Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Confessions: Space

Welcome to Sunday Confessions!  Please leave your Anonymous Confessions in the comments below!

We were in a red convertible driving through traffic.  I was turned in my seat, watching her face as I talked and she was dismissing me the same goddamn way she always does.  I'd been right countless times before and when I was wrong about a specific detail, I usually ended up being right about the situation in the end; One might say that while I might have lost a battle or two, I always won the war.  Clearly that kind of track record stands for nothing, because we were having this tired discussion again.

We pulled up outside of a tall, peach color building on a beach.  She got out of the car and left the keys in the ignition.  I followed into the building, pleading with her to really hear me.  Her voice always goes up an octave when we have these conversations, similar to the way it does when she is dealing with a patient.  She just keeps dismissing me using the same overused, passive aggressive statements I've come to expect from her. I think she thinks they make her sound impartial and perhaps they would without the underlying tones of "I don't believe you" and the line of questioning that implies I might have led someone into an incriminating conversation which I am now using to condemn them. 

I felt the anger rise in me and headed for the door.  I wasn't going to be heard, considered, validated or treated with respect.  It was just going to be more shoulder shrugging and being told to deal with it.  She's chosen her side, and as usual it wasn't mine because for whatever reason what I think has no value and merit.  I turned to leave walking out the door towards the red convertible.  As I walked out the door, I noticed there was something in the side of my mouth.  I brought it to my lips with my tongue, pushing it out onto my finger.  I looked down to see a couple large pieces of sand. 

I climbed into the car and sped off.  As I drove, I noticed more sand in my mouth.  A lot more.  Where was it coming from?  I spit out the sand, only to find more and it just kept appearing.

Then I woke up.

In my dream, the sand wasn't tiny pieces of beach sand.  It was large granules, like the small pieces of fish rock that are the hardest to clean up when you clean out the fish tank but not as large as the majority of the pieces.  I laid in bed hours thinking about my dream, unable to shake the feeling of sand in my mouth that kept appearing and I kept doing a "sweep" of my mouth with my tongue searching for sand.

I know what the dream means.  I knew what it meant the minute I woke up.  There are things that I've had on my mind that I've been wanting to say and I haven't said them for exactly the reason I dreamed about...because when I do, what I have to say will be dismissed and I'll be torn down.  It is the expectation that I am just supposed to keep giving of myself and keep my mouth closed.  Keep meeting the expectation to give, do and be to someone who doesn't appreciate anything you give of yourself.

Sometimes, I think people get the idea that I don't care about other people.  That isn't it at all.  I think, more often than not, that I care too much.  I've spent more money than I care to think about in therapy talking about how the actions of other people dictated how my day went.  There was a time when the questionable decisions of someone I cared about would cause me so much anxiety that I would experience chest pains, nosebleeds and migraines.

Sitting in my garage right now are two plastic totes full of stuff that isn't mine.  They've been in my garage for 9 years.  Nearly a decade ago, what you would have found was black garbage bags full of dirty sheets and clothing, children's toys, and miscellaneous books and items.  They found their way into my garage after an old "friend" I'd recently reconnected with called me in a flurry of tears and hysteria, she'd just been dumped by the father of her two young children, and it was three days before they were being evicted in the middle of winter.  I offered her space to store her things in my garage and she stayed at my home, contributing only a couple gallons of milk and a few boxes of cereal, for nearly 10 days.

After that 10 days when she'd turned down assistance from a local women's group, refused to start a job she'd been offered, and found a new boyfriend who was doing nothing to help her out of her situation my landlord threatened to raise my rent if things didn't get resolved soon.  She found another place to stay, and then one day she packed up the kids and took off with the new boyfriend out of state.

Her mom was the closest relative.  I tried reaching her but was unable to.  Her sister was of no help as she lived four states away and grew frustrated with my frustration with her sister because she'd accepted that "that's how she is" long ago.  In the end, I just ignored it and it all stayed piled up in my garage.  The first year, nice were attracted to the unwashed clothing and bedsheets she'd left behind and they made nests.  

I tried to clean it after 3-4 years and maybe made it a quarter of the way into the pile.  I didn't think twice about getting rid of the dirty laundry and old clothes, but I couldn't bring myself to throw out her photo albums, the medical bracelets from her children's births and baby photos.  It broke my heart that she left such precious and sentimental items behind.  

Two summers ago (7 years later), I cleaned out the garage.  I saved every piece of paper that looked like it might be important, though if any of it actually were perhaps she might have come back for it.  I couldn't bring myself to throw anything from her children unless it was ruined by the mice; I couldn't stand the thought that they would never have anything from their childhood because of her decisions.  Everything was saved in plastic totes I purchased and has been sitting there for two years. 

She's never tried to contact me.  Perhaps I could have tried to contact her, but I didn't want her to have my contact information or to know I live in the same place... and on some level, I've never felt that I should chase her down for her own things (or her children's things, as the case may be). 

This person wasn't really my friend.  We were friends in high school.  I stopped hanging out with her because she has problems, makes questionable decisions and I didn't want people who behaved like her and made the kind of choices she makes for my life.  There was no loyalty to the friendship on her part... while I've never been able to prove it, she slept with my ex while we were together (back in high school).  I didn't know until after we broke up, and I still took her in all those years later. 

All of this, and I'm still trying to do right by someone who I have no reason to other than trying to be a decent human.  This is how I am about someone I have no reason to do anything for, which is why it is so hard for me when it comes to people I actually care about. 

When I see people I love making questionable decisions or acting in ways that I don't think are right, it hurts.  It's hard for me as a person to be somebody's friend, or to be a part of somebody's life when I get to see things that make my heart physically hurt.  

When I know that saying anything is just going to make things worse, I put space between us.   I push myself outside of the zone where we're close enough that I know the details, where I'm expected to be around as they make decisions even they think are stupid but seem to can't stop themselves.  I create or allow space in relationships with people I care about who make questionable decisions or who hurt me but I am not ready to let go of. 

I have created space between me and the people who are supposed to care about me, because I felt like my reaction to their life decisions impact of the quality of my life. Perhaps that sounds selfish.  However, I have chosen that when I feel things too deeply, when I feel things too strongly, when I feel the overwhelming need to make my opinion known because I worry and I'm scared and I am having nightmares about it in the middle of the night... I choose to put space between us.  I know and understand everyone has a right to their own decisions and life.  I'm not trying to control everyone and force them to do what I think is right.  But I've come to believe that for me personally, the best way to survive is lots of space. 

1 comment:

  1. This is an amazing story I felt all the emotion in every word!!! Well done Ash, like you I wouldn't be able to throw out the precious keepsakes. Even if they weren't special enough for your so called friend, to pack them up when she moved away. Your heart is so big, warm, and wonderful. 💗