Brass Tacks

When it comes down to it, I think the frustration for me is that it never felt casual. It never felt all that serious either. And I liked it. Just the way it was, before the past few weeks when you were abnormally less communicative and I saw you twice in what, a month and a half? Leave me alone with my thoughts for that long without any acknowledgement that I am on your mind, that I matter to you, and I will pull that string until it unravels us.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d have been happy if it were more “serious” or whatever but that conversation four months ago kept things in perspective. Maybe that is more problematic than I’m giving credence to; did it give me perspective because I had to continually acknowledge it or did it prevent me from accepting what didn’t serve me? Unclear. It’s not the first time I’ve pondered that. The point remains though that wherever it was on the casual-serious spectrum, it was working for me.

But I mean what I say: it didn’t feel casual. And, by the flip side of the same coin, I wonder if that “serious” conversation months ago didn’t do the same for you. You had to continually acknowledge that this was less casual than you wanted because it’s what I was comfortable with but that maybe you also chose to be somewhat blind to where on the spectrum we fell. I don’t think I imagined that we click, that you feel something for me that is more than casual sex and that whatever was going on was nice. But four months went by since that talk, John, so again, after maybe some initial weirdness on my part masking an internal battle for trust to prevail, whatever was going on was good for both of us. What I don’t know is whether something recently changed for you. And that is my brass tacks … it’s at the root of what I can’t make sense of.

I didn’t call you my boyfriend because you are a grown ass man but, if I’m being honest, I considered you my guy and I hoped you considered me your girl. But recently I started to wonder if anyone in your life even know about my existence. Several people in mine know of you, even if they didn’t know many details. I feel like I know the people in your life even though I haven’t yet met them. I like talking about you. I like having you in my life. I like our banter, our texts, our time together and, really, our friendship. I don’t even care that much that we rarely do anything outside of my house. I like us just fine.

In recent weeks though, it felt like I wasn’t even on your radar. It hurt. I worried if you were okay dealing with the winter blues or if something had happened with your mom. I sent up a smoke signal in the form of a text last week though and, even then, it wasn’t clear whether you had even noticed I’d gone missing for an entire week. That is the primary source of frustration, ultimately. No one wants to feel like they don’t matter. I feel like I do a good job of making sure you know you matter. Maybe it actually makes you uncomfortable? I never considered that. Is it just because it’s so close to Christmas and you are way more social than me (even though you don’t think you are)? Or do the holidays make all men feel imaginary pressure?

On Friday night, after not seeing you for two weeks, I wanted you to show up at my house after your work holiday thing (as you said you would) and I wanted you to say it was good to see me, that you’d missed me, that you missed sex, that I mattered. That didn’t happen and it was disappointing. But it also made me feel … unwanted. Unimportant. Desperate? That might not be the word but I felt like it was emblematic of a larger problem when you said “sorry to disappoint.” What does that even mean? You could accurately recognize that I would be disappointed but it was the first time that I questioned the sincerity of your words.

You saw and talked to one of my friends at that work party and even that feels weird. That she talks to you, adores you, and tells me this during and after the party. But I have to send up a smoke signal to know if you’re coming over or heading home. It’s honestly just weird.

I don’t want to throw in the towel here but if you are sleeping with other women or have started seeing someone else and that’s why you’ve stopped being as into me, then I need to know that now. I worry about that only because I truly do not understand why anyone would go so long without sex. Two weeks? Sex is so much better the more you’re having it with someone. How else do you ever learn what works? So if you’ve just lost interest in me period, you really should tell me that too.

If this moves forward, I don’t want to have to put effort into making sure we are talking. That’s silly. It wasn’t like that until the past two weeks and I don’t know what changed or why. I also don’t want to have to schedule time to be together. That’s so dumb. We are not an agenda item but I also recognize that you have a very busy social life. I have never asked you to give up one practice or open gym or game though you have skipped those things many times to hang with me. I always appreciated that and it did make me feel special (and also a little guilty). Maybe you don’t have time for any someone in your world and it has nothing to do with me? In my world (and I would argue anyone’s world), I make time for what matters and the message I have received recently from you is that I no longer matter. I did matter more but, at some unknown time, I ceased to do so? And maybe you just thought I was fine and I didn’t do a good job of telling you I felt neglected because I fear being perceived as anything less than fiercely independent.

Our thing always felt pretty equal and, at the end of the day, regardless of how you want to define or label it, that’s all I really need. I want to be part of a relationship that I enjoy, that I feel part of but also where any effort required is equal.

So, how do we move forward from here? What do you want, what do you need, and can both of our needs be met?

Music for the Mood: This Year’s Love – David Gray

Racing

My thoughts are constantly racing across, through, under, over and deep down in my brain. Especially at night. Sometimes weekly, usually less. And I forget to come here and write instead. It’s hard to make your brain remember that this would be more helpful when it’s the dead of night and it’s too quiet to do anything but think.

During the day I can find ways to occupy or distract myself. At night though, the more I try not to, the more my brain drills down; really just ruminates and grinds on something, anything, nothing. I never seem to gain any clarity or find a solution or a way through whatever it is. Honestly, at night and in the idle times when I spend too much time in solitude, I exacerbate the smallest, maybe harmless worry or problem. I work myself into a state of almost nausea, tingly fingers and chest, wild eyes and racing mind.

Sometimes I can lay wide awake or in a state of purgatory between waking and sleeping for hours. Hours! On those nights, I might find sleep in the early morning, seemingly just before my alarm sounds and it is so, so unsatisfying. On those mornings following fitful sleep, when I’m vertical and especially after I’ve left the confines of my house, whatever I was perseverating on seems less … consuming. Almost as if I dreamed that the battle raged.

Matters of the heart are a frequent source of my discontent and remain longer throughout the day than other conundrums because, unfortunately, I’m just not good at navigating relationships. I am currently trying not to penalize a good man for the sins of the ones who weren’t. I have a lack of positive experiences for sure but maybe even just lack of experience period? Unclear. This has never, ever been clear.

Work-related midnight wonderings definitely seem lesser in the morning light. For instance, I have an event this week, three nights from now, and I started perseverating on it last week. At night. I work on it all day at work and I am adequately if not overly prepared with very little left to do these next three days. And yet…and yet! I think about some of the details or the steps or the potential questions or the flow or the logistics, and I think about each of these things over and over and over. Sometimes complete thoughts but often I start to drift to sleep before I can gnaw down far enough, only to wake with a version of the same thought over and over again.

I’ll try to intentionally think about something else, another problem even, but it seldom works. I just move on to doing the same thing with that new thing though and, usually, I cycle back to the original or both or just keep adding more to the mix trying to overload the matrix so that I short circuit and have to shut down. If only I could force quit my brain! The too many open tabs analogy has never been more accurate.

I’ve spent nights worrying or over-analyzing or reliving awkward or powerful or scary or sad or frustrating interactions with others, perceived slights or wrongdoings, guilt over times when I am the slighter or the wrongdoer instead, my upstairs and next door neighbors and how loud and inconsiderate they are, what to say to them, how to say it, whether I’m too sensitive or if they really are willfully or blissfully ignorant. If I could afford to move. To sell. To rent this place out and rent or buy elsewhere. But I love my place and my location. Why should I have to move? Can’t I just insulate the ceiling or find a non-offensive way to get them to be less oblivious? How much would it cost to buy a beach house and live off the grid? What can I do to work remotely in perpetuity? Maybe it’s time for John and I to get a place together? But I like things the way they are.

I worry a lot of those restless nights about my parents, their age and health and safety and missing out on time with them by living here instead of there. Of what I could do for work to allow me to be there instead. Of how much time I have spent here on the earth and what I’ve done with it. Or not done with it. Whether I’m continuing to waste it or if I am motivated enough to make changes so that I don’t. Whether I am clinically depressed or just seasonally. Whether I have a clinical level of anxiety. Both? Whether I will ever meet someone that will value me and want to make time for me because they would rather be with me than do most anything else. Is John that person? Am I unsure because of what we have or because I am projecting the past onto the present? Is it actually too late to fall mutually in love for the first time at this age? Whether it’s actually too late to get married and start a family. Whether I actually want either of those things or if I just always thought and said that’s what I wanted because, you know, it’s what people do and I think I hurt far too much in wanting it for it not to be worth it. Right? Right? What if he doesn’t want that? The last one didn’t. At least not with me.

I think about how I would be able to live this life without either or both of my parents. About how I wouldn’t want to. About how I just wouldn’t. I think about what it might be like to have someone in my life that I could do it all with; if John were there all the time, to go through life with me for the trivial shit and the big moments. If it is possible that this relationship could allow me to withstand the loss of a parent or my brother, either of which render me unable to breathe at the thought. Real hit your knees, shit.

I think about g/God, religion, the origins of us, the purpose of us, why it even matters, who I am or what I do but also who am I and what should I do? Is it different from what I want to do? Why am I here? Why are any of us here? Am I a good person? What is a good person? Why do so many people and opinions and mannerisms and *lack* of manners annoy me so. damned. much? Why am I so judgmental? Am I judgmental? Do I annoy others? In what ways? Am I inconsiderate? Am I not as self aware as I think? Is this why I’ve always felt kind of alone? But also why I find comfort in it? What exactly is wrong with me? Nothing? Actually, wait, do I want to know the answer? To most of those questions?

How did I let myself get out of shape? Do I drink too much? Is it a problem? How would I know? Maybe I should have my liver tested. Then again, several people in my life drink as their primary social interaction, regularly to excess and repeatedly. Surely, I’m not as bad off as them. Why am I so nervous to walk away from a dude if he isn’t making enough time for me? Why isn’t it enough time? What is enough time? Am I accepting less than I deserve? Do I even have a clue what I deserve? Who even decides what that is?? Is it wrong to accept whatever it is with said dude because it’s so, so great when I am with him and it makes me happier than being alone-alone? I lean toward the latter and I think I actually feel guilty and slightly embarrassed about that. You know, in the age of renewed feminism and all.

Why do I become so emotional about the outcome of Steelers games? What will I ever do without my dad? I definitely do not want to know the answer to that last question. Ever. But it’s maybe the only one I care about. All of the others? I think I would really appreciate an answer to all of them. Please. Then I can sort through them and analyze. Probably drum up a whole new round of questions to ponder in the process though. So, never mind. I’m good.

How do you know you know?

See, the racing in my head just doesn’t stop. Ever.

Kind of like the fucking upstairs neighbors.

“I’ve learned less from daylight, than from night threatening to leave”

Music for the Mood: Try for Thunder – Chamberlain

Winter of my discontent?

I’m affected by the change in seasons, the shorter, darker days. I know this. In reality, I might have “the sads” more frequently than just the winter but I feel it more intensely or just perseverate on it’s never-far-awayness more in the dark, dreary days. I tend to hole up in my house and hibernate which, it could be argued, makes it worse. The solitude is both a security blanket and an excuse. I am irritable over nothing and everything. People that have done nothing wrong, sometimes people I care about, become targets of my frustration, avoidance and even loathing. Why? I have no idea. Like a bout of road rage, I can feel it, recognize when it’s happening even, but I am virtually powerless to be in the feeling and control it, lessen it, stop it or redirect it. Though I certainly do think it through later, when I am calm and have the space and quiet to do so.

One friend, in particular, and for no logical, tangible or concrete reason I can determine, is driving me crazy. Her texts cause me to roll my eyes, feel internally annoyed and exasperated, and immediately begin scrolling through the possible excuses or “outs” in my head to avoid responding or respond in the shortest, least expressive, least engaging way in order to discourage further conversation. Why?? I. don’t. bloody. know. It’s been that way with this friend for several weeks now, if not months. I cannot pinpoint when it started or why.  I also cannot determine any source of legitimate irritation, offense, jealousy, betrayal or any action, opinion or thought or perceived action, opinion or thought that got under my skin. I can’t. 

I do this sometimes with friends though and as much as I wish I were wired differently, I’m not sure how to change or move beyond it or if it’s even possible. I know myself. I’m just simply over it. I have the ick, so to speak. In my experience, once you have the ick, it does not go way.

Maybe I’m making too much of it.  Maybe I’m not making enough of it.  Would a therapist?

I’ve been to a therapist twice in my life; once in college, once as an adult.  In college, it was post Sept 11th, in the winter of course, and I was immersed in courses full of psycho-social-biblical-philosophical discussions, papers and research. The result of talking to this campus psychologist, whose name and countenance I cannot even vaguely remember, was merely being prescribed an SSRI (Paxil, I think). I had some dark thoughts. And I don’t know now if these were before, during or after the medication. I stopped taking it at some point as I didn’t feel like it was doing anything and I didn’t want to go back to talk to anyone in order to get a refill. Not surprisingly, no one prepared me for the withdrawal symptoms of stopping cold turkey. So nauseous. So sweaty. Miserable. Constantly. I remember days of just being in my bed in a ball wondering if I was lucid or not. And then it was over and you wondered if any of it even happened.

A couple of years later, as an adult, living on my own for the first time in Pittsburgh, I went back. To a doctor in my insurance network (I haven’t had a primary care doctor since childhood and urgent care clinics weren’t a thing yet). I told them all the same depressed and anxious and not-sleeping feelings I was having and that I had been on an SSRI before. That was it!? I walked out with a prescription again after maybe 10 minutes of talking to them. Truthfully though, I don’t even remember if or for how long I took it. Don’t even know if I got the script filled. I know that I probably should have been doing therapy along with the pills in order to see any kind of benefit. Grad school for counseling taught me all about that — I just never did it.

I tried therapy again as an adult, for one tear-filled, complete embarrassment of a session, when I had a boss who made me feel kind of terrible every day. I used to sit in my car at lunch and cry. I still have something like PTSD when I hear a certain DC NPR radio voice that used to play during that lunch time hour.

I remain genuinely unsure whether it was her, me or the combination of us. I began my professional career as a school counselor with her as my supervisor at the district office. She was impressed by me and championed me. She convinced me to take a job at the district level as part of a stimulus grant and I did, with the understanding that, when it was over in 18 months, I would go back to my same role in my same high school. I never got that in writing because, frankly, it never occurred to me that I’d need to. Within two weeks of the new role though, I knew it wasn’t for me. I had virtually no interaction with students, I couldn’t actually “fix” anything that was broken and couldn’t even touch most things that needed improvement or streamlining (or complete obliteration) with a ten-foot pole. I did get to work with 80 counselors at all levels across the district and it was nice to learn that they respected me, my opinion and my work. But I was profoundly bored. My boss turned from this sweet, encouraging person I admired and that I used to go on walks with at lunch, into this passive-aggressive, suspicious, accusatory person who never had anything for me to do but would be visibly put out when I appeared not to be working. She would actually come stand next to my cubicle, peer over the top at me with just her eyes, glasses and top of her head showing. WHY?? Creepy as hell. In truth, I spent about 3 months of my 16 months there earning a post-Masters certification in sports counseling … online … 12 credits worth! I felt guilty using company time for it but, honestly, I did not even remotely have enough to do. I would find ways create my own projects or work across divisions but that seemed to rankle her even more, as if I was somehow plotting against her or ingratiating myself with people that didn’t care for her. I never knew, really.  It was just an awful situation. 

At one point we had a discussion about it and I expressed that I felt underutilized, regretted leaving the school, recognized that our dynamic/relationship had changed, and suggested that it seemed like she was threatened by me. She laughed, no cackled, at the last part in the most condescending way. I’ll never forget how that felt and I’ve replayed that moment a million times; I’ll also never know what the real problem was if that wasn’t it. I finished the position two months early so I could return for the start of the school year only I wasn’t able to return to my old school and spent the next two years in a school that was fine but not challenging and never felt like home. It’s overwhelming and weird to regret losing nearly a year and a half of your life. It makes me second guess “opportunities” now, for sure. Unfortunate but it is what it is.

All of that to say, I tried therapy as part of our employee assistance program and after crying uncontrollably throughout the whole session and being challenged on things that didn’t seem relevant but that I still bear the scars from, I never went back. It was a truly awful experience.

I think there’s a lot to be said about talking to an impartial, unbiased, unconnected person about your problems, real or imagined. I just don’t know how you establish a rapport with a random someone and/or how you know that someone is the best someone for you. What if they are behavioral when you need cognitive? What if you don’t know what you need and end up with the wrong type? What if they are too religious? What if they aren’t religious at all? What if they are full of shit? What if they don’t give me advice? What if they do? I know they aren’t supposed to; they’re supposed to lead you to your own conclusions and plans. What if they help me to the conclusion that I’m crazy? That we all are?

I have a person in my life now though that also feels the heaviness of winter, like thick curtains that keep out the light but not the chill. It is nice to normalize the experience with someone that doesn’t seem crazy at all! It is refreshing to not have to talk about it to just know why the quiet is nice sometimes. But I also worry that it could pull us apart if we don’t try to make each other push through.

Maybe we can keep the light on between the two of us. That would be really nice. He’s pretty great.

I need to write more. It’s cathartic and I don’t make time for it enough.

Music for the Mood: Fell on Dark Days – Soundgarden (Chris Cornell acoustic)

Half the world don’t even know, what we could’ve had…

Okay. The weekend with no contact and even Monday wasn’t unusual. But also today? What gives, man? If I’m being honest, the distance has me wondering if it even happened and, by default, if I really care or if it’s the sudden absence of possibility (any, not specific) that has me in my feelings. And then, again by default, of you being the one to broach the subject, to have an actual stance on what you wanted/didn’t want, that this lack of communication would even further distance you. Maybe you’re feeling like, “Hey! I’m totally free. Easy peasy. She wasn’t nearly as broken up as I thought she’d be/as the last one/as every other chick.”

I mean, frankly, until I hear otherwise, what else could a girl think?

Are you willing to fight?

Mood music: Willing to Fight – Ani DiFranco

Subtle as a windowpane

I’ve been listening to a lot of Ani the past few days. It makes me nostalgic for college, reminds me of past heartaches which were far worse than this, and also provides a little soothing balm to the still tender wound you’ve added. Granted, I don’t feel as consumed as I did the first day and, although I definitely do not like it, not hearing from you for more than three days has put some distance between me and my raw emotion. The thoughts are still swirling though. I have to wonder if yours are too or if, similarly, the lack of contact has allowed you the distance to realize you want more of it; distance, not me. I hope not but I also realize that it’s not up to me. Instead of rambling here though, I have been able to distill my thoughts into smaller, salient points. We know I love a bulleted list.

Why I’m angry:

  • You pulled the plug too fast. I didn’t even get a chance to see how I really felt about you or if you would get annoying.
  • If you decide that I’m worth it, worth giving a relationship with me a fair shot, you have made it far more serious than it should be. The carefree, by default, has been snatched.
  • Likewise, although it didn’t worry me before, now I will have an insecurity about other women. Jealousy is not beneath me but it isn’t where I like to hang out.
  • I was really fucking enjoying things the way they were!

Why I’m disappointed:

  • By your own words, you think I’m pretty amazing and like spending time with me too. I’m disappointed that this either isn’t true, you think you can do better, or isn’t a strong enough pull for you to try.
  • It seems like sex was as good for you as it was me. Again, either that isn’t true, you think you can do better, or it isn’t a strong enough pull to make you want to try.
  • I was really fucking enjoying things the way they were!

Why I’m sad:

  • Queue vulnerability — I got caught up in being happy and didn’t do a good job protecting myself from catching feelings. What’s sad though is that I would even have to do that with a man. Sadder still that I’d have to do it with a good man.
  • I cannot tell if you are just a nice guy or a good guy. They are different. The latter is unacceptably rare, the former is just a master of disguise.
  • At least a dozen times in the past three days, I’ve wanted to tell you something funny or an observation and I didn’t feel like I could. Because as much as you’ve said it’s not goodbye and we can still talk and blah,blah,blah, you’re the one that made this wave. You get to ride it and I just have to fight the undertow.
  • I really want to be able to just rewind to before that “serious” talk and watch it play out if it hadn’t happened. But that isn’t possible.
  • I was really fucking enjoying things the way they were!

So, I wait.

Music for the Mood: Anticipate – Ani DiFranco