One of my dreams in life is to be a cold hearted bitch. It's funny because it'll never happen. It's an impossible aspiration. It's also -and deep down I know this- not what I want. As with the moods that come with bipolar, I wouldn't give up the highs of loving being loved in return, for the lows. As painful as they can be. And the closest I've ever been to being a cold hearted bitch -when I stop feeling sad when loved ones are sad, or don't have a constant awareness of people I care about in my mind- is when I'm depressed. The numb, detached depression. Which is when I don't feel human. Or anything. And it's not fun. Those times would be scary if I could feel anything.
The friends with whom I share this dream of being an ice queen are also all the most compassionate and loving people I know. And we all know we'd rather be in pain if we can help others but it doesn't stop us wishing we could switch it off sometimes. Just not care about anyone else.
There's a conversation I've had many times, but once more again on Tuesday, post conspiracy theory film, with Rhodri. I was sad because one of the many things raised in this film was how horrible humans can be to each other. Which I know. But every time I encounter it it feels like I'm learning it again for the first time, apart from the weariness. There's always this surprise and hurt and always I feel like I'm 10 again and have just found out about war for the first time. And always my brain resonates with that childhood question which lesser adults shirked, Why? Not that I want to stop being surprised. I think the day I stop feeling the surprise and hurt will be the day I stop caring so much and trying to change as much. And I don't want that.
Anyway, we were talking and Rhodri was saying that surely once you've realised how wonderful and worthwhile leading a compassionate and loving life is, you can't go back. And I agree. Each day and interaction reinforces my belief that kindness returns kindness, and pain returns pain. But I don't think it's as easy as one day realising that you should be kind and that's it. At least for me, it's an ongoing thing. There is no end to it. There's a continual opting in. Opting into reaching out, offering support, giving kisses on foreheads, picking up litter, donating to charity, smiling at friends, customers and strangers. Choosing again and again to be soft and kind, even when it doesn't seem worth it. Even when people don't notice it. Or ignore it. Or lash out in response. In some ways it's an easy choice. Because of the aforementioned belief of kindness returning kindness. But it's also very tricky sometimes to keep on giving and loving in a world that tells you in many ways that you should stop.
A lot of the time, staying soft is the hardest thing. And there's no ending to it. I don't have a conclusion here. I can tell you what I do when I'm angry at people and the world for not caring as much as I feel I do: I remind myself of my other aspiring cold hearted bitches, and how their loving helps me and others, and how if we stopped the world wouldn't end but then what hope would there be? And then I choose to keep on loving again.
Apologies for the ramble there. Quick reminder: being soft and kind is not equivalent to letting people use you. A big part of being soft and kind is being kind to yourself too, which means laying down boundaries and not letting people use it against you. You can't protect yourself against everything, but you can be aware of what you can and can't give and who deserves your energy. And being soft and kind does not mean being small. Being soft and kind is being big, taking up space, it is powerful.
Someone who inspires me to keep fighting and loving is Angel Haze. I'm seeing them at the Fleece in Bristol on Tuesday and AHHHH I am so so excited! For now, I'm power walking even faster than usual around this town, plugged into Dirty Gold. And when I'm not on that, I've been listening to Rihanna's new album on repeat. OrFormation. All of this music has been sustaining and energising me as much as the plethora of bananas I consume each day.
Some of my favourite songs from Dirty Gold are:
Battle Cry (tw: self harm, sexual assault, suicide)
A Tribe Called Red
Deep Sea Diver and I fell for you hard babe/but I never quite landed
April's Fool you breathe like you had life trapped in your lungs
Angels and Airwaves for everybody who knows what it is/to feel like nothing but a memory that won't be relived
(Okay, so I think what we've learned from me writing that list is that I love the album and if you love me too you should listen to it all too. Moving on...)
Here's a brief thing I wrote about learning to be kinder to myself, a bit:
Sitting on the bed sending out emergency signal texts. Sobbing red. Reaching out is hard but this feeling is harder. Harder but slipping through fists. Impossible to catch mist. Easy to get caught in. Breathe in. Freezing lungs but your brain’s still on fire. No one ever taught you how to deal with this anger. Sadness and energy fuze into fury. Scared scared scared and scary.
Paper aeroplanes fly back through the rain. All of you busy. Call your parents and your pain reflected in them, out of them, onto me, stabs at yours eyes, helps you to cry. Sitting in this white box of a home. Sobbing red that cools to blue. Exhaustion comes and fight flees. Left alone, punctured balloon, bent at the neck, back and knees. Lost lost lost and losing.
But I can do this on my own. I have done this on my own. Other hearts help mine to beat in time but have never filled the hollow. So wrap arms around each other. Hands embracing back and shoulders. Feel each shudder as a body, as a lover. You are enough. These floating hands can stroke your hair but you will always be here. You have me. Hold hold held and holding.
Sitting on the bed, surviving. Learning. No longer yearning. You are enough.
And tonight I am grateful for what I do not have.
That's all for now, folks. It's 0140 on Friday morning so I'm just gonna send this out. A belated gong hei fat choi to you all! I hope that this year treats you well and kindly.