File Under: Life Lessons

Another great quote from Dear Wendy:

“This has nothing to do with love. Someone can love you and still have personal demons that keep them from loving you the way you need to be loved. In that sense, you are right that this is complicated. Love sometimes is. But this isn’t a novel or some romantic movie where you can help your partner fight their demons and win the war against them forever so they’re able to give you the kind of relationship you want. It rarely works that way in real life. In real life, someone can love you and you can love them and that doesn’t mean you’re right for each other or that your bond erases the bad stuff between you enough for you to be happy together.

The truth is you may find you can never forget this person. You may end up comparing all future dates and relationships to them, and for a while it may seem that no one stacks up. That doesn’t mean they’re who you were meant to be with. It doesn’t even mean that in time you won’t move them to some place in the back of your mind and a corner of your heart reserved for memories and ghosts of your past that no longer affect your present life. For all you know, there may be great loves in your future, and you’ll thank yourself for the opportunity to find them. You’ll thank yourself for making room in your life and your heart and for clearing away that which ceased guiding you to all the fulfillment and happiness you deserved to have. You’ll never know the great love you could have if you keep holding on to a fantasy that will never be.”

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Word to the Wise

One of my “guilty” pleasures is reading advice columns; partly out of some subversive human need to know others are struggling maybe, but mostly because I find many advice columnists are fantastic writers. I often skip the question and just read the advice because I like the prose.

I recently found a new one, Dear Wendy, and have come across several pieces of wisdom in it that I find worth taking to heart. My top three so far (paraphrased):

“S/he is not actually loving if you don’t feel loved.”

“Don’t bring your hurt from past relationships into new ones. Don’t put that baggage on another person. Then you become the person who is hurting someone.”

“Don’t spend time with an ex unless you’re also willing to invite their new significant other along (and be happy about it).”

I read a different article a moment ago that had similar advice to the last of those quotes, with the additional caveat of not staying connected to any exes you aren’t truly happy to see move on – through direct contact or even indirect contact like social media. And I think that’s a super important component of not just maintaining a friendship with those worthy of it, but also just in being a healthy adult in general.

I am the first to admit I will social-media-stalk the hell out of work connections but I do my damndest not to do the same when it comes to my exes, or the exes and future partners of people I date. I’ve done it a couple of times in the past in moments of weakness and stupidity and I’ve only regretted it.

I actually really hate knowing any details of the romantic histories of people I date. Particularly their sex lives. I wish people would just keep those things to themselves instead of always defining their life by their past. Listening to someone I’m dating talk about that sort of thing always just gives me a sick feeling in my stomach; which then of course repeats on loop in my head in my darkest moments, telling me I’ll never live up to what they had before.

It’s one thing when you can believe that shit is actually in their past, it’s another thing when you have to worry about how often they’re thinking about it. Or to wonder how important your relationship can really be if every girl they’ve ever spent time with gets the same title.

And I know I may sound like a hypocrite because I’m the one who stays friends with my exes, but it goes back to that third quote again; the ones I still talk to have moved beyond the realm of any romantic history. All doors are closed and they are no longer people I think about in that way or ever ruminate on my past with. I am always happy when they’re dating someone new; it means I don’t have to feel wary about their intentions with me, and often means I have another new friend in their current partner. What’s not to love?

And the only one I still have anger toward is completely blocked on all social media because I don’t want to have any inlets for those feelings; he’s best just being a frozen moment in time that I only have to learn from.

I do analyze all my past relationships to learn from them, but that extends to all types of relationships; in large part because I want to avoid the second quote – putting that baggage on other people. But also because I don’t ever want to be my past. I need to know how to keep it firmly behind me; otherwise what was the point of trying to grow in the first place?

Sea Level

I’m home again. And after two flights taken while sick, I’m also almost completely deaf. I can hear sounds but I can’t find the shape of them; they’re all soft and distant, like I’m hearing them from under water. It reminds me of when I was a kid. I used to pretend I was a mermaid, and that explained why all the sounds were floating away.

I was always a good student. That’s how we found out I about my severe loss of hearing when I was five: I failed a spelling test. My mom asked why and I said the lights were off. I didn’t have the words yet to say what I meant, but I knew that my whole world was fading further and further away, and light – or a lack thereof -seemed like an obvious villain.

When my mom spoke to the teacher about it, she told my mom the lights were on but also pointed out that I’d spelled nearly every word correctly, they just weren’t the words she’d said. We had my hearing tested, first at the school and then by a series of doctors and learned I was something like 95% deaf in one ear and rapidly losing hearing in the other.

Suddenly everything clicked into place. Why I listened to music or the TV so loudly, why I “claimed” I couldn’t hear my parents at times, particularly when I couldn’t see them, why I was so easy to sneak up on, why I was oblivious to my surroundings so often. This had all been happening for as long as I could remember. But I was five. I had no way to gauge what was and wasn’t normal. I knew something was missing but I’d had it so fleetingly that I couldn’t put a name to it.

Thankfully, an operation restored a majority of my hearing. I still have some difficulty when sounds aren’t in front of me, but I no longer feel so removed from the world. Except for tonight. Tonight I’m a mermaid again, close to human but missing some essential element of it.

The City Different

This place is a combination of fantastic and hellscape. I love exploring new cities, but I’m also very much an LA girl. I like variety in my foods and buildings and people, I like being able to see the ocean (and being closer to sea level!), the mountains and the desert all at once, I like living in a bustling metropolis, not one that’s mostly suburbs – maybe that makes me a little bit of a snob, but that’s my element. I like to have at least most of those things around me wherever I go.

This place has some great pieces, the reason I came out here was worth it and we’ve found some other unique bits that I enjoyed, but overall I can’t handle this much same-y-ness for very long; the same buildings everywhere I look, the same food on every menu, the same neighborhood repeated in perpetuity, the same country music pouring out of every car.

Or maybe I’m just cranky because I’m dying at this altitude.

Two Words

In April someone told me about a place that I immediately wanted to visit. I looked up pictures and was sold even further. One of my first thoughts after discovering the existence of this place was that I wanted very much to share it with C.

When I tried to tell him about it though, he barely paid attention to me. There were too many ghosts in the room. He couldn’t see me or my hurt past his own.

So I packed away all the things I wanted to say and share with him and decided to plan a different trip. I organized a group of girlfriends to see this place with me. In the end, only one made it.

I’m happy to be here with her; I’m happy to be here at all, and I enjoy her company so it’s an added bonus. But as the trip approached it became more and more tied up with that original pain and I can’t help but wish things were different.

Adding to that, I of course woke up sick the day before my first vacation since that April trip, and that high altitudes always bother me, even more so when I’ve already got a sinus infection. So now I’m sad and sick and awake far later than I’d like to be, because I can’t breathe and I can’t stop thinking and I feel like I’ll never be hydrated again.

Still, the place was magical, as I’d hoped it would be. I have no regrets there at least.

After My Own Heart, pt. 2

I’ve been thinking more about the quote I last posted. As soon as I read it, it rang 100% true for me, but I wanted to give myself time to explore why.

My shortest relationship was the hardest one for me to get over; not because I cared about him the most. Quite the opposite really. By the end of it I hated him. But I also know hatred is a form of caring and it’s one I rarely waste my time on, so it was confusing to me for a while that I could still be feeling anything toward this person when I’d ended much longer & better relationships without so many lingering emotions.

I finally realized that it was because I felt cheated out of the nine months we were together. I had spent that time trying to be my best self and make things work, and he hadn’t done the same. Worse, he’d taken advantage of who I was as a person and used it against me to hurt me and control me.

While I’ve had issues with other relationships before I ended them – obviously, or they wouldn’t have ended – I never felt so deeply wronged by them because we’d both generally tried to make things work, we both loved each other as best we could and I at least walked away with enough positive memories to not feel my time had been wasted. I wouldn’t take back a majority of the time I spent with anyone. Except this one person.

Maybe that’s because even though I left him, he was never really in it the way I was, so all my efforts were in vain. Maybe it’s because as much as I tried to give my whole heart, he rejected it and played games instead. Maybe it’s because as desperately as I wanted to be seen and understood, he always refused to recognize me as anything but the person he painted me as to justify his abuse.

Whatever it was, something about it struck to the core of me in a way that better relationships never have upon ending. Which seems unfair to the people who actually mattered in my life.

At this point I’ve mostly forgotten him, purposely, which is why it took some time for me to conjure up enough thought for this post even. The kind of person who didn’t deserve me in the first place doesn’t deserve any space in my head or heart now, even more than before. I’d much rather hold on to good memories, but more importantly, live in the present and make new memories with someone who does deserve my time and effort.