and I see things they don’t even understand themselves. I have one friend who keeps building bubbles around himself. Bubbles meant to keep him safe and numb. And all I see are his fear and how much he is trying to outrun something that terrifies him. He uses drugs and alcohol and his computer games and tv-shows and other things to keep himself numb and outrun whatever it is. And I see his bubbles and every part of me want so pop them. To take him by the shoulders and turn him to face whatever it is he is running from. But that is not my call to make. I keep myself I check and hold my tongue. He has to do things his way, even when I don’t understand it.

The thing is. I want someone to poke at my bubbles. To help me pop them. I try to face everything that scares me and if I feel myself running I turn myself around to face whatever it is I’m running from. I refuse to let fear rule my life. And when something hurts I’m more likely to poke it with a stick and try to take it apart than try and run or make myself numb. I want it to hurt, I want to feel it, I want to pop the bubbles I build and face my fears and poke at everything that hurts.
But at this point I think (at least for now, at least till I find a new perspective) I’m out of ways to do that. I need help. I need information and perspectives and tool that are not at my disposal right now. And I’m frustrated because I want to do the work of getting better, of understanding, of healing the things that hurt. And right now I can’t. And that leaves me using far too much energy trying not to poke at other peoples problems because I can’t stop myself from wanting to take the things apart to see if I can get them to work properly.
I miss working with clocks and watches. I loved the few years I got to do that. My brain needs problems and loves taking things apart. Sometimes it feels like a great powerful machine that just keeps picking at things and taking them apart, until there is nothing left and if I don’t have a new perspective, new information or new problem to feed it, it just keeps tearing and tearing at what it has, until it’s tearing itself apart. Which hurts. A lot. And that’s why I should never be left alone with any problem or new idea for too long. I’ll destroy myself trying to figure it out.

The last week has been a week of realising that I spend too much time and energy trying to connect to people. I spend a lot of effort sending messages and putting words together telling people I care about that I think of them, that I’m there if they need it, that they are important to me. And that’s all well and good, but I’m not. I’m lonely and wanting to connect. I want to feel loved and prioritised. And I don’t. And me prioritising other people and letting them know they are important to me, is great, but does not in any way fill the endless void of need that I feel at the moment. I feel like a big black hole of neediness and I hate it. But I might have to reprioritise my energy.

I want to feel loved and prioritised. I want to feel needed and cared for. I want to feel important and supported. So maybe it’s time I spend less time and energy giving that to others hoping the world will give it back, and start by giving a little of that to myself. Not saying I’m not going to keep giving to the people around me. But maybe I should refocus and spend more time and energy giving myself attention and care and love and affirmation and support. Just maybe. All I know is that I’m not getting the connection I am so desperately looking for by throwing all this energy into the world at the people I care about. No one has that to give right now. And that’s okay. No one owes me that. But I need it and that need is valid. I just need to approach it in a different way. And the more I don’t, the more this need goes unfulfilled, the more lonely I get, the more desperate I feel. And that’s not helping me connect in a meaningful way.

I have to have patience. With myself and with the people I care about and with the world. I think it’ll all fall into place and I hope for a day when I don’t have to take care of all my own needs for feeling loved and cared for and connected. Because that is a lot to ask of one person, even if that person is yourself. But I have to be self-sufficient enough that I don’t just dump all those expectations on another person.

There is so much I want to write to you about. So many great things I want to explore. But I think this is enough for today. I have something to write for next week and the week after that.

Today felt like a good day for writing. I hope to have many more days like this. Where writing feels like this. Full of good energy and like the words flow on their own.

I care about you A. You are important to me. I hope you’ll find the peace and quiet in your life that I know you desperately need. I hope you’ll find room to write me a letter back sometime. But for now I am patient. Knowing you are there and knowing you are fighting great battles. These letters, this blog, our friendship will be with you through those battles and will be here when you are ready. And me trying to take better care of myself is not me telling you that I have less room for you. That’s just me cleaning out my space so there will be more room and without me expecting anyone else helps me clean up.

So… I think I might have been trying not to write this. But I needed to sneak it in anyway. Unable to quit writing before it was out. I have a sort of weird anniversary today. Today. The 15th of august five years ago I said goodbye to the wolf. The man who spend almost seven years raping and emotionally abusing me. Five years ago I called him up and said I don’t want to see you again and I don’t want to talk to you any more. And when I hung up that was the last time I heard his voice. The last time we spoke. That was when the decision was made and I have stuck to it. For five years.

There were so many years of my life when I didn’t think I could survive without him. I never knew I could make it this far. I didn’t know I would be okay without him.
I still miss what he gave me. The way he cared for me when he cared. I know now it was just part of his manipulation. It was part of the violence and control. He made me feel like I was a small child and I still miss that feeling. I miss how he hugged me and tugged me in to bed, how he would comfort me when I cried, how I knew I could have a total meltdown in front of him and he could handle it and find a way to calm me down. I miss falling asleep on the couch watching movies together. I miss the things he gave me, the needs I didn’t even knew I had before him. I miss having someone I can always call and talk to, who is a part of my life and at witness to my life.

But I don’t miss him. I don’t miss the price I paid for the good things he gave me. And I’ll never go back. Not because the thought of calling him hasn’t crossed my mind many many times. But because I know I can no longer pay the price I once paid to have him in my life. I can’t even think of him and not feel repulsed by the memory of him. The memory of his voice still makes me sick. I still get anxiety attacks when I am in public and suddenly catch the smell of his deodorant or see a person who reminds me vaguely of him.
I’m not okay with what happened to me. I’m not okay with what he did to me. I’m so not okay with missing the good things he gave me. I’m not okay. I’m still not okay.

But I made it five years. Today I’ve made it five years. And I am allowed to be proud of myself for that. I wanted to mark the occasion. But I didn’t know how. I wanted to celebrate or at least acknowledge that this a big deal. But I don’t know who to do that. I just know I made it and it’s been hell and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Telling him to get out of my life is the best thing I’ve ever done for my mental health.

I don’t think I would have been alive today if not for him. He helped me through some dark times, he showed me what it meant to feel cared for, made me feel loved and worthy and so many other things that I needed. And he took advantage of it and I don’t owe him anything. He raped me and hurt me and abused me. And I would rather have died than live through what he did to me. But I lived through it. I lived I part because of it.

I know I don’t miss him. But the good things he did for me… I can’t imagine them separate from him. I hope for a day when some of those needs will be filled by someone else. I hope to not feel this alone forever. I hope the chapter of my life that was that man will feel more in the past and more calm and placed where it belongs than it does now.
I never imagined I’d make it these five years. But I did. And I’m allowed to feel that it’s a big deal. I’m allowed to feel sad and whatever all the other feelings inside me are. I’m allowed to not be over it. I have no one to call and no one who can tell me I’ve done a great job. But that is one of the things I’m practising doing for myself. So:

Jace, you’ve done a good job. You made it. You’re okay. He’s gone. He’s not coming back. He’ll never touch you again. And you did that. You kicked him out of your life. You deserve better. You never deserved what he did to you. It wasn’t you fault. And whatever you feel today is okay. Whatever you feel is okay. It’s okay. Jace, it’s okay. You are doing so great. And it’s okay if you… it’s all okay. And I’m so proud of you. So proud of everything you’ve done and accomplished. Five years is a big deal. And you’ve done that. On your own. Never underestimate how big a deal it is. I know what it cost to kick him out. I am so proud of the person you are growing into and becoming. And you gave yourself the freedom to do that the day you told him it was over.

I think that’s it. I think I need to stop writing now. So many emotions. Good and bad.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Letter about asking and being a burden

8th of August 2019

Hi A.

It’s been a busy week.

Work is going well. I’m getting better at getting up in the morning and out the door. And I am getting used to being back there. I’m tired from the commute. It’s hitting harder than it used to. Some mornings I get up and get ready and go out the door, make it to the train, change to the bus and arrive at work victorious that I made it all this way and so far that was the only goal. And then I sit down for a moment and almost want to cry because now I realise that I’m tired but need to start working. I enjoy the work, so it’s okay. But the feeling of victory fades to exhaustion. Because it’s not just a few hours of work, it’s also the same trip home and then making dinner and make sure I’m not so drained that I can’t do anything tomorrow.By the afternoon I’m doing better. As I said I like the work. Getting home is hard some days but not too bad. It’s getting through the door at home and not collapsing on the floor unable to do anything for a few days that’s the challenge. But I make it. And that is enough for now.

My parents helped me get curtains and a lamp up and I now have light in my kitchen in the evening and darkness (well, less light) in the morning. The way I like it. My brother came by and helped with cables for the Play Station. My nephew was with him and he found my sonic screwdrivers. Even though he has no idea what Doctor Who is he played with them and that made me so happy, imagining a future where he might want to watch the show with me. And he built us a fort under my dining table on his own while I helped my brother. He is getting big.

There seem to always be a few things I haven’t got done in the new apartment. I still haven’t got a lamp for my bedroom. I’m curtains for the bathroom. I need a shelf in the kitchen. Small stuff, but it adds up. And I haven’t had friends over yet.

The loneliness is still strong. I knew I had lost a lot of friends over the last 5 years, but it has hit me a bit hard in the last couple of months how few people are left. Not because I necessarily miss the people who are gone that much. Just that… my need for intelligent conversations and feeling like I matter to someone isn’t being met.

I know I matter to people around me. I know I have people who like me and care about me. But I don’t feel it. In part maybe because I always have to ask. Ask to be seen, ask to be talked to, ask for attention and time.
I know a lot of people care a lot about me. But I very often feel unloved. Not because I am unloved. But because I feel so disconnected and alone.

I am so lucky. And I am thankful. I’ve been having a hard time for so many years. And I am a burden to the people around me. I feel a lot like a burden and when I take a step back and look at it, I am a burden. My family spends a lot of time helping me with practical stuff. My brother sometimes picks up the phone and talks to me for half an hour when I call him crying because everything is too much. My mom washes my clothes and sometimes helps me clean my home. I need help with grocery shopping and meal planning. I have to call my dad to help me write emails and make phone calls to people who are not my friends.
I so often have to ask my friends if they have time and energy to talk to me because I am having a hard time or a bad day. And they do so much to be there for me.
I am a burden. And I hate that. I hate it so much. I don’t want to be that. I don’t want to add more work to the people in my life because every one of you, have so much hardship to deal with. And here I am being a burden to everyone.

But I’m trying hard to see it as a gift. I have people in my life who care about me. Enough to tell me that it’s better that I am a burden than dead. They ask me to be a burden on them. They tell me to please call if I need it again. They don’t make promises to always have time or energy, but they tell me they care. They tell me to just ask. And I keep asking, even when asking makes me feel like an unreasonable burden that I don’t want to ask anyone to carry.
But it is a gift to have people not only allow you to be a burden but encourage you to be one.
And no one tells me I am a burden. No one tells me I am too much. Even when I am. Maybe because they are just trying to be kind. I hope that it’s also because they know I am self-aware enough to already know it.

I think having to ask, for everything all the time, makes me feel even more like a burden.
I can’t remember the last time someone who wasn’t my mother called and ask how I was without me reaching out asking to talk first.

I have one friend who text a lot. I’m not that much for texting these days, so with this friend it’s partly a matter of our communication styles not matching. But I try hard to always answer and keep a conversation going even when that is difficult for me in text form. Her writing to me like that means a lot to me. And we’ve met up a few times since I started work, because her school is nearby. But I can’t have the kind of conversations that I miss with her. We are both on the autism spectrum, same diagnosis, but we are so different. I scored high on empathy test, where she scored low. I feel a need for some kind of connection to the right kind of people and she mostly just want to be left alone. My special interests are more diverse and changing, where hers are very hard set. I value this friendship a lot. Sometimes it’s great to have someone who understands even though they feel the complete opposite of how I feel. But other times our differences makes me feel disconnected. Through no fault of anyone.

At some point I want to write a letter to you about care and the act of showing love and feeling loved. It’s been on my mind a lot. How I know people care, but somehow feel deeply unloved and uncared for. I want to explore that contradiction. But not today. Today it’s enough to just name the two things and acknowledge that they exist at the same time. That feeling unloved isn’t the same as being unloved. And that is okay to feel unloved even when you know in your mind that you aren’t-

I write a lot of “Thinking of you” texts to people. I try hard to make them very short and concise and make I very clear that it’s just me sending good thoughts out to people I care about, so they know someone cares, but also that they don’t need to do anything. I’m not expecting anything back.

I don’t know if the people I send these to need them. I don’t know if I’m being annoying or helpful. But I sometimes feel guilty if I have a hard time and don’t reach out, or if I don’t show care for my friends who themselves are having a hard time. I guess I feel very strongly about making sure no one I care about feel like they are not cared about. Of cause because that is exactly how I feel.
I try hard to transform my caring into actions. Because I want it to matter and make a difference. Maybe the feeling I have when I think about a person a lot and wonder how they are and hope they are doing well, is restlessness. All I know is that I feel a need to act on it, to make sure that it isn’t just me feeling and thinking something alone that the other person have no way of knowing or feeling. I want to make a difference. To make the world better. Even if it’s just for one person and even if it’s just a little. And I don’t know if writing those messages helping me make a positive difference to the people I write to, but that is my intent. And I try to make it clear that if these messages are unwanted I’m grateful to be told so.

I am very aware that it is an act that comes from my own loneliness and that it’s a desperate attempt to connect to people. But I make a big effort to turn it into something I give and not a place where I ask for something. And I try to make it a thing that tells people that I am someone they can ask something of or lean on if they need it. Because I know how hard it is to have to ask and how hard it is to keep leaning on people long after you feel like too much of a burden.

I never feel like the people who lean on me are a burden. I feel grateful and honoured that they trust me to catch them when they feel like they are falling. When people turn to me I feel happy that I am someone they thought of in a time of crisis. But even if I felt like they were a burden, I know so many people I would rather have as a burden than not have in my life. You are one of them A.

And look! I managed to write a bit about stuff that matters to me. Writing for this week accomplished. That makes me happy.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

P.S. This week I learned that it was rats in my old apartment. Lots and lots of rats. The entire floor had to be removed and at least one wall (the one next to my bed, the one I had complained about the noise from) was full of them too.
It was rats! I lived with rats in the walls for at least 8 months. I’m so glad to be away from there.

Letter about the word no

2nd of August 2019

Hi A

This week someone told me we always have the option of saying no. And I didn’t know how to tell him why that felt so wrong. Because if we are able to talk we are physically able to utter the word no. But you and I know all too well that saying no isn’t always something we can do.

Sometimes we aren’t safe to say no. Sometimes we are pressured. Sometimes we feel too unsafe or that it is dangerous to say no. Sometimes people won’t hear our no. Sometimes they don’t care. Sometimes saying no has very bad consequences. Sometimes we protect ourselves best by not saying no. And when protecting ourselves by not saying no becomes something that happens too much or too long we forget that no is an option. And no disappears from our vocabularies. And when people remind us that we can just say no, there is a huge disconnect. Because what they say makes sense on a purely logical level, but practically saying no is associated with fear, danger, repercussions, pressure and emotional violence.

I didn’t know how to tell this man this. Because I don’t know him well enough. Because I have no idea if this idea would even register with him, if he would acknowledge my experience or dismiss it. And conversations like that feels difficult because of cause I have the physical ability to say no. But for most of my life I didn’t have the emotional or mental ability to say no. Because for years of my life the word no was a dangerous one.

I spend almost seven years of my life with a man, a friend (not a boyfriend), who would turn every no into a bargaining. I would have to hold on and hold on and hold on. If I didn’t say yes he would push and push and push till I finally gave in to the pressure. There was no stopping him. No might hold him back from acting on some things for a while, but he would never stop pushing. In the book you and I helped writing I called him the Wolf.

For those almost seven years I faced emotional violence every time I said no. I faced the boundary being pushed and my no disrespected. I faced countless counterarguments from him about why my no wasn’t valid or why I should change my mind or begging and pleading to reconsider and be open to maybe later or some other time. And that over time that wears you down.

I have never felt like saying no was something I could just do. It is difficult. And even though some people have tried to convince me that the word no is in endless supply and I will never run out, I do run out of energy to say it. To find the no inside me. To remind myself that saying no isn’t unsafe. To face the fear, that is on autopilot, and then set aside the fear and try to say no. Saying no is a dangerous task. It is a very conscious one when we have experienced what we have. The amount of no in the world is not the problem. It’s giving ourselves permission to use it, after years of other people telling us we have no right to it and after years of unreasonable consequences every time we tried.

I remember saving my no. Only using the word when it was deeply necessary. I had two things I would always say no to. Everything else was something we could negotiate. Not because I wanted to. But because I needed to keep enough no for those two things. And the Wolf never stopped pushing on those two things so I kept needing them for this, and I never had enough to save some up for later, for the less bad things.

That is what emotional violence does to us. Make no mistake. Emotional violence is violence. A scary subconscious violence that is so difficult to defend yourself from.

For years I had nightmares about the Wolf. At first I had nightmares about the physical things he did to me. But then I started to fight back in my dreams. My best memory of this is the nightmare where I interrupted his actions and threatened to castrate him. And when he got angry I laughed at him and asked if he couldn’t take a joke. I still find it funny to this day that I managed to dream up that kind of response. It’s so out of character for me.

But then the nightmares changed. And in those he never hurt me physically. He just crawled into bed next to me, put his arm around me and whispered in my ear. And I froze. I never knew how to protect myself from his words. From this lack of physical assault. It felt like an assault on my mind, but kicking him or screaming at him wasn’t helpful. My fighting back through that kind of violence was the wrong response, but I didn’t have a better one. My nightmares have changed a lot over the years. I can often track where I am in my progress or in my feelings about him from my nightmares.

It’s too late to correct the man I talked to earlier this week. But I wonder what I’ll do next time someone tried to claim we always have the ability to say no. If someone puts a knife to your throat and tells you that if you say the word no they’ll kill you, you have the ability to say no. But you are risking your life if you do. (I know we’re both suicidal enough to say no in that situation, but you get the point). We are not free of the consequences of our no. You and I know that better than some people.

But the two of us need to learn that saying no often isn’t as dangerous as we were lead to believe. That is a hard lesson. Because our systems have deeply encoded our autopilot to react to the need or desire to say no with fear. Fear that at some point in our lives were justified. There was a point when the threat was real.

I don’t know how to feel safe again. And neither do you. But we’re working on it. And I am here to offer you a safe space where you can say no and where there won’t be repercussions for listening to what feels right. And I won’t be mad or take it personal if the fear of saying no makes it impossible. Because if I push you to say no that’s no different from someone else pushing you to say yes. It won’t be a free choice.

I know you are not entirely free of emotional violence. Some days I’m not sure if I am. But we have made great stride to become it. And I am proud of both of us for our work.

Our support of each other means so much to me. I feel strengthened by your support and by being able and allowed to support you too. I’m not sure where the road to the endless resource that is the word no leads. maybe we’ll never reach that magical land, but just get to a place where we are more free and able to use it, even if it’ll still be difficult. I’m don’t know how we’ll get there. I am absolutely sure we’ll stumble a lot on the way. But I believe we can help each other there, even though we each have to walk out own road there.

I believe we’ll both get better. And getting our no back is an important step. One that get’s more difficult when people around us doesn’t recognise that it can be taken away, because we then end up feeling like we are at fault or failing when no isn’t in our vocabulary. And we are not. We both had parents whom didn’t freely allowed the word no. None of us have grown up with that ability. But we’re allowed to build the ability for our selves. We are allowed to make the ultimate rebellion and claim the word no that our parents and other people in our lives should have given us as a gift from the day we were born.

Thank you for helping me find my no.

Looking forward to hearing from you.