April 9, 2008
Ache, or the Post that Made You Hate the Metaphor
It’s an awful parallel, but it will have to do, because I have both a headache and low verbal SATs. I have a pair of shoes, ones that fit like a dream. Unlike most every other pair I’ve owned, they don’t incessantly rub my heels, don’t make my little toes ache. They’re more versatile than favorite espadrilles or flats; I can wear them to work, I can wear them to baseball games, I can wear them to lunch with my sometimes all too observant mother. Their color makes me beam, their style fits me perfectly. When I get up in the morning I can’t wait to wear them and sometimes in a tipsy twirl I forget to kick them off before bed. They draw warranted compliments no matter the occasion.

But one day last season I felt a sharp pain. And out of nowhere I was bleeding, a cut so deep and swift I was in disbelief. How did this happen? When there’s no logic, no linear relationship no matter how obvious, I simply plug along, and this was no different. I put on a band aid and went back to business. And then it happened again, leaving little cuts and bruises, and I was left telling friends I was perfectly fine while they rolled their eyes and noted my limp. These perfect shoes, no matter their value, were biting the foot that filled them, the next time before the last nicks had healed. I wept with disbelief, and was given cause not once, not twice, not even just three times. And it really, really hurt. I’m not sure I can stress that last part enough.

The moral of this stumbling, hypothetical, not particularly applicable, frankly tortuous story? I’m forced to put them back in the closet. Because when it comes down to reality, a girl’s best shoes shouldn’t fucking bite.

I told you it was an awful analogy.

I lost a very important friendship recently, and distressed doesn’t begin to cover the feeling. I’m devastated at times, vacillating between sheer anger and confusion, then onward toward independence and defiance. I can’t believe I had to lose him. It’s more honest to admit that I let him go, feeling ultimately forced to make a decision I did not invite, because in my world view he wasn’t playing by the rules. Rules sounds too definitive, too harsh, but that’s indeed what they are. They’re my dealbreakers. Rules that seem to me to be a part of the canon of personal relationships, something as intuitive as a do unto others.

I don’t think my rules are all that hard to follow. I don’t require friends let me bed their fathers, and not just because I’m not sexually attracted to even a one. (No offense.) I’m much more old school in my absolutes: Respect those most important to you. When you make a mistake, apologize and move forward, doing your best not to make the same error in judgment again. It’s more than just lip service; it’s giving where giving is due. It’s making room for more than just you and the flatterers, thinking outside your own head. To me, it’s about avoiding avoidance, even when your history tells you it’s the natural thing to do. It’s choosing fight over flight. Over the easy way.

There was a time not so long ago when I didn’t play by my own rules. I loved people deeply, but I didn’t care all that much about how my actions impacted some of them. They were responsible for themselves, after all, and frankly, if I didn’t care for me, there wasn’t a chance in hell the ones I kept closest were going to get anything that was in my reserves. Those on the outside got all of that. Because you know what? I could push the ones close to me to amazing extremes and they'd never leave. And the ones on the periphery? They didn’t demand anything more. They were accepting of me on autopilot, indulging my occasional plunges into the depths. It was gloriously comfortable in its counter intuitiveness. It was safe and easy. And it was all things bad for me. And just because I did it and sometimes fall back there, it doesn’t make it right.

Things are different for me now. When you don’t meet even the most basic of the dealbreakers, when you don’t treat me with consistent respect, you can’t be part of my inner circle. You simply cannot.

(Notice how I have to keep telling myself this? It isn’t yet reflexive. Wash. Rinse. Repeat, Kris. Begin again.)

I love this man. Love - as in the present tense - and have sometimes foolish faith in his ability and depth, his potential for giving and friendship, his gift for telling a joke when I flub each and every one. Despite everything, he’s always represented a peach in an orchard of dusty apples. And when a friendship ends, the pain is in remembering the peachy times, in the details. I want to tell him about the latest with a friend’s sick pup, want to mock just how poorly I know his baseball team is doing, want to report back on a recent rash of DHL truck sightings. There’s a lot to share, to tease about, to tell to someone with whom I shared many, many, many hours. And so it sounds unfair in my head, and unfair as I write it, as if I’m doing something wrong, but I can’t budge. Because in recent years my values have begun to dictate more and more of my decisions, and if I do what it is that I want rather than what I need, I open myself up again. I lower the walls that are now higher than ever, that were scalable not too long ago, the ones that were leapable given the right situations. Too much risk. I avoided the easy way, chose fight over flight, and it bit me. That isn’t ok.

I just want to scream and shake him and tell him this simply can’t be. I want to bellow and bawl. Why can’t you get it fucking right? Why do I have to be a casualty of a world of which you can’t make sense? Why do I not get the best of you? It’s fourth grade again, and I’m flailing and screaming because a choice is out of my hands. Not fair! I’m screaming with almost no voice, only there’s no one to console me now, no mother to stroke my hair and tell me just to wait because things will be different down the road, you’ll see. Because as much as I’m kicking and screaming against acceptance, I’m beginning to think these things just are what they are. It’s the way the world goes as an adult, and by now I know you can’t change people, can’t heal them to be who you want them to be. Even who you know they can be. I’m a woman and a friend who deserves more than the safe and the comfortable and the all things bad for him, the ones which somehow end up being bad for me.

This loss still seems inconceivable right now. But it’s reality. And I’m not sure if I mentioned it, so let me say it again, although this time I’ll leave the awful, gratuitous, painful analogy out of the equation. No matter how far I feel I’ve come and how I know what has to be done to take care of me, right now? I just really, really hurt.


Blogger The Red said...

"It's the way the world goes," of course... but sometimes it feels better to fight and kick and scream even when you will accomplish what superficially seems like nothing, but what on a deeper level is more of a catharsis than any numb stiff upper lip. When you wave acceptance like a white flag, you run the risk of letting yourself slip into complacency.

And I don't know you, but you don't strike me as complacent :o)

Blogger jessabean said...

The same thing happened to me two years ago...I had to let go. I still hurt.

But she hasn't changed, and neither have my values.

You're a better person for it, trust me. Let it hurt. But also be proud of yourself for sticking to your rules...you're no doormat!

Blogger SatinBarbie said...

Oh my! You just put into words what I've been struggling to express for soooo long. Thank you. And unfortunately the hurt will continue and eventually dissapate but the respect for yourself will only continue to multiply and abound! If anything can be said for age, it's knowing YOURSELF and what you are and are NOT willing to accept of others. Simply because we are worth it.

Blogger jenniejen said...

Similar thing happened to me a year ago. She was not nice or respectful...and I felt our relationship was a one way street of her needing and me going home feeling worse than when I started. I realized when I started complaining t my therapist on a regular basis about how hard it was to be her friend...that it was time to let go. And let me tell you - as much as I miss the fun times, and the convenience of a friend a couple blocks away - I am happier than I was when we were friends. Just stick by what your gut is saying - you know you're doing the right thing.

Blogger HKW said...

So sorry you're hurting. I'm confident you'll get through it. Have some ice-cream - at least that is what I'd do.

Blogger Mia said...

Hurting sucks. After a 20 year marriage.. (he left 2 years ago).. it's taken me about that long to JUST now start to realize what makes ME happy.. and try to live for that, and realize that's it's OK. There may or may not be a realtionship in my future. I want it and I don't at the same time just because of what you're going thru. I can't handle any more of the crap of being hurt and people are so dysfuntional these days.. I'm thinking the probability is low of finding what I'm looking for (simple common courtesy, integrity, just plain old fashion, good basic morals, and a little humor thrown in for fun. Or what is the saying.. straight, single and gainfully employed *grin*). So what I'm trying to do now is not worry about men. At all. Cuz really.. it would take someone truly special to DESERVE me!! Just sayin'. I finally realized I'm a pretty good package all by myself. So I'm just trying to get to know ME and make ME happy and be ok with that. Sounds easy, but it's SO not!! But it kind of makes me feel free that I'm not desperately searching.. or gonna let myself be used or manipulated by some guy with an agenda different from my own. And I'll tell ya.. it's sort of freeing to know I can be happy all by my little self. For a long time my world was crushed, my brain was melted from the betrayal and there were many, many days and some pretty long drunken nights when I never, ever imagined I could survive without "someone to love"... or if I even really wanted to survive it... but I'm starting to find out I can. And I want to. And I'm learning to love myself and be happy with the life I've been given. And you know what.. sometimes lately I even find I PREFER to not have all that emotional entanglement, grief and hurt because the bad always goes along with the good.

Well.. at least sometimes I find myself preferring it. But other times my eyes can't stop leaking and I drink till I'm stupid. But baby steps my friend, baby steps.



Blogger Mamma said...

I'm so sorry hon. I know. I really do know.

Blogger t2ed said...

Obviously, the SAT's are a very, very accurate measure of verbal skills. And I still can't stand that your such a better writer than me. Or I. Or whatever it's opposed to be. Stupid SAT verbalosity scores.

But in this case, you're right. Stick to your guns. It's not you, it's him.

Blogger Paige Jennifer said...

Probably almost ten years ago my best friend from college decided to end our friendship. It was never really clear as to why. She had a fit that lacked any conjugated verbs so when I claim ignorance, it is legitimate.

Anyway, I've always wondered what went wrong there but I've also always respected her decision to walk away. Because if she wasn't willing to make an effort to salvage it, how could I expect her to make an effort ever.

It's never fun to lose someone you love but sometimes it makes the most sense.

Blogger surviving revival said...

I agree, it isn't fun to lose someone you love, but every now and then, it is the most sane way to go. I've been in this situation, and oddly - I've spent the past couple of nights replaying the entire thing in my head - in spite of the fact that it was exactly ten years ago.

Funny how things change.

Blogger Rachel said...

I really can't imagine what you are going through...I'm thinking of you though, and I hope that the hurt begins to go away and even if it never goes away, I hope that you are able to heal from the situation.

Blogger WildbillthePirate said...

I don't know your situation but I assume that communicating with this person about this is out of the question. Just like the New York City Skyline,relationships change; folks settle down develop (or not) and sometimes people do grow apart.

Brfore giving up, ask yourself: Will my life be better off without this person? Does this person understand why they can no longer be your friend? and Is there any misunderstanding between us? Being made aware that there is a problem is half the battle to solving it, especially with people If this guy has been your friend for this long, you might discount his desire to retain your friendship.

I have several friends I've had for 20+ years and I would do a lot to keep them! Just Sayin'

Blogger Erin and Liann said...

I was in a similar situation a few months ago. I had to choose in my best interests.. There is still a void because we were friends for 10 years but I know it was for the best of both of our parts. I'd like to tell you that it gets easier with times but you will always want to pick up the phone. The only thing I can say is that you have to look out for yourself first.


Blogger Kim said...

Oh Christ. HE'S AN ASSHOLE! Have I not been saying this from the beginning? The loss of him is no big loss at all. As a matter of fact, it should be a relief.

And, no, you can't change people. It would be so, so awesome if we could but unfortunately we can't. Once an asshole, always an asshole.

Blogger Nettie said...

It's never easy letting go of something or someone that you love. But you're right, you can't stay in something that isn't good for you. You are the most important thing in your life and You need to take care of You first. Be strong and know that time will heal your hurts. It may not take them completely away, but this too will make you even stronger.

Blogger bandick said...

Krisser -- if I were your best shoes, I'd never make you bleed. But I might make your feet smell funny.

You think about it.

Blogger Gwen said...

Well, if Kim says he's an asshole ....

Sorry it's sucky, still, though, asshole or not.

Blogger Jen M. said...

I am so sorry you are hurting. For what it's worth, this is an eloquent and lovely post.

Blogger Jen said...

I know exactly how you feel, and it's somewhat ironic for me that I would read this today. I had a guy who was my best friend in the entire world, and he was a world class alcoholic. I did everything I could to help him, to protect him, and be there for him - I was rewarded by being stabbed in the back by him.

Where does the irony come in? Well, today is his birthday - and the 1 year anniversary of my miscarriage. It's also the 1 year anniversary of the day that he "dumped" me unceremoniously and junior high-ishly. (i.e. - He changed his phone number and deleted me from his Myspace friend list. Mature-like.)

The hurt will lessen. Give it time.

Blogger griffin said...

I'm sorry you're going through this. I empathize completely, and your description was nothing short of eloquent. Six months ago I had to walk away from a guy who I thought was a true friend, and for whom I would have rearranged my entire life. Alas, I credited him with far more integrity than he actually has. But I have to say, it's difficult, even when you're doing what has to be done. It hurts, even when you know you're doing The Right Thing.

Blogger KB said...

I'm sorry, honey. I hope things get better for you really soon. I :heart: you.

I still think it's so too bad that you can't change people without them wanting to change. I mean, WTF kind of world is this? Meh.

Blogger Kelly said...

People and shoes that bite are not clearly not the ones to sit or stand in any kind of proximity to you. We all deserve the best of the best...

Throw the shoes in the rubbish, and delete those e-mails and phone numbers. Get out l'old VISA and go buy that saucy sexy pair! And those friends whose shoulder you've been leaning on? Squeeze them just a tiny bit tighter.

Blogger KathyLikesPink said...

Reading your post I immediately reflected on the couple of times in my life that I have lost a friendship. It's hard to feel like I'm a failure for giving up; yet there was nothing positive to be gained from maintaining the relationship.

Still, a bit of sadness remains, and it's been 20 years. *sigh*.

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