Updated: Aug 8, 2022
I hadn’t taken into account how wrong I would feel.
For all the things I said, or didn’t.
I didn’t feel guilty for the things she wanted me to feel bad about, it was more like a pang from my own awareness telling me where my kindness and integrity had lagged. The opportunities I had to hold my tongue that I let slip, too much.
From the beginning, I never set boundaries, so when I started taking space, communicating a need for distance and respectful divides, independence, it shook the dynamic. Power shifted. She hated that.
I realized I had wrapped myself into something where I was the submissive, accommodating one. I had woven myself into a doormat. Looking to her for a power and knowledge of life I possessed within myself, and had forgotten.
What rose up most in the aftermath of our friend split, the persistent weed that needed practically nothing to grow and wound itself into every crack of remembering, was the guilt. It came up again and again, the all-encompassing feeling of being wrong in every way.
Wrong if I’d stayed. Wrong for leaving. Wrong for pursuing something again that was doomed to head in the same direction it had the first time.
Naive? Hopeful? — how had I convinced myself that it would be different “this time?"
Oh yeah, that’s right.
GUILT. And more fucking guilt.
I felt guilty for her pain. I felt bad that she felt bad and I wanted her to know my intentions had always been good. I wanted her to understand where I was coming from.
But like so many aspects of our relationship, even when I said things straight and plain, she was unable to truly hear them. She put up this great, big egotistical wall where she convinced herself that she knew exactly what was happening in every situation — what people were thinking, feeling . . . why they did what they did. It blocked her from seeing through to the other side of anyone’s experience other than her own. Like all of us, she was only able to understand through the lens of her own limited perspective. If the story she’d crafted differed from my truth, she chose her version, every time.
I was starting to forgive myself for how frequently it came up for me, this analyzing of our past. Embracing my sensitivity to the point of knowing that there was no such thing as over-analyzing for someone like me. And the “all too dramatic” label that’d been dumped on me was just another one of many too’s I’d been relegated as a result of ignorance.
too emotional too sad too hyper too intense too shy too hard on yourself
It was no secret that I was a complete emotional rollercoaster that went deep to the point of obsessive. I read into energy and knew things about others that they couldn’t even see or admit in themselves, saw the strand of destiny marching on endlessly through smaller moves and plays, reaching out into the yet-to-be-realized, before it culminated. I often didn’t give myself credit for this fortunetelling, designating others’ intuitive abilities above mine, because well, it was them, so everybody other than me knew better, was better, smarter, wiser, with it, divine. It seems like such a strange way to think of oneself, as lesser — just seeing my own words sprawling it out shines a light on how not-sound that line of thinking is. But that underlying belief, that others knew better than me, because I was, well, me — had dictated so many of my actions, relationship dynamics and experiences.
When I stepped out of myself, I could see how much I’d hurt myself by looking to her as a savior. Ignored my own knowing, stifled my truth, curled up small and shriveled into a tiny, groveling version of myself that agreed with everything she said. And when I had my own opinion that differed from hers, it came across as bitchy because that wasn’t allowed. She had to be right and I allowed it.
The light rising up out of this long-term turmoil (that was 99% internal and only occurring on my side of the street) through the entirety of our relationship, was I finally had the courage to talk about it, write about it and the fear was finally lessening. But just like a death, I’ve ridden the waves of vastly contrasting tsunamis of emotion that embody grief — aching sadness, regret, anger, blame, guilt, hopelessness — and while I’m not versed in the particular stages of grief, I also find it impossible that any single person could go through it the same way. The emotions are too bundled up within each other, too confusing and mired to separate out into sections and stages.
Uncoupling is a fucking mess. Dear friend, lover, spouse — doesn’t matter. When you get close enough to another human to open your heart and trust, and then it ends, rips, breaks or falls apart . . . we all know that experience, right? Pain, hurt, anguish, crippling self-doubt, shame, GUILT — they pound the shit out of us until we can scrape the pancake of our former selves off the pavement and piece together our self-worth again. In the months following this friend breakup, I’ve felt like a mosaic, edgy pieces of glass placed together closely but not all the way together, scattered, the previous mass of parts rearranged in a new meaning I haven’t fully come to know. I have to step back and witness this new version of myself, that’s still integrating the depth and intensity of this relationship in my life — what I would do differently, what space I must hold from the beginning, who I want to be now and into the next.
A character in the book I’m reading claimed this mantra: Forgive everyone, everything.
I hung on the words and life suspended itself around me in a moment of freedom. Freedom from guilt, wrongness, shit feelings, turmoil, blame — Poof — the lump of muck in my throat hardened and wistfully shattered into particles of stardust. Everything purified by lightness and reset itself. That was IT. Nobody’s fault anymore, no one doing anything wrong, all washed away — water under the bridge, as they say.
Just a glimpse of that emotional freedom was enough to peel my shoulders back and expand my chest, breathe a little deeper and know, in my heart, that it was for the best.
Could I allow all the crap to simmer itself into remnants, gather up all the knowledge I’d gained about myself and the deliberation to maintain patience?
Could I speak compassion even in the most volatile of situations and act in integrity even in the most intimidating scenarios?
Could I come to know my confidence again, like never before, a rebirth of self-celebration that included both my mess-ups and my triumphs?
I think I could. I think I could choose to not feel guilty and wrong anymore. I could let it all go, and integrate the useful bits — the soul-evolutions that often catalyze in the most f-ed up, gnarly, poo-heap of happenstances.
Growth takes hold after the fall. Life springs from death. Cycles have to end to begin again, anew.
The great, big wall that made our misunderstanding of each other too great to bridge, had fallen in a massive crumble of emotional detritus. But I was crawling my way out of the rubble with a new fortification in mind. When I reached the top of the wreckage, a supple hill with clear views 360, I placed a hand upon my beating heart and caught the pulse of my spirit. Nestled in that space, like a glowing motherboard, was the blueprint to rebuild.