By Herb Goldberg
By Herb Goldberg
Sometimes little things just annoy me. This bothered me today.
“It’s good to see that you’re still alive,” says the woman who is likely my ex now.
So, I should probably start by pointing out that I’m a little bad at confrontation, and I’m still learning to say things like, ‘No,’ which is how every single one of my previous exes has pushed me around. I mean, it’s really amazing how good I am at finding people who will, consciously or unconsciously, happily push me around and force me into doing the things they want me to do, and nothing else.
This last situation, she told everyone including her family that I was her new girlfriend before ever checking with me on the matter. As stated in my last post on relationships, this is the second San Francisco area relationship where the new ‘love interest’ decided we were closer than we truly were – an assumption with which I am not okay.
Now, when she finally did ask if it was okay to call me her girlfriend, I felt a bit cornered into the new title. After all, she ‘okayed’ it with me during a party at which all of her friends were in attendance, and I couldn’t very well pull her aside to discuss how unsure I was about being in a relationship, right then, particularly when she’d already told everyone there that we were. So, coward that I am when it comes to confrontation, I nodded and added some related anecdote – an okay.
I sort of fell out of interest with her after that. I tried really hard to be as attracted to her as I had been before that happened, even tried to blame myself. “Oh, it must be my depression shutting me down, again.” Now, yes, I have been rather depressed for about the past … 20 years or so. However, it wasn’t until Thanksgiving, when she tried to push me to go to her family’s holiday dinner, that I started to figure out what exactly was going on.
I mean, a Thanksgiving invite can be a nice thing, and I would appreciate it if, upon telling her that I had been feeling depressed and being social at that point in time would be a bad idea for everyone involved, she had backed off. Instead, she got defensive and moody with me because I didn’t want to go. So, rather than endure a fight, I turned off my phone that weekend. When I turned it back on the following week, I had a text message from her and several voicemails to which I still have not listened. The text message asked if I had had a moment to talk, but had been sent the prior week. I didn’t want to deal with the confrontation so I didn’t respond, which is – again – a cowardly thing to do, I admit, but it’s not as though she didn’t know what was going on. I had outright told her during our ‘argument’ that I needed to be alone when I felt like this. She deals with depression issues, as well, so she should have understood… or so I assumed.
People who deal with depression shouldn’t be judgmental about other people who deal with depression. My dad understands when I’m ‘too busy’ to call him sometimes for months on end, because he has the same problem. My best friend texts me every couple of months then disappears, and I understand no matter what I’m going through. Sometimes, people who deal with depression really just need to disappear for a while and deal with it. After all, it’s not as though I’ve never reemerged. I always come back.
Today, two (or has it been three?) weeks later, I emerged. I woke up and told myself that I was going to all of my classes no matter what. I told myself that it was going to be a productive, social day. I pushed myself out of bed, forced actual clothes onto my body, and shoved myself onto the bus; I was at school.
Now, I understand that I may not have been as communicative as I could have been. I’m bad at talking about my own problems, or really anything that isn’t done via writing. I also don’t like talking to people verbally who know anything about my communicative issues, because if it’s something they’re not going to like they always use my inability to communicate verbally on the spot against me. So I write everything, I plan out difficult conversations with a list of points to address, or I simply write it down and give that to them. I think I’ve developed a bit of a handicap by doing this, but it’s difficult to practice tough conversations beforehand so I don’t know how to improve this.
I had to go to the class we share together. I almost talked myself out of it. I went.
In this class, I have a close friend who almost made me cry when, upon seeing me, she gave me a huge hug, told me how much she missed me, and instructed me to sit next to her and tell me about the past couple of weeks. So I did. Fifteen minutes later, the probably-ex-girlfriend walked in, but I didnt’ see her at first. All I know is that in the middle of the conversation she interrupted us to say, as sarcastically as she could manage, “It’s good to see that you’re still alive.”
Have I mentioned that I’m A.D.D., and that I’m bad at on-the-spot conversations and interactions?
My friend was still talking. I managed an “Oh, hi!” to the probably-ex, turned my head as my friend kept talking (trying not to lose the thread of the conversation), and when I turned back, to let her know I hadn’t forgotten about/was not ignoring her, my probably-ex was already walking away – not my best moment. I let her go; I was too distracted to think through it properly.
Then during a class that I really didn’t want to be sitting in, I started thinking. I thought, wait a minute! Granted, I never responded to her last text message, and it’s always possible that there’s a voice mail on my phone from her to which I have yet to listen. She did not, however, send any messages to see what was going on with me. She did not take into account the deep depression, which I did warn her about when it started. She ignored the fact that I had mentioned I could not endure the company of others in that state, at-fucking-all. She did not try to find out if I was better, or if I even received her messages. She has also gone months without listening to her voice mails, missing several I have left her. She’s ignored or forgotten about or simply not responded to texts I’ve sent her, as well as emails. So, as an opening statement, I found her response today to be completely out of line, and really rather annoying. That’s rich coming from you (we’re taking a Shakespeare class together… I’m allowed one cliche).
So I left class without saying anything to her, knowing that, annoyed as I was, anything that came out of my mouth was likely to be far too blunt and/or unkind. I don’t think she deserves for me to be unkind to her, so I walked away.
I think she assumed my walking away was a kind of unkindness, in and of itself. It could be perceived as such. It could be.
The thing is: I’m so tired of people pushing me into doing something they want me to do without considering my feelings on the matter, and then getting all upset about something I finally do to stand up for myself. It’s not my fault that I felt pushed into a corner, and trapped into a relationship with someone. It’s not my fault that I need a bit more time, and perhaps some real moments to feel as though I’m close to someone new. In fact, I feel as though that is how most people who live in reality feel about being in personal situations, with very few exceptions.
Why should I just automatically trust you when you went behind my back to create this situation, in the first place? Why should I take your feelings into account now, when you didn’t bother to consider mine in the beginning?
I’m being blunt now, and that’s something on which I need to work, I know. However, I think that it’s best if I work on it alone, without someone who’s trying to fit me into their fantasy world without bothering to considering the reality in which I live. Relationships are mutual. You cannot make someone live in your fantasy without considering theirs, and you cannot force someone to feel a certain way about you without earning at least some part of it. Maybe, I just exist too much in reality? And, maybe, irony is just really overrated.
I’m beginning to think that all my relationships (barring those with some family members and one or two friends) have been with people who see some idealized version of me, and assume that’s the person with whom they’re in a relationship. They don’t see or want to see the real me, and when they can no longer ignore her that’s when they’re disappointed or annoyed. These individuals try to force me into being someone I’m not, becoming surprised and/or angry when I refuse to bow down to their mental image of ‘the perfect (girl)friend.’
To add to this, in this new city in which I now live the trend is to assume an unearned level of intimacy; a trend that I cannot understand. Why would anyone want to pretend with another person, who has not yet actually proven they can be trustworthy, that they have shared experiences that have not been shared? It makes no sense to me. You cannot tell someone that the two of you ‘are really close’ when all you’ve done is share a few weeks’ worth of conversations. That is not intimacy, it is a budding friendship – relationship, if you will. Even sex is not enough to achieve intimacy, though it is mistakenly believed to be enough by many people.
Assuming that you’re at a greater level of intimacy with someone with whom you’re not is a shortcut that can only be pretended. With all this fabrication going on how can anyone maintain a relationship?
This is the real reason why marriages fail – constant assumptions, miscommunications, fantasizing, and expectations of instantaneous fixes to any problems. Until people can accept other people for who they really are this institution will continue to fall and these relationships will continue to fail. I, for one, am fed to bursting with the idea that someone can just tell me how intimate we have become, or how I should behave in our relationship. Your fantasies hold no sway over my mind or my actions.
Thanks for reading my relationship rant, and have a lovely day.
I have warring feelings about crushes. On the one hand, I love beginnings. They’re so wonderful to me that they’re worth dragging out. I don’t want to kiss you straight away, if I’m interested in you. First, I want to brush against you ‘by accident,’ maybe an affectionate and teasing poke when you say something to tease me, or cuddling up against you just to see if you’ll let me. The kiss comes later… after the butterflies have settled down a bit under the above circumstances.
On the other hand, crushes give you expectations, desires, and hopes about a whole other person, things which we have no right to feel about someone not ourselves. It’s confusing, it’s painful. It’s the possibility of something great resting between two people, and that is a horrible thing.
Is there really such a thing as love? I think that love is supposed to be an equal thing: equal respect, equal affection, equal give and take, equal work being applied to the coupling… an equality in balance. I have never seen a relationship, a real one, whether from outside or from within that is equal. One person always loves the other more, does more work than the other, gives more, takes more, works more… there is no such thing as equality. Therefore, how can there be such a thing as love?
It’s funny how angry I was before all of this began. I had started dating someone who really annoyed me pretty much the minute he began to be himself around me (which he began to do after we had sex). I’ve never experienced that before, but, being who I am, I sat back to figure out why I was often annoyed to be around him rather than breaking it off right away.
After noticing several traits in him that are pet peeves of mine, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I had been afraid he was my mirror, and that the things that annoyed me about him might be my own traits reflected back to me. Don’t get me wrong, one or two of them were, still are, and are on my list of changes I’ve been working on in my life. However, the traits he accused me of having… it’s funny how seriously I took him before. I believed him about the things he said about me even while knowing that he was incapable of seeing past his own ego long enough to see anyone else clearly, including me. No, he had this idea of what he wanted, and he thought he could force me to be this fantasy, only to become surly and irritable when I would break stride with his imagination.
‘He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.’
– Elbert Hubbard
He sent me a nasty message via Facebook. It’s funny because before I read it I thought I had a lot to say to him about the way he treated me or the lies he told me or the things about him that bothered me so much. Then I read what he had to say, and realized that he already knows about those traits. He doesn’t see them in himself unfortunately, but he’s well aware of their existence. I know myself well enough to know projection when I see it.
I thought I would be angry or hurt by his harsh words, and was afraid to read them at first. The moment I read them, however, everything dissolved. I pity him, in a way. I thought I could help him for a time, and after several failed attempts to do so I realized that it’s not my responsibility; someone else’s happiness is not my responsibility. That might sound cold, but it’s true. I’ve spent my entire life trying to make other people happy, forgetting entirely about my own happiness in the process. I’ve done this so habitually ever since I can remember that people simply expect if of me. They call me ‘selfish’ for changing and wanting to focus on bettering myself and my own life, but it’s not anymore selfish than their expectations that I focus only on them and making them happy. I moved away from home so that I could finally do something for myself, to better my life and my future, and I do not need to let anyone shove his or her way into my life to interrupt that pursuit.
I’ve been happier since he stopped contacting me, and his sporadic communications during the past month have only made me tense. In fact, I’ve found that when the relationships end, the ones that dissolved in the last year and a half, I suddenly feel huge weights lifting off of my shoulders and my heart. I’ve been able to breath easier once those people are gone, which is sad really because I feel that relationships should be about sharing, and should make one’s heart lighter… not heavier. Clearly, I keep allowing myself to be drawn into the wrong kind of relationships. It’s time for a change, I think, and I’m well on my way.
After all, art is, and has always been, my mistress and my master – art in the form of writing and acting, and it makes me happy – it keeps me sane, in a way. Anyone who tries to get in the way of that should receive a good, hard whipping.
Thanks for reading my retrospection, and have a lovely day!