I have found myself in a strange position. I don't have many friends, and that circle has become even smaller lately. Never being overly social, I value my time alone, so it doesn't bother me too much. On the other hand, I find that when I allow myself too much time to think I get carried off on wild tangential paradoxical loops of thought that leave me wanting to peel my own skin off strip by strip in order to cease analyzing. In my mind, there's a list of people. It's not an ever present list, no, that would be far removed from the point the list serves. This list is my You're Dead to Me list. Basically, if I add a name to the list, I make a conscious decision and effort to not think about that person ever again, and will purposefully do everything in my power to avoid them at all cost up to and including deliberately turning away from them and walking in the other direction and pretending I do not hear them or even outright saying "You are dead to me, now go away".
It's easy to see why I don't like to add names to this list. It takes a lot of effort to make a conscious decision to never think about someone again. I can't even say that sometimes I don't think about the names on that list and go back over the situation that caused the addition, fiddling with endless permutations of possibilities in my head. What if I had said this, done this, been this, changed this, etc. Not only that, but I feel like a terrible person when I add to that list. It makes me feel unkind, cruel, selfish, obstinate, and narrow minded.
There's always endless internal debate before adding to the list. Did I cause this? Have I communicated effectively? Have I apologized for anything they sincerely feel was my fault, whether or not it was truly my fault? Did I demonstrate a willingness to compromise? Did I make it clear that I do not wish to end a relationship? That I have spoken my problem or position and clarified that enough?
Eventually, though, sometimes people get added to the list, reserved for the most heinous of infractions. The latest filled me with a white hot rage that would not subside then burned itself out to ashen depression. That lasted all of a day and then I somehow went into self-preservation mode and tacked one more name onto the list, then slid it to the back of my mind where it has stayed for several days. And I know you think well, Jamie, surely if you're thinking about it now, you've really been thinking about it this whole time. The answer to that is oddly no, no I have not, for once. It's quite strange to me how I was able to take this entire situation and think to myself "Hm. Well, if I had any doubt before, this certainly settles it".
I honestly don't think I've ever been this truly angry with anyone in my entire life before. This is a situation that is years in the making, but let's try to boil this down to a brief synopsis without losing too many of the important factors involved. Sounds easy, but when you try to explain years upon years in the space of a few paragraphs, it becomes impossible. You either say too little or too much, and neither is productive. Still, I'll try.
Years ago when I was but a tiny fetus child of a mere twenty-one summers, I met a boy. In each other, we found pieces of what was missing from our lives. A great majority of those pieces, even. As with all things, time changed us. He became distant, disinterested, unenthusiastic, complacent. I grew restless, unfulfilled, resentful, frustrated. It culminated in a series of progressively worse fights and breakups and general hatred of each other, especially on my part. I will not lie, I have a long memory for grudges when I wholeheartedly believe I have been wronged. Eventually, I was tired of being left over and over (he always did the dumping... I always did the reconciling).
In his defense, I turned into a heavy drinker in that relationship. While I was by no means an "angry drunk", drunk Jamie is even more no-holds-barred than sober Jamie could ever imagine. When I was drinking, every one of my emotions was cranked to maximum wattage. If I was happy, I was ridiculously motherfucking jolly. If I was angry, beware the doom that approaches and avoid it at all cost. I never used to be an angry person, though, so angry drunk Jamie was never a thing. Until him. I began storing up all my feelings and resentments and anger and frustration and lashing out when sufficiently provoked. I will not say that my feelings were not valid feelings, but they were amplified to the point of distortion.
In my defense, he was reckless, had different values, and I can say now beyond a shadow of a doubt that he never put me at the same level of prioritization as I did him. My feelings/needs/values/dreams/hopes were simply not as important as his. Never were, never will be, and that's a cold, hard truth with which I will never be comfortable because it flies in my face as a failing on my part to recognize the situation for what it was in the moment. Even worse, it makes me think that I acted like some kicked puppy, beaten housewife, starved street urchin. He showed me the smallest bit of affection and instantly I believed he had my best interest always in mind, and gave my unswerving loyalty based on that assumption. What can I say? I was young. I was convinced, no, I knew that everyone was a good person and given the chance would always do right by me if I only made certain that I tried my best. 150%, eleven days a week, 548 days a year.
Suffice to say there was a lot of baggage there and we've piled on much more over the years. I have done my best to rip his still-beating heart from his chest with a fierce glare and scathing words, and he has (whether he admits or not) done the same to me with a different technique - indifference. Veracity is hard to ascertain through the lens of my own bias, so I can't say for certain with whom the fault originally began, or who worsened it, or who has caused the most harm. It was difficult for a long time to try to move past our differences and become something other than the embodiment of pure hatred for one another. We were not underachievers. With everything, we went hard. We loved hard, we fought hard, we hated hard, we were always that way.
Eventually, though, the time came when I got sick. And he came to see me in the hospital and decorated my room for Mardis Gras (a tiny faux pas on his part given that the nature of the holiday is copious alcohol consumption and I was, ya know, dying of the whole alcoholism induced liver death thing), and I was amazed that he remembered me and even cared enough to do that for me. I was in a haze still, and I felt terrible because I slept through a lot of his visit and couldn't eat anything he brought me because of the feeding tube stuck down my nose and the nausea, but I was in shock that he even tried. Everything then was still strange. Not normal strange. The I-can-tell-I'm-hallucinating-and-death-is-trying-to-take-me-and-the-drugs-are-doing-bad-things-to-me strange that so few people have ever experienced until it's their time to go.
Well, fast forward to last... um, late September? I think? Time runs together so easily as you age. I was freshly home from the hospital and adjusting to things. Still am, frankly, it's a lengthy adjustment. I was adulting as hard as I could, but there was no financial cushion, that had been depleted when I was in the hospital. Things were quite difficult, and I was not exactly happy. Even so, I took it upon myself to have an adventure. Partly because I wanted to prove to myself that I was not an invalid, that I was still capable, that I could do things by myself. Partly because I missed him terribly. So for the first time in a year, I was well and truly alone, because I flew to where he lives and got over to his place from the airport to visit. It was grueling. A month earlier I had still been using a cane to walk, and now here I was walking for miles unaided (on an unrelated note, bless that gentleman employee in the airport who I stopped to ask for directions to the car rentals and he took a look at me and out of nowhere asked if I wanted him to take me over in a wheelchair, that was exceedingly kind of him, even if I didn't take him up on the offer). Of course when I got there I was overjoyed to see him, but exhausted, feverish, unable to eat, and generally miserable.
I will never forget sitting alone in his apartment while he was at work and googling physician assisted dying and VSED. All hope in the world drained from me at that point. How could he ever love me? How could anyone ever love me? I'm broken. I don't work right. I felt like an iPhone with a cracked screen in a universe where there are no repair techs, only new iPhones. The overwhelming loneliness set in, and even lying right next to him when I could put my hands on him and watch him as he slept it felt like I was so insubstantial, so unnecessary that I might as well cease to be. Of course I never said this, I'd done enough bringing everyone down for the past year before that. So we spent the time talking, watching tv, ordering out for food that I mostly didn't eat, etc. Then I went home a couple days later.
The following November he conspired with my famiy. I'd told him I'd buy his car from him because he was trying to sell it, and I could get the money together within a few months at the most (honestly I was gonna make it happen by any means necessary, be they legal or no), but he had sort of let the conversation drop about that. Come to find out, they brought me the car. I was genuinely touched. I cried. He even drove it to where I live and was here to hand me the keys. At that very moment, I knew something was off. I can't explain how I knew, but I knew something wasn't adding up in my mind. I'd been reserved about everything we talked about, I felt that he had his own life to live and if he wanted me in it more he would say so. That time came and went, and he never said so, and I assumed that he was completely done with me romantically but that we had found a happy coexistence wherein we could value one another and help each other as the needs arise. I was happy with that. I felt proud of it, in fact. Seriously, I was so overjoyed that he would want to help me as much as I always wanted to help him, and that we could coexist without harming one another.
Then I made a terrible, terrible mistake. Our anniversary was Valentine's. Way to set the fuckin' bar, right? Can't just have a normal anniversary, we had to be extra as fuck and make that V-day. Anyway, I was texting him throughout the normal course of my days as I usually do. As the date came up, I realized he had done so much for me lately that maybe I should give back somehow. I thought of a few things. The romantic in me loved our anniversary, so I considered everything from sending him a ridiculous flower arrangement at his workplace just to draw the attention of his female coworkers so he could smile about being wanted on that day to flying down again briefly to hug him and spend the night and fly back. After all, airfare is not that expensive between our two locations, for a hundred dollars I can get a round trip ticket. In the course of conversation this came up because I've realized a lot of the time I do not say how I actually feel, so I told him as much and that I miss and love him.
BOOM MOTHERFUCKING KAPOW LIGHTENING STRIKE FROM THE GODDAMN HEAVENS OCCURS.
Apparently this son of a bitch came to see me in the hospital more than once. I don't remember it. He said he tried to get back together with me multiple times. I don't recall. He said it was over the course of multiple months. I have no recollection. I have interrogated people over this. No one seemed to know. I have gone through texts, there is no evidence. Alarm bells rang in my head. The only reason I know he came to see me more than once in the hospital is because I interrogated people who were at the hospital after the ensuing conversation. He never even told me. No one told me. Everyone thinks I remember these things because I acted lucid, but the truth is there are gaps in my knowledge after the surgery. Reflex-Jamie took over. The basest of Jamies, the very core of my being, the tiny voice inside my head took control and portrayed myself in a production in which I was not cast.
As for the ensuing conversation, it amounts to basically this, and you can tell by my use of hysterical all caps improper punctuation screaming text which one is me:
"I wanted us to get back together."
"WHAT. IN. THE. ACTUAL. FUCK."
"You told me it wouldn't happen."
"HOLD THE MOTHERFUCKING PHONE."
"I'm confused by that response."
"BITCH I AM CONFUSED BY YOU."
"I said it three times."
"EXPLAIN TO ME LIKE I AM A SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD."
"I said it three times."
"Okay so if you said this then I am not sure how I missed it because if you explicitly said this then I do not recall and I would tell you that honestly I do care about you and I would like to pursue this, because I feel like the fact that we even speak to each other after all these years says something about us both, so..." (And no, you, reader, can't know my personal thoughts about that, I am ashamed to admit them to anyone, even him)
Yeah that's about when the white hot rage set in, but I just said something to the effect of "I understand and I wish you well."
Lemme translate that for you. "I understand and I wish you well." Ahem, that means "I hope you die alone, scared, lonely, in pain, crying out for help, and I hope that it's all an illusion in your mind that you're actually moving. I hope that as you cry out your lips don't actually move and that you are in the bottom of a grave and a shovelful of dirt scatters across your face and into your eyes and I hope you can't move your hands to clear it and I hope it burns. I hope you gasp for air in the last moments and aspirate top soil and clay. I hope you will remember the day you met me as you slip into oblivion because I want you to know what you could have had and I want you to know misery intimately."
Wow. That got dark even for me. Still, it's self-preservation. My first thought as soon as he said that was damage mitigation. Disengage. Throw it away. Get as far away as possible. In so many words, I told him that I was dedicated to trying to pursue that if he wanted to, and he shot it down. Just. Like. Always. It makes me recall the days when I tried to voice my opinion and my concerns and got shot down. Just. Like. Always. I realized that while I love him, and I may always love him even in the midst of my hating him, that it's simply not worth it to engage with someone who never sees the pattern of their actions. Never sees the lack of their own empathy.
Ya know, I don't like the idea of never speaking to him again. I haven't blocked his number and I won't; there is always some path toward reconciliation so long as communication remains open. Will I ever initiate a conversation again? I doubt it. I've been dumped a few times by him, and we're not playing that game anymore. I had always wondered how he was so unaffected by any problems, how he could maintain his concentration and goals and everything else around him and disregard the time bomb in the middle of the room when we fought.
Then I realized, he simply shelves it. He doesn't let it get to him, he lets it go, he simply doesn't. It's the lack of action or forethought or insight or motivation to change which is so appealing to me. Also terrifying. I do not like that course of action. It seems tantamount to sociopathy to me. I care, deeply, about everything, always. And it hit me. The only possible solution is to add him to the You're Dead to Me list.
The opposite of love is not hate. It is indifference. He has shown that to me in each and every altercation we have had in conflict and I never understood it until now.
I can hope that perhaps the situation may change someday, and I am not ruling out that hope. However, I am a realist. The glass is never half empty nor half full, it is simply equidistant between two states of opposing existence. Realizing that I may never speak to him again, I am sad. But I have to keep going. I cannot be the person who cares for others all the time. I cannot be concerned with things that don't further me. The impetus lies with him if he ever wants to speak to me again.
He's dead to me now. I mourn him in my own way. I may never be able to be indifferent. But I have learned to shelve a bitch.