Hickster

BPD series: a case study

“Vanilla, please tell me. You’ve been sitting next to me, crying for 2.5 hours straight. What is going on?”

Gotta hand it to ICB. My go-to gal, Allie, is out of town. Yesterday, I needed a safe space to feel seen and accepted. ICB was my substitute. Unphased, he played video games as I curled up next to him on the couch and cried and cried and cried and cried until my skin on my nose gave way to red sand paper. 3 times ICB asked me what was going on, 3 times I couldn’t find my words.

So here we go.


Remember Applefriend? Dude whose innocent remark catapulted me headlong into the brutal depression that had me end up on a waiting list to see a psychiatrist. Long-time reader of my blog, familiar with my BPD struggles, confidante. To answer the question most of y’all are too polite to ask, no, there isn’t and never was anything between us. Strictly platonic, guy is married with 2 kids. For all I know, he prefers cats over dogs. Life has thrown a lot at him, but he maintains a deep positivity in all things. He firmly believes in his agency.

On Friday, we were talking about a situation (Situation X) I am living through that I am finding very upsetting. I’ve spoken to him at length about it, often sounding like a broken record. As is happens, Situation X triggers many of my insecurities about people’s perception of me, my worth and my value, yup, you guessed it, it has been the cause of much paranoia and cognitive distortion. Add to that my general collapse of identity since my Borderline diagnosis, Situation X has been a source of a lot of confusion and heartburn to me over the past weeks. On Friday, Applefriend took it upon himself to try coach me, because, he tells me, BPD is highly coachable. Only problem? I do not particularly want to be coached at the moment. I want to feel supported. To be heard. To be reassured that I am NOT living moments of paranoia and cognitive distortion, and gentle suggestions when it sounds like I might be. I am a broken record, it is true, but suck it up buttercup. I need my friends to just be there for me. To Applefriend, being there for me meant a serious attempt at psychoanalysing me. Trying to understand why Situation X upset me SOOOOOOOOO much. Why I was stuck in the past SOOOOOOOOO much. Why I couldn’t move on. Why I had no goals. Why I didn’t believe in myself. Why I kept blaming BPD. “Vanilla, you have such a victim complex, you can’t keep blaming BPD for these aspects about you.”

Actually, yes I can. I spent my WHOLE DAMN LIFE not knowing what I have, thinking there is something bizarre about me that if I just tried harder would somehow make everything right. Its been 5 months since I have a legit explanation about why I am the way I am, why I react so damn much, why I am so sensitive, why I seemingly always push away through my behaviors those who matter the most. It all makes sense now. I have an explanation, finally, thou shalt not strip me of it. An explanation is not an excuse. But 5 months, after struggling with something for 33.5 years, isn’t much. I might have the explanation, I definitely don’t have the solution yet. Back off, give me time to figure this out. And FFS, don’t try fix me. I am not some pet project.

At some point, on Friday, I stopped answering Applefriend’s texts. I’d hit my annoyance threshold, didn’t want to pick a fight over his clumsy but well meaning efforts to snap me out of my month-long episode/depression. Applefriend called me 40 minutes later, freaking out. How could I go radio silent in a convo about how bad I am doing, when I’ve previously said that I have an exit strategy. He was worried! I found it cute, and funny. Tried explaining that I am not suicidal. At all. I just have a more pronounced awareness of my exit strategy than I do when things are all shiny and rosy. Applefriend didn’t find it cute or funny. He was mad that I’d caused him to worry.

On Monday night, Applefriend texted me, wanting an update on how some of the developments of Situation X were going. I’ll save y’all the play by play, and give you an executive summary instead.

7:30pm – Vanilla gives factual update and expresses sadness and grief/shame at the developing Situation X.

7:32pm – AF begins offering advice. “Every situation is only an opportunity”

7:33pm to 7:42pm – Vanilla tries to justify why she is entitled to feel what she feels in light of the developments of Situation X.

Cue the catalyst to the situation going very very very sideways.

7:50pm – AF writes “… But I do think you need to be extremely aware of your own influences and how you impacted Situation X. Don’t pretend you were a victim in this, otherwise you’ll never become better”

7:51pm to 8:01pm – Vanilla tries to explain that her awareness of her contribution in no way diminishes her capacity for being very very upset about the outcome. “I don’t want advice. I want the space to be upset.”

At this point I am crying so hard I call up ICB to ask if I can show up chez lui for cuddles and acceptance. From 8:11pm – 8:23pm, the dead end gets deader.

AF: Oh boy. How to engage your enthusiasm without fully supporting your approach… There’s a balance Vanilla. It’s not one or the other or you’re fully vindicated or they are. It’s in the middle.

Vanilla: AF, I am not asking for that. You asked me how my day went. You told me I was wrong to be emotional about the update that occurred.

AF: Ok.

Vanilla: And when I explained why I am so emotional right now, bc I am going through this and it makes me feel a certain way…

AF: Fine, its fine.

Vanilla: You try to get me to understand how I am partially responsible for the situation.

AF: I’ll stop offering.

Vanilla: But it’s not offering. It’s telling me I am wrong to feel how I feel. I wasn’t asking for you to endorse me. I was explaining why I am upset and how I feel. And you basically told me I was wrong to feel how I feel. Where I am wrong is if I act on it. But that isn’t what I was doing. I was explaining why I feel all this negative shit.

AF: Misunderstanding. All good.

This is the point where I should have stopped. It was clearly a well meaning attempt at a conversation gone sideways, no harm intended. I needed to walk away. Instead, from 8:23pm to 8:43pm, I wrote another 361 words to AF’s 123 rehashing the same thing damn thing. At 8:45pm, I showed up at ICB’s. Crying. Took off my coat. Crying. 8:46pm. Please note that we have now been hammering away at this dead end conversation for 76 minutes.

AF: You’re being too emotional. Like it matters.

Vanilla: It matters to me. I gave everything and it wasn’t enough.

AF: Look, you don’t get it. It’s fine. I get the wanting like what you did was valuable.

Vanilla; It’s the only thing I care about.

AF: But reality is… it’s irrelevant. It changes nothing for the future.

Vanilla: Ok. So let me be upset about THAT. It’s like my whole understanding of my life got ripped out from under me.

AF: You need to focus your attention and energy on the future.

Vanilla: I don’t care about the future.

AF: Why?

Vanilla: I need time to recover from all that’s happened.

AF: Lol, Jesus Vanilla. Ok. But I don’t agree.

Vanilla: That’s nice. More telling me how wrong I am.

AF: Lol. Look.

Vanilla: I get you think you are somehow being helpful. But you are just invalidating me even more. And it’s confusing because you claim to be on my side.

AF: Do you what you want, feel how you need to feel, but don’t ask me to be a pawn. It’s frustrating and I feel culpable.

Vanilla: I am not!!! You asked me how my day went. And then proceeded to tell me how everything I feel is wrong. I didn’t ask you to be anything.

AF: I did and you offered what you said like I would just be an autobot.

Vanilla: AF, If I can’t share my reality with you, I won’t.

AF: Reality???

Vanilla: This is my reality. My feelings are my reality.

AF: WTF. Look, you live in my reality. We share the same one.

Vanilla: No we don’t. When you ask me how I feel, I am gonna share how I feel. I don’t want fixing. I am not asking you to be anything.

AF: Sorry, you’re being crazy right now.

Vanilla: You thinking I am asking you to be a pawn is all on you.

AF: Trust me, this isn’t normal.

Vanilla: And you telling me I am crazy is definitely not helpful.

AF: You need to take a step back. And go to sleep. And talk tomorrow.

Vanilla: You need to explain how any of this was helpful.

AF: Tomorrow, you’ll re read and understand.

Vanilla: What did you hope to accomplish by asking me how it went if you wanted to then explain to me how I am wrong?

AF: Honestly, I am super supportive, always. But you aren’t being rational right now. Seriously. It’s not me. Go sleep and re read it tomorrow. If you disagree tomorrow, fine. Then I’m a horrible person.

Vanilla: No. I’m just saying you invalidated my feelings. And I don’t understand why you would ask me about them if it was just to say how I was incorrect to feel them. I didn’t say you were horrible. And I still don’t see how you feel I could ask you to be a pawn when I wasn’t asking anything. But now I am left with shame, more confusion, and someone telling me I am crazy and irrational for trying to explain why this convo went sideways.

AF: Vanilla, honestly, you’re being way too literal. I’m telling you, your answers from my perspective are why I think you’re not on the right element. Just take a step back, nothing I’ve said was anything but supportive. It’s not a constructive conversation. It’s me offering opinions and being attacked for being someone with an opinion regardless of why. Your normal self wouldn’t say those things. This isn’t healthy right now. So my suggestion is you ignore all of this for now, when you’re ready, engage me.

Vanilla: (thumbs up emoji)

9:15pm. Conversation over. I felt as dazed and confused as the time I got an ass-whooping in boxing so bad Coach had to throw the other boxer out of the ring, bc I was helpless against the ropes, hands down, crying as my opponent pummeled me. How did I get here? Why does AppleFriend sound almost verbatim like Hickster in the midst of our most vicious fights? Did I just have my first big noticeable meltdown with someone other than Hickster or ICB? But how tho? I just wanted to be allowed to express how I feel. Why was that so wrong? Why did I need fixing? Why do I have to justify that my feelings are legit? Am I crazy? I’ve never been called crazy by anyone other than Hickster before, when he is in a rage and trying to wound me. I don’t think Applefriend was making a cheap shot. Rereading it, it sounds like he genuinely believes I lost my grip on reality – my border moved mighty close to that border line – during that convo. Did it? Why can’t I tell? Am I really so out of touch about my impact on people, that they feel the need to let me know my behaviour is irrational, crazy, not normal?


Am I crazy?


At midnight, I began telling my story to ICB. Still crying, as he patted my head, murmuring “There there, no, you aren’t crazy, you just feel things too hard. No, you are not crazy. You can get through this. You will learn to let things go. Not crazy.”

At 12:45, still crying, I left ICB, the poor boy was dead tired and had a big day ahead of him.

At 2am, I fell asleep. Still crying.


I’ve spent the day in a fog, stunned by the conversation. Unable to answer the question:

Am I crazy?

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That time my dating life was an Instagram meme

3 weeks ago, I was chatting with ICB, asking him how his day had been. “Not bad, I went to see a friend. We had a bunch of shit we needed to talk through and clear up. I’m glad we did, we both feel better now”. Oh really? Now, in French, there are feminine and masculine declensions for nouns. Ami and amie are both friendly peeps, but one of them has a penis and the other boobs. Amie is the boob-variety type. So ICB went to see a female friend in order to have some sort of argument. Well then. To my brain, it was a slam dunk: he used to fuck this Amie and this argument was to clear up that they weren’t headed to a relationship. OB-VI. I mean. Come on. Don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure this one out. Athletico, Beaut and Hickster all shared the same fuckboy dictionary. Amie is synonymous with non-platonic fuck friend. (The “non-platonic fuck” is silent #properpronunciation.) 3 guys, 3 series of devastating surprises, 1 definition.

I didn’t lose my shit on ICB. It was tempting, but instead I did breathing exercises, cried a little bit, did some more breathing exercises, told myself I had no reason not to trust him. Just because he had been fucking her before didn’t mean he was fucking her now. It sounded in fact like this was a talk to really wrap things up, distill any situationship type uncertainties. That was a good thing, the kinda thing I’d come to expect from ICB who’s never disrespected me. I was ok with the Amie. I didn’t need to ask questions that were none of my business.

10 days later I asked ICB questions that were none of my business.

It turns out that their fight had nothing to do with them fucking, and everything to do with worrisome self-destructive behaviour she was engaging in. Oh. No fucking? No fucking, why? Lalalala I didn’t hear your question, let’s move on. No fucking. Why?!

So I explained that the word Amie is forever tainted. My brain is aware of the Merriam-Webster definition of friend, but my body and my heart know the fuckboy version of friend. It’s a physical reaction. It’s an unfair one, but it’s the result of 5 years of gaslighting. I can’t fight it. But Vanilla, I’m not them. I’m me. ICB. I’m not them, you can’t react to them, you have to react to meBruh, you’re right. I’m trying.


It was bound to happen, I suppose.

Yesterday I noticed a girl commenting on one of ICB’s posts, using a term of endearment that just happens to be the same one I call him. So I clicked on her profile, and down the rabbit hole I went. Pretty: check. A model: check. Good at selfies: check. Professional pics where she looks beautiful: check. Pics with no makeup where she looks even better: check. Tasteful sideboob: check. ICB like every single one of them. I stopped checking when I got as far back as July.

Do I think they are fucking? No, not really. She isn’t all over his page, yet. But… ICB hasn’t liked a single one of my instagram pics. The funny ones. The sexy ones. The photography ones. Nada. I am pretty sure the last time he liked one of my Facebook posts was in July. I don’t think he has ever liked one of my blog posts, even tho he dutifully reads wtv I send him. But he had time to like 3 month’s worth of pics of some girl’s IG profile.


The hurt was nauseating. All the symptoms that were common with Hickster resurfaced. The shaking hands, the uncontrollable crying, the urge to howl away my pain, the dread of a coworker walking by and seeing my miserable anguished meltdown.


After my last fight with Hickster, a 45 minute screaming match during which I lost my voice from yelling in a busy downtown metro station in the middle of rush hour, I’ve cut all ties with him, completely. Deleted and blocked him and most of his friends from my social media and every possible means of communication. They do not exist. I cannot find them via search, nor they me. Every reminder of Hickster has been flushed from my life. All the unfinished and unresolved business issues? Too bad. I’ve cut my losses. Could I have pursued and maybe eventually won? Maybe, but it was killing me. Not a hyperbole. Frankly, I’ve really really blossomed in the weeks since I’ve cut him out of my life. I might have known before that drama and happiness are mutually exclusive, but peace? My god, the bliss. Not having to ignore that feeling of dread every time I checked my phone – what would I find? Another mean, belittling text? Silence? An impersonal business question? 7 missed calls and an angry voicemail? I am free from all of that.

But I am not healed. My peace is not coming from a place of forgiveness or love. It is coming from the ability to ignore both Hickster’s existence and any reminder of my unresolved wounds. My impulse upon discovering ICB’s IG liking spree was to ghost him. To just walk away. I didn’t want to have to work through the disappointment, or talk about this with him. Just too hard. Much easier to bounce and add him to the list of things I won’t ever think about again because they hurt and make me sad.

It’s great discovering one is a coward. Annoying too, because now that I am aware of my cowardice, I gotta knuckle down and face this situation properly.


But Vanilla, I’m not them. I’m me. ICB. I’m not them, you can’t react to them, you have to react to me. 

That is true. As far as hurtful things go, ICB’s IG like-bonanza was a small relatively harmless moment in time. His motivation was probably nothing more than an appreciation for a friend’s newly discovered and very well curated IG profile. He’s not a thirsty dude. He is respectful. He would never, EVER voluntarily hurt me. ICB is no asshole. But the fact of the matter is, the list of things that matter more than I do is a long one. Top of mind, I am not. And from there, it is a very small step till I am back in the overwhelming ache of “I am not enough.”

Now that I’ve mostly sorted through what is the ICB-specific hurt and the unhealed tsunami of wounds-past… mostly I am just tired. And sad. I feel so much sorrow for the permanent deep scars the men in my life have inflicted upon me. Men I loved. Deeply. My bad for having given them so much of myself when they didn’t deserve it… but damn. I gave them love, time, money, energy, health. They gave me back brokenness. To this day, I’ll defend them as not being all bad. But it makes me sad, so very sad, to accept that this happened to me… because I let it.

They treated me as not enough, because I let them. I did not believe I am enough. I hoped with each one that if I just stuck it out, tried harder to show them just how worthy I was, maybe, maybe, they would find me enough.

They didn’t.

Here I am, left with brokenness, baggage and non-existent coping techniques. Self-inflicted, through my desperation to be seen, acknowledged and loved.


Part of me feels very silly. Here I am writing a long post about the hurt I feel bc of some IG stalking I did, and imma post it because I can’t not get this off my chest. I’ll eventually bring this to ICB’s attention. Or I won’t. Either way, it’s passive aggressive AF, but I can’t do better. This is gonna be a fight that is gonna be so silly. A fight about Instagram likes. How petty can I be?

Well…

Petty enough to say “I won’t accept this. This is not enough.”

Phase 6 feels like mourning and confusion

My godmama cornered me at a recent family gathering.

Sweetheart, I read your blog because your god-sisters tell me when they think I need to be aware of what you are going through. It make me so sad to know that you have such a big sadness. Tell me what I can say to make it better, I wish I knew. I know you are having a hard time right now, but the only advice I can give you is: don’t worry about the forest. Focus on the trees. Just take one thing at a time. Tell yourself, ‘I can’t handle this thing right now, so I will work on this other easier and smaller thing and make it better. I know I need to fix this third thing, but I’m not strong enough right now, so that will have to wait and that’s ok. Instead I’ll take care of this little thing.” One tree at a time, sweetheart, bit by bit, that is how forests are made. It breaks my heart, sweetheart, that you are feeling so sad. Please, please just remember that we are a phone call away and that we love you. I wish I knew what to say to make it better.

That’s a godmama, right there.

I tried to tell her that I know she loves me, and it comforts me. But at the moment, I just can’t show up. I’m exhausted, and I’m trying so hard. All my energy is consumed trying to salvage my career and fight my brain. Knowing that she and my close friends and family are a phone call away sustains me. But other than concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other, building up my career, and then attacking one by one the trees that need fixing in my life, I have no energy for anyone or anything else.


For reasons that are not relevant to this blog, I am still in contact with Hickster. There are some loose ends we are trying to take care of, which involve us communicating with one another far more often than never.

Before my diagnosis, especially from November to January, Hickster and I were locked in a pissing contest to see who could hurt the other more. He was soooooooooo frustrated with my constant tears, yelling meltdowns and screaming matches. He would dish out 3-10x as good as he’d get, warning me “you mess with me, I’ll make sure you never try that shit again”. We were the ultimate case study for a toxic destructive relationship. I’d rage at him that he was an ungrateful coward who couldn’t recognize everything I’d done for him, and he’d reply, “You can’t see what I’ve done for you. Who else would put up with your social awkwardness and your tantrums and tears. You’re a fucking child who doesn’t know how to behave. There is a reason why people find you so hard to love. I have moderated your odd quirks and made it easier for people to accept you and like you. You think I don’t value you? I’m still here despite you acting like a spoiled brat drama queen all the time. Nobody else would put up with your exhausting bullshit. Grow up.”

#romance101

February, I got my prelim diagnosis. I begged Hickster to reach a truce in our warring, while I was on the waiting list to see a psychiatrist and sort out my shit. I was sick, sicker than I’d ever realized and I didn’t have the energy to fight him anymore, not when I was losing the battle against my brain. I had nothing left in me. For about a week, he refused to accept the diagnosis, telling me I just needed to learn to control my emotions. Classic reaction of someone who doesn’t accept mental health issues. The warring continued. I thought I would drown in my own tears.

One day, something switched. Hickster saw me. He saw me trapped in my own misery during a conversation. Since then, he listens and can flag in my voice if I’m sliding down own of my paranoid tunnels, experiencing an episode of cognitive distortion. He stops short the conversation, “Vanilla it isn’t you talking right now, it is your sick brain. You are upset, I see that, but we have to finish this conversation later once you are better. Or else your brain will say something to hurt me, and I will say shit I don’t mean, you know my temper. Let’s just wait till you are better. No, Vanilla. Don’t insist. I have a relationship with you and I have an entirely different one with your brain. I need to manage both.” I assumed at first he was manipulating me. Except rather than use my brain as an excuse to avoid the difficult conversations we needed to have, he checks in periodically to assess my mood, and when he feels I am clear-headed, he DOES have the painful, complicated convos we need to have. Almost overnight, the fighting has stopped. We are closing out the loose ends I thought would choke me to death.

It has been disorienting to have Hickster switch from being the guy that almost broke me to someone I can trust to protect me against myself. To be clear: this doesn’t absolve him of all the incredible bullshit he did during our time together. He was an asshole, sometimes still is. But whereas for the longest time I felt unseen, unacknowledged, and devalued, here he is, for the 2nd month running, seeing me better than I see myself. Even though we are dealing with the shitty aftermath of a relationship, he is still showing up. I hear the echo of all the times he told me “You think I don’t value you? I’m still here despite you acting like a spoiled brat drama queen all the time. Nobody else would put up with your exhausting bullshit.” I wonder, now. How much of that was abusive demeaning talk, and how much of it was actually true? He is attempting to fix some of the messes he made in my life even though we are done. He talks to the real Vanilla, the one he always cared for, and has taken on the considerable burden of managing my sick brain. I am grateful for that, because I need all the help managing it.

I feel so much grief. I wonder how many of our fights could have been avoided had we known about the extent and gravity of my condition. How much unnecessary scar tissue we could have saved ourselves. I don’t doubt for a second that Hickster and I were doomed from the start, regardless of my mental health state, because we both are very broken individuals in incompatible ways. But it seems such a waste to have inflicted SO many scars on one another because of my unmanaged condition and unmanageable emotions. I wonder how many other romantic relationships and friendships could not bear that burden and caved or faded. I wonder. I remember some of the fights I had with my ex, over the 6 years of our relationship, the number of times he told me I was exhausting, he couldn’t get through to me, I was vortex of despair. Again, I don’t think we would have ended up happily married, but I mourn how hard I made it for him. How hard I’ve made it for the people in my life, and how many I pushed out of my life.

The real Vanilla wants to love these people, wants to show up, wants to be. But I can’t most days. I fail them, despite my best efforts.

#mentalhealthisbullshit


Recap of this recent battle with depression:

Creatures of the underworld can’t afford to love

But Vanilla… why do you go for such LOSERS?

I gravitate towards ppl that I can relate to – the broken ones trying to overcome their struggles, whether external or self-inflicted. While my friends all have their shit together, successfully adulting and don’t ever make me feel judged, I don’t want to sleep with any of them. I’m attracted to the complex and the tricky. Unfortunately, complex, tricky and broken individuals, while fascinating, are rarely capable of kindness and empathy bc they are too busy trying to work through their own demons. And so I break even more, and my shadow celebrates.


June: During my annual bday workation in France, I ran into one of a North American coworker, and we went for drinks with other coworkers. That night, NACo met professional Vanilla, which is the best version of Vanilla: smart, sassy, charming, authentic, with integrity and drive. A good evening.

July: One week-day, in the middle of the afternoon, I got a phone call from Hickster. Hickster is Hickster – swept me off my feet, without warning. One is never sure what the outcome will be: like a hurricane, he sometimes strips away superfluous stuff, revealing underlying beauty that got muddled by life’s modifications and sometimes inflicts deep wounds and scars. On this July day, the conversation went sour, fast. I sought refuge in a nearby conference room, to spare my coworkers the distraction of overhearing a vicious, petty fight. Mid-fight, NACo walked in: unbeknownst to me, he was visiting our Mtl offices as he is wont to do regularly, and was using the conference room as his temporary office. He paused in the doorway, shocked by my tear-stained face. I tried to end the convo with Hickster, who was too busy ranting to realize we’d been interrupted. NACo whisked himself out of the room, and I wrapped up the fight, mortified.

Later that day, NACo came by my desk, “Is everything alright? Don’t answer that. But if I may: in all my years experience, it is never warranted to let anything or anyone upset you that much. Nothing in any area of your life should dim your joy, fix it so it doesn’t. And if you need help fixing it, find the people that will help you and be sure to ask them for help.”

August: NACo was back in our offices, set himself up in the same conference room, near my desk. I was working late one night, when Hickster called me. A normal conversation until I blinked and Hickster displayed his mean side. I never could handle mean – I cave and cry. And cry I did, listening to Hickster’s diatribe of how I’d slighted him. NACo sauntered up to my desk, I believe to ask me to join him and some other managers for a night cap. Seeing my tears, he left me my privacy. We did not mention it when we saw each other the next day.

September: Another NACo visit. He looked rather apprehensive when he saw me, no doubt anticipating the moment I’d morph into an unstoppable fire hydrant of tears. With every day that I behaved with typical professional decorum, he relaxed. On the last day of his stay, in an avuncular manner, he asked me whether everything was good, at work and in life? Yes? Good.

Traumatizing coworkers by hysterical and sudden meltdowns, due to an inability to keep my personal life under control: NOT a recommended approach to being noticed at work.


Tuesday afternoon. Phone call from Hickster. I could tell from the moment I answered that it would be a bad one. There’s no point avoiding them: he calls repeatedly, leaves upsetting voice notes and texts that echo in my head and make me feel dizzy from hurt. I naively believed that if I appealed to the Good Hickster, Broken Hickster would subside. Broken Hickster did not subside. I took the call in the parking lot, hidden from my coworkers. It was a short and brutal call. I felt something break in me – no matter what I did, or how much I showed I cared, it would never be enough. Good Hickster had skipped town, and Broken Hickster enjoyed bullying me.

For 45 minutes, I hid in that parking lot, unable to stop the tears of shame and grief, worried that my absence would be noticed, yet too distraught to sneak back into the office. I noticed I had a missed call from CSD (update: he is back at the office, periodically runs 10k, and is kicking ass. He celebrated his birthday this weekend, a poignant moment, given that doctors had told him in the spring that without a liver transplant, his odds of surviving till September were slim. What a dude!) I called CSD back, still sobbing, and asked if could he pretend he wasn’t talking to Emotional Vanilla, but talk to Kickass-Accountant Vanilla about wtv work issue he wanted to talk about, to distract me until I’d calmed down? Without skipping a beat or asking me to explain, he did. We discussed operational vs financial issues, strategy and approach, and after 20 minutes, I was all fired up and ready to fix all the problems of my company, my face still red, but more Bad-case-of-Allergies red, not OMG-my-entire-family-and-my-dog-got-hit-by-a-bus red. I thanked CSD for not thinking any less of me professionally when clearly my personal life was a trainwreck. “Don’t mention it. Everyone has shit going on. I would never judge you. Sides, I know you’ll fix this, your way, some day.”  


But Vanilla, why do you go for such losers?

Because I am a creature of the underworld. This time last year, I was ending things with Beaut. I think back fondly on the quaint dysfunction of that relationship, now. #perspective

In all my years experience, it is never warranted to let anything, or anyone, upset you that much. Nothing should dim your joy, and if it is, fix it so it doesn’t. And if you need help fixing it, find the people that will help you and be sure to ask them for help.

It took me 3 months to apply NACo ‘s words of wisdom. Better late than never. Too shaken by the end of wtv-it-is you call the interactions with someone who mattered but never had an official title, I needed someone to kindly nudge me along.

If Oprah says so, it must be true.

The show must go on

Moulin Rouge. Baz Luhrmann’s fantastical take on the novel La Dame aux Camélias & the opera La Traviata (my favorite opera). Nicole Kidman’s character is a blazée, beautiful cancan dancer who falls in love with a penniless but respectable writer (Ewan McGregor). Practical considerations (money) trap her in her lifestyle, subject to the patronage of a vain, occasionally violent, jealous, rich Duke. The decision to renounce her true love leads to heartache, and misery. She finally breaks free from the Duke only to die in Ewan’s arms from tuberculosis, contracted from a previous client.

Moulin Rouge is a movie about “truth, beauty, freedom and love“. It is also about the struggle to achieve each of those virtues, in the face of Life’s propensity to repeatedly sucker punch all of us. Those who dared to dream in this movie were rewarded by heartbreak or death. Watching it at 15 years old, I was swept away by the romantic pathos of it all. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that it is a very melancholy movie, albeit delightfully packaged with style, humor and dramatic flair. One particular scene that is not frequently cited (unlike Jim Broadbent singing Like a Virgin, or the brilliant/disturbing Roxanne scene) has always haunted me. It is the moment when Nicole Kidman gives up her fragile belief in her right to happiness.

Zigler: You’re dying, Satine. You’re dying. (…)

Satine: I was a fool to believe, a fool to believe. It all ends today. Yes, it all ends today.

Zigler: (…) You are a great actress Satine, make him believe you don’t love him. Use your talent to save him. Hurt him to save him. There is no other way. The show must go on, Satine. We’re creatures of the underworld. We can’t afford to love.

Satine & Zigler: Today’s a day when dreaming ends.

Zigler: Another hero. Another mindless crime, behind the curtain in the pantomime. On and on, does anybody know what we are living for? Whatever happened? We leave it all to chance. Another heartache, another failed romance. On and on, does anybody know what we are living for? The show must go on, the show must go on. Outside the dawn is breaking on the stage that holds our final destiny. The show must go on, the show must go on!

Satine: Inside my heart is breaking, my make-up may be flaking but my smile still stays on.

Zigler: The show must go on. The show must go on.

Satine: I’ll top the bill. I’ll earn the kill. I have to find the will to carry on with the show.

Zigler : The show must go on.

 

Watching it, 16 years ago, I felt an odd recognition – this scene captures how I see life.

“Inside my heart is breaking, my make-up may be flaking but my smile still stays on.” 

I didn’t know at 17 years old that my shadow would turn out to be my constant companion. But I did know how to appear normal, even though I felt anything but normal on the inside, like my heart was about to split open from the sadness it carried. As I’ve gotten older, this has become even more true: I’ve become an excellent actress so as to avoid vulnerability: nobody asks questions when it looks like you got your shit together.

“We’re creatures of the underworld. We can’t afford to love.”

A coworker asked me recently, after a few too many beers, “Vanilla, this is going to sound awful, I can’t find the words to phrase this properly, but you are a beautiful, sexy, smart, accomplished professional, with an amazing life ahead of you… why do you go for such losers in your dating life? Why don’t you find somebody with the same life situation as you?” My coworker was referring to Athletico, Beaut and Hickster. I pointed out that each one, although not as educated as me, nor pursuing a traditional corporate lifestyle, had risen to the top of his respective field, and was respected for his athletic track record; any athlete that can successfully monetize their skills has street smarts, dedication, perseverance, talent and work ethic. So however terrible their grammatical skills, they can not be fairly labeled losers when it comes to their careers. But my coworker didn’t mean that. He meant that they are living trainwrecks and haven’t mastered the concept of honesty.

It’s taken me months to figure out why I gravitate to these guys, and why I feel so alive in the boxing and dancing world. I belong. These guys all have good streaks, so much of their characters is worthy of admiration and respect. But they also have this dark side to them, and they are caught up in the struggle of their two sides. Often their dark side wins, causing them to act in ways that is harmful to themselves and those around them. I get that. Every day is an internal struggle -against my ADD, my shadow and the lazy, mean, irresponsible and cowardly Vanilla that constantly undermines the hard work of good, kind and sweet Vanilla. So many of my friends and coworkers appear to have mastered the whole adulting concept, lives cleanly scrubbed and responsible; while I kinda wish I could adult like them, I also know that I’d hate it. I love/hate the struggle, but it is my struggle. It proves to me I am alive. These men that struggle and periodically fail at realizing their best selves makes me feel less different. I relate. I too am a creature of the underworld.

“On and on, does anybody know what we are living for? Whatever happened? We leave it all to chance.”

I haven’t found my purpose. I drift through life, too exhausted by the fight against my shadow to dream, or pursue proactively my happiness.

“The show must go on.”


Disclaimer: I know my posts sometimes alarm my readers, especially friends and family. My funk is still firmly in place, but it is not spiraling out of control: I’ll take treading water over being swept willy-nilly by the current of depression. I’m doing my best to fight it, but it’s hard. I promise I am trying.

Recap of the current funk:

A valuable lesson

Back in Feb, I was having coffee with Dynamo, and I brought him up to speed concerning my trainwreck dating life.

I’d recently experienced a few moments with Beaut that had led me to believe that perhaps, maybe, with caution, we could sustain a friendship. Dynamo listened to me in silence, and then gravely spoke:

So this is what you are gonna do. You are going to unfriend him from social media, block him, and never talk to him again. He lied to you. He has lied to others. He has repeatedly shown that he will hurt you as a side-effect to him getting something he wants. He can have all the good quantities you describe, all that is true. You have forgiven him, bc you should not hold hatred in your heart. But he is not a good friend. And so he deserves nothing from you. No time, no energy, no space in your life. That isn’t being a drama queen, that is choosing to control the levels of drama and happiness in your life. To chose happiness you MUST not choose drama.

I mourned the end of a chapter in my life that, while tumultuous, had triggered so much personal growth and discovery for me. I was a better person because of Beaut – how sad that I couldn’t benefit from all the advantages he’d generated with him as a part of my life. But Dynamo is wise, and has built a life for himself that I respect and admire. If he tells me something, it’s worth considering.

I followed Dynamo’s orders and blocked Beaut. My stress levels improved almost immediately, and have continued to steadily improve ever since. I’m free.

Dynamo wasn’t done. He had lots to say about my recent string of dates, including Hickster, Eurodude, Older Guy.

I think it is time you question what you want in your life. If you want happiness, why are you accepting guys that won’t bring you happiness in your life? Happiness is a choice, and is contingent on the alignment of the values you hold dear and your own behaviour. The Vanilla I met in 2009 would not have accepted these guys in her life, bc they do not align with her values.

Have your values changed? Because your quest for happiness has not, so make sure your behaviour is reflective of that. I don’t think it is.

Ouch. From my best friend. Hearing that suuuuuuuuuucked. He was right. I’d been settling for dead-end, fun, convenient dating scenarios, with no long-term potential, and usually a whole lot of drama, that inevitably distracted me from my goals of well-being and joy.

A few weeks later, cue my almost burnout and a need for an immediate vacation, and off I went to Paris/Dubai.

I have often stated that the Universe is a bit of a dick, with a fucked-up sense of humour. Well, not this time: the timing of this life lesson was just perfect. If I step back and look at the theme of this trip, it is that of Love and Friendship: both new (FroMan, Energizer and Sunshiney), old (BlondEyes) and dear (BossMan and IronSweetie). There was no drama. There was no insecurity. There was overwhelming happiness and connection and joy. Why? Because of the ppl in my life, willing and capable of sharing themselves beautifully with me, and I with them.

This trip spoiled me. I don’t wanna settle for any less happiness with my friends and dating life than what I experienced in Dubai. Frankly, I don’t think I can settle again: anything less will be too little, when compared to the joy I felt during those 8 days.

Dynamo, as always, was right.


Recap of this trip – Dubai:

18 hours in the life of a single girl

Friday night: the art of turning down a date

I had a rough week emotionally, yeah? This and this and this.

Friday morning, I was exhausted as soon as I opened my eyes. In exchange for fulfilling my adulting obligations of going to work, I promised myself that I’d spend a quiet evening at home doing laundry, sipping on some locally brewed cider and reading a book. I couldn’t wait. After a useless day at the office (#braindead), I got stuck in endless traffic – cementing my resolve to be a Friday-night hermit. By 7pm, groceries were done, PJs and fluffy pink slippers adorned me and I was all set to win ALL of the dance-offs against myself to Ed Sheeran’s Shape of you.

The phone rang as I was starting the washing machine. I declined the call.

The phone rang again – same dude – as I was cracking open my first bottle of cider. I declined the call, texting Dude1, “You’re pocket dialing me.” He replied, “No, you idiot, I don’t pocket dial twice in a row. PICK UP.” So of course, instead of picking up, I finished prepping my load of laundry. Then I hydrated myself with cider. THEN I called back Dude1 (#priorities); he was inviting me last minute to join him for foodstuffs and drinks.

In case y’all were wondering, it is impossible to diplomatically tell a guy “I’m turning you down because I prefer doing my laundry.

Ooops?

#IreallyenjoyedmyGrandmaFridaynighttho

#Itotallykilledthosedanceoffs

Saturday morning: how to unsexify sexting

Saturday mornings = savage workouts with Coach Dr. Booté. One simply does not mess around with Coach and his workouts. If he requests the pleasure of our presence at a certain hour, we show up. On time. Ready to go. That is just how it works with Coach. #bossyman

So, it stands to reason that despite finding myself in the midst of a rather successful sexting session with Hickster, when the clock chimed 11am, I told Hickster I had to go workout. He requested I send him a naughty pic in exchange for my impending silence. I apologetically refused: no time, no way I would risk Coach’s wrath! I suggested Hickster use his imagination or the internet instead, bc I’m helpful like that.

Giggling, I told Coach and the boys what had just happened. The reactions included:

  • “Who sexts at 11am?”
  • “Who doesn’t sext at 11am?”
  • “So you just gave a guy blue balls by text?”
  • “Of COURSE you shouldn’t be late to MY workouts. Clearly, this bro doesn’t realize that MY workouts are the reason you have a sextable booté in the first place. He needs to learn.”

One of the guys suggested that I send a “dirty” video of me all hot and sweaty working out like an Amazon, lifting heavy shit. “Hey baby, this is what you meant, right? I’m so dirty. And I can whoop your ass. Bye!”

Hickster didn’t find it hilarious. Hihi.

#ittakesavillagetounsexifysexting


Because sharing is caring, behold Vanilla’s dirty videos:

And another, by which time I’d forgotten the stated objective of the videos, bc I was consumed by the pain of my burning muscles.