Emotional gaps

You know the words some people use to describe their exes. We’ve all heard them: crazy, bipolar, robot, delusional — all joking aside, these are words that literally question their exes’ mental health and humanity. “Bitch was crazy,” they’d say, as we sit there and listen—possibly in the role of current girlfriend—mentally vowing in our heart of hearts that we would never do anything to warrant being described that way. Never!

Right?

Wrong. It can happen to anyone, and unfortunately, it is an indicator of a gap in one or both parties’ understanding of the situation.

* * *

Picture this (and I’m actually gonna cheat and use my story):

Man and woman date for 5 years. They have broken up 4 times, and reunited 3. The man did the dumping only 1 time; the woman the other 3.

The man is convinced that they were happy, that nothing was wrong, and that all their problems were caused by external factors such as: lack of privacy due to a roommate; the roommate distracted and stole the woman; the woman was not giving 100%, and not completely focused on the relationship, and so it’s her fault; on and on it goes. To him, it wasn’t any of his fault at all. According to him, they would’ve been happy if none of these issues existed.

Whatever. He is free to feed himself that bull$#*!. It takes two to tango.

Here is what the woman’s experience was. She felt that she was being emotionally abused — being told that she would make a bad mother; that she was being embarrassing; that she was stupid for not remembering the dryer settings; that it was her fault the relationship was not going well; that she has anger issues; getting hints that she was still not good enough to marry, etc. She felt manipulated, trapped, guilted, suffocated — and she certainly felt like she couldn’t truly be herself around this man. And not to even begin mentioning the fundamental differences in values! It was Red Flag City.

510b5f9c8932c0fed5596bd2e24c49bf

After numerous arguments and tears, the woman finally gave up in frustration and broke up with the man for the fourth and final time. It was hopeless to reach him; he was still in complete denial that any of it was his fault and is immune to any change in perspective.

* * *

If you’ve ever been with someone with whom there is a disconnect in understanding each other’s experiences in the relationship, adjectives like the ones mentioned above become much easier to use. When we use adjectives like that to describe our exes, we have emotionally distanced them from us. We tell ourselves this propaganda to deny their existence as complex people.

This is how we deal with the pain and deny responsibility of the issues that broke us up in the first place.

“Bitch was crazy”? Oh, please.

More like,

“Bitch was” in the middle of a 5-year communication breakdown with you while you buried your head in the Beach of Self-Denial.

“Bitch was” frustrated with your stubbornness and inability to compromise.

“Bitch was” trapped in guilt as you manipulated her and made her feel this little:         Yep, that little.

Hell, I’m guilty of it, too. I have thought him a robot, when I damn well know he isn’t. I now understand he is just a different creature than I  —  a different backbone, a different background. Who knows how long it will take him to be willing to work through himself, to take some responsibility, to detach bone from bone and reattach them in an unfamiliar way? How long before he closes that gap himself?

I’m okay not trying to bridge that gap anymore. Sometimes, it’s a battle you can’t (even shouldn’t!) join. You have to pull yourself out of it and protect yourself. You have to give the other person a chance and trust them to reach self-peace when they’re ready.

WordPress Discover Challenge: Mind the Gap

Happy anxiety*

df0822ce008b3f5919b9a230a8fe0c14
Anticipation Orange by Lisa Golighty

When I see the word anticipation, I think happy anxiety. Strange, I know — but it makes sense that I relate in that way. I’m an anxious person by nature.

I looked up definitions of the word, and was pleasantly surprised by how positive it was. Here are a couple favorites:

* * *

A N T I C I P A T I O N:

  1. the act of looking forward; especially pleasurable expectation
  2. visualization of a future event or state

* * *

With that in mind, here are lists of things that I,

onepleasurably expect, and

twovisualize for the future:

o n e

in the summer, to look down at my toe rings & feel instantly cheered up

a delicious ache in my muscles the day after a good & decisive workout

to meet people in whatever state and capacity they are currently at

my galoshes to keep my feet dry even as I wade through puddles

my favorite pen to always make my handwriting look amazing

catharsis & ease after writing my feelings out

* * *

t w o

my reputation amongst friends to be someone who will listen without judgment

complete authenticity in my relationships and interactions with people

children that feel secure in themselves, with my & their father’s help

a closer relationship to my heritage as a Filipina

less anger & more acceptance in and of myself

having a love that pleasurably expects me

– – – – –

*I realize now that it’s not necessary to correlate anticipation to anxiety.

Letter of apology to my skin & soul

Dear Skin & Soul,

I’m sorry for introducing so many changes to you at a time.

Skin, I’m sorry for getting excited when I get my paycheck and start spending it all on new skin products. I know that instead of blowing my money on such frivolous things, I really should take a preventative standpoint, and buy good and healthy things for my body to consume organic fruits and vegetables, that spirulina shit my chiropractor recommended to me once… and yes, I shudder as I say this, but… even brown rice. Now, you’ll know I’m getting old when I buy that instead of white, which I so dearly love.

But see, Skin, these products you don’t understand! Here I am, my obviously dispensable cash just dragging heavy in my pocket every two weeks, waiting to be spent on creams that could imbue my skin with the dewy quality you so often find on Korean YouTube bitches.

And to add to it, I lug these tubes and bottles home, and expect you to be able to take all of it simultaneously on comes the new soy cleanser, then the new rose petal toner, then the new royal jelly bee night cream. None of that incremental approach. Just a “FUCK YES” in front of my bathroom sink, and away we go. Then I stand there smiling like an idiot, layers of goop on my face, waiting expectantly for my skin to transform, right before my very eyes.

And really, I am doing myself a disservice applying all of it at the same time how the fuck am I supposed to know which product caused my Monday morning T-zone breakout? Gahhh, I’m in IT and I should know this how do I troubleshoot what went wrong if I don’t go about this methodically?

Soul, I know you’re getting impatient and rolling your eyes at me, and believe me, I know I’ve done you wrong. I’ve done you so wrong.

But see, Soul, I’ve always been like this. I constantly put my life (and effectively, you) in upheaval, setting things on fire in yearly cycles. Dumping my boyfriend? Hellll yeah! And while we’re at it, why don’t I:

  • move to a new apartment by myself,
  • and get a new boyfriend who just so happens to be my ex’s roommate,
  • and just multiply my social life by a thousand,
  • and finally tell my family about my history of sexual abuse?

Yeah… that will go over well, right? I’ll become a better, more well-rounded person before I can even blink!

I just get so impatient with myself. I don’t do this in the slow, deliberate pace needed to give you time to heal. I go all in. I put you through so much heartache and loss at a time, sacrificing your well-being for my short term sense of fulfillment. Now, because of what I have done, you think yourself a lost soul, almost comparable to those wretches you read about in Dickens books and the BBC world news section. I’ve put you through a war, sending you off with just a day’s training and a pitchfork as a weapon.

I have to apologize to you. Because of me, you feel like an attention-seeking creature spawned from betrayal, deception, duplicity, impulse, detachment… all sorts of ugly things. I’m really not trying to make an excuse, but Soul, in order to survive, I have had to detach us. I’ve had to keep guilt at an arms length,  so that when I hurt somebody, you are insulated. When I betray somebody, we’ll cry but only for a short amount of time… just enough to give you a healthy taste of that guilt and still walk away intact. What I’ve feared all this time, and what’s been confirmed recently, is that you are incomplete, missing chunks of your flesh like the soldier you are.

I haven’t protected you the way I should have, Soul. Maybe I should  take those preventative measures I mentioned with Skin. After all, aren’t you more important than she is? (Sorry Skin, it’s true, and you gotta make peace with that. Looks aren’t everything.)

But I don’t know, Soul. I can be as disciplined as possible to protect you, but life isn’t supposed to be calculated like that, and as the Shins say in “Girl Sailor”:

You are not some saint who’s above
Giving someone a stroll through the flowers,
You’ve got so much more to dream of
Oh girl, sail her, don’t sink her
This time

Sometimes, change happens quickly and overwhelmingly. That’s how you and I grow stronger. We make mistakes in this accelerated pace. But I think you and I deserve a chance to pursue happiness, don’t you think?

And really, you’re being a drama queen, really you are you’re not as bad off as you think. Your human made a mistake. Other Souls’ humans make mistakes all the time. Aaaallll the time. Sometimes, we make them as a nation, as this year’s election results have certainly proved.

Anyway, I digress. All I can do now is make amends to you, and get you up and hobbling, and work on these ugly things that you seem to think you arebetrayal, deception, etc. and make you realize you are not those things. You’ve definitely gone through them, because your human decided to act that way… but I take ownership of that. You shouldn’t need to.

So Soul, please just focus on recovering, accept my long overdue apology, know that I love you, and know that you’re strong.*

* * *

*Just a disclaimer though, you will be less insulated from now on, because I will try my best not to detach myself from other people’s pain, especially when I’m the cause of it. I know you’re ready for that, and that you’re strong enough now. We both are.