Sunday, July 22, 2007

How to Heal the Hurt by Hating


Brilliant post title, but unfortunately not a product of my own creativity. "How to Heal the Hurt by Hating" is actually the title of a book by comic Anita Liberty. She wrote the book after her boyfriend of 3 and a half years left her and she decided to devote her career to humiliating him in public.

Crazy, yes, but slightly brilliant as well. Many artists learn to turn the difficult and painful moments in their life into a greater work that not only benefits them, but also many around them. Take for example French artist Sophie Calle. When her boyfriend decided to break up with her via email, she decided to turn her pain into art, resulting in an exhibition called "Take Care of Yourself," (after her ex-bf's closing line) at the Venice Biennale. The exhibition features 107 different women reinterpreting and dissecting the ex-bf's email, including a forensic psychiatrist who deemed the ex to be "a true, twisted manipulator, psychologically dangerous and/or a great writer. To be avoided. Categorically," and translations in Latin, Braille, Morse code, bar code and shorthand.

There are likely a million and one stories like this, but given the theme of the post being healing hurt by hating, allow me to add my own hurt/hate art. This is actually one of my most favored episodes of "ex" drama. I actually wrote this piece a few days after it happened, in May 2005, mostly because it was so distinct in my mind I felt the best way to forget about it was to get it on paper.

I wish it would paint him as more as an asshole and me as less of a crazy, but alas, it is a true event. I hope it makes you laugh, because I always get a lil' chuckle when I re-read my own dramatic re-telling of events.


A preamble to the post: So this essay needs some context. I had been dating this guy for under a year, but it wasn't serious (for him at least) nor exclusive. And while I had some real and strong feelings for him, the long distance paired with his seeming indifference to progressing our "romance" made me think the book "He's just not that into you," was really starting to have some relevance in the situation. So I had resigned myself to letting it go and trying to be his friend, but it wasn't really working, especially after the event that unfolded in the story below. I fully acknowledge that the bulk of what I wrote is crazy, slightly delusional, and largely dramatic. Sa da tay.

This is probably one of the most not-serious dramatic moments of life, hence I fully encourage you to laugh out loud at my "Dear God, are you there? It's me, Margaret" musings.


I’m sinking again. It snuck up on me, in the dark of the night, shrouded as an innocent phone call, a pit stop on my road to recovery which has turned out to be a detour to despair.
I
had resisted calling for days. Too sleepy, I convinced myself. You don’t really want to talk, you just want to hear his voice, I reasoned. The second he answers, you’ll be disappointed, it won’t be how you imagine. There is no point in calling. But after three days of rationalizing, I gave in. I almost didn’t though. It was an evil game I was playing with my heart, I would tell my brain to pick up the phone, and just before the neurons fired, I would resend the order, sending an exhilarating shiver up my spine. I did this for three or four times until I resended the order too late, and the next thing I know, my phone is ringing at my ear.

“Hello,” a female voice inquired on the other end of my cellular signal. My brain buzzed and my temples flared. Suddenly the room got very hot, and I couldn’t breathe.

“Hello,” my voice weakly warbled, “Is Greg there?”

“Who?”

I pressed my diaphragm against my lungs as I tried again. “Can I speak to Greg?”

“There’s no Greg here.”

“Oh, my bad.” And I hung up the phone. Oh God. Oh God. I feel sick. What is going on? I glanced at my phone frantically as my brain replayed what had just transpired in the past 20 seconds. Did I dial the wrong number? Is this his idea of a joke? What’s going on? Did he change his number and not tell me? The permutations of possibilities had a dizzying effect on me. It felt as though someone had just tipped the axis of my life.

“Breathe, breathe,” I recited to myself out loud, my last ditch attempt not to bust out in tears.

Think, think! I commanded myself. Send him a text message. Good idea. But what difference will it make if he changed his number? Why did you get off the phone so quick, that was so dumb! I was shocked, I was scared, I didn’t want to lose my cool! Well you blew it! You should have asked if you had the right number, maybe they thought you said Craig, not Greg. Send him an email asking if he changed his number. No, that’ll take too long; you’ll never make it through the night. Call them back.

I checked my phone again. It was true, I had placed the call to his cell phone, and a seemingly white female voice answered.

Oh god. Call him again.

Four minutes had passed.
“Hello,” his voice struck through the receiver to my ear like a lightning bolt, depositing itself in the furrow between my eyebrows.

Play it cool.

“Hey,” My voice cracked like a pubescent boy sprouting hair below his naval. “What are you up to?”

“Loading the dishwasher, can I call you back in like, seven minutes?”

“Sure.”

“Bye.”

“Bye.”

Oh God. What in the world is going on? Help me please, help me to have sanity, to accept the situation presented before me, guide me in what I say so that I can emerge from this situation unscathed. Please God. Please. Fix it.

“Breathe, breathe,” I repeated out loud, listening to my erratic breathing filling what now felt to be my hollow room. Okay, calm down. Breathe. Get under the covers. Turn out the lights. He’ll call you back, and it’ll all make sense. Breathe. Good. I sat unnaturally erect in my bed, covers tightly tucked under my armpits, my left hand gripping my cell phone, the right wrapped around my stuffed pig Wilbur. I nervously glanced at my cell phone.

1:13 am.

Only one minute has passed!? I’ll never make it! Oh God, this can’t be happening! Calm down, calm down. Breathe. Call Lisa.

“Hi, you’ve reached Lisa. Sorry I can’t come to the phone right now, but if you leave a message I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you and have a blessed day!”

“Hi, Um, I’m having, um, a little crisis, nothing big, I, uh, I just need to talk. So, ahh, if you get this message in the next two hours, please call me. Bye.”

Shit. Okay, breathe. It’ll be okay. Focus. But my mind couldn’t focus. It just kept replaying the situation in various orders, slowing down events, fast forwarding, zooming in, pausing. My mind was editing its own nightmarish film for my enjoyment.

Why me God? Why? Why did I have to call him? Did that all really just happen? I checked my phone call history again. What the hell? Only one outgoing call to him? I called him twice, I know it! What the hell happened? Did I not call him? Did I make it all up?

1:15 am.

Okay, he should be calling soon. Maybe the phone automatically consolidates outgoing calls if you call the same number twice. Yea, yeah, that sounds about right. Test it. Call Lisa again.

“Hi, you’ve reached Lisa…”

Should I leave a message? No! She’ll think you’re on fire or something. Okay, see, it did replace the call with the new one.

“Breathe, breathe,” I continued to recite out loud, as a lump formed in my throat. The room was pulsating with tension. The hum of my laptop buzz magnified in my ears. Somewhere off in the real world the baby shifted in my parent’s bed, the sound refracting through parallel universes and mental planes until it reached my eardrums with a magnified bass resonance. I tried to focus on objects in the dark, tracing their shadowy outlines with my eyes. The room suddenly felt so big and I, so small.

There goes your theory of not being attached. Was that the point God? To prove that I do actually feel something strong for him? That I can’t outsmart my heart? Oh God, I can’t believe this is happening to me. It’s some dreadful plot twist, a night that’ll I’ll always look back on and think, and that’s where it ended. That’s where my somewhat straight and narrow path took a hairpin turn to the left, forcing me to forever abandon whatever future I thought I had with him. And to think I thought I was getting over him, that we could just be friends. I should have know when he picked me up at the mansion that it was going to be over, royalty and commoners could never date, and that evil broad who’s always hanging around here was prettier than me and gonna get him anyway… Oh God, I’m falling asleep! Wake up; you can’t even escape this situation in you dreams!

1:23 am.

Oh God, why hasn’t he called? Maybe he won’t call. Maybe he doesn’t know how to tell me that he’s got a girlfriend. Or no, maybe it’s just some broad he had over the house, and he doesn’t really like her, but he’s got all that extra time, so he was like, what the hell, and he doesn’t really like her all like that, but she likes him, so she thought it would be funny to answer his phone and when she saw it was me, she decided she would tell me she didn’t know who he was. But then when he saw that I had called, he got really mad at her, and he’s telling her off right now. Yea, I like that version. Like when I came down the stairs into the ballroom, and I looked all pretty, and he was singing on stage looking like a fool cause he couldn’t believe… Wake up you fool! This is no time for sleep! You need to be alert! Besides, there’s no solace in sleeping. Okay, if he doesn’t call by 1:30, you’re going to sleep.

I loosened my grip on my phone and turned it face up on my lap.

1:27 am.

“Hello?”

“Hello, what you doing?” Greg asked into my left ear.

“Nothin, sitting in my bed. What you up to?” Good, be cool. Man up! Take that shake out your voice. Breathe.

“Just got finished cleaning the kitchen, what you do all day?”

Oh enough with this idle chatter! There is something amiss in this situation, and I can go no further until I get to the bottom of it!

Boop boop. Incoming call: Lisa.

Hold on for one minute,” I say to him.

“Hey,” I said as I clicked over to the other line.

“Hey, what’s wrong, I was in the bathtub, I didn’t even check my messages, is everything okay?”

“Yea… let me call you back in like, 30 minutes. Keep your phone on you!”

“Okay, bye.”

"Bye.”

Breathe. God help me.

“Wanna hear a funny story? So I’m sitting around, bored, so I decide to call you to see whatsup. So I call your phone, and a girl answers the phone. So I’m all caught off guard like, can I speak to Greg, and she’s like, there’s no Greg here. So I’m like, my bad, bye. But then I’m thinking, whoa, that’s really strange, cause I know I called the right number. So then I call again, and you answer. Isn’t that weird?”

“Yea man. That is, but there’s no one but me and Jeff here.” He answers calmly.

What? That doesn’t make sense. Listen carefully, does it sound like he’s lying? Is there someone else there? But his room is as quiet as a tomb, save for his even breathing on the other side of the phone.

“But isn’t that strange? Like, I was totally wierded out, what could have possibly happened?”

“I dunno, blame T-mobile or Sprint, cause I didn’t have anything to do with it.”

“But don’t you think that’s strange? Like, I know you can miss-dial a phone, but that was straight from my phonebook. And then it was strange cause I was calling your phone, so I was expecting to hear your voice, and when I didn’t, it caught me off guard…” I launched into a long explanation of why it was so weird, trying to come at him and the situation at different angles, hoping I’d catch him off guard and happen upon a more plausible explanation for why a white girl answered his phone at one o’clock in the morning.

“I don’t know man, I’d like to take credit for that, cause it’s right up my alley, but nope. Blame modern technology.” He seemed unmoved and disinterested in the topic at best. There was nothing in his responses that convinced me of his guilt or innocence, so it appeared that the conversation was going to end in a hung jury. He attempted to transition the conversation to other topics.

“Well I’m gonna go to sleep,” I began.

“What? I’m all riled up for conversation, and you’re just gonna leave me hanging?”

“I don’t know, I’m all weirded out, that situation really wore me out, I don’t feel much like talking…”

“Listen, don’t blame me for this. It was just a weird cellular malfunction,” his voice sounded earnest and stern.

I dunno, I kinda believe him. But still, that’s just too strange to be an accident. But still, you are always jumping to conclusions, and you know how that drives him nuts. Plus, I do miss the sound of his voice… We chatted on for about another thirty minutes before he said he was sleepy. Is he really sleepy, or is he just trying to get off the phone because he can’t maintain this charade any longer? Is she in the bed next to him complaining?

“Okay, well, I’ll talk to you later, bye.”

I was exhausted. My body was physically tired from all the worrying I had done for the past hour. It truly felt as though I had had a miniature panic attack. Okay, breathe. Call Lisa.

“Hey,” She answered the phone.

“Hey.”

“Whatsup?” I gave my best to calmly relay the story. I also included the gory details of miniature panic attack.

“You love him.” I could hear her smiling at the other end of the phone. I opened my mouth to protest, but I was too tired to form my lips around an idea for a rebuttal. And I’ve been crazy ever since.

I can’t love him. I can’t fathom myself in an unrequited love situation, and I don’t think he loves me. And if he does, he’s even more reluctant to admit to it than I am. I can’t love him. It’s an inconvenience to my life. It drives me nuts; I feel so out of control. I feel like my sane logical portion of my brain is sitting back helpless as my crazy half runs rabid all over my conscious, a Tasmanian devil reeking havoc through all my thoughts. I’m a mess. He’s everywhere, in everything, I sit around thinking about him raising our kids; being on a honeymoon, making love and being happy. And I just wait for my phone to ring, but of course it’s fallen so silent I wonder if it even works anymore. I’m a mess, and I just want a conclusion. Is there someone else? Should I take that L train into the sunset, with Gilbert O’Sullivan serenading my single status? My stomach’s in knots, I want to cry, and going to sleep doesn’t even feel right unless I have a miserable playlist to match my equally miserable mood.

I haven’t heard his voice in four days. You’d think he’d at least call. He shouldn’t even want me, because I’m crazy. And who wants to put up with that? I’m paranoid, dramatic, I jump to conclusions all the time, insecure, and worst of all, have a nasty jealous little habit. Take for instance this little beauty I found on his facebook page:

********************************************************* Gregie, Congratulations on all of your many achievements. I am very proud of you and I look forward to sharing in your success and happiness in the future. Stay blessed and I look forward to our "time" this coming week. Hugs & Kisses, Danielle**********************************************************

Do I even have to explain why this passage gives me gas? Some key phrases: "Gregie.” “Sharing in your success and happiness in the future”. “I look forward to our ‘time’”. “Hugs and Kisses.” I feel sick. I feel so sick, I think I might die. No really, I want to swear off men for the rest of my life. This is inhumane, how I feel. I rather feel lonely than unrequited affection (I’m still not ready to own up to the love thing, let alone it being unrequited). At least lonely is familiar. At least with lonely I can hope. But there’s no hope in unrequited love, and what little hope I have is overpowered by a looming sense of stupidity. Like, am I stupid enough to sit and hope he comes around? I don’t want to be one of those women where everyone knows the truth but them; sitting around bartering with a man I don’t love for a wedding ring (I won’t say any names, but true story…).

And then I try to convince my self that I am infatuated with a mirage of a man that doesn’t exist. And that I like him because it’s safe to like him; he’s far away so there’s no interaction, no responsibility, and no possibility for a real relationship. Because I mean, he’s not really that cute. And, God, can he work my nerves some days. And he’s really not funny either.

But at the same time, that line of reasoning has the same effect of putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg…

So I continue to pray that God resolve the situation, allowing myself to emerge from the situation as sane as possible. That he may expedite any lesson he is trying to teach me, or situation he is trying to create. That he may make me leal and strong, ever bold to battle wrong, and all the other shit I need to help me sleep through the night, and the day…

Because despite of all this, I remain admittedly foolishly optimistic…

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