the power of obligation

Last month, I was contacted by three people I would rather not have engaged with, but I did so anyway. Why?

 

An obligation, I suppose you could say. All three of these people were folks I’d had a habit of chatting with quite frequently and excitedly at some point in the past. At a later date, all three made me feel not OK in major ways for reasons that I’ll refrain from getting into detail here.

Somehow, I felt that I would or could make things worse by not saying anything in response to their contact, in case they didn’t understand why I didn’t want to be contacted (even though I communicated to each of them what was amiss). Our past interactions inspired me to respond, too.

 

 

There’s a sense of finality in breaking ties with people, whether it’s speaking to them less, or going your own way, online, offline or both. It can make things uncomfortable if you have friends in common, and/or frequent similar social circles. It can cast a shadow over anyone’s day.

Untitledexcite

Not breaking ties is tempting. It’s an ‘engage anyway’ button that a good chunk of folks tend to push perhaps without fully realising it, and it almost always comes at a cost to the one pushing it.

 

 

When folks do something wrong, there can be an assumption in play that we should just carry on as though nothing has happened, and move on. That it’s not worth the bother. I’m trying fiercely to break this habit, at least in the sense that I don’t speak up when something’s not quite right.

Part of moving on for me involves dealing with the thing, if it’s within my ability to. At the very least, I want those around me to acknowledge they’re aware of it. I would want to know if I mucked something up so I could fix it, if possible. (I am very aware not everyone shares this feeling.)

At best, the problem lies within a simple miscommunication that can be smoothed out if and when all parties involved are receptive to talking about it. At worst, one side shuts down when such news is being relayed, which usually leads to resentment, questioning safety, and other negatives.

 

 

Practice does not necessarily make perfect, but it should make better in a number of cases.

It’s rough finding ways to let people know you’re not OK, especially if you’re seen by others as a person who is relatively strong of will and/or are used to going a lot of things alone. Keep this in mind: even strong people can break when you think that they’re merely bending.

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August ’07, Indianapolis

Please consider being receptive to constructive criticism, even if it’s just to allow the person giving the criticism space, and to give you space to mull the information over awhile. Even if they’re parting words, and even if it hurts. Within that hurt is the opportunity to learn. We’re works in progress, and it’d be foolhardy to assume we’ve got it all figured out.

Please also tell yourself – maybe more than once – that it’s alright to disengage when you feel it necessary, nostalgia be damned. Holding onto memories of the good times serves little purpose if it’s being invoked during repeats of harmful behaviour, whether said behaviour is intended or not.

 

One obligation we have and often forget is the obligation to ourselves, to our hearts and to our well-being. Those obligations are simply not possible to fulfill if we keep offensive actions in our lives.

Part III in a personal blog series about interactions on the internet.

Part II: https://kungfulasers.com/2014/04/03/possession/

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take a chance

Going away for the last half of December made me feel the most middle class I’ve ever been. (I grew up in a middle class family, but I had no concept of such things then.) Running off to somewhere appealing to most, given a full pass to be absent from routine and free to be in intense like with unfamiliar shiny surroundings. That’s not my reality!

It’s been a week since I’ve returned to the States, and I still haven’t fully recovered. I certainly can’t deny I hop and skip off rather a lot, but I’ve never done so for 17 days.

 

Choosing Vancouver was easy. It’s far enough away to feel somewhat detached from Seattle life and culture for a spell, yet reachable without removing a hard chunk of the day solely for travel. Navigating in Vancouver city proper seems simpler, and I’ve been very lucky in finding folks there to connect with. It’s where I welcomed the new year.

31 Dec ’12, East Van

The fall and winter are very introspective times for me. Both seasons are riddled with holidays that are vital for friends, family and spirit. It’s worth mentioning that the latter part of the year affected myself and people around me more than we could’ve imagined.

Each year we cling to the hope that we’ve done better than the year previous, and naturally look forward for relief from whatever plagued us in the year we’re completing.

If I can analyse my year without feeling anything beyond the average layer of guilt or insecurities I have just by being a living human being, I’d cautiously call it a success.

I haven’t made up my mind about 2012. Could be that I never will.

While I was away, I took comfort in late night walks to my temporary home from Skytrain stations, with fog and frost as my companions. I decided that I had places I delighted in defaulting to (Bandidas Taqueria on Commercial Drive & Rhizome Cafe on E Broadway) because the spaces felt welcoming without being intrusive. I was a busy bird indeed.

These are illegal in the United States!
This ban may be reviewed soon.

I tend to go a little mad on food items while there — sometimes it’s restaurants, often it’s staying in with a crony and putting love into homemade items or stuff from a local shop. This makes sense because the area has a lot available that we in Seattle haven’t got.

I don’t make a habit of visiting tourist spots when I go off adventuring. I’ve not been to Stanley Park, haven’t perused Vancouver’s glorious aquarium (I’ll admit a mild interest). I’ve seen the Dr Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, but I’m unaware if that’s a popular destination. My goal is to glean as much of the local experience as possible.

My visits are immensely fulfilling. Something about the last one made me take on a task I hadn’t done in years — writing thank you notes to chosen family up north. I put pen to paper and shared my gratitude. Being given the liberty to roam in a city not your own with or without friends is a gift. Gifts should be acknowledged if you’re moved to do so.

2013 is well underway. As soon as I returned, I assumed the role of doing All the Things in my work (save for model jobs, for the moment) and making greater strides to connect with people here in Washington state. I haven’t stopped much to rest, as I should.

Here’s part of why: if there’s anything that being up in BC for that long taught me, it’s that you shouldn’t hesitate to let people you treasure know they’re special, even if and perhaps especially if there’s been a lull in activity. As a pal said once, “take a chance.”

steady breathing

Florida is a very strange state. As far as I know, the MSM doesn’t do much to prove otherwise, with what I read of bizarre crimes and even more puzzling methods of state government.

I have taken several trips to Florida, as north as Fort Lauderdale and as south as Key West, with a main focus in Miami. Due to an intensely passionate long-term relationship, it got to a point where Miami crossed my mind when I considered a place to move to from Los Angeles.

I ended up with my first choice of Washington state, and in the process broke the strong ties I had binding me to Florida in any way. I was really quite firm in thinking I would not return.

Three years plus later, here I am, doing some remarkable stuff. I got over my negative mentality enough to book a flight and see people I value more than letting the past prevail.

Someone I’ve been online friends with for several years met me in Pensacola, spent the entire day with me and another gal of note I’d not seen for at least most of those aforementioned several years. It was an effortless sort of day, one you get to desiring after a long, difficult stretch. In our own different ways, we each needed to be able to laugh and be so carefree.

Summer ’12, Lake Lorraine, Florida

I’m not going to sit here and type this and pretend that my friendships have been all hunky dory, because that would be a lie. There are still a few I can think of off the top of my head that are in dire need of repair. I will mention that coming back after a while to talk about the goings on between myself and one of these women made a significant effect on me being here.

One point that really burns about rifts in friendships is that lingering lack of closure. It’s not necessary for the other person or people involved to give that closure to you, especially depending on how things went down. The best one can do is admit faults, and try to keep a cool head when receiving criticisms/hearing alternate sides of the story. I’ve got work to do.

My trip and experiences here thus far have taught me to keep trying, and that it’s okay to enjoy myself every once in a while without thinking too hard about what it might mean in the future.

a fork in the road

To suggest you never entered my mind when I made the decision to part was ludicrous.

All I ever used to do was think about you, even when you did things that pissed me off. I think that’s part of what love is – working through the negatives to strengthen the positives.

However, when the wave of negativity looms so that it swallows everything and everyone in its path simply because it can… well, it’s time to do some moving on.

I don’t care that I’m now part of some gargantuan boogie brigade here to oppress you. When you’ve seen what I’ve seen in a concentrated year of one’s own personal hell, you value what you know to be true above all else, even if someone you love is hurting and looking for reasons or justifications to lash out. It saves you from some unsavory things.

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August ’11, Vancouver, BC

Now that we’ve parted, I don’t wish you any ill will, but I feel better for this freedom. I hope that one day you can feel better too.

the awkward dance

I don’t miss you, just who you used to be

and you don’t ring true, so please stop calling me

— Robbie Williams, “She’s Madonna”

Most of the time, I would tell you that I believe in second chances. I’ve believed in them so fiercely, it can cloud my judgment. It could also be that I am hasty to hand out second chances when what I should really do is take a proper amount of time to suss out the scope of a situation before coming to a decision. I’ve had my fair share of reaching out to people when I was younger, but my experience as of late is that I’ve been more on the receiving end of things.

April ’11, Vancouver, British Columbia

It is my sincere hope that I will not be discouraged against doling out chances in the future because I’ve been burned by people more than once. It’s unfair to immediately cast new connections into the shadows of those who came before them, isn’t it? I think so.

Though I wish I could, I cannot say for certain if previous experiences will impact how I deal with interpersonal issues later; the resentment tends to manifest and grow exponentially with each case. Let’s be kind, and assume the wisdom does as well.

I like the idea of continuing to explore friendships despite a misunderstanding here, or a genuine misstep there. That’s tricky — I don’t know if it’s for the best, or if I can actually do it all alone. It helps if the folks involved are willing to admit to such things, and then move ahead.

I can’t forget how others have made me cross, feel hurt, and/or disrespected. I dare not. That would open myself up for more of the same treatment. However, I enjoy believing that I’ll do my best not to harbor petty grudges and allow negativity to rule my days. Work must be done to support this. Perhaps I can mull it over, practice forward thinking, and see where it takes me.

April ’11, Vancouver, British Columbia

I will not pretend, I will not put on a smile

I will not say I’m alright for you

— Martha Wainwright, “Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole”

For the record, I do not believe in third chances. It sounds ludicrous!

If issues cannot be resolved after one lump or two, it’s likely that the connection was not meant to endure. Also, if someone is keeping track of times they’ve been wronged or upset by one person or party, that can be indicative of stress, and the beginning of a grudge. There are more productive means of using one’s energy.

water running dry

he kissed me much like that of a dying fish —
vapid, cold eyes, 
pungent body desperately flouncing about 
in the hopes 
that something significant might occur.

November 2009, Edgewater Park, Mount Vernon, Washington

spear in hand,
I deftly killed the fish
without so much as blinking. I
pierced the most tender part of him
and watched his existence fade out.