Back in early March I wrote a post called Advanced Self-Loathing on which many people commented such beautiful and kind things that I was overwhelmed. It started in me a profound change and I spent many months in a process of uncovering parts of myself that I either didn’t know existed, or that didn’t exist until I let them or they were given to me. I don’t really know and ultimately it doesn’t really matter because that isn’t the point in all of this.
I don’t really know the point right now, in writing this, and I’m having such a hard time formulating concise thoughts. My ability to write in order to process my current situation, which is the best way I have ever known how to find my way through a difficult time, has been impossible. So I am left feeling like I’m in the middle of the ocean and I’ve forgotten how to swim and I can’t even consider how it is I’ll make it to the shore because I’m just struggling to stay above water. What I’m trying to say is, this post may seem really scattered and ugly and I’m sorry, but that’s all I’ve got right now and I need this space to throw up some things that I’ve got going on in my head in the hope that it’ll clear some space for thinking about how to make some progress.
I have long struggled with issues of self-esteem and, most specifically, issues of self-loathing. I’ve never found it easy to love myself or, even, to like myself. It is a lifelong journey, getting past some very harmful and hurtful ways of thinking, of damaging self-talk and an inability to believe in myself in any way. That’s how things were feeling when I wrote that post in March and since then I’d managed to make considerable progress, documented here in several other posts. It has been really fucking hard, these months, but also very beautiful because I’ve lived in a way I had never before. I believed in things I had never believed in. I liked myself. I even managed, at times, to love myself. I was making such progress until, of course, I wasn’t and that all happened four weeks ago when I sat across from Janie and told her that our relationship was over. It was the ugliest, most disgusting experience of my entire life and I have been left completely traumatized not only by the idea that a promise of forever was broken, but also that the decision was one I made, and one which ultimately caused so much fucking chaos that I still cannot completely wrap my mind around it. Would we have gotten here eventually had I not said what I did on that night? Absolutely. I know that our relationship was going to end one way or another and that I had just seen it sooner that she did. It doesn’t make it any easier to know that, because being the one to have to say those words is the most awful thing in the world. I’ve had my heart shattered before, I’ve been on the other side of this conversation (though the relationship not as long, the stakes not nearly as high and the history so very, very limited in comparison), and I would go through that a million times before I’d ever be on this side again.
There are so many things I didn’t have time to think of before that day in relation to what would happen after. I couldn’t consider it because I know that I would have let things continue until we were both so much more damaged than we were, than we are. I didn’t anticipate the massive tidal wave of emotions, the complications, the sheer awfulness, the loneliness, the fear, the pain. So much pain. It has, at times, been paralyzing. I’ve spent days on the living room floor, unable to move. I’ve spent days crying hysterically. I’ve watched Janie fall apart, too. There is just so much of everything swirling around us and I didn’t anticipate how fucking hard it would all become so quickly. There is nothing about this that is easy and every day is a struggle to find some sort of balance. Most days there is none, and it’s just a matter of being happy with what is, because it’s all there is in that moment. Easier said than done.
Back in February I wrote a post called Do I Love Her and I read it again today and I thought a lot about that moment, because in my mind it is that post and what happened shortly before writing that, where things really did fall apart. Today I realized that I was wrong in what I had written. I was asking the wrong question all along. Do I love her? The answer to that is still yes. I love Janie. I will always love her. We have never been short on love, on affection, on caring for one another in a profound way. If we didn’t have all of that love, than this would be the easiest thing in the world to let go of and it certainly is so very far from that. What I didn’t ask and what was so important to know all along was whether or not I loved myself. Did I love myself enough to be true to who I am? Did I love myself enough to let go of fear and insecurity? Did I love myself enough to know when I wasn’t going to get what I needed and when I wasn’t going to be able to give what she needed and to allow myself the understanding that things were not going to get better? Did I love myself enough to say goodbye to a life I loved because it was never going to be the life I needed? Janie and I had a beautiful thing. It was stunning in so many ways and that is a profound loss. We were good together when things were good, but things weren’t always good and often they were pretty gross. Not horrible. Not hateful, just bad for us. And it really became clearer and clearer after that night, when our marriage ended and our break-up began.
The saddest part of a broken heart
Isn’t the ending so much as the start
The tragedy starts from the very first spark
Losing your mind for the sake of your heart
The saddest part of a broken heart
Isn’t the ending so much as the start
Let it Die
My therapist and I had a good talk about enmeshment. Of becoming so lost in a relationship that it’s all you are. You lose your sense of self, your identity. This is a large part of what happened to me. I woke up one day and I realized that I had no idea who I was anymore. Before we got together, I was working really hard to find me. I had realized that I spent my life living as other people. I was who and what other people expected. It was easy because I never had to make decisions, I just found myself floating along and being this person – from whom I felt completely detached – and never feeling completely responsible for anything. And one day I realized I didn’t want that anymore. I wanted the responsibility. I wanted to be me. I wanted to know who I was on the inside, to feel like a whole person and not just pieces of all the people I was trying to please. I wanted the complexity of all of it instead of the simplicity of conforming, of accommodating. So I started a journey that, unfortunately, was all to easy to let go of once I met Janie. It was too easy to lose myself in her, in us, because I had always wanted what we had…love, and I thought that meant giving up yourself for the sake of it. I wanted to be loved. I wanted to love. I have always always always searched for those two things. They have always been the most important things to me and yes, they always will be. But to find them in the early part of self-discovery made it all to easy to lose sight of the real journey. I was too young to understand how to make room for that and a relationship and grow them both, too inexperienced to see the signs that I was letting go of myself, too in love to look at how easy it was to get lost and not make a change. I lost my mind for the sake of my heart.
I have learned that a relationship can’t be everything to the people involved in it. There also has to be room, space, for growing as individuals and a desire to foster that growth in one another. Janie and I didn’t have that, we became so involved in us that we lost sight of ourselves and it allowed us to place a lot of blame on one another and on our relationship. The blame made it easier to avoid responsibility, the responsibility for ourselves. I don’t think that a relationship can survive or be healthy if the two people in it aren’t taking care of themselves and especially if their inability to do that work causes them to look at the relationship as a whole and say that it is holding them back. This is is one piece of a very complex puzzle. The puzzle of how Janie and I fell apart. I will spend a very long time trying to find all those pieces and learning how to make better choices, how to be a better partner and how to be a better me.
Back in early May I wrote another post called This used to be called a downward spiral, and I said “I do not like being uncomfortable and in my life I found a way to be comfortable in misery, in self-loathing, in all the negativity. I piled the shit people said all around me as a barrier. You can’t cross this line, I’d say. You can’t get past this bullshit and into my heart and head because I’m not worth it. I’m a lost cause. I’m never going to let you in here, where it’s dark and ugly and scared and lonely.” What I didn’t realize is that once I started to let go of all of that, of the barriers I’d spent so long building and hiding behind is that once they’re gone or once you start to let people in, then you start to feel not only the profound beauty of relationships and connections and love and caring, but then you also get the hurt right along with it. You get the pain and anger and hatred and disappointment and upset. And while it was never easy to have those things flung at you, it was easier because you had those walls to take part of the blow. Only now I find myself naked and alone and feeling everything times a billion and I will not lie, there is a part of me that wants to go right back to that place where I build up those walls and I say okay, I’ve had enough, I give up. This is too hard. Only I can’t go back there. I can’t and I won’t because I’ve seen too much of the beauty already and I love it too much to let it go. It’s just that what comes along with it is sometimes so overwhelming that I can’t feel that and I wonder if I’ll ever be able to again. But I have hope, now, and it is what keeps me from burying myself. It is what keeps me afloat in a vast ocean of uncertainty.