April 26, 2013 § Leave a comment
God, what the hell is wrong with me. The past 24 hours have been such an emotional roller coaster even though absolutely nothing has happened. I don’t know what’s wrong, likely stress of course, but who knows. I just want things to normalize so I can get done what I need to get done.
Momma needs a drink.
April 25, 2013 § 1 Comment
I don’t know what it’s like for other people, but I don’t think they understand how okay I am alone.
The only time I wasn’t okay was the one year that I lived alone in Atlanta, but that wasn’t so much living alone as much as it was being away from Alec. He didn’t feel the same desire to be with me every second, but I suffered whenever we were apart. Once we moved in together, that changed and I reverted to my normal self.
I was talking with my parents at dinner about alone time last night. We’re very similar, the members of my nuclear family, in that we’re all perfectly fine alone. We like people in small doses, but generally, we need a lot of alone time or we get irritated/irritable. Mom was telling me about a family psychologist who encourages people to give their kids alone time. One parental unit was advised to give their kids focused alone time, during which they would spend a certain length of time with just one toy or just one book, just one game, etc. Because otherwise they’re getting too much attention or have too many distractions, it prevents them from being able to focus as youths, teenagers, and adults.
We laughed because my parents never had to do that with my brother and I. We were naturally inclined to want to be alone, and I don’t think either of us ever suffered from overstimulation from too many toys. My brother and I rarely played together; we usually just played separately in our rooms and once we got to junior high and high school, we almost never came out of our rooms. I shared a distinct memory with them of when Morgan Claus was babysitting Ian and I for the first time. I think we were in third or fourth grade. She brought over all these games and was so excited about them, but when she invited us to play, Ian and I both politely declined and retreated to our separate bedrooms. She would periodically check on us, knocking on the door and peeking her head in, at which time I would stop what I was doing to turn and look at her, giving a firm “I’m fine.” when she would ask how things were going and if I needed anything or wanted to do something else. Finally, she stopped intruding. I went to check on her one time, just to see what she was doing out of sheer curiosity. I peeked down at her from between the railings. She was doing her homework at the bottom of the stairs. I returned to my room until my parents got home.
This isn’t to say that I don’t get lonely, because I certainly do. If I didn’t have pets, I would probably go crazy (or just kill myself). But if I have an animal or two, I’m pretty okay alone. I sing a lot when I’m alone, and I talk to myself as much as to the animal(s), so it’s not like there’s an oppressive silence.
We moved so much when I was a kid, I was kind of conditioned not to get too involved with people, not to get too emotionally attached, because I knew it was only a matter of time before we moved again.
I got very attached to people in high school, maybe because I knew we were going to stay for more than a few years, or maybe just because that was the time in my development that led me to be more involved in other people’s lives. We lived out in the country, so I would always drive into town to see my friends. My parents became very upset with me over time because my friends would never drive out to Hayden to see me, so I felt uncomfortable about driving into town to see them so much.
It was probably for the best anyway, since my friends and I had drifted as I got older. They were all experimenting with sex, weed, and alcohol, but I was totally absorbed in my own depression. I was grappling with the “mortality issue” of humanity — the fact that everyone dies. It was incredibly emotionally painful for me to look at the people around me and know that either I would have to live without them or they would have to live without me. I also spent a lot of time mooning over guys who would never be interested in me, or if they were interested in me, they couldn’t make that leap to get involved with a girl like me (who could blame them! I used to sob like a lunatic when I would drive home after seeing my friends because I knew they would die someday. no teenager wants to be around that.).
When I got to college, I was alone a lot after freshman year. I did try to make friends, to enjoy college life, to try and have the experience that everyone else seemed to have in college. It just didn’t take. The friends I made freshman year started getting on my nerves, we fought until we hated each other or we all drifted apart. Junior and senior year I didn’t even bother to learn the names of the other students in my classes. I just didn’t care. They weren’t interesting to me and I knew I would be leaving Atlanta after graduation, so what was the point?
In DC, it was the same thing. I would get a job and be friendly with people at work, but we would rarely hang out outside of work. I knew I wasn’t going to stay at those jobs for long, so I didn’t see a point in getting super invested.
Now I’m back in Alabama, and I am doing the same thing.
Maybe I’m just broken, I don’t know. Maybe I’m so used to leaving after a lifetime spent doing it that it’s just second nature now. I feel the same about leaving Alabama as I did about DC, about Atlanta, about high school. In my heart, there’s a slight twinge knowing that I will in some way miss my life as it was in that place, or as it is now. I know I will miss the people in my life. But I’m such a forward-thinker. I jump in to new places and devour my new surroundings, the new people I meet. I’m the perfect example of “out of sight, out of mind.” I move on quickly when there are new things to see and do. It doesn’t mean I don’t love things about my life here, or that I don’t care about the people I’m with now. It just means I went into it knowing it would be temporary, and I’ve accepted that and have no problem moving on.
Moving on past Alec was much harder than I care to admit most days, but I think that’s just because I didn’t see him as temporary. I honestly thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with the guy, so I did seriously emotionally invest.
I think I have good self-control though and a lot of determination. They keep me looking forward, moving forward, never trying to go back. My emotions may be raging inside, but as far as the rest of the world is concerned, everyone assumes I could care less because I don’t act on my emotions. Just because I don’t act on them, doesn’t mean I don’t have them or that I’m not thinking about acting on them. I don’t act on them because I’m a fucking adult and I’m trying to do what’s best for me in a clear, consistent way.
I’ve built up something of a thick skin as well. That isn’t to say that things don’t affect me, because they certainly do. Some guy says something harsh to me, whether true or not, still hurts like a bitch, but I bounce back very quickly. No matter how upset or depressed I get, I almost always go back to normal in less than two days. I don’t know if there’s a word for that, resilience doesn’t seem quite right, but it’s one of my traits that I value the most. It’s definitely what’s gotten me this far.
I don’t know where I’m going after here. Unless something really exciting and unexpected falls into my lap, I will not be staying in Alabama past August. I don’t know what’s next, but I’m ready for it and open to it. I embrace the new and the unknown.
I’m not afraid, and I’m not afraid of being alone.
April 12, 2013 § 2 Comments
I feel like a zombie. Cleo was my rock for so many years. I feel empty.
Freedom is slavery.
Without her, what do I do? Where can I go? Without an old dog to worry about and fuss over, I have a wide open world in front of me. I could go anywhere. I’d give up all that freedom to have her back, to have that stability of knowing what my life would look like in some way. She ensured routine, she ensured emotional interaction, she ensured that I keep going. Now I’m alone and lost in a big, wide world that is deaf and blind to me.
I have nothing that I wanted. I don’t have alec, I don’t have cleo, I don’t have a single PhD acceptance letter, I don’t have a job offer. If you told me a year ago that this is where I would end up, I never would have believed you. “I’m strong, I’m resourceful, I’ll make it work.” is what I would say to you, spitting fire and glaring at you for ever suggesting that I would lose anything that I fought so hard to keep. I’ve lost it all.
Things fall apart;
the center cannot hold.
My center of gravity is completely gone. For a while, since I moved home, things have been topsy-turvy. I scrambled and floundered, grasping at the strangers around me, searching in desperation for some hand hold to stop things from spinning out of control. I don’t know where the moment of change occurred, but at some point, I did stop. Now I’m floating in space, unable to create the momentum needed to move, unable to reach out to those around me. I float in the cold, dark, empty and infinite space. Not moving but drifting, not waving but drowning. I feel nothing, not the pull of gravity nor the wonderful oppressiveness of the humidity of atmosphere. I feel nothing and have no momentum to move, no motivation to choose a direction to go in. Just infinite space.
Hanging on is what’s important here. Even if I’m floating, I have to continue to function in some way. I have to stay conscious. People keep saying, “things will work out, they always do” and “something will come up, you’ll see.” What if I don’t? Things just keep getting worse. What if “things working out” just means that things crash and burn. What if there aren’t any pieces left to try to pick up.
The realist in me acknowledges that things could always be worse. I am thankful that my amazing family, sans a dog and a man, are always there for me. I am thankful that my body, while constantly sick, still continues to function. I’ve had a fever for the last two days and my stomach has refused to properly digest food in the last 24 hours. My insomnia has been severe for the last two weeks or more. But I don’t have cancer. My body is holding on.
The academic in me sees a pattern. I’ve lost the things that I’ve clung to most dearly. Alec is gone, cleo is gone, my dreams of PhD are gone. For years, those were my three main foci. Those three things were all I wanted. All three are now gone in less than a year. My heart keeps breaking, then the pieces break more, then the pieces are crushed to dust. There is nothing left to pick up, to try to put back together. My heart is gone, my soul is unrecognizable, whatever core I had is demolished. For what? Why? What kind of cruel lesson is the Universe teaching me? Life sucks and then you die. Oh, Alexa, you’re always so dramatic, you’re always so negative. Things aren’t so bad.
Floating in space, everything feels cold and out of reach. Moving in any direction is impossible, not just because I lack the momentum to move but because there is no real direction. Everything is nothing, everywhere is nowhere. Does it even matter where I go at this point?
I have to leave. I need to be on my own, really feel what it means to be Alexa in this world. No more alec, no more cleo, no more clear PhD plan. I need to feel like what it is to be me. I need to find a center of gravity that isn’t attached to a person, or a pet, or a program. I need to reconnect with my own center of gravity.
Instead of space dust, I want to be the sun.
I just can’t let myself disappear before I figure out how to make that happen. For now, I float, suspended.
April 9, 2013 § 1 Comment
It’s hard to find the words to describe the incredible, overwhelming sense of loss I feel in the absence of my sweet baby girl. This weekend she suddenly took a turn for the worse, losing strength in her back legs such that she could no longer properly stand or walk, and was incapable of standing up on her own or laying down without assistance. By Sunday, I realized she wasn’t going to get over it on her own and made plans to take her to the vet, but by Sunday night I realized she wasn’t going to make it. This was the end.Mark put my mattress on the floor so I could be as close to her as possible through the night, and into the morning as we waited, debating on what do to. Thankfully, we found a vet who would come to the apartment so she could stay comfortable in bed instead of moving her (and hurting her further) by taking her to the vet and ending her long, wonderful life on a cold metal table under fluorescent lights. I held her when the vet put her under, and I hope she knew how much she was loved.
This was the best ending I could ever have asked for her. She died peacefully and painlessly at home, in her own bed, surrounded by her family. Everybody has their different views on pet ownership. Sure, she was just a dog, but outside of family, I knew her longer than I’ve ever known anyone. My oldest friend I’ve only known for 10 years, and Cleo was with me for 14. She slept in my bed every night until she was too old to jump that high, so I got her a cushy dog bed that I put right next to mine. She got me through high school, college, grad school, breakups and heartbreak, birthdays, stressed days, everything. She was always there, ready for a hug or to dry my tears or to let me kiss her furry face a thousand times.
We buried her by my parents house in the country, a peaceful spot close to home by a small grove of trees and a flower garden. My parents, boyfriend, and grandmother dug the grave and decorated it beautifully with stones, natural clay, and pinecones, after we laid her to rest. It was more than I ever could have asked from for anyone, and it was the perfect ending to my sweet girl’s long life.
When we got her from the pound just days after moving to Alabama, we could never have expected she would have grown to be such a primary member of our family, that she would be so central in my life. While my grief is real and painful, I feel incredibly lucky to have loved this beautiful, goofy, sweet dog. It never crossed my mind that I would have to continue life without her, not this soon, when this year never stops throwing curve balls at me. She was there for me through so much. Somehow, we always find a way to carry on.
So much love. She will be sorely missed. Rest in peace, Cleo.
April 6, 2013 § Leave a comment
My dreams have a way of seriously fucking with my head and heart in my waking life. I have intensely vivid dreams with long, elaborate plot lines that tend to last for what feels like hours. When they are scary or emotional, which is 95% of the time, the dream sticks with me through the rest of the day, and sometimes for longer. It’s unfair to me that my subconscious should have so much power over me, that it can control my mood for hours after, and that it’s so fucking callous in the way that it bulldozes my emotions. I guess I’m really hard on myself, when it comes down to it, even if I’m not consciously beating myself up for things in the past.
A funny thing about me is that I don’t have that good of a memory. I tend to remember very specific moments, not events or daily occurrences. I don’t know if it’s a result of my brain being so busy all the time, that I just don’t have the space to pack in daily life to my “Memories Saved” file, if I’m so focused on moving forward at any cost, that I lose so many memories along the way, in that sometimes destructive process. After five years, I only have a handful of memories of our life together. In some ways, I think it’s a self-defense mechanism, that to protect myself from the emotional overload that would result from reliving those years, my brain simply deleted them when I left DC. It leaves a somewhat empty feeling, looking back, when I can’t remember what it was like to wake up every day with him, to ride the train together into the city, to meet him at his office after he got off work to get frozen yogurt and walk down the mall watching the summer sun set. I guess if I try, I can remember some things, but it is heartbreaking to do so, so it makes sense that my brain would make it as difficult as possible to go there.
I hate feeling conflicted about my choices. It’s incredibly rare that I ever do feel conflicted, and I usually take steps to prevent any change of heart when I foresee that I will feel conflicted about doing something. I knew I would regret, at one point or another, breaking up with alec. I knew it. And I doubted my own strength and resolve, so I took steps to prevent me ever changing my mind. Today, I wholeheartedly and painfully regret those steps. I should have trusted myself instead of doing something that could destroy him, like he wasn’t hurt enough already.
There are a lot of complicated issues that led to my making that choice, though. It seems simple when I lay it out like “What can I do that will be so unforgivable it will guarantee that alec and I can never get back together and thus force me to move on immediately?” but the truth of the matter is that things were more complicated than that, though that was in some ways the ultimate goal — to force me to move on by tearing down that bridge and ensuring that it could never ever be rebuilt.
In retrospect, I feel like that was a bit childish. People can change, people can grow. My thinking was that I gave alec five years to make things work, and they didn’t, so he doesn’t get a second chance, he doesn’t get any more time. That was a very harsh way to look at it, particularly since it’s impossible to predict where people’s lives will cross in the future and how people grow in times of turmoil. I’ve changed a lot in the short time since we broke up. I’ve gotten way more patient and a lot less paranoid, but those changes may stem from a general apathy related to heartbreak. Anyway, my point is that it was rash to think that I had to burn the bridge because I thought alec would never deserve a second chance after all the time he had to fix things and didn’t.
Another angle, perhaps the one I have the hardest time admitting, was that I was genuinely interested in andrew for a day or two. andrew and I were a thing before alec and I were (that’s how I met alec), so it’s not like there wasn’t chemistry there, still there even after all these years. It would never have worked out with andrew, I knew that then and I for damn sure know it now, because I don’t trust him any farther than I could throw him, but for a day or two, in my heartbroken, desperate haze during the whirlwind floundering of my first month home, I really thought that I wanted to date andrew. He and alec are opposite sides of the same coin. In some ways, they seem almost like the same person, particularly in their social interactions but in their ability (or lack thereof) to communicate in a genuine, emotional way. I guess in some ways, it was comforting to be around that again, I suppose because it reminded me of alec. In soem very important ways, they are exact opposites as well, and that was what made andrew so appealing to me at the time. I wanted everything that alec had never given me. I wanted passion, I wanted to feel desirable, I wanted an intense physical experience. And that’s what I got, but in retrospect, I don’t think the cost was worth it.
I knew my actions would destroy alec. I knew it when I did it after we’d started “hanging out” or “hooking up” or whatever, while he was still dating marie. I knew my message would get across then, and it caused enough damage to still present problems years later. In some ways, I think if I hadn’t done that, that we wouldn’t have had the problems that we would have in the later years. Certainly, if he hadn’t stayed with marie while he was with me, I wouldn’t have the issues that I still carry with me. I guess that’s part of growing up, though, isn’t it? Learning what hurts you and learning how to really hurt others. And learning how the aftermath will last so much longer than the action itself, how your conscience will continue to beat you up for doing the wrong thing for years and years and years. And then I went and did it again, knowing full well the damage that was already there that I had done from similar actions in the past with the same guy.
I was really hurt. That’s not an excuse, but I think it explains a lot. alec had a year to fix things, a year to try and convince me to stay, a year to work hard to keep me, and he didn’t do anything. After all I’d done, all I’d sacrificed, all I’d compromised on to be with him and to make him happy, I was beyond heartbroken that he didn’t lift a finger to prevent our end. For a girl who already has some serious self-worth issues, that was a real punch in the stomach. My thinking was that he had a year to fix things and he didn’t do anything, so he must not care what I do with my life or my body. He let us fall apart in the end, so he can’t care about who I do or do not sleep with. You can’t be hurt by the actions of a girl who you let walk right out your front door without so much as a “please don’t go.” You gave up your right to care about me, and in doing so, you destroyed any loyalty I had to you. That’s how I felt.
In some ways, I think I was in the right to do what I did. If alec wasn’t in the picture at all, I wouldn’t regret my brief time with andrew, but not for the reasons you think. I never ever thought it would work out with andrew, and honestly, I would never have wanted it to. He’s not the guy for me. But in a lot of ways, he really gave me what I needed in that brief, overwhelming period of pain and confusion. I needed to feel someone be passionate about me, and he did that. I needed to hear that I was beautiful and special and desirable, and he did that. After five years of not having those things, I really needed them and andrew gave me them. I’m glad it didn’t last any longer than it did, but I’m glad I got those things, I’m glad I realized I could have those things. I remember I kept thinking, “oh, so this is what it feels like to be wanted? I thought that just happened in movies.”
But deep down, as my subconscious likes to illustrate in harsh, vivid dreams, I deeply regret the pain that I caused to alec in doing what I did. I desperately hope that he will never hear about what I did, that his heart will heal from our breakup, and he’ll be okay. He’ll move on. If he does ever hear of it, I desperately hope with all my heart that he finds some magical woman who will make him believe again that the disaster that was alexa is an isolated incident and that relationships don’t have to be that hard, that exhausting, that destructive. I hope he finds someone who is gentle and patient and kind, who will love him wholeheartedly without ever demanding that he love her back, though I hope that one day he does learn how to love and that the scars on his heart no longer prevent him from living life to the fullest, from really loving again. I think he loved me as much as he was capable of, but it wasn’t the level of love that I felt for him, and it wasn’t the love that we both deserve.
If I’m honest with myself, I don’t think my love for him was the right love for me, if such a thing exists. I absolutely loved him, and I still do, but that’s not the same kind of love I’m looking for now. I want a love that embraces flaws instead of trying to change them. I want a love that is consistent, that keeps my perspective steady. I want to love absolutely everything about the person I’m with, and if I can’t love everything, I want to at least be able to wholeheartedly accept the person as they are. I’ve never felt that. In fact, I’m not sure I’m capable of it. I need more time to grow up and move past this incredibly exhausting and damaging period of my life. I need more time for my heart to heal, for me to forgive myself for the damage I’ve done to myself and to alec. I need time to find who I am before I find the right person to love for the rest of my life. I may need time to realize that this kind of love doesn’t exist, that the storybooks lied, that happy endings are broken promises. For now, I’m young. I’ll keep looking, keep pushing forward, keep trying to find that perfect match. I doubt I’ll ever forgive myself for what I’ve done to alec, no matter how many times I rationalize my behavior and try to balance my actions with his. I hurt the man I loved after I’d already broken his heart. What kind of person does that, and how can that person ever expect to love again, knowing the risk I pose to another person?
Thanks, subconscious, for starting me off the right foot for a weekend alone when I’m supposed to be studying. Asshole.