musing on relationships (im kind of an asshole)
"The Only Thing" by Ali Holder
January 4, 2020 Monday 10:50 PM
No offense to my parents, but I am counting down the hours until I get to go back to my apartment. It actually got pulled forward a day because my mom didn't want me to have to drive to Boston and then Providence all in one day (I'm going to pick up Maria at the airport). So I am now leaving on Wednesday. Yaaay! I am tired of being unproductive and cooped up in this house. Wearing a bunch of pajamas. Staring at my own face in the mirror. It's all around a bad time.
Yeah, I am just. Not cool with myself physically. The mirror in front of the toilet leads to my, you know... seeing myself. I am happier when I don't see myself so much. I got annoyed and cut some of my hair at the front in a cowardly imitation of bangs. I can't tell if it looks good or bad, but at least it looks different.
Isaac wrote me a love letter. Probably one of the loveliest things I've read. I had to admire the construction of it too—almost like a short story. And I also admired his handwriting, which was messy but very intelligible (my own is both messy AND unintelligible). I wanted to copy it here but then I realized that that would maybe be a breach of privacy, so I won't. I wish I could, I really do admire its writing.
I can't tell if it made me feel good or not. It made me tear up a little, mostly because for the first time, I sort of got his perspective on the "relationship" we had 4 years ago. It makes me a little sad to know that, these same moments he treasures are the ones I recall with a sense of nausea. Like our stupid kiss. I remember he scrunched his lips up hard and, because I didn't know how to communicate, I wasn't able to advise him on a better technique. Instead, I felt sort of... revolted and vulnerable. So when he tried to kiss me again, I said no. Which I now realize is an avoidant and dismissive reaction, one which I am very familiar with now; but it was much more intense back then. Luckily, in 2018 I trained myself to kiss random people and it got way better, haha. I mean, the physical aversion, that is. The emotional aversion is still very much alive. It's harder to exercise that part.
Anyway, he remembers all these things with fondness and I remember it as a sort of... Not exactly a regret, but not exactly something I cherish either. But it was nice to read that he enjoyed those things. Apparently so much that he still carries a torch for me.
We haven't talked about the letter yet, mostly because I don't know whether to talk about it at all? In the letter, he said he'd rather be friends than strangers even though ultimately he wanted something romantic (I was comforted by my own unequivocal mental reaction of "no"—leaves no room for interpretation; I did let myself consider the idea, but even if I wanted to, it is logistically improbable..).
It made me think—do I even want to be friends with Isaac? I've had this question before. Because when we first reconnected, I really did want to be friends with him, and I continue to appreciate his letters and his art. But in real time, I have difficulty talking to him sometimes. We don't find the same things funny and I always feel like I'm... pretending. So I did wonder, how he could love me (or at least be this invested in me) if he didn't even really know me, which he doesn't.
Isaac practically admitted it himself in writing when he wrote that I was one of the first people to show him physical kindness (or whatever he said) in a long time. I think that's kind of the long and short of it. I was his first love and I think he idealizes me for that. He wants to fix his mistakes, fix the fantasy of our past relationship by re-living it now but doing it "right." But he doesn't know what I like to do as a hobby. Or what I'm insecure about. Or what it looks like when I get depressed or anxious. How I react to conflict. What it looks like when I'm all pimply and shitty, versus when I get dressed up just to go to a thrift store (last time, Nadiya said I looked like a "cool French girl," lol). What sorts of dumb things I say when I'm drunk, what I cook, what sort of mindsets I get into when I'm focused or when I'm bored and whiny, how I accidentally let my herbs and vegetables rot in the fridge and forget to vacuum (despite my room being probably the neatest in the house—it's either mine or Matt's. I make the bed everyday).
Friends know that stuff about me. There are still some walls I will have up, but I feel like a lot of this is the minimum, and a lot of it is lost on Isaac. A lot of it has to do with our current forced social position—which is to say, we can't really hang out physically so there's no way he can know what I am like when I'm not catering to his needs and am instead just tolerating his passive presence. But on the other hand, even in active speech, there are a lot of things I can't share with him because we just aren't friends like that. Like I said, different senses of humor. And I also like to have discussions with people and we don't really have those (I spoke with Maria on the phone for straight up 3 hours the other night, by ACCIDENT. I meant to talk to her for like 10 minutes. 1 of those hours was spent in my bathroom—I sent her a picture of a crossword I found in our bathroom—from the New Yorker—and we were doing it together lololol. I can't BELIEVE how long we spent on that. And we also chatted about photography. I was way too excited to talk to her, which means I feel like I trampled her a lot verbally D: I really want to get better about that. We also talked about anime and stuff. Idk. We just have a lot in common and I don't feel that same rapport with Isaac).
I don't know whether to actually discuss this with him? When I first read the letter, I was touched for about 10 minutes before Normal Veronica Callousness kicked in. My first instinct was, "Huh. Guess we won't talk about this," because I had nothing to say. But then I realized that that sort of reaction is probably coming more from my avoidance. And it's neglecting to acknowledge that Isaac might need a more overt rejection to get over it.
But I suspect a rejection won't be enough. I mean, I've rejected him tons of times. Which makes me wonder if I should actually have a talk with him about how this feeling he has towards me might be based in something that actually has, like. Nothing to do with me. But then I don't know if that's my business or not—if it's my place to meddle. Then again, I don't think he will figure it out himself, at least not soon.
Another thing it made me think about—is, like. What am I getting out of this friendship? Sometimes I think I'm using it as an ego boost, like. It makes me feel good or something, to know I'm one of the few people who was willing to put the effort into maintaining a friendship with him. And because of that I feel generous and also superior to him. Bestowing him with my emotional wisdom and the grace of my presence. Meanwhile, I complain about how I feel like our conversations are one-sided.
And I know I want to avoid realizing that it is, in fact, an ego boost. Because if I realize that, I have to decide whether to end or continue the friendship.
If I end the friendship, then it's another notch on the wall in what is looking suspiciously like a pattern—trail of discarded relationships, people I liked and then abandoned. Adrian, Isaac, Goose. That's luckily not as many as I thought there would be. And there were some casual relationships, like that guy from around here (I did him dirty, he drove 3 hours to see me and I treated him like shit and made him leave about 12 hours after he arrived), Iban, and also that guy I sort of almost dated last winter (plus Trip, but I didn't really "abandon" him. Our... whatever we had... was too intense for me lol and I was like "bye"; I don't think he particularly cared. I still think about him all the time because he was really hot; also I like anime now, so we might've bonded more).
But in all of these relationships, I experienced a period in which I realized I was no longer interested in them (Adrian is probably an exception, because I really did enjoy being his friend; I really only ended our friendship because it was too volatile, not because I didn't care about him... Wait, Gus is also an exception. I also felt our friendship was weird and unhealthy; I didn't address the problems in either relationship in the ideal way, though...). And then I let the relationship continue for no discernible reason except to be... nice? And hope that feeling of disinterest would go away?
Every time they expressed that they liked me or enjoyed my presence somehow, I felt sort of guilty because I couldn't genuinely return the sentiment. Being around them took energy for me.
So... what, then? I have come to the conclusion that it is hard to avoid at *some* point getting into friendships/relationships with people that you don't quite vibe with—because how will you know unless you try? But I don't know what to do to end that sort of cycle as early and painlessly as possible.
What would one do??????? In a relationship context, it's almost easier. Because you can say, "This was fun, but I don't think I'm interested in having a relationship right now/with you," or however softly you'd like to put it. And it's fine, it's understood. But with friendship? I dunno. It's difficult to be like, "I don't think this friendship is working out," lol. And I already feel like an asshole, because I've felt this disinterest for awhile now. I want to blame Isaac, but I don't think it's really his fault.
I think I do like talking to Isaac, but I didn't intend for us to be the kind of friends who talk twice a month. I really only made that concession because I felt bad, I knew it bothered Isaac when I didn't talk to him often enough. But really, I have a lot of friends with which I only speak through snail-mail timed texts and the occasional phone call.
I just.. want to avoid having an awkward conversation where I say I don't want to be friends. What if he knows I've been thinking about this and then has trust issues? What if it was a temporary feeling and I regret it??? Etc. I am too blind to consider whether these questions are just selfish avoidance again.
For now, I think I will continue my distant-is-best policy. Maybe will try to distance myself even more, to see if I feel more comfortable with our friendship being more of a monthly thing. It might be better for me to communicate this explicitly, though, because Isaac gets paranoid and bothered when he feels me pulling away. I hate actually communicating... but okay, fine.
I also still haven't figured out if we should talk abt the whole love letter thing, lol. Do I want to talk about it because that *seems* like the healthier thing to do? Ugh. Idk. Okay. Maybe I don't have to get him to, you know, analyze his feelings more deeply (although I KNOW, I just KNOW that if Isaac tries to say something like "ok well if you change ur mind" I will just about explode with an, "BOY MOVE ON YOU DON'T LIKE ME LIKE THAT" and it will be. Disastrous. Me sounding all confident and authoritative while I speak, knowing full well I am 21 years old and have no idea what the fuck I am talking about at any given moment). Maybe I just have to say, "Hey, I'm not interested in you that way. Let's stay friends."
I am content with the conclusions I've drawn today, I guess...
Mood's been okay. I was super anxious yesterday, but I'm fine today. I found out Stephanie's family moved away and it made me feel weird. Not... unhappy, but something. Like, I guess it made me feel sad. There is no narrative wholeness, you know? No knowing what she is doing, no knowing the truth, no forgiveness or explosive blowout. Just quietly moving away and the story is over and I don't need to think of it every time I walk by her house and check to see if there's a red car in the driveway.
I don't know what I want from this, lol. I told my psychiatrist about the whole incident recently, because apparently she didn't know why I had problems with my family. And of course the whole Stephanie thing was only part of it, a more dramatic and external representation of what had been bothering me for years (familial stuff). But yeah, I told her. Eh. Whatever. At this point, it's just a memory. If it still has an effect on me, it's not like I'd be able to trace it back. Even if I could, it wouldn't solve anything. Only replacing the bad memory with good ones will "fix" it. So. Who cares? (Do I miss her or do I miss missing her or do I just want the drama of it all? Does it bother me, that what felt so big in my head is unspoken out loud? No arrests or anything—not that I wanted that—no neighborhood scandal, just a therapy session and a conversation in the car at a gas station and the feeling I get every time I walk past the house on the way to the cemetery. Like I said, no narrative wholeness. Is that what I feel is missing? And do I miss her? All I can remember when I ask that question is her helping me move into my college dorm and laughing at the pink tennis skirt I bought, which, because she laughed, I decided never to wear. That's a good memory. There are a lot of good memories. I do wish none of this happened, but like I said, it doesn't matter. Okay. I will put a cap on this now. No benefit in lingering in this space).
I've been playing sooo much Stardew Valley. I'm really excited to go back to the apartment. I have plans to masturbate on the one day I will be alone there. Too bad I finally got my fucking period, after like 40 days, so the vibrator/dildo thing might be out of the question lol.... but still, I was thinking I could just lay down a dark towel. That might be fine. Shit, I forgot to wash and hang my quilt before I left... Anyway yeah, planning the masturbation thing, just because masturbating for me is generally a fervent thing since people are usually in the house and the walls are thin. Same vibe here. Plus I have these deep fear that my phone will connect to the apple TV at my parent's house hahahaha. I don't watch porn, generally, but when I do, that is. Most of it is trash, as you likely know. It'll be nice to masturbate alone in the house and feel less paranoid about whether the vibrating of my dildo is discernible form the hall, or if the little groan I made was, like, super audible.
I'm also looking forward to the drive. And to picking up Maria :D we can play Mario Kart again!
Ugh, overall I just feel sort of nice and okay. Gonna go play more Stardew Valley and play Supermega's podcast on Spotify. I sort of wish I was still working on my short story... I'm being really unproductive. I don't have an excuse. I promise to play 2 days of Stardew Valley and then take a look at the story. All right. C ya.
Try a new drinks recipe site