Wednesday, April 13, 2011


So, I have had the most delightful, rejuvenating and enlightening weekend. It was entirely unexpected and spontaneous and incredibly necessary. Let me preface this by saying, I took a very bad fall a couple of weeks ago and ended up on medical leave unable to return to duty. I think I shall recover before the leave is up but it has been touch and go and should I not be better in time, I shall lose my contract and my opportunity to go to the Mediterranean, this last bit I’ve been making peace with over the last week. What I didn’t make peace with was the unresolved nature of my friendship with Heath, my demon ex-love. Apparently I chose to make war, not peace and sent a very damning email which, had I thought more thoroughly I would likely not have sent. I shan’t go into details because there is no value in it, but suffice to say, I beat myself up pretty badly over the whole thing and Heath did not respond well. But it brought a few things to light and in the midst of my self-pity, I had a couple of really powerful epiphanies. Firstly, I thank the universe for the literal gift of this weekend. I didn’t know how I was going to survive the self-abasing punishment I was bestowing upon myself for another two weeks and was discussing this very real concern with a friend of mine when he got a message that his friend couldn’t go out of town with him because of the potential government shut down, so he invited me instead. Now normally I would talk myself out of such a thing, but since I’d only found out days before I wasn’t leaving for the sea, and I needed to convalesce anyway, I figured, why not? If the universe was willing to potentially alter the course of US history to accommodate my recovery, who was I to argue? Besides I can do it out of town just as easily as at home. And boy was it fantastic but we’ll get to those stories later; for now I shall stick to the topic at hand to try and at least lay the framework for what comes next. So, as I said, I’d been beating myself up quite a lot and really for the last couple of months I have had a pendulum swing that would span the Atlantic. I didn’t understand it and I couldn’t quite get a handle on it. But finally I had to just realize, hey, I’ve really only dated three people in my life and really I haven’t dated since college so maybe that is why I am so bad at it. Also, I was at sea, away from home for the first time since college trying to manage the breakup of my marriage, a new relationship, a new job, and a lot of other very non-incidentals that I won’t go into, but suffice to say, I realized that I just had to cut myself some slack and admit that I wasn’t at fault for everything.

Ok, one of the things that happened on the ship, very near what would turn out to be the end of my contract was I had a one night stand with one of our musicians. It came from a flirtation and from the fact that by this time, I was getting all sorts of messages that my relationship with Heath was at an end and that he would prefer I live my life and not tell him details that would make him jealous but that he wanted to stay my foothold in reality but that I needed to move on and that’s what he was doing but that nothing was going to drastically change before I got home and we could sort it out then. So, needless to say, by this time I was utterly confused and doing a bang up job of making the whole thing worse. I was depressed and conflicted and incredibly lonely and resigning myself to the fact that things were over. So one night, I went to bed with our drummer. It was lovely and awkward; I found out he was much younger than I realized and that he had bunk beds and a roommate who was still asleep. Thankfully my drummer at least had the bottom bunk. But we had a night of solace and then, it ended as all good one night stands should. He got serious with his girlfriend, forgot my name and out of a room full of people, asked me to take their picture together…and that was Valentine’s Day. Now, understand, I didn’t think we’d ride off into the sunset together and quite frankly, I didn’t want to. I was and am, still very much in love with someone else. But it was still humbling. I saw him on the beach next day, he asked me how I was and I told him I’d been better since I had kind of a rough night. I gave him a bit of a hard time about it, he bought me lunch and we called it even and had a laugh. Its weird how easy-going I can be about the unimportant stuff.

So back to the present, in my swing back around, I sent Heath an email saying I needed time to fall out of love, that I was really struggling with everything, needed time apart and that I hadn’t been entirely honest. I told him what happened. I was probably too blunt but in truth, I thought it would relieve some of the tension between us, let him off the hook a little and maybe we’d have something to laugh about later since the tales of my failed love life inspired our initial friendship. But that is not what happened. Instead he said that I should not have let him suffer that whole time, having thrown away what was special between us. I realized my folly all too late.

I realized a couple of things over the next few days. First, that until I let myself off the hook a bit and stopped beating myself up about the email and my own emotional volley ball match, I wasn’t going to get to the root of the problem. I also realized that despite my trying to communicate, something I have often been accused of not doing, I had flipped back and forth, sending conflicting messages while I tried to work things out in my head and on paper, but I had never asked the one question that was really nagging at me, the entire source of my hurt. “Did you stop loving me while I was away?” I never asked it because I was so afraid of the answer, but the truth is, it’s the one thing I needed to know. It didn’t change the outcome but it really changed the framework. And I think I was always operating under the wrong assumption about that.

And in the course of the weekend, I did have one night of meltdown, online, with the friend who had encouraged me to send the email in the first place. No, it is not his responsibility, but I did let him sway me despite the fact that he had a vested interest. But here is where the plot really twists. That night, as I lay in my own pathetic tears, whipping myself with a steady stream of self loathing, he laid into me. “To hurt myself was to hurt him,” he said and he wasn’t going to let me hurt him anymore. Not after how I had hurt him before. How is that? Well, he proceeded to tell me for the next four hours.

No, this story has a happy ending. The tales of my malice strongly resembled those of my dear friend Heath, my lovely demon. Just as thoughtless, just as convoluted and just as misunderstood. And suddenly, I got it. I had lost myself while I was away, trying to decipher the best plan of attack; to let on how lonely I was and how much I wanted to be a part of his life or to pretend that I didn’t care so that he could move on. Would he be more hurt to know how much I cared or to think I didn’t at all? And maybe, just maybe, he was having the same questions trying to do right by me without hurting me or stringing me along and I was too wrapped up in my own hurt feelings to see it. So, I spent the better part of an hour talking my friend and myself from the ledge, apologizing for how absent I had been, and for not being supportive when really what he had wanted and what he had asked for were vastly different. Just as what I had wanted and what I had asked for were vastly different. And perhaps it was the same for Heath. Too late I have learned this lesson, but at least this time, I realized months in and not years in that I had once again lost myself by trying so hard to solve a mystery that I didn’t understand; I wish I’d taken even a week or two to let things settle but I let my desire to see him outweigh my common sense and my sense of self-preservation. I have found my way back to myself. I suspect that my friendship will be a casualty of this particular life lesson but perhaps that is the price we pay for finding ourselves. I can only hope to mend what was demolished, but I fear it shall never be the same. Then again, perhaps it will be better. I know for sure that I am made better for it. It may be too much information to share dear reader, but you’ve come this far. I am offering up yet another challenge to myself as a single married girl. I am off sex for a while, at least until I can get my head on straight. Though I don’t regret what happened on the ship, it has cost me dearly, a price I don’t wish to pay again. I have slept with a handful of people in my time, and made love to an even smaller faction. I don’t know if he understood the distinction, but I know I prefer and deserve the latter. I have been forging ahead, trying to leave myself open to new experiences, so now I shall leave myself open to friendship and temperance. Who knows what wonders lie along that path.

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