Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Butterflies

This is something I wrote a few years ago, before I had a blog. I stumbled upon it tonight and thought how weird that I don't remember answering my own recent questions...


By Sunday evening it had become painfully clear to her that her weekend had not been one spent in blessed solitude, cherishing her freedom, relaxing in her cozy home with her devoted cats. Oh no, let’s call it what it was. A weekend spent waiting. Waiting for his phone call. Or even an email. Waiting for him to stop by. Since Friday, she had been tacitly expecting… something. She was bathed, shaved, and pretty. Trying to Zen-out so she wouldn’t obsess about why the hell he hadn’t called her at all this past week. Drinking a little bit, laughing a lot. Trying not to wonder why the only contact she had had from him in over a week was one benign instant message asking “how are you”. Maybe he was out of town? Ok, why couldn’t he call to let her know. Maybe he was deathly ill? Ok, why didn’t he call and say “I can’t talk, I’m deathly ill.” Maybe he was holed up in his house, fucking his ex. Fine, he could’ve called and said “I’m not interested in pursuing any kind of relationship with you anymore, please stop calling and emailing me.” He wouldn’t even need to bring up the part about the ex….

But this? This utter abandonment, utter cutoff of communication? She couldn’t fathom that anyone who even remotely cared about her, unless in a life-threatening coma, could not have found a way to communicate something, even if it wasn’t pleasant.

Oh yeah, and her ex, the only “love of her life” so far, had what her best friend referred to as a “beautiful, touching, emotional, perfect” wedding the day before to the girl he had lusted after when they were still living together. Sorry, but was she a complete bitch to think there was NEVER going to be anything beautiful or touching about something that started so seedily and with such origins of disrespect? It was doomed to fail, based on karma alone. Anyone should be able to see that, especially her best friend.

She didn’t know what to do. She had cleaned, straightened, done dishes, laundry, fantasized that Colin Farrell was her boyfriend – she’d even done her damn TAXES -- and nothing was making her feel any better, as the tension continued to grow. In her fevered mind, with each moment that passed and he didn’t call, the more palpable the tension became. With each day that he didn’t respond to her efforts to reach him, he was less likely to respond ever, based on what she assumed was his fear of her supposed wrath. And her thoughts on that were, well, JACKASS, if you know I’m angry, if you knew your behavior was going to make me angry, why the FUCK didn’t you call before it got to that point??

So here she was, furiously typing out her thoughts on the computer, feeling angry and helpless and annoyed and very very pissed off. She felt like a caricature of herself. She normally considered herself to be intuitive, kind, loving, blahblahblah. Now she just felt venomous and bloated, bleak and unhappy, fat and desperate. All of these things were jumbled up in her psyche and her body, swirling around into a blackness that made her feel nauseous and like crying uncontrollably. She was NOT going to retreat into the bathtub with wine again, she had spent more time in the bath this weekend than was probably healthy. And each bath cost about $10 in bath products alone, not counting the wine, making it a very expensive weekend indeed. And she STILL felt like shit.

It never ceased to amaze her how one hiccup in the spasm of life seemed to poison everything else. She didn’t even want her cat talking to or touching her. The rejected animal now lay prone before her, on top of the desk, but not making or attempting to make any kind of eye contact. Just the tip of her tail flicked every few minutes, to show she was paying attention and was available for affection should her master become affectionate. There she was, sprawled on the desk, trying to look appealing and pettable – only her flattened ears gave away her angst. The girl knew this strategy – she’d mastered it herself many nights curled up on the couch with him. Sending the message, “I’m cool with things the way they are, but should you find yourself overwhelmed with desire for my adorable self, I’m also cool with you having your way with me.”

She momentarily felt sorry for the furry creature, so she reached over and gave her a half-hearted rub – to which the cat immediately jumped up, started purring furiously, and began trying to manipulate the girl’s hand into petting her longer. How pathetic. Oh. My. God. What if that’s how she appeared to him, and what if he also found her pathetic in her utter transparency??? Was this some kind of sick BREAKTHROUGH?? NOW what to think? Her stomach hurt even more, and her head started to pound.

She kept absently petting the cat as this whole metaphor for life overtook her imagination. She pet the animal with increasing vigor as she became more intent on these thoughts – and the cat responded by purring louder and louder, until she choked and had to stop and swallow-- then continued purring again. Such utter unconditional devotion. And so undeserved, the girl thought, as she felt herself a shitty cat owner who didn’t spend nearly enough time loving on the animal. This is getting worse and worse, she thought. So, let’s follow it through; which cat did she enjoy petting the most? The one who was emotionally available, yet not always physically available for loving. The boy cat, that is. He would blink at her across the couch with lovey eyes, but would not let her pet him indiscriminately, lest it tarnish the thrill.

If it was a metaphor for life, or for love, then now she realized what she had always done wrong. She had given too much of herself. Loved more, given more, cared more, in almost every romantic relationship she had ever had. Because she was an honest person, and she didn’t even know how to be dishonest with her feelings. To her, to hold back would be to play a certain kind of game, and she had never been comfortable with that. So was this the problem, this tendency to give too much too soon? She thought about this deeply, lengthily, all the while stroking the cat, which had now settled down. The cat, when given the proper affection, was no longer needy and annoying. Hmmm.

So, there it was. But with one big flaw, she realized. Why was her ability and willingness to give of herself completely, and to be breathtakingly open, considered to be something she had been doing wrong? At least, from a man’s point of view? At least, from the men she had had in her life? Couldn’t this instead be a shortcoming of the other person in the relationship? She thought and thought, but she just couldn’t reconcile her honest behavior as being anything cloying or scary. Perhaps she had just not met the right man?

Who would, then, be the right kind of man, she wondered. Well, one who was emotionally strong. One who was comfortable with love, the idea of love, being loved, and loving. Someone as honest and open as she was, someone who was not afraid to make themself vulnerable. For to care was to be vulnerable, there was no other way to do it. Anytime you take any kind of risk, she realized, you’re making yourself vulnerable. And any time you hold yourself back from something because you are afraid, you are missing out on what could be a life-altering opportunity. You are losing something, some experience, good or bad, that could very well change your life and carry you further along the path you were meant to follow.

She sat up straight in her chair, still fiddling with the cat, which was now purring at a manageable pace and whose ears were no longer flattened in angst. The girl began to feel herself relax, also. She was not doing anything wrong in her relationships by being herself, open and honest. If she had a fault, it was trusting too easily, and again, was that really her fault, or the fault of the person who was untrustworthy? Because as many times as she had had her heart broken, she had always been willing to open herself up again, to very possibly be hurt again. And as this boy had once pointed out to her (in one of their long, meaningful conversations, pre-disappearance), most relationships were destined to have not only a beginning, but an end.

One night they had discussed how most relationships would not end in forever, but were not wasted opportunities, either. Each one, no matter where it led, taught you things you might use in your next relationship, things you might then teach to someone else. So it was not right to fear losing love. Perhaps you were not meant to have every love in your life forever – maybe that just wasn’t how it worked. He had pointed out that perhaps the point was to enjoy, to the fullest, each and every person who touched you in your life, for as long or as short as they were meant to touch you. Following this to its natural conclusion, then, one should not feel heartbroken, or broken at all, when such a relationship ends. One should take the lesson and the love and apply it to life’s next turn.

Maybe the reason her ex could get married now, four years after their relationship ended, was because of the things she had taught him during her time in his life. He was never meant to be hers; her purpose had been to prepare him for his future wife. And maybe his purpose had been to show her how love could be, not to necessarily be that love. She felt drained with this realization, but she no longer felt twisted inside.

This guy she liked right now was pretty smart – it was no wonder she liked him. Hopefully she would get to have him in her life a little bit longer, so she could relax and enjoy the moments, instead of hanging on so tight trying to see the unknowable future. Even if he never called her, even if she never heard from him again from this night on – she had already learned something very valuable from him.

And the cat purred softly as she slept, her tail twitching lazily in tune to her dreams.

2 comments:

Crazy MomCat said...

Wow. Just wow. I don't even know what to say back, except for that. Amazing...thought-provoking...and wow.

Babs said...

Wow. This makes my heart hurt. (But I really like where you went with it.)

BTW, I can't help myself... just gotta comment on your ex's wedding. I don't care how emotionally healthy you are, it sucks to hear that it was "perfect and beautiful" and blah blah blah. YUCK! (I know you knew I would say this, and I could go on and on about how we don't live in a fantasy world where your feelings don't get hurt when it comes to exes, but you know, maybe I'll save that for another day ;-)