lately, really good at -
not feeling feelings
not making positive choices
making perfect fried eggs
not finishing stories, just starting new ones
not returning phone calls
listening to robyn
I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.
I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.
I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.
So much is different now.
I never thought I would be here.
I’m so glad that I am.
How do I know I want to sleep with you?
I want to read to you aloud, in bed, Denis Johnson’s “Steady Hands at Seattle General,” naked, sprawled over each other, my mouth wrapping so completely around each word, and you with your eyes closed drinking it in. I want to flex my toes to stretch out the cramps. I want to burn the candles to the end of their wicks. I want to exhaust you. That’s how I know.
“In a vacuum all photons travel at the same speed. They slow down when travelling through air or water or glass. Photons of different energies are slowed down at different rates. If Tolstoy had known this, would he have recognised the terrible untruth at the beginning of Anna Karenina? ‘All happy families are alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own particular way.’ In fact it’s the other way around. Happiness is a specific. Misery is a generalisation. People usually know exactly why they are happy. They very rarely know why they are miserable.”
Jeanette Winterson (Written on the Body)
“Come here,” I say, “sit here. I have to tell you something.”
There is that look of competition in his eyes; I know it well. I feel it from my own. He opens his mouth and all those white teeth are looking at me with eyes of their own.
In my head I have practiced this. I have sat in my car with my hands waving, the underlids of my eyes filling up, but not blinking. Keep those tears hostage, that’s what my mother said. If they see them in your eyes, but never on your cheeks, that’s when they know you’re not afraid.
I am not afraid now.
So many months later I am having breakfast with Carol. Tell her that I have to swallow hard in my throat when I see her because I know.
We all do that, Carol tells me. We all hate the new girl.
She’s not the new girl, I tell her. She’s the old one. I knew he always was intrigued by her, but he never got a chance because I was with him. Now I’m not.
Well, what does it matter now, Carol asks me. At the worst, she’s better than you.
She’s not, I tell her. I mean, I never trusted her, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s not a competition between us.
So what’s the problem? Carol asks. At the worst, then, he’s disappointing. Why should you care?
That’s just it, I tell her. That’s the worst thing - the ball in my stomach that rises into my lungs and bursts them - I don’t care. Not anymore. It is the saddest realization I have ever had.
Carol looks at me and sips her tea. She licks her lips afterwards and shrugs. I don’t get it, she says. Isn’t that the best thing?
Here’s the worst of it— I’ll tell you. You think the worst will come when you’ve left him, when you’re lonely, when your stomach is sinking into the blackness of your empty, empty heart. You think of possibilities. You think the worst will come when you sleep with people you don’t care about, and you remember what it felt like to be held by someone who loved you, back before, when you loved them. You think the worst will come when you decide to stop sleeping with people you don’t care about, and start making better, healthier choices for yourself, but then you’re lonely again because sex helps, temporarily, with loneliness. You think the worst of it will come when he fucks someone else and you don’t hear about it but you imagine it, you know it’s happening. Then you think, the worst will come when you do hear. You think the worst of it will come when he sleeps with someone you never trusted to begin with. You think the worst will come with you realize he has disappointed you from almost a year out, he has disappointed you by not growing up, by not moving forward, by not making good choices. Maybe you think the worst of it will come when you realize it doesn’t matter what you think, because his choices are not yours anymore.
You think the worst of it will come because you still love him, but the worst comes when you don’t anymore.
Here’s how it will happen, I’ll tell you. You will spend almost a year working on moving forward. You will think that you have mourned your memories, but more importantly, you have mourned your plans. You have cried in your car, in your room, in your friend’s houses, in restaurants, at weddings, when the father gets up and talks about the groom being part of the bride’s family now. You have imagined all the children you would have had and the memories you would have made and the living room plans you drew together - the couch goes here, we wanted a hanging rack for pans, we wanted a bay window. Open kitchen. Wall hanging. A room for all your books. You mourn the names you planned for your children, sheepishly, blushing at each other, making excuses for the fantasy, telling each other you didn’t really mean it, too embarrassed to admit that you did. You package each memory carefully and put it away somewhere where you will never have to look at it again. You think that you have felt all of the feelings, you think that you have hurt in every way that you can hurt. You think that you have felt the deepest loss, the deepest disappointment, the deepest resentment. You think that caring is the worst, and that you have felt it all.
It sneaks up on you, this thing. When you think that you have put everything behind you. For months you say to yourself that you do not love this person anymore, and you believe it because you are such a good liar. But then - but then. Something happens, and you realize the worst thing is that you now, for the first time, can say this honestly to yourself. You realize that all the other times you said it were a lie. You realize that you never meant it before. You realize that you expected the news of the new girl to hurt - but it doesn’t. You say to yourself, I thought this would hurt more. I was sure of it. I was sure that this would tear me up, but it doesn’t. All I feel is a mild disappointment that he has not grown up at all. All I feel is disappointed in his choice in the new girl.
But you realize it doesn’t hurt.
This fact - it hits you slowly. First all you feel is the absence of the hurt. You can’t recognize it at first, but once you can name it, it is yours. You name this void - say it out loud. “I don’t care. It doesn’t hurt.” You name your feelings - disappointment, disgust, but none of these feelings are hurt, jealousy, or betrayal. You realize then that you are feeling the deepest pain - the pain of the void, the pain of the palpable lack of love. You do not love this person anymore. When it is real, you won’t have to say it to yourself. The fact will hit you in the gut. You were prepared for this in middle school, when you played dodgeball and were always bad at it. You were practicing for this.
You are feeling this pain because you have been a liar. This year you have spent - you have not been mourning anything. You tried to move on, and you thought you had, but you were wrong. Now, for the first time, you truly understand that what you had is over. You understand this because for the first time you truly do not want what you had before. You might feel confused, because you thought you had done this months ago, but you hadn’t. You were a liar, and now you are telling the truth. You drop the torch you have been carrying and it goes out, just like that. Only now will you start to actually mourn your memories for the first time. Only now will you feel the actual loss. This is the beginning- now that you do not love, all you have is the space where it was.
Nobody tells you that the void is the hardest part.
Maybe people disappoint you because they change who they are, or they’re not who you thought they were. Or perhaps, the more frightening possibility - that they never were, or that they changed for you, and you for them, and that without each other one of you has ceased to change at all. But you don’t really know. You never actually know anything.
What can you do then?
I’ll tell you - nothing. You can just stand there, baffled, questioning every interaction, every statement, every declaration, every truth, or, you can release them. Release all of your memories. Stop holding them to something as it it means anything now. Let your memories go. They are over. Only you can change for sure. Only you can be certain that you’re growing up. Everyone else is just a guess, and very rarely one worth making.
This past weekend someone I considered a friend told me he’d rather fuck me than be friends with me. That my value to him was not as a person, but as someone he could have sex with.
This is not an isolated instance lately of someone who acted like a friend to my face turning out to be a selfish, disrespectful asshole.
However, I feel something I did not expect here.
I feel free.
For the first time since I ended my nearly six-year-long relationship in March of this year, I feel that what I had in the past is not what I want now. That who I was in the past is no longer who I am. I think for the first time I am growing up, really, truly trying- seeking happiness and positivity for myself, by myself, because I know that I deserve it. I see people I thought were friends turning out to be exactly the opposite of that. I see people I thought I had respect for treating others badly, thinking of themselves with no regard to how their actions and choices affect the people around them- and I realize that slowly, slowly, choice by choice, I am moving away from that. I am going somewhere else. I am finding the people in my life who have strong opinions and good hearts; people who are not afraid. People who are trying, like me, to figure out what is actually good for them.
This is the first time I have felt like I am finally out from under my previous relationship. The torch I was holding for it is gone, fucking burnt out. My life is really mine now, I think. I am only interested in people I care for, people I know care for me. I am only interested in people who are positive influences in my life, and people I can be a positive influence on. The people I am leaving behind- they can keep their contradictions, their hypocritical decisions, their momentary pleasures, their cognitive dissonance. They can associate with people they have never trusted. They can say these things, these devaluing, misogynistic things. They can be bad friends. I’m leaving them. I’m going somewhere else. They can keep looking over their shoulder for comforts from the past- I am finally, finally, moving fucking forward.
I have never felt free like this. Never.
Someone please come to my house and organize and deal with all my photos for me because I’m trying to clean and I can’t stand to look at any of them.
I should write a list of the absolute worst things about breaking off a long term relationship with someone who has been your entire life. I can’t even clean my own room without coming across something that makes me feel like I’m being punched in the gut.
OH NO STOP IT THIS ISN’T LIVEJOURNAL UGH.
but I can’t. So I guess the nameless internet will have to do.
“In spite of everything I loved you, and will go on loving you—on my knees, with my shoulders drawn back, showing my heels to the headsman and straining my goose neck—even then. And afterwards—perhaps most of all afterwards—I shall love you, and one day we shall have a real, all-embracing explanation, and then perhaps we shall somehow fit together, you and I, and turn ourselves in such a way that we form one pattern, and solve the puzzle: draw a line from point A to point B…without looking, or, without lifting the pencil…or in some other way…we shall connect the points, draw the line, and you and I shall form that unique design for which I yearn.”
(Invitation to a Beheading)