I’ve known people who were fantastic at letting go. Of anything. When a relationship was over, they could move on and never look back. Something broke? Throw it out. Moving? So long!
I am not one of these people.
I am a very attached person, in general. It’s not really specific to relationships, although thinking about that is what sparked this post. I put a lot of emotional weight in my things, my surroundings, my friendships, my loves, my my my my my.
I have shoes that are literally, actually, unwearably broken that I just haven’t been able to throw away. Clothes that I know I will never put on again (be it a sizing or aesthetic issue) line my closet. For all intents and purposes I’m probably a little bit of a hoarder, but I keep my apartment somewhat clean so it’s not as obvious.
Maybe I watched way too many anthropomorphic movies when I was a kid (I’m looking at you, Brave Little Toaster). It doesn’t really matter. It’s hardly the most crippling of compulsions. It does, however, become far more problematic when I’m dealing with people.
I have never (with precisely zero exceptions) had a breakup that didn’t go through some sort of horrendous back and forth before it was really over. It’s just without fail. There’s the breakup, the “well maybe we can work it out after all” or the “now that we know XYZ everything will be perfect again!” Then there’s the learning you were wrong, which is easily my least favorite part.
I am not, by nature, a terrifically optimistic person. Murphy’s Law has been about as constant for me as the law of gravity. For some reason, though, throw me and another person into the mix, suddenly I’m all sunshine and rainbows and ‘every little thing is gonna be alright’.
If insanity doing the same thing over and over but expecting it to go differently, I am a fucking nutjob.
What am I always expecting? What could possibly make me think that the same set of circumstances will somehow magically yield different results? Do I think that I’m going to change the other person? Do I think I’ll be able to grit my teeth and change myself? Do I think it will be better because magic?
Usually, yes. All of them.
What it really comes down to, though, at the very very bottom of everything is the fear (masked as certainty) that I will never be happier with anyone else. Even if I’m not all that happy to begin with. The fear that I’ll look back and realize what a terrible mistake I’ve made, and it will be too late to go back. That I’ll be old and dying wishing I had done something differently, tried harder, made it work somehow. Because it’s my fault that something isn’t working and it’s up to me to fix it.
As painful as it it, there’s the part that’s worse than realizing you were wrong. The part that comes next. The inevitable conclusion of coming to the conclusion that there’s no more forward to go. And that’s where the real learning happens.
Learning how to stop yourself from calling that person when you’re upset, or happy, or bored, or scared. Learning to stop picking things up at the store you know they need. Learning to double-check that the stove’s off, or the cats have food, because there won’t be anyone home to text and ask when you’re not there. Learning to be by yourself, to be yourself in general, who the fuck yourself is to begin with…
I remember all of that. It’s shitty. So shitty, in fact, that I’ll go way the fuck out of my way to try to not have to do that again. But sometimes avoidance doesn’t keep the shitty things at bay. Sometimes you trade the more acute (but impermanent) bad situation in favor of the one that’s comfortable, that hurts a little less, but with no end in sight.
I don’t have answers on this one. I wouldn’t even pretend to. All I know is that if I could change me I would have done it by now, and if I could change anyone else I probably would have done that to. But I can’t. So I won’t.
And here we are.