When I was 14 and had just started high school, I developed a crush on my brother’s best friend. The feeling was mutual enough that we spent four days talking on the phone in the evenings and eating lunch together at school, and I, being young and being me, dreamed up a future for us that involved going to prom together four years in a row, which of course implied that we would be together for at least that long. We weren’t even officially “going out.” On the fourth evening, he told me he didn’t want to continue our little whatever-it-was. When we got off the phone, I walked into my bathroom, fell to the floor and cried my eyes out. I felt like someone had taken a giant melon-baller and scooped out my soul. We had never even kissed. If memory serves, we never even held hands.
My heart was broken. It took six years for that particular wound to stop stinging.
What I’m trying to demonstrate with this rather embarrassing anecdote is that I tend to have very strong emotional reactions to things that other people could probably just shrug off. To put it another way, I’m kinda crazy.
Looking back, I see how silly it all was. I saw how silly it was at the time. Here’s the thing, though: I didn’t want to be obsessed with this person. I didn’t enjoy making an ass of myself when he was around. I knew that it was irrational how hurt I was over what had happened. I knew that it didn’t make any sense, that I should have been able to get over it, that it wasn’t the end of the world. But I had never felt pain like that before, like when I was crying on the bathroom floor.
I have felt pain like that many times since.
Anyway, now I’m almost 29, and my heart is broken over a guy I haven’t been involved with for almost a year. And it really feels sometimes like the fates or the gods or some mischievous imps are playing some sort of trick to keep him on my mind, to remind me how much the whole situation stinks. I removed him from my instant messenger lists, deleted him from my Facebook friends, un-favorited his OkCupid profile and have strongly considered deleting his number from my phone. Still these little things happen to constantly remind me. And today is his birthday.
And, of course, there was last night’s conversation with that guy I was in love with when I was 20. My relationship (such as it was) with K was very similar to the relationship I had with this other fellow, and so hearing that he was in love with me back then… well, it makes me feel like my soul’s been scooped out by a giant melon-baller. And it makes me want to punch someone in the face.
Because my reactions are oversized, inappropriate, irrational, unwarranted and unwanted. Because I fall in love so very easily, and so very hard. And it crushes me and it sometimes takes me years to stop hurting. Because hope might be the best of things or whatever, but it can also be a form of slow torture. I don’t want to hope that K comes to his senses and realizes he loved me all along unless he realizes it really soon. I don’t want to hope anymore. I don’t want to care anymore.
I’m more than a little unbalanced, and because love is something I have difficulty being rational about, I have a feeling that K will never want me enough to be with me. He told me he liked my enthusiasm. He said he liked my intensity. But those things are also, I’m sure, what scared him away from me. Just like that boy in high school. Just like that guy when I was 20. I can’t love without trying to be absorbed by the other person and wanting to absorb them into me. Without, as I like to put it, trying to eat their soul. K will never want to be with me, so what I want now is to be ok with that. I want to let it go, let him go, and move on.
Now that I have no choice but to be alone, I’m trying to want to be alone. I’m trying to fix whatever is wrong in me so that I don’t continue the cycle of falling in love like dry grass catches on fire and then being left with the ashes where my heart used to be. I’m trying to be good enough for myself so I don’t try to get other people to fill me up and make me whole. I’m trying, and trying, and trying, and it just hurts and hurts and hurts.
So here’s a poem:
Oh Yes, by Charles Bukowski.
there are worse things than
but it often takes decades
to realize this
and most often
when you do
it’s too late
and there’s nothing worse