friendship, jealousy, & fear of being forgotten

I’ve been grappling with the idea of paranoia as an intense expression of one’s fear of being abandoned or forgotten. I am thinking of abandonment as an experience that happens to one before they have learned how to speak, and happens over and over in different ways as one grows up, creating such an intense fear that it becomes unclear which thoughts, emotions, and behaviours are rooted in that fear, and where that fear itself began. And I am thinking of being forgotten as less intense or intentional, less definable, but, the thing that happens accidentally, perhaps when two or more people with the experience commonly labeled as ‘lack of object constancy’ stumble into one another, share a moment of joy and validation, and then forget to call back, forget to reconnect.

I’ve also been thinking about what it means to prioritize friendship (or, to be more specific, to prioritize queer disabled mad femme friendship) when many of us are not fully “healed” or “recovered” and maybe never will be. (I know we all have different feelings about recovery and healing; my personal belief is that I am never going to come to the end of this path, realize my one true self, and be done with it – I will be in this process until the day I die: healing, recovering, learning, practicing…) When each person involved is sick in some way, or in pain, or crazy, or traumatized, or disabled, or broke, or all of the above and then some. When we all have our reasons for not being able to be present, physically or emotionally, as often as we’d like to be.

My friendships feel fragmented and inconsistent; but sometimes they feel joyful and magical, too. How can I find a safer balance of these feelings? Can I hold them all at once? How can I seek deeper connections? How do we learn how to trust and support one another? What does it mean to be visible through ones’s art & writing yet still feel deeply disconnected? How can we help one another feel validated, affirmed, and seen? Trauma, chronic pain, and anxiety all contribute to my friendships feeling detached or disembodied in some way, kept at some distance from my heart, reaching out but feeling incomplete; yet, if I were given the option never to have experienced these disabilities, I’d say no.

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Three of Cups: The Wild Unknown, Radiant Rider-Waite-Smith, and Kitty Kahane’s Magic Mirrors

The Three of Cups, for me, represents my ideal feelings of connection and friendship, including the fleeting and impermanent ones, because they are necessary to keep on going, too. This card often appears when I need a reminder that when I’m feeling lonely or disconnected, I do have good friends, I have the potential for working toward meaningful friendships, and unbelievable as it may seem, I have friends who think about me and care about me when I’m not around. I like to imagine the Three of Cups as a coven that has come together to deepen their practice after surviving trauma, invalidation, and self-doubt. I like to think of them as friends who haven’t always been present for one another, but are learning how to be more present and dedicated in their friendship, and how to share their feelings, their pain and their joy, how to make magic together. They are friends who would not have found each other if it weren’t for all their crazy coping mechanisms that kept them alive so they could experience this moment.

My BPD symptoms have become less visible in my daily life; I am less reactive than I used to be, I am significantly less destructive and self-destructive than I used to be, I am less impulsive, and my life is less chaotic. However, I still have fears of abandonment and being forgotten, issues with a sense of identity or stable, consistent sense of self, difficult and frequent emotional triggers, and anxiety. I have a lot of difficulty with interpersonal relationships, and sustaining meaningful friendships. There are still times when I worry my friends are gossiping about me or even actively organizing against me, making a plan to shut me out for good.

While my imagination can put me in all sorts of scenarios that are likely not actually happening, my fears of abandonment are not entirely irrational (I don’t believe any fear is irrational, no matter how “crazy” or ridiculous it might appear). While many of my fears began in early childhood experiences, I’ve also lost friends, or lost my trust in friends, enough times throughout my 20’s that I know that abandonment, disappointment, and loss are real risks, not just fears to let go (or maybe they are both). One of the emotions that has led to the endings of some of my friendships was jealousy.

Jealousy, for me, is part of my experience of fear of abandonment or of being forgotten. Jealousy is interconnected with fears, resentments, rage, and even, in the past (self-)destructive behaviour. I’ve been doing hard work with this specific emotion and the way it manifests in my life for years, and it still arrives more often than not, tugs at my heart and grips my throat, not done with me. And, as you may already know through personal experience, jealousy becomes so much more complex when we’re surviving experiences like BPD, (c-)PTSD, chronic pain and illness, etc. But those complications give us so many more opportunities to learn, as long as we can rest with them long enough to listen.

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Three of Cups: Tarot of the New Vision, The Collective Tarot, Thea’s Tarot

I’ve written about jealousy in the past, and I feel the need to share those pieces again. In 2012, I wrote Creativity and Jealousy: stories, how to deal, & questions, and in 2013 I wrote The Other Side of Jealousy. I don’t usually like to look at my old writing, but when I returned to these entries, I was happy to see that I’d come up with some valuable ways to cope with jealousy that are still useful to me today (even though I’m sure I’d hoped I wouldn’t need them anymore by now), and was also grateful that I’d been able, sort of, to name the fear that each time somebody made a piece of good art, there’d be less space for mine, less time for mine, rather than more.

Lemme say that again: One more good book / zine / blog / idea / performance / event / band / what-fucking-ever in the world makes more space for yours, not less. And I’m not being an arrogant jerk about this; this is a reminder than I need everyday, too.

One of the reasons I’ve worried about being forgotten is because I’ve become less visible in certain ways, sometimes by choice (like by deleting my Facebook account over a year ago, and blogging less), and sometimes not (like no longer being able to travel to zinefests, stay out late at night, or attend/organize as many events as I would like to). These experiences have given me opportunities for plenty of self-reflection, recovery-work, and magic-making, but it’s lonely, too. I’m trying to accept the paradox that the process of recovery can trigger the negative emotions and behaviours I’m recovering from. It’s okay.

I want to honour the part of myself who fears being forgotten, rather than react to it or try to escape it. I want to honour the hermit, the solitary, the quiet part of myself. I want to take a deep breath and know that all of my feelings and worries are valid; they may inform how I interact with the world but they don’t need to control it.

Fearfully Yours,

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P.S.: If you’ve benefited from my writing in any way – if my words have inspired you, helped you feel less alone, or sparked some weird feeling within you; if you’ve felt encouraged, or curious, or comforted – please consider compensating me by offering a donation of any amount. Whether you’ve been reading my writing for years, or just stumbled into me this afternoon, I invite you to help me sustain the process!

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