Coping

Misophonia is a tricky illness to deal with because I never know where or when I am going to encounter one of my “trigger” sounds. A triggering sound is one of those main noises that slaps my Misophonia awake and puts my entire psychological and physiological self on alert.

One of the most difficult parts of my day to get through is my commute to and from work. I take the bus, and even though the bus ride itself is actually not that long, it has the potential to be the worst twenty minutes of my day as I am essentially trapped inside the bus with no control over my surroundings, the people, and possible triggers. This is why I, and I imagine most people with Misophonia, always travel fully prepared – or as fully prepared as we can be – for any situation we may find ourselves in. My own emergency kit (not literally a kit, I just throw everything in my big tote bag) contains the following: one big pair of over-the-ear headphones (black), one small pair of earbuds (purple), two sets of earplugs (bright neon traffic cone orange), and my phone, of course. My phone is the most essential, acting as a wall that blocks out unwanted sound (and unwanted conversation) as well as providing a salve to my ragged nerves, but the headphones are a close second. Earbuds do not do as good a job at covering all exterior sounds so they are only for use in the rare instance I forget to pack my headphones in my bag.

Although, filling my ears with “good” sounds to block out the “bad” sounds isn’t always my favourite option, and neither is using earplugs. I’ll explain why. Last night, my new upstairs neighbour was having an extended conversation with someone right above my bedroom, where I was trying to sleep. I could hear his muffled voice well enough that it very quickly drove me crazy. So, I had to wear earplugs so that I could actually relax and fall asleep. But, the way that these foam earplugs work is that you roll the body of the earplug between your fingers to narrow that cylindrical end, then you slip them inside your ear canal, and then the foam expands to fill the space. While this makes the earplugs pretty effective at quieting most outside noises, it also causes a pressure inside my ear. This pressure caused me to wake up with a headache. Having a headache made me reluctant to put my music on when it was time to commute to work, so I left my headphones in my bag until I was seated on my bus and could tell if I was going to need them. Fortunately, aside from one lone sniffle from the girl sitting next to me, the ride was blissfully trigger free and I could give my head a break.

I’m at work now, and as my biggest Misophonia trigger is the sound of my coworkers banging away on their keyboards, I will have to keep my headphones and music on pretty much the entire day. Its not going to be fun, as my head is still in pain. But, its what I have to do.

Advertisements

Saying Goodnight

Since re-entering the dating world in 2017 I have used texting to correspond with all potential gentleman suitors (not gentlemen – mostly trash humans, if we’re being honest). Texting is my favourite mode of communication as it is legitimately an introvert’s dream. I’m sure I would have lost my virginity a helluva lot sooner if texting had been around during my highschool years – it lets you be brave, without have to be BRAVE, you know what I mean? Texting allows me to say things that my once-crippling shyness/social anxiety/depression would have never allowed. It lets me be myself.

Over the last several weeks I’ve been developing a connection with a new fellow named Colin via text message as well as in person. We have shared a lot about ourselves during this getting-to-know-you period… a lot of our craziness, a lot of our quirks. Yesterday, I was texting Colin about a blogger that I adore who writes often about her struggles with mental illness. It lead to us asking each other if there was anything either of us could do to help the other with their daily mental health struggles. I was surprised when Colin said that actually, he did have something… and he proceeded to ask me if I could text a goodnight message to him before I fell asleep at the end of the day.

I was instantly mortified (my heart wilted in my chest) that I’d been doing something that obviously had a negative effect on Colin, which was my now-obviously inconsiderate tendency of keeping a text conversation open until I just end up falling asleep. I thought about it and now realize that I NEVER text someone goodnight, and haven’t for years. And, the thought of ending a text conversation with Colin by saying goodnight was causing me so much anxiety that I felt sick to my stomach. This strong response encouraged me to start digging around in the recesses of my mind for the reason why… and, eventually, I found it.

Saying goodnight feels like closing a door, a big metal door that clangs when it shuts and that stands imposingly between me and the person I adore. And, once that door is closed, I’m not allowed to open it and connect with my person again until the next day. Saying goodnight and ending our conversation feels like I am erecting a barrier that leaves my special someone on one side, and me, alone, on the other.

I don’t like that. I don’t like feeling alone. I don’t want my significant other to be out of reach, even if I recognize that it is only my own mind that is preventing me from reaching out to them.

When I dug a little deeper into my discomfort, I realized something else… I discovered that I am scared. I’m scared that if I say goodnight, and close that door, that when I reach out the next morning, the person I most want to talk to just won’t be there anymore. This, I suspect, is a direct result of having been ghosted by so many guys over the years. It is incredibly hard on my heart when I create a bond with someone – even if it is still incredibly new and tenuous – and then find out that in the length of a day they have decided I am no longer worth knowing. I don’t want Colin to decide that. I don’t want him to disappear.

The logical part of me brain knows that whether or not I say goodnight to someone will not prevent that person from leaving my life. If they want to go, they will go. But my heart… well, my heart thinks that if I keep the conversation open, if I keep the door between us open, the connection between us will be maintained, and that connection will ensure they are still there when I wake up.

Tesla

I was reading about Nikola Tesla and learned so many intriguing things about him. He sounds like such a fascinating man. I was curious, as I tend to be about fascinating people, what his MBTI might be, as some of what I had read made me think he might be the same type as me. The consensus on that particular topic seems to be that he was an INTJ, while I am an INFJ.

But, while I was poking around on Quora I read a quote of his that really moved me. In 1896 (when Tesla would have only been 39 years old) a reporter from the New York Herald asked him: “Do you believe in marriage, Mr. Tesla, for persons of artistic temperament?” This was his response:

For an artist, yes; for a musician, yes; for a writer, yes; but for an inventor, no. The first three must gain inspiration from a woman’s influence and be led by their love to finer achievement, but an inventor has so intense a nature with so much in it of wild, passionate quality, that in giving himself to a woman he might love, he would give everything, and so take everything from his chosen field. . . . It’s a pity, too, for sometimes we feel so lonely.

Of course, that last bit brought tears to my eyes. I read that he never married, that he never even dated, and said in another interview once that he had never touched a woman. Some people have wondered if he was gay, but there are no occurrences or events, or statements by Tesla or any of his close friends that even vaguely imply that that was the case. So, based on the knowledge we have, he truly was single and celibate his whole entire life. That breaks my heart. It is human nature to desire a mate, to desire a partner, a lover, even just the act of sex! Did he really die without ever having been kissed by a sweetheart? Is the life he lived worth that exchange of human intimacy for scientific discovery? Only he would know, and since he believed that there was no existence for a person after they die, we won’t even find him in the afterlife to ask him.

Human

I’ve been spending time with someone of the male persuasion the last couple of weeks, and I’m really starting to care deeply for him. He’s very complex, and unusual, and not without flaws. He’s kinda like me.

Yesterday, this fellow – Colin – told me that he was deactivating his profile on the online dating app where we initially connected, because he wants to focus on me and exploring what is between us. This means a lot to me, for two reasons: 1. I believe him; and 2. its been awhile since someone has committed to me in any substantial way.

Because there are times when my own words fail me, I relied on English singer-songwriter Dodie to express to Colin how I feel about him and his decision, and sent him her song Human. You can view the soul-destroying official video for Human here, or watch and listen to a sweet acoustic version of the song here (I recommend the latter if you don’t want your heart ripped out of your chest and stomped to pieces).

While it isn’t exactly a love song, Human is a song about love, about meeting and connecting with someone your heart recognizes as extraordinary. It is incredibly beautiful, eloquent but simple, lyrical and earnest, and I cannot listen to it without feeling wave after wave of frisson, and of course, without shedding tears.

A still image from the official music video for Human

I’m always nervous when I share a song with someone who is of value to me, and this is even more true when the song is the conduit through which I am expressing my true emotions. Fortunately, Colin not only took the time to listen to Human, he also loved it, and understood immediately what I was trying to say. Its rare we find someone whose heart speaks the same language as our own, so regardless of how things evolve with Colin, at this moment, I feel so very heard.

In Custody

I was walking my usual route down Jasper Avenue towards the entrance I use to access my office building when I spotted a cluster of uniformed security personnel standing in a half circle in front of a bench. As I neared the small group I was able to see that sitting on the bench was an aboriginal man holding a cane in his right hand. The cane was sort of splayed out, like a forgotten limb. I didn’t want to stare so I kept my gaze awkwardly averted and walked past at a brisk pace, but in the end I couldn’t resist stealing a glance at the man on the bench, who was being watched very closely by the security guards.

Even though there was only an instant to capture an impression of him, I know if I were to see him again I would recognize that man on the bench in an instant. His face is imprinted in my memory. He was about forty, maybe, his face puffy and red, short hair just long enough to start shaping into curls. His eyes were barely open, the lids heavy. He was obviously heavily intoxicated, and it broke my heart. I wanted to go and sit beside him, put my arm around him, let him know he wasn’t alone. I wanted one of the security officers to crouch down next to him, or to sit next to him, and talk to him instead of standing and looming over him like he is less than them. I wanted to know what was happening, what they were going to do with him, where he would go, where he COULD go.

Yes, I can only assume that at the heart of this encounter is addiction, but nobody gets that drunk, that early in the morning, unless they are very very sick, emotionally and psychologically. What made him drink? What drove him to it? Why was he all by himself? Where were his friends, his family? Where could he go to rest, and get sober? Is he going to end up in custody, eventually released with a bylaw ticket for public intoxication, a ticket that would likely never get paid because how is this man supposed to pay a ticket when there’s a strong possibility that he can’t even afford his next meal?

Sitting here at work, at my desk, I can’t help but feel horribly guilty for not stopping. I should have stopped and asked if I could help. I should have done something. I don’t know what. Just something.

Chris Cornell

I was scrolling through Instagram on Saturday when I came across this post from actress/singer/songwriter/wife of Tom Hanks Rita Wilson:

Of course, I immediately searched for her album on Apple Music and found the song and listened to it. And, subsequently, cried and cried and cried. I wouldn’t call the song a duet, exactly. Rita is fully the lead here, but Chris’s gorgeous timbre weaves in, out, and through her bright, honeyed voice so perfectly, that the resulting sound is almost ethereal. You wouldn’t think two such disparate musicians would blend together so well, but they do.

Listening to Audioslave or Soundgarden doesn’t always bring me to tears… not anymore, now that its been over two years since Chris Cornell’s death, but the lyrics of longing, combined with his tender tone of voice, make me think of what an incredible, creative, talented spirit he was, and how much he offered to the world while he was here with us. It breaks my heart that he was so troubled… so tortured… and that we couldn’t do anything to help him. Its so cruel that mental illness and addiction attack so many artists and creators.

Give the song a listen… it’s a special take on a classic love song and if you’re anything like me, will leave your heart both lighter and heavier. We miss you, Mr. Cornell.

For Evelyn McHale

Last week I read an article about a very famous photograph. The picture included with the article showed a young woman seemingly in repose. It was the picture that attracted me to the article in the first place, as there was something ‘off’ about it. The beautiful young woman in the photo had just committed suicide by jumping from the observation deck of the Empire State Building. A photography student happened upon the scene and took the now iconic image of her body, almost peacefully splayed across the top of the vehicle her body had landed on.

I don’t know about these things, so I don’t know if the 86-floor fall would have killed Evelyn first, or if she would have, however briefly, felt the impact of her slender frame against the rough and weathered metal of the car, and that the impact itself would have been what ultimately took her life. I don’t know.

There are a few things about this story that break my heart. One is that Evelyn was only 23 years old when she chose to die. So young. Two, she was engaged to be married, and according to the internet, her fiancee never married. There is no way to prove that it was Evelyn’s tragic death that kept him from finding love again, but the romantic in me imagines it must have been so painful for him to lose her that he never recovered from his broken heart. Three, her suicide note. It’s not dramatic or fulsome in any way. It is actually very short and succinct. But, it made me cry, because of the emotions her words hint at but that she was never able to express, in life or in death.

And fourth…

The very first thing Evelyn wrote in her suicide note was this:

I don’t want anyone in or out of my family to see any part of me.

It didn’t occur to me the first or second time I read Evelyn’s note, or the article that it was posted in. I was too distracted by trying to figure out why she wanted to die so badly that she was able to step, stone-cold sober, from such a merciless height. But, that one last request that poor Evelyn made, the one thing she asked for, was promptly and completely disregarded, first by that photography student who took the picture of her dead body and then distributed it to any interested party, then by every slavering media outlet who, at the time, would have circulated the photo nationwide in every newspaper, and finally by the various modern publications – online and off – where the photo has been published and continues to exist for anyone who knows how to use Google to see.

I hope that, wherever the molecules and the magic that made Evelyn who she was were able to eventually find rest, and peace.