I’ve lost the use of my heart, but I’m still alive
Y’all know Sade ain’t never lied about a broken heart, and she really nailed it with “Soldier of Love”. All the sisters and some brothers too, understand what she’s talking about. Love rolled over your ass like like a wooden pin over Granny’s biscuit dough and you feel just as squishy and shapeless. Or you’ve been used and tossed aside repeatedly like an empty crack vial, thinking you’re just as dirty and useless. Yep, I’ve been there a few times. Sometimes it really hurt, sometimes it didn’t even register, and every time I wondered why I didn’t just let the errant hairs grow out of my chin and adopt a houseful of cats. I must confess that I have gone a fair amount of time without using tweezers. And, I have stared longingly at the “Crazy Cat Lady” action figure on my bookcase. Eventually though, I give in, commence to plucking, put the Cat Lady face down on the shelf…and get hit by another grenade in the war of romance.
And now? Well I’m suited up, Lieutenant, put me on the front line. Okay, I’m not so much ready for battle as sitting in the barracks inspecting my weapon and praying for safety. I kinda met someone (!) and I could possibly be interested in maybe going on a date with him (!!). Potentially. I’ve hung out with this guy – who shall henceforth be known as “Friend Boy” – exactly twice, and my rational mind has wisely declined to set expectations and engage in unrealistic fantasies. But somewhere in the hazy recesses of the brain, my emotional mind is telling me to “make a move” on Friend Boy and and go for mine. When I can’t equivocate her into shutting up, she concocts a scenario in which I tell Friend Boy that I like him, grab him by the ears, and plant one on him. This dream won’t, will not, come to fruition, which freaks me out a little.
I’ve been torn up inside, I’ve been left behind…I have the will to survive
Since I started dating at 17, I’ve been trying to manipulate men into doing what I want them to do. I blame my subterfuge on being a late bloomer who was never on the receiving end of the numerous crushes I had on male friends. I lobbied my first boyfriend into initiating physical contact; I made the first gestures toward holding hands, kissing, making out and he followed willingly. Those awkward teenage moves got me into relationships through my late 20’s, all of which ended at my bidding. The boyfriends that pursued me willingly also broke up with me, and broke my heart in the process. Not to be defeated, I set my sights on the “adult” sections of Craigslist for the kinds of relationships (read: sex only) I thought I could control. It turns out that no matter how I tried to intellectualize my foray into commitment-free nookie, I couldn’t get into it and I decided to be celibate. Following said decision came a few weeks in the psych hospital where I learned that the last 16 years of this love warfare have been against myself. Doing battle with my heart to feel good at any cost. Entering periodic skirmishes with my mind to escape the sadness, the uneasiness, because I didn’t want to pay attention. I’ve been out for over a year, and through so much therapy that I catch my negative self-talk in process. Dialectical behavior therapy is my friend, and I am doing my work to diffuse negative patterns and form alternatives. Marsha Linehan would be proud. But I’m still shell-shocked, suffering from mild relationship PTSD, and looking for my new love playbook without sex and manipulation.
I’m at the hinterland of my devotion, I’m in the frontline of this battle of mine but I’m still alive
So back to Friend Boy. When I met him we engaged in some mild flirting as might transpire between two people who are digging each other. The last time we saw each other was at a party, and I felt comfortable thinking, “Hey, I like this guy.” I believe there is some level of interest on his part, though I don’t know for sure. And when I don’t know something for sure, I get antsy and forget everything I know about being a normal human being. So I waged an internal war with myself, and there was no clear winner. I spent 1/3 of the time playfully ignoring Friend Boy and another 30% of the time touching him too much and looking at him (I believe) like I had stars in my eyes. I spent the remainder of the evening mentally mounting a familiar offensive to corner him in the kitchen; then I’d catch myself and literally sit on my hands and/or turn away. Crazy much? Why yes I am, thank you for asking. I’m kinda hoping that Friend Boy was so enamored with me that I didn’t seem that erratic, or that he was thinking about something else and didn’t notice.
I will see Friend Boy again in a few days, and I will behave in a manner befitting a celibate, late 30’s woman who has a handle on her own sanity regardless of the silly things she sometimes does. For all I know, Friend Boy is a sane, late 30’s man trying desperately to step over the casualties in his own relationship past. I’m pretty sure I could love with that.