The Yellow String

Describe one positive change you have made in your life.

In my world, a connection to someone that’s romantic is a red string. A connection to someone that’s platonic, but every bit as intense as a romance is yellow. Right now, those people are Zac and Bryn. I made the decision to have Bryn as my emotional support because we’ve been tight since I was 19 (off and on until I was 23 and moved to PDX). That means we’ve been friends since Jesus gave me his beeper number. Being that close to someone and having that kind of emotional shorthand takes time to build, and for me, is too heavy to put on any relationship I can’t define.

It’s a whole different vibe, to feel like I have a ride or die who, if she could, would drop everything and run right over. We’re planning a visit where she comes here eventually, because last time it was my turn. 😛 It will be great to show her my version of DC, where the wings and mumbo sauce live.

I was kidding her about renting a hotel room for the express purpose of watching trash TV and eating cereal out of the box, which in my opinion, is a good time. My sister and I have done it, so I speak from experience…. Although I don’t think we had cereal. When she comes here, we tend to stuff ourselves at Zaytinya to the point we can’t move.

Here’s the important thing that’s come out of having Bryn as my top priority. Conversations like this, where I’ve said that being with Zac has stopped the tape in my head where I have to figure out everything from soup to nuts in five minutes:

Cheers to that. So much of my healing is learning to listen to myself and my body and frankly increase my selfishness to allow my selflessness to have actual meaning and not just be a trauma response. And it is amazing how much loving myself more allows others to feel I am loving them, when that wasn’t my goal at all lol but shhh dontell

I told her that I felt the same way, but that she put it better than I would have. I don’t want to increase my selfishness to an obscene amount. It’s that previously I wasn’t taking care of myself or setting boundaries at all.

With the ones who wouldn’t or couldn’t set them with me, I let them go because I was tired of living in gray area. I’d been running full steam ahead towards relationships that weren’t definitive in terms of who does what. Elizabeth Gilbert has said, and I’m phrasing, that she doesn’t believe there’s any story of self actualization that doesn’t begin with getting tired of your own bullshit. That’s where I am. Looking back over the wreckage I’ve done to myself by letting things remain so unclear.

I have a feeling that started when I was young. Keeping every option open all the time because I never knew when she was going to put me back in the sunshine. That’s all my own crap now. I’m an adult. I can decide if someone is worth waiting for or whether it’s costing me too much in self-esteem.

Here’s the thing that melted my heart with Zac this morning, our string turning burnt orange (because who doesn’t like burnt orange, hook ‘em amen?). He’s a fan. He knows how much my faith means to me, and he’s an Atheist. He proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that things that are important to me are important to him, something that friends should share. He gave me a button that says “God is in the details.” I told him that I loved it because theologian Pete Rollins says that a/theism is the greatest love story ever told, and the truth is in the slash.

I know that there have been horrible things done in the name of God. I deeply apologize for all of it, because I am not here to defend any of it. I’m here to tell you what I’m reading, written long before the Crusades, for example. Jesus is my perfect example of more power with than over.

There’s also a reason that my favorite friendship through reading and watching YouTube is Christopher Hitchens and Rowan Williams, then Archbishop of Canterbury, and had to retype because I wrote Rowan Atkinson first. I coexist because of the same spectrum through which I see gender and sexual orientation. Specificity is in tiny degrees, and there are millions of permutations.

One of my favorite classes in College was Logic I. I was terrible at it, but fascinated by the subject. Using symbols to reflect arguments made sense to me, up and to a point. Then, my brain just scrambled.

The argument was God, for half the semester. Then, it was not God for the rest. I spent that class all up in my feelings, which is probably why I nearly flunked. I was thinking so hard about the emotional complications that I didn’t have room for stuff that was math adjacent.

It boggles my brain to hear people arguing about religion, just the easiest way to blow my hair back with excitement. I have a limit, though. I do not like atheists who proclaim their lack of religion as my moral failing, like if I didn’t believe in God I would be a better person, but I’m not.

Let me say for the record that it doesn’t matter whether there’s a God or not. I don’t pray hoping for answers. I pray and the process of laying out my thoughts gives me the answer. God is the voice I call my inner monologue, because that’s where I’m open to receiving spirituality. People do that in different ways, and it is not about “one is better than the other.” It’s about being able to access that part of yourself at all. Christianity is my way of doing it because it’s how I was made, my default setting. Plus, it’s a universal library of images which lets more people understand me than would’ve had I used something specific to the US.

When I access that part of me, I can talk to myself for hours in pro and con arguments, because I want to know and be prepared for anything and everything that could happen, amen.

I am the president of Overthinkers Anonymous, except there’s only me and a VP, so there’s only one chapter and it’s really only us…………… and we’re not friendly, Bob.

As I was telling Bryn, I can be more present in the moment with Zac because I don’t have any real heuristics on dating them. Patterns don’t emerge for me the way they would with a woman because I have no idea what in the hell I’m doing and for once, I’m okay with it.

For once, I can sit in cognitive dissonance and not be threatened by it. I know that no matter what, I am safe to say what I mean and mean what I say. This is because Bryn and Zac are both the kind of people that are hugely capable of knowing their opinions on how they feel. Thoughts and feelings working in concert. I am giving my energies to them in different ways. I’m a handful, and they’re capable.

It’s just that Bryn has a quarter century more blackmail material than Zac, and not for nothing, she doesn’t use it. I would be ripe for the pickings, I’m telling you. Not only that, she’s seen a lifetime of the real me, even when I didn’t know she was looking. Her teenage perspective to my twenties is so amazing, because she remembers things that I don’t and it makes our institutional memory stronger. She reminds me of everything good and everything bad about Portland, and I let her. That’s because she’s the person I can just say, “I feel horrible right now.” I never require her to agree with me about anything, but I know that she’ll hear it. I also am surprised by how many of our memories line up, to a degree in which it’s a bit frightening. That’s what I mean about my love for my friends being gigantic. That shared history means every bit as much to me as finding a partner.

The difference to me between my relationship with Bryn and in relationships I’ve had with women previously (save Dana, she was also driven by emotion), she doesn’t ever shut down. Not ever. She will say things like I can’t talk about it right now, but that’s so different than we’ll never talk about it ever. There is also no gray area in our relationship. It is for life. We will never leave each other. We commit to hashing it out. Every bit as important as my biological sister and my eventual partnership.

If you can’t be honest with someone you met when you were 19, you can’t be honest with anyone.

We get into things I won’t even publish, because only she is allowed access until I can bring it up without feeling the physical effects while I’m writing. In some ways, all that was ten years ago. Then someone will hit a trigger and I will flash back, and it literally takes my breath away. It doesn’t even have to be a someone. It could be a scent, like a certain mixture of fall air and leaves burning. It could be a perfume.

It’s intense and I can’t remember the good parts in that moment. I just feel used, because she didn’t set any limits with her words, it was all inference all the time. Therefore, I spent my entire life lost and confused until there was one moment when I was working out at a credit center in the suburbs of Portland, and I get a phone call. It’s the woman that emotionally abused me. She’d recently brutally dumped someone as her “pet person,” and she told me that I was a woman she’d like to get to know, but her tone was off. A bit seductive, but not romantic. Just going back into a more secretive bubble that felt illicit. And perhaps that was my perception of what happened given the trigger’s origin, and not the truth. I am telling you what I felt, and I did not take it well.

I thought, “she’s finally giving you all the attention you wanted and it feels all wrong. Why? What is wrong with you?” Now, I can tell you exactly what happened. I saw how she treated this person that she called her pet, and I wasn’t having it. For the first time in my life, I recognized a train wreck before it happened. I didn’t want to become an object of scorn to her partner, as if I wasn’t just an annoying dipshit to begin with. And dipshit is a direct quote.

So, when my beautiful girl wouldn’t set boundaries and would waffle between outright, overt, out loud protection and “you’re trying to provoke me,” I got tired. I wanted her to look at herself with the same fierce protection she saw my other friends. I wasn’t trying to create feelings of guilt, but change.

There was no change. Dreams of it, but none. I wanted a relationship with her that felt solid, and either I couldn’t feel it or it wasn’t there. I don’t know, and it’s not up to me to know. I feel like I have stated everything I needed a hundred times over, and she continues to shoot in the dark. It’s also frustrating when someone who used to be glad you’ve called them out on the carpet because they’re famous for walling off and moving past something starts using those walls with you……. And being furious that you’ve noticed. I could see that pattern coming from a mile off, and I still put so much energy into rearranging the dinner napkins on the Titanic.

She says that nothing was ever good enough for me, and her barometer was way, way off. She’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me, bar none. I am a better person for having loved her, and that part of me will never change. It’s why she is still welcome if she figures out what it is that she actually wants from me.

In the meantime, it’s good that I’m not spending my time waiting on something that may or may not ever come. Maybe she’ll keep reading, maybe it will be too painful. Who knows? I cannot predict when and if she’ll hear my meaning, but what I wanted to put a stop to was being able to drop in casually as if we had no history and keep it at that. I felt awful when she said that she hated it when I expected her to be the expert on our friendship at some times and that I was talking down to her when I explained the memory to which I was referring. I couldn’t win either way, because either I came off like a lecturer or someone trying to hurt her, and neither of those options were in any way true.

I was doing the work because I wanted to show up. The way I do for Bryn. The way I do for Lindsay.

Zac remains to be seen, but I am enjoying the moment, breathing and staying in one place. Changing my reactions and responses. Healing. Being able to talk through some issues that resolve my others.

Getting tired of myself is the best thing I’ve ever done, much less one positive thing. It’s all of them. ALL THE THINGS.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s