Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Ex-Files

Yesterday, i was sitting with a friend over dinner. He insisted that there was 'something wrong' ("I can see it in your face.. come on, open up, let it out...")and wanted me to talk about it. Since i didn't have something terribly topical to discuss, i made some stuff up about a friend of mine who has been acting totally strangely around me.

Anyway, the discussion boiled down to why this person was bothering me so much and i said, "When it comes to guys, there are just two categories in my life - lovers or friends. Now they can be a bit of both, but one of the categories is always more predominant." So this friend of mine said, 'There's a category called 'ex-lovers.' They never become friends and they aren't lovers."

And while it does seem like common sense, this particular insight hit me like a lightning bolt. Of course! So many things can be explained now. The ridiculously abrupt conversations, the taken-for-granted-ness, the freedom to be a jerk without provocation...

But then i sat down to analyse this particular category of people, and the hold they have on our lives. I mean, who are they, really? They're people with whom at some point or the other you shared certain intimacies with. He was the guy you could hold hands with, reach across for a cuddle, expect to come with you to the airport in the wee hours of the morning, expect to be concerned about your world and everything within it. It was a relationship way greater than friendship. And you seriously expected to revert to 'friendship' with him and not expect it to hurt one or the both of you??? Thinking about it, it's so obviously silly.

But now what? You have gone through several years of your life collecting these "ex's" - people who enthralled you at some point, but people you let go off (or vice-versa) for reasons that at the time were perfectly sensible. But you cared about them deeply, and insisted on having them in your life, because of all the value they added to it. Now, several years later, you look back at this train of people who're populating your life, wondering "uh.. what are you doing here again?"

An ex-boyfriend called me the other day. He wanted to have "coffee and/or lunch" sometime. I'm not really surprised to hear from him or even the invitation. He always issues summons such as this every few years. I always say yes. What will surprise me is if he ever follows through and actually does meet me and discover that we truly have nothing left in common. Knowing him, that's probably why we shall never meet - we love our fairy tales.

Maybe that's why we hold onto our past loves. They remind us of a miraculous bond we shared with someone else, a bond that's becoming harder and harder to share the older we become. More importantly, they remind us of who we were all those years ago - enthralling, mysterious, totally captivating and absolutely perfect - for those few months for that one person. And ultimately, they give us hope that we still have what it takes to be enthralling, captivating and absolutely perfect for someone else too.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Analyse This and That and Those and Them

Does anyone remember the Oracle in The Matrix? She tells Neo that he is NOT the one, and then Morpheus tells him (and all of us) that what the Oracle said was for him, and him alone. It's all very confusing, until we see how cannily that Oracle had fixed it - "Would you still have broken the vase if i hadn't said anything?" This kind of mind-manipulation is what therapy is about. It doesn't matter what the facts of the case are - it's what you believe is the truth that needs to be battled, not the real demons but the imagined ones.

No, i'm not a shrink, nor seeing one. But a few days ago, i did seriously consider finding me an empathetic stranger whom i could spill my guts to. I was willing to do the whole "lie on the couch and tell me why you hate your mother" routine, if i could be guaranteed the answer to everything and everything (no, it's not 42) about my world and why i feel i'm messed up. I ultimately didn't find the shrink, but i did find a friend who gave me an assignment:

Question: "Write a letter to your father which you will never mail."

Dear B,
I wish i knew you. I wish you knew me. I wish that when we talked, i felt that you were family, and not just some stranger on the other end of the line that i'm paying lip-service to. I wish i could talk to you about the boys in my life, and be able to trust what you say because you have lived an honorable life. I wish you were the person i would consider calling if i was in trouble, and not scroll down my phone list to find a friend. I wish i could believe in you and not always feel that our interactions are a negotiation of truth. I wish i could explain the feeling of loss i felt when you walked out of my life with a "see you later". I wish i could explain the betrayal i felt when you blamed me for choosing my mother, and thus 'becoming' my mother. I wish i belonged somewhere, to someone, to something solid, enduring, and not be the footloose nomad who was a child of the world. I wish i felt unadulterated joy when i knew that "dad" was coming to visit. I wish i didn't feel indifferent to you.

"Write a letter to your mother which she will never read."

Dear M,
I wish you would let me go. Not make me the receptacle of your joys and sorrows, not make me feel like the one who has to make up for all the wrongs done to you by your mother, your brother, your husbands, your son, your friends, etc. I don't want to be the de-facto peace keeper of the family, i don't want to be the soothing voice of reason when all about me are losing their heads, i don't want to be made to feel guilty for not calling 'because you know i'll worry' (don't worry.) or not spending enough time with you when you visit (nothing is enough). I wish you wouldn't be so verbal about all your stresses because I tend to absorb your anguish, and it pisses me off that you couldn't find someone your own age to do this with. I wish between you and B, both of you could have taught me the basics of having a normal relationship, instead of haranguing me with "what's happening with your love life?" I wish i didn't have to bear the cross of the 'one good thing' in your life, paraded in front of all. I wish i didn't have to be your knight in shining armour.

Etc etc.

Now for the facts of the case:

A long time ago i had written something down in this very blog. At that time, it was about getting over a heartbreak, but the underlying emotion is the same. I have a choice - either blame my parents for everything wrong with me or accept that they're regular people just doing the best they can. The former leads me to a painful shut down of systems, wailing about the injustice of it all, while the latter leads me to the recognition of my parents as people and taking responsibility for how i let them affect me... in short, it leads me to adulthood.

Growing up is overrated.

Monday, September 1, 2008

careful what you wish for...

I wished that someone would come out and ask me to play. Someone did.
I wished that it would be before i forgot how to say yes. It was.
I wished that i was the kind of person that people could hurt. I am.

I'll stick with my ball of light, within my fortress walls. Thanks.