(I started this September 30th)
Many times in my life things have drastically not gone the way I planned. I didn’t expect my dad to get sick when I was 9. I didn’t expect to get told at 19 that he could die at any moment. I did expect him to die, but not in his sleep while my mother, brother and I ate tacos while listening to Lykke Li. I didn’t expect to fall in love and move to Oregon. Didn’t think I’d get hit by a car while riding my bike through downtown after a climate change activist meeting. I didn’t expect that not being with Z would be this painful.
When I was in high school I remember thinking I wanted to be unpredictable, spontaneous, out of control. I actually proclaimed I would give up inhibitions for Lent one year. I’m not even Catholic. I still want to be out of control, ask anyone who drinks with me. And I guess I’ve gotten my wish.
After my dad died I stopped planning. I didn’t see the point. I still only minimally see the point. There are so many assumptions you have to make about life in order to make a substantial plan, a plan worth having. I don’t want to make those assumptions because I think the more flexible the easier I can handle chaos, failure, problems. I gave up control in my family in order to make life with them as easy as possible, it was a mix of being invisible, but accommodating. It sounds ideal, and I guess maybe it was for my parents.
There is a part of me which knows I must let go of Z, who I thought I was with him, what I thought our relationship was, the flickering idea of a life with him, but in a carnal part of me I shout, “No, no, no, no, no, no more, not another one, not another loss, another change, it’s not in me, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.” I go to sleep with it, an ice pack over my head in hopes my eyes won’t be puffy in the morning, and it’s still there later in the day, when I carry my bike up the stairs of my apartment, when I cut up cauliflower florets. I am good at rationalizing, minimizing my feelings. I can talk myself down, through, out of a feeling, put up against something else and scoff softly, but I’m not able to treat this as an academic exercise.
(This is me in present day)
I feel very similar to how I did in the earlier part of this post, but I’ve let Z go. I won’t say I’ve established new “rules” for future relationships, I hate that start to any romantic comedy, but I know how complicit I was in my pain. I know I ignored the fact I sometimes thought he wasn’t fully in it, that there was something about me which was too much for him. I said that in therapy the other day and my therapist treated it like a paranoia instilled by low self-esteem, but it was really how he felt. He told me after we ended it that my emotional expressiveness caused him anxiety, he didn’t know how to support me. I could tell I was still far too deep in the pain when I found myself thinking, “It’s fine if he can’t support me, if I’m always questioning whether me being me is too much for him, I just want to be with him.” Calmete. The second I thought it I realized how far off the deep end I’d gone. I forgot there is a point when you’re in pain when brief relief is the best case scenario, anything, anything to make it subside for a little while.
I’m not in that degree of pain anymore. The pain is muffled by necessary everyday interactions, a trusting that the wick and kerosene are still there, I just have to find a new source of fire. By that I don’t mean I can only be exuberant when I’m with a partner, and I was actually shocked in a way when I’d lie in bed and realize I was still exactly the same. Rather, I recognize any mourning period. This mourning period is very similar to what I felt after Baba passed away – there’s a rawness to my emotions, an edge of reactivity. I know I won’t recall Z the way I do my father. I know I’m probably about six months away from my super esteem, it’s like the passing of a comet. I like that me, but I like me now too. Right after the breakup I couldn’t even fake good cheer, a first for me! I didn’t try to maintain a smile or even necessarily act happy for strangers at the coffeehouse, my face never got tired from grinning the way it has in the past. And it was fine. It’s okay to not be a laughing jester all the time. What a relief.