Writing Prompts – Day 2 of 12

Day 2:  The One That Got Away

You bump into an ex-lover on Valentine’s Day—the one whom you often call “The One

That Got Away.” What happens?

 

I realize that I’m not quite doing these things right, but at the same time, they are writing prompts, and I am writing about them. So suck it. I’m doing it how I wanna. Haha

Anyway…I’m going to delve into the vault of my actual past relationships for this one, just out of curiosity alone.

I was trying to figure out who I would consider to be “The One That Got Away”. I mean, every one of them dumped me, not the other way around, so in that sense, they all got away. Most of them, I was eventually glad they got away for various reasons, but there are three in particular that I miss, and still sometimes wonder what life would have been like had we not broken up. Of those three, one was unlike any relationship I’ve ever had, and was only ever meant to be temporary. It was more of a glimpse into what I would like to have for myself in the future, rather than any kind of permanent long-term thing. It was always going to end, and it was never meant to be 100%, but I feel like she’d be proud of the person I’ve become, and into whom I am continuing to grow.

She wouldn’t be proud relationship-wise, obviously, because a) I haven’t been in one for a good 7 years or so, and b) I never did find the kind of pairing she’d shown me I’d want for myself. Almost, but not quite.

So that leaves me with the other two, and they are actually more alike than different, as far as our relationships went, so for the purpose of this exercise, I can pretty much use both, instead of one or the other. In this case, they are sort of interchangeable. They are both also the closest I’ve been to realizing the kind of relationship I want someday.

They are not interchangeable as people – at all – but as far as what would happen if I bumped into either one of them on Valentine’s Day. Or any day, for that matter. It would all go about the same.

For some reason, when I first pictured this encounter, it took place in a restaurant. Why I would be in a restaurant alone on Valentine’s Day is beyond me, though. Unless it was McDonald’s.

And neither woman lives in this city, so bumping into either of them would be a surprise, to say the least. However, in my first instinctive scenario, both would be with their families. The families they built on after dumping me. Both had a child or children when I met them, and one has more now. Both are married (to men, because neither was actually gay to begin with – I’m just that spectacular for short periods of time), and both love their families; families of which I’d wanted so badly to be a part. So naturally, if I’m going to run into The One That Got Away, she’s going to be happily living her life with someone else, and – more importantly – without me.

That is going to simultaneously hurt me to my core, and make me happy to see her smile.

Maybe she introduces me as an old friend. Maybe some of the people at the table already know me. Maybe she’ll tell me a little about the job she loves, and about where she’s living now. She’ll definitely share something about the kiddo(s) I know and how they’re doing now, all grown up.

She’ll ask how I am.

I’ll lie.

Even though she’s obviously happy and enjoying her life without me, I won’t want her to know how I’m actually doing. It doesn’t even necessarily have anything to do with her – or not as much as it might seem – but not having a job I love and not seeing anyone right now…just all the “nots” that she has now and I don’t. I’m jealous and sad and blaming myself for not being good enough to give her the happy life she deserves, and is now enjoying right in front of me.

I’ll tell her I’m at least okay, that things are going pretty well, I’ll brush off the relationship question and deflect everything with humour.

Then I’ll leave, because even though I’m in McDonald’s on Valentine’s Day, I suddenly don’t have an appetite anymore, and I just want to go home. I’ll flip through some old photos and memories, imagine what might have been, and allow myself to feel for a brief moment as though she’d just gotten away all over again.

After that, I’ll pour myself a drink, break open a bag of chips, and watch some TV, because no one needs to feel that much misery over someone else’s happiness.

Especially not when it’s someone you love.

Change Seems To Be A Theme Lately

Did anyone else ever panic about not having a chimney available for Santa to come down on Christmas eve? I mean, not everyone grew up with a fireplace handy! The only one I had regular access to at Christmas was fake. No chimney – what if that meant no Santa?!

Thank goodness it didn’t, but still. A big cause of stress and anxiety for a time there.

As I lay in bed last night, I asked the full moon and summer solstice and fairy magic and anything else who might be listening for something – but I can’t exactly remember what. That’s probably not a good sign. I think peace was involved, and contentment; to realize what I would need in order to find such things. I don’t remember. Guess it wasn’t that important, really. Another wasted wish. Dreamed later of something going on in my childhood home, and how the trees weren’t the same anymore. I don’t think in reality that the trees are even still there, so yeah. They definitely aren’t the same. I can’t remember what was going on in the dream, either, but missing the trees I loved didn’t stop me from being in a good mood, at least.

So there was that.

I approached someone yesterday with an idea as to how I might be able to do more; be of more use. It was turned down, no discussion required. Wasn’t a very good idea, I guess, but was worth a shot. Always worth a shot, even if it means stepping into yet another insurmountable wall.

If love is love is love, then shouldn’t I be able to have sex with as many guys as I want and still be just as gay as always? Is it about sex or love? Because the two are not mutually exclusive – at all. And sex is sex. You can’t choose who you love, but who you have sex with is usually more of a choice, I think. Maybe our labels need to be more clearly defined. Either that, or people need to stop getting so caught up in them.

I keep running into situations wherein someone doesn’t believe me. With most people it doesn’t matter, but when it’s someone close to me…I’m not sure what I’ve done or haven’t done to warrant not at least giving me the benefit of the doubt. Am I that much of a liar or attention-seeking drama queen or disappointment to the rest of the human race that others are easier to believe – to have faith in – than I am? So weird. I mean, I get not listening to me. As I’ve said, I bore myself more often than not. But that’s different from just not believing I’ll do what I say I intend to do. I feel like I am let down on a regular basis, too, yet I still believe most of what people say; naively so, in most cases. And considering I was in a serious relationship with a chronic liar, that’s still pretty hard for me to do; to not assume everyone is misleading me. Sometimes I wonder if I should even bother making the effort, when it’s clearly not reciprocated from multiple others. Tit for tat, right?

I said ‘tit’.

I’ve learned how crazy lucky I was to get my apartment when I did, and for the rent I did. Even though it has gone up a little each year, I am paying far less than the move-in rent if I were to become a new tenant now. Far less. It’s more than a full paycheque to move in now. I wouldn’t even be able to afford to look at the place, and compared to most buildings, the size of my unit is huge.

I said ‘my unit is huge’.

Was just chatting about TV shows we used to watch as kids, and one guy was adamant about not having watched Wonder Woman when he was growing up. Which is too bad for him, because Wonder Woman is hot! What is it about guys – of pretty much any age – preferring to watch other guys doing things, instead of hot women? Guys would rather watch other guys play sports, solve mysteries, drive cars and motorcycles, save lives using their superpowers – even when they’re wearing tights and silly costumes. Seriously – what is up with that? At what point in our evolution did we decide it was more manly and preferable for guys to enjoy looking at and up to other guys instead of women? Especially strong, independent women. Women who didn’t need saving, and who could think for themselves. How did we become a society that prefers Superman – who gets weak in his tight-ed knees for a woman – over Wonder Woman – who does her own thing and keeps her head on her shoulders rather than becoming hysterical with emotion at every turn? That women are pinups and yet gay is still not okay? Mixed message much?

Speaking of guys, I fully eavesdropped on a couple of young fellas on the subway yesterday after work. One caught my attention because he announced that he was 20, and that college was hard for him. When I turned to look at him (in part to see why he was so loud about his age and such on public transit), I saw this beautiful young thing with dark wavy hair, dressed in a white t-shirt that set off his tan nicely, and sunglasses perched casually atop his head. The friend he was talking to was more plain looking, maybe more shy, but definitely stood out less. I listened to how they spoke to one another, and it wasn’t long before I realized that the beautiful one was on the spectrum somewhere, and that they hadn’t seen one another since they were in elementary school together. I don’t think they even went to high school together, though they both seemed to still be in touch with other people they knew from back in the day, so maybe it hadn’t been as long as it seemed since they’d last seen one another. For certain they’d both changed in the duration.

The beautiful one wanted to be assured that he was cool (the way he adjusted his shirt and sunglasses as he asked the question was adorable, too), but it was much more important that he know he was a good person. He brought that up a lot, and the plain one confirmed it for him each and every time.

You’re a good person – trust me!”

The plain one was obviously a bit uncomfortable with some of the conversation, but he was also extremely patient and didn’t appear to do or say anything to make the beautiful one feel like he was anything less than an appreciated old friend. He mentioned once about how they’d all been stupid kids back then, and that other people had probably changed, too. I got the feeling that not everyone had been as patient with the beautiful one’s social differences as the plain one was being now. Maybe not even the plain one himself. But now, they spoke of what college was like for the plain one, how it was a great experience, and where he lived now versus where he attended school. The conversation actually flowed pretty easily between them, for the most part, and by the time the plain one was preparing to get off the subway (at the same stop as me), he discovered that the beautiful one was supposed to have gotten off two stops prior, but he didn’t even mention it because “I was talking to you”! It struck me as this really kind of sweet interaction between two guys – there was even hugging before they got off the train – that demonstrated how much more of a good man this 20-year-old kid already is, as compared to many people twice his age. He didn’t belittle the beautiful one, he didn’t talk down to him, or make fun of him or hate on him in any way – like how so many of us treat those who are different. Maybe things would have gone another way had the plain one been with a group of buddies, or something, but on his own – totally stand up guy that most of us could take lessons from. I was happy to witness it, myself, and wondered how many others took a moment from their self-absorbed commute thoughts to pay attention to something good happening right next to them, too.

Not that they were right next to me. They were just louder than my thoughts, for a change.

And that one kid was really beautiful. I couldn’t stop glancing over at him. Ridiculous.

The Lying Wall

I once dated a person who was, for all intents and purposes, a chronic liar. And when I say ‘dated’, I mean moved in with and tried to forge a relationship. I knew about 2 weeks in about the constant lying; about how very little of what she shared about herself and her life was untrue, yet I slipped easily into the role of placating and enabling. There was much more there, to my mind, so to me it was worth it. At least I went in with eyes wide open, I figured, and the lies were mostly unimportant, in that I didn’t care if a particular event happened or didn’t happen in her past – I was dealing with the person in front of me, instead. I felt at the very least it was a good exercise in learning compassion, empathy and patience. I tried to be supportive of the person standing in front of me, even as I took everything said with a grain of salt. Or a silo of salt, depending on the circumstance.

Anyway, this isn’t really about trying to defend either one of us. We all make choices, and we all live with them. Whatever.

The interesting thing is how the whole experience bled over into the rest of my life, even to this day, though to a much, much lesser degree.

I spent just over a year in that relationship, and apparently that was enough to form certain habits in my relations with other people. Friends, mostly, because I only had one actual relationship after that, but really, it’s affected everything in some form or another.

I didn’t notice it until that next relationship, but that’s likely because that was the first person I allowed myself to really get closer to, and be vulnerable with. It’s an odd experience, to remain vulnerable and honest when you don’t really believe what the other person is presenting to you. When you see mostly a façade, yet allow yourself to be open and real…it’s peculiar. One would think, looking at it from the outside, that it would be difficult to just be yourself, and not put your own guard up, as well. But I think it’s actually easier that way. Like how actors often feel more free on stage than in one-on-one scenarios. There’s something liberating about being able to just put yourself out there and not be too concerned with what will get reflected back to you. When you talk to a brick wall, you don’t worry about what it thinks of you; you just talk. And when it goes a step further to reflect only acceptance and love as a reward for opening up, it actually feels pretty good. You’re still aware that it’s a façade and only partly true, but part-real love is better than all-real hate any day.

When you are open to accept any amount of positivity, it’s amazing where you can find it, and how far even a little bit can go.

There are, of course, downsides. One is that eventually the lies will be about you, so if you’re not at least a little confident, that can be destructive. I lucked out somehow, because while most of my confidence was shattered by my own mind, at the time, where this liar chose to strike was in a ridiculous area that didn’t really affect me at all. The insinuation that I had removed a small amount of cash from a place where I didn’t even know there was any – after I’d just “loaned” her $1500 (which I also knew would never be paid back) – was pretty ludicrous. I think I actually laughed at the accusation, but I can’t really remember. It affected me that little.

No, the lies that turned on me were not very severe, and far too familiar to what had been said about her ex when they broke up. They were a non-issue, and nowhere near what I’d been expecting.

Weird to be in a relationship and just waiting for both shoes to drop and the lies to become more personal.

Another downside is the one that has stayed with me, and that is in the distance I create between myself and other people in my life now, and ever since. Whatever barrier I’d put up between her and I has basically stayed up. I guess it was more around me than it was between us, and I sometimes still catch myself questioning things more than I’ve been given reason to. Questioning or doubting…the assumption that no one is being completely honest with me is a tricky path to navigate sometimes. It doesn’t stop me from being open with other people, but it does stop me from accepting any kind of real affection or other positive emotion.

I just don’t believe anyone.

I mean, I can’t blame that all on this one person, of course. I know the sensation existed long before that; for as long as I can remember. But it was such an easy mindset to slide into, and not even notice it until more than a decade later. As well, it’s one thing to notice, but another to dismantle and re-create something else. My therapist has given me crap for that more times than I can count; for not looking at her during a session, for not allowing an actual connection to be established, for denying myself the ability to see for myself how someone else feels about me, and how in the moment they are. Even with her, part of my brain knows I’m paying her to listen to me, and thus doesn’t completely receive anything more personal from her.

Usually when she says something nice to her, I tell her she must be drunk. It’s our little joke; one that she only puts up with to a point.

I remember describing how my first therapist was kind of like a hologram to me; that she didn’t exist outside her office space. That she was just there for me to vent, and when I left the room, she ceased to exist. She broke the barrier one day by touching my arm out of genuine concern, and the realization that she was an actual human being crashed in on my consciousness with more force than I ever would have believed possible. Had anyone asked me before that moment if she was real, I would have said, “yes, of course she is” and thought the other person was a tad loony. But I didn’t really feel it – didn’t know it with my full being – until that day.

It’s a weird barrier. It allows me to feel safe enough to be open and express myself more than I did before the liar came into my life and I constructed this particular wall in response. But it doesn’t allow me to receive anything real from anyone else. As an added bonus, it also allows me to blow perceived negativity way out of proportion if I think there is any directed at me. It basically skews my reality, even as it allows me to express myself more.

In other news, I’m looking into possibly working with some cool writing prompts, just for fun. I maaay even post the results of some of those exercises here! Stay tuned!