Last night, I finally finished reading my friend’s book, The Summer Of Letting Go. Okay, so maybe Gae Polisner aren’t friends in the traditional sense. I mean, we’ve never met in person. But we met as writers, which is almost as good. And I actually would like to meet her in person someday, especially if such a meeting included her little doggie. Charlie pics and videos have gotten me through many a bad day, after all!
But I digress. I’d already been ugly crying over a particularly powerful episode of Chicago Fire, and then decided to read a bit before trying to sleep. I was closer to the end of the book than I’d thought, though, so I ended up staying up a bit late to finish it. And ugly cry some more.
So, first off, it’s a really good book. I’m not about to write a review of it here, or anything, though (I will, however, try to remember to do it on Amazon and the like), because that’s not quite what this post is about. It’s more about the emotions it brought up in me.
I can’t claim any kinship with the protagonist – my little brother is alive, I don’t feel like my parents hate me, and I’m not a teenager. I don’t have a Lisette, nor a Bradley. Nor a Frankie Sky (though…maybe Brody would fit that bill, a bit). But there is definitely something in the way she blames herself for her brother’s death, and understands and accepts that everyone else must, as well. It’s not even something that needs to be discussed. It just is. She understands it as simply her reality, and the way she interacts with everyone else in her world is a result of believing that they understand reality the same way she does.
There is something innately relateable in that to me. Something powerful that goes deeper than circumstance, and brings up some pretty powerful emotions. That everything comes to a head at the end of the book, and that I chose to read it last night when similar emotions have already been building up inside of me, as well, made it a kind of perfect storm for ugly crying.
It actually still affected me this morning, too.
This sense that someone I love beyond reason, of whom I think very highly, could think far less of me, and in some cases actually hate me, is a feeling I fully understand. I don’t even have to know specifically why. Just that I am inherently detestable to those whose opinions matter most to me. That even if they love me back, at first, that will change soon enough. I don’t even try to fight it anymore. I just expect it, and accept it when it happens.
Even as I type this, I know how it sounds, and I’m sure there are people who think that telling me that’s not the case will impact my understanding of my own inner world in some positive way. It won’t. I know it’s rubbish, on a logic level. But further inside on a level even I can’t see, lurks something else. And writing any of it down isn’t a request for someone to try and argue it. It’s more an exercise in locating words to adequately describe a particular sensation; something which has always been there, and just never spoken about. Until now. See, that’s the thing with writing stuff down sometimes. Having someone else tell me something that lies inside of me isn’t true, or isn’t real, doesn’t actually change anything. Be me giving voice to it takes away its power; like shining a light into a dark corner and seeing for myself that there’s actually nothing there to worry about. Someone else telling me they turned on a light and didn’t see anything means nothing to me. I have to see for myself. That’s how one grows, really. Do the work yourself; don’t expect anyone else to do it for you. And trying to do it for someone else takes away their own voice; their own power.
This isn’t intended to be me saying, “I am unloveable and will never know happiness” or whatever it sounds/reads like. It’s about me admitting to myself that I sometimes feel that way, that it affects how I relate to other people – particularly the ones I want to feel closest to – and that if I can recognize it, put words to it, maybe I can diffuse it.
There is an enormous difference between thinking things in your head when you are alone, and actually trying to say them out loud, or write them down, or what have you. The transfer from vague thought and emotion into something more concrete…it loses something; some of its power. That holds true to really great thoughts and emotions, too, of course. There’s just no perfect way to convey our most powerful inner realities to anyone else, even though we all feel a lot of the same things.
We just don’t all feel them quite the same way.
Which can be frustrating. But when you do get something out; when you see the lightbulb come on in someone else’s eyes and know without a doubt that they get it; that they understand. A crazy kind of connection gets established in that moment, and even if the shared understanding is of something horrible, you know at least that you are no longer alone in it. And that’s worth all the frustration and effort, I think.
As for me…I’m not great at liking myself, usually, so it’s easy for me to believe that those I hold in highest regard wouldn’t, either. Part of me is always waiting for the other shoe to drop, and when it does, I claim that I knew it would happen, because that’s how things go for me. FML and all that.
It was pointed out to me long ago that it’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy to hold back for fear of being hurt if and when the other person stops being such a large part of your life. And I get that, so I try (sometimes) to curb the machinations of the dark beast within and force myself to aim for the lightbulb moments as much as I can. It’s not easy, and I fail more often than I’d like to admit, even to myself. I do get confused about what actually is true sometimes, though, and that’s where I fall into my own trap.
I guess, at least for now, I need to try harder to enjoy the time I do have, and spend less time trying to predict when it will end.