Haunted

“Come on don’t leave me like this. I thought I had you figured out. Can’t breathe whenever you’re gone. Can’t turn back. Now I’m haunted.” ~Taylor Swift

394245_315552211813007_315184498516445_1054979_1253620114_nWhy am I haunted by the ghosts of friends gone by? I know what my therapist would say. There was no closure. I never got the answers, the reasons why, and that bothers me to my very core. I am haunted by the ghosts of friends gone by because they decided I wasn’t worthy enough to get an answer, or a reason why. And that sucks.

I’ll admit right off the top that I’ve never felt adequate. I’ve never felt that I was worth time and effort from other human beings, and I have absolutely no idea where that came from. My mother gave me all kinds of attention and validation when I was a child, so it wasn’t that whole nurture thing. I’m thinking maybe it’s just in my nature, that it’s always been in my nature, some hidden part of my brain that is driving me in this direction.

And maybe it’s also the kinds of friends I’ve picked up along the way, now that I think about it. I tend to gravitate towards those people with big personalities, or the “misfits” who are deep and introspective. But those kinds of people aren’t the ones who keep in touch. They’re more interested in doing a plethora of things, and if I fit into their plans, great, but if I don’t then I won’t hear from them.

It’s uncanny how that happens too, because even when I think I’ve found someone who can be there for me when I need them they somehow disappear. And when they show up again it’s way too late, and then I carry around this disappointment like an anchor around my neck that colors how I treat them then. I hate that about me, but I don’t know how to fix it other than to get friends who are actually there for me when I need them, not when it’s convenient for them.

I understand being busy. I am busy as well. But I’ve always believed that people make time for the things and the people who are important to them. I make time for my friends, even if it’s a small piece of time wrapped around things I have to do, but it’s difficult to get my friends to take time out of their schedules for me. I have to admit that maybe I’m to blame for that. Maybe I’m just not special enough, not in that top tier of friends who warrant time being spent to just send a quick text, or a quick email… or anything.

So when the few and far between calls or texts are disappointing to me I try to rationalize them to keep from feeling like it’s me. I say that my friend must be busy, that they’ll get back to me when they can. And I wait. Then, after an interminable period of time (sometimes a week or more), they reemerge from wherever they’ve been with a text or a call that isn’t apologetic but picks up where they left off as if they weren’t gone.

I don’t know how to handle that, so I internalize my feelings, I withdraw from the friendship so that I’m not so torn apart when it inevitably ends. I get torn apart anyway because not once has someone told me before they disappear that they’re going to disappear and why they’re going to disappear. I have never gotten an explanation so my brain goes to dark places when yet another one leaves without a word, without a whisper, without anything to give me that closure I need.

It’s almost enough to make me say that friendships aren’t worth it, but then I look at other people who seem to have good, solid friends who are always there for them when they need them to be, who don’t fade into the ether like the phantoms I call or called my friends. And don’t get me wrong. My wife is incredible, the single most impressive person I’ve ever known, but I need a support group that doesn’t stop and end with her. I need the same kind of network that she has, those people she can count on aside from me.

I try not to be jealous of her, but while she has those who have been there for her the entirety of her life, I am still waiting to hear back from those who say I’m their friend. And no, a Facebook “like” doesn’t count as a response. Maybe if I ever got some closure from friends gone by I wouldn’t be so pessimistic about what the future holds in that regard.

Sam

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A Sort of Baptism

I grew up with women, a whole gaggle of them if you asked me back then because it felt that way. From the moment I emerged from the womb I was surrounded by enough estrogen to choke a horse (imagine that), so I’m no stranger to emotion, to such honest emotion that I’ve been comfortable with it my whole life. As a child and a young man I had no problem expressing that emotion in the most authentic way, through tears. Body shaking, loud as midnight, salty tears streaming down my face, and it was cathartic. But now I’m empty.

Maybe I cried myself out back then. Perhaps I became such a strong person that things didn’t bother or sadden me that deeply anymore. Or maybe I’m just coming up with excuses, none of which are true. Some of the most devastating moments of my life have happened after I came of age, and I’m still a pretty emotional person. So why can’t I cry?

Like right now. I feel numb. Totally numb. That’s where it goes now, not to expressive tears but to internalizing and introspection. But you know what? The tears helped more. Just letting it out made me feel like I was starting anew, that the tears were a sort of baptism, and once I emerged from them I was a new man with renewed hopes and dreams. But this numbness, this absence of that outward sign, it makes me feel like I’m trapped inside myself, that I have absolutely no hope of getting out. That terrifies me.

And I know that it’s all about the value I place on things, that somehow in my mind I got it all twisted up, the idea that men don’t cry. But real men are emotional creatures too, and I don’t seem to subscribe to most those other tenets of the “mature man.” I laugh at all the stereotypes and the expectations, and yet here I am embodying one of the biggest ones, and I can’t seem to stop myself. I mean, it’s not like understanding how counterproductive it is will make my tear ducts open and bring on the waterworks. It takes more.

I remember when I got baptized I felt like a new man, like nothing else in this world would ever stop me from being me, from moving forward instead of backwards, like it was the beginning of real life. But real life is hard, and being dunked under water doesn’t protect me from that any more than crying tears will liberate me from these feelings deep inside of me. It doesn’t stop me from wanting to scream as loudly as I can. And maybe crying, and screaming, and thrashing wildly about will be my salvation, but I think that has to come from a change of thinking more than any outward show.

I just don’t know where to begin.

Sam

Broken

Broken_Stick_by_phil_eI am broken and scarred
Left behind by too many
Stranded by the roadside
Of apathy and chagrin
Between these two extremes
Shackled to a burning tree
That is never consumed
And a rainbow never blooms
Even though the storm is gone
Replaced by a Judas kiss
Bloody in its welcome
Sheltered under this twilight
That mends us all
If we break without bending
So we can start again.

Sam

Over-Wrought

Love-Is-Pain-imageThe weight presses down heavy
Like a crown of wicked thorns
Unmanageably thick and gnarled
Knobby hands gripping fiercely
Twisting firmly into place
As delicate as pedantic love
In the face of dulled conscience
Worn thin from experience
Chained to a desperate need
This substitute for affection
Dressed up in period finery
The death of perfect emotion
Pressed down impossibly flat
Suffocating in its intensity
Faced with the potential of love
So black and contentious
Unnerving in its complexity
Shackled to expectations
Gone awry at a moment’s notice
Under a pressure so thick
It crushes into oblivion
And leaves shards in its wake.

Sam

Unfriended

unfriend1

“It is the transitory nature of life that lends itself to criticism by those who refuse to simply live.” ~Theodicus

It may have been something I said. I do have a big mouth, or at least others have claimed as much in the past. But I think I’ve changed, at least to an extent, and regardless it could have just as easily been something I did instead. Apparently I do things without thinking about how they affect others, like I’m stuck in my own little world without consequences, where I think people will just be around. Until they aren’t anymore. And it may or may not have been my fault.

Or sometimes I try to hang on too long.

Seriously, though, there are people in our lives for just a small time to accomplish a purpose. Maybe they’re around to teach us something, or for us to teach them something. Or perhaps we need someone to hold us up at a bad moment and they fulfill that role, or we do that for them. But then it’s over, and we try to stretch it. Or at least I try to stretch it. Calling, trying to make plans, posting little avatars on their Facebook walls (timelines, whatever). And when I get nothing in response I don’t just leave it. I try again, thinking maybe they just didn’t see the avatars, or didn’t get the messages I left, or didn’t receive my texts.

Okay, so I don’t honestly believe any of that, but I try to trick my brain into believing it, because the alternative is too devastating to believe. They’re done with me, as so many throughout the course of my life have inevitably been. I would always do better to recognize it for what it is instead of trying to deceive myself, because I only make it worse by being “that guy.” You know, the one who leaves long voicemail messages that are supposed to sound casual but are instead merely desperate.

sadman1Then I notice I’ve stopped seeing their updates in my newsfeed, so I check out their wall (timeline, whatever), and it asks me if I want to friend request them. That’s when I know it’s over, that I’ve been unfriended, and it hurts. It doesn’t hurt because it happened. I half expected it anyway. What hurts is that I became “that guy,” the one they wanted to avoid so they did it the nice way, by simply unfriending me instead of getting into why, which can never help me come out in a good light. What hurts is that they took the time to press that button, because they felt I wasn’t worth it anymore.

And I can say that it’s their loss, but I would be lying. We had reached wherever we were supposed to reach together, as friends, and I tried to keep it going. My bad. We had no longer been living as friends. We were unfriends, even though I had tried hard to deny it. He was just the one who made it official.

Sam

Understanding Women

talking with your woman“Women are like tricks by sleight of hand
Which, to admire, we should not understand.” ~William Congreve

I’ll never understand women, and I guess it’s supposed to be that way, what with God giving them a complexity that most men lack. Sure, women say men are tough to “get,” but when was the last time a man gave you more than surface? From birth men are taught to ignore their feelings and power through life. The few who don’t take this approach are seen as odd and get judged by others, by both other men and women, as weak. Those who skew towards the artistic or the representative are seen as more female than male.

Which is the really strange thing because most women fit along a wide spectrum when it comes to how they live their life, and as to the comforts they enjoy. Women aren’t seen as odd when they stray towards the artistic, or when they focus on the depth in life instead of merely dipping their feet in the shallow end. They can be emotional without being harshly judged by other women, and yet when they feel the need to be physically strong it is seen as a positive and they are congratulated for it. Being “feminine” has never been more of an oxymoron.

Don’t get me wrong, either. Women are individuals. I’m not lumping them all together by any means, but not a single woman I’ve ever met was not incredibly complex, and not a single woman I’ve everĀ  met do I completely understand. Maybe when you completely understand a woman she disappears like Rumpelstiltskin when you guess his name. They do have this magical quality about them, I like to think.

I’ve lived with women for the vast majority of my life. I’ve dealt with their mood swings, with their protective nature, with their ambition, with their constant love, and with their need to be understood. But no matter how long I’ve lived amongst them, I’ll never be one. And maybe that’s the larger issue. In order to truly understand a woman, her motivations, and her emotions, you have to BE A WOMAN.

And even then it’s no gimme.

Sam

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