The Natatorium

An emporium of oddities from around the world, complete with somewhat informative plaques that almost never match the item they are meant to be describing.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Letting Go

Well, if you've read my blog for any substantial ammount of time, you'll be familiar with someone who I once referred to as "Former Friend" (never the best alias, but I didn't want to go so far as to give him a fake name... that seems silly). A good entry to display the lamenting is one from October 12, 2003, but suffice it to say that one year ago, I got my heart broken by him in a rather unorthodox way. Over the course of the year that followed, I still saw him fairly often, as we went to the same school, had some of the same friends, etc. He even started going to the same college as me this fall. Every time I'd see him, I'd have a mini anxiety attack. I've had a few theories as to why, but mostly it was because I was afraid of him hurting me again. It seems like every time I think I'm over him, or past it, or whatever, he does something new that causes all the pain to bubble back up to the surface. There were some things he did that could be considered disrespectful to me, but ultimately the things that hurt me the worst were the things he did to hurt himself.

For a year, I liked to think I'd moved on. I didn't think of him very much, but when I saw him it would all come back. Every time he took another "wrong turn" I'd take another emotional nose dive. Our relationship officially ended on October 9, 2003; I'd hoped to finally have closure by October 9, 2004. I planned to talk with him, to find out what was really happening in his head, why he cast me aside, what went wrong, why he changed, what he wanted to do now, etc etc etc. I guess I wanted it all explained, all anaylzed. I probably thought that if we were both finally totally honest with each other and all the problems were picked apart, understanding would ease the pain and give me closure.

That conversation did not happen. On October 8, I walked to my car to go to lunch, and his familiarly happy car was parked next to mine. What's more, he was in it. He got out when he saw me and we talked. We didn't talk about any of the things I'd thought I wanted to talk about. We didn't talk about what happened a year ago; I think I've known all along. We didn't talk about what went on in his head; I know enough of that. We didn't even talk about how much we love each other; that never needed to be said. Love has always passed between our eyes, and it always will.

Instead of talking about the past, we talked about the present and future. He told me that he wanted to drop out of school and leave the country, in hopes of finding something more meaningful on the other side of the world. My initial reaction was, of course, hurt. This wasn't what I wanted for him. I wanted him to go to college, get a degree, go to grad school, get another degree, get a wife somewhere along the line, have kids, and have a career where he was able to share his incredible genius and insight with the rest of the world. An author, perhaps, or a government hacker. A social critic, a speaker, an activist, a psychologist, a teacher. I wanted to believe that the depressed, indifferent, cold atheist he'd become last summer wasn't who he really was. I wanted to believe that he would get past this youthful discontent, this self-destructive tirade, and find a way to channel his unique perspective positively. I wanted him to see the goodness in things, the way I do. I wanted him to see goodness in himself, and magnify it. Once again he was doing the opposite of what I wanted for him; he was throwing away that future for a dangerous indulgence that could lead to ruin and death.

Then I stopped and thought. He was telling me that he wanted to leave because he felt like he didn't belong in this comfy suburban world. He felt like he had to find himself someplace else, someplace more simple or more pure. He wanted to find out who he really was, and he wanted that person to be good. He wanted to be better, but he felt that he had to take a drastic step and get out there in order to do that. I realized, suddenly, that I wanted that for him too, and what's more, it didn't matter what I wanted for him. He had never done what I wanted him to do, he had never made the choices for himself that I wanted him to make, and he never would. I'd thought that I'd relinquished responsibility for him a year ago, but all I did was increase the distance between us; I'd never actually given him up.

I told him that I supported him, and I wished him well. We hugged, for the first time in over a year, and we savored the feeling of each others' arms, knowing it would be a long time before we held each other again, if in fact we ever did. As I drove away, I realized that somehow I was finally free. I no longer felt any pain. Of course I wish only the best for him, and hope he never comes to harm, but somehow I no longer feel the desperation I once did. One year after we stopped seeing each other, I had finally let go.

When a friend told me the other day that he had, in fact, dropped out of school, I didn't crash. I didn't go into raving hysterics, and I didn't cry. I noted it, I understood it, and I moved on.

It is a strange feeling, and sometimes I worry that I'm become hardened or cold because I'm no longer destroyed by the actions or fates of others. I want to be caring and feeling, and I feel like this newfound stregth will inevitably rob me of some of my ability to love. For now, though, I simply wonder at it, waiting for it to seep through me until I fully understand this new aspect of myself.

I am a person who has loved, been heartbroken, and finally let go. Somehow it feels like a new pair of shoes.

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