Me-shaped hole* vs. Pandemic Exhaustion

If my math is correct, and I'm not sure it is, I'm looking at four years since moving into my Tiny Cottage. Four years post-divorce. The years I've been alone are many more than that. 

Through January of this year I was caught up in creative mania; just when I wasn't sure I could keep up the pace, we got locked down. Every aspect of my day changed into a new pattern I had to learn. Neuro-diverse people don't usually do well with change, especially when it's sudden and drastic and mandatory. Change is exhausting.

Then there was that election that had all our hackles up, and now COVID-19 numbers are on the rise again. Solitude is welcome right now.

So much alone-time makes for so much introspection. More than ever, I'm cognizant of negative space, like that empty spot beside me where I'd thought a partner would reside.

I understand that space - in fact, it's shaped like me. We take care of each other. I surprise me with flowers or rocks, sometimes make a good meal and don't trip if we eat it out of the pan on the stove. I keep an eye on myself, and try to put me to bed when I'm 3-year-old fussy. I'm a pretty good partner, but I'm still doing double-duty. This, too, is exhausting. I'm not lazy, not unmotivated. Maybe a little stuck - but introspective enough to do some self-math correctly.

I can articulate what I want in a relationship: I do want to have feelings for someone. That's exactly what I do want. But I want them to have the same feelings for me, and I want them to leave me alone. Maybe put a cup of tea next to me while I work, maybe come to bed until I fall asleep and then go do their own thing. The person I'd married understood these concepts as they pertained to him, but didn't get that I would want them, too. One year, he went on 17 vacations, 8 of them with me. You can see why I'd be cranky.

Dating is weird; I'm a proponent of meeting through common activities. I still like myself, but frankly this relationship is starting to languish. We need interaction to synchronize ourselves with reality. 

When we resume face-to-face activities, though, I'm not relinquishing this me-shaped hole* beside me. It is me, and we deserve respect. I might start looking beside new people I meet, to see whether they give themselves adequate space. No use filling up a gap just because you think something is supposed to go there. I feel like this is an important concept. 

You are not lazy, unmotivated, or stuck - you're exhausted, too. Give yourself credit for whatever you accomplish, no matter how small. You did a thing. Take a nap.

*I almost give credit for this phrase to Todd Coapman, though he said it 'man-shaped void' in that book he's not writing.

Further exploration:

The Brain and the Now - David Eagleman  There's a lot to unpack here, but two things stuck out to me: the brain does a lot of audio & video editing to present simultaneity; and we have to interact with the world personally to know what's real. The only thing we can count on, he says, is what we do ourselves.

Hunger Without Shape - Melinda Smith  Mel and I often discuss the concept of negative space - how it isn't really empty at all, but valid as figure to ground. You have to keep an eye on her, because she's sprouting art everywhere. You can listen to her read the poem here: Without Shape, on Soundcloud.

Our Indigenous Astronomical Traditions - Australian Government  

My dear and long-distance friend-I've-never-met-yet Mariana has been telling me about similarities between Andean and Australian Indigenous astronomical traditions - not only do they give names to collections of stars, but also negative space. Here's a depiction of a space in the Milky Way known as The Emu - Emu in the Sky by Kyle Pickett:

Shared Sky: The SKA's Indigenous Astronomy/Art Exhibition   "Shared Sky stems from a vision by the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) to bring together under one sky Aboriginal Australian and South African artists in a collaborative exhibition celebrating humanity’s ancient cultural wisdom. This vision embodies the spirit of the international science and engineering collaboration that is the SKA project itself, bringing together many nations around two sites in Australia and South Africa to study the same sky." 


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