Thursday, October 11, 2007

Time is the longest distance between two places.

A year ago I was in a very bad, no good, dark pit of despair kind of place. I'd been there for much of the year.

For most of the year I'd been waiting and wanting and hoping that B would decide that actually, despite our past ups and downs, he wanted to be with me. He was unsure, he was angry, and on some level, I think he was just plain vindictively enjoying the power seat. And the more he didn't know, the more insecure and miserable I was.

A year ago is when, for self-preservation, I walked away.

There were days last year where I ached so much that I was certain that at some point I'd die of ache. Can you ache to death? Ache yourself into a little grease spot on the carpet?

There were days - plenty of them - where all I did was cry. There were times that I cried so hard that I was pretty sure I was empty. Like, I wouldn't have been surprised to look down and notice my internal organs suddenly clinging to the front of my body. Because I'd turned myself inside out.

I couldn't tell you the day I stopped crying. Although I do think it was like a switch that flipped; I don't think I tapered down. You'd think it might be a day I'd circle on the calendar - but I couldn't begin to tell you when it happened.

I missed him. It's not that I didn't miss him. It just stopped being debilitating.

And you know, in April, when my dad tried to commit suicide, my first instinct was to call B. Because he was there the last time. Because that last time, when I called, he arrived immediately and without hesitation. Because he picked me up, body and soul, and carried me through it. Some guys would bail; he loved me all the more. Nobody has ever, ever been there for me like that.

I did call him this April; I had a desperate need to talk to him about all of it. And then I saw him, and he said of course I could have called him; of course he would have come. I believe him. We hugged goodbye and he said to let him know if I needed him - he'd be there. And I believe that, too. But I can't need him again.

Perhaps if I hadn't been so caught up in what was going on in my family, or so physically exhausted by everything, I might have dwelt more on B, the lack of him in my life. So it's lucky I was too busy to do so. And then I met the Director, who was the perfect person at the perfect time, and to whom I will always be grateful.

So spring went by, and then summer. I would be lying if I said I didn't wonder how B was, or occasionally dread the possibility of running into him on a bad day. Of course I did. But not every minute, not every day.

Then a couple weeks ago, I ran into him. He flinched, ever so briefly. The walls went up in his eyes. Both were inadvertent, immediate and almost imperceptible, and if I weren't someone who notices or if I didn't know him so well, I might've missed them.

I just smiled. I was genuinely delighted to see him. I want to know how he is, but can't know, unless I run into him. I can't say I didn't get stomach nervous, because of course I did. We chitchatted briefly. Our conversation was cut short by the arrival of his friends. And so we exchanged pleasantries, said goodbye.

And it was OK. Nice, even. I didn't run home to cry. Or even ache. I thought about him a bit, but not terribly much.

A week went by. And then on a Friday evening, as I was packing up to leave the office, my cell phone rang. And it was my turn to flinch. A number long deleted, but one I could recite in my sleep.

He'd lost his keys, and had spares of all but the mailbox one. Which he'd have to have re-keyed, unless I still had a set. Did I? Unfortunately, no, I no longer do.

And then we chatted. About his work, his family. I caught him up on my trip to England, Maude, other friends of mine he used to like. Overhearing us, you'd have thought we were old friends. I know because I asked a colleague how I sounded. Normal. Totally normal.

Keys are a totally legitimate reason to call. So it was fine. Unhelpful, but fine.

And so I suppose the point of my meandering examination of this is as follows: Time makes all the difference. A year ago, I'd have told you with all certainty that I wouldn't recover. One of my closest friends told me the other day she was afraid I never would.

A year ago, I'd have been flattened by the chance meeting. I'd have tried to make the phone call into more than it was. I'd have believed he was giving me hope. I'd most certainly have cried.

And now, a year later, I can say I've learned the following. Time is extraordinarily helpful. So is distance. Perspective, when you're immersed in something, is impossible. And you actually can hurt someone so much that even if they still love you, they will never, ever let you back in.

Thanks to Tennessee Williams for the title. And apologies if you were like, oh, god, actually, the longest distance between two places is between the start and the end of this eternal post...


  1. No apologies necessary - that whole thing was perfect.

    I know it's your story and not mine, but it feels as if I'm reading my future.

    Oh, and I loved this:

    "And you actually can hurt someone so much that even if they still love you, they will never, ever let you back in."

  2. Ah, thanks so much, FK! Those feelings and the pain will dissipate for you, they surely will. Big hug to you.

  3. this is beautifully written and hits very close to home for me in terms of what i've experienced on many levels. thank you for sharing it.

  4. I've been hurt like that, it's humbling and scary and fabulous. I mean you actually think you're going to die. But when you don't, you've never been more grateful. In our self-absorbed culture, caring about someone else like that...having it go bad, then recovering is unimaginable. It's as close to real magic as a person can get.

    But no, they don't get to come back.

  5. Wow, Lisa, This post was so unbelievably awesome and I connected with it on SOO many levels, ( as I am sure you know.)

    I love, love, loved it.

  6. I'm not sure I believe that time heals all wounds, but it definitely scabs them over. Congratulations on finding your feet and being able to face him again!

  7. jess - Thank you. I appreciate that a lot.

    HBMS - Yes, probably true, and that's a good way to put it.

    SL - I'm glad to hear that. Thank you so much!

    Sarah - I agree entirely. And I'm a scab picker. I kept ripping the scab off and not letting it heal. It's pretty firmly affixed now, though.

    Dag - Thanks for reading.

    VVK - Thanks, friend.

  8. I have only recently started reading your blog and when things are slow at work, I read the archives because I enjoy everything you have to say. This blog was definitely one I could relate to as I only recently got out of a 4 year relationship that had gone horribly wrong. As much as I loved him, there is no way he will ever be that important to me again.

    I think my favorite part is where you said it just stopped being debilitating.

    I'm glad you are in a better place in regards to everything that happened there. :)

  9. I ached, reading this. Glad you are on the other side, looking back through dry eyes, not tears. Thank you, for sharing.

  10. OMG, do I love this post. Recovery, the beautiful person I now have the honor to know, and the analogy of keys....

    You relay words into an experience.

  11. Wow. It seems like you connected with a lot of people with this one. There were times as I read this that I thought you were writing my own story instead of yours. I guess we all have some heartache stories. Yours seems to have a bad one.

    I don't mean to sound demeaning, but I know how you feel somewhat. I remember that girl who absolutely loved me so much she could never trust me again. I remember how the pain that wracked my heart felt as if it would squeeze the life out of it one drop of blood at a time. I too do not recall the day I stopped crying over her, but it was a long time. I woke one day and realized I had not thought of her in a few days - an occurance I thought would never happen.

    I am glad you are well today. I hope you remain so.

  12. I know exactly the type of ache you're talking about, mostly because I can remember the time when my heart felt completely flushed out and I thought there was nothing left for me but that ache and that misery.

    But most of us tend to come out of it, one day we stop crying, and it allows us to have so much more empathy for broken hearts...

    I hope your heart is happy.

  13. Your post is so unbelieveably true! And for so many people! When we're in this situation, we forget that so many others have gone through it too and come out of it ok and sometimes even better than they were before. Thank you for reminding us - me - of that!

    And this:
    "And you actually can hurt someone so much that even if they still love you, they will never, ever let you back in."

    Sigh. So so so ridiculously true.

  14. wow im not the only one who feels like this.
    I am going through all of this right now...the "There were days last year where I ached so much that I was certain that at some point I'd die of ache"

    Was all of that joy worth this pain, I keep asking myself. should I ever let myself get into another deep relationship if Im only going to end up in this excruciating pain again? Do they all end like this? (my first real relationship) I just have a bitter view on things now. By the way these questions are rhetorical.
    Though you made me realize this happens to everyone and this is just part of life. Thank you

    PS- I have been reading your journal for a couple of months, I love it.

    Miss Anonymous

  15. Jenn - Thank you! And I imagine you're in a much better place, too?

    HKW - You are so sweet. Thank you. Sorry to make you ache.

    Almost - Oh, thank you my friend! I feel lucky lucky to know you!

    2x4 - You are right to point out how weird it is to suddenly realize that you haven't thought of the person in a couple days. I'd forgotten that part.

    moosie - Yes, you are right. It does make us more empathetic. Much.

    SE - Thank you! I'm glad to hear it's true for other people.

    Miss Anon - I'm sorry your first real relationship ended like that. It hurts. Thank you for reading!

  16. Hi. I'm curious to know your discussions with your father about writing so honestly about your experiences related his suicide attempts. I ask because my sister tried to kill herself and I found her. She was my best friend, we've since grown apart a bit, however, and we share many friends. The first six months or so, she asked me to keep the attempt a secret, which I did, but found very painful, while totally understandable. I felt like I couldn't be sad on the outside. What kind of discussions did you have with your dad about your blog in terms of his suicide attempts?


  17. Anon - I'm sorry about your sister. That's very heavy to carry around. If you want to email me, we can certainly talk about this.

  18. I don't think I've ever needed to hear something.. The point in my life I'm at right now, with someone aptly title B. actually.. I just feel like I've stumbled across your blog at the exact right time. It's so nice to know that there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Even if I can't see it right now.


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