It’s not a race

When it comes to knitting I knit stitches pretty fast, but my attention span leaves much to be desired for. Projects can really crawl along for me when I’m just not able to knit for more than 5 minutes at a time, something that happens frequently.

That’s fine though. Everyone knits at their own pace. I know that once I get the hang of something I can go way past the speed limit, but that doesn’t really make me better than someone who goes slowly and more deliberately. There is no competition, it’s not a race to the finish line (unless you’ve set your own deadlines in which case you’re only racing yourself) so there’s no point in treating it like it is.

I truly love my friend (the one who taught me how to knit) but sometimes her comments like “you should have finished it by now!” can be aggravating. She likes being right and being better than others, which I’m okay with because her desire to be good is a trait I admire. I just wish she wouldn’t apply it to me. It makes me tired and irritated when I’m talking about my WIPs and she keeps bringing up how fast she’d finish that project if it were her. It’s admirable that she can work projects so fast, but I don’t like feeling belittled for my lack of speed. I knit much faster than her when it comes to stitch for stitch (I even knit stitches faster than she crochets stitches), but I can’t spend 5 hours in a row just knitting like she can. I take breaks, I watch movies, I play games, I talk to people online so that I don’t become totally exhausted.

I’ve been thinking about how to bring it up to her, but I fear she’ll get the wrong impression no matter how I phrase it. She has misinterpreted what I said before and I don’t have the energy to deal with a disgruntled friend over something so trivial. It hasn’t come up recently, but I fear that when I talk to her about how fast my sweater is coming along she’ll try to one-up me again and I might snap. (I’ve had a lot to put up with lately and no outlet has been releasing the pressure, which is bad…)

Do you have (or had) any friends like this? How do or did you deal with a situation like I described?

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Grateful #1

For the past 6 days I’ve been doing a “Daily Breast Challenge” with my art. The reasoning is simple: the majority of women think something’s wrong with their breasts – their size, their shape, their weight, their perkiness etc. – while they are all perfectly normal in every single way. I’ve been fighting with my own bosom’s security for some time. Despite positive responses, I always felt like mine were off and weird. Then I found a site featuring pictures of regular women’s breasts in a non-sexual way, and I was awed and humbled by the experience. As an artist, I’ve been guilty of always drawing the same kind of boobs that lean towards the media standard of ‘perfection’. So I challenged myself to draw one pair of normal boobs every day until I run out of boobs to draw from this site.

These are fairly quick. The images I work off of are very small so sometimes I improvise a little, but I am updating my Dropbox folder every day. Feel free to check in, each image is dated as dd/m/yyyy and displayed from oldest to newest in that order. I’m only 6 days in and already I’ve learned so very much. Subtle differences among women who are alike, but never the same. The way larger breasts differ even when they’re similar in size. The artist in me is rejoicing at all the knowledge I’m gaining and the woman in me is loving herself a little more every day. This is the best art challenge I’ve undertaken in a long time.

In keeping with this spirit, I’m also going to do a ‘grateful challenge’ for the next 7 days. I’ve been feeling down, stressed and tired so much, I’m losing perspective on what’s good in my life. Perhaps listing 3 things I’m grateful for every day for a week will lift my spirits a little.

  1. I’m grateful for having my boyfriend in my life. No matter how far apart we are while he’s deployed, it still feels like we’re close together through his efforts to stay in touch with me. He listens to me and encourages me while being immensely supportive – just what I need to stay strong and have courage.
  2. I’m grateful for the Yogscast. They’re a group of YouTubes with an excellent sense of humor and massive amounts of videos on Minecraft and other games. Their videos run almost non-stop on my computer these days, making me laugh and keeping me company while I knit, draw, bake, browse and talk to people.
  3. I’m grateful for my friend Sam, who has proven to be an invaluable addition in my life. No matter how much my situation appears to suck, Sam will always find an upside to my day. Whether it’s a “At least you didn’t die in a fire” or “Cheer up, go cuddle your cats and play Pokemon with me”. His sense of humor

Sheer elation

In stark contrast to yesterday’s depressing post, today I feel nothing but giddy and excited with a touch of emotional bursting. He finally had a chance to email me. His first words were “Baby I’m so tired“. My stomach kind of flipped over and my heart melted on the spot.

They’ve been doing unarmed and baton self-defense training for the past couple of days and today he’s getting pepper sprayed. That was unsettling to read, but in his follow up email he explained it’s part of the training. Which makes perfect sense: it’s so they know what it’s like first-hand so they don’t use it unnecessarily. They may end up getting sprayed but still have to perform adequately. Doesn’t mean I’m very thrilled to imagine my poor baby getting pepper sprayed. (It was bad enough that one time I accidentally rubbed my eyes after handling hot peppers!)

He ended his second email with a confession that made me bawl all over again. The day when they left, he spent the last 10 minutes texting me to say goodbye. While I confessed I was a bawling mess and wished he didn’t have to go, he insisted on being reassuring and loving with every message so that I wouldn’t feel so bad. Apparently he was really struggling himself.

Also I never told you, but I got choked up after the last time we talked. ‘Cause I love you so much.

Please excuse me while I go bawl some more. (This time they’re happy tears though.)

Friendship

You are honestly one of my very best friends. I’m so very, very happy that you came into my life. You understand me in amazing ways, and even when you don’t, I never feel judged because you know that I am whatever it is I’m going to be. The care and affection I get from you is astounding. All of your ups and downs and joys and sadnesses are my own as well, because of the thought that you give me as a person. I am fiercely loyal to you.

There have been many moments in my life where I questioned the importance of my existence. I knew I would never be a successful business person, dragging in millions upon millions for a company I don’t care for. In fact, I saw myself as an insignificant human being just working a dead-end job to bring in money to pay the bills, only to live a bleak and meager life. For the longest time I felt like I didn’t matter. Who would miss me if I suddenly get hit by a car and don’t live to tell the tale? Who cares whether I’m happy or devastated, run into the ground? Somehow I had convinced myself that people were nice to me so they could use me for the few skills I had, but beyond that I was unimportant.

I know better now. I know my value in life, to the people who love me and whom I love. However, when I have particularly bad days these thoughts still tend to creep into my head and tear me up inside. My mind convinces me that everyone will get over it if I die.

Today has marked the 4th day since I last heard from my boyfriend and it’s eating at me so badly. I know he’s alright and very busy – I obsessively stalk his ship’s Facebook page to check for any announcements of accidents or attacks. They’re just doing a lot of things, and I know he doesn’t have the time to sit down and say hi. But we’ve been together almost a year now (in 10 days, as a matter of fact) and we’ve never gone more than 2 days without at least emailing each other. It’s so hard. I love him so much that I’m afraid to go to bed because I’m not sure if I can handle another morning waking up to an empty inbox.

Combine these feeling with my depression, anxiety and a crappy internet connection that makes it extremely hard to do my job, my mind wanders very far to places it shouldn’t go. I hate it and try to pull back, but sometimes it doesn’t work.

And then this fell randomly into my lap. I didn’t know how much I needed to hear it, but once I did I couldn’t keep myself from crying. I’ve never been anything but myself with my friends, and here it is – a validation that everything I am is so important to another human being. That no matter how far away he is, no matter what happens in my life, my friends are here to pick me up and dust me off. This kind of friendship is what makes life worth living and I hope I will continue to be worthy of it.

True loneliness

One of the reasons I love my boyfriend as much as I do is because he is honest with me. He’s direct. He doesn’t bullshit around or pretends that everything is okay when it’s not. Instead of giving me motivational quotes, his first thoughts are dedicated to finding a realistic solution to the problem that is feasible. He knows that sometimes you just need someone to be with you, and that sitting together in silence knowing the other is there can be more comforting than any lengthy discussion in the world.

I’ve become really used to having this in the last 4-5 months. Now that he’s not around, I’m struggling to find something to hold on to. I’m torn out of my routine, I’m talking to a wall most of the time and the one person close to me who understands me and helps me manage myself is working shifts that don’t mesh with my schedule, or what’s left of it.

The past couple of months I’ve withdrawn from a lot of people because I don’t have the energy to talk about this in an actual conversation. Even if I did, what’s the point? Most don’t know what to say. Most feel like I’m expecting ‘the answer’ and am waiting for them to have it. Others try to cheer me up in ways that only make me frown and withdraw back into my shell because they don’t understand, despite their best intentions, missing their target by miles.

I thought I was doing really well, but I’m on the brink of breaking down completely.

I haven’t eaten more than two slices of toast and a handful of potato chips in the last 14 hours. I know my body is hungry, but I’m not. The thought of eating makes me ill. I keep getting to the brink of tears only to fight them back down, but it really just makes my chest feel tight. I’m tense and exhausted, but the boulder of lead in my stomach won’t allow me to lay down and rest.

Ultimately, I feel alone. I don’t know where it went wrong. I’m completely out of sync with people I call friends. I try to strike up a conversation, but it feels forced and unnatural. All it does is make me think they don’t really care. If I were to fall off the face of the planet, it wouldn’t impact their life much at all. I’ve treated them like crap through all my issues, so why should they miss me? I can’t tell if this is true or not.

If I want to survive my boyfriend’s deployment this summer, I need more than what I have now. I feel like I’ve got nothing. Knitting, movies, games, these are all fillers to distract me from the horrible truth that there are only 2 people in this world I feel truly connected to, and they’re both a world apart. I’ve come to rely on them to be happy and have purpose, but that’s not a healthy way of living. I should be strong and independent without them, make my own happiness happen.

So why can’t I?