The letter was innocuous enough.
Friendly, in fact.
It was written with only the best of intentions, with my feelings in mind. I appreciate that.
It shouldn’t have surprised me, shouldn’t have caused that feeling where my stomach drops and I re-read the words in order to make sure that’s what I really read the first time. I shouldn’t care in the least.
This should be inconsequential.
But it’s not.
And that’s what upsets me.

When feelings sneak up on you, catch you off-guard with your defenses down, it’s like a kick in the stomach. We build up walls to protect ourselves from one thing or another, and prepare for situations accordingly. When you know you MAY run into him, MAY end up at the same party or event, you at least feel somewhat prepared, a false sense of control that serves to soothe your nerves just a bit. (At least with a beverage or two…) Yet when it comes out of the blue, it makes you vulnerable. And it’s this very vulnerability that I’ve been closing myself off from, saying I have moved on from, trying to put behind me.

I talk a good game. Just today in a feedback session my coworkers told me that I was “Always up, always positive.” Oh, if they only knew… I struggle with my emotions more than most people are aware of, and though I do try to portray a positive outlook on most occasions, that doesn’t mean I’m not pained, not stressed, not sad. I just choose not to act on it most of the time.

Denial? Perhaps. I know there are many things, many events of the last few years that have changed me, caused me to become more jaded, led me to a present I’m not 100% content with, that I’ve yet to deal with. I’ve said that I’ve got to make sure others are ok, that they get through this, and then I’ll deal with myself. A dangerous game, this emotional Russian Roulette, since you never know when it’s going to all come out. Perhaps it’s about time to deal with me.

I thought I had moved on, that learning this wouldn’t affect me in the least. It shouldn’t, after all, since I’m in a much better place and much happier now than I was 6 months ago. It shouldn’t, after all, because I respect myself too much. It shouldn’t, after all, because he doesn’t deserve it. And the fact that it did affect me, that I’ve been feigning complacence and closure and insignificance, upsets me and shakes my very foundation. After all, if I’m not 100% over this, what else can sneak up on me and expose other hidden vulnerabilities?

I never got closure. I still don’t understand. I went through the hurt, the anger, the acceptance – basically the stages of grief that they (whoever “they” are) say that we go through in a time of loss. I scolded myself for letting him in again, chastised my forgiving nature for being so foolish. If there’s anything I hate, it’s feeling like a fool, and for this I was ashamed. I learned a lot about myself, about others, and the sadness dissipated. It became less and less of an issue and though I never really understood, it didn’t really matter. Why should it?

And yet I know it’s this very issue, the lack of understanding, that is causing these feelings. It still doesn’t matter, doesn’t affect my life in the least, won’t be affecting my future one bit. In all practical, physical senses I have moved on…WAY on. Yet the heart doesn’t play by the rules of the mind, and feelings aren’t predictable.

I like to think that endings are final, that separations are permanent. In this case, it’s easier to believe that once someone is out of my life, at least from my perspective, they are gone. They no longer have a place in my life, in my heart – they don’t DESERVE to any more. You understand the difficulty, however, since I have a website, I vent my feelings in an open forum, I withhold very little, especially when I’m pained or contemplating something. Yet I can’t help feeling bitter – angry, in fact – that they have the opportunity to check up on me, see where I am and what I’m doing, what movies I’ve seen recently and whether I’m dating someone, if they’re not actively in my life. It’s like a surreptitious infiltration of my feelings, and I don’t think it’s fair. Still, it’s unrealistic to think that my desire for a final separation, for the complete removal from any aspect of my life, could happen. It’s out of my control.

There’s always an easy way and a hard way out of a relationship. Let’s be frank – telling the person the real reasons why it’s over is more than a little scary most of the time. So instead of saying that her constant talk about marriage freaks you out to no extent, you say you need space. Instead of saying that you met someone else, you say that distance is too hard. And sometimes, instead of saying anything, you disappear, evaporate, leaving so much unsaid and so much unfinished. It’s the coward’s way out, but I’ve seen it happen to my friends, and have seen it happen to me.

So why do I write about it? Why, if this could be read by the very person who caused this contemplation, do I share that it has affected me? In an open forum I am exposing this very vulnerability that I try to disguise – doesn’t that seem counterintuitive?

I do this for myself. I write for myself. I work through different feelings by writing about them, and while I know I could do it in my journal or in a private letter, I find that the public admittance of my foibles and flaws and thoughts and even my hurts grounds me in a way that I finally know where I am. Right now, I know my presence, whether I’m 100% happy with it or not. In a small, knowingly unrealistic way I am gaining control of a situation that I basically have no control over.

And in a small way, I feel a little better. I begin to listen to logic. Despite a lack of closure, which I may never get, I know that it really doesn’t matter.


One thought on “Unanticipated

  1. This one hit a little bit of a nerve. There inevitably comes the same situation for many of us, where something aweful happens to hurt us, and we can’t even begin to comprehend the reason why. You want closure. You want to understand, and that’s a perfectly normal response, but it just doesn’t always happen that way. Sure, it’s happened to me before…half asleep, getting kissed goodbye in the morning, and hearing ‘have a nice day at work’, only to never be the same way with the same person again. It’s a tough, dry cookie to swallow, and there’s just not enough milk to wash it down. But at the same time, there’s some simple truths I’ve realized that allow for acceptance and the passing of the shock, the easing of the pain. At some point, while you may still think about it, still not understanding, you might come to realize that at some point, you’ve said all you need to say. At some point, while you might feel like a victim for feeling hurt, for feeling weak, it’s actually you who’s the stronger person, the better one, the one who didn’t act like a coward, the one who continued to care even when it was completely pointless, and an obvious waste of your time. But, most of all, I realized the simple truth of it all not to long ago when I was telling a friend about an ex-girlfriend I hadn’t seen in forever, who called and asked to come by and talk, and how I allowed her to come, and listened to her rub it in some more, before I let her leave without me saying a word.
    “I don’t know why you’ve continued to put up with her after all she’s done,” my friend said.
    And then the answer just popped out of my mouth: “Because when it comes down to it, the only thing I have control over is myself.”

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