Monday, December 31, 2012

End of the Year... Or, The Importance of Being Important

"Don't give in.  It's not just about power, it's about self respect.  You know that you have come too far and you don't deserve drama and power plays..." 

As a means of self-preservation and protection, my writing has become almost clinical because I have to be guarded and protect myself.  My writing feels fragmented because I haven't been writing.  I'm out of practice, but the only way to get back to writing is to start somewhere.  It's time to exorcise these pesky demons, but I find that I can't write details because I don't have the energy to write about someone who is, well, a bad person for me.

I have written and re-written this blog post several times over and it never seems to get past a few paragraphs.  I have been trying to write about a break-up that happened in October and as I would begin writing the details, I felt like I was writing the same story all over again: Andrea meets _______, they date, she realizes he's emotionally unavailable, the break up, she writes a blog about it, citing the same pithy musings that "he wasn't my person" and the ever diplomatic "it just wasn't our time."

In all reality, the guy was an asshole.  He is an egomaniac and does anything he can to draw attention to himself, and I allowed myself to get sucked into his games.  Luckily, I got out before too much time was invested - but enough time and energy were put in that when we broke up, I felt myself in an odd space.  I wasn't heartbroken or sad, but I felt the void of the break up.  Worse, because of his need to have my attention, he kept calling, I kept answering and we kept hanging out.  I had to take a moment to breathe and definitely had to enlist the help of friends to keep me from running back to a situation that was slowly sucking out my soul.  I have had trouble writing this blog because even writing the details of our relationship and subsequent break-up just feel like I'm giving him way more of myself than he deserves.

Don't give in 

I have realized that I tend to pick men who fall on a spectrum of unavailability.  There are the men who are benign - F. and Randy are good examples - and don't do too much damage to my spirit.  Guys like F. are decent men, they're just not emotionally available (and in all fairness, they're usually honest about this from the beginning but we still decide to take a ride toward the train wreck anyway).  Way on the other end of the spectrum, we have men like the latest break-up who are not only emotionally unavailable but are just down right black holes that suck the energy out of any room they walk into and continue to suck more.  I want to be clear that I am a smart woman who has done a ton of emotional work and I STILL got sucked in.  Manipulation is a powerful weapon and the latest break-up is the master of it.  He knew how to pick out my deepest insecurities and then exploited them.  I'm not going to try and figure out why - that is something he would have to answer - but I don't think I could have broken the ugly cycle had it not been for a lot of work and the strength of my friends.

The quote that I opened this blog with is a text from my good friend B. who had to talk me down one night because the latest break-up was sending texts telling me how much he missed me, how much he wanted to spend time with me and couldn't we please just hang out, just one time?  Although I didn't even like being around him, I found myself wanting to reply because I get a high when someone who treated me badly "regrets" his behavior and wants to make up for his behavior.  Toxic men like him are a drug and the night he was sending texts, I was itching for a fix.  I felt validated that he missed me.  Never mind that he was drunk when he was doing so.  I didn't care that he was seeing another woman (and I'm almost positive that he started seeing her when we were still seeing each other).  It didn't matter that all he was looking for was my attention.  I wanted to reply because I have an insatiable need to feel important and validated - even if it's a lie.

There was a small voice inside of me begging me not to reply.  It was trying to remind me that it was a bad idea to give in and that was when I sent a text to my friends.  It was simple - all I wrote was "Help!  I need an intervention!"  B. replied  right away and talked me back from the ledge, but I stayed dangerously close to the edge, watching dirt and pebbles fall into the vast of nothingness.

I didn't reply to his texts that night, but I had to fight tooth and nail to stop myself from doing so.

It's about self-respect

I would love to report that I never gave in again, but I did - several times, in fact.  One night, he was supposed to attend a poetry reading I performed at and he totally blew me off.  As I expected, he called the next morning to see how the show went.  He apologized for not going - casually mentioning he forgot because he was hanging out with the woman he was dating.  Yes, dear reader, I was aware that he was playing classic mind games with me, but I was too far gone to care.   The mention of her name sent me over the edge and we began arguing.   While we were arguing over the phone, I found  myself saying the word "important" over and over.  "I don't feel important to you... It's like I'm not even important to you...You make me feel un-important...I need to feel important."  As that word kept escaping my lips, my chest felt like someone was stepping on it.  I was crying and felt alone and desperate.  I was jumping out of my skin and pacing around the house.  I passed by a mirror and saw puffy red eyes and tear stained cheeks and I felt so sad for the girl in the mirror because she looked so small and scared and miserable.  We hung up shortly thereafter and I cried until I was hiccuping and couldn't catch my breath.

Why was I crying so hard for someone I couldn't even stand?  It's taken some time, but I realized that while I don't like him as a person, he triggered the deepest and smallest parts of me that feel unimportant, and all I wanted was to be important to him, regardless of the fact that his opinion of me is insignificant because he is insignificant.

That afternoon, I ran into a friend who asked how I was doing.  The funny thing is, she isn't someone I consider a close friend.  We've always gotten along but we don't spend much time together or even talk very often.  I opened my mouth and told her everything that was going on with him.  She turned out to be a huge blessing who said - "you have to cut him off.  You have to get rid of him.  He is toxic.  Stop."  I sent him a text asking for space - I wasn't ready to completely cut him off - and changed his name in my phone to DO NOT ANSWER THIS IS A BAD IDEA.  I avoided his phone calls and tried not to answer his texts.

You know that you have come too far

I replied to a few texts because I had become an addict, but the high I got from hearing that he missed me began to wear off.  His texts became an annoyance, and eventually they struck me as pathetic.  With some work, reminders from friends and family and a lot of being talked back from the edge, I was able to stop replying and eventually un-friended him from Facebook and cut him out of my life because what my friend said is true - I have come too far and worked too hard to allow anyone to take my spirit.  That's the funny thing about self-work and "knowing better" - once there is self-realization, there is no way one can go back to being treated badly - or allowing toxic people in one's life.

Being that it's New Year's Eve, I reflect on the past year and where I was a year ago: in a relationship with F., unemployed with a bad back and not able to find joy in very much.  Here we are, a whole year later and F. and I are friends... not close friends, but friends nonetheless.  I have a job that I absolutely love and I have back pain at times, but I just feel better overall.  I am solid in who I am.  Through my relationship with F., I learned that I have an incredible capacity to love and even when we broke up, I continued to be open and have tried to keep love at my center.  There are time when I've gotten off my path, but for the most part, I am unafraid of loving someone.

I found something scarier, however.  Allowing myself to be loved is a terrifying thought now that it has presented itself to me.  Will I learn to open up to being loved in 2013?  Will I allow happiness to manifest in the most unexpected form I've ever known?  Will I be important to myself and be important to someone else?  Stay tuned, dear reader, and we'll find out together...

Happy New Year!

Next Time: My Mom Walked A Picket Line 

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