Minimum Qualifications

Something that has stuck with me over the past week came from a counseling session. My counselor and I have had an ongoing conversation about the realities of some of the past relationships I’ve chosen to be in, and how they have affected my present ones. I have a hard time with all types of relationships. I’m a person who can stay alone as long as I need/want to, but I’m happy when I have a few close relationships. I’m a person who is highly selective in who I choose to allow in my life, and I commit fully to them as a friend or partner. My husband sees this as a wonderful and respectful notion in our relationship. I support him through his creativity, I give my love to him unconditionally, and he has never felt a need to challenge that. We are mutual in our wholeheartedness and allow each other mistakes, as we continue to grow in our marriage. Friendships, however, are a different issue. It seems that others don’t wish to be invested like I am in them. I throw myself into being supportive, trusting, and committed friend. Often, I select people who cannot return the same to me, and after a while, I get my heart crushed with another relationship ending.

My counselor made a good point about this issue. I may subconsciously select these types of relationships, because I have more experience in temporary support. Since we have discussed my life extensively, I can see how this conclusion can be made. All relationships have been short lived for me. My longest relationship to date is with my husband, and maybe I’ve convinced myself that that’s how it’s going to be. Even family has been temporary. As a child, I knew many members of my family, but now, I can’t recall more than a handful. My immediate family members are a mystery to me. While we converse on a regular basis, I don’t try to be close to them.

The thing is, I’ve been searching for a person like me for a long time to be a kindred spirit, a bosom buddy, a Diana to my Anne. There are things only a friend can offer to a person, that a romantic partner cannot, and as my counselor has stated, it’s natural to wish for a friend to relate to. As my present suggests, I haven’t found what I’m searching for. For a short while, I thought I had found my person. We had a freaky connection that made it easy to talk to one another, but things didn’t work out. After that experience, I decided that I need to be selective about who I choose to be in my life. There are certain things that will be required from here on out, so I can avoid another heartbreak, and hopefully find a long term friend.

1. They will not talk to me about reality television– I don’t watch it. I don’t really respect it.

2. They can break plans, but cannot not make it a habit (nor will they allow me to do so)– I need a committed person. That means that if they break plans, they have a good reason (reading a good book is a completely valid reason btw), but I’ll start sensing a brush off or I’ll get really concerned for their well-being if the person continues to break plans without talking to me.

3. They’ll be honest, even if it hurts-I had a friend once speak to me about a comment I had made as an attempted joke that really hurt their feelings. I was so impressed. It meant to me a mutual respect that she felt comfortable coming to me, so that we could avoid issues in the future. I was able to amply apologize without the issue becoming a big one, and it also made me feel comfortable coming to her if anything serious came up later.

4. They will listen to the music I send them and will appreciate it-When I feel close to someone, I will send them music. I’ll open up my most vulnerable side, and send videos so we can talk about them. It may be strange, but I personally pick individual songs for people based on their personality, and I’m rarely wrong about songs people will like. To me, it shows that I am interested in who a person is and I want to find a kick ass soundtrack for them.

5. They will allow me to be depressed-I’m surprisingly close-lipped to my friends about how I’m feeling most days. My husband has learned the code words over the years, but I keep my depression at a distance in most circumstances. This may be because I haven’t found my person yet, but I also have experience of friends distancing themselves because they don’t want to deal with it. Depression is so hard to control, and sometimes pretending to be happy is too hard to muster. It is in those times, that I want my friend to stay close, allow me to let it out, and then help me move away from it.

6. They must enjoy reading almost as much as I do-This shouldn’t need explanation.

7. They will not compete with me-I’ve been in situations where a person always had to compete with me. If I had a good day, theirs was always better. If I wasn’t feeling well, they always had to stay home because their cold was “so much worse.” They lived in extremes, and it eventually got really hard for me to relate to them. They didn’t feel like they were able to be their true selves around me, and that made things very uncomfortable for us. They never wanted to support me, but asked for it from me triple fold. It became exhausting to constantly be there for a person who couldn’t be there for me in return.

8. They will agree with me about the frustration of turning books into movies– There are two camps in the book world about this subject, and my friend and I will need to be on the same team with this one.

9. They will know when to help, even if I don’t ask for it-As I’m maturing, I’m learning how to ask for help more, but I still fail sometimes. My friend will know when to reach out, and when to take the wheel and help me.

Maybe this list will get longer, or maybe it will change over the years as a relationship blossoms. Right now though, I need a friend that has these values for us to be healthy for one another. I know now that it’s ok to have standards for a friend I want in my life for the long haul.

Bring Your Dead with You

Like many others, I find myself caught up in life and death and what they mean to human existence. In contemplation I leave the present; I justify my daydreams by using philosophical notes that strike around while I think about the morbid. Maybe this isn’t the best use of my time, but allowing my mind to “go there” allows me to think introspectively about what it means for things to be dead or alive. I have noticed that we are in constant reach for more time to be alive. It is a ceaseless worry that life will disappear quickly, each second marching us toward death. I wonder why time is so important to us, and why we feel the stress of death. We observe the preciousness of time. We idealize it as a means to measure our worth and what we didn’t waste by living.

My own thoughts get heavily bombarded by the thought of wasted time when I feel regret. I’m not sure anyone can get through life without feeling the drag of one’s heart when they think about what could have been done differently in a given situation. I know I have many, and they fill in along the cracks in my mind begging to be tugged into my thoughts, to be loosened to roam freely and take up with my anxiousness. Time becomes fragile and the idea of wasted time will cause me panic by remembering broken things that never mended. These things set out to haunt me.

Maybe the idea of “waste” in reference to time comes from thoughts about how we will never get it back, and hindsight reminds us of what was and what now remains in its place. Hindsight is a beast within itself. While it is useful to improve our reasoning and consciences, it can act as a weapon too. It can set us on a path of remembering things that hurt us. It can be our enemy from whom we cannot protect ourselves. It can also be our teacher, our compass to what is right and a measurement of positive change. We cannot decide how to use hindsight in conjunction with time, because the relationship can be uplifting and bitter all at once. Who am I to say what things hindsight will attach to in my mind? An uncomfortable truth, we find that our minds will remain independent of what we wish could happen to the unhealed memories. They can reappear suddenly or never at all.

I’m stuck on a particular memory, myself. It’s one that I wish to forget, along with the situation that caused it. My mind remembers how weak I was with the exhaustion of carrying the weight of depression around day after day. It remembers how the life changing event happened in a matter of minutes, but the aftermath has continued on. It mimics my movements, making itself a frequent visitor, a squatter, embedded into the density of this continuing sadness. My mind begs to be left off the hook of the crushing regret that has attached itself permanently to my daily life. New memories are tarnished by the heaviness of the matter, and it sits on my chest, impossible to remove. It may outlive me, or be buried with me when I am gone from this earth. Maybe I am fitting of that type of end: the kind where a few minutes of time tethers me to the past forever and always.

There’s a name I’ll never forget, along with a figure and a place. These three things fester together, impossible to untangle now, engulfing all of the good I used to see in them. When I think about one I inevitably think of the others, and bile churns inside me, ready to expel the physical manifestation of my thoughts. They are damaging to think about, but I cannot save myself. To be told to forget would be like asking the tides of the sea to never come. The memory drowns me over and over, unceasing and unforgiving.

I feel deserving of this fate. Though the memory takes place as an action, a choice in which I was a recipient, I know fully that this was what I was meant for. There couldn’t have been any other way for things to be done, but the finality has my soul trapped. I am forced to relive the action as sadness roils the muck of the memory. The choice is none that I can influence. There’s no turning back from it, but moving forward seems too difficult right now. I’ve been burned by the ice, but I can do nothing but stand my ground, waiting for release. I am Catherine trapped within the moors. I am Heathcliff set against himself.

I am wasted youth, without a soul or a heart. They were removed with precision, a skill acquired with frequent practice. I am sunken, withered, and dried to mummification. I wait with a scream caught in my throat. I hope for an impossible retrieval, a returned gift. I am stagnant. I am stale. My body is a cast off and my mind is terrified of its resolve to torture.

I’m gone. I’m done. My mind repeats. I’m gone. I’m done.  I’m gone. I’m done.

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

For a synopsis of this book, see the description on Goodreads.

If I could give Evie Wyld an award, it would be for some of the most surprisingly beautiful prose written about a life that circles trauma. I loved reading her words. It was apparent that she chose her words carefully, to allow the reader invoke their own feelings with Jake Whyte. The words were so delicately blunt, ready to crack around the edges while drilling into the reader. The words made me feel that this book was both frustrating and catching. Wyld does not hold back the grit from this novel. She writes bluntly, and parts can be painful to read, but her artistry makes the reader want to keep going.

I have been very conflicted about my opinion of this book. I know that everything that was written was done purposely, to make sure the reader feels something profound by the end, but that’s just it. When I got to the end, I stopped believing in Whyte as a complex character. She fell short to the realities of how a person who has experienced PTSD causing events would react. She’s a largely internal character, picking through her mind (which I enjoyed immensely), but by the end, I only felt a two dimensional reflection, like the Whyte still had a long way left to go. I know Wyld wanted to make her an anomaly or life, but I couldn’t wrap my head around some of the randomness of Whyte once she reaches England.

Wyld leaves the reader with many questions by the end. Although marketed as a thriller, I don’t believe that genre was Wyld’s intent for writing the novel. The book reads more as a character development, but with the way it is written, the reader will only feel like they learned a small piece of the full story. Again, I believe this was intentional, so the reader could have their own connection with Whyte, and therefore,  fill in the gaps as they imagine Whyte would.

This book is worth reading, and I think if I had not been told it was a thriller, I would have been much more pleased with it. If anything, Wyld’s haunting prose will make you want to keep reading to the end.

 

Do you have your own reviews about this novel? Leave a comment and I’ll link them to this post!

Furies

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The strong winds came in from the north. The air shifted as the humidity gathered strength. She could smell it coming. Rain would be there soon. Yet, she stayed where she was, in the moment, letting the gusts whip her back and forth. Around her, wheat was snapping, unable to resist fate. She reached out and touched one of the heads, saving it from being pushed to the ground.

The field was in turmoil. Dust kicked up around her, whipping her face, causing her eyes to sting. She would not cry today, even if she wanted to.

“Are you ready?” he said behind her.

“Five more minutes?”

“The rain is coming and I’ve got to be going.”

“You could stay, you know. Nothing bad would happen if you did.”

“But what about life, friend? What about the future?”

“It can coincide,” she said, defiantly.

He held out his hand to her. Tentatively, he touched his fingertips to hers. He could have been a pianist, if his life had worked out that way. A surge of pain hit her heart, and she looked away from him. The arrow had done its damage.

“It can’t be this short.” She said.

“You know it’s not.” He said.

“But it’s not enough time. I need more to get it right.”

“It’s not for us to determine. Our souls knew each other before we crossed paths. We don’t get to decide when they separate. It just happens.”

“Our souls are kin. How do I move forward knowing that?”

“With courage,” He said.

She crumpled the wheat in her hand. The dust disappeared into the wind, joining its brethren into nothingness. She stared out to the end of the landscape, where the sky and the ground met.

“I can’t leave this place,” she said.

“I can’t stay,” he said.

They looked at each other. He moved his hand further to her.

“Two more minutes,” she said.

“Ok.”

The sky turned darker, and lightning could be seen close by. She turned her face to the responding thunder.

“It’s getting darker.” She said.

“I know.”

She cupped his hand then, squeezing gently. He returned the gesture, and gave a small smile.

“You’ll be ok.”

“I don’t think so,” she said.

“You will. My soul will always know yours. It will always feel close.”

“That statement makes me ache,” she said.

He looked off into the distance, frowning.

“The wind has picked up,” she said, her hand beginning to shake.

“Yes, and I must go. There’s so much to do, and I’ve stayed too long.”

She gripped his hand hard, pulling him toward her. “Please don’t.” Her voice was barely audible.

He released her hand, and looked at her. He smiled again.

“Remember what I said. Remember our souls.”

A thunderclap startled her. Reflexively, she looked in its direction. She felt the humidity suddenly sucked from around her. She looked down the rising goosebumps on her flesh. She closed her eyes, wishing for a different ending.

“Where did the world go?” She turned her head back to him.

She watched him walk away, the water wiping away his tracks as the sky broke loose its chaos.