Didn’t you know?

butterfly jian-xhin
Photo by Jian Xhin on Unsplash
Didn’t you know that I saw it all,
a long time ago?
Disasters, shootings and
a perfect blue-eyed babe
that arrived
in spite of it all?
Didn’t you know I knew
how things would turn out?
I see things.
Since it is both a blessing and a curse,
I don’t mention it much.
(And besides, I worry it might sound
a little pretentious.)
So I curse myself daily
in the hope of some clairvoyance
where it’s most needed
and in the meantime I scrape by
on my boxed-in-but-not-bad
reality.
I suppose I could choose to thrive on seeing
instead of scraping by on what’s here,
but that would make me a dreamer,
and that’s not very practical now, is it?
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The Graceful Exit.

shirley-valentine

“Every woman that finally figured out her worth, has picked up her suitcases of pride and boarded a flight to freedom, which landed in the valley of change.” ~ Shannon L. Alder

Something amazing happens when we choose to step gracefully out of a relationship that no longer serves us.

When I say relationship, it could be a relationship with anything or anyone: a partner, friend, workplace, city—hell, maybe even that classic novel that you somehow feel that you “should” read because it’s a classic but you secretly hate it.

If we walk away still feeling desperate, we will fall desperately into the next job, relationship, book, or town out of fear. We will attract others and situations that operate out of fear as well.

I know this may sound a little woo woo—but it’s just about understanding that we have choices in life, and that the harder we exercise that choice, the richer and more fulfilling our lives will be.

If we enter a relationship based on a fear of being lonely, for instance, that is going to show up time and time again throughout the relationship. Same with if we settle for a job that pays us less than we are worth—maybe it’s not entirely about money, but that gesture, that offering, is the company/client telling us how much they value us and our worth, ultimately.

Of course there are those times that it’s still better to have a crap job than no job—we all have to get by. And so, sometimes, we have to accept the less-than-stellar situation—but the key is to only do it for as long as we absolutely have to, and know not only when to walk away, but how.

If we can walk away gracefully, we carry that gesture of strength and resiliency into our next endeavours.

Running away out of anger, wanting revenge, even feeling “betrayed”—all of those have the potential to leave us in victim mode. Then we keep moving through our life in this fear-based mode, thereby continuing to find new situations where our victim selves “fit”—places where we’re not valued, where we’re manipulated or abused.

Sometimes getting angry–really angry–is exactly what we need to get the fires burning. There is a beauty in its ability to free us. So I’m not saying don’t walk away in anger—sometimes that’s exactly what’s needed.

But holding onto that only holds us back. If, after we remove ourselves from the situation, we are still operating out of anger (which is basically just another version of fear), we tend to find others who meet us where we’re at.

Fear attracts fear, and so on.

Taking the high road doesn’t mean “don’t ever be angry”—but the thing is that we generally won’t find our higher pursuit, (the one that serves us), until we’ve resolved the anger for ourselves. This may or may not include forgiveness or reconciliation with the other party.

When we walk away with confidence, it’s this very act of grace, of faith, that carries us forward to people and places that meet us where we’re at: as calm, clear and shining beings.

I decided to be honest.

barren burned landscape unsplash
via Dikaseva at Unsplash

You’re gone again, just like the last time, and the time before that.

Over and over again, there you went.

The spaces between our visits varied: first came big gaps, then smaller.

Then when you really left, it was a leap across our country, then into another.

I know how it feels to want to go.

The last time I saw you, you said “I’ll see you soon” with such clarity that it jolted me into the realization that it must be a lie.

It was so easy for you to say the opposite of what was really going to happen. A part of me wishes that it were that easy for me too.

I should probably get better at faking it–and by “it” I don’t mean orgasms, I mean any little moment that requires a lie to hurt less.

Life might feel like less of a fight if lies could just flow. Mostly I mean those little white lies that benefit everyone and harm no one.

Mostly.

(Kind of like how when I was honest with the doctor—that backfired too.)

How is it that a person can feel like such a big part of your life, yet you were and are so small to them?

Why do I always feel like the small one?

I’d like to be all shiny and rosy about it, but what I’ve learned from love is that there’s more to life than honesty and authenticity: we have to choose where to be the most transparent. We have to choose who we’re honest with, what we say, when it comes to our bodies, souls, hearts. Not to build completely impermeable barriers, but maybe semi-permeable.

I’m talking about a balancing act: Bleeding open-hearted everywhere is not always the best bet

I played the fool, over and over again, in the name of authenticity. Left bereft, belittled, graceless and strange. Solution-less. There was no answer behind that coming in and shuffling out.

I asked, you delivered. You got me high, then hit me right where I needed it most.

It was exciting and refreshing.

Even the aftercare—being with me moments and day(s) after. That was what I needed most, and also what was the most misleading.

But it’s not fair to pretend that you care like that. It doesn’t matter that you are “supposed” to do. It would be better to just not stay. Staying for longer than a day, a week, a year, when you don’t really want to—lying like that is more hurtful than just leaving.

I eventually figured out when to believe you and not, but by then it was too late—ergo, I’m the fool.

I always felt empowered as I would walk out your door, confident that there was no more to go back to, because I knew I’d always be in the background, not the foreground. We got close enough so that I’d see just enough into your life to let me know that I’d never be enough.

So when I left, it was okay.

For you there was and will always have to be something new—curvy and colorful, pristine, ready to delight you.

I know, I know your heart was in there, with mine, for just a minute. But it came and went so fast that now I barely even believe myself that that was true.

It’s been two years since you mostly left, and six months since the last time. I lie here and my thoughts turn to that time when I was somehow at my most beautiful, beaming through the bullshit.

It’s exhausting, lying here wondering why mostly people from my past seem to find it easy to see me as a mere acquaintance now, no matter what kind of relationship we had. Maybe we lived together, maybe we shared the deepest intimacy. Maybe the drugs inflated things somewhat—but it still meant something.

I can’t help but wonder what you thought of me after the sex haze drifted away. I was just another one of those girls on your list. I was more than that, but also less.

Too emotional. Too into sex. Not firm enough. Too open.

Too much of this and never enough of that.

I’m tired of playing small.

I know for a fact that you don’t think about me anymore because I never get that pang. I used to get a pang now and then where I just knew I was on your mind.

I do miss you, that feeling, and I hate it. You missed me once a little too.

But not now.

We’ve faded and it’s better this way—my world is a little dull. You are still playing and doing all the things you want, life is exactly where you want it. You have all the choice in the world: a steady job, lots of money, at least one woman who loves you wholeheartedly.

You can have anything you want, and even if you dont’ know what you want, you have everything you think you want. And will have more of that.

That’s what counts, really, doesn’t it? That we work to attain what we think we want? We like to ramble on about how money is not important, but really money is key to attaining what is both important and not important.

Money means the freedom and space to figure it out. And if at the end of the day we don’t have it figured out, then money at least allowed us the freedom to try to find that.

So now it’s just smoother, easier. The photos are prettier, and easier to explain, more exciting to show off. Right?

It’s comfortable for me to stay alone and for you to stay with her (them).

Easy.

I went to New Orleans, you know. Did you know how much I love live music? We never really went to see the kinds of shows that I love. I think that kind of jazz is too lowbrow for you.

I decided to be honest and that got me exactly nowhere, save a few good times and a semi-feigned feeling of love that I am terrified I will never find again.

Noone understands it, either. They saw through you, and so they clapped when I said I deleted your number.

They applauded that finality, but it’s not something I celebrate, because it reminds me of the terror of never knowing that feeling again.

It all still hangs at the back of my heart as a missing piece, and probably always will.