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on the need to grieve the loss of a shiny, optimistic future to climate change. to take care of ourselves and each other. to accept loss. and to build compassionate, resilient communities, with the ingenuity to face dark times ahead.

December 11, 2017 3 comments
i wrote this quickly as a comment to a post re climate change. i’ve been thinking about this for a few months, and have had a few chats with people about it, but i’m still working things through. it seems almost blasphemous amongst activist circles, and probably mainstream, to talk about grief re climate change. like that is just accepting the status quo rather than acting to avert it.
 
06-770x425but i don’t think we have a choice. i think we need to let ourselves grieve, support each other in doing that, and recognise that we do have a major loss – the loss of the future we thought we had.
 
that is important to do because we are all human, all precious and special and deserving of care.
 
additionally, we need to be functional for the months and years and decades ahead. not still attached to our non-existant shiney future, like someone never moving on from a relationship breakup or bereavement. we need to accept that loss, and carry it with us as we take care of ourselves, our communities, all humanity, all life on this planet. we are at the beginning of a roller coaster ride and it is frightening and will require all of our ingenuity, resources, compassion, integrity and courage for us to make the best of a terrifying world. i know we’re all grasping for silver linings – here am i stopping my kneejerk grasp for an uplifting sentence but i need to fight that urge. grieving is not easy – that person is never coming back. it hurts like a punch to the gut, over and over, but then somehow you get through that. somehow the other side of grief is a life you can start reconstructing – always changed by that profound loss, but not always defined and constrained by it. and so must we, humanity, be.
 
***
 
benchmani think its not only ok, but necessary (imho) to grieve the loss of the future we were brought up to believe we had. and just like any loss – a relationship breakup, a loved one dying, a health diagnosis – going through sorrow and other elements of grieving sucks and hurts.
 
i look at people who have best adjusted to those losses, and i notice acceptance. they grieved, and they held that loss, and are able to keep living. those who have lost but not accepted, those still clinging to their dead loved one, or ex relationship, they seem in the worst way.
 
i do think we have to, probably all of us alive today, go through grief for the loss of a healthy planet, a bright future. i don’t think that’s wallowing. i think its painful and hard and feels terrifying.
 
yes we can and should do all we can to mitigate climate change, to organise our communities to be resilient and compassionate, to do what we can in the here and now for those facing horrific material and other insults; migrants facing militarised racist borders, disabled people and others facing universal credit and benefit cuts, those in palestine mown down for existing, just for some examples.
 
i don’t think that grieving is an option any more. i think refusing to allow ourselves to is negatively affecting our mental health and our ability to make progressive change. i think we need to be there for each other, to hold each other whilst we cry, to listen to each other’s pain and fear in a massage circle of emotional support. this is how we will build any kind of liveable world. denial is blunting us.
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Grieving/disassociation

March 3, 2017 1 comment

There were 2 funerals this week that I’d have liked to have attended. Well, ideally I’d have liked that neither of them happened…

One was an old family friend. The other an old friend. But both were in Southern England and I couldn’t travel down so close to stuff I had already committed to without becoming even more rundown.

Wish I had though. I think being with others that knew those who died would have been good. And I wish I’d been able to do right by the friends who died.

The funeral today was of Simon Chapman, who I’ve known since 2001. It hasn’t sunk in at all that he’s dead. He was young (?42) and someone I was always happy to see, though that only happened when we were at same events (london anarchist bookfair and after parties mostly). He was always good for a hug, and usually had a smart, funny commentary on whatever was going on. He had a warm, gentle kindness – happy when good things happened to others, whilst simultaneously sarcastic with a dry wit.

I can feel the grief starting to well up. The sadness of someone I liked and who I’d shared some intense experiences with no longer being alive. And that connecting to other, equally unprocessed grief for those other friends who have died. And I can’t deal with that. Or at least I don’t. I push it down, numb myself, disassociate rather than let those scary sad feelings have their power and fill me. I know its counter productive. I know I need to let them out. Sometimes I wish I was one of those people that didn’t have a choice but to feel and express emotions.

I’ve only been to a couple of funerals – maybe 3? I didn’t feel anything at any of them – being around other people makes me numb up even more. So maybe its good I didn’t go to Simon’s funeral.

I’d hate for anyone to think I didn’t care about the deceased, and yet I won’t be showing any emotion, because I won’t be feeling any. Just this weird fog and unrealness. The best I can describe it is its like being sleep deprived when everything is dreamlike and doesn’t feel real. That’s how it is for me almost all the time.

I’m trying to get my feelings back, but part of that will mean facing the scary, hard, bad, sad ones which I’ve buried for so long. Allowing myself to actually feel grief rather than push it down away. And there is so much grief hiding down there. As part of operation feel again (during a peer / co-counselling session where I focus on trying to feel whatever I need to at the time) I had a big cry couple months ago about the 5000 people who died last year crossing the mediterranean trying to find refuge in Europe. This world is so fucked up no wonder my brain decides its safer not to feel anything at all (including good things) than let myself feel this pain.

Anyway, Simon is dead and that fucking sucks because he was nice and I liked him. And even just saying those words hurts and I probably should full-on grieve and accept the pain and then get to the healing stage. As it is I’m still mostly at the pissed off with him stage tbh.

Categories: personal

restarting a diary on this blog

January 28, 2017 Leave a comment

Today I bumped into an old friend in that awesome way of Glasgow – meeting pals in saramago, purveyor of Glasgow’s finest chocolate cake, evolved into an extended hangout including free gin and tonic, lots of cake, soup and seeing several different friends over the afternoon/evening. And then unplanned stop off at project cafe on way home for some surprisingly good open mic music and poetry. Anyway one of the old friends has left facebook for all the good reasons we all should and nudged me about this blog and that reminded me that I keep meaning to use it more.

Apparently its not super annoying that mostly what I write here is livejournal-esque navel gazing, and anyway, its not like me writing here is forcing anyone to read it or otherwise attention/time stealing, so I’ll try not to feel guilty that it feels a bit narcissistic to be writing so much from my first person.

I think I might actually write about some aspects of my life that maybe are of more general interest but aren’t overtly political – I tend to write political stuff anyway but often on more overtly political mediums. So I’ll try and write more about :

  • how i do “relationships” – terms might include solo polyamory, relationship anarchy, off escalator, but i often prefer plain old “ethical non-monogamy”.
  • travel-logging. partly this is because as a female bodied person who travels alone and in unconventional modes, i find it heartening, inspiring and most importantly emboldening to read of similar others so i want to add to that. but mostly its because i have really cool adventures and experiences but a terrible memory so i want to be able to read back and go, “oh yeah, that was amazing!”
  • finding/creating ways to be and do judaism that accord with my world views (i tend to write this already, and i want to keep this up)
  • being a nurse and ideas about healthcare
  • living in glasgow, and figuring out what i want from home – both in terms of my personal nest and the city within which that is currently set.
  • whatever i’ve been up to in a given week – i’ll try and write at least once a week (self discipline and all that) but if i don’t have anything more general to blether about, i’ll just start from what i’ve been up to.

again – whether anyone reads this or not is not important – writing helps me figure stuff out and gives me something to refer back to when my memory fails me again. though i’d be lying if i said my ego doesn’t like it when folks tell me they enjoy reading this shit.

i guess this post is a kind of warning – if you read this blog what you are getting is a stream of consciousness that aims to be unapologetically first person – you ain’t gonna get any passive voice pseudo objectivity/universality here, unless i want to try out some ideas that seem to suit that format.

here goes!

Categories: diary, personal

love/hate rships with airports. goodbye dear lover until next time.

July 22, 2016 1 comment

I live a “solo poly” existence. I choose not to have a “primary partner”. I choose not to live with a partner, or orbit my life around their’s. I’ve tried it and it doesn’t suit me at all. I love like I live – independent and freewheeling and with a few very deep very dear connections. Those deepest connections are primarily not people I happen to have a sexual/romantic connection with at the moment, though I tend to remain close to those I have had that kind of interaction with, because affection and care and love and connection are more permanent than whether or not sexy things feel right between folks at any particular time.

Anyway, today one of my closest folks and lovers, left after a wonderful 3 week visit. As the cab took me away from the airport, I acutely felt the separation. I felt hate for the plane that was shortly to take him even further from me. After such an concentrated togetherness, sharing intensely spacetime, deep companionship and nsfw activities, suddenly my partner in crime is no longer next to me.

We’ve talked about whether we should reorganise our lives to be geographically closer, but that wouldn’t work for us.

We meet and part at airports. I like that we both travel alone enough, and watch other folks being met, that being met ourselves feels like such a treat. Going to the airport is part of the ritual of our relationship. Hugs and passionate kisses at arrivals, later mirrored at the departure security check. In 4 different countries so far, on 3 continents. Sweet coming together. Never will we take time together for granted. The preciousness of waking up together for those weeks.

I’ve been planning for postdeparture and have nice things lined up for a few days. Tonight I’m going to have fun with a friend, tomorrow is a social gathering, Monday star trek in 3D. Self care ftw. I’m ok with the way our relationship is. I miss him because we have such a good connection and I’d rather have that and miss it than not. We miss each other because we are the people that we are, each with full lives and interests and desires and therefore don’t want to just give up all of that to live together, even if either of us were fixed enough in one place for the other to move there.

But damned if I didn’t hate that plane that was physically moving us away from each other.

Categories: diary, personal, poly Tags: , ,

The other side of the coin

April 20, 2016 Leave a comment

Feeling sooo rough. And its a gorgeous day outside, but can’t face it. Managed outside a small amount yesterday, but was tough.

What happened? I way overdid it at the weekend. Best laid plans and all that – I had planned on taking it easy on Friday night as was away for a 4 day festival, where the 3rd night, Saturday, is always the biggy… however spontaneously took up a friend’s offer lateish on Friday evening, and that, on top of Thursday night’s session pretty much wrecked me as I still went for the party on Saturday night, crashed early (well, from about 3am) but was determined to keep dancing (the music was amazing!) so went for the caffeine and ended up a jittery and unable to sleep mess. Which wrecked my Sunday and still feeling terrible.

So, why did it happen? Because I tend to say yes, spontaneously, to almost anything! I’m up for random adventures, new things, fun, new experiences etc. And that spontaneity does have its negative effects, as those around me Sunday can attest, and I was in full-on regret mode (because I also lost out on dancing Sunday, and had a less good weekend than I wanted/needed) when I remembered how I also lost a lot of money, and that this was similar.

So, in the late 1990s I was working for a company that floated on the nasdaq and I ended up with share options in it, which I exercised, but then was lax about doing anything to reclaim the tax which I’d been erroneously charged by USA IRS. Why? Because at that point I had enough money to live on, and I’m not very financially focused. I managed to eek out this money plus the savings I’d made when working for couple years of budget living / travel, only running out end of 2003.

I just don’t really value the material very much. I do get uncomfortable when in debt, so avoid that as I find it stressful, but otherwise I just don’t make decisions around it. And the time in my life when I was earning the most (4 years of working as a programmer) reinforced how unrelated money (as long as I have my basic needs covered) is to how happy and meaningful my life is. I’ve been super broke. I’ve been homeless multiple times. I’ve had to sleep in squats, in homeless accommodation, or sofa surfed (the worst of the lot imo) and eaten out of rubbish bins. It wasn’t always fun, to put it mildly. It could be very cold. I’ve been hungry and desperate. But I’m not there now. I have sorted my life out so that I do have a roof and electricity and money for food. I haven’t been that poor since 2004 and I’m very happy about that.

But beyond that, I really don’t take money highly into account when deciding whether or not to do a thing. I know I can survive on very little – I’d prefer not to, but its a much smaller preference than, for example, going somewhere I’ve not been before, or helping someone out, or having a meaningful life, or having fun.

That was all context for what happened a few years ago when I was saving up to travel and I remembered that the USA IRS owed me a couple thousand dollars. They’d (incorrectly) taxed me on the nasdaq shares, despite me not being USA tax payer. So, I went along to the IRS department at the USA embassy in London to reclaim it. The woman there was super nice and helpful, but when we checked the dates (from emails when I’d cashed in the shares) she told me (she was gutted!) that it was too late and past their time limit for refunding me the tax. She tried super hard to figure a way round it, but there was nothing – I’d basically handed a bunch of money to the USA government to spend on bombs and had left it too late to get it back.

I managed to hold myself together to walk a block from Grosvener Square and then collapsed into a doorway and wept, raging at myself. How could I have been so stupid and incompetent? I kicked myself over and over. Why had I done this? And the answer came – because I don’t care enough about money and so had allowed this particular TODO to be squeezed out by all the rest I’d been doing over the years. And actually I’d never prioritised money when making life decisions and that has led to an incredibly awesome, full, meaningful life. Sure, at times like this it sucked really fucking hard, but that was the unavoidable other side of the exact same coin which had made my life so rich and wholesome.

I was still upset, but somehow felt better and more that it wasn’t completely inexplicable and stupid that I’d lost all this money. I know my biases a bit better so am better able to account for them in future, and be aware that I might need to put extra checks into place if I’m in a similar situation when I need to do x in order to sort something financial out.

And so with this. Yes I had less fun over the weekend than I wanted, and yes I feel horrible now because I spontaneously said yes to a friend on Friday night, but oh wow has my life been full of adventures and experiences exactly because that is my tendency!

Now I’m gonna go force myself to go out on my bike and enjoy the sun. Because last year I thought that riding from Land’s End to John o’Groats sounded like a fun adventure, and so I did it even though it made no sense financially, nor was I adequately prepared for it, and now I am a cycleholic with another great journey in my life.

Next time though, I need to be careful that I don’t overdo it when I’m partying and be aware that I will tend to say “yes” and that I need some kind of check to make sure that really is what I want to do :)

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End of Saturday night, and just about still smiling!