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Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Doing Better, Reflecting on Other Stuff Now Too

Today hasn't been too bad. I still get teary-eyed, and I will never stop missing Stimpy, but I feel almost human again. My ex got in touch today to ask how I was. He knows better than most people how attached I was (and still am) to my little boy. My relationship with my ex might seem strange to a lot of people, but we're actually good friends now. We've actually been friends now almost as long as we were a couple.

My ex made a sort of joking comment that referred to my attachment to Stimpy being more than my attachment had been to him - it's an old things we banter about every now and then. It had me doing a bit of self-reflection, though, to see where I'm at as a human being these days. It no longer matters what he thinks about me, specifically - at least not when it comes to that sort of thing - but I do ponder my dating desirability every now and again, seeing as I've been single for more than five years now. I'm not in any grand rush to get involved with anyone or anything. In fact, I don't actually need to be in a relationship at all. It would be nice to have that sort of thing in my life, but only if it's right.

The thing is, I'm not easy to be around for long periods of time. Not because I'm clingy, but for the opposite reason. I have this tendency to make men feel unnecessary. Well, I don't want to be in a relationship with someone because I need them anyway. I don't think it's healthy. I want to be with someone because I enjoy being with them, and I actually want to be around them. I'm as independent as they come. I don't think men and women can be generalized as being certain ways, because I'm nothing like what most people consider to be a woman. I've talked about that plenty in past blogs, so suffice it to say I'm more of an undomesticated tomboy than anything else. For the insecure male that's probably emasculating, too, so it doesn't add much to the non-existent line-up outside my door, but that's a good thing. I'm not attracted to that kind of insecurity. Nobody is always secure and self-confident - we're human after all - but a healthy self-esteem is an attractive quality in anyone.

I live a very solitary life. The things I enjoy doing for both work and play are solitary activities, which means I'm very content by myself for long periods of time. This often makes people feel excluded from my life. Grieving over my ferret these last eight days, I've isolated myself during my worst pain. It's how I deal with it. It's very personal and private when I'm grieving. I can communicate my pain to others (such as in my blog), but the actual grieving is done when I'm alone. So, there again I make people feel like they're not necessary to me, and that applies to men, too. In truth, it feels good to know I have people in my life who care about me and worry when I go through hard times like this, and I'd feel worse if I didn't have them in my life. They can't help me through my pain any other way, though. I simply have to feel it, and move through it.

The comment from my ex today didn't change the way I look at anything about myself. It just made me wonder if anything might have changed in my head. Upon reflection I've learned only that I'm still perfectly content with who I am. Well, at least I'm consistent in my ability and willingness to annoy others. I can only hope that no one has misinterpreted my silence lately. My friends ask if I'm okay, and I answer as best I can, but I can't bring myself to reassure anyone. I don't feel 'alright' and I'm not a dishonest person, so I won't lie and say that I am. I'm not a bridge-leaper, though, so there isn't anything for them to worry about in that respect. I've experienced enough pain in my life to know that it does get better.

I'll be honest and say that nothing has ever hurt me as badly as losing Stimpy. Absolutely nothing. I've been through a lot, and losing him was hands-down the worst thing I've ever felt. I lost eleven people in three years, once. It was a terrible time in my life, but even that doesn't compare. You see, that's the thing about loving a pet and having a real connection with them. You can open up your heart completely, knowing they will never 'cheat' on you, or want to divorce you, or find other women prettier or nicer than you. They will love you just as much as you love them, and usually more so. Their loyalty is absolute. Well, in Stimpy's case I returned that love. Not once in the entire time I had him did I ever get mad at him, or even mildly exasperated. It didn't matter what he did. Of course, for the most part he was a total angel, so it was pretty easy for me to feel that way. Even with Pepper, though, my second ferret, I just don't get mad at him. I'm incapable of it.

I suppose I should feel guilty that I couldn't feel that way about my ex, but there isn't much I can do about it. With people the defenses go up until they've shown they can be trusted to treat your heart with care. That's the way I am, at least. I've never gotten to that point with anyone where I ceded them total trust in everything. I've loved, unconditionally, but I also knew who they were and what areas of my heart they could be trusted with. That's the thing with all humans, though. I trust everyone in the areas in which they can be trusted. Everyone has areas where they are not to be trusted. With some people it's silly things like knowing that if they say they're going to be out for an hour, it's more likely they'll be gone for two. With other people you know they can't be trusted with secrets. It's not necessarily because they're bad people. They just are who they are. You either accept them that way and take your own emotional precautions, you remove them from your life, or you suffer the consequences of being let down.

Nobody is perfect in this world. A friend of mine pointed out a couple of his faults recently so I would be sure to not confuse him with heroic perfection. I had to laugh, seeing as I have far too healthy of a self-esteem to put anyone on a pedestal higher than my own. He was joking around with me, but it's something else that made me ponder humanity recently. I see everyone's flaws very clearly, which includes the aforementioned friend's. I just compare their flaws to their great qualities and see where they sit on the scale. In his case, he happens to balance out far more to the good side, that's all. I've had friends in the past that did not, so it's no surprise that I say they were friends in the past. I don't waste my time keeping people in my life whose qualities don't balance out well.

In a sense, though, if I stop to consider my personal definition of a hero, it would be exactly that. I think ordinary, everyday people can be quite heroic in their ordinary, everyday lives. They can do things that seem so small to them, but are in fact enormously helpful to the person they're doing it for. I think anyone who cares about the people in his or her life ends up doing heroic things for them. Sometimes it's just acknowledging someone's pain and treating it like it's important, instead of brushing it off. Sometimes it's taking someone out for coffee when you see that they need to decompress a bit. Sometimes it's just letting them vent in an e-mail.

The flip-side of that, however, is that the person on the receiving end of the treatment should be decent enough to acknowledge, at least in their own minds, that their friend has done something truly meaningful for them. Real friends don't do something for you for the gratitude, but real friends feel gratitude when their friends do things for them. Hope that doesn't sound too redundant, but there it is.

My daughter and I have this weird relationship where we refuse to let each other say please or thank you. We make a point of being casual and rude, because we think it's funny. We call each other names and laugh about it, but if we weren't as close as we are we would not be able to do those thing without hurting each other. Neither of us misinterprets it. It's part of our schtick, if you will. Neither of us misinterprets when the other is truly angry, either, but again that's because we're as close as we are. My daughter's an adult, and we share an apartment (along with the bills), so it's a damn good thing we get along as well as we do. She's been my closest human friend for years now, and I'll be eternally grateful for that. She's been my hero, and I know there have been times she's felt the same toward me.

Stimpy was (and still is) my hero, too. For five years he was steadfast and true, doing whatever he could to bring me joy. I'll never stop grieving for him and missing him, but maybe I'm ready to stop wallowing, mired in my grief. I don't know for certain. I haven't been sleeping much. Yesterday, on the one-week 'anniversary' of his death, I was a disaster, and it had been more than 48 hours since I'd slept. I finally crashed for a couple of hours in the evening, but I've been up since then. My head is more than a little fuzzy - to be expected. I'm used to sleep deprivation, but it does have an impact on my emotions. They swing more widely. I can be numb from feeling like I'm brain-dead, or I can be overly emotional. Having that mix with the grief means I'm not sure where my head is really at. Only time will tell, and time is also the only thing that will help.

In the meantime, life still happens around me. I still have the cold I got a few weeks ago, or at least the cough and rough voice that are left over from it. I don't have the congestion anymore. Lack of sleep isn't helping me get over the cold, but the cough isn't helping the lack of sleep either. There was one day where I'd slept for ten minutes and then woke up hacking. Couldn't fall back to sleep after that. Still spend far too much time coughing until I feel like I'm going to throw up (yes, I've done that before - yes, it bites).

My daughter actually took two days off work because of her cold, and she's normally a very reliable employee - never late, never sick. Then the following week we lost Stimpy, so she called in that day, too, knowing she wasn't going to be able to hold it together. She's only been at this job a couple of months, so it doesn't look good, but what can you do? As I said, life still happens. There are things you just can't control. Cold germs don't care if you're new at your job, and neither does cancer. When they hired her, though, her previous experience was with a place where she'd worked for them for a total of five years, so her work history shows she has a good track record. She left them when she went to college and they hired her back the second she walked in the door and asked if they needed anyone. It wasn't until we moved that she quit and was unemployed for any length of time. Now she's working her butt off at a grocery store.

You can probably tell that I'm proud of my daughter. I'm lucky to be surrounded by great people right now. A great daughter, a great ex-husband who turned into a great friend, great co-workers who are also great friends, great writing colleagues who turned into great friends. I may not be feeling the greatest, but I'm thankful for the ones who have been acting the greatest. Now, before I start sounding like Tony the Tiger with all these 'greats' I'm going to go grab my Pepper and give him a cuddle. He's conked out right now, which is what ferrets do for many hours of their days and nights, so he'll be much easier to hold onto. Once he wakes up he'll be squirming out of my arms, as is his wont, so I'm taking advantage of his sleepiness while I've got the chance!