Twisting the knife


Some people love to do it. Perhaps it’s a visceral pleasure, a sadistic thrill, I don’t know. I’ve always been the person who needs to understand the why. If I can explain it then I can get over it. I can put it in its little box and move on.

But what happens when the other person won’t or can’t explain. When the person you have come to depend on has a change of heart. But rather than fully explaining it, talking about it just stops.

Stops, that is, until they decide to tell you they miss their friend. Words which should be comforting serve more to eviscerate you. Just as you are starting to get your groove back, find your footing, recover from the emotional upheaval those four little words pop up in the chat box you have become accustomed to ignoring. “I miss my friend.”

And in an instant all of those feelings return. And you are right back where you started except this time the wound is deeper, wider and you can’t breath all over again.

A part of you wants to be angry, to scream at the person, “How dare you?” And the other part of you, the part which was reinvigorated by the relationship wants nothing more than to fall into that person’s arms and forgive it all. To be their friend again, to rejoice in the happiness you once had.

But you know, deep down inside, that small, rational voice tells you NO. Danger lies that way. So you wrestle with the decision and this twists the knife even more. All in all, I think I would have preferred to have been actually stabbed. Something tells me the pain would be easier to endure. And vastly easier to heal. At least that way you would have a cool scar to show for your anguish. When it happens mentally, you have nothing to show for it but pain.

Maybe the airlines are right


I am a professional traveler, just recently passed the 2 million mile mark. I’m that person who ignores the flight attendants when they give their pre-flight spiel. I’ve heard it thousands of time, could probably recite it if called upon.

But today, while sitting in my car having a conversation I knew was coming, the words of all of the flight attendants over the years echoed in my head: If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.

The words resonated so clearly because, even as the person on the other end of the phone was ripping my heart out, I was looking for a way to make it easier for them to deal with the loss. I asked, “What do you need from me?”

It was an eye opening moment. I have never been that person. I’ve always been the person who walks away. You don’t want to be here, in this moment with me, fine. You go do you; I’m going to take care of me. It’s served me well for 40 odd years. Oh I’ve had my heart broken, we all have, but I’ve never stood there as it was breaking and said, “Please may I have another.”

Some will say perhaps I have never truly loved (not the case) or perhaps I am just selfish (I have my moments). But I think it’s something deeper. In the past few months, since my dad passed away, I have spent so much time taking care of others I forgot to take care of me. Quite simply, I forgot to put on my mask.

I’m feeling it more of late. These odd moments of melancholy or irrational anger that appear and then dissipate just as quickly. There is a strong desire to be around people and then once I am surrounded, I can’t get away quickly enough.

There are only two people I am currently talking to regularly. I’ve told these two people everything, have shared those moments of irreparable grief. There is an intimacy in this type of sharing which is palpable. It creates a connection which is hard to sever; an almost dependency.

And today, one of those two people told me they couldn’t do this anymore. They can’t be there for me, but not to worry, it’s just for a while. They need to press pause. But, hey, give it a few months and maybe we can resume, pick up where we left off.

And I agreed. As I sat in my car, gasping for air, looking for the mask that never deployed, I asked that stupid, fucking question. “What do you need from me?”

Well I’ve changed my mind. I won’t be there in a couple of months, or next week or even tomorrow. Instead, I will be over here, sucking oxygen from that mask I forgot to put on, getting on with my life.

And, in a few months, I won’t need you and, more importantly, I won’t want you. A little piece of me might always care but I suspect getting over oxygen deprivation will fix that. Of course, I have no idea how I will do it. But I’m going to start with some air and then I’m going to stop taking care of everyone else and take care of me.