I had a dream that she was telling me off. Then telling me off some more. Securing the last word, yet again.
Then the scenery changed to a selfie-video of her outside a generic diner, with flat, open land all around, pleasantly yellowed grass, a few brush-fuzzed mountains far off. It was airy, the sunshine mellow enough to keep the picture clear. Her husband was talking on his phone in the parking lot behind her. Her son self-entertaining with some imaginary play he was putting on, chatting to himself, intent and animated.
It felt like old times again, until a leaden cast blanketed the scene in black and white. This was her saying, See how good we’re doing, without you?
She was inserting herself into my dreamscape, showing me the new beginning I hadn’t given her a chance to share. Fresh surroundings, big contract, cross-country move — it had all come together for her just as our relationship broke apart.
For an immeasurable amount of time before waking, I watched and witnessed what felt like a real attempt to connect with me again. Taking in the entirety of the scene in that suspended state, one all-encompassing thought-feeling presided: Good for them.
And then it soured. I felt like I should be bitter, jealous, resentful.
How dare she rub it in my face and be happy without me?!
I lurched out of bed and catapulted into action — Should I tap on this? Focus Wheel? Feelings practice? — clicking into processing mode, because starting the day coming off of a dream like that could shoot my productivity to shit. I had to meet this mindfuck head-on.
Has she made new friends already? — I hope she has an impossible time fitting in. Is the job all it’s cracked up to be? — I hope it blows. Did she see that Lewis Howes broke up with his girlfriend and wiped her and her puffball dog from Insta existence? I need to lose a shit-ton of weight so the next time she stalks me online I look fucking fabulous and she feels like a piece of shit. Gawd, the Deep South. Of all the places to move, that would be my last choice — I hope it sucks and she’s miserable there. [This is me being petty. Ugh.]
Damnit. Now she was everywhere in my mind.
And here, just the day before, I’d been thinking how much less hunted I felt without her in my life. My secrets could remain kept without her prying them from my heart space. I didn’t have to make up some story when she was wondering why my Instagram posts weren’t showing up. It wasn’t awkward anymore that I’d blocked her. At this stage, it was par for the course.
I hadn’t been falling into the yucky trap of mentally sifting through her shortcomings, or thinking about her at all really, and if I did — fleeting glimpses, here and gone. The charge was neutralizing. I had come to accept that she was someone who used to be in my life, and wasn’t anymore. She was officially an ex-friend.
Why was she coming to me now?
I gazed at myself in the mirror as I brushed my teeth, deciding to give myself a little extra care today. I pressed the stress out of my forehead with a rose quartz roller and massaged in a Vitamin C serum, fingers circling my full cheeks, catching on skin tags that had formed on my neck this past year like useless brail.
The uncoupling, blocking, unfollowing and severing of ties is complete. It’s over.
But there was more to it than that. We were still connected. Of course, I hadn’t considered that she would come to me in my dreams. Launch psychological warfare. Ambush me with a psychic attack. It was more than paranoia, I could feel her in my field.
I can put nothing past her. I can never let her in again.
I had protection and was armed with practices to forgive and cut all energetic ties. I had to remember my power.
I forgive you, and I forgive myself. I stand on my own two feet.
I settled in with a steaming cup of decaf and started writing, because nothing else could clear this thing boiling up. A page and a half in, it dawned.
Her birthday just passed.
Months ago, I’d erased the date from my master list and let the relief wash over me — one less card to write, gift to buy, obligation to fulfill. I had totally forgotten. Now, it hit me, and I felt inexplicably sad for her. A sinking feeling crawled into my lungs and sat. As someone who surrounded herself with people, she was so, very alone.
I felt guilty, because I didn’t want to be a part of her loneliness anymore. I didn’t want to soften her pain or celebrate her wins. I didn’t want to be there, on the other end of the phone, when the world was crashing down, or she got momentarily excited to only be let down again by the reality of her life. I didn’t want to go out of my way for her, when she would never show up for me in the way I truly desired. I didn’t want to share any of myself with her, ever again, so she could then turn around and use it against me.
I wanted to cleanse myself of her judgment, resentment and expectations, and live the delightfully selfish life I’d intentionally created. I wanted to let go of the person I was with her, that talked negative, engaged in gossip, allowed her to belittle me and let my self-discipline slide. When she was in my life, I was overweight, self-doubting, stuck and needy.
The closer I was to her, the farther I was from myself.
I changed myself for her to like me better.
What a mistake.
Why did I ever pour so much energy into a relationship that always left me lacking?
Here I was, over it then in it again. Worried, fretting, blame-y and down. What bullshit.
It was such a beautiful day. A gang of birds took turns bumping each other off the madly swaying feeder out the front window. A squirrel ran up one of the skinny arms of the ocotillo only to find its weight wouldn’t hold, flopping into the bed of wild cactus below like a kid jumping off a diving board, caught off guard midair. I had every window open, air sifting through the screens. Breathtaking views everywhere I looked.
It seemed unfair, that on a day this perfect, I was consumed by her.
But that was how it went, wasn’t it?
You get over something, just a little, and it bubbles back up. You forget, and something triggers a remembering. It’s not so cut and dry, letting go, moving on and coming back to yourself after shit goes bad. Everyone involved can be ugly, sad, angry and unclear as the truth takes its time to rise to the surface and grace begins to take hold.
I was tired of this story, but my mind wasn’t past it. Weary in my heart, parts still clenching. Raw in places, lighter in others. Priming for new dreams, my own beginnings and full days that could be all-the-way beautiful.