Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Because I didn't send email.

The shower in my master bathroom is small. It has good water pressure and I like it in there (which is good since my guest tub is filled with blankets and towels in case the dog gets scared and requires a safe spot to hide). If I lean against the far wall, the water hits me about chest level. I can rest my left elbow on the little bar above the soap holder and press the curve between my thumb and index finger over my eyes as I cry. It’s easy to splash some water up with my right hand when I need to rinse my face.

At about this time in my book – several months after being so miserable and depressed – my character (her name, for now, is Poppy) is moving on. She finds that the anger has faded and she’s healing as she makes room for the next man. I end the story with her being in love. She’s happy and loved and settled – I find it’s beyond me to deny her something she wants so badly, has worked so hard to achieve. So, right now, she would not be writing a blog post about how terribly sad she is.

The problem with the novel is that I don’t identify with the end. I do not – in all honesty – think there’s anyone else coming for me. I don’t mean to be dramatic or pessimistic. It’s just an evaluation of the facts. Some people end up alone. Some of those people had wishes to the contrary. It’s sad, but, well, what? You cannot force someone to love you. I’ve really tried. It just doesn’t work for me anymore than I can force myself to love someone. It happens or it doesn’t.

I think, if faced with myself in high school at this point – more than a year after I wrote that post – she’d be shocked that I didn’t find anyone. But I also think that once I explained how hard I tried, how much I wanted, how I thought I came rather close but was horribly, humiliatingly wrong, she’d understand. “Twenty-eight?” She ask. “And there’s no one? Not even a past love who has become a friend? Not a friend we might marry someday? Nobody?” And I’d shake my head and perhaps she’d try to soothe me as I cried.

I have been asked – by a few people, actually – if I miss Peter. And I nod because I do. A lot. Hatred – especially with great depth and severity – takes a lot of energy. Any wistful feelings were too sweet and gentle to withstand the heated anger that I felt. So I was protected to some degree. The sadness was lost while I worked through how betrayed and wronged I felt. But I’m done with that, I think. He said at one point – very early on when I was hysterically confronting him (not my most shining of moments) – that no promises were made, no commitments given. He tried to be clear about what we were and were not – this situation wasn’t even a real break-up, let alone a broken engagement or worse, a marriage that ended. That’s true. It’s also part of why I’m writing the book – a small part, but still. I had to justify to myself why it hurt so badly. Why I was so devastated then hateful. I’m figuring it out and it was OK that I acted badly in the process. I think I’ve started to forgive myself for that.

When asked if I wanted to be friends with him, I had to stop and think. Because my first reaction is that I very much want that. He is witty and charming and if you have his attention, he’ll rarely say the wrong thing. He understands people and is not cruel – he’ll try to offer advice or sympathy or some bit of wisdom because he thinks that’s what is needed. I felt – with him – confident and hopeful and sexy and, um, (this is really hard for me right now), safe. When things were good, I thought he knew me and liked me and that meant I wasn’t alone anymore. And as I sit on my couch, surrounded my used tissues and breathing deeply to avoid sobs, I can safely say I’m not so good at being alone. It was the first time I found someone and thought that I could tolerate him at his worst. When he was depressed or insecure or overly sharp or too critical or withdrawn or self-important – I could deal with it because he was worth it. His acceptance of all my flaws just made things click for me. And so I even miss that – sending lavish compliments when he was depressed, checking on him to make sure he was doing better, asking questions when he got too standoffish.

I miss him. As I’m left without anger, I find I miss him a huge amount.

As I started to cry – about 90 minutes ago – I thought about sending him email. Because I have so much to tell him. So many questions about his life. And I’m so sad that we don’t talk anymore. That I can’t tell him something I thought was funny or finish a story that I’d told him the beginning of. Rachel called the other day (I didn’t answer) and I think she’s going to announce she’s pregnant and my first thought was that I should tell Peter. We’d talked about her a great deal and how I struggled to be happy for her and her husband. He doesn’t deserve her. I’ve made someone understand that, but I no longer have access to him.

For me, in general, I still miss what was until I’m dazzled by what is. So if there isn’t someone else for me, I’m stuck with missing Peter forever. This realization is not new, nor is it welcome. It is, however, true.

If I am to miss him forever, then why can’t I send email? I thought as I gently closed the laptop, set it aside and moved down the hall toward my shower. No, I don’t trust him. I’d wonder if he was making fun of me with his current interest. I wouldn’t want to believe it, but to say that I knew him is ridiculous on some level. I might have, I guess, but I can’t know that. And I’m not great at trusting people in general right now, to be honest. When interacting with almost anyone, I’m leery. Wondering what they want from me. How they might hurt me later. So I’m guarded for no good reason other than fear. But perhaps, I rationalize, if I can work through my feelings about him, then I can trust everyone else again! That sort of makes sense.

Except that he’s moved on. He doesn’t read me, has overcome any lingering curiosity, has – I assume – decided that he’s done all he can or wants to and would like to escape without further communication that asks or tells or offers something which holds no interest for him. And that’s good – I think that’s good. It makes me wonder why I can't do the same, but that's OK too. In fact, in the absence of anger that convinced me he deserved to have to deal with me, I find I can resist the impulse to contact him. I can leave him alone – I really think I can. I know I should. I don’t want to, but I can. I can cry and shower and cry some more. Write a sad blog post that I likely should have incorporated into my book to shield you all from this messiness. But as I’ve documented the process so far, I thought this was worth mentioning. The painful part where I realize I truly lost someone I loved. Someone I shouldn’t try to get back because it simply isn’t fair.

If I had written to him, I’d have asked when it would stop hurting. I would have hoped that a friendship would ease the pain some. I think it’s just supposed to hurt though. And eventually it might get manageable enough to avoid inappropriate email and a weepy blog post.

I am aware, by the way, that we are at war. I read the Newsweek features and was very moved. I met someone with cancer today and could make a career studying said disease. I give money at church to feed the poor and pray for those with problems much greater than my own. Yet the search for love – for connection and safety and belonging – is of profound importance. The loss of that – the acknowledgment that it may not happen for me and I will forever be sad and disappointed on some level – is, I think, worth some time and tears.

But I think I’m done with this particular episode. I hurt, but I’ve stopped crying. I’m on my third glass of water and finally took Tylenol PM to help with the headache and to force sleep so that I’m functional tomorrow. I’m shaking my head at myself even as I feel the need to publish this. I have problems, I know. I really am working on it.


Anonymous said...

I really like your blog!

flossie said...

I think you'll be glad you didn't send the e-mail. Several times I've caved and sent similar ones, then regretted it. So good for you for being strong.

I have the urge to condescendingly say, "You're only 28! Don't give up on love yet!" Which I'm sure you've heard before. But...when I was 30, I was telling a friend there was no one I was dating, no one even on the horizon as a remote potential. She said, "Yeah, but you could meet the right guy tomorrow." Yeah right, I thought. It doesn't work that way. But it can and does.

BrightStar said...

I'm glad you didn't send the email, too, but I understand why you would want to... So much of what you're feeling, I imagine, is more about the loss of hope, the loss of an outlet for your love that you long to give, the loss of the love you received, but not so much about HIM, although to some degree it is about him... I think you would agree with me about this, but I know it's not any help. I wish I could ease the pain for you, but what's most important, I think, is that you're processing it, you're being honest with yourself about your pain, you're working through it, and I know you'll come out on the other side of this. It will take time and work, but you're definitely working on it, and that's a good thing.

I don't know... I guess all of that was just to say that we're with you and I'm thinking about you.

Anonymous said...

agreeing with flossy and b*. it's good you didn't send it... things will get better, and we are here for you.

The Contessa said...

Everyone here has made wonderful and valid points. I think they are all right - that email wouldn't get you the results that you want.

If you want to, write out a letter long hand and put it away. At least you are putting down in writing what you would say to him, but not making the error of sending it. Take it out in a few months, read it, then decide.

It's waited all this time, a few more months won't make a difference.

Maisha said...

i feel for you,katie,especially because i am pretty much going through the exact thng.
only i went and sent him a message.i still am trying figure out why i sent it but it makes me feel a bit better.will post about it later 2day.


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