I'm glad it's February, although cold is really not expressive enough for how I felt today. January was weird, and mostly El Nino warm, and involved a lot of hamster-wheel sort of work. That's my least favorite kind. Also, next year I'm skipping Christmas, because the holidays seem to be straining my brain a little bit more as each year turns.
So post-Christmas, and a chaotic New Year's, I was already beat. Then, happy fucking new year, my brain chemistry decided to delve into a place it rarely goes anymore, taking all the good vibes with it. Very much against my will, I lost my ability to completely ignore a few personal anniversaries that January brings, annual potential reminders of good things that eventually went bad, and I say "potential" because it doesn't have to be that way. I'm much better at not looking back than I've ever been, considering it used to be one of my primary activities, along with panicking about the future. In many ways, I've buried this stuff - do not allow myself to think of it, do not enjoy thinking about it, and carry away absolutely nothing of value for myself or anyone else by thinking about it..."Where you been is good and gone/All you keep's the getting there," according to Townes van Zandt, and I do agree.
And time really does dull things, even if you never really forget. At some point you have to stop thinking about things that upset you or that you don't understand because if you don't it's like staring at an equation for years that you don't have the data to solve, and on top of it I hate math, so that's just total insanity. I think that new neural pathways form through pain, because of our survival instinct, and I totally believe in denial as a necessary shield from pain that gets a bad rap just because it can lead to such weird and destructive behavior when it goes on too long. Seven years is a long time to think about anything, especially with focused attention, and since a seven year span is supposed to cause "itches" and "aches" (hi, Rosanne) the return of Saturn and the replacement of every cell in the body (which is probably false but I read something along those lines) I'd say it's a pretty significant number. Anyway, the holidays bring all this shit up, and the new year in particular did for me this year too. I got all sad and ridiculous and annoying to myself, and started retreading some very unfortunate ground that involves my general lack of loveability and compellingness and any other number of words I could make up at this juncture.
None of this is related to anything out of the ordinary - just the normal stuff that we do to try to find connection, I suppose, no matter how misguided that can be. Once upon a time one winter I fumbled willingly and with complete conviction (because only I can fumble with conviction) into a situation that would change my life for good, and acutely, for a time. And then several Januarys later, almost to the day, I lied that I began to let this go, although I didn't, not for a very long time, a ridiculous period of not-letting-go that lasted just about two years of what I'll always remember as a lost and painful time. I can be proud of it overall, I guess, mostly because I forced myself to survive it, and somehow managed to create something more out of it than being as ridiculous and crazed on the surface as I felt inside almost one hundred percent of the time. Ridiculous, if you couldn't tell, is one of my favorite words.
Anyway, I remembered last week that I'd mostly forgotten about the relevance of this month, or any sort of personal anniversary. I think it's come up again partially because of the wedding talk swirling all around me, the discussions of relationships and mommy status and what have you on IndieBlogger/Blogher, and the fact that after a year of almost constant travel and agitated motion, I've been sitting still with myself and nowhere to go.
The good news is that as I've gone on this little wintertime trip, I've sort of figuratively poked around in my head, and realized that I'm genuinely doing okay, after a long time of not being okay at all, for an intense variety of reasons. And I've been thinking how crazy and tenuous it's been, because for a long time, I'd honestly never thought I'd feel right again. I don't know what I thought would happen, or why I thought that way, or how I thought I could sustain unhappiness indefinitely, but I seem to have grabbed hold of that concept quite strongly. So it's an extra surprise that I do seem to have gone past it, and when I'm really NOT okay, it's generally for other reasons than heartbreak.
Heartbreak - real and genuine - sucks, by the way, and if you've never felt it (although I'm reasonably certain that you have, for one reason or another), I hope you never do. The worst part about it, for me, is its involuntary nature, and the feeling of intense stupidity that seems to naturally accompany it. I like to understand my feelings, no matter how pathetic and unattractive they are. I like to have some measure of connection to what's going on, and a sense that although I know I can't control them, I still have a knowledge of what the hell is up with me - why I'm eating the whole cheesecake when I'm really not that fond of cheesecake in the first place, or whatever - and what I can do about it if I need to. I didn't have that for a long time. I felt like some alien force had taken me over, a force whose only interest was me feeling bad, and at the same time feeling stupid about feeling bad, because I couldn't make myself stop feeling it. It was nobody's fault. Loss just cracked open this hole in me that I hadn't figured out what to do with yet, that had opened some in previous situations that didn't mean that much to me when it came down to it. And when something finally fell apart that really did, it turned out I didn't really have the tools to handle it. I had no view of any tunnel, much less the light at the end of it. I was a hot mess, not charming, or even tolerable. I was...yeah. You didn't really want to deal with me. I know I didn't.
If this sounds overwrought or pitiful, it's because it was. Sometimes it kind of shocks me, when I look at myself from outside, which I frequently do, because the view is so different from there than it is from inside my head. There's so much I don't understand that I'd like to, so much that I'd change if I knew a long time ago what I'm pretty certain I know now. Because I'll tell you, when it comes down to it, I honestly don't see the value of how bad I felt, or the mental and emotional anguish I put myself through (because really, I don't do so well at blaming other people for things I did knowing what the consequences would be. That's a particular brand of punking out that I don't subscribe to.) I know this goes against every "it happens for a reason" with a side of "it was meant to be" and a "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" garnish that we're all supposed to buy, but I have to say that I feel just as strong as I need to be, thanks, and since I'll eventually die anyway, back OFF! I don't understand why it happened in my mind the way it did, and why it took so long for me to stop kicking my own ass. I'm not convinced it made me a better person, or that there was a reason for it, or that it was necessary at all. In fact, I think it was just something that sucked, and that I did the best I could to have it not suck, but I couldn't get a grip on any of it. The needle on the record got stuck and it didn't get back on track for a very long time.
And the heart of that matter is that sometimes I'm admittedly afraid (blast, I hate that word) because I feel that when this multiple January thing happened to me, parts of my random, stubborn heart stayed chipped off, important parts that believed in love and a certain kind of fulfillment that only comes with feeling connected to another human being. I don't think about those ways very much anymore, because I can honestly say that the pain that's come into my life from the times I've tried to experience that is deeper than most pains I've ever felt besides the death of my relatives, and I don't want it ever again. Partnership has so little relevance to my life at this point, and I'm learning not to really miss it, which is also kind of sad because I'm pretty good at it given the chance - my personality flaws and bad habits notwithstanding. And it's not that I really don't want it, it's that maybe I don't think there's any other way to have it than the way I've had it, and I don’t want it that way again. Sometimes I feel like I didn't get the right PIN number for this relationship transaction. There's the crappy PIN number that so many seem to have and I've gotten, that spams your account and eats your ATM card. I want the PIN number that spits out extra twenties, baby, and makes you breakfast. I never had it for any sustained period of time, and I'm not quite sure I ever will.
I'm learning to come to a sort of detached acceptance of this that doesn't involve self-pity (good luck, right?) because the alternative is what? Hysteria? Obsession? No thanks. I've done that. It doesn't work, either. It just means you're even more annoying than you might be on a good day. My life is quite full, besides, and I've gotten to the point where I really don't care if anyone wants to go to a show or a movie or to the mall – if they want to, that’s great most of the time, but I take myself wherever regardless, because I refuse to limit my experiences based on who can share them. And the funny thing is that I find myself more open to my friends than ever, and I give a lot to (and receive much more from) the family relationships that are at the core of my life, too. So although I might have numbed out where the relationship thing is concerned, it didn't translate to the rest of my life, thank God. And this sounds frighteningly like the Catholic concept of the “single life as vocation” that I learned about in those old religion classes, so please excuse me while I step outside and heave. Violently. Get out of my HEAD, Sister Mary from whatever Caribbean
So all this brings me to what made January better, and set me to thinking how it all would be just fine. It’s too much for this post, but it will come soon, as soon as I get a chance to sit down and share the words and pictures that made it so. Thanks for slogging through this one, if you did. It’s cold, but the sun is out indeed.