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it wasn't me, it was my strange and creeping doubt - shadows of echoes of memories of songs
j4
j4
it wasn't me, it was my strange and creeping doubt
Well, here's what I wrote earlier only to find that ntl: was down. Feeling a bit better since I wrote it, after an afternoon spent reading The Saint Plays With Fire, and then an exhausting karate lesson.

* * *


Went to the pub last night and spent most of the evening feeling guilty about not making it to Octaine. I hope dreamingchristi isn't too offended but I know it was just me being useless & I'm sorry. :-( The Kambar just seemed so far away and I couldn't face the bike-ride in the dark and the wind on my own, and it would have cost so much more money what with paying to get in and then paying a small fortune for any palatable drinks, and, and.

The rest of the time, I was just feeling guilty about how much I've hurt sion_a. It's horrible seeing him so upset all the time and not only not being able to do anything about it but knowing that it's all my fault he's so unhappy. I want to be there to hug him and look after him, because I do care about him a lot, but unsurprisingly that seems to just make things worse. He doesn't seem to know whether it does make things worse or not, though, so I don't really know what to do.

Today I have been mostly wandering round town in a state of slightly dazed existential angst, which I've tried to paper over with rampant consumerism. This rarely works, and today was no exception. I forgot to buy the new JobFinder, but finally got round to signing up as a volunteer for the Oxfam Bookshop. This, unfortunately, is likely to cost me money as I will end up buying books; but it's All In A Good Cause and won't do my CV any harm if I'm applying for work in the charities/NFP sector.

I bought some very cheap yellow Doc Martens. I'm trying to decide whether to paint them to look like BEES or just to buy purple laces for them. (Look, it's freshers' week, okay? There are lots of people being this predictably 'alternative', one more won't hurt. Athena should be selling out of Munch's The Cry and Dali's Birth of Narcissus right about now.)

Last night saw more weird dreams, about shoes and underwear and cinemas. My mum and I were looking at shoes and I was trying on some shoes with an enormous heel which looked like they were made of glass but they were actually some kind of perspex, and the heel was stripy, alternating between transparent and translucent perspex. I also tried on some black boots which were described as Chinese boots, and they were a size 4½ but very tight on me, and I remember thinking something about how it was because of foot-binding that Chinese shoes were smaller. I spent ages trying shoes on, and then when I came to get dressed again (I don't know why I'd had to get undressed to try shoes on) they were starting to close up the shop and all my clothes were all over the place and they'd all become really tiny so I couldn't find them easily, and my earrings had fallen on the floor somewhere.

The other bit of the dream that I remember was that I, hoiho, lnr, ewx, and sion_a were queueing up to get into a tiny cinema to see some weird arty film, and then hoiho had to go somewhere else so we said we'd save a seat for him, but when we got in there the seats were moveable and some lads were moving all the chairs and I tried to save a seat but another bloke picked up the chair, and I said "Excuse me, that's saved, look, there's a coat on it", and he just ignored me at first, and then he tried to say something to me and halfway through him speaking I turned to ewx and said "I'm just going to the loo, can you save this chair for me?" and the other bloke who was taking the chair away said "Hey, why did you do that?" and I said "Well, you didn't listen to me, so I didn't listen to you either." And he pointed at my head and said "Your hair dye's growing out", and I said "Is that the best insult you can think of?" and he said something rude, and then said "It looks like [something I can't remember]" and I said "looks like your mum's arse, more like". And then I went out of the cinema and went to look for hoiho, who still hadn't come back, but I couldn't find him, so I thought I better had go to the loo because that's where I'd said I was going, but the cubicles didn't lock properly and they were only half-doors anyway and I was trying to get out of my corset to go to the loo and I couldn't, and this girl from school [whose name I can't remember, though I think I knew it in the dream] was in the next cubicle, and I asked her to pass some loo paper over and she did, and I got into a conversation with her about smoking for some reason, I think because there was somebody smoking outside the cubicles, and ... I think I woke up not long after that, because I can't remember any more.

I feel detached from everything. Dreams and boots and guilt and everything. It all feels like the debris of someone else's life, rendered meaningless by time.
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From: kaet Date: October 10th, 2003 04:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
I dreamt of the National Library of New Zealand. It was inside a forest, and very few people knew about it, you could only get to it by tracks and scambling up and down banks and through nettlebeds. It was very confusing inside, so I spent a fair deal of time drawing maps in order not to get lost.

I can remember the layout.

There was a large central hall, which was open and contained newspapers, magazines, comfy chairs, periodicals, enquiry desks, and so on. This was the oldest part of the building, and was a cavernous single floor which sounded like a swimming pool. A newly attached wing on the left held all the records of lives of everone who'd ever lived in very boring accountant-like detail. It was full of hack reporters drinking beer and wheeling around on those library ladders. They'd pick a file out at random and copy down some random seciton of it. Then they'd move on to another file. Then they'd bash away on old mechanical typewriters and send it to newspapers. The files were colour-coded with those little round stickers they had at primary school, blue was for suicides, red was for death in warfare, white was for martyrdom, black was for still alive. Some reporters went around looking for files of a particular colour. This was a sort of Arts&Crafts building, three stories.

To the right of the main hall was a giant stationary/DIY place, like the IKEA warehouse where you could rent out wood and things, like books, this was considered normal and unremarkable. Beyond that there was a further extension. This extension had airport-bookstore type racks, IT terminals, and so on. It was full of popular science books, blockbuster novels, coffee table books, and so on. It was the busiest bit of the library with people. It had giant windows at both ends overlooking most of earth.

The final extension on the right led to a cramped area which was a bit like a cross between the old Ken Market (a bit like Camden Stables, but more so, for those who've not been), and the UL "Front" stacks. Very twisty/turny, very low cielings, very bussly with alternative types. The ground floor had many interesting books on subjects I happened not to be interested in, iyswim, so I knew I was in the right place. I hunted down many kinds of staircases leading to places like shopping malls, and car-repair places, and restuarants, and many kinds of public space. In the end I found a very small staircase next to a portrait of a russian sailor crying. At the top of the stairs were all kinds of fascinating books on odd subjects, and a goth clothing shop which sold lovely hair extensions, false nails, sparkly hair things, and lots of stuff in PVC and velvet.

And then I woke up and it was all a dream, as they say, :).
sesquipedality From: sesquipedality Date: October 10th, 2003 06:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
I posted earlier, but LJ seems to have eaten it. I'm not offended that you didn't come, although it's a shame you weren't able to be there.
ewx From: ewx Date: October 11th, 2003 04:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Coincidentally I had a film-related dream too, though actually got to see the film, which I was watching with my mum and brother, but the film and the framing of the people I was watching it with then leaked into each other and after a dream-sequence, involving a house floating down a river, within the film-without-the-film I woke up and found my brother was downstairs fixing his car.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 13th, 2003 05:48 am (UTC) (Link)

thought from a well-wisher

"The rest of the time, I was just feeling guilty about how much I've hurt sion_a. It's horrible seeing him so upset all the time and not only not being able to do anything about it but knowing that it's all my fault he's so unhappy. I want to be there to hug him and look after him, because I do care about him a lot, but unsurprisingly that seems to just make things worse. He doesn't seem to know whether it does make things worse or not, though, so I don't really know what to do."

If you really have left him, then move out, even if it's only next door. It's not fair, at this stage, to eat the New Relationship Cake whilst having the old cake in the cupboard, ensuring your net access is secure and helping you worry about the car and so on. Of course you want to be friends, but you have to renegotiate a friendship on new terms which respect his new boundaries. You can't take what he may or may not be offering for granted; he has to have the right to refuse to help you with things - he's not obliged to help you any more, your futures may or may not lie together now, your commitments are elsewhere.

That doesn't mean you don't see him socially, or indeed every day if you both want to; just that you can help him by removing your omnipresence from the living space you shared as lovers and partners. You can support him better and be stronger yourself if you have space to yourself; he can choose to invite you in to the old house or not, as he wishes. Right now he can't choose to exclude you from his space: you live there; and he is in the loser's corner all the time. It will be fairer. You can work out dividing stuff later on when you have got used to living apart and the act of sorting things is less painful.

This may seem harsh, but really itr isn't meant to be; go. It's hard, but do it, even as a temporary stopgap. It will help!
j4 From: j4 Date: October 13th, 2003 10:49 am (UTC) (Link)

Long response (part I)

It's not fair, at this stage, to eat the New Relationship Cake whilst having the old cake in the cupboard,

Since I don't know who you are, I don't know how much you know about me and sion_a. It sounds from what you've said as though you may not be aware that we're both polyamorous, and we were both in other relationships while we were still going out (and are each still in those relationships now).

It also seems you may not be aware that we jointly own the house we live in. When we split up I offered to move out, and sion_a said he'd prefer me to stay and see if we could make things work as "friends and housemates". I happily agreed to that because I thought then (and still think now) that the process of selling the house and dividing up all our belongings would be too depressing to contemplate; and while he can manage the mortgage on his own, he said (note: his idea, not mine) that he'd be too lonely rattling around in a big house on his own.

ensuring your net access is secure and helping you worry about the car and so on. Of course you want to be friends, but you have to renegotiate a friendship on new terms which respect his new boundaries.

I do respect his boundaries. I've asked him what works best for him, and I'm happy to agree to anything (within reason!) that'll make things easier for him.

You can't take what he may or may not be offering for granted; he has to have the right to refuse to help you with things - he's not obliged to help you any more, your futures may or may not lie together now, your commitments are elsewhere.

Yes, I'm aware of all that. And I rather resent the suggestion that I'm taking him for granted; not to mention the suggestion that he's incapable of refusing my requests if I make them. Even while we were going out he wasn't obliged to help me with anything, and I wouldn't have assumed that he would. I try not to take my friends or partners for granted, and I hope that they'll always feel they can tell me if what I'm asking is out of order. (Yes, I've asked sion_a for help in the past and I'm extremely grateful to him for the things he has done and does do for me.)

sion_a From: sion_a Date: October 13th, 2003 03:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Long response (part I)

he said (note: his idea, not mine) that he'd be too lonely rattling around in a big house on his own

Just in case anyone didn't catch that: I'd be terribly lonely rattling around this big house on my own. And I think I'd be terribly lonely and insecure going back to living on my own. And given that, I'd much rather have a housemate I've already been living with for three years and who actively cares for me. Not to mention co-owns the house.

If the domestic situation is difficult for me, that's my choice. j4 offered to leave; I could have made the logistically more sensible offer for me to leave. I rejected those alternatives, because this is what (under the circumstances) I want, what I consider is the best choice for me. That it works out quite well for j4 is also relevent, but is by no means the whole story.
j4 From: j4 Date: October 13th, 2003 10:49 am (UTC) (Link)

Long response (part II)

You can support him better and be stronger yourself if you have space to yourself; he can choose to invite you in to the old house or not, as he wishes.

I have plenty of space to myself. We have separate rooms, we can come and go in the house as we please. And since as far as I can tell you don't know me particularly well, I don't think you're terribly well placed to say what will make me "stronger".

Right now he can't choose to exclude you from his space: you live there; and he is in the loser's corner all the time.

I offered to leave when I split up with him; I've offered again since then, and each time he's said he'd prefer me to stay living in the house. That doesn't sound to me as though he's trying desperately to exclude me from his space. You may not credit me with the ability to communicate with the people who are close to me, but please (since you appear to be trying to save him from my evil clutches and my heartless taking of him for granted) at least credit him with the ability to tell me the truth about what he'd rather I did.

I have worried on occasion that he wants me to stay because he thinks that that way there's a bigger chance we'll get back together. I've voiced this worry to him, and made it clear that whatever happens in the future is unlikely to be changed by whether or not we stay living together now; and he still says he'd prefer me to stay. Again, there comes a point where I have to trust him to know his own mind in this matter.

Basically I've been as open and honest as I can every step of the way, and I believe that sion_a has done the same. I also trust him to know his own mind. We've renegotiated the terms of our relationship to each other and agreed to try to make things work out as friends and housemates. Yes, there are problems, but there are always problems in any relationship (in the broadest sense), any friendship, any houseshare, any human interaction. It's not a once-for-all decision; it's still in progress (like all friendships/relationships/etc.) -- if either of us decides that we want or need to renegotiate the situation, we'll do so.

Care to tell us who you are, incidentally?
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 20th, 2003 03:35 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Long response (part II)

My name is Katherine, I live in Oxford, and there was a phase in my life where, if I had the rare time away from academic stuff, I looked in at ox.talk. I recall being a Virtual Supporter of one Janet McKnight... someone whose comments illuminated the ox.talk landscape like sheet-lightning on a summer's night. I recall how hard you took your breaking away from a previous partner; how giddy, how happy, how delighted you were with Sion and how that developed; how pleased you were when you bought the house. I know you ascribe to polyamorousness. After some time I wondered how that interesting young woman was getting on, and it was easy to find out.

I know very well the grim realities of the economics - emotional and financial - of splitting up a household in a town where the housing market is under pressure. Thankfully it hasn't been my direct experience, but I seem to have helped friends pack a lot of boxes in the last thirty years.

Now for your post and mine. You said "I don't know what to do." Nowhere did I say you should go forever; you will see, I think, I said "even if temporarily". Nowhere did I say "evil clutches" or imply it, either. I was responding to what was, clearly, a bruising situation. I felt sorry for you and for Sion, primarily because I would always feel sorry for anyone who is the person left out of the new equation against their will or wishes. I have seen every kind of relationship, just about, in its various phases, and one constant in dissolving romantic partnerships is that a temporary physical separation of the individuals involved always helps, even if it's only for a week or two.

*Heartless* taking him for granted? No: it is possible to love someone to bits and to care for them deeply whilst breaking up with them and yes, to some extent, taking them for granted. Nobody is so uber-rational that they can control or even know their every shade of emotion 24/7.

I do credit you both with lots of good attributes, to be sure, but at the time, you and Sion both expressed a great deal of understandable anguish - and on your side, Jan, guilt and unsurety as to what to DO, to which I responded. If spelling a lot more out in order to dispel my ignorance didn't help either of you, sorry about that.

Undoubtedly the cracking intelligence you both have will stand you in good stead in the future, with which I wish you both luck.
j4 From: j4 Date: October 20th, 2003 06:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Long response 2 (part I)

I'm, er, flattered (in a kind of embarrassed way) that you were a Virtual Supporter of my persona on oxnet. I hope that reading my LiveJournal has helped you to get over it, though: I've changed a lot since then, but one thing that hasn't changed is how uncomfortable I am with anything that looks even remotely like admiration.

[Did you post to ox.* as well as reading it? I'm now wondering which Katherine you are...]

* * *

I felt sorry for you and for Sion, primarily because I would always feel sorry for anyone who is the person left out of the new equation against their will or wishes.

I'm not sure what you mean by "left out of the new equation" -- this still sounds like you're referring to new relationships. Just in case it wasn't clear before: sion_a and simonb were partners before and are still together now; hoiho and I were partners before and are still together now. I don't think the presence or absence of those other relationships would have changed the outcome of my relationship with sion_a at all.

Yes, I made the final decision. But splitting up was, in a way, against both our wishes -- I didn't want the relationship to fail, but I had to accept that I couldn't ever see it working in the way that we had wanted/intended it to work. That hurt me too, especially because I was the one who made the decision. (If you feel this still makes me less deserving of sympathy, then I guess there's nothing I can do about that. I'm not angling for sympathy. I just disagree with the idea that breakups are always easier for the one who does the breaking-up.)

I have seen every kind of relationship, just about, in its various phases, and one constant in dissolving romantic partnerships is that a temporary physical separation of the individuals involved always helps, even if it's only for a week or two.

I've seen plenty of relationships, and I still think this depends a lot on the individuals involved and the nature of their relationship. I'll repeat, because I'm not sure I made it clear enough last time: sion_a asked me to stay. He said that while it might not be easy, he'd be more unhappy if he had to live on his own again immediately. He did take a week's holiday away with his parents to get away from everything, and hopefully that helped, but he has repeated several times that he'd prefer me to stay living in the same house as him. Now, I'm delighted that you've seen so many relationships and have gained so much knowledge and experience from this, but I still think sion_a might reasonably be expected to know better than you when it comes to the question of what he wants for his life!

I have to say, too, I can see his point of view -- certainly I don't think spending a couple of weeks being crushingly lonely in a large house still full of my ex-partner's stuff would make me feel better. Perhaps you think I should move all my stuff out, even just temporarily? We're not talking about packing a few boxes: we're talking about half the contents of a 4-bedroom, 3-reception house. Even if I could spirit it all away, sion_a would be left with a half-unfurnished house in which to live.
j4 From: j4 Date: October 20th, 2003 06:28 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Long response 2 (part II)

*Heartless* taking him for granted? No: it is possible to love someone to bits and to care for them deeply whilst breaking up with them and yes, to some extent, taking them for granted. Nobody is so uber-rational that they can control or even know their every shade of emotion 24/7.

Well, obviously -- and I certainly never claim to be über-rational! But that's why I communicate with him, and find out whether he thinks I'm taking him for granted, rather than just relying on some kind of nebulous emotional thermostat. And ultimately he's the only one with sufficient information about his feelings to decide whether he's being taken for granted or not.

(To be honest you could quite easily argue that he's taking me for granted by asking me to stay on and look after him while I'm trying to make the break from the relationship with him. I'd disagree with that as well -- I don't feel that he's taking me for granted, I don't resent the situation one bit, I'm more than happy to stay with him as a friend and housemate.)

[...] on your side, Jan, guilt and unsurety as to what to DO, to which I responded.

Well, I'm listening to what he wants, and I'm doing what I can to ease the situation. I still believe that whatever I do, I shouldn't assume that I know better than him what's good for him. But I don't know what to do within that context -- there may be things I could do to make the situation easier while not actively going against his wishes. There may not. This may be the best we can manage at the moment -- it's not going to be easy no matter what we do. And no matter what I do, I'm going to feel some guilt about it; even without "well-wishers" telling me that I'm doing the wrong thing, I tend to feel guilty about pretty much everything I do. (Of course, that's my problem, not yours or sion_a's; but I'm entitled to moan about it in my LiveJournal if I want. And yes, other people are entitled to comment. And, of course, I'm entitled to disagree with them. And so on...)

I guess the bottom line is "Thanks for the advice, but I still think you're wrong in this case"... I hope you're not too offended.
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 20th, 2003 08:40 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Long response 2 (part II)

No, not offended. I made a suggestion and enlarged on some elements of that suggestion. You found it patronising and offensive. C'est la vie!

You both have the advantages of realisable assets in your large house, and intangible assets in terms of your intelligence and determination, so you should get on in the long run just fine, with whomever you end up choosing.

As I say, good luck with it all!
j4 From: j4 Date: October 20th, 2003 09:37 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Long response 2 (part II)

Er, well. I was a bit offended at first, mostly because I didn't think you knew enough about the situation to be telling me (as I perceived it) what to do. I'm no longer offended, I just don't agree with your diagnosis of the situation! As you say, "c'est la vie".

And I'm sorry if I'm sounding more offended/irritable/just-plain-rude than I mean to. I'm not in a terribly good mood at the moment for a variety of reasons -- none of them your fault, so I shouldn't take it out on you. Maybe I should just hide under my duvet until I feel like a normal human being (or what passes for such round here) again.

Thanks for the good-luck wishes. I'm sure things will work out okay in the end somehow; they usually do, in one way or another.
lnr From: lnr Date: October 13th, 2003 02:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: thought from a well-wisher

If you're going to make suggestions on this sort of scale don't you think it would be polite to say who you are? Jan's answered your other points well, but I want to reiterate this one in particular.

You also fail to consider that living alone is considerably more expensive than sharing a house, and that the mortgage still needs to be paid even if Janet isn't living there. It's not always financially possible to go anywhere else.
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