Friday, October 22, 2010

Teenage Caveman

"Teenage Cave man, rock with skin and bone,
It's the cry of the wild, we cry alone, we cry alone..."
                                                         -Beat Happening

I don't show my pain. I might discuss it, once the worst of it has passed, but I don't seek comfort. I don't plead, I don't shed tears for any one to see. Occasionally, those close to me have seen a breakdown, if it gets to be too much. But mostly, the first wave of grief, guilt, or any kind of hurt is dealt with by myself. Some accept this, some do not. I have learned, through friends, counseling, and the advice of those older and wiser than I am, not to fight this tendency. I have learned that what really matters is how I deal with my hurt, alone. Sure, there's the great possibility that I mismanage my pain, and I've certainly passed through that. But lately, I have learned that if I face my feelings, and let the initial storm pass, I am in a much better position to deal with my emotions rationally, reasonably, and not let them consume me.
This is a coping mechanism that is utterly at odds with classic co-dependence. It makes me stronger, it makes me calmer, it makes me healthier. But a person who wishes more for you to need them than they do for you to be happy, is not likely to be understanding of this. The assumption made is that you are not hurting, have not hurt at all. Never mind the tears shed in private. It's astounding to me that a person could want to see a loved one suffer, that it could be viewed as a kind of testament. Objectively, of course, I understand the logic that leads to this, but I would never wish to see my sister or mother or niece cry for me, would never expect a beak down to prove their love or repentance. To me, the best resolutions to any conflict come calmly. Is this not the ultimate goal? Is this not synonymous with maturity? I've never understood how any amount of hurt could lead to a demand for proof. But I suspect it comes from being unaware of the consequences of one's actions. Often, I am capable enough of recognizing when what I have done has caused pain to another. Rarely do I require seeing this person exhibiting their hurt feelings for me to understand. And often enough, if it does require a broadcast, it's as simple as "You shouldn't have done that". I don't need the proof of tears or shouting. Is that the difference? are there those among us who are unaware of the pain they cause, unless they are MADE aware? Is that why a quiet suffering rings false to them? My privateness regarding my emotions has led me to be accused of being a sociopath, by the exact type of person I am here describing. To me, this rings a bit over-dramatic. I won't be so trite as to suggest that maybe the person throwing the insult is the real sociopath, but the irony is not lost on me.
     Another result of this kind of thinking is a complete lack of serenity. When a person demands fire and havoc in their loved ones, feeds off of it, it should come as no surprise when they themselves are capable of a whirlwind of anger. Every perceived slight, whether driven by their own actions or not, is met with an explosion of anger. Consequences are not considered. The persons sense of entitlement has been violated, and the flood gates open to every negative, hurtful emotion available. Nothing is off limits, and words are said which cannot be taken back. All of this, regardless of target, regardless of audience.
     And when the dust settles, all I am left with is a sense of betrayal. Which is surprising. But something I'd taken for granted was a deep well of respect and appreciation. The truth of the matter seems we had not been two people whose orbits matched and enjoyed each others company. We had something else, and it was based not on a connection to each other, but a responsibility to each other. To me, one definition of love is this: We see the world as a better place for having our loved ones it. It warms us and gives us faith. Regardless of where our relationships lead, we take solace in the knowledge that life can create such people, even after they or we have moved on. I want to hold on to this belief, I want to know that life is good for having given me my grandmothers, both passed; not cruel for having taken them. I want to know that I, and my former partners are better for the time we shared, no calloused from our separations.
     All that I poured in to this relationship was not for a mythic abstraction of 'us', but for the one I gave to. Dazzled and charmed and blessed by this presence in my life, I was comforted that even should it all end, a world that gives me such a partnership can not be all bad. I feel the same way about friends with whom I've lost touch, this is not an exclusively romantic view of love. Should I think on these partnerships more rigidly? Because now, I've been met with one who believes, deep down, that a contract has been broken, and all of its terms voided. there can be no lingering comfort, no looking back and smiling. And that, I think, is the central hurt. That is the tragedy. The waste. My stored up hope that in some way we bettered each others lives, permanently, immutably. This hope was for nothing. I reserve a chamber inside me for continued admiration, respect, and a kind of distant quiet friendship. I want to be glad this person walks the earth, I want them to be glad I do. As hurt, sad and angry as I may be, each day I recognize I get farther from the pain, and it is up to me what I am left with: do I heal, or do I scar? To heal, I think is owed. Is fair. Allowing myself to scar, doing so that not a further slap in the face to all that was good? Do we not owe it to the good times, to ourselves, and to what we once held dear to look back, remember and smile? Or is the virtue in the opposite- Do we gain more, respect ourselves more, by never yielding up the sense of loss?

1 comment:

  1. Thank you. This post really got me thinking, especially about the bitterness I still carry around with me (though I have been trying to shed it) concerning one of my past relationships. I don't want to feel angry and bitter--I want to be able to feel happy about the good times that obviously existed within that relationship. At the same time, I want to acknowledge the hurt and pain caused and learn from it so I don't suffer those same hurts and pains again. How do I do all this with some sense of balance? It's an interesting conundrum. This is what your post made me think about.