Saturday, March 9, 2019

The Art of Noise

So yeah, it's been a pretty eventful couple of weeks for me.

I'll take some calm now, thankyouverymuch.

And, yes, I know the... excitement... was all drummed up by me.
I've been doing a lot of thinking recently, a lot of introspection. There's a buzzword that's floating around everywhere right now... Mindfulness.

I'm trying to practice a lot of mindfulness.

What does that mean? Well, the dictionary definition says it's the "basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us."

The problem with that definition is that I'm not sure it's so basic. Sure, we all have the ability but it takes work.

After Dad died, I went through a period immediately after of BEING FINE, DAMN IT. That was pretty much my response to everyone and everything, including myself. I am fine. I have my life back after being a caretaker for years. I can do anything I want now. My life is free and mine again. I am fine, I am fine, I am fine...
I was not fine and I didn't even realize it. I lied to myself and it caught up with me. I went from stubbornly being fine to being... nothing.

Numb. Everything was just replaced by numbness. I know now that I was suicidal. I didn't have any plans to off myself or anything like that, I just didn't want to exist anymore. I found myself without a purpose in living and I thought that life was worthless without that. All of my feelings were just replaced by numbness.

What happened to get me out of that, or to even make me realize something was wrong? I wish I had an answer for that. Time, maybe? The numb started to give way to pain and I felt it acutely, physically as well as mentally. Hiding it wasn't possible and I didn't even really try. People around me saw it... it was raw and showed on my face and in my actions every second of every day.

I got a lot of support, a lot of kindness, but it didn't help. I needed help.

I went to therapy and it was life-changing due to a few simple words.

The therapist sat and listened to me... all the words, all the pain, all the tears. I sobbed and sobbed and let it all out. Once I started talking and crying, I couldn't stop.

And she told me something that sounds so simple now but, hell, it was something I never once considered.
She told me to be kind to myself.

She told me to stop being so hard on myself.

I believed I was a failure. I'd failed at so many things... I failed at being there when Dad died, I failed at being a complete woman because I didn't have my own family, I failed at being healthy and thin and perfect. I failed at having a job that paid a lot of money.

I failed, I failed, I failed, I failed and I was a failure.

I'd never said those words aloud before, not even to myself, but I felt them deep in my core.

It took a stranger, my therapist, on my very first visit, to tell me I wasn't. To tell me to just cut myself some damn slack and look at all the things I haven't failed at, and all the things I thought I failed at, and see some truths.

And I did.

And that's when my mindfulness journey began.

It's not been a smooth road, or a perfect road, or an easy road. I don't think it's a basic ability. I think it's something you have to work at and recognize and learn. You have to look deep within yourself, and then turn that outwards and see how you affect those around you.

And accept tripping up sometimes. I've done that recently, but I'll get to that.

You have to look at who you are, inside, and question whether or not that is the person you want to be. You have to look at who you are and what impact you have on other people.

It's not always good, folks. The impact I have on others is not always good and that's a hard pill to swallow.

I bet it's hard for you, too, isn't it? Because none of us are perfect.

Mindfulness, to me, is accepting that, as well as looking, hard, at the things I can do to change how I impact people, or in some cases, letting it go because the damage is too much to heal.

And forgiving myself for that.

So how do I reach my mindfulness? I'm sure it's different for different people, but for me, it's discovering ASMR.

What's that, you ask? It stands for autonomous sensory median response.
So what the hell does that mean? It's a sensation... a tingling sensation brought about by certain sounds. It's mildly euphoric, and starts in the ears and spreads through the body.

Not everyone can experience ASMR. For some people, it just doesn't happen... there are no triggers. I thought I was one of those people for a while because the most common trigger sounds absolutely repulsed me.

And that's one of the curses of ASMR... there are a zillion triggers and some of them are good, and some of them are bad.

Mouth triggers absolutely turn my stomach. Whispering, mouth clicking and smacking, eating... all of those make me want to stab myself in the ears so I never ever have to hear them again.

But for many people, those are amazing. To me, they're like nails on a chalk board.

My big trigger, I've discovered, is sizzling. Not like food frying sizzling, but... god, hearing hair brushing or shampooing. That does it for me. That SO does it for me. Every night, I sit on the couch or lie in bed with my earbuds in, and pull up the videos on YouTube or playlists on Spotify and it takes me the fuck away.

What happens when I reach that state? Oh, the tingles... those fucking tingles. I listen to mostly binaural sounds... two mics set up to record so that when you listen back with earbuds, it's as if you are feeling everything. You know how it feels when you go to the salon and they wash your hair, or when someone scratches your back. It's that, for me.
Is it sexual? A bit, yeah. More sensual, maybe. I mean, essentially you're experiencing the feeling of being touched, and that's always a bit erotic, isn't it? Like there is nothing sexual about getting a professional massage, but still... you are naked on a table and someone is rubbing you from head to toe. Apologies to all the LMTs out there who bristle at the suggestion of their profession being sexual in any way, but... hell, being touched feels good. Feels really good, and the euphoric, tingling sensations don't just stop before reaching our erogenous zones. No, the tingles reach everywhere... the nipples, the clit, and for men, I assume they feel it in their cocks and probably their perineum.

But for me, ASMR takes it a bit deeper. Not quite to subspace, but it's similar for those of you in the BDSM world. After the initial rush, my brain settles into introspection, and it's a different type of introspection than how I usually get into my head and overthink things.

This is more a sense of clarity. It's that mindfulness I seek. It's not about pain or pleasure. It's about reality. I'm not sure this will make any sense at all, but it's almost like stepping outside myself in order to be able to see into myself.
It's where I both forgive myself for my true failures, as well as understanding that not all perceived failures are true failures.

It's where I forgive myself for not being there when Dad died because I needed some sleep. And also forgiving my sister for not calling me when it became clear the time was at hand, and also posting it on Facebook before calling me. I can be angry about that, still, and also forgive her because, firstly, I love her, and secondly, because I know she was alone with him and in shock. She didn't mean to hurt me and I won't make her pay for that forever because what good does that do?

It's where I forgive myself, forgive others, and also where I get absolutely clarity that I need to ask for forgiveness from others for things I have absolutely fucked up, and to also accept that I won't always receive that forgiveness, and that's okay, too. No one owes me forgiveness.

My mindfulness isn't about beating myself up. It's about learning, both the good things about myself as well as the bad, and learning to manage those, and learning that there will always be stumbles but that that only means that I failed at an action or response, not that I failed as a human.

So, yeah... mindfulness.

I did some bad things in the past few weeks. I reacted badly, I spoke badly, I behaved badly, and I hurt people, period, full stop.
I've forgiven myself, though I won't stop learning from it.

I've been forgiven, but I won't stop being aware of how I affect others.

And, yes, I've also most decidedly not been forgiven by some, and I accept and respect that choice.

I also accepted love and contentment and stopped fighting an internal battle over what I want and need. I've opened myself up to being loved by someone else, truly loved, and let myself love him just as much.

And I respect and understand that that love is deep and unique and will only be between the two of us, but that it doesn't mean I also can't and won't love others, because I will. It's who I am and fighting against my own nature is ultimately destructive, and not just to me.

I can meet someone and love them in an instant, and that, my friends, is the very picture of a blessing and a curse. It's wonderful that I can feel so much love, but it's an absolute horror that I have to fucking beat people over the head with my love. YOU WILL LET ME LOVE YOU, DAMN IT! 

I smother people with it, and then get hurt and lash out when they don't return that same love immediately in the same overbearing way I do. It's the INFJ in me. My nature, my instinct, tells me that I need to bring all the love I can into the world, whether people want it or not.

This is what I'm working on now. No two people love the same way and it's disrespectful of me to try to force my way upon anyone else. Ultimately, the way I love hurts others, and myself. 

This is... a bit of an epiphany to me, maybe. But I'm working on it. I know it's something I will need to work on forever. I won't stop loving, but I have to manage the way I love.
I like who I am. I don't always like things I do, and I don't always control them well. Those are facts. Accepting that, and also accepting that I can learn, and need to learn, and will never stop learning, how to be a better person, has brought some peace to my soul.

And I deserve that. We all do. Well, most of us do. There are some people who I believe are genuinely bad, but I think those numbers are low. I believe most of us, at the very core of our being, the heart of who we are, are good people with flaws.

Being alive is good. That doesn't mean that every second will be filled with bliss, nor should it be. How can we appreciate the good times if we never experience bad times?

But at the end of the day, being alive is a blessing, and it can be unexpectedly snatched from us at any moment. We should appreciate who we are because tomorrow we might not... be.

Let yourself be in the moment. Appreciate it for what it is. Learn. Never, ever stop learning.

And don't stop loving, either. Yourself and others. Manage it the best you can.

And be kind to yourself.

That's my own life lesson.

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