Today I am full of regret. ‘What if’s dance across my mind. I can’t focus and can hardly think beyond them. I try to do work for my internship to distract myself and find myself making stupid mistakes, forgetting what I’m doing in the middle of it, repeatedly having to delete delete delete. As is the case only when I am very stressed or very tired, I keep forgetting how to spell.
I busy myself with making plans, only to pull out at the last minute. Sometimes focusing my eyes takes too much labor and I just stare. Today the sky was clear and mountain ranges were visible in all directions, but I looked beyond them. At nothing. At myself.
What if I had gotten therapy when I first asked for it? Or even the second time, or the third. I have to scream “personal responsibility!” at myself in my head over and over when this thought comes up because it makes me so sad.
But what if? What if someone had responded with help when I was screaming for it my first six months in Seattle? What if I had gotten help instead of endless referrals and wait-lists? Could we have been saved? Would I be happy and healthy with my beautiful Benny right now? I know we had issues beyond this one, beyond mine, but could we have been saved?
(As a side note, I am currently sitting at the kitchen table, writing, sobbing, and eating kale. Picture the mess that I am.)
(I actually just tried to take a picture of myself crying and the result was so ridiculous and ugly and sad and real that it made me burst out laughing. There is hope in laughter.)
Back to the ‘what if’s, and other simple catch-phrases. ‘Everything happens for a reason’ was invented for times like these. And then I think, “Ben doesn’t believe in that.” And then I think, “But Emily, what do you believe?”
I don’t want to believe! Ben can have that one and I’ll follow along, smiling. I have my opinions that I hold dearly: about feminism and vegetables and walkability and composting. Ben can choose the music, the tv shows and movies, our religious and spiritual beliefs. I don’t want to know what kind of music I like. I don’t want to choose what to watch. I don’t want to do it all.
Now that I can’t have Ben I just want to dive into someone, anyone, and disappear and never return. I’ll sacrifice myself, I don’t care, just please hold me. I relinquish myself to you.
Friends and family keep saying I’m strong and I’m starting to see it as an insult. I don’t want to be strong. I don’t want to hold myself up. I don’t want to go to work and take my vitamins and file my taxes. Do weak people just die, or are they saved?
Maybe everything does happen for a reason. This internship I’m at right now, I was offered in August. I couldn’t leave Ben behind so I gave it up. Moved to Seattle, tried to make it, and splat! Here I am, at this internship, living on Bainbridge Island, the same fate I refused seven months ago. Was I meant to be here? I was certainly punished for my first refusal: I’m living on the island for free but still stuck in a lease in the city, and my relationship crumbled more horribly than I ever could have imagined.
I don’t know if I believe in fate, I don’t know if I believe that things happen for a reason, but I definitely believe in learning. I hope, I so sincerely hope I can promise that this will never happen again. I won’t make the same mistake twice (though to be honest, which I unfortunately, unerringly am–have I learned from that mistake yet?–mistakes I made with Ben I also made in my other two serious relationships. every detail is not the same, of course, but the basic structures and themes keep on repeating). I need to break this pattern. I need to stop making the same mistakes. One of which is, perhaps obviously, my aching desire to dive into someone and never return. To become a seamless ‘we.’ To be the beginning and the end of each other.
Seattle is forcing me to live on Bainbridge Island. Seattle is forcing me to be strong. Seattle is forcing me to be alone. I need to clear my mind of the ‘what if’s, stop clinging to sadnesses and hope from the past, and listen. There is something I need to learn.