Feeling…

I was going to title this “Feeling Weird”, but I have thought better of it. I am just…feeling. We talk in recovery a lot about feelings, and many of us profess having gratitude for the feelings we have now, since we can recall being pretty number before embarking on the journey to happy destiny that AA references. As I was told once, you’re going to feel better if you embrace the 12-step recovery program. You’re going to feel pain better, happiness better, sadness better, grief better, anger better. You will definitely FEEL better. I suppose that’s how this thing called life works…when you stop anesthisizing yourself with a substance for less than medicinal purposes, those nerves come back to life and you feel them. Sometimes when that happens, I have to remind myself that I asked for that, that I wanted that to happen. And sometimes, I have to grit my teeth while that reminder is presenting itself. Some days, it’s like being hit full force with a 2-by-4 wielded by the Incredible Hulk and landing directly on the side of my head. That’s gonna leave a mark, and it does. Life. What a beautiful choice.

So, what I’m feeling right now is a bit odd. I was constructing a “portfolio” for a class I’m taking…not the usual kind of professional folio, but one that amounts to sort of a collage of images and favorite things and so on…I added a page to this journal for it. I suppose the soundtrack for it is “Getting To Know You”, which is somewhat obnoxious, but it’s part of the class instructions. The class is offered by a theological seminary, so it is oriented to more spiritual attributes, and focuses on anti-racism specifically. It’s a group thing. So, we’re encouraged to show ourselves a bit, and be open, and all that. OK, I’ll play…but I’m gonna hold a bit back until I see how this goes. I am a very trusting person, but it does not serve me well, so I’m trying to approach things with a bit more moderation these days.

Perhaps this is why I feel a bit odd today, after putting together a bunch of things for others to read about me, music I like, a glimpse into how my tiny brain works on certain levels. For some reason, maybe it was a writing prompt somewhere, I started thinking about things I’ve done that haven’t worked well for me, and how this attachment disorder has wreaked havoc with my relationships. Oh, I know what prompted this…I was listening to a podcast of Brene’ Brown’s (“Unlocking Us”, the Feb. 10th episode), and she was talking with Roxane Gay and her wife, Debbie Millman. Roxane and Debbie are both authors and instructors, and both have serious credentials in their crafts…Debbie is a designer with her own podcast, and Roxane is a writer with her own following. Anyway, they were discussing how they came to fall in love and start a life together, and it was fascinating. I have not finished the entire episode, but I already know that Roxane in particular speaks to me on a particular level, and it is the level of post-trauma. The level of recovery and healing. Debbie seems to have some healing under her belt as well, and specifically mentioned dysfunctional attachments. So, that got me to crankin’ on the topic of my own attachment disorder.

I have only recently started exploring this subject, and find that it seems to explain some of the more perplexing aspects of how I have – or don’t have – relationships. Most of it seems to mimic what I saw of my mother’s totally off-kilter manner of having relationships with family, or the few friends she claimed. My thoughts wandered to some of the most disastrous experiences I’ve had, and I would love to say those all occurred before I began the serious business of recovery. But that would not be true. Within the past few years, and since I’ve been in NC, I’ve gotten my ass kicked in some of the most effed up, narcissist-enabling, unrewarding relationships I’ve ever had. I feared that my propensity for finding these people – and I contend it is simply the same person with a different face each time – was escalating. I seemed to be in the business of mastering an art form. What kind of nonsense is THAT? To combat that, I have simply withdrawn from the game. For at least the past few years, since the last debacle, I have studiously ignored the social scene. I’m just fine over here, thank you very much. I figured if I just didn’t get my motor running in pursuit of pleasure and pretty things, I would be fine. That mostly worked, but I’ve even managed to attract the most effed up narcissistic just-a-friend that I could concoct. She wound up being a psycho in her own right, and she had the nerve to dump ME. OK, I’m officially done.

The problem with being done with a social scene, though, is things still go on in your head. It’s like standing outside the house where a party is going on, and you can hear the music and the drone of indistinct conversations, see the silhouettes moving about, but you know damned well that you’re outside. I suppose I can go in, but I’ll be damned if I am going to risk it. I can’t trust myself to choose any better than I ever have, so did I mention that I’m just fine over here? Really. I’m just fine over here. Maybe. I resent that I don’t feel I have the choice to be over here or over there. I feel that I have to be over here, kind of alone, because my track record sucks with being over…there. I’m too old to keep getting my butt kicked, because I am afraid that one day I’m not going to be able to get up. So, no go.

The just-a-friend person that dumped me, well, I understood her shit. That may have been the problem, actually – she could very well have become threatened with how much I understood. We had become extraordinarily close, like sisters. After a while, though, she suddenly woke up one day and decided that she deserved to have a capital-R relationship with a man. I was like whatever. I was truly and honestly not attracted to her romantically or sexually. Not. One. Bit. But there was a great deal of emotional intimacy, so that could have been my error. Not sure. But over a period of time, she began to go a little deeper down a rabbit hole in her own labyrinth…she became obssessive about guys she would meet, and conjured (and I do mean conjured) fanciful stories about what what they must be thinking, about how if they called so many times it must have meant they were “interested”, if they said certain things, like “i like your sweater” they were making a pass at her. It got progressively less connected to reality, or at least the reality of how I imagine adults might behave. She would be exuberant if one of them said what she KNEW was a sweet thing, and devastated if they didn’t follow up with escalation. She drug one guy, AND HIS KIDS (he’s divorced), out to a mountain place that somebody else owned, and talked for hours about how THEY had talked so deeply for hours…and then she engineered a way for them to sleep on the floor together, and he must have been hiding a hard-on because he wouldn’t face her, but she slept SO well and got SO close to him. From what she described, she was a barnacle attached to the back of a dolphin or something, because he asked her later whether it was possible for her to have been any closer to him. That went nowhere, and not for any other reason than he was headed on a totally different path in his life. I know the guy in passing, he’s nice, but goofy…and when I asked her about him one day, she said – in that weird way that usually means someone had rehearsed an answer to a question they knew they’d be asked – “We’re not seeing each other anymore, but we’re the best of friends.” From what I heard from him, they were never “seeing each other”, and they were always “the best of friends”. When I tried to point out to her along the way that he just wasn’t into her, she became enraged. I should have stopped there, but stupid me…I thought we had made an agreement to tell each other the truth.

OK, so women and their men usually don’t have room for errant dykes to provide insight into their relationships, or whatever the hell they’re having, but then…she started making conditions about her women friends. They were nut cases in some respects. I could not have cared less, but she would make them and their alleged mistreatment of her or questionable positions on things topics of conversation with me. I didn’t realize that I wasn’t supposed to actually have an opinion, or offer my thoughts, and she began to lose patience with me. After a time, she became nearly enraged because we differed on a political candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2016. I still don’t like the guy, and felt no reason to avoid discussing that with another adult. I was a Hillary Clinton supporter, but if my friends didn’t like her, I didn’t take that personally, nor did it affect me.

My friend did take it very personally that I didn’t share her literal adoration of this candidate, and we agreed (well, one of us agreed) not to talk about it anymore. That seemed to work for a time until she began getting into closer relationship with other (fragile) women who also adored the same candidate, and my story is…she didn’t need me any longer. So, after throwing me a surprise birthday party – the first of my life – that made me very happy…days later, she suddenly had so many problems with me that she just needed to get away. Her primary reason was – unbelievably – that I didn’t like her friends. Huh? Because I disagreed with them about things like this candidate or I didn’t think they were perfect, or something. I didn’t quite understand what was happening, but I had other things to deal with, like grieving my mother and trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do without a job.

I didn’t realize I had gotten married, though. My bad. So, *Poof* off she goes – daily phone calls disappeared, allyship on certain work we had partnered on was no more. Fine. That hurt like a *expletive*, but like most things, I got over it. I’m still over it. She has since lied and said she believed I was the one who called off the friendship. I just nodded and smiled, because…when a person does that to me, they don’t realize how much it’s O-V-E-R. There is no going back. I lost respect for her, and I can’t do much without that. I would like to say that I hope she finds whatever it is that she is looking for, but truthfully, I just don’t much care. If I never see her again, that’s fine, too. I have no interest in foiling her about anything, or actively wishing her a negative outcome in anything, but…I just don’t really care. I don’t know if that’s a good thing, or if that means I’m virtually shallow, but it is what it is. Bye, girl. You take care now.

So, that’s pretty bad, at least for me, and that’s “just a friend”. When I get my motor runnin’ in overdrive about somebody I like, it’s even worse. Last person I thought might turn into something deeper than friendship was…interesting. Exciting. A bit self-absorbed. A bit … I hesitate to say racist, but her behavior sort of tapped on that alarm bell a little. She liked Black people a little too much, if that makes any sense. She was carrying on with someone who was very well-defined in her Blackness, and nearly stereotypical in many respects. I couldn’t understand why she preferred this person over me, certainly not because I thought I was better looking or anything like that. I never think that. Ever. But dear God…the other one was a hood rat, ignorant-acting from what I saw. There had already been some straight up ghetto bullshit that had gone on, and I just didn’t get it. I asked about it, and was told that the other one’s family had treated the white girl with warmth, and civility, and were very kind. She iterated this as though it was worthy of some award. What did she expect them to be like – tribal natives who strapped her to a tree trunk and brought her over to the fire to roast for the evening meal? That bugged me, but as usual, I overlooked it, because I really liked her. A lot. How effed up is that? Then it got worse, as she began relating other tales of how they went to sports events, but all of the other people were the ignoramuses friends. Black women, mostly. The ultra-liberal white girl was the exotic fruit, and she told me how once some brothers were trying to get on board with it. It was a problem. I know my people, and this could have been way more dangerous than she understood. But…she wanted some of that stuff. So, she would text me late at night, and we had digital quality time…typing all manner of emotionally kind of intimate stuff. She had a trauma history, and it sort of tagged along with some of mine, so we connected on that quite a lot. I handled her empathically, like I always do, so I was feeling her pain…quite literally. Regardless, where it got really stupid was when she would just disappear for days at a time, and I’d find out “they” had gone to the beach, or for some “together” thing. I understood that we were not dating, or on the beam for even heading in that direction, but I was starting to feel very much like an afterthought, one that only came up when she needed it to. Like when she was not getting what she needed from her squeeze box…and she never was. Maybe it was a sexual thing, but it sure as hell wasn’t emotional. The other one was trying to change her into what she wanted, and this idiot couldn’t – didn’t want – to see that. Because she had me to fill in the gaps. So. One day, she did a typical, ordinary and self-absorbed thing that excluded me, not that it should have but it just hit me all wrong, and everything just blew the hell up in my brain. There was a category 5 hurricane that made landfall in my frontal lobe and the wind came. I was running around yelling to nobody in particular that this field nigger was done, and she could get her house nigger to do everything for her. Then the rains came, and I was a melting pile of senseless, and useless, wicked witch goo. And then it was done. I was embarrassed, and humiliated, and spent. I had nothing left to give at that moment, so…she was SO off my friends list, blocked on cell phone, deleted from email. Everything. Done.

Saw her a couple more times, in passing, and didn’t speak. Saw her one more time at a Pride festival, and she approached – uninvited – and refused to make eye contact. I was with a friend, and she made eye contact with the friend and conversed, but refused to acknowledge me. Then, inexplicably, she hugged me, which felt as though I had been slimed by a slug. It somehow felt obligatory, and proof that she was capable of it. I wanted to bathe immediately, which is SO not my style.

I think I loved her, because I still think of her and grieve. I still think of her and want to know what’s going on with her and the issues we used to discuss so intimately. I still think of her and hate what happened. I still think of her and wish that it could have been different, and miss the good times, which of course were so very few. I still think of her and chastise myself for caring enough to want her in my life, to be hurt by the likes of her rejecting me. I still think of her and hate that I still think of her. My waters are not still but they nonetheless run very deep, and I was drowning yet again. When will I learn not to go out so far the ground can’t help me? That feeling of helplessly floating is exciting and thrilling and feels so good, as though I am free and not bound by physical reality…but… gravity is not a theory and eventually I crash. I always crash.

So. This is what popped up and got in my way. I could go very far if I didn’t keep running into myself. I suppose that is the nature of life, but I get the feeling that I might be able to progress if when I ran into myself, it was not running into an obstacle, but a friend, something to help overcome an obstacle…a step stool, a ladder, a ramp. Not a hindrance, a mud puddle, a pot hole. I am very familiar with pot holes. The ones I’ve encountered that were most impressive seemed to arise because the foundation under the street surface had crumbled. Like a sink hole. The earth just falls away, and then everything crumbles. With the most dramatic sink holes, the actual crust of the rock has shifted, and there’s nothing you can do about that. That’s another one of those Mother Nature things we’re not big enough to fight with…although sometimes we cause it by having made bad moves in the past. Like I do. I suppose that I’m not clear about whether or not there is anything to be done about this, other than staying the hell out of the fray. But I still think of her, and others, and I still hate that I always crash.

It’s great while you’re high, but that sudden stop is what gets you every time.



Published by annzimmerman

I am Louisiana born and bred, now living in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Fortunately for me, I was already living in NC before Hurricane Katrina decimated my beloved New Orleans. An only child, I now feel that I have no personal history since the hurricane destroyed the relics and artifacts of my childhood. As I have always heard, c'est la vie. My Louisiana roots show in my love of good coffee, good food, and good music. My soggy native soil has also shown me that resilience is hard-wired in my consciousness; when the chips are down (or drowned)...bring it on.

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