Friday, December 08, 2017

An answer

What am I thinking, you ask?

How could she? You agree with me that there was nothing owed at the time of parting. It was understood that what it meant was that our paths were now no longer entwined.

Now, your point may be that it is rather soon to have found someone else. Given that you've spent most of the last six months either deflated and depressed, or awash in nostalgia and longing, it's unarguable that you've been in no shape to even consider starting something new. She obviously was. What else is there to say?

So she forgot me so quick? It's not as though she completely barred you from her sphere of existence. But for particular feelings, yes, they seem to have been put aside in the span of a few months.

Your worry seems to be that it implies that maybe the feelings weren't that strong to begin with. How to measure these things, you tell me. I would however say that it could be more steel-cold pragmatism on her end. Her circumstances dictate that she cannot afford to have six months idling away in her living room, lamenting fate and circumstance. It's actually admirable, if I may be honest, that she was able to put aside genuine feelings in a situation she felt was untenable, and make a plan to find another way to her destination.

But why did she break it off, again? Look, this one, I will give you -- I don't actually know. We can start with what she said: that the challenges were too great, and if things failed, they could've ruined your friendship. This seems somewhat odd to me, since by breaking it off, she effectively called the partnership a failure from the get-go, and severely strained the friendship. So you basically had all the lows of a break-up, with none of the highs. As to whether the challenges were indeed too great is also something that is in doubt. I mean, sure, they did exist, but they were offset by something strong that drew you together. It's not obvious to me that things couldn't have worked.

We could then move to what she may have meant, even if she didn't say it. I'd prefer not to indulge in too much speculation, though. Suffice to say, you have my sympathy: there wasn't a clear reason why she had to walk away. A tough-love kind of conclusion would be, what does it matter? The decision was made. A more forgiving conclusion would be, maybe she made a mistake, in which case you should hardly feel like you erred.

Could it have worked? It's hard to say for sure, but it's easy to answer the alternative, which is whether it was doomed from the start: clearly, the answer is no. If only because you were able to spend so much time together, and feel so comfortable in each other's presence. Given this, you certainly have my support that exploring this slowly would've made a lot of sense.

Did I make a mistake? Your question is perhaps really asking whether you could've done something to have made her change her mind. And I'll give this one to you, too: I don't really see what else you could've done. You did put in a lot, which is why you're understandably upset. And it's not as though there was anything other than circumstance that was presented as being a challenge.

There are only two possible exceptions, of course. The first is your immediate reaction when she first presented you with her feelings. If you had the chance to do that scene over again, you could've handled it better and with more honesty -- after all, what you were feeling was genuine, and it wasn't easy for her to open up so candidly. It's possible that she felt a little left in the lurch by your relatively subdued response. But, you did almost immediately correct that quite emphatically. So, honestly, if that's what it came down to...I wouldn't hold it against you.

The second is your strategy of putting things on hold until you discussed things with the folks. Of course, now it's easy to look back and lament what you have lost, and try to put fault at this decision. But bringing the realities of circumstance (yours and hers) more to the fore, you could also paint the decision as an attempt at being responsible. After all, if you just decided to go ahead and not talk to the folks, there's no guarantee that it wouldn't have hurt that equally (more) important relationship. Again, circumstances were challenging, and you were fairly upfront about the necessity of the things you were doing. Plus it was only just a week that things were being put to simmer.

So in sum I would say, a partnership can't be so unforgiving, given the circumstances that both of you were up against.

Did she make a mistake? We have concluded that it is not clear as to the reasons for the partnership to be called off. You certainly wanted things to proceed; I think those reasons are valid; ergo, I can't find a way to justify her decision.

But that doesn't mean it was a critical mistake, because she could still find someone else who's as good a fit. Sorry, but it's true.

Can she find someone better? Ok look, clearly you did offer something. I suppose your last note was an attempt to convince yourself that many of these were things that are hard to find. I tend to agree, but will remind you, per your note, attraction works over many dimensions. Can she find someone who offers precisely the things you did, and more? Maybe not; I mean, almost axiomatically, your somewhat unusual life trajectory has bestowed you with uncommon ways of looking at and thinking about the world and people.

Can she find someone who offers her some of what you did, and some other things you didn't? The answer to this, I'm sorry to say, is probably yes. You're looking at me to ask what exactly these things you lack are; ironic, given that you've spent all this time on the blog exploring precisely that. Ok, well not to put too fine a point on it, but for a start, maybe she could find someone more self-assured? You have to admit that your utter lack of self-esteem, while good for the occasional (genuine) laugh, can also be quite emotionally exhausting to deal with. It can seem like when you're putting yourself down, you're really fishing for compliments.

I know this hurts, but you did ask, so here's one more: she could find someone more outgoing and positive. Long before knowing her, you've been living in self-imposed exile from society. It isn't particularly healthy for you, and I think it does tend to warp how you view people around you. Plainly, you can come across as unfriendly and negative. Of course, she was able to meet your secret self, but my point is that for someone as outgoing as her, it may have been a source of tension if you were continually putting down people (after putting down yourself), and suggesting distance from the rest of the world.

Ok, you're looking at me quite funny now, but I'll give one last one, which isn't a flaw on your part: she could find someone with whom the circumstances are less challenging. Not much to say on this point, except that life really sucks sometimes.

And fine, for being such a good boy, here's a peace-offering: it's hard to imagine she can find someone who's so sensitive to her needs that he's willing to sacrifice himself to make sure she's happy. I'm not sure that's actually a good thing, but if it makes you feel better, there you go.

So you're saying what we had wasn't special? Hmm, not exactly: it was special, but there's no reason that she couldn't find other partnerships that are special in different ways. The world is a big place, and hearts even bigger -- there's room for a lot to happen.

If you're asking whether what you had was a once-in-a-lifetime sort of feeling, then I'm saying that you can't meaningfully order these kinds of feelings.

If you're asking whether what you had was perfect in every possible dimension, then I'd have to politely tell you the answer is no; if only for the simple reason that (that word again) circumstances were complex.

If you're asking whether what you offered was so unique that it's hard to imagine another who is similarly off-the-charts in certain dimensions, then I will exhaustedly reply, maybe. I would however gently remind you that being unique doesn't necessarily mean being good. If your objective is biased that way, great. Maybe hers isn't.

Will we ever be that close again? I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you, but the answer is no. This is just one of those things in society. There will have to be limits in how you interact.

Will there ever be another? I don't know, of course, but I would point you to the archives. They don't paint a particularly great picture, but they do establish that there is room enough in your heart to welcome an additional master of the vault. And that in each preceding period of solitary confinement, the thought that the answer was negative grew increasingly louder.

This past time, you could say that it was a case of extreme chance or luck that allowed for things to be different. So, sure, maybe in numeric terms, you'll have to wait a while. But this raises the point that more active searching can only possibly help boost up that chance. And that's something you may have to face up to as being an option to explore. After all, you can't tell me it's worse than writing letters to yourself.

Where do I go now? It's for you to tell me, but can I make a few suggestions?

  • an obsession with the past is a dead fly. You know the horrors of stagnant thought, and how the lament of that experience is very genuine and warranted. So, you have to find a way to stop pondering about whether you could've done something different. Like I said, my feeling is, not really. If you accept that, you have to then accept the card that has been dealt, and look to where you can go now.
  • pick up where you left off elsewhere in your life. You've stalled several avenues that, at one point, seemed like the most exciting things in the world. (Like, er, writing?) You know the mania of an idle mind, and the pleasure of an active one. Simply sitting in the corner and staring into space doesn't make the task of looking to the future any easier. Unless you happen to be meditating (which is fine by me).
  • figure out what you want. If you think that, as you once told me, you're actually ok by yourself, then accept that and look to invest in improving that self so that he can keep you better company. If you think that you can't survive another second spent in isolation, well, then you have to do something about it. You have to start meeting people, either organically or algorithmically.
Good luck, and peace be with you, brother.

1 comment:

Anthony Smith said...

Sorry to hear that mate. Writing anything of substance here is difficult because you seem to have covered everything pretty well, but there ought to be something here.

I'd suggest playing to your strengths. When you resume some of those suspended avenues, figure out what you want to create and own that niche. Someone out there will want to create that too. "Dead or alive, bring me the disco king".