When Claire asked me to go down to Iowa to see her, I was instantly terrified. I’d never flown in a plane before. Never taken a trip out of state alone. And how awkward would it be? I was awkward as fuck when she visited this last summer and I’d seen her two days that were days apart. How much more uncomfortable might a whole week of being around her in a place entirely unfamiliar to me be?
The anxiety was immobilizing. The automatic thoughts were putting in overtime. I kept telling myself, I have to. I have to do this.
So I planned on asking for the vacation time. Before I got to that point — and yes, I was putting it off — I see on Facebook that she’s now in a relationship with a guy she never once mentioned to me despite the frequent texting as of late. Stranger still, I wasn’t so much angry and jealous as I was embarrassed.
Though I’d been ignoring it, the realization had been creeping up on me that she doesn’t care about me the way I care about her. So often she has vented to me via text, and I never did. Until recently. Just once. And she texted back some time later and was polite about it. I’d apologized for the venting and she said I could vent to her whenever I needed to, which again, was a nice thing for her to say, but I could feel the deception. She really didn’t care. I stopped a moment to truly question the bond I always felt we shared. All this time, has it not been that she loves me, at least not in some romantic way, but that she loves the fact that I love her?
In any case, I’ve been blind to the fact that this is one-sided. Which sort of makes sense. She never seemed to get involved with a guy that actually knew her, and that never made sense to me — and I’ve come to accept it doesn’t have to. She never seemed too interested in probing my depths as I did hers, either, and perhaps it was selfish for me to be hurt by that. It is what it is and I’ve been neglecting to see it.
So I decided it was high time to just let go. Fuck it. Stick a fork in it. Her and I? It’s simply not going to happen and I’m tired of the fucked up fairy tale I keep telling myself that eventually it will. After all, wasn’t it I who used to critique her for chasing after a fairy tale that was simply incompatible with objective reality? And here I was. Here I had been for over two decades.
This was my epic hypocrisy.
Since I met her, thoughts of her, dreams of her have been my drug of choice. I was addicted to an illusion and it was time to bear the withdrawal and just get over it.
I was never going to be what she needed. She was never going to be what I needed. Fuck, I’m still not entirely certain I know what I need. It’s more akin to a process of elimination when it comes to me. And so another one bites the dust.
I still hope the best for her and still consider her a friend, of course, though I must admist I am perplexed a bit as to why she didn’t tell me, as she’s told me some incredibly private things over the years. Maybe she thought it would hurt me or maybe she just didn’t feel it needed to be said.
Whichever. Whatever. In any case, it’s none of my fucking business.
I am glad it happened, though; I prefer being aware as opposed to being in denial or being delusional, and I do believe that was where I had been before this realization.
For a short time afterward, it was as if I were riding a high. As a friend of mine put it, it was as if I had given away my power to her and had now gotten it back. I felt calmer, more controlled. I had this boost of mental energy. The anxiety went down, my depression lifted.
Or was it coincidence? After all, I’d been trying to lay off the booze again. I’d also started taking CBD in the hopes that it might alleviate the depression and anxiety, and it did seem to be helping. So all of that may have been a factor as well.
I don’t think I’ll ever get married, as I enjoy my isolation too much, and that never works out in a relationship, or so it has been my experience. Even getting into another relationship after — what has it been? A decade and a half? — seems inconceivable, and for precisely the same reasons.
If there was any girlfriend of mine that I should have stayed with, any relationship that actually held promise, it was Anne. That was something that struck me shortly thereafter. She was intense, intelligent, responsible, incredibly sexual, knew how to make her way in the world, and I do believe that she was the only one who honestly loved me. She just concluded, much as I now have with respect to Claire, that I didn’t care for her the same way she cared for me.
Was that true? I was so hung up on Kate, another ex-girlfriend, at the time that I couldn’t even say. And when Anne and I had had a chance years earlier, I was hung up on Claire. Both Claire and Kate were Virgos from California, had tattoos of the sun, moon and stars on their body — and both obscured any hope Anne had of really reaching me. It was like a ghost taking on alternate manifestations that always stood between her and I.
Shit happens. What goes around, comes around. So it goes, I suppose.
It’s been eight years, so as shallow as it sounds, I do hope I get laid again before I shed my mortal coil, but I’m not holding my breath. But my naive hopes for the perfect and longlasting intimate relationship is all but dead in me.
I feel like I’m at a point in my life where certain possibilities are falling away — and though it initially might seem otherwise, I’m quickly convinced that it’s not entirely a bad thing. Closing the book on particular potentialities, tying up loose ends, it’s like decluttering your life. And focusing on changing what you can, accepting what you can’t be and just letting go: it’s actually quite liberating.