TinyLetter #5 – Enduring It

Here is another TinyLetter I thought would be useful to share with everyone, not just limit to the TinyLetter subscriptions.

Thank you, LetterWriter, for being brave enough to write.

***

 

It was about a month ago I got one of those phone calls from one of
those people that when they call your heart skips a beat. The phone
call from a person I’ve now coined the commitment phobe (which I’ve
written an entire essay about if you’d like to read some other time).
As his name suggests he is afraid of commitment or the ever so slight
hint of it (aka having plans with me for the weekend. Maybe
occasionally on a Wednesday). He was calling not to plan what time we
were meeting the next night, but to ‘put the brakes on’.  Not so much
put the brakes on and slow down, but put the brakes on, make a
complete stop and get out of the car. Awkward as those phone calls go,
I held my own and spoke my peace. I did appreciate the fact that he
even called at all. I’ve heard most guys nowadays ignore you, hoping
you’ll just go away.

A month and I’m still annoyed. A month and I still want whiskey. A
month, I’ve been informed by my other single friends, is too long to
still feel like this. We weren’t really anything official. I didn’t
call him my boyfriend. He never changed an out of reach light bulb for
me. I don’t know how many siblings he has. But what little spurts of
time we did spend together was meaningful enough to me for it to still
bother me. A month later.  I’ve exhausted the topic with my friends.
My sister has no more advice other than it’s for the best and now I’m
available for the real right one.

You see, I’ve been single for some time now.  I meet guys and I think,
meh.  I meet guys and I think, yawn.  But I met this guy and I
thought, hmm.  Hmm, as in, what are you all about?  Being single for
so long and never really meeting anyone isn’t the tough part.  I have
hobbies and interests and amazing friends to fill my time and make me
feel whole (well, most days anyway).  I have goals to keep me busy.
At the same time though, I do want a deep and meaningful relationship.
I want to be in love.  I want to cuddle.  But, my philosophy is, when
it happens, it happens.  I’m going to go ahead and do my thing and if
someone happens to come along and cross my path then so be it, we can
go from there. But, what do I do with the disappointment and let down
of the crossed path situation that didn’t work out?

That’s the tough part.

When I wake up in the morning with my drank too much whiskey headache
and still feel the ache of the let down, then what?  My attention from
my life and its direction were invitingly interrupted for a brief
moment for someone that interested me.  Now I must (a little
begrudgingly I admit) turn my attention back to my interests and
friends after that much welcomed and sexy interlude.  It is such a
confusing process.  Some days I feel totally over it, like now in the
midst of writing this letter.  And other days, I feel like I’ve missed
out on something great, because I possibly and unknowingly did one
wrong thing or another.  (Ignored red flags, texted too much, was too
available.)

What do I do with the messy, confusing thoughts and emotions of the
final let down?  How do I stop the thoughts of what could have been
when you are not satisfied with the what is?  How do I stop those
fantasies of running into him at some imagined moment when I am hot
and on top of my game and he can’t help but think of how big of an
idiot he is?  Fantasies, what ifs, what could have beens.  How do I
lessen those, or make them go away completely?  So I can go back to
how I was vibing before I met this phobe.

Dear TinyLetter Writer,

I’m not going to tell you anything you don’t already know, deep down inside yourself.  Keep that in mind while reading.

If I were a doctor, giving you a diagnosis according to what you’ve just described, I’d say that is what we call a broken heart.  The cause of this broken heart is due to not one, but at least two things;

1)      A boy

2)      Life’s uncertain nature

You’ll of course want to know the remedy but that’s the thing: there isn’t one.  Whiskey might seem like a quick fix, but it’s no cure.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is, technically speaking, you will heal.  Eventually you’ll get past all this muck and you’ll feel better once again, but you just have to wait this out.  That is, you have to endure it.

If you’ve read anything else I’ve written you’re probably familiar with my interest in etymology.  Some people think it’s boring and nerdy, but I think knowing the origin of a word gives us a glimpse of a bygone era, all those people who struggled before us in the name of naming something.  Knowing the history and the root of a word is like learning helpful secrets.  Secrets that might even lend a bit of solace.

Take for example the word “endure.”  Here’s what the online etymology dictionary says:

“to undergo or suffer” (especially without breaking)

“to continue in existence”

“make hard, harden; bear, tolerate; keep up, maintain”

“be firm, solid”

See what I mean?  Aren’t those little survival tips?

But this isn’t just about your broken heart, TinyLetter Writer.  This is about a bit more than that.  Wanna know how I know that?  Well, because you said so right here:

My attention from
my life and its direction were invitingly interrupted for a brief
moment for someone that interested me.  Now I must (a little
begrudgingly I admit) turn my attention back to my interests and
friends after that much welcomed and sexy interlude.  

Now it’s my turn to admit something begrudgingly.  This kind of reminds me of me.

When I was turning thirty, my younger sister said something to me about how your twenties are about “figuring it all out.”  She was alluding to this popular belief, mainly held by twenty-somethings, that when you turn thirty your life will have magically become certain.  That when you turn thirty, you’ll know what you’re doing, you’ll have that high-paying job, you’ll know what a mortgage is because you’ll own a house with a two-car garage and you’ll even have a family in tow.  By age thirty it seems that all the t’s in your life will be crossed, all the i’s will be dotted and all those squiggly-lined question marks will be erased and made into full stop sentences.  The end.  Happily ever after.

The truth is, no one ever fully “figures it all out,” not when they are thirty, not when they are eighty.  Not when they have kids, not when they win the lottery.  No one’s life is ever completely squared away.  I don’t care what anyone claims.

“My attention from my life and its direction were invitingly interrupted for a brief moment…”  You’ve said something very key here, Letter Writer.  What you are “begrudgingly admitting” is that you are tired of thinking about the direction of your life, tired of wondering, tired of worrying about the future and what it holds.  Perhaps you thought a relationship might change that for you.  Did you think it could rescue you from yourself?  From your life’s current trajectory?  Maybe just a little bit?  That’s okay.  I want to remind you that a relationship does not solve any of those dilemmas.  If anything, they only add to them.

Most of us are guilty of making the romanticized assumption that somehow it would be easier if only…  In your case it’s, if only you weren’t in this “alone,” as in partner-less.

What if you could just live your life without worrying about its direction?  What if you just focused on what you’re doing, right NOW, where you are, exactly how you are in this very moment?

I know.  It’s nearly impossible.

It’s great to have goals and to work toward those goals but it’s a bit ridiculous to be in constant worry of something as broad and as general as “life and its direction.” Don’t you think?

How much actual control do we have over life’s directions in the first place?  In the grand scheme of things, probably, actually, very little.  I’m not suggesting we should all throw our hands up and become complacent in life, I’m just saying there’s a bit of a reality check that we have to give ourselves sometimes and we must, MUST stop holding ourselves in comparison to what the Joneses are doing on Facebook.  All those cute pictures of your friends’ wombs, all those status updates of a new house with a white picket fence can make a girl feel as if she’s falling behind on her game.  It causes the wacky, deranged robot in us to come out.  We buy into a concocted notion that if we just do it in a certain way, in a certain order, we can have all the things we want in this life.  Get hitched get knocked up—in that order—to get happy.  That might be right for some, but not for everyone.  (Kind of reminds me of the banner above the chalkboard I used to stare at every day in seventh grade that said, “What’s right isn’t always what’s popular.  What’s popular isn’t always right.”)  When we buy into the myth that we should follow along or go with the flow, we gyp ourselves of life’s fullness.

It’s no wonder.  What’s easier?  To feel comfortable inside society’s neat grid map or float somewhere outside it?  Perhaps that is where you are, floating outside it—exploring, learning, growing.  You aren’t following a typical pattern.  So?  Does that somehow equate you to being lost?

I assure you, Letter Writer, you aren’t.  You’re just doing things a little differently.

Your life’s direction is already on course.  You don’t have to pay it any more attention than you do the annual calendar.  It’s November.  You already know that, you’ve accepted it.  Now what?  Nothing.  Worrying about your life’s direction is as futile as worrying about what’s going to happen when January comes around next year.  So stop.

As for the broken heart…  I remember when I was in college and my boyfriend and I broke up, I was distraught.  It was my first real broken heart.  A girl I worked with at the time, a smart, older pretty girl, looked at me and shrugged, stating matter-of-factly, “It’s a life experience.”  Her words—life experience—totally blew me away.  Suddenly I felt so savvy, so wise beyond my twenty-two years.  I’d gone from feeling down in the dumps over a failed relationship that I really and truly thought was going to last my whole life (ha ha) to feeling like suddenly I knew something more than I did yesterday.  I’d crossed a threshold, undergone a rite of passage.  I had a broken heart, but along with that, I was relieved to know, I’d earned some “life experience.”

Congratulations, Letter Writer.  Nobody ever said it would be easy.  But the flip side to that is that you’re now ready for whatever’s next.  When that time comes, I have no doubt you will be once again “hot and on top of your game” and definitely without stale whiskey breath.

May you endure this life experience (and those to come) with solidity and firmness.  May you undergo it without breaking.

With love,

Regina

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