September 6, 2011

Maybe It's Me: The Body of the Story, or, Hello, Goodbye

I don't really like saying goodbye.

For that matter, I don't really like saying hello.

Actually, In a perfect world I could just slip in and out of relationships, daily activities, events, and moments without having to have beginnings or endings at all. I excel at picking up where I left off. I like living somewhere in between the start and the finish of things. I thrive in the middle, where everything is sustained at the same level without the emotional, psychological, and sometimes physical stress of having to invest in the inception, or suffer withdrawals from the termination or completion of people, places, and things.

Maybe it’s me, but the beauty lies in the body of the story, not the introduction or the conclusion, not the "once upon a times or the "the ends."

Perhaps this is just a way for me to avoid unnecessary hurt; part my own personal self-preservation process. A way to avoid the exertion of potentially unnecessary energy, time, commitment, and self on that which I'm unsure of. None of us can know if new beginnings will be fruitful or relevant for our lives. On the flip side, none of us can know when something or someone we've given everything for and to won't suddenly, unexpectedly, or disruptively be ripped away from us either. And in such a dark world, we shouldn't be surprised when things or relationships - no matter the longevity, importance, or magnitude - end abruptly for whatever, for any, reason.

This lack of wanting to begin and end things makes me an awfully difficult person to deal with sometimes, and I know it. It's not like this idiosyncrasy is one I purposefully or consciously decided to add as part of my character make-up. There's nothing charming or quirky about it; it's mostly depressing and sometimes crippling to my mental health and ability to maintain relationships. So know that it's just as frustrating for me as it is for the people who think I'm being rude, dismissive, uninvolved, distant, or lack sticktoitiveness.

Oddly enough, the older I get, the more I realize how this eccentric, and moderately limiting, trait affects many different aspects of my life.

I wasn't joking when I mentioned that I hated saying "hello" and "goodbye." Professionally, through the many (many) jobs I've held, I've never been prone to greeting my co-workers in the morning with a hearty "good morning!" or wishing them well with a "have a good night!" at the end of my work day. Truth, be told it makes me extremely uncomfortable to do so. I know it's just the polite way of acknowledging someone's presence, but to me it feels phony. We live in a society that seems to only like splashing around in the shallow-end of the pool, so when people say "good morning!" the only response that's really necessary, appropriate, or wanted to be reciprocated is a "good morning!" back, even if it isn't. It just makes me feel so programmed; so artificial.

The same is true for some friendships, of which I have tremendous difficulty maintaining. I like having and being friends with people - having that on-going supportive, nurturing, open relationship with people I trust. What I don't like is when friendships hit a drought, where the other person and I don't communicate for a length time for whatever reason. At some point one of us (if we aren’t lucky enough to just organically shift back into our nourished relationship) will have to kick-start the friendship, forcefully breathing life back into it. And then comes the awkward period of navigating around one another. And I can't always handle that: reestablishing your role in one another's life, having to re-reveal yourself to someone, relive what's happened since the last time you spoke . . . it's just a sad reminder of growing-up; of the natural progression of people and who they are with and within other people. I'm a hypersensitive girl, and I can't always handle those awful reminders that life moves really fast. And in those moments when our friendship has stuttered, have they forgotten about me? Are they caring less about me in those moments? Have I been replaced by someone else? It's just a lot to digest.

And if you asked my loved ones - my family, my boyfriend, even ex-boyfriends - they would tell you that I absolutely do not know how to handle myself when I'm with them after a spell of having not seen them. I come off as short, guarded, and closed-off. I don't know why I do this. It’s not intentional! I want nothing more than to embrace them and shower them with my love and appreciation, but it's as if some part of me is offended and betrayed that they have lives that don’t involve me, and can effortlessly go pockets of time without me when I desperately need them in my world. It takes me time for me to warm-up to them, to embrace who I really want to be when I’m with them. And once I have, it’s glorious! And then comes the worst part: having to say goodbye. For the past few months, I’ve gotten extremely emotional upon leaving my parents house after a visit, getting out of my boyfriend’s car when he’s dropping me off after an awesome weekend together. Irrationally, I’m positive I’m never going to see them again. Or that we’ll never have the kind of moment we just had together. Or that I’m going to forget what they look like, sound like, smell like, or feel like someday. Or that they’re going to forget about me. Or that they won’t miss me as much as I’ll miss them.

This branches out into the non-people parts of my world as well.

I hate turning things on, because I’ll have to turn them off. And what if I forget to turn them off? The electric would be really high the next month! Or, if I don’t turn off the oven it might explode and burn my house down. If I open the door to my pet rabbit’s cage, I’ll have to shut it again. And if I don’t, he’ll run out and terrorize my apartment – chewing at the screen door, peeing on my bed, ripping apart my children’s books. What if I turn my alarm clock off, and forget to turn it back on? Then I’ll be late for work and get fired. If I open my windows, I’ll have to shut them. If I don’t and it rains then it’ll make things mold and then my house will smell musty or I’ll breathe some toxin in and get sick.

Life moments are bittersweet for me. I look forward to them, they excite me – they keep me going through the grind and sludge of everyday life. And then, when they happen, they can be absolutely breath-taking. But they don’t last. Even when I’m caught up in some awesome moment, somewhere in the back of my head, my heart, my soul comes a darkness. And I know that at some point I’ll have nothing but memories to remind me of them. And the brain distorts memories: really, they’ll become nothing more than an interpretation of my reality.

And writing? Writing is so hard to do unless I’m already doing it. I can’t, for the life of me, seem to sit down and just start writing. Because nothing comes. And if I finally do get on a roll and the words start to flow, I am then petrified of coming to the end of whatever I’m writing, because what if I can’t ever write something as good again? What if the writer’s block comes back again? I can’t be a writer if I don’t write. And if I don’t write, then what am I?

A seriously, seriously fucked up girl.

Life is uncertain.

If anything about it isn’t though, it’s that it’s full of coming and going, starting and stopping, turning things on and turning things off . . .

. . . of introductions and conclusions.

While I think I’m preventing unnecessary hurt by doing myself what I think is a favor in avoiding “once upon a time” and “the end,” I’m really just hurting myself more by exhausting my energy, time, commitment, and self on what I could be – should be – spending it on . . . life.

My life.

And the living of it.

And, between you and me, between here and there, between the “hello” and the “goodbye,” I know there’s a lot of beauty somewhere in the middle here.

In the body of the story.