Sunday, September 13, 2009

Barely Sunrise

One of the most deliciously luxurious habits I have is waking before dawn and curling up to think. I take comfort in the onset of sunshine, thoughts more reasonable and calm than they are earlier in the night, and consider some difficult concepts without the sense of frantic worry that often accompanies such ventures.

Since it's often unwise to speak openly about work, let's say I'm actually capable of having a relationship and pretend I'm talking about that.

In a former relationship - let's say 4 years ago during the time I happened to be doing my post-doc - I was a certain way. I threw myself into love because I believed in it completely. I'd waited and researched and carefully selected just the right man. Speaking words I could have scripted for him, handling neurotic shifts of mood with grace and humor, he actually seemed to believe I was attractive and somehow sexy.

I, in turn, was utterly besotted, seeing only what I wanted to see and willing to do anything to encourage his happiness. Try as I might, I remained painfully needy though, making 3 calls to his every one. I'd send emails and postcards and gifts because the very thought of him changing his mind - deciding as so many others had that I wasn't attractive or sexy or worthwhile after all - was terrifying.

Yet it happened, each of us growing more miserable and equally certain that whatever might have existed was gone. Making plans to stop, I abandoned each of them for far too long. He finished it, forcing me to release the grip I retained on the desperate hope that I wouldn't be alone forever. I decided there were at least some lessons learned.

When I met another man, I therefore behaved as differently as I possibly could. Rather than losing myself in immediate bliss, I was openly distrustful, testing him at every opportunity and never failing to express my derision and disappointment when he failed. Impressed despite myself when he was more amused than insulted, I decided that perhaps we were different enough to at least be friends.

And therein was the major difference - I no longer expect to find great love. I understand that there are some women who naturally pair with men - who, even though they may lose sometimes, will drift into new partnerships. Then there are those of us who seem to have our magnets flipped around - instead of the normal attractive force that should be exerted, we carry with us a repellent sense. So regardless of how lovely and funny, smart and charming we may be, eventually it seems that men tire of fighting the laws of physics.

Not all men, I told myself. I will not be needy. In fact, I will speak only when spoken to. There are no expectations - no issues if I don't get attention or affection. I'll simply be happy with what is - laugh at jokes I think are funny, spend time in discussions I find interesting. And, surprisingly enough, it worked for a long time. I didn't feel repellent and while I wasn't any less alone in a real sense, I certainly felt less lonely.

And when it started to crumble, I didn't try to save it, determined to finish this as differently as I handled the first. Instead of clinging, I released all ties, acknowledging I expected it to happen the whole time. There still remains a surprising sense of loss - of realizing I have a story he'd have enjoyed or missing that he validated some of my feelings they way few others can.

It was different, I told myself. And good while it lasted. But it's all reduced to a wrinkled-nose memory now so I don't see how it matters. I no longer exist in someone else's world.

Curled under my covers, staring at the fan swirling from the ceiling, I sighed and snuggled closer to my piles of pillows. Closing my eyes against the light coming through the sheer drapes on my sliding doors, I drifted off to sleep with the firm goal of not ignoring work again today. For though men go away as if I never existed at all, work is solid. And I will not screw it up this time. Demoralized and disgusted as I am, tired of the arguments and battles and disrespectful disagreements, I must make this work.

And I wish I could tell you how and ask advice rather than hiding behind lame analogies. Perhaps password protecting is worth another look, much as I dislike the idea.


Amelie said...

Sending some hugs.

Brigindo said...

I have to admit I'm totally confused but no matter what it means it definitely sounds like bad. I'm sorry and wish I could help.

Digger said...

Can you pw protect individual posts? Or have a separate pw protected blog where you post the most private stuff? I enjoy reading your posts, and would miss them if they all vanished behind a pw, but you need to do what keeps you safe.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about this. Sometimes when people pull away from a relationship (whether it be friendship or more), it may have to do more with internal conflict that they themselves feel. Maybe this isn't much comfort for you right now, but if I, too, could give you a hug, I would.


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