Back in the day…

Facebook gave me a memory, from this day, five years ago:

like the song says – i am not throwing away my shot. i took my shot, you didn’t. i told you a while back, it was about you, it was always about you. i’m not sure you could hear that, wanted to hear that, could understand that. first rule of social work is meet people where they are. only recently have i been made to understand there’s another part to it – meet people where they are, but we can’t stay there. we have to move, or we’ll die. i met you where you were, but i chose not to stay and die there with you. i cringe at the vision of seeing you whittled away to less than nothing, believing that is what love means, giving up your essence and muting your passion because it threatens the weak and weakens those who are already threatened. i cannot save you. that was my ego talking, i realize that now. it’s not my place to save you. you have to want to live, out loud, whole and without apology, sure that you are owed nothing but even more sure in the knowledge of what is inherently yours. the stakes are so very high now, and i have to believe there are many coming to your aid from beyond what our eyes can see. i had to let you go, i had no other choice, but it is an incredibly bitter pill to swallow. you said that you never leave, you wait for others to leave you. that’s pretty chicken shit, now that i think about it, but i suppose i did exactly what i was supposed to do according to your script. funny thing is, according to my script, i did what i have never done before. i took my shot. i took a shot for my own integrity, and in a roundabout way, i took my shot for you. i chose not to enable you to be half a person any longer. stand and deliver. it’s not fun, it’s not a party, it’s a bitch, and it’s hard work, and it hurts. but this is life, this is the real deal, not fantasy land, not lego land, not barbie’s fun house. none of that is real, but this is. this is life, and yeah, some of what you were dealt fucking sucks. that’s true of a lot of us. i’ll probably not be able to remember my own name in 20 years, but i still can’t stay here in the same place and not move. i guess i’m not willing to waste the 20 years. it’s not what i want, but i wanted to be tall and skinny and incredibly brilliant and rich, and that’s not happening either, so…i make the best of it. you’re better than this. you’re more than this. i have seen what’s behind the hand you play so close to your chest, and you’re selling yourself way short. you know that i know, and you know that you have nothing to fear because i’ll be right here when you’re ready to take your shot.

So. I was thinking of someone else when I wrote that. Someone I thought I loved, may still love. It was all so tragic and romantic then, as it has been through most of my past. The same person over and over again, just with a different face, different circumstances, different name. But always the same person who takes and does not give, who rejects emotional intimacy, who lies on some passive level. Someone who rejects what I am but uses it for their own comfort, but only when it suits them.

In reading this memory, I wonder if I was not really talking to myself. Those are words I needed to be saying to myself, still need to be saying to myself. It smarted a bit to read that, and to remember how empty and demolished I felt back then. All because of some other person who did not even miss a step while this storm was going on inside me. This is a pattern that has gone on for most of my life – obsession with one single person who is unavailable and treats me like shit. What is THAT all about?

I want that pattern to end, and my strategy now is to stay as far away form people as possible. I don’t want to develop deep friendships with anyone, don’t want to be emotionally intimate with anyone, don’t want to trigger the wind machine that blows down the wires and the transformer and shorts out the rest of my life. No more. I figure that’s not the optimal way to handle it, but it’s what I’ve got right now.

Do I still love the person who prompted that diatribe? In a lot of ways, I do. In a lot of ways I don’t quite like them. Mostly, I feel played and have lost respect for how they live and how they treat people who really give a hoot about them (as opposed to satisfy some fantasy where they can perpetuate their own self-delusion of superiority). It’s pretty hard, if not impossible, for me to love someone without respecting them.

I still love as though I am an adolescent, as though I never quite grew up in that area of my persona. It’s frustrating, and I am not apt to continue dipping my finger in the water to see if if it’s still boiling. The fire is still high, so I know the water is still hot enough to scald me, so…stay away from that. I don’t have to jump in with both feet to demonstrate that boiling water is a bad thing for me to experience. These days I ain’t jumpin’.

There’s still a juvenile part of me that yearns for that one person who is in synch with me, who fits like a puzzle piece with my unique shape. Someone who is safe and who understands the concept of reciprocity and boundaries. Someone who has done the work of confronting their own demons. Someone who is not repelled by my demons.

Too much to ask, perhaps, but there is still a niggling hope that it will happen, in some mystical dreamscape. With music. Dramatic music rising to a crescendo as ocean waves crash on the pristine sands on the edge of forever. *screeech* That’s a soap opera, not real life. Those are the expectations of a 12-year old who has watched far too much television, too many after-school specials and Hallmark movies. Ah, well. It’s part of my charm.

So, live and learn, or if not learn figure out an escape plan. I’m a solo act, not always willingly, but I choose it over the tumult of constantly trying to relate to the unrelatable. I’m too old to be suiting up for battle every time I go into polite, or even impolite, company. Too old to be a starry-eyed child who still believes in Santa Claus and the Wicked Witch. Things don’t seem to be quite that simple any longer.

Simplicity is not the ultimate goal, because it’s not ultimately the way life shows itself (at least in my experience). I’m not sure I have a goal, except to get through to the other side. The other side of me, I suppose. It feels closer than ever, but still feels like there’s an infinitely high mountain to climb. Always another mountain to climb. For someone born in the swamp lands, that’s nearly incomprehensible.

When climbing a mountain, or sloshing through a swamp, or hiking through the urban wilderness one encounters the unexpected, no matter how well prepared you may be. There will be obstacles, as the environment will also set its own boundaries. It would do me well to remember that boundaries are inherent in everything, including me. I just have to use them, and not let external forces trample into my inner recesses without contest. I don’t want to fight, but also don’t want people to cross my line without even asking. That ain’t respect, and I suppose I have a right to demand that. Like I said earlier, it’s pretyt hard for me to love someone if I have no respect for them.

There is something precious to defend.

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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