Getting a Grip on Reality

There’s really no better feeling than being single and not worried about it. I feel that too much emphasis is put on being coupled, when in reality, most people get married before they even know who they are. I heard a great “This American Life” episode that spoke to it this weekend. It’s called “Choosing Wrong,” and the first few minutes talks about both relationships and work, and how we are so likely to choose wrong in both of those directions because we expect to take on these gargantuan tasks (finding work and people we love) using only intuition… and a complete lack of cognizance on our parts as to where we might really fit into both of those things. For instance, most people get married without knowing the ways in which they are annoying to live with (shut it), and that living together before marriage doesn’t even bring out these tendencies. Most people have to deal with their failed expectations, and don’t realize that there’s so much of the time that you’re not sure you chose the right person, because the miracle isn’t in the intuition. It’s in the dedication… the same could be said of work. Even the jobs we love come with days where we wonder if we’ve made the right choice, and a lot of times we are not prepared to deal with that reality. It takes a gargantuan “it gets better” campaign to get through one’s career and love life.

It resonated with me because I knew there was an “it gets better” campaign in my marriage to Dana somewhere, but I failed to find it in time. I don’t think either one of us were prepared to deal with loneliness, even when the other was home. I don’t think either of us were wired to deal with all our failed hopes and dreams as to who the other person really was. We all can accept our partner’s outstanding parts… it takes a leap of faith to accept their downright dirty ones…. and we all have them, even me.

There was nothing I wanted more than for my life to go back to the way it was, with Argo and Dana and me all able to make room for each other and for the wiggy “more than a friend” feelings for Argo to go away for me so that I didn’t have to deal with them anymore in the context of my attention being better divided between the two of them, because as Argo and I descended into a world of secrecy, I couldn’t help but let my attention be diverted, because it wasn’t that Dana didn’t need me and Argo did. It was that Argo needed me more right then. We were lost in our own little world for far too long, and then when Argo said to make sure Dana saw all, I showed it to her… and it made Argo so mad she said she’d never forgive me for it. I didn’t understand… I was lost and hurt because she told me to tell Dana everything, and when I did, she slammed the door in my face. It didn’t start out that way, but it became a major divide and conquer op on both sides. Tell Dana, but don’t. I’m ok with Argo being your friend, but I’m not. My fatal mistake was putting Argo and Dana on the same level, trying to please them both all of the time. I spent a lot of time mystified at all of our behaviors, with not enough time in the day to realize making both of them happy and keeping myself happy, too. Aaron and Dana will both tell you that I was a fucking mess. The only thing that really kept my sanity intact was that they occupied completely different parts of my brain, and never crossed over. There were plenty of times when I was with Dana that I thought about/talked about Argo, and plenty of times with Argo that I thought about/talked about Dana. But there was never a time in which I wanted that marriage and that friendship to fall apart, until I got so anxious that I didn’t know what to do. I could think of them as completely different people and situations… the crossover came in the verbal processing about them, because I needed a place to go with my feelings about both of them.

To her credit, Argo never got tired of hearing about Dana (except for when she thought I was making excuses, and I thought I was giving her context for comprehension), but Dana sure as hell got tired of hearing about Argo. I thought I had an open line with both of them to say what I was feeling, and in retrospect, I did not. I also did not have the abiliity to bottle up my emotions and just ruminate about them in my head, because hearing their insights helped me immensely. Sitting and thinking alone led to descending into depression. Hindsight is always 20/20, because as Søren Kierkegaard once said, “we live life forwards, but we understand it backwards.” In that way, I now know that I was out of my mind not to get a therapist so that there was someone listening to me that didn’t have a horse in the race. Talking to Sarah, my therapist at Vesta, was the first time in which I felt true relief, because she was able to show me ways of lifting myself out of rumination, out of sadness, etc… but writing has also helped, because as any therapist will tell you, you don’t get better one hour a week.

I am also one of those people that will use a thousand words when one will do.

I am sure that I cut both Argo and Dana to the quick with both of them, which just feeds my intuition that this is not the right time for a relationship. However, I am not opposed to going out with people and seeing if we have that “friend-click” that could turn into something down the road. If I think hard about my relationship with Dana, I come up with the answer that in our own way, we were 1930’s courting in our own best friend kind of way. There were times when we could read each other better than we could read ourselves… and very possibly, that was our undoing.

Dana “just knew” that she was losing me to Argo. There were two problems with that. The first is that I didn’t feel that way, and never would. The second is that Argo didn’t feel that way, either. I saw my feelings for Argo as inconvenient and foolish… even more so in retrospect because of the bleeding heart it caused on both fronts. You can’t win a war on two fronts, and it certainly felt like I was fighting one. Fighting to keep my head above water, mostly.

Argo began to see my defense mechanisms as threat, and I don’t really blame her. It’s just all so fucking sad. What I wouldn’t give to be able to just have said, “I’m anxious,” without it coming across as fits of rage that no one deserved, especially me… because I didn’t hurt Argo nearly as much as I hurt myself. Shame and regret are both horrible, horrible things, and I have a lot of both to slowly work through over time. She wasn’t emotionally equipped to see the anger for what it was, and shouldn’t have to have been, anyway. I should have been able to manage my own emotions, but I wasn’t, and the pattern became entrenched unless we stuck to “ladies who lunch” type topics. Over time, anything I sent, no matter what it said, was either ignored or taken as a gutter-snipe even when that was the furthest thing from my mind… but she’d respond with escalated language, anyway, and instead of writing it off, I’d just escalate even more, because my sense of injustice would just boil and I’d try to give her a taste of her own medicine… and even though it’s painful to admit, negative attention was better than no attention at all… choosing the wire monkey that had once been covered in soft, thick cloth.

That worked out well for me, as you can see even if you’re a casual reader. And by “that worked out well,” please know that if this is your first entry, you can read that dripping with as much sarcasm as you can muster.

It’s why I’m deathly afraid of choosing wrong, no matter what kind of love a relationship entails. I don’t want to fight with my friends, either… which is why I’ve spent so much time “in the desert,” not willing to branch out and make any new friends, sticking to the ones I had before I moved here in the first place… or going to church, where every relationship was intellectual but not emotional… or at least, if it was, you could have measured the emotion with a teaspoon.

I isolated so much that even my roommates didn’t see me for days at a time… married to my own thoughts and how to direct them into something better for myself. I may not be able to solve all of my issues, but at least I have a grip on what they are.

Day by day, I am choosing right.

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