The Long Endless Walk

For a long time, a friend has wanted to take some self-defense classes. During the lockdown, she learned that we had some institutes nearby that had the classes she was looking for. Since Covid-19 containment measures have eased up in Portugal, and gyms and other establishments are open again, she figured this was the perfect opportunity to start. She asked me to go with her to the place and, although I didn’t want to have the classes myself, I figured I could go for a walk. It’s been a while since I have taken one, as I’ve been spending most of my time at home. So, that day after work, I went with her and while she had her try out class, I walked.

In the town I live, we have this long, straight road with a walking and cycling paved path next to a long road, which connects the city center with the closest beach. It’s lined by decent sized detached homes with small gardens, and through the closest parts to town a kind of suburb has grown. The walking path is separated from the roads by threes, with gaps for pedestrian crossings I don’t trust because no driver is ever going to see you before you’re about to cross. It’s the kind of path that’s too straight and too level, with not much going on besides the rows of houses that slowly thin out the further you go. Mind-numbingly so.

If you look straight ahead, it looks endless and, for the next thirty minutes or so, it might as well be. It’s both the perfect stretch to turn off your brain for a while, and to let your mind wander through subjects you’ve been avoiding. If the weather is just right, it becomes a short, walk-able version of going for a drive we see so often in American movies.

The blue sky served as a great backdrop for the fluffy white clouds. It made me wish I had taken my camera with me

There aren’t many distractions along the way. At most, a bike goes around you and quickly pulls away from you. Or perhaps you find the odd group talking as they walk. Otherwise, it’s just you and your thoughts – or your music, if that’s the kind of company you’d rather have. If it was closer, I would sometimes just stroll in the evenings when I need some time to think, or maybe to be away from everything.

Sharing

I have been less afraid of sharing.

It’s weird to write those words because I don’t know when I began being afraid of sharing the things I like with people. I can point to some perspective changes throughout my late teenage years, such as when I understood that there were parts of who I was that I needed to change. Regardless, the reality is that I’ve struggled to share and be open about my likes and dislikes for too long. I felt like my tastes were so unrelated that the spaces I had wouldn’t fit – after all, I was so afraid people would see that and simply walk away.

I wanted a space to be the entirety of me, because there was nowhere I could be the entirety of me. Yet I also craved the attention, and the knowledge I reached a lot of people. Of course, such is impossible. Specially because the only place I can be me is within myself.

It took me having the freedom to define myself on my own terms. It took having the freedom to experience, explore and simply understand what worked for me and what didn’t. And, I’m sure I still have a long road in that regard, but I think I have a much more clear idea of who I am. Enough for others to notice, too.

I also learned that, while I can try to be likeable by everyone (or at least not hated), it’s unpleasant to regulate myself based on what people I don’t like would think or not. In a workplace it is a useful skill, for sure, but my social life can be so much more than that – and even if it wouldn’t, I’m at a place where I’d rather focus on the relationships that I do have and cherish, than to be stuck with ones I’m not particularly pleased about.

And I know – this is pretty much the advice many give. I’m certain I’ve given the advice myself in the past. But it’s one of those that I had to learn by myself, regardless of how much I knew what the right path might be.

So now, sharing isn’t so scary. I’ve mentioned it to a couple of people, and they seem to agree I’ve been much better in that regard. I must admit. I’m quite proud that I managed to get here.

I am…

I have always had trouble answering who I am. Never quite sure, a grey mass seemingly full of possibilities. But not knowing who I am is not good enough anymore. As part of the work I’ve been doing with a therapist, I was asked to write about who I am.

I have always had trouble answering who I am. Never quite sure, a grey mass seemingly full of possibilities. But not knowing who I am is not good enough anymore. As part of the work I’ve been doing with a therapist, I was asked to write about who I am.

Continue reading “I am…”

Moving

My sister bought a house. It’s a forty year commitment to a house, and at least ten years of struggling to save money. I moved in with her, just like we had planned from the beginning. The new space is nice: there is plenty of more space for us to be, and the house is in much better space than where we lived. It is warm inside, despite how early we are in spring. And, to be quite honest, I like having a window and waking up with the sun.

Adapting to the new space was quick. A matter of expanding the space I occupied – now, I do have the space to just be in my room. I thought that, perhaps, all those years living in the old house would have made me somewhat attached to it, but I am honestly merely glad we have finally left. Staying would have meant sinking a lot of money into something that wouldn’t ever be ours. It wasn’t particularly comfortable either. And, honestly, my room felt more like a space to sleep in and where I’d retreat when needed, than a space where I could express myself. Perhaps better described as I space I was constrained to, than one I lived in.

It still feels quite odd, however. It’s been at least a month now, and I can’t find within me anything resembling an emotional response. And that should be okay — it is okay. It never felt mine, so why should I feel sad about leaving it behind? Still, somewhere in the back of my mind, a whisper says I’m strange for not feeling much. A whisper I hope to one day never hear again.

I Should Do These Things Now, Not Later.

I have a hard time keeping on track when it comes to things I’m not excited about. It’s most evident with things I dislike doing, but the truth is that I’m just terrible at sticking with something and actually putting in the effort at something. Case in point, I’ve not written much ever since I got very excited about motorsports. Nor have I really continued playing music, or working on my game prototype. A part of this is a shift in priorities, definitely. But a lot of it definitely comes from that fault of mine.

It was fine, for the most part, while I was studying because, for the most part, I could just do it all on the top of the hour and deliver something passable. Unhealthy, for sure, but it worked well enough I didn’t have to do anything different than what I had been doing. A missed opportunity, I think, even though I did learn that lists can help, if I happen to actually use them.

The thing is, I just wouldn’t know where to start. I’m terrible at keeping habits, so telling myself to just “check a list of things every morning” doesn’t particularly help. Instead, I do compulsions: I get home and I turn on the PC, as if an instinct. My mind wanders and I open reddit, no two thoughts about it. Web comics I visit? Regularly check during the day if there is a new page, even though I know there won’t be. The list helps, until I stop using the list.

Naturally, my solution is to make the list even more intrusive in my life. I can’t run away from the list if it is on my phone, so I must look at it, yeah? Much like event notifications on my calendar. They don’t let me conveniently forget things, so I’m that much more likely to do them. But, as it happened with post-it notes, I am also very good at looking at it and saying “nah, I’m not going to do that right now” repeatedly, or even “I already did enough today”.

I wish I had better tools. I know they are out there. I need to sit down and research what I can use. In fact, I’m positive a therapist would be a great asset in helping me get this down now so that it doesn’t continue to be a problem and maybe I get to pursue some things I do want to do. For now, however, even if only a band-aid, I’ll try the ever more intrusive lists and hope they are a good interim solution.

This post was brought to life by an item in a to-do list.

adulthood

I used to believe once we reached adulthood, things would change. We’d be afforded the responsibility of taking our own decision and discovering our own path. I thought, naively, we’d live the shadow of those that came before to, perhaps, become ourselves. Instead, I have had to realize adulthood merely means being aware that there is no such thing. There isn’t some magical change once some imaginary line was crossed, and other certainly won’t. We won’t stop liking what we did. We won’t suddenly understand concepts that never made sense before. Nor will idealism just die – it’ll just be tempered, slowly, by experience.

But, perhaps more tragically, those who were supposed to prepare us for it will either dump us before we are ready, or never let go of the power their position as parents afford them.

A few days ago, a friend told me their father had threatened them with physical violence. I was angry. Livid. I wanted to tell them to not accept it. To set strong boundaries and enforce them. To leave, for it isn’t right to hit on your own child. Much less so for an authority figure, such as a policeman, to do so. But the parents are paying for their education, and while they’d be able to find a job quickly, none would allow them to escape the sphere of influence their parents have. I stayed quiet. I listened.

I’d love to think, given we’re long past being considered legal adults now, our parents would treat us as such. But, in their case, as long as they live under their parents roof, they’ll still be treated as they were. Only distance and independence will allow for a shift in perspective. But I fear their fathers behavior, and their mothers – which follows the same vein – isn’t really about seeing a child, but instead merely somebody they can inflict their will over, presented as parenting, empowered by their status as providers.

My disillusion is further compounded by blatant displays of emotional manipulation over another friend as a means of maintaining whatever control they can over them. Calling them a whore for going out with old friends on a vacation. But, above all, is just how little options there are that don’t involve derailing whatever shot at a decent future they might have. It pains me all I can even think of boils down to “keep your head down” in hopes that a job might provide a key to freedom.

Parents aren’t a special kind of adult that magically makes them a good person, just one who legally holds power over their children. And some decide to abuse that. But being an adult is also accepting that sometimes, there isn’t anything else we can do but to endure and provide a shoulder to those who suffer.