It’s hard to describe what my life is at the moment. It’s a jumble, a fragmented picture that I’m trying to piece together without a clear understanding of what the picture is supposed to be. Do you understand how frustrating it is?
Where does this piece go?
Screw it. I’ll set it over here for the moment and deal with it later.
Playing the “What If” Game
I’m finishing up the last of my college. I have spoken about his often, probably because this is something I have wanted for a long time. I’ve often wondered where I would be today had I done the intelligent thing and finished over a decade ago. If I hadn’t stopped in 1999, presumably I could have graduated by 2000. Would my life have been better? Worse?
What if? I know you’ve played that game before. What if I had gone out with this person instead? What if I had taken that job? What if..? What if…? What if…?
The problem with this is that it presumes that we have the ability to know what would have happened. In hindsight everything seems so painfully obvious, but the problem is that what we know is a result of our experience. Had we gone and taken that other path, that what if, we very well could be asking what if we had done the very thing you currently wish you could have avoided.
You only ask because maybe things would have been better the other way.
But what I’ve discovered is that I’m a man still in flight, fleeing a past that has probably been long forgotten by the other party. Is this normal? When something traumatic happens, is it only a trauma to one and not the other? Could something that is holding me back be a non-issue for the other?
I realized that I’m still running away from the ghosts of my past yesterday afternoon. I had to go to the bank inside a Walmart to take care of an outstanding issue that I should have dealt with ages ago. Took fifteen minutes and I was done. Typical.
Anyway I left the bank and I wandered around the store and I felt apprehension. Why? Because that’s where the forsaken she-devil works. I’ve avoided the department that she works in ever since we broke up. Forget the obvious that she works at a store 400 miles away, but I really have no idea if she still works there, at the store, in that department, or even in the company. I could easily find out, but why do that to myself?
So why avoid it? I’ve conditioned myself to avoid it. Being in the area brings back memories which makes me sad, fills me with pain and anger, and all I want to do is to escape. I leave. I feel better. I think that may constitute negative reinforcement.
I haven’t dealt with the underlying problem. I ran away from it, from her. At the time the pain was all-consuming, it encompassed my entire being. Those close to me are probably better able to describe how I was than I am. I shut down. I didn’t function really for a long time. I lost my job because of it and look at me now.
So walked in, half-expecting to see her, knowing that I was being an idiot. I walked around, trying to break the synaptic connections that make me associate that department to the girl who hurt me. She hurt me, and she works there so being there brings back the pain.
Look at bbq things.
She’s not here.
Cool patio set
I wish I could see her.
What would I say?
Nothing. I’d run away.
I’ll have to go back more often to free myself of that particular association. It’s silly, but is it really? I’ve decided that it isn’t. I’m entitled to my feelings and I’m entitled to dealing with them in my own time. Emotions are too complex to figure out.
Some of you might be judging me, you may say I’m weak, that I fell apart. What can I say to that? Fuck you. That’s what. You don’t know me. You don’t know the experiences that I’m gone through. What would it take for you to fall apart? You’re not as strong as you suppose. We all have a breaking point, and the trigger may be something you’d never see coming.
So what now?
I live my life, that’s what. I walked around and window shopped for a while, but I didn’t buy anything. I left and drove to the Barnes and Noble to escape into fantasy. I walked in, after being gone since 2000, I’m immediately flooded with memories from an even more distant past. A less painful past.
I walked around, glimpsing at the thousands of stories there were to be discovered. It was nice to be surrounded by books. The feel, the smell, the connection you get by the tactile immediacy of holding a book. It’s wonderful and joyous and marvelous and…
Do I really expect to join all of these books, vying for shelf space, hoping to attract a readership? Am I good enough? Do I have a story to tell? Would anyone be willing to spend their time and money to read what I have to say?
So I walked around, forgetting myself and my troubles, leaving my doubts and fears behind, and I shopped for a story, somebody else’s story. There are so many books to choose from, so what do I get? I looked for a book, and it took me several minutes to remember the name, but who was the author? Crap. Oh there it is, magically appearing before me on a display. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This was a NaNoWriMo novel she wrote and got published. I had to get it.
I walked around some more, searching but not finding, wondering if it did so poorly that B&N decided to discreetly banish it from the store. An employee asked me what I wanted. “The Casual Vacancy,” I replied sheepishly. Why sheepishly? It’s my money, and I’ve been wanting to read it ever since I knew J K Rowling was going to publish a non-Harry Potter book. Screw reviews I’ve seen. I wanted it.
Books in hand, and almost $60 poorer, I left the bookstore, knowing that there were better things on which to spend the money, but nothing that would give me more pleasure. I got into my car, went to Kohl’s and bought me a shirt. Happy, I got into my car, went through the drive through of a McDonald’s, and headed home.
So? What the hell is the point?
That’s the puzzle, isn’t it? You live, you have an epiphany, and life goes on. Here soon I’ll have my degree in hand, and I’ll find a job and then what? Hopefully I’ll find someone to blur the edges of my bad memories and who will dull the hurt that I guess I’ll still have. I know I still harbor resentment. Will that ever go away?
Who knows, but I have two books to read, and a few stories percolating in my head. I have a quiz on Monday, an exam on Tuesday, and an essay to read on Wednesday. And you know, I should probably start working on my mental health project that’s due on the 25th.
Life goes on and you deal with things as they come. I’m slowly dealing with her, but you know what, she’s not as big a piece of my life and I once thought. And you know what? That puzzle piece I couldn’t figure out where it went? It doesn’t even belong to my picture and I can chuck it into the trash can.
And just like that, maybe I’ll be able to throw her away, just as she did me. She doesn’t belong in my picture so why keep her on the table, and life moves on.