Letter about doing a little better and how much I love my balcony

1st of May 2020

To whoever reads this

I’m not sure saying that I am doing better is the truth. But I do have the feeling that my body and my mind has settled into this current, hopefully temporary normal. I am calmer about being alone. Going to the ruin last week reminded me that I am not as trapped as I feel. And I focus a lot on what I can control and the choices left to me in this time when I am stuck, unable to go to work and unable to see friends.
I feel as though the worst of my reaction to the new circumstances has left. I am so fortunate that my life is changed this little. But it still feels huge. And change is one of the things autistic people aren’t good at. I am not really an exception to this. I handle it well, but it still feels very overwhelming and sets off a lot of reactions that I have no control over. But I know them well enough now and can act accordingly.
I’ve been doing the work. Reaching out to people I can reach out to. Remind myself of the importance of staying home and not exposing myself to more risk than necessary. I try to keep busy. Fight the depression that still threatens to get worse all the time. It’s not gone. It’s there. Poisoning everything. But I fight it. And that is all I can do at this point.

I’m trying hard to sound hopeful. I am not. But I guess that is how I fight the depression at this time. I feel untruthful when I sound this hopeful. I don’t mean to lie. But I guess I am not sure how to name the things that would give a clear picture of how I am really doing.

About a month ago I think, I don’t really know the date, I had a lot of trouble sleeping. And I was doing a lot worse than I am not dealing with the loneliness and the isolation. And this night I gave up sleeping for a while and went to sit outside on my amazing balcony (that I still love so much). It was past midnight and there was so many stars above me. I love the night and the dark. And the night was cold, but not too cold. I sat out there for a long time and noticed lights in the windows across the courtyard. The building across from the one I live in is made of red bricks and has red balconies.

It’s the kind of building where every part of it is the same and when you look at if you know every apartment has the same floor plan. I don’t think I would like to live in a building like that. Whenever I visit that kind of apartment they always feel unkind, cold and like they are the opposite of a home. Not because of the people living their lives there, or the way they decorate. It’s the way these places are build to store people instead of build to give them warm cosy homes.
But there is something comforting about that building across the courtyard. I’m not sure what it is. I don’t want to live in it. I’ve never been inside it and I have no desire to go there. But there is something about it that feels nice. And not even because it reminds me how different my own home is. Maybe it just feels different and unique because the other buildings around the courtyard are different and unique, with different architecture and different feelings and uses. I’m sure I wouldn’t feel this way about it if had been surrounded by similar buildings.
Last summer I saw how every evening kids came out and played in the carpark that belongs to that building. And I could see people coming home from work and shopping trips or going to their cars to drive to somewhere else. That too made the place feel so alive.

But this night, I noticed all the lights. And it was so amazing to see how many other people were awake at night. I am night time person through and through. But most people around me aren’t. There was something nice in knowing that so many people chose to be up this night. I counted at least seven different apartments with lights on. At 2 am.

I’ve also noticed the light in those windows. None of it is cold white. It’s almost always yellow or orange. Sometimes there is some changing blue or purple lights, from a TV or a computer screen. But mostly it’s just this beautiful golden light. Reminding me that there is life all around me. That although so much is shut down, though I feel so alone and know no one in any of these buildings around me, there is still people, living ordinary lives doing ordinary things. Just there. Across the courtyard. In that golden light they cook dinner and eat and work from home, they watch TV and make phone calls, they are happy and sad and their lives go on.

I don’t know why but that night I felt so moved by that light. By sitting there alone with golden light telling me other people were also awake and alive and right here. I felt connected and so much less lonely, when I have in a long time. And one goal for this month is sitting out there every day for at least 30 minutes. That balcony is the best part of this apartment. And deciding to live here, where I can sit outside at night and still be home is one of the best things I have given to myself. When I sit there (and especially if I leave me phone inside) I feel so Here.
I don’t know why I am grateful for the golden light or for the red brick building that looks like the kind of building that has no personality and no room for humans being humans. Maybe it’s that contrast. Maybe it’s because it feels like it has personality and room for humans, in this setting in a way it could never have if there were only buildings like that around. Maybe it’s just nice to feel small and insignificant and knowing there is life right there, when I can no longer stand to only be able to reach other humans through a screen. All I know is that I am so grateful for those things. And my balcony is one of those places for me, that helps me be Here. And that is after all what I am trying to find.

I hope, whoever you are and wherever you are, dear reader, that you are safe and healthy. I hope you find ways to be Here. Thank you for being here, in these words with me. Thank you for your time.

Jace

Letter about the fragility of good things and how I’m being Here

26th of April 2020

To whoever is reading this

I’m not sure why I didn’t write last week. I wanted to. But the only thing I wanted to write was not for the internet. It was just for me, and maybe a close friend who would understand or just sit with me in this thing. It wasn’t a bad thing. Maybe that’s why I found it so hard to share. Sometimes it’s easier to write the painful stuff and not care who reads it. The good things feels so much more fragile. Like they could crumble away and disappear if the wrong person touched them by accident. Or like I could undo them just by mentioning them. Sometimes I think if don’t hold my breath and stay perfectly still till they have settled and learned to trust me, they might run away again. So when they show up I decide to be careful and slow and not just jump into sharing anything. I recently ret “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint Epuréxy and the chapter about the Prince needing to tame the Fox comes to mind now. Last weekend I had this thing that I was finally ready to write down and believe in, but I wasn’t ready to share it with something as big and scary as the internet. And I kept believing I would find something else to write about, but I just didn’t.

There is an old ruin on the edge of the town I live in. It’s small, there isn’t much left of it. A few walls. A few room with no roofs. A few stairs and doorways. It’s right next to the highway. And there is a constant noise from the traffic. But it still feels like magic and history and the kind of place that isn’t really real, but something out of a book. There are lots of trees around and you can hear the birds singing, and though they never truly drown out the sound of traffic, they do make you forget about it. On summer evenings the bats fly around, if you have sharp eyes or sharp ears you might catch a glimpse of them or hear them. A few years ago I went there all the time. I spent the summer reading Harry Potter there. I found a nice spot, where I could bring my bag and my book, and sat there reading. I brought snacks and sodas and once after my last final that summer I even brought sushi and ate dinner there.
You couldn’t ask for better atmosphere for reading good books, than an old ruin and I love that place. So this week, feeling like I had gotten stuck doing nothing again, I packed some lunch and a book and walked the half hour it takes to go there. I sat in the doorway on the first floor, where I almost always sit to read. It’s not the most comfortable ground to sit on, the stones aren’t very comfortable, but it’s the best place to sit and be alone even when there are people visiting the place. There is another doorway on the other side that is much more comfortable, and I move there, in the late afternoon when the sun no longer shines on my favourite spot and I get a little cold. I am much more out in the open in this other doorway, but the people visiting the place are always nice about the reading stranger. Sometimes they ignore me, other times they say quick hi and move on with their exploring.  This time there was some boys from the school across the road. They look very curiously at me for a while and then went back to playing. One of them said hi and asked for my name so I told him my name and asked for him. Another boy found the place I was sitting and came by to give me a dandelion he had plucked. I doesn’t take much for them to realise I am not scary or intruding. And my weird purple hair usually makes kids think I cool.

I read “Momo” by Michael Ende. A book everyone should read. Especially the people with no time for reading. It’s about this girl, Momo, living in an old abandoned amphitheatre (I almost changed location to the local amphitheatre and read it there, but the ruin felt better and just as appropriate), who is very very good at listening. When the locals stop visiting her and acts strange, she discovers these men in grey who are steeling peoples time. Not because they have the power to take it from people, but by convincing people they are wasting their time and that they need to save it. So the people hurry and hurry and stresses along with no time for any of the things that matter, because they think they need to save time in order to have time later. So Momo who isn’t fooled by the men in grey has to find a way to stop them and give the people their time back.
It’s a very beautiful story about time and how we spend it. We have 86400 second every day and we control how we spend it. We don’t gain another second by being in a hurry. And this book shows this better than anything else I have ever read. It feels more relevant than ever as our society is so much in a hurry to earn money and asking us to waste out attention.

Reading this book now was so important to me. And reading it at the ruin was a very good choice. I needed to get out of my apartment and I needed to get out in nature. I have been to stuck in my own head and in this one place for too long. That makes it hard to remember how important it is to stay in the present and do what I can do while I have the time for it. I get so focused on the future or the past. Mostly the future. I want to know what happens when the world isn’t shut down because of the pandemic. I want to know if I can come back to work. I want to go back to work. I want to travel and see my friends and do so much. And I feel so trapped. But I am not. The ruin is still there. My books are still on the shelves waiting for me to give them attention. I have internet access and therefore access to learn almost anything I want to. My balcony is a great place to sit when I want to go outside but doesn’t have the energy to go anywhere. And all the thing I want to do that is impossible right now, will still be there when the world open up again. And in the mean time I know I am learning a lot about the possibilities I had before and about the things I just took for granted. And I feel grateful that it seems most of the world is having similar experiences.

All this is to say that reading this book was such a good reminder of what I wanted to do with this blog. Be Here. Be present. And walking out to the ruin to read was being Here. Not just attempting to find Here, but actually being Here. For a long time now I have felt uncomfortable in front of the screen. No matter what screen and what I am doing with it. No game or movie or YouTube video, no social media or even writing takes me to the place I want to go. I personally find myself using it to escape and to distract myself. Something that brings me so far away from Here. I am thankful to live in a time when I have all this information at my fingertips. I am thankful that technology allows me to stay in contact with my friends and family during this time. But mostly I just want to turn it all off and find a way to live without it. Return to myself and my present and the world around me.

It’ll never be that easy. And maybe it doesn’t have to be. But listening to that call inside me and trying to do something about it feels like the right choice for me. And I can do that for myself and still be happy that all these options exists and know that they help people in a way they don’t help me. I’m just concluding that it doesn’t work for me. I hope it works for others.

Whoever is out there reading, take good care of yourself and the people around you. Thank you for your time.

Jace

Letter about being human and having needs

12th of April 2020

Dear reader

I’ve been thinking about unmet needs. A term I learned from “Lost Connections” by Johann Hari. The book talks about the kind of needs that humans have that aren’t physical but are no less real and important. And that way of talking about it was so helpful for me.
It has taken decades to accept that I am human and have needs. My body and its needs are something that I still have a hard time with.

For most of my childhood and teenage years my parents and other adults (mostly therapists) told me human being are social animals That we need other people. And I couldn’t imagine anything worse. I hated the idea that I was forced to be around other people because my biology demanded it. It made no sense. I didn’t like being around people. People were difficult and I never knew what they wanted or what to do with them. I couldn’t imagine wanting people in my life. On the other hand I couldn’t imagine wanting life. And the way I was told humans needed other humans, had nothing to do with anything that I could understand. It sounded like I was expected to be happy being put in any situation with just anyone and then that should somehow work. There was never any talk of being accepted by these other people, if there were it was how I wasn’t accepted because I did everything wrong and I was accused of doing everything wrong on purpose. There was no talk of having things in common or that peoples social needs could differ. Extrovert and introvert were words I didn’t learn till I was in my twenties. No one talked about humans being social animals in a way I could understand. And part of that was the language chosen. The other part was that I had no positive experiences having people around. So I couldn’t imagine what that would be like.
Now I am older, I am discovering new language and most importantly I have experiences with people I to some extend am compatible with. People with similar interests, with similar minds and worldviews, with similar kind of problems and diagnoses. And when I now read how humans evolved and became what we are in this planet, because we worked together and formed tribes, it makes sense that I feel this need for people around me. I understand that what I am missing is a tribe. Not just a random collections of people, but a group of people who are my people. A group of people who look out for each other and care for each other. And suddenly I see examples of this through in my life and understand why some people I know seem so much more secure and stable and adventures. They have a home base, they have people who have their back, they have support and their needs are being met. And I feel how fragile my life is when I don’t have that. How unsafe and unsecure life is when there is no one who can help you. And suddenly that thing I was told all my life, but never given proper examples of, makes so much sense.

And I had to go through a similar thing to understand why I miss touch. I read and read about being touch starved, to understand why I missed something I never wanted in the first place. Something I feel like I lived without for most of my life, until it was forced upon me, and suddenly I didn’t know how to live without it. I felt so broken and mistaken. Like the nice feeling of being hugged or held had somehow broken something in me. How am I supposed to be independent if I have this need I cannot fulfil for myself? And reading about what it means to be touch starved and how the brain makes certain chemicals when you have that kind of physical contact with someone, help me understand I wasn’t broken. I am human. I have human needs.

That gave me language and understanding that made it possible for me to embrace being human and having needs. I suddenly understood that I wasn’t supposed to be everything or find everything within myself. I didn’t have to be all I needed: And as much as I hate that it feels kind of nice to take that pressure of my own shoulders. I am allowed to have needs. I am allowed to need other people. And that is kind of beautiful. And a lot scary.

Being aromantic and asexual means I am not sure where to find people to help fulfil these needs. I cannot offer up the traditional romantic and sexual relationship in return for what I need. And even if I could I think the traditional idea of finding someone to be everything for you is faulty. I don’t believe that is the right way to do it. I think we all need more people in our lives. Because just like it’s unhelpful to place all our needs on our own shoulders it’s not fair to place them all on one other person.

So what I am struggling with is how do I find that kind of people. How do I build me tribe? Who will be there for me and who needs me to be there for them? My friends all have partners or kids or have a different kind of social need than I do. Which means there are other people who take priority and who fulfil their needs. And as much as I understand that, it stings a little that everyone else have someone, but I don’t.

I love the idea of chosen family. And that is what I hope to find in the future. But in the mean time I am trying to be kind to myself about all the unmet needs I have. I am trying not to blame myself for them and I am trying not to be a burden to the people I care about, to whom I am just one more person and who already give all they have to give in other places that are far more important than I am.

I try to embrace being human. With all the complicated thing that entails. I try to embrace the idea that I don’t have to fix everything myself. But also remind myself that I need to try until that day when I am not so lonely. I also try to rely as much on myself as I can. Because I believe that independence and self-reliance is important, and it has always been a goal for me.

Right now, during a pandemic, I feel how alone I am even more. But now is not the time to go out and look for new friendships. Even if I knew how to do that. Now is the time to be stronger in being on my own. It hurts that I am not needed or missed during this time. It hurt that I need other people more than anyone needs me. And being needed is another need I have discovered is very human and very universal. But I cannot make anyone else need me. I cannot make anyone else make me a priority. But I can stop making people who will never prioritise me a priority. I can chose to be kinder to myself. I can chose to have more patience and understanding for myself. Just like I try to always have with the people around me. I have been trying so hard to give others all the things I need. I need to stop that and try to give it to myself, even if I needed an external source for those things just once in a while. That external source doesn’t exist for now.

I wanted to write more about the needs I discovered and how reading about how human they are makes me feel less broken. But I feel empty of words now. And writing this makes me a little sad. Because I am still discovering and learning and my thoughts and mindset haven’t found the right balance with these ideas yet. And knowing I have to be there for myself, when I am learning that I can’t and that it is human to need someone else, is hard. My mind doesn’t like the contradiction. With this as with everything I am on a journey. Discovering and learning and finding new ways. And that takes time. I am grateful for knowing that my current state of mind isn’t my final state of mind. I know I am on my way somewhere and that allows me to rest here, because I know there are other new places to explore later. But this mindset, this place, this part of the journey is what demands my attention right now. And that is what Here is all about to me. Being better at being Here. Even when Here hurts, even when Here is full of contradictions, even when Here is alone and I would have loved to share it with someone. Of all the places my mind goes, of all the places my understanding are looking for, of all the places my curiosity and learning takes me, I know I am really looking for my way Here, to the present, to whatever moment I am in. And that is so hard, but often made easier by remembering that no matter what Here I am in now there’ll be another Here later, and searching for the other Here isn’t bringing it closer, it’s only robbing me of this Here, this now.

I hope this made sense. I hope there was something worth reading in this. I hope whoever is out there reading is doing well. Thank you for your time.

Jace

Letter about choices

5th of April 2020

Dear whoever is reading

I believe in choice. I truly believe a lot more than we think is within our control. That how we respond to things and how we think and talk about things are powerful. I believe we have so mane more options than we often realise. And when we feel backed into a corner it’s not because we are, but because we don’t know the options we have.
Which is a weird thing for me to believe in. I know better than most people that life throws things at us that are so far beyond anything we can control. I know how much can happen that throws us of course and how often that means there is not getting back on the track we were on; now it’s all about finding a new track, or building it. I’ve seen and felt this happen so many times.
And yet… I keep being surprised by the things I discover I can do. I have so many choices and what limits what I can do is often my perspective.

Sometimes life feels like a labyrinth. We walk abound unsure of where we are and what turns to choose. Because we don’t have perspective. We don’t know that we have choices. We so often think the only way we can go is forward. Going back or taking a few steps to the side doesn’t feel like something we can do, because put brains aren’t trained to see those things as possibilities.

I love people who see the possibilities that I never learned to see. I love people whose response to a problem is to think how can this work, instead of throwing in the towel. I love people who doesn’t limit themselves.

And a part of what is happening in my life right now is that I am realising just how few of those people I know. I feed of that energy that is ready to problems solve and that catches an idea or a dream and says “Yes! Let’s make this work”. People who will ask the questions that allows me to see that half the walls in the labyrinth aren’t really there, they are just in my mind.
What I meet a lot of instead is me throwing idea and dream out there and someone asking all the questions that boxes me in. The questions that point out the obstacles and instead of finding ways to deal with the obstacles.

I am one of those annoying people who when told about a problem will try to find a way around it. I will problem solve and give advice or ask questions to make you realise the solution might be right there anyway. And a lot of people don’t like that. A lot of people want to complain about problems they have no intention to solve, because what are they then supposed to complain about. And if I know my job is to listen and support I will do that. But if I am not given that kind of instructions I will problem solve. I want more problem solving people in my life. I want more people challenging my view of the world and the way I limit myself.

And all this is not to say that there aren’t real limits. There are real things that prevent most of us from doing things. Health and financial situation and a lot of other things. And those things are so hard, and I am not good at accepting them when I meet them in my own life. They hurt so much. And they are real and I don’t want to invalidate anyone’s struggle with those things.
But maybe it’s because I have problems like that in my own life and in the life of the people I love, that I believe so strongly in the choices that are fully within my capability. I get angry at all the choices that could be made to make life better, for ourselves or for our loved ones or for the world in general, and that aren’t made (and sometimes then complained about).
Because I do get it with the real limits. I get it with the stuff that is totally out of our control. And because I know those things and how it hurts to have any power, agency or choice striped away, I value the places where I do have control so much more. My life is in my hands. Even when I am struck by misfortune and bad health. I have the power to do something for others, even when I am in a bad place myself. And I have the choice to do those things are sit back watch it fall apart. It might fall apart anyway. But then I know it wasn’t my inaction that allowed it.

I am not sure I am making sense. I just know the words haven’t flowed this easily and I have not been this excited about writing in… years maybe.

This is what have been making the last few days really bad for me. I believe I have so many choices and options and that all I have to do is choose and prioritise the choices.
And yet…

Here I am. Stuck at home, alone, with all the time in the world. And I feel limited and sad and uninspired. I feel like there is nothing I want to do, nothing I dream of, nothing that stimulates me, nothing that sparks that fire of energy and inspiration and joy. Nothing. And I am so mad at myself. Because I used to want to write. And here I am with nothing but time and my computer, and suddenly I realise I am not sure I want to write. I have all this time and I do not feel like reading. I have the internet at my disposal, with YouTube videos about anything I might want to learn, and I cannot think of anything I want to learn. So I feel super disappointed in myself. Why do I have no ideas and no joy and no inspiration? Why don’t I care about anything? A part from that is the depression, a part of it might be that the people I have the most contact with are people who doesn’t understand my drive and my need for that energy and fire. How am I supposed to grow if I mostly talk to people who think growing is only something plants do? Who scoff at the idea that I want something more in life?

In those thoughts I am experiencing something else that is new and not good. I find myself judging these people. People I care about. People who live lives they have chosen and lives that might be very different from mine, but that are still very valid, honourable and respectable lives. I don’t walk around judging people. That is not who I am. And suddenly I find myself full of judgement and resentment because their lives look small and stagnant to me. And even if they are small or stagnant who am I to say that is worse or less than my desire for something more or something else. I have never measured myself against other people or the lives they live. And I don’t recognise this side of me that is angry at other people. They are not holding me back. They are just in a different place than me, they are living different lives than me, and they are making the choices that are right for them. And I want to go back to the me that think that is beautiful and wonderful and worthwhile.

A part of me does feel like I am being asked to make myself smaller all the time. Or not talk about the things I want out of life. One friend always responds to my dreams of growth and my drive, with his lack of dreams and his happiness with standing still and building bubbles that holds the world away. And I know he doesn’t mean to, but a part of me feels like he is telling me my dreams make him uncomfortable and that he doesn’t want this talk of growth because even the idea of it isn’t welcome. And suddenly a big part of me doesn’t feel welcome in the conversation. I wish he and other would just smile and say “yes!” and be happy and encouraging on my behalf. I feel like I have to make myself so small to fit into the lives of the people I care about and suddenly I don’t feel at home in my own skin and feel like I am having all the wrong people in my life.

I want to choose to be a better person than that. I do what i can to combat those thoughts when I have them, and not allowing them space inside me. And I am going to look for more choices I can make to not allow this negative view of other people become my new normal.

I need more of the people who will meet my drive and my dreams with encouragement. I am not sure where to find them. But that is what I want and need.
I also need to feel needed and wanted and like I make a difference. I don’t care if I only make a difference to a few people around me or if I change the world. I know I want to make a difference. And there is nothing like a pandemic to tell you that you are not needed. My work is shut down, so thought I often tell myself I do something worth doing, it’s not essential work that is needed for anything to function. That might be a little sad, but a good reality check. What really hurts is how no one needs me. Not a single person around me is feeling a loss at us not being able to see each other. I am not needed. And that is the kind of thought I don’t need to give space to. They feed my depression and that leads me down dark paths.

This feel like a good place to stop. Not because I am empty and no more words could be squeezed from my mind. But because I think I wrote the things that was on my mind and I am not sure where the words take me if I keep going.

I wish I had the energy to read this through and edit and all the other stuff I should do. But that is going to be the victory today. Wanting to do that. I know I won’t post if I have to do that. I’ll get stuck in not getting it done and this will just be a file on my computer that I don’t look at ever again. And that would make me sad. Because this is more the kind of thoughts I want to be writing about here. I do hope I made sense and I am so sorry if I didn’t.

I hope you are well and that the state of the world isn’t too hard to be in right now. Thank you for your attention and your time.

Jace

Letter about fears and feeling invisible

31st of March 2020

Dear reader

I was a little disappointed with myself that I had nothing to write this weekend. But I didn’t want to try to write dispite the nothing. I wanted to have something to share. And today I remembered this story that was on my mind last week. A story that felt worth writing.

I remembered it because my mom told me I am doing great. Like all my mental health problems were gone and everything is fine and there is nothing wrong. I am able to get out of bed every day, I get two meals a day that I make myself, I fight to keep myself active, I am not deeply suicidal. But it’s a struggle to do those things and somewhere underneath how I am coping, all the problems are there. Just waiting for me to drop my guard and let them take over again. I’m doing so great on the surface. I function. But something hurts inside of me and I want to rip it out, with roots and all. To make sure it doesn’t get to live inside me ever again. And people are telling me I just have to accept it, my mom especially wants me to just pretend it’s not there, the same way she hopes to pretend we are a close family. But I don’t want to pretend anything. I crave truth an authenticity. Even when it hurts. Because only then does happiness and joy and the good feelings feel true. Only when they are not a mask, asked to cover something painful, shameful or unwanted. And unlike my mom I have decided that all my feelings are wanted and welcome.

But it was the sting for hearing how well I am doing when it only feels like a thin layer on the surface that jugged my memory.

When I was a kid my parents signed me up for swimming lessons at the local pool. There were three pools. A baby pool, a longer pool, and a very deep pool. And as a kid learning how to swim you start in the baby pool. I was a slow learner. My body is not a place I know how to inhabit and I was uncomfortable in the water. So when after the first year the other kids my age moved to the bigger pools I had to stay behind for a while. A year I think. Or maybe just six month. I didn’t really mind. It wasn’t a social thing.

When I was finally told I had to move to another swim team at another pool I felt like I was supposed to feel proud and happy. But I didn’t like the prospect. Maybe it was the change. I was very ad at change. Still am sometimes. Or maybe I knew. I don’t remember if I knew. They moved me to the very deep pool. And I was so scared of the depth of the water. I have no reason why. It’s the only irrational fear I have. I don’t know if it’s a phobia. But the deep water terrified me. It was five meters deep. And looking down into that water made me so afraid. But I was supposed to go in the water and swim to the other side, and back, and again and again and again. And I did. Because I didn’t know I had a choice. I clung to the side of the pool whenever I reached it. I reluctantly let go and then made my way desperately to the other side, back to safety. If they let me swim next to the side of the pool I would stop and grap hold and I wasn’t supposed to. So often I wouldn’t get to swim there. And there would be no way to feel secure till I got to the other side.

Even now remembering this my body recalls the panic it felt and my mind refused to bring me a visual memory of the water.

One day after swimming my mom told me how much better I had gotten. How much faster. Especially with one of the swimming style that required my head to be in the water most of the time, and where I had learned to look at the bottom between strokes. And I can’t remember if I told her. I just remember the inconsistency between what she was telling me and what I was feeling. She told me I was doing well and she saw my progress. And somehow that was all anyone could see. The pure terror I felt at the water was invisible.

I feel so bad about this fear of mine. I prefer the ways I so often feel fearless. But deep waters still scare me. The times I’ve been back to the pools since, I stay as far away from the deep pool as possible. I have no intention of ever going in again. Deep water is also a returning thing I my nightmares. I don’t know why. I have no reason for this fear. And I hate that I have it. But maybe it’s good not to be fearless. Fear has its place. And it helps me have empathy for other people’s fears. I’m not afraid of heights or spiders or the dark. I am uncomfortable with some insects, especially worms, larva and snails, but I have examined that discomfort over and over and I keep concluding that it is disgust and not fear I feel. My mom has a deep fear of rats and mice. So I guess it might be normal to have something. But I do feel oddly ashamed that I am afraid of something for no reason. I did face my fear though, back then. I have decided that I do not need to do that again. Not at this point in my life. It is not a fear that prevents me from doing things, and I my nephew wants me to go to the pool someday I‘ll go with him and we’ll have other, less deep pools to play in. Because thought the water scares me, I am not as afraid in the shallow water.

I’ve been thinking this week about my mom not being able to see how I really feel. And my conclusion is that it’s not entirely her own fault. I’ve worked hard to hide it. To protect her. To protect myself. She isn’t always a safe person to share the truth with. I don’t want my pain to cause her pain too. And I know I cannot trust her to allow my feeling to exist and to their job. She will try to dismiss them and call them unnecessary. As if any feeling that isn’t happiness is unwanted and unwelcome. She has dismissed my feelings and thoughts so much I believed I had no right to them. And now she has no right to know about them. That is one of the ways I reclaim my right to myself and to what I feel.

But still. I wanted the truth of my feelings seen and heard and acknowledged. And I wonder if I’ve done that with everything in my life. Made getting to the other side look like progress and like I am doing well. How often do I feel like I am drowning, like I am unsafe, like I am in pain or scared or angry or something else, and the people around me see me doing fine. I do not mean for that to be what I show the world. But that is often what they see. And I hate that. I know it can be a good skill to have, but it doesn’t feel like skill I can turn on or off at will. It’s just what I am. I so often don’t feel seen or heard or taken serious because people cannot see how I truly feel. I’m not sure what to do about that, because I would prefer that my truth was a little less invisible.

This was difficult to write. Mostly because English isn’t my first language and there were so many words and phrases that were difficult to translate. I hope I did it right or at least made myself clear. I should probably edit this, read it through a few times. But I can’t do that today. I think if I ask that of myself I will end up not posting at all. And I wanted to post this.

I hope whoever is out there doesn’t feel invisible and that maybe my story of being afraid can make you feel a little validated with whatever fears you have. I am still learning to accept that I have this kind of fear and that that is okay.

Take good care of yourself, I always ask people to do that. But I know it’s a little more relevant right now. Thank you for your time.

Jace

Re-evaluating

22nd of March 2020

A and I was supposed to do this together. This blog was supposed to be a thing I did with someone. And I wanted it to be a bit more fun and a lot less chore. Although I had somewhat realistic expectations about that. I love the idea of it being letters we wrote to each other. And I love the title and everything about the idea of Here. I need more Here. I need more creativity. And this blog isn’t giving me that.

I wanted this to be something that made me write and a space to be creative. I wanted more posts like the one about Hogwarts Houses and labels. And what it is is me whining and being sad. It’s me writing about nothing in a way that brings no value to me or anyone reading it. And this is not what I want to spend my time on.

Maybe I need to give it time. Maybe three months is not long enough to see any progress. Maybe all the great ideas I had and wanted to write about will come back if I give it time. Maybe any writing is better than no writing. But right now this feels like a waste of everyone’s time. It’s a waste of my time. An extremely limited resource that I want to spend better. That is the overall goal of this year. Spend my time and attention better. And I am not happy with the way I spend it on this blog.

I want to find Here. I want to find ways to be more present and alive in the moments I’ve got. And I used to feel so Here and so connected to what I feel when I write. But I don’t feel like this space offers me that right now. That might be a stupid way of phrasing that. I don’t know how to make this space that. I am doing the thing. The space is just there, open and waiting for whatever I fill it with. I am the one who doesn’t know how to fill it in a meaningful way.

Maybe I am doing too much at once. Reading more, bullet journal, less social media and less games on my phone, looking for communities, spending less time chasing people with nothing to give, and spending more time with people with all the wrong things to give. And then writing something for this blog once a week. Maybe I am just trying to do too many things at once, and not giving this writing the time and attention it deserves.

Maybe I miss A and feel sad and hurt that she is pushing me away.
Am I allowed to tell her that? She is fighting with every fibre in her body, with every part of her mind, to survive and stay alive. And here I am trying to make it all about me and my hurt feelings. I miss her and care about her, but if that doesn’t translate into something useful for her, or at least not something that makes things worse, those feelings inside me are worthless. These feelings should not be an excuse to make her life harder. And I worry telling her will make her battle worse. But is it a lie of omission if I just let things be and don’t tell her I feel hurt? I send her good thoughts as often as I feel I can. About once a month at the moment. Unless she writes. I want to do the right thing, but am not sure what that is exactly.

Writing used to be so empowering and helpful. But every time I try to write a letter for this blog I feel the opposite. I feel like I have no words, no voice, no inspiration. I don’t even have the discipline to write in advance and edit and at least try to make it good. I don’t have the energy to plan and find topics I want to explore and share. I am just blank. There is no skill, and nothing left in me to try and learn the skills I hoped to get out of writing every week.

I know part of this the depression and the disconnection. And that is the things I am trying to fight. I just feel like I am losing that fight every time I try to write something.

I am not sure I’ll write next week. I’m not sure I want to keep this going. Actually I really want to make this into the thing I always thought it would be. But if I don’t feel like I can do that I don’t want to spend my time whining about my sadness and depression on the internet. Absolutely no judgement on the people who do and who get something out of that. It’s just not what I want to do.

Maybe I need to give it time. No I definitely need to give it time. I am just not sure if the time is supposed to be spend not writing or attempting to write another letter every week. I’ll write an update when I know what I decide or maybe I’ll just write on or maybe I’ll just stop writing. But definitely one of those three.

This is actually the first piece of write I have read before posting in a very long time. And it feels more honest than anything I’ve written in a long time. Not that any of the other things were dishonest, this just feels deeper and more genuine and true to who I am.

Short Letter with an update on my reading and I miss work

20th of March 2020

Dear reader. If there are any.

I don’t feel like writing anything today. But let’s see what happens.

I’ve always thought of myself as an introvert. I need alone time. I need calm and structure and a safe space to retreat to. I need to be able to choose when I socialise and especially have the option of not socialising. But in exploring how good it can be to have the right people around me, how stimulating good conversations can be and how those things help fight my depression, I’ve realised I need people around me a lot more than I ever imagined. I’m still an introvert. But I do like time spend with the right people. And for a long time I’ve been unable to get my social needs met. Because I don’t just miss people, I miss the energy I feel when I talk to the right kind of people. The people who ask me to think and engage and who are interested in deep conversations about deep topics. And I have very few people like that in my life. The ones I do are so important to me.

I am staying home from work of cause. Like most people around me. I thought I’d easily be ok not going to work. But to my surprise I find this isolation to be a little difficult. I didn’t realise just how much I was relying on work to create structure and get input. The commute was a lot and not great. But I always got the kind of input that helps me not sink too far into depression. I learn a lot. I get new experiences. I am allowed to ask lots of questions about a field I know next to nothing about. There Are so many new experiences since I never really know what I’ll work on from day to day, so even when I work on my own I am engaged and learning and being challenged. I am working with my hands and the results of my work are very clear and tangible. And even though my tasks are very varied and my hours flexible, the frames the workplace offers me exactly the kind of structure I need.

And now I am at home. Taking the situation serious, listening to all the advice and taking precautions. I am very aware of the risks. But also feeling isolated and missing work. I actually started of thinking I would be just fine and that it would be nice with some time home, getting things done here. But I am already finding it hard. I hadn’t realised just how much of my weekly input and interactions came from work, and that I now have to fight a bit harder to keep depression at bay.

And it’s excatly because I didn’t have enough contact to people who could fulfil this need for conversation, that I decided I needed to read more. Actually I just wanted to read more in general, but it’s the thing that made me commit to it.
This week I’m rereading “Good Omens” by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. It’s as good safe choice. I am a bit behind. Staying home and not having anything I absolutely have to do is not good for keeping me motivated and active.
Next week the plan is to reread “The Never Ending Story” by Michael Ende. A lot of rereading going on. But I needed some safe bets after some of the not so great books lately. Also I’ve wanted to reread this one for a while and a friend is going to read it too so we can talk about it. Looking forward to that.
Last weekend I read “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman and it was better than I had expected. I haven’t read any of his other books before, but all I had heard was that he is good and it didn’t disapoint. I just wasn’t sure what to expect of this one and didn’t want to set my expectations too high.

I am not sure I’ve got much more at the moment. But a few words did find their way out and I guess that counts as a letter. I am going to try again next week. But if my mind doesn’t get something interesting to work with I am not sure I’ll have anything to write.

Stay safe and take care of yourself and the people around you. I hope you find good ways to occupy yourself if you are also home in these days. As always thank you for your time. It’s a resource I have great respect for and I find it a great gift when someone offers me theirs.

Jace

Letter about traumas and being met with understanding

14th of March 2020

Dear whoever is out there reading.

Once again I am struck by the feeling of not having anything to share. I know something will pour out on the page, but I am not sure what. It’s not that I don’t think about it during the week. I think about it a lot. But by the time Friday (and in some cases, like this one, Saturday or Sunday) rolls around I am blank. I have not excuse for not writing yesterday. I just forgot or kept thinking I would do it later. I’m trying out bullet journaling. And I somehow forgets to put it on my to do list for the day and I think that is making it difficult for me to remember.
I don’t have a super creative and artful bullet journal. I am more of an only what is most necessary and wow my handwriting is awful person. I am giving it two months. Maybe three if the two first isn’t a total failure. Then I’ll decide for good if I want to keep going. I really liked all the things I saw online about it, but all the things I saw for a long time was just so artistic and creative and every page looked like a piece of art. And I thought it wasn’t for me. But when I finally read about it I realised it wasn’t about art and creativity at all, and that made me want to give it a go. So far I’m doing all right, but it’s still early. Maybe I’ll write a real update on how I am doing by the end of April.

Along with writing on this blog, reading a book a week and looking for communities I feel like I am doing a lot. I also got myself to two days a week at work and feel really proud of that. It might be over soon. I don’t know how long I can stay there, but I am looking into getting an actual job there, where they pay me a salary and I am employed and stuff like that. I would love that. But hope is still tiny and some of the joy the possibility died down a lot when my mom decided to meddle a little. Not something I feel like I can explain.
She just took part of the narrative around this and around my feelings about this away from me in a context when I had already told her I wasn’t comfortable talking about it. I so need better boundaries with her and my dad. But I am so bad at boundaries (my own mostly). By the time I understand that the boundary was crossed I am usually home again and calling to tell them off is just so much work. I am looking into finding books I can read about boundaries to maybe help me figure out how t o get better at setting them. I’ve finally reach a place where I mostly understand I am allowed to have and set boundaries. The next step of how to do it and how to overcome fear of backlash and how to handle backlash is still a little too far away. But that is also something I am working on. The list keeps growing and my energy and abilities doesn’t. Plus the fact that all though I am fighting my depression (by doing all these things) it’s not magically cured with books and writing and my mental health in general isn’t great. It’s still kind of bad. I think I stopped checking in with it. The status kept being the same. But I am doing the work. Or the work I think I need to do.

I am also working a lot on trauma related to mental health treatments, my parents and those boundaries. The trauma of rape and sexual abuse is not really on the table right now. I don’t have the space to work on it. It also took me a long time to admit, but the trauma of the other stuff, the none-sexual stuff, is for me personally more severe and more stigmatised. I feel like I am allowed to name the rapes as trauma. But my bad experiences with psychologists and psychiatrists are somehow not allowed to be traumas. My undiagnosed autism, my parents not understanding me, the world not understanding me, the demands that I need to be something I am not and that I need to have other reactions and feelings than I do, the constant invalidation and lack of respect or consideration for my experiences and feelings, bordering on gaslighting. Those things are not as clear cut, they are not allowed to be traumas, I am not allowed to have unresolved issues with this. Maybe because there isn’t a clear cut villain.
My parents did the best they could, they were in an impossible situation with my dad’s health problems, my mom trying to hold everything together. Of cause it was easier to tell me to stop being difficult (especially because I understood why they needed me to behave differently and therefore from their perspective it worked to tell me that), than to figure out why I was being difficult.
Some of the psychologists who worked on helping me might have been genuinely nice people who wanted to help make my life better and easier. But getting the wrong diagnosis several times, lack of consent and information, no focus in building trust and my long history of bad experiences made every new encounter with any kind of therapist a new bad experience. A long with a few bad apples who did and said actually harmful things to me. I also might be smart but I am not impervious to confirmation bias. And I spend almost twenty years talking to more different psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, nurses and other therapists than I can count. That is a very big part of my life spend talking to people I didn’t what to talk to, who made me feel worse, that I’ll never get back.

It’s hard to explain exactly how or why these things are traumas. It’s so much easier to point to the sexual abuse and name that the bad thing that happened to me. But I also know it’s not the whole story. I know there are things that feel so much more shameful, so much more scary, things that to me was much more violating than the ways he used my body.

So at the moment I am also spending a lot of time and energy on looking at that. Naming my feelings and what happened and figuring out why it those things hit me so hard. I don’t need a villain to allow my feelings space to exist. I don’t need to name someone else evil to allow myself to acknowledge that my needs were fair and reasonable and that they were not being met. I can allow myself to be angry at my parents and the psychologists and still remember that they did the best they could and that my parents were having very real and very big problems that took precedence. No one knew I was autistic and that if they had known they might have acted differently and I might have gotten actual help and support.

I’ve also been operating with intention vs impact. And am allowing myself to look away from intentions and look more at impact. I’ve been living my whole life feeling like other people intentions were so important, that almost any impact could be excused. But allowing myself to look at impact and not get caught up in intentions allows me to better understand why things hurt, it allows me to acknowledge my own feelings and gives me permission to have boundaries. I don’t have to set myself and my boundaries aside just because someone else have good intentions.

And writing these things brings me back to how I responded to the sexual abuse. I actually let him excuse his abuse with good intentions. He actually told me he hoped sex would help me and that he wasn’t trying to hurt me. And when I thought intentions matters more than impact, I had no real right to be uncomfortable with what he did or be mad at him for it.
I also felt safe with him. I felt protected by him. Not from him, but from something else. From myself perhaps. Or maybe from all the other traumas I my life. Sometimes I think about how messed up a person’s life has to be for them to experience an abusive person who rapes them as the safest place they have ever known. And even now it’s easier to name him the villain, it safer to name his actions trauma, than to name all the rest that hurts inside me as trauma. I’m not saying what he did is ok. I am not saying what he did isn’t serious and bad. I’m just saying with him I know I am allowed to be in pain and not ok with what happened. And I don’t have that with the rest.

And that is what I am working on. Not because I want to name everything a trauma. But because I want the shame and fear and pain to have an outlet. So I will one day be rid of it. And to get that I need to look at it and name it and create space to feel and understand it. That way I think maybe one day I’ll no longer have shame and fear and pain about it. I’ll always have been shaped by it, but I won’t always be hurting and it won’t always mess up my present and my future. I’ll be able to leave what happened in the past. The open wounds will heal and the scars will be beautiful reminders to be kind to others and meet them with understanding and care and curiosity instead of fear and judgement. And they’ll remind me to be aware of both intentions and impacts. Both in others and in my own actions.

In doing this work I recently had an amazing conversation with a friend who listened and acknowledged and told me my feelings made sense. Just that. What I feel makes sense. She would feel the same if she had my experiences. I was so afraid of sounding mad, proper insane, delusional. And here she was. Just taking in what I said and telling me that I wasn’t delusional. I was having a very real and reasonable reaction to something that I couldn’t understand and was trying to protect myself from something that felt dangerous. She didn’t try to fix me or tell me I was wrong. She asked questions in order to try and understand me and then she imagined what I was going through and told me I made sense. Not logical sense, not “what you are telling me is the objective truth” sense. But sense in the way that my reactions and feelings were perfectly clear and reasonable in the context I was in and with the information I had.
Never underestimate the power of doing what she did. It was like this shameful secret of my reactions and feelings no longer had to be shameful. I didn’t have to hide them. She didn’t think less of me and she didn’t believe I was insane because of what I told her. And what a gift that is to give me. I am not done working on the thing I talked to her about. But I am in a much better place to do it. There is less shame, less worry, less fear. And now she knows me better and can understand me better. And that opens up a lot in the communication between us. A new trust has been build. I know I can return to her and feel safe that she will try to understand me and see my perspective, before she introduces me to a new perspective on what I work on. And that, I think, is the key. To trust and understanding and growth.

I am grateful to have such a friend. I am grateful that people like her exist. And I am inspired to keep trying to meet people like that. It might seem like a high standard to set, but a worthy one.

Thank you for your time.

Jace

Letter about looking for communities, faith, love and the big picture.

7th of March 2020

Dear reader

I am not sure what to write today. This week as been hard and exhausting and I am just too tired.

My commitment to spending time with people who have more time and energy for me, is both good and bad. I am seeing people more and that is nice. But I am seeing people who drain me and who are more likely to me feel empty than like my needs are met. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. I am just unsure what the right cause of action is.

I also said yes to this fantasy book club and the first book we had to read was so bad I barely made it through it. I have no desire to read about a male protagonist with no personality who spends an entire book looking with both longing and lust at a woman who spends the story telling him she’s not interested and him trying to figure out how many chivalry points it takes to get her to love him back. Not a single character had personality and the love interest was every “I’m not like other girls”-trope thrown together with a bit of damsel in distress and only seeing her through the eyes of a man who only sees her as an object he can win and not as a person. The plot was thin, the language boring and there were so many inaccuracies that I just got frustrated.

I did spend 7 days not reading at all. So reading this one was a good thing. And it was the 12th book of the year, so I am not behind. But I am hoping I get to only read better things this year. No, actually, it can only get better, because this was definitely as low as it’s gonna get. I so hope the rest of this book club agree with me about this book. Or it might e a very short attempt at joining a book club. But if that’s the case I’m ok with that. I was hoping to spend energy both reading and being more social/look for communities I could join. But doing those two things separately is probably more my thing anyway.

I had also looked into joining a new autism group for teenage girls with autism, to get back to doing volunteer work with kids. But my first meeting with them left me feeling unsure and with a weird feeling about the whole thing. I was told they would write back to me the next day and felt almost relieved when I didn’t hear from them again. But last week I got an email about a new meeting and I honestly don’t know if I should go or not. I want community. I want to make a difference. But the weird feeling from that meeting makes me unsure if this is the place to do that.

And lastly I was invited to join a group at my local church, where I used to volunteer with kids and teenagers. This is a social group for adults and it feels too religious for me. Too much talk of all the answers being in the bible. I don’t like that. And the group leader, a very kind and caring woman, keeps trying to sell me this group as being something it isn’t. I think in part because we are very different people with very different understandings of the words and contexts we are talking about, and in part because she really wants me to join this group. And it’s such a nice group of people. Everyone seems so nice and welcoming and like a good community. And I need community and people and a place to belong. But the times I’ve been there I just feel so out of place and like I’m in the wrong room. And then the bible is brought up and everything feels even worse.

And that is part due to the fact that I have no desire to be religious or only find answers in one book. Another reason is that I recently discovered I lost faith. My faith was never really defined, as anything. I grew up chosing to go to church. I found a place I was welcome and being an autistic person who didn’t know why I felt so different, having people embrace me and make me welcome was important. And back then it was never about faith or religion. I learned some bible stories, but I felt free to question and disbelieve and never felt like anything was forced upon me. This group feels different. The way they talk about the bible and answers and all that makes me so comfortable.

I guess faith used to just be in some higher power, something I couldn’t name or describe, but just something more. And that was enough for a long time. I called this thing I believed in God because the word was as good as any word, and it was a word I grew up with. But I didn’t think of myself as a Christian or religious. I prayed sometimes and it used to be helpful. And then the unjustness of the world, the cruelty of what happens, the inequality, all of that was something I finally looked more into. I always felt it, like a splinter in my mind, but I had just enough privileged to not look at it all the time. But I have been actively looking to understand the world better and the cruelty of it hit me so hard. And I spend a few years being mad at God. Trying to be ok being in this state, so sure my faith would help me through to some new state after that. And instead I one day realised I wasn’t angry any more. The entire idea seem foolish because there was nothing to be mad at.

That feels so sad. A part of me is grieving, a part of me is empty. I do not think my journey with faith is over. I don’t presume this is the final state of things. But it’s my current state. And it might last forever and it might not. All I know is that I have to allow myself to stop and be inside the things I feel and experience and think. If I am always looking at the bigger picture, always looking to have a greater perspective, I lose what I am feeling and experiencing right now. And I need to be better at living in my life and not just thinking about my life. I have to get better at stopping myself from thinking ten steps ahead and allowing myself to live in this step. And in this step faith is dead. And I am sad. Because if I cannot believe in God, there is no God to love me, and then I am not loved.

Somehow love is a theme for me right now. How disconnected I feel from love. How I try to act from a place of love and with acts of love. And how I know some people love me, but their love doesn’t reaches me and their love feels like it’s about them and what they want and need and not about me. And that makes me feel very divorced from their love. Like I have nothing to do with it. Like my needs, my love language, my feelings and experiences are unimportant to their love, because their love is all about what they feel and not about what I am receiving. That makes me think very hard about how I act and speak when I want to give love, because the love I want to give is not about me. It’s about the one receiving it. To me the other person receiving the love is more important than what I feel. By which I am not trying to say my way is better, only that my way is my way, and that I am choosing it in part because of the things that aren’t working for me in the choices of people around me.

I am loved. But I do not feel loved. I am cared about, but feel like no one cares. I have people who want the best for me, but I feel so lonely. I am spending time with people who leave me drained because I cannot bear my own company or my own thoughts any longer. And am keeping busy because I know if I stop, even for a moment the world will crash and burn again. I am not better. My depression not cured, my traumas not healed, my autism not understood, my boundaries are still not up. And the world asks me to carry on and acknowledge all the good that is happening. And I do. I just can’t do that and be in my own body and my own mind or my own life without breaking. Because all the good doesn’t erase all the bad and the more I am only allowed to acknowledge the good, the more the bad weighs on my shoulders. The more alone I feel. The more life has no meaning and death feels like the only honesty left.

I am trying so hard to do my part. To not just be victim of my own mental health. I am trying so hard to pull myself out of all the darkness. But I carry the darkness with me. And there is no room for what I am in the world. There is no room for the things inside me. The parts that hurt. I want to rip them out, with roots and all. And the world tells me I want the impossible. I need space for what I feel, I need someone to look at it with me, someone who’ll be a mirror and help me adjust my thoughts, feelings and experiences of what my pain is.
There is so much I can do myself. And I do it. I promise. I do all the hard work. But there is only so much I can do myself. And even when I do all of it, there are still parts of it I need another human being help me with. That was the hardest thing for me to accept and to allow to be true. I cannot overstate how big getting there was for me. I think we all need a hand to hold through our lives sometimes. I just can’t seem to find a person who can be there for me. And that makes me feel lonely and deeply unworthy of love. I was told last summer that I think I am fantastic. I felt very called out, but had to admit it’s true. I do believe I have a lot of good qualities. My intelligence and kindness, my way of looking at the world, which mostly consist of a willingness to be wrong and an eagerness to learn. I pretty awesome. I have so much good I want to give to the world. But I do not believe I deserve love or that I should be loved. And I certainly don’t feel loved. Loved is probably the most empty thing I hear people tell me I am.

I happen to know one person has been reading along. A person who expresses love for me. A person with faith and with whom I have previously talked about God. To this person I need to say that I don’t need any talk of God for now. If that is the way I am supposed to go, I’ll get there when  I’m ready. That is not now. I can just hear you tell that even if I cannot believe in God I am still loved by him. But that isn’t helpful right now. Right now I need to find my own way in this. And it’ll take a long time, because I think I have a long way to go, and going is slow. Give me time to find out where I am heading. Give me space to find out what might be helpful.
I also want to say that I know this one is hard for you to read. But if I have to think of that I cannot write, so I have to not care. This is my blog, my space, my letters. And I need to allow myself to name what is happening. I need to write. I need to dig all this out and allow myself to look at it. Even when it’s ugly and not the whole truth. And I am sorry this one is hard for you. I am sorry you might be hurt or sad. But I am not going to censor myself even when I know you are reading. And we agreed I shouldn’t. I do hear the love you express for me. I am trying to receive it. And I am failing at that right now. Don’t think who you are or what you do aren’t enough or right or unappreciated. I am just a messed up person trying to navigate a lot of stuff, including a history that doesn’t make it easy to receive what you offer me. I don’t walk around taking other peoples words or actions personally. My intuition tells me it’s only about themselves. And therefore I always feel weird telling other people not to take what I do or say or feel personally, because for me that is a given. But I understand that not everyone sees the world the way I do, so even though I feel weird saying this, please know that me feeling unloved and lonely and all that is just about me. I know there is love out there, but right now I am not capable of receiving it. And just writing this brings be back to bigger picture and perspective and all that, so I’m going to stop myself there.

It’s good to remember big pictures, but I am beginning to understand that I cannot live in the big picture. I miss all the details and all the nuance and most of all I miss right now. I am so good at living in the meta where I think and talk about my life and my thoughts and my experiences and forget to actually be in them. I am dedicating energy to be in them.

It’s only been a few months, but I do feel like I am doing a lot with this year of being more intentional and having a few goals. I wish you dear reader the best with your goals.

I think that’ll be all for today. To whoever is reading out there, take good care of yourself. Thank you for your time.

Jace

Letter – with more thoughts on the return of hope

29th of February 2020

Hi there.

So I was a day late. But I have a good reason. I was celebrating hopes return yesterday. Good company, good conversations and sushi. I even got a small present. But the return of hope is worth celebrating. Even if I still feel wary and uncertain about whether hope will last or not. It feels fragile and small and like it’s still taking root. But it’s there. In my chest. Alive and growing.

Last week, just before I left work, I talked to someone who informed me that a job, a real job, might be possible for me where I work now. Part time, but with the necessary accommodations and with a salary I can live on. Not lots of money, but enough. It’ll still be almost twice what I have now and I won’t be stuck in this in between place where my situation is always uncertain and where I get money from the government because I don’t have a job and everyone knows it’s temporary but no one knows how to help me move on to a job or education. It would be so much more stable for me. So much better. A lot of things would stop being uncertain. I would have an income. I would have work to get up to and know what my life looks like (work and finance wise) in six months. I haven’t had that ever.

The depression didn’t magic itself away. But part of the heavy cloud of darkness, and lack of a future and the complete hopelessness lifted. I felt lighter and happier and more like a real person again. I’ve felt less depressed. Not free of depression. Just less depressed. But there is nothing just about that. That is a big deal to me. The hopelessness has lasted two whole years. I stopped believing in anything resembling a future, and any conversation about any kind of future had me back in bed crying and thinking about suicide. Because I believed there was no future. And now there is the possibility of a future. It’s not like an open door. It’s more like light from a keyhole, promising a door is somewhere nearby. There is no guarantee this door is for me, that I’ll find it, that it will be opened for me. But after years in darkness with no way forward… I don’t even know what words to chose. I’ve been stumbling around for so long, with no direction and no goals. That light gives me something to head toward. All my stubbornness and fight, ambition and drive now has somewhere to go.

I don’t want to think about what the loss of this hope would do to me. I am trying to prepare for it. What if there is no door. What if it’s locked and I won’t be allowed through. So much could still go wrong. This hope feels too fragile. Or maybe I am too fragile. Would I survive losing this hope? Would I break if it doesn’t pan out? Maybe. There is a really good chance that would hit me hard and that I might not be able to come back from that. And I try to use the newfound energy to look for more options and be open to more options.

The greatest part of this is that it supports my own theory of my depression. I am not depressed because of some chemical imbalance in my brain. I am depressed because I am stuck in a bad situation and my brain is reacting very naturally. Telling me something is wrong. Medication cannot fix not having a future or being disconnected from people. What I needed was a future. And I couldn’t give myself that. But someone else could and they did and I feel so much better.
I am so tired of the way depression is approached by doctors and my family and systems that doesn’t understand this exact thing. Last year I read “Lost Connections” by Johann Hari and that is the first time I felt understood and felt like someone else saw depression the same way I see it. It’s a good book, easy to read and so worth taking a look at if anyone is reading along and wants to know more about depression and a different approach to it.

I haven’t been reading so much this week. Which is kind of ok, but not really. I’ve read more than one book a week the last 3 weeks. So I’m not behind on schedule. But in a few weeks I am meating up with a newly started local fantasy book club and I need to read a specific book for that. But I find myself rebelling against the fact that someone chose a book for me. It’s probably not a bad book. It’ll be easily read. I just find myself refusing to start reading it. Hopefully I might begin tonight or tomorrow. Or I might read something else first to get myself reading again. I am just a little sad an disappointed that my really good reading streak broke. I am also sure that I’ll get back to reading soon and that this won’t destroy my “read a book a week” project.

I don’t think I have more to write today. I want to write more, but I am having a slow, wrapped in blankets, good movies, kind of day. And digging into anything more would require feeling something deeper. And today that is not where I am. Any other day I love to dig into all the deeper stuff. But today I am going to just exist in the nice warm feeling yesterdays celebration gave me. And that is enough for me.

If there is anyone reading, I wish you good happy times, lots of things worth celebrating and someone who will celebrate with you in whatever way makes you happy. I hope that someone will give you hope when you need it most and I thank you for giving me a little of your time and attention. I know it’s a limited resource and I feel privileged to receive some of it. Take good care of yourself.

Jace.