Happiness(es)

“It’s OK to say you were happy,” M says.  “I don’t expect you to have been miserable all the time before me.  It’s OK to say you were happy with other women.”

It’s a sudden, strange realisation that she’s right.  It’s very unlikely that I was horribly unhappy, all of the time, in every single one of the half-a-lifetime of relationships before I met her three years ago.  In a buried sort of way, I think remembering the small, happy moments always feels like a betrayal.  When you’re with someone, you’re fully with her, and it’s easy to minimise the good points about anyone else.  It’s the way children behave with their friends: anyone your “very best friend” doesn’t like (even if you do like them) can easily become the absolute worst, in a bid to validate the “very best friendship.”

Hearing, from M, that it doesn’t have to be this way is refreshing, because it allows for a third space.  It’s common for people to say “I wasn’t really in love before; I just thought I was.”  This is said so often and by so many people that it takes on the role of cliche, of myth.  It validates the love you’re in now, by invalidating the love(s) you were in before.  Knowing that M didn’t need this kind of negative validation- that she felt OK, secure, with us- was so reassuring.  It means neither of us need ever lie about our pasts.

I’ve realised that it doesn’t have to be like that.  I love who I’m with.  I am fully immersed in that- in the rightness of that.  I really believe that nothing before has come close to being this good (through my fault, through the fault of others, through no-one’s fault at all).  I have never been so peaceful.  That doesn’t mean I have never been happy before, or that the happiness before was false, or that I never felt any love, of any kind, for anyone else.  One thing (or person) being the best doesn’t mean that every other thing (or person) was the worst.

The brief moments in which I realised this were a swift re-writing of history, a highlighting of the rights amidst the wrongs.  The unhappiness and the horrible moments were not, and cannot be, erased.  I don’t want tinted sunglasses.  But I realised that this history- of rights as well as wrongs, of fun as well as misery- makes me appreciate our present (and future) all the more.  There is less satisfaction in contrasting the negative with the positive, than there is in contrasting the OK with the amazing.

 

Friends

Today I saw a friend I haven’t seen in years.  We grew up together, lived in the same block of flats, went to the same school.  Our paths diverged for a time when I went to a different secondary school.  Then I returned for sixth form, and we picked up as though we had never left off.  It was like that today: time has passed, we are older and a lot has happened, but there was no awkwardness and in some ways it was as though nothing had changed at all.  There are some people I can trust instinctively and we shared details of our lives I wouldn’t have been comfortable divulging to just anyone.  Later on, she met my girlfriend and it was great to see them get on.  Every time my girlfriend meets someone I love, and every time I meet someone she loves, it cements something for me.  Maybe cement isn’t the right word- the material is more flexible than cement, allows for more…

I’ve been thinking a lot about my friendships recently.  Not long ago I made a trip to Canterbury to see some people I haven’t seen in a long time.  Uni friends and “recovery friends”.  Again, it was as if little time had passed.  I came away with a positive feeling that I hadn’t had for a while- the feeling of acceptance that you get with true friendship.  These are people who have seen me at my worst and are now seeing me at my best.  The people who saw me at my worst and didn’t leave me there.  The people I accept unconditionally, and expect nothing from.  In the last couple of years, I have had some difficult experiences in terms of friendship.  People who washed their hands of me as though I were a stain.  People who broke my trust.  People who passed into and then out of my life as lightly as leaves.  That’s how life is.  People come and go.  But some people stay, and those are the people I want and need in my life.

Just Ghosts

“These are just ghosts that broke my heart before I met you”
Laura Marling- Ghosts

Without going into too much detail, I am really happy with someone.  Now and then, old insecurities touch my mind, and I become unreasonable, easily hurt.  Memories of past relationships ghost me.  I recall old dynamics, old patterns of behaviour, and it taints my judgement of what I have before me: something beautiful, something special, something honest.

I believe it’s like that for most people with a relationship history.  It’s hard not to let memories get in the way of the present, not to let old shadows cast themselves in the path of the real.

Once, I was with someone who would say “I’ll be back at six” and roll in at twelve.  Someone who would make me feel secondary to friends, or even acquaintances, and put our plans second sometimes.  It hurt; I’m over it.  I’m not laying blame. I wasn’t blameless.  But I’m with someone now who doesn’t, and wouldn’t, do those things to me.  There have been a couple of instances where I have let the past shade my vision of the present, even broadcast into visions of the future.  It doesn’t have to be like that.

I’m not “in recovery” in the same way any more.  I drink.  I smoke.  I have thought patterns and habits it would be better not to have.  But that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned things about myself.  I am still developing self-respect, cradling the notion that I am worth loving and letting it grow in my arms.  Someone once said to me, “you turn the feeling that you are unloved, into the notion that you are not lovable.”  That is exactly what I did and it took a long time to flip-side that: people do love me and therefore I am worth loving.  And beyond that: even if nobody loved me, that wouldn’t mean I wasn’t worthy.

Like everyone else, I need to stand face-to-face with the ghosts of my past and push them away.  Remember that what happened then is not what is happening now.  Remember that the old saying “history repeats itself” is only true if you let it repeat itself.  Refuse to let it repeat itself.

Insecurity is a horrible thing but I have braced myself against it as though it were just a cold wind, and I am wrapped in many jackets: love, respect, trust and self-belief.  Sometimes it touches my face or my ears and for an instant I am powerless against it but on the whole I am safe.  I know I am safe.

The Swinging Doors

This time last week, I wanted to be dead.  This time this week, I am glad that I’m alive.  What changed?  Well the meds kicked back in, for a start and probably most importantly.  But also importantly, I’ve been surrounded by people who just won’t let me fall  through the cracks, who have got me out for coffee, and called me, and taken me to appointments, and made me feel comfortable.  They’ve made me feel like I’m worth being around. Company can’t stop you being depressed, distraction can’t last forever.  Underneath the smiles the throb of despair still presses against your gums.  But sometimes knowing that people are around you makes a big difference.  I do feel different, today.

What a Result!

5-1 to Holland!  Some beautiful goals were scored, evening out the disaster of the 2010 Cup Final. And, to be fair, a nice save by the Spanish goalie towards the end.  It was a great night.  Spent with family, dinner in the garden and playing with baby cousin before the momentous game.

And all without a beer.

Hup Holland!

Whoever can give me the link between Glasgow’s metro system and the Dutch football team gets a gold star.

god

As I have written here before, I grew up with a strange conception of god.  God is, on the one hand, Jesus the hippie, spreading love and hugs and on the other, a vengeful god who strikes out at his creations and is filled with rage.  I was lucky enough to go to a Primary school whose rules focused more on the positive aspects of god, on the ideas around how best to help others.  But that doesn’t mean it was a guiltless set of rules.  The key part of the Mass for me will always be: “I have greatly sinned, in my thoughts and in my words,in what I have done and in what I have failed to do, through my fault.”  In what I have failed to do.  Let alone worrying about the grievous things we have done, we are to be concerned by our sins of omission.  So, naturally, I have always been concerned with the idea of sin and the ways in which it can apply to my own actions, words, thoughts, failures to act, speak, think.

Since Interaction With Homophobe, I have been thinking (again) about the god topic.  I won’t give god a capital letter or a definite gender for the moment.  I don’t imagine that those things matter much to god.  What I have been thinking goes roughly like this:

The Homophobe said that my upbringing probably contributed to my sexuality.  I thought: Damn right.  I was taught how to love.  Then I thought actually, that’s the point.  My parents are proud of my capacity to love- they are not concerned with whom, or how, I love.  If god can be seen as a parent-like figure, then it stands to reason that god couldn’t care less whom, or how, I love but only that I do.  That it’s important to love.

And there we are.  Stupid comments from homophobes can’t touch me right now, or bring me down, or make me feel guilty. The only things I should feel guilty for are neglects to love right, love properly, fully, selflessly.  I can’t say, not by the longest shot, that I have always loved in those ways, or that I can be proud of every single attempt at loving that I have made.  But I can say that once I do, god and I will be square.  We’ll be fine with each other.  I’ll be fine with myself, too.