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Posts Tagged ‘fears’

I am realising/remembering tht one of the most difficult aspects of living in a new country is the isolation that occurs in the first period, while you rebuild the networks that seemed so effortless and normal in your home country. I know this eventually gets better, and it’s part of the process.

I can distinctly remember learning the Thai word for lonely early on in my year of exchange, and a sympathetic ‘aunt’ [1] who spent one afternoon telling me, and everyone else on my family’s compound that I was ngaow- (lonely).

It’s becoming apparent, now that things are settling down here, exactly how isolated and lonely I have been, which is difficult for a social creature such as myself. (more…)

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So much so that I have declared this week to be a week of rest and low drama. Need some recuperation time before I burn out emotionally.

This is a really long post (1400 words), but it doesn’t cover two very long weeks. So go and grab a cup of tea/coffee/other beverage of choice, and settle in. Also, no photos this week, I’ve not had time to upload them from the camera, let alone edit and put online.

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About 2 years ago I wrote frequent postcards to friends overseas. Generally they were free postcards found in Newtown cafes, or postcards that I’d drawn myself on these fantastic blank watercolour postcard packs I’d found in an art supply shop. I always had my address book, and appropriate stamps with me, so I could scribble one off very quickly and stick into the next postbox I walked past.

I’ve stopped doing this. Well before I moved here. I suppose I got nervous, thinking the postcards might come across as stalkerish, rather than a gift from a friend. It was partially a symptom of the burn-out associated with constantly projecting myself through activities associated with being an internet DJ, and some of the drama surrounding that. I also moved inwards, preparing for this move. Whichever way I stopped writing them.

Occasionally I feel guilty about this, feel I should reach and then wonder if I have anything to say. It seems to be tied in with the way  I’ve been unwilling to communicate with many people through any medium recently. Why would postcards be any different. Some days it takes a special effort to remember to respond to a text message.

Juliana-Bec and I spoke about this the other week. About being scared of communicating with people. The crippling guilt because you’ve been lax in keeping in contact with people you love and respect because of life circumstances and the subsequent fear that people have stopped caring, or will make a big deal of your lack of communication when you do reach out to them, such that it’s easier to not communicate. It helps to know it’s not just me.

This is starting to shift. I’ve added a signature to my personal email which says this:

Disclaimer: despite my best intentions I don’t respond to emails as often as I like.
If you want to keep up with what’s going on in my life then I recommend the following:
Blog: http://www.verdarun.wordpress.com
Twitter: misskrin
Also on Facebook

Which removes some of the fear and guilt. I’m trying to shift the way I phrase things in my head from an “I should send xxxxx a text about next week” or “I should respond to that email” into an “I’d LIKE to send xxxx a text about next week as it would be fun to catch up” and “I’d LIKE to respond to that email as then I get to go to an exhibition” (which reminds me, I need to respond to Flick’s email… see, there I go again, it’s hard to break the cycle).

Then, today I read Jen’s recent post about writing letters. How she enjoys the act of writing them, and more importantly the joy of receiving letters, much better than bills. The imagery of her poor neglected mailbox was especially poignant. A good reminder that one of the things I used to love about writing postcards was imagining the surprise when people opened their otherwise empty mailbox to see the short message from me. Thanks Jen!

I remembered that Dee has pinned one of my postcards to her wall. That poki has posted his delight at receiving a postcard from me on his FB wall. That Lars always expressed how much he enjoyed getting random coffee-related postcards and has sent one back to me. That there are people I miss so much in Australia, and what I miss is simple communication, the small gestures to remind someone that you like them. Postcards can facilitate this feeling much more than online communication.

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I had this drafted in my head yesterday, but then work landed an URGENT!!! item on my desk in the morning which had me running around drawing lines on maps for the rest of the day. Not that this is a bad thing. Unless you were waiting for this update.

NB: This post is ENTIRELY from my perspective. In reality it was a lot more nuanced than this. As all personal interactions are.

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I hide.

In a stressful or confrontational situation my first inclination is to hide, run away, become invisible. Sometimes physically, sometimes metaphorically. Even after that situation has stopped it takes a lot of courage for me to stop hiding.

For years I’ve known that I’ve hidden behind masks (pre-exchange to Thailand) and behind a thick emotional wall that rarely let anyone in. I conceptualised people in my life as belonging to various circles of closeness. Being aware of who had made it past which protective wall and could be trusted with what aspect of my true self. Heart family, spirit family. There’s a very, very sensitive core inside that not many people see, extroverted introvert.

However, this morning, after a particularly trying, and in various ways lonely, couple of days I realised that actually, behind that wall that I always knew was there is also a set of caves.

Sand Mine detour

This is where I hide. The wall keeps people out, I hide in the caves. (Yay Moon in Cancer!). Anytime that I feel like I’m a disappointment to someone, any aggressive situation, some noisy situations, particular tones of voice, or facial expressions, any time I don’t acknowledge what I need for emotional support and plough on through pretending it’s all OK or don’t get what I need for emotional support when I do know what it is, or feel that someone has completely and unfairly misjudged me, I retreat into these caves.

This morning I realised I was a few levels down.

On the other hand at least I realised it, which has helped in coaxing me back out again, looking at the fears and needs. Taking some actions, like calling girlfriends.

Looking back there are entire periods of my life where I’ve lived obliviously in these safe, warm caves. The caves which prevent me from actually dealing with issues or forming deep relationships.

The flip-side to this (thanks Leo Rising!) is that I’m also really good at the facade of not hiding, to be safe you can’t actually let anyone know that you’re hiding, they might try to drag you out or attack you. Stoicism, pretending I’m coping, being gregarious, very chatty, a social butterfly, being efficient or logical can all be smokescreens to the fact that I’m retreating further into those caves. Crab-like. Not always, but they do sometimes form this function.

In some ways it does feel like a crab by the seaside. Scuttling away under a rock at the first hint of danger, and then slowly, checking at every step, inching back out into the light, always ready to hide again.

It’s a trust thing. Trusting it’s OK to come back out. Love will do it, as will compassion, geneuine friendship and demonstration that someone notices and cares, certain places draw me back out, as do certain practices (morning cafes) and habits. The sense that I am safe and am in control enough that I won’t disappoint anyone, or myself. I’m realising how much of my life is predicated on not really trusting that anyone actually cares or notices.

On the plus side, I’m writing this out and sharing it, rather than hiding it away again. Metaphors help in many, many ways.

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