Friday, December 11, 2009

The One Without a Title

You know what, you guys? I cried. Pretty much all of November, I cried. You wouldn't know it to look at me, but I can make a lot of tears when I get going.

When you start crying like that, you don't really need a reason to keep crying. It just does itself. Tears upon tears. Thinking about all the people who saw you cry, or suspect you cried, or might just think you are crying without having seen you in years can be enough to bring more tears. Writing the words "I cried" was enough to bring some more, even though today's tears are stoppable, which is the difference.

All through November, it was a torrent of heart-crushing grief. There were phone messages from my mother I couldn't play, because they were going to make it start again. There was incredible guilt whenever I did talk to her, because every conversation ended with me unable to speak past the lump in my throat and the ache in my heart, and I know that she worries and it's not fair to still do that to her after thirty-six years. There were car rides to and from the Suburb throughout which I was so wracked by sobs, I could barely see the road.

Some of it was logical. I got dumped in November, twice, including once by a guy so unworthy of me, he ignored me for a week, and then finally (and only after I asked him to explain himself) wrote me an email explaining that he wasn't ready for a relationship. I gave him three months of precious teacher-weekends, and he couldn't take the time to dial the phone to say "no thank you" in person or at least in voice.

You know it's a bad month when you end it by thanking a guy for taking the time to dump you in person. I thought I met someone really, really good in November. His emails said all of the right things. He was charming and cute in person. Our one and only date went so well I felt something I haven't felt in a long time (something like lust. Desire maybe.). Maybe if I weren't so very ready to find someone charming and cute, and if he weren't so very not, this story would have ended happily. It didn't. It ended familiarly, at least. One good date, followed by silence. And then that final conversation.

The problem is that logical or not, crying over break-ups does you no good. No one wants to hear about it when you're 36 anyway. They would have been more sympathetic when you were seventeen (not that you dated, then, because of the whole thing where you never talked in high school). Nowadays, the world likes to tell you that you can be happy by yourself. The world likes to tell you that you'll find your match when you're least looking for it (Is this the advice you give to your unemployed friends? You'll find your job when you stop wanting a job?), and you should get busy living your life alone. I do live alone. Every day. I've lived alone for more years than most of the world ever does.

So, you have a choice, ultimately. You can choose to think about how much you hurt or you can choose to not. It ends when you find the strength to choose the latter. Then the tears stop. You find your humor again. You can talk to your mother and neither of you has to end up in tears. You can go to school and you can even come home and grade homework. It doesn't hurt so very much because you decided not to let it hurt so much.

Thank you, you say, with real grace. Thank you, for taking the time to meet with me in person, to have this real conversation with me. Thank you for saying what you think will help me. Thank you for being my sweet mother who doesn't deserve to have to worry. Thank you for being my friend with an extra N who will feed me soup and listen to me cry. I live alone. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me in person. I'm worth it.


PPC said...

Al. I know what it's like to hurt over something and not be able to express what it feels like properly. If only language wasn't such a barrier. It's unbelievable that we can be so close to so many people yet feel so isolated. I have no words of encouragement, just a sense that we aren't the only ones. The worst feeling in the world is that you are the only one who's facing an obstacle. When it's hard to keep going just remind yourself that we're all struggling to get by. No matter how hard we try to play otherwise.

Alex said...

Perles, I love you so so much. And you put that very nicely. Thank you. I get so self-absorbed when I'm upset. It does me good whenever I can get out of my head and see the people I love again, being themselves, and struggling with their own things.

Lisa said...

Oh, Alex, I'm sorry. I've lived this myself so much and just reading your words brought back the ache. You deserve so much more and I'm glad you recognize that. Big hug to you.

Carolyn said...

I don't have anything elegant to say, but I hate that you are hurting like this. And: that PPC is one wise person.