Sunday, August 19, 2007

The view from six months later

So this weekend marked about six months since the very darkest the past year got. On reflection, I gotta tell you, I cam through it far better than I would have at any other part of my life, and I'll try to tell you some of how.

The setting at the time:

I had been job hunting for far too long, after finally giving up on an agonizing four-year stint in grad school. I was working a temp job that would last at least another two months, but had not successfully received an actual call from a potential employer, let alone an interview. I was spending my time with friends who didn't always fit, playing the same card games I didn't enjoy and having the same tired conversations every week, convinced that if I didn't do this I'd be utterly without a social life. While this may not have been factually true, it was emotionally true: I was having a lot of trouble reaching out to people, even when they obviously wanted to know be better -- especially one co-worker and his wife, very generous, loving people who often invited me to events that they hosted. The anxiety, she was strong at this point.

Then that world imploded. There was a divorce, and there were lies, and there was me in the middle being lied to, even though I shouldn't have been anywhere near the situation and I was hurt and pissed and frankly never wanted to speak to another human being again. Seriously. I never wanted to give another person the chance to hurt me, and I really had no clue what reality looked like after so much lying.

What I did that makes me proud:

Mostly, for once in my life I took care of myself. I got good at telling those I was still speaking with when I needed to back away, and I cut off communication with the sources of most of the lies. I went out of my way to network through my temp assignment, and landed a really fantastic job. I actively sought out new people and new activities, and found that this was almost universally rewarded. I started self-disclosing, even when I thought information might be used against me should a new acquaintance have a manipulative bent. I had been to the land of Nothing Left to Lose, and it was rather freeing to think, "I'm going to trust this person to know me and treat me well, because I'd rather have whole friendships than feel like I'm always on my guard." Anxiety became a choice (to a certain extent), and wherever possible I chose against it.

And along the way I maybe ended up kissing the Lovely Gentleman. Let me tell you, my new "trust first, question later" mantra was sorely tested. While the general friendship disaster was new, romantic disaster was nearly five years behind me, and I was still purposely avoiding romance of any sort on that night, determined to love myself as I am before asking another person to do the same. But the man in question asked if we could possibly get to know one another a bit better and see what happened. I sat up for hours, and finally arrived at the notion that I was probably as close as I was going to get to where I wanted to be in terms of "loving myself" (a highly unquantifiable goal, by the way). I had just spent two months taking very good care of myself after several devastating events (there was a funeral thrown in for fun, as well), and for once it seemed that choosing to date this person would actually be good for me. First time for everything, I suppose.

So where am I now?

I both work and play with non-toxic people. I'm rather schmoopily in love with a wonderful person whose very presence makes me feel safe and happy, and I'm looking forward to moving in with him this fall and seeing where that takes us. (Yep, that does scare me out of my mind. But I'm pretty sure we'll work it out.) I have several creative outlets that keep me on my toes when I'm not on the job. And I'm in this strange place where I can't look back and want to change what happened, no matter how horrible it was. I can't justify the means by which my old social group was dispersed, but I really think we're all better off for it, especially after a limited reconnection with one of the parties this weekend. There's no going back, but with all of us seeming far happier, I can't see how that's a bad thing.


Blogger frog said...

Fabulous. :)

10:55 AM  

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