Someone like me

Once I was asked, “Why don’t you spend time with people like you?”

To my surprise, there were two answers.  I thought compromise was part of every relationship and no relationship could be smooth-sailing. And secondly, I honestly didn’t believe there were people like me.  I didn’t feel as though I connected with more than a handful (read less than or equal to 5) of people in my life.  Every other relationship has been strained with substantial, almost daily chafing difference.
A similar question of why I was spending my time with people I didn’t even like, was a result of similar reasoning.  I had been trying to accommodate myself to fit school friends, college boyfriends, and later, all sorts of random people.  My mother once asked me why I was trying to get back together with a boyfriend I didn’t even like.  It was a pretty revelatory statement that opened my eyes to the truth: I didn’t want to be rejected, even by someone I otherwise wouldn’t want in my life.

I spent so much time trying to be someone else for others.  While complaining of others’ failings and my attempts to live with these people, I was asked, “Why don’t you just live according to your own standards?”

Again, the answer surprised me. I didn’t think my standards mattered as much as those of the people I was trying to change myself to be accepted by.  I didn’t agree with their standards, so I always felt tension in the relationships. But I didn’t leave, armed in the knowledge I was being true to myself. Instead, I sunk to ‘their level’. I lived my life according to the principles and behavior that I myself disagreed with.  And why, oh god, why? Because I didn’t think there were people with my values and that I had to compromise to have any friends and not be lonely.  I was desperately lonely. I found interpersonal connection hard to create.  I didn’t find people who I felt like I could be myself around.

So now, self-aware of these insights, in a romantic relationship I want to be true to myself and find someone like me. With the same professed values, interests, humor, and lifestyle.  As a friend once said, “After you marry, the relationship will stay the same or might get worse. But it never gets better.”  But combined with a ticking clock, loneliness, and less than stellar self-esteem, I find myself in my same old habit of trying to wriggle into a fit with someone. 

Anecdotally, I often try clothing or shoes once very quickly and decide it fits. I purchase it, cut the tags and then wear it for an entire day, at which by the end of said day I am very uncomfortable or in pain. The item doesn’t fit right.

I find the same in relationships.  I get so excited initially at what I see as a great fit with a glamourous new man (and rarely, a woman).  Then, within weeks, I realize this person is very different from me. I have just jumped in the deep end of infatuation and desperation and now I am drowning, trying to figure out how the relationship can be managed to fit.

Clearly I need to be more patient, discerning, and selective. It would help if I could catch a break and finally meet someone that’s really similar to me.  That’d be lovely.

tracing lines on a face

People come and go out of all of our lives.

But some make an especially strong impression.

When looking at photos of a special someone I used to know, I trace the lines that build his face, eyes, mouth, lips, and hair.  I wish I had more photos of his back and torso, legs and hands, the rest of his body.  But I am thankful at least that I have photos of his face.  I can remember at least his face, even if the rest of him fades away as memories dull.

Actually, just such a fear prompted me to ask him to make a voice recording for me.  I had deleted a previous one where he read some encouraging statements I wrote to remind myself that life could go on and that I could become a different person.  That I could become a happy person or happier than I had been beside him.

However, this second voice recording was genuine, his own words, slightly goofy and sweet and included his natural intonation and even a cough.

That brief message and so many photos from our life together: these consist of the evidence of a history I may someday forget.

But for now, I can’t forget or move so far away. Instead, I trace lines of his face in my favorite photos.  I trace the lines of a face of someone I used to know.

You Don’t Get to Use My Name

You don’t get to use my name.  Who are you to me anymore?

You left and put distance where there was closeness.  You made space where we had been intertwined  together.

So, who are you to use that name of mine?  You are already gone. You’ve moved on.  There is no us.  There isn’t we hope, we try, we  go, we enjoy, or we together.  There is me.  There is myself now.  There is memory where there once was you.

So don’t be familiar and use my name.  You don’t know me anymore.  That woman before who was with you: she is dead.  There is no resurrection and there is nothing left of her for you to use her name when you talk to me.

My name is my own.  Friends use it. Co-workers use it. Family use it. Acquaintances and lovers and sales clerks and new relationships use that name.  But not you; you lost that right already.  You don’t know me anymore.  You made yourself nothing to me by making me nothing to you.

And nothing can’t call out my name. Nothing can’t even speak.  So, I can’t hear those collection of sounds from you.

After all, those sounds used to be intimate. My name spoken by you. It used to be something beautiful. Why pretend that intimacy exists anymore? You severed that connection willfully. It was your decision. Am I even person enough to you to be called by a name?

My name is special. I am going to protect it from now on.  You don’t get to use my name. Not anymore.