9/19

Here are some things I’m trying to do better:

Be more honest. With myself and also with people that I love. I don’t mean this in terms of lies, exactly. Mostly I mean that I need to start putting more on the table.

Be less scared. Take more emotional risk. See above

Know my limits. Stop trying to tough my way through everything. It’s okay to come back to things later when I’m better equipped.

Write more. You have that notebook for a reason.

Breathe.

Tough

“I get it. You’re tough now. I get it,” he snapped as he abruptly sat up.

I was moving that day and had asked him to collect the last few of his belongings that I had been stowing away in my closet for the previous six months. I was behind schedule in the packing I needed to complete and I was anxious for him to take his things and his leave. I craved the space in my room and the ability to return to my increasingly frantic and haphazard filling of boxes. He seemed unaware of this.

This was the first time he had been in my room in two months. He strode into my bedroom with the confidence of someone who had spent a great deal of time there. He seemed clueless to the nature of his visit and immediately lay down on my bed, which was at the time only a mattress on the floor. Although my furniture was taken apart and leaning against the wall and there were boxes strewn around the room, all varying in the amount they were filled, he appeared disinterested in my move. The only time he addressed it was when he double checked that I was moving only to a neighboring town and not out of the country.

So there we were: he, lying stretched out on my mattress, looking as comfortable as if it were his own bed. I was sitting up, a full arm’s length away from his body, his chest heaving gently in his contentedness. My shoulders remained tense and eventually our staccato small talk redirected to the nature of our relationship.

“Maybe it’s partly my fault,” I told him, “maybe this is all part of a learned behavior. I loved you deeply. I clung to you. And because of that I allowed you to behave horribly without consequence. So maybe this would’ve been okay then. But it’s not okay now.”

“You’re tough now. I get it,” he spat.  I held his gaze steadily but I did not respond. “I’ll just get what I came for then.”

He stood suddenly and forcefully as he grabbed his backpack. Two fast steps brought him to my doorway, where he paused, only half-facing me, waiting for my protest. Eventually, he spoke. Eventually, he left.

So, I guess I’m tough now. And try as I might, I cannot find the reason for such disdain. I imagine life is easier when there’s someone there for you relentlessly who craves your attention and does not set boundaries. What a lovely luxury that must be, even if you find reason to lie to your friends about it. But I got a bit bored of being someone’s secret and the knowledge that it is just one more thing keeping me stuck in the quicksand of Western Mass. So, I’ve let go of a lot. I weathered a lot. I found a lot. And now I guess I’m tough.

PTSD of the heart

For no real reason, other than maybe my distaste for unpacking boxes and getting organized, I sat around and read through all the emails I had sent since I opened my Gmail account in 2006. If you’ve ever done this before, then you’re already aware that this is usually a mistake. I’m aware too, but I am also weak to the fascination and horror that envelopes me when I read old letters. Who is this person that wrote these words? The events they reference are only a vague memory. And the words themselves? They could have come from anyone. I identify with almost nothing. I can read back 3, 4, 5 years. Sometimes more. I see the rise and fall of distinct relationships. The ways in which I am currently intertwined with people and their lives seems entirely unrelated to our previous correspondences. Why are there so many excruciating emails of clinging and terror when in just a few short years none of it is even really relevant anymore? The only thing I have in common with the person who penned these letters is the arrogance with which I often write and the physical body I possess. (And if you want to get right down to it, that’s not even entirely true.)

Here’s something that reading these emails confirmed for me: my feelings in terms of love and romance are flat out fucked. I had a conversation with a close friend the other day where I expressed my frustrations with my previous romantic relationship. (And while it was a serious relationship for a long time, I’m gonna go ahead and use the word romantic pretty lightly here.) As I’ve mentioned before, (surprise! we’re talking about “John” here. See  https://lustyglutton.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/ex-boyfriend-franz-ferdinand/ for further reading) I spent a few agonizing years being woefully codependent and crossing my fingers that this shit relationship would work itself out. Not that I was passive, to be clear. I tried every single thing I could think of to make it work. I’ve become a pretty introspective person as I’ve grown up, so I spent a lot of time examining the things I did wrong in this relationship. The problem with this was that when I tried to adjust my behavior and take responsibility for things I ended up throwing myself under the bus a little bit. I owned up to more than was really mine and my ex was never big enough rectify that. Or probably even recognize it, actually. Reading these emails forced me to see that again. I’ve begun to realize that I experienced such emotional turmoil for so long that I’ve been rendered nearly incapable of sorting out and naming the things I feel. I have never had this problem. Ever. It’s like PTSD of the heart or some shit.

I told my friend that I felt as though I no longer had any idea what it felt like to be in love. “You’ll know when you are,” she told me. No! No, no, no. I loved someone for years and years and my love for him became twisted with fear and resentment and bitterness. The love I felt for him made me feel nauseous and gave me waves of anxiety that made me feel short of breath. It was laden with tension and neediness and jealousy, but when I dug deep I could still find my genuine hope for his well-being and success, even if it did not involve me. A few of these issues were simply ones that I brought to the table from the start. A lot of them, though, I’m coming to realize were only the result of being in a broken relationship that satisfied neither of us. Maybe not quite that simple. A lot of  my issues arose from being with somebody who constantly told me he did not want me–in both his words and his negligence–but kept a firm grasp on my wrist. I was weak and inexperienced enough to mistake his hold for a secret caress and as such I set myself up for a very long and painful two and a half years.

“You’ll know when you are.” That’s a thing that people get to say when they haven’t been in a relationship like that. I think really, really hard about it, but when I reflect on the feelings I had for John, I just can’t isolate a memory of feeling in love with him purely. There’s no muscle memory for it. I believe that it existed initially, but that was a long time ago. I cannot recall how it feels to love someone without also feeling anxious. I cannot separate it from jealousy or neediness or codependency.  I did know when I was in love. But the last love I felt was mutilated and impure. I’m afraid that my previous relationship has damaged me to the point that I cannot recognize certain emotions for what they are in either myself or other people.

My little sister used to throw “the L word” around really casually. The second she started dating someone when she was in 8th grade she told him she loved him. It drove me absolutely crazy. But I think it’s just a thing that teenagers do. After a few hours of reading my old emails, I came across a few from the beginning of my relationship with John. Just a couple of weeks into our relationship we were writing to each other between classes to express our love for one another. I was 17 years old. Could I have really fallen that hard and fast? Or is it because I was only 17 that I was genuinely able to do so? I honestly have no idea. I am so different from the girl who wrote those emails. Maybe I am jaded and damaged now. Mostly I’m just not that girl.

I’m also not the girl who wrote the emails a year ago pleading for the phone call promised and then neglected by an ex-boyfriend. Or maybe the confirmation of a weeks-old plan. When she received no response, which was often, she’d take to writing a new email that cited her frustration with his careless and negligent attitude. Soon after, there would be an email full of apologies, self-condemnations, and promises of changed behavior. God, that makes me feel sort of ill. I am not her.

What a strange personal history. Old emails are far more telling than any blog could ever be.

8/29

What a day.

I am currently paralyzed with stress. I am moving in three days and am unbelievably overwhelmed by packing, even though I don’t have that many things. I need to give away my cat. I haven’t told my shithead landlords I’m moving.

My heart is still a bit blue and I have no idea what to do with it. There is nothing I can do about it for a while, and even after that while is up I’m unsure of my next move. In any case, I need to workworkwork so that it’s feasible to do ANY of the three things I want to do. And work is hurting my fucking body.

Heartsickness led me to have a lengthy introspective discussion with a close friend about some defensive behaviours I have in terms of relationships. It was difficult and honest and I’m still processing some realizations I had. I want to write it out at some point but I’m so fucking freaked out by all the other stuff I need to do that I don’t know when I can fit it in.

 

I saw a map of Tel Aviv today and felt terrible. I can’t explain the feeling. I saw the names of the streets and to everyone here they’re just names. But a week ago I was there. I walked them and I smelled them and I felt them. Seeing them as just lines on some intangible map felt perverse.

 

 

 

I don’t know what to do with myself.

8/27

Okay. Remember that post a week or so back? I said something about how I was sure my time away from Israel would be long. I had made peace with that before I had even arrived at Ben Gurion.  Even halfway through my time there I could swallow and accept it. But feelings are never static.

I have never cried so hard in public as I did while I stood at my departure gate last Friday morning. I felt dizzy. I railed against my decision to leave. It felt like a submission. I thought about running back down the corridor. I reminded myself that my life isn’t a movie. I resisted the urge.

I spent the last two days moping. I woke up on Saturday feeling like something was missing. I lay in bed for a while, still unshowered after a full day of travel. When my hunger finally dragged me from my sheets, I stood in the bathroom and stared at the tan lines on my naked body. My hair was unbrushed. I got in the shower and sobbed.

I tried a few times that day to look at airfare and try not to choke. I drank wine. I told myself to hold it together. I felt overwhelmed by the knowledge that I could not confide in people I would have a few months ago. I was amazed by how lonely I felt when I couldn’t be touched by a certain pair of hands.

But then, a wonderful boy’s wonderful mother reached out to me: “How are you holding up?” I told her I was heartsick. There was no point in not being frank. She was warm and sympathetic. She told me to keep writing.

So I am writing. Even if this particular piece is a hot mess. Even though things don’t feel as bright as usual right now.

I don’t think I’ll ever be much of a submissive person. I am determined and I make things happen. The moping is easing up. I’m replacing it with a sharp desire to figure things out. This is the sound of my action brain.

A friend said a couple really tear-jerkingly lovely things about this:

“Brutal, tangled, and beautiful.”

“[you] have matured a great deal, pulling back the layers, like onions skins. And like onions they burn, sting, and make you cry- but they are also so versatile and delicious.
You are prepared for this. Let it in.”

Letting it in.

Throat

When I was in my early teens I spent a few years feeling pretty emotionally unwell. Let’s be serious: even now I have varying stretches of time where I feel low, low, low. My feelings of poor health always start in my head. My mind feels dark and heavy and clouded. Then my chest hurts. Eventually the sensation creeps into my limbs, rendering me unable to get out of bed. My head aches, my muscles get sore, and I cannot bear to feed myself. I become stuck in a cycle of feeling physically empty and then ill. I pity myself. I curse myself. There is mental illness pumping through my veins and I lie in terror, fearing I am becoming my mother.

I´m better at combatting this now. Not perfect, but better. When I was 14 I hadn’t yet gotten any handle on my depression or the physical ways it manifested itself. I felt trapped in my house and turned instead to the typical angsty coping methods of my age group: poorly written poetry; mediocre drawings of anything macabre; and the late night touch of a razor´s edge to my thigh. I was found out by my mother at some point, of course. I don’t doubt that on some level she felt a kind of maternal fear for her troubled child. Despite this, her discovery opened the floodgates to such a seemingly endless potential for drama that she was incapable of resisting her urges to manipulate the situation. The months that followed were doubtlessly some of the worst of my life.

Following the afternoon she spent reading and copying my poetry and journal entries, she embarked on a lengthy track of humiliating me under the guise of mother love. She kept my notebooks and sketchbooks in a locked safe in her closet. I was brought to the emergency room for psychiatric evaluations, where my mother warned them I´d run away. She spoke at length to anyone who would listen and I was left helpless and ignored. Suddenly my mother had a list of phone numbers to half the therapists, psychiatrists, social workers, and guidance counselors in Franklin County. She purposely held her conversations with them in my presence, knowing that I was humiliated and enraged but could do nothing.

The days of tension were unceasing. When I was through with my evening shower, she would charge up the stairs and demand that I show her my naked body so that she would know if I had begun to cut myself again. I sobbed and resisted, but she wouldn’t relent. My grades, which were already poor, dropped even more once I had to attend upwards of five appointments every week. It was clear that I was suffering, and my mother–maybe subconsciously–did everything in her power to ensure I did not get well. She has always had a bit of a love affair with doctors’ appointments. When I presented her with new opportunities for such, her thirst became unquenchable.

My mother fancied herself to be the victim of my depression. The cupboard became filled with psychotropic medication. At appointments her comments outweighed mine and I eventually shrunk back as she grieved over and over, “She´s just so angry!” I don’t think the relentless cycle of appointments and medicine was ever about me regaining health. I believe that I was just another ailment about which to spend hours lamenting. I was just another kidney stone; another stomach ache; another night spent throwing up.

Eventually I fell ill. I remember the day clearly: I was in the ninth grade and my hair was fading from a vivid magenta. I barely ate at mealtimes, probably as a result of my constant Seroquel haze. It was April. I sat down next to my boyfriend in our school cafeteria, looking shapeless in my faded Tool tshirt, over-sized ripped jeans, and my pleated black skirt. I was sipping on some chocolate milk when I noticed a pain in my throat. It was not the normal, scratchy irritation of an oncoming cold. I felt as though there was a lump of some sort and no matter what it was that I tried to eat or drink, it’s presence was excruciating.

The school nurse offered no solution that was worthwhile. She doled out a horse pill-sized Tylenol and a raised eyebrow. My mother was, of course, happy to phone a few doctors and to take me to the emergency room the following day. I was weak from not eating and one doctor prescribed me Vicodin so that maybe the pain would subside enough to allow me to ingest something. In the car my mother declared, “I’m not letting you have narcotics!” as though she were alluding to an imaginary habit. If that script was filled, I never saw it.

As such, I spent the next couple days lying on the living room couch. I refused all food and the discomfort in my throat never waned. I could scarcely drink a sip of tea. I became so weak that my mother called an ambulance and, unable to stand, I was carried outside by an EMT.

The hospital was a blur. I vomited bowl after bowl of pure bile. The acid stung my throat and brought tears to my eyes. Trays were filled with vials of my blood and drugs were administered through needles that bruised my arms and hands. I nearly passed out on the way to the bathroom and nurses had to guide me back to the bed. I stayed there for a week. I weighed 98 pounds.

I regained my health slowly. Maybe it´s my imagination, but I always thought being out of my house made a tremendous difference. One day, after another uncomfortable visit from my mother, she snapped that maybe she just wouldn’t come to see me anymore because I didn’t seem interested in her company. I like to think her absence helped me get well.

I was discharged the day of my 15th birthday. The nurse came in and greeted with my first name: June. I hated being called June. She expressed concern that I hadn’t gained enough weight and said she´d have to speak to my doctor before they could let me leave. Frustrated, I laid back in bed. I had  been off the IV for days. I had energy. I was eating normally. What was this obsession with my weight? I was a skinny girl; simple as that.

Years later, I sat at the dining room table with my newly-legal guardian. We pored over papers with official headings and handwriting in the columns. A manilla envelope, stamped, “CONFIDENTIAL,” lay a foot or so away.

“What the fuck?!”

My guardian looked surprised at me. We were reading notes from my former therapist and psychiatrist. I had found notes that pertained to the sessions I had missed while I had been in the hospital two years before. I learned that my mother had phoned to let them know I wouldn’t be in for my appointments. In their discussions, the doctor noted that they had come to the conclusion that I had been starving myself. The pain about which I had complained was thought of as an act. Suddenly I understood the knowing looks of the nurses. Everyone had doubted the legitimacy of my ailment. The realization sickened me.

I explained my upset and my guardian looked at me lovingly. “That’s so interesting,” she said.

We talked for a bit about physical manifestations of mental and psychological issues. She suggested that maybe I’d become so emotionally weathered by the onslaught of problems in my home life that my body had to demonstrate it in a different way.

“That is so interesting that it was your throat; that you just couldn’t swallow it anymore.”

I just couldn’t swallow it anymore. I just couldn’t swallow it. I can´t help but agree. Why don´t we listen to our bodies more?

Goodbyes

There are times I’ve said goodbye and felt sure the separation was temporary. I would say most of the goodbyes I’ve said in my life have been this way. A few months ago, I experienced for the first time, that a goodbye I had said previously had become more firm and certain than I had initially realised.

An old friend dropped me off at an airport and begrudgingly aquiesced to a kiss on the cheek after an exasperated reminder that he had promised. It was a disappointing, half-efforted gesture to aptly finish off the recent four and a half years. I was well-learned and unsurprised.

A week later, I was driven by a very different boy to an airport some 6000 miles away. He kissed me goodbye warmly and readily. He laughed when I told him no one had ever sent me off that way, declaring, “This is classic!” The contrast turned my world upside-down.

I hardly spoke to the first boy for the initial few days I was back in The States, despite the sudden uncharacteristic spike in his need for my attention. I was reeling after my return and I knew with my entirety that I could just not fill the old role he expected of me; I couldn’t stomach it.

As it turned out, the goodbye with this boy wasn’t nearly so final as I had hoped. He sought my attention endlessly. He called me and stopped by my house without warning. When I spoke to him, the distance in my voice reflected that which was in my heart. His voice, though, dripped with gloom and longing. And soon, I was filled with guilt. After all, there was not much he had done wrong in the recent month.

We went out to dinner one night and spoke of nothing. He criticized the food I ordered. I told him of a nice letter I’d received from a former friend’s father. I had been touched, but he found lines at which to jeer. He contributed nothing to the conversation and left me to talk and talk, hoping something I said would intrigue him enough to reciprocate. I had begun to resent seeing him, even in its infrequency. Whenever my memory lapsed and I began to miss him, nights like this were the cure.

In the span of three months, I avoided him; guiltfully and remorsefully took him back into my life; fucked him; and found that our disconnect was omnipresent. Together, we are broken people. There is no mending it. The space between us is resoundingly heavy. And silent.

It should be no surprise that I did not request his help upon my next trip to the airport. Although it was previously my habit to allow numerous chances for there to be some change–any change–in our interactions, I have since wisened up. I do not need to feel indebted. I have grown far, far from him. Our persons simply cannot meld. And once again the finality seems concrete.

So, here I am again. For two weeks I am free to walk and lie in warm white sand. The taste of sesame is everywhere and the deep throaty sounds of this language make me melt. I spend my nights with someone who calls me amazing. My mornings are spent sleeping peacefully, wrapped in his sheet and holding his hand. Someday, too, I will have to move on from this ambrosia. Someday soon; time is tricky.

I have said goodbye too many times this year for one person to rightly stomach. I have severed relationships of all sorts and sat with their finalities, however fitfully. Family, friends, lovers. No one has been safe from my pursuit of self-preservation. And here I am now: drinking white wine at 3am in some cafe on King George Street in Tel Aviv. Is this the reward my severances have brought me? I’m inclined to say yes.

But what now? Now I must again say goodbye to this place I associate with such personal freedom. I have never felt such a home away from home, as much as I detest the cliché. It’s not possible to come back as quickly as I have just done. So how do I say goodbye, not only to this Mediterranean sun, but to this incredible Tel Aviv boy who helped change my life?

Last time I left I knew I’d be back soon because I felt it with my whole. Now, though? Now I know well that my time away from Israel will be long. I know nothing more detailed than that. I know that the world is open to me and I’m going to explore it. The same is true for this boy, for that matter. I know that entertaining the hypotheticals–the what-ifs, the coulds and woulds, the maybes– is pointless.

Most of the time I have distinct (and usually accurate) feelings about situations like this. When I last left, I refused to say goodbye, and instead said, “see you later.” I could say the same this time around, but every time I run that scenario in my head, I interrupt myself with the harsh resonance of one word: when? And if I truly have no idea how to answer that question, in what manner do I take my leave?

But I’ve already voiced my discomfort with this. And when I asked we responded in kind: the shrug was on our lips. There is no answer. This is just what I’ve gotten myself into. Oh, Tel Aviv. You have seeped into my skin.

Little Things

I’ve been noticing more details lately. I notice things in songs I’ve listened to for years. I’ve been looking at pictures of places to travel and I always seem to end up short of breath. Colours are brighter. I’ve been studying linguistics and dreaming about them too. I am more in tune to things in other tongues and to the history of my own.

And there are still days where I feel I am in a fog. My entire body aches and my bones feel like they are about to collapse. Everything feels heavy and sometimes my eyes feel glazed. I am lonely. But my lows are not so low. I can shake them just enough. And in two weeks the sun will be mine.

Ex-Boyfriend (/Franz Ferdinand)

Charm you and tell you

Of the boys I hate

All the girls I hate

All the words I hate

All the clothes I hate

How I’ll never be anything I hate

You smile, mention something that you like

How you’d have a happy life

If you did the things you like


I listened to Franz Ferdinand’s, “Dark of the Matinee,” yesterday for the first time in something like five years. It brings me back to a lot of closing shifts on warm summer nights in Shelburne Falls. I remember mopping and laughing with old friends while this album played in the background. At that point in my life, I was still posting lyrics that suited my mood to my AOL Instant Messenger profile. My away messages reflected the same.

I was seeing someone at the time. Let’s just go ahead and call him, “John.” John was cynical and jaded and aggressive in his criticism. He knew what he liked and was at least as certain of the things he disliked. It was never that he merely disagreed and never that he was indifferent. He was never on the fence. There was never an instance of him simply not caring for something. John loathed things. He found them disgusting and despicable. People, politics, ideas, books, and songs all came under fire with equal vigor. I loved him deeply. These lyrics spent many days on my away message as an affectionate reference to him and his unwavering opinions and condemnations.

I have never been a stupid girl. I’m too curious; too interested. I was never seduced by John. But there is something absolutely irresistible about being the object of someone’s affection when that someone seems to love nothing. He was well-read and smart. Not only were his ideas organic and sure, but they were new and fascinating to me. He introduced me to new music and I found that although he was arrogant, it was in the same vein as my own arrogance. I was swallowed up in my love for him.

I granted John the right to act bored among my group of friends and I attended family events alone, despite repeated invitations and his admitted availability. He didn’t like the company I kept, and while he supported me spending time with my friends, it was a rare day that he would join. When he told me of his hatred of family events, I thought he was onto something. We both come from broken families. Maybe John had found freedom from some archaic ritual to which I was still woefully attached. People asked me questions and criticized his absence. I joked about engineers and defended his choice despite my own disappointment. I was the ambassador of his furrowed brow and sullen lips.

Eventually I forgot about Franz Ferdinand. John hated them anyway. I moved away, as did most of my friends. I spent my days working or seeing my boyfriend. I felt so lonely and stagnant at times that in retrospect I can see that it bordered on despair. I had entered a phase of depression that turned out to last for months. I was uninspired and hateful. John and I broke up one, two, three, five hundred times. He told me I was miserable and sometimes he felt like it was his fault. I told him I was just a miserable person. I felt the way I had in middle school: I was unhappy because I was enlightened. It’s both wildly arrogant and depressingly passive, and in this, it seems to breed the right to idleness. I accepted disliking everything and feeling as though I had no friends. The only pleasure I sought in my life was in the company of John. We drove each other crazy. I was sure we were soul mates.

Things are different now. There has been a great deal of things that led to the change, but I tend to think that a trip to Israel cured me. I chose to do something selfish and it resulted in one of the richest and most pleasurable experiences I’ve ever had.

I heard, “Dark of the Matinee,” yesterday. John still fills the role of the first person when I hear it. However, the meaning has changed slightly. I’m no longer the girl who can be charmed by an extensive list of things that a boy hates. I’m not an airhead who’s going to respond with a giggle and a wistful sigh. I do not let my attitude imply that doing enjoyable things is somehow unattainable but, wouldn’t it be nice? I am someone who does things. And I do things for the mere enjoyment of them. I work almost entirely so that I am able to do the things in which I take pleasure. I don’t have the time or energy or tolerance to indulge someone’s unproductive negative bullshit. Grow up! It is unbelievably unattractive. I really believe that it’s an outright refusal to be happy or content or to find something rewarding and enjoyable. Having been with someone like this for years, I can tell you that any denial of that is either ignorance or a straight lie. Thank you, Franz Ferdinand, for reminding me of how far I’ve come.

well, here’s something

I struggle with getting lonely. Maybe everyone does, but for me it sometimes still feels like an affliction. It’s rarely a passing feeling, consistent to that of boredom; my loneliness takes hold.

It took me years to notice that among the people I knew, this depth of longing was not normal. It has really only been within the last year that I’ve become aware of why it is that I become so enveloped by this. I try to reverse it. You can only do so much.

My life feels like a series of people leaving. And if they weren’t leaving, they were disappointing in monumental ways. My father, my mother. My father never looked back. My mother chose heroin. It’s funny how things can happen to you when you’re a child and you seem to recover quickly enough. I’ve always looked and felt resilient. But the truth is that I am damaged and it manifests in ways of which I am only now becoming aware. You can ignore your daughter’s existence from the time she is 2 years old until she calls you when she is 7 and you hang up on her. You can go about your life and she can go about hers. You can bring her along to live with your abusive boyfriend and on your late night trips to buy dope.  You never have any idea what you are doing to your child. You can beam with pride at the things she does when she is young: the books she reads, the pictures she draws. But I will never understand how people think that they got away with it. How could it ever be possible that you have not affected your child with your choices? I am terrified of having children.

I remember a time when I was still living with my grandparents. It must have been when I was in second grade. A friend told me she couldn’t come over after school like we had planned. I sobbed for an hour.

In my early teens I sought solace in a friend on the internet. He was 20 years my senior but understood me like only my closest friends did. I befriended my uncle and confided in him when I could not trust my mother. Maybe I had daddy issues. In any case, they both left. My uncle shunned me when my grandparents disowned me. My mother told me I ruined the family. My online friend got married and told me to stop speaking to him.

I remember a time soon after moving in with my guardian-to-be that I got home and could not find her. I was anxious and disappointed. I was  certain she had left without me. She laughed and took me in her arms. She told me she wouldn’t leave me.

This all seems so trite when I write it out. How do you explain how much these experiences shape you? Although they were not necessarily jarring, I have carried them with me. I make poor decisions to keep people in my life because I cannot bear the thought of losing more relationships, even if they are not healthy and rewarding. I cling so hard to the idea of having some kind of stability that I allow myself to settle in ways that I should not. But I’m learning.

I find that I frantically try to find ways to make certain people like me. I’m overbearing. For years after my ex dumped me I bought him clothes, linens, packed his lunch. I cooked for him and cleaned for him and taught him to do laundry. I explained how to keep a house and how to take care of a shitty winter’s cold. I remember his friend’s birthdays and phone numbers. It’s never that he expected me to do these things. It’s that if he didn’t want me anymore, maybe being needed would be okay. I didn’t resent it. I tried to take care of him because I genuinely loved him…but also because I desperately wanted for him to decide to have me stay. It shocked me when I saw it was just another area of my life my loneliness had creeped into. It’s all abandonment issues, really. But I don’t want to just be useful anymore. I’m learning to reign it in.

So, there it is. Pretty much the groundwork for all the issues I have. Emotionally, I mean. every single time I write a post I realise that I simply can’t write it properly without laying this out first. I hate talking about it. It seems so absurdly stereotypical and whiny. I discovered this all last year and spoke to the people with whom I wanted to speak. I’d rather just be aware and let it go. Somehow I feel like talking about this out publicly is too much of a window into everything I do. I could be wrong. Maybe that’s just what I see in myself. But I am nothing if not self aware. And now maybe I can write again.

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