Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Signs

I was the one who ended it. I didn't want to, but it had to be done. I stopped believing him. There were no lies or manipulation or deceit. I trusted him, but I couldn't bring myself to let that trust lead to belief. No matter what he said, I didn't believe that he wanted us. Oh, he might have thought that he did, but I knew better. I could see what he had yet to admit to himself. He said, "I'm in this," but all the signs said, "I'm about to bail out." I wasn't going to be the girl I'd been in the past. The one who sees the STOP sign but keeps going anyway. I wasn't going to be the girl who believed, even in the absence of trust, only to be let down by what was so plain to see. This time I paid attention to the warning signs and bailed on him before he could bail on me. I filled the void he left with affirmations that I had done the right thing. I read the writing on the wall and acted accordingly. But the day I got a glimpse of his turmoil I realized I had read everything all wrong.
The beginning was perfection. Playful flirting under the guise of friendship blossomed into something much more. Long nights, lazy days, and an unquenchable craving for one another. "I'm not a phone person," he would say three hours into a call. But he became one for me, because that's what I needed. He wanted me happy, and I just wanted him. It was good, so good I had to keep making sure he was real. "Are you sure?" I would ask him. He said he was. His word wasn't enough. I had learned that saying something doesn't make it true. I watched, and waited for his actions to stop matching his words. It's impossible to be happy when you're constantly on the lookout for something that will make you miserable. Then, it happened. One day he told me he was too busy to see me. I had heard that before in a different time with a different person. When R was too busy to see me it was because he was seeing someone else. Now that is what "busy" meant to me. Another day he said, "I'll be back to see you later." J said he'd see me later, right before he left forever. To me, see you later meant see you never. Over time my three hour conversations turned into ten minute check ins. K checked in daily, then weekly, then monthly, then not at all. I saw all of the signs flashing in front of my eyes and they all said the same thing "IT'S OVER!" The fact that the shift in his behavior coincided with an increasingly demanding work schedule, an unexpected financial mishap, and a series of family crises was irrelevant. Prior experience taught me that a change in behavior always meant a change in feelings. I didn't want to be stupid and think he could be an exception.
Signs are meant to be heeded, warning of us of danger ahead. When Terry McMillan faced her gay ex husband on national television, Oprah asked the famous author, "Didn't you see the signs?" Obviously she didn't, but I guarantee she will from now on. In fact she will look for them. She'll be smarter, more aware, more observant, ready to catch anything that is remotely suspicious. She won't let what happened before happen again. Neither will anyone. Everyone from Dr. Phil to Tyra Banks tells us to look for the signs. The signs that he's cheating, that he's lying, that he's fallen out of love. Books like He's Just Not That Into You offer a step by step guide to identifying disinterest. We're told to learn from the past so we don't repeat our mistakes. We're supposed to protect ourselves, be on alert lest we get our hearts broken once again. We begin to think that actions always speak louder than words and certain actions can only mean one thing no matter what the situation. We forget that in order to interpret, we must first know the context. Signs can't exist by themselves and most definitely cannot define a relationship.
Dating is like walking through a dark jungle. There are lions, and tigers, and bears (oh my) ready to pounce at every turn, leaving carnage in their wake. For protection we teach ourselves how to recognize their approach and watch for them coming around the bend. And when we sense the danger is sneaking up on us, we defend ourselves. Thrashing, kicking, wailing, and beating until it's destroyed. And it's not until we step back from the melee and behold what we've killed that we see that the beast was really a bunny and we were never in any danger in the first place.

15 comments:

stella said...

um. this is why i thank my buddha for therapy.

so much of my anxiety is misdirected.

it's that fear that we will blame ourselves for repeated mistakes if we don't see the signs. and like you said, sometimes those signs are nothing but the ugly projections of a wounded heart.

RebeLioness said...

This is so apropos in the wake of our last conversation. We're taught that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and sounds like a duck...IT'S A DUCK! But maybe it's really a goose with a sore throat (LOL)...

Stella really hit it on the head about it being fear of making the same mistake; and signs sometimes being the ugly projections of a wounded heart. But the reality is no one sympathizes with a repeat victim. You're expected to know better and, thus, do better. And if you assume "different person, different circumstance" but wind up with the same result you end up looking naïve and stupid. Then again sometimes I believe we will things into existence just so we can say we were right all along even when we know we weren't. It's a tough call but we've all been there. These days I just pray for clarity and wisdom because none of us are psychics...

Elizabeth said...

This is heartbreaking - and, sadly, a pattern I've repeated many times. When will we learn that one man's flakiness isn't another's dishonesty?

After the divorce from hell, a friend of mine immediately started dating. He got married again just a little over two years later. I asked him how he could bear to get back into dating, much less marriage, so quickly. He said: "It's like riding horses. No matter how bad the fall, you get up, dust yourself off and start doing it right away before you get too fearful to try again."

Clem said...

Get out my head! :-) Heartbreakingly beautiful post. The timing was ideal for my life, personally. Well done!
<3

Buffy said...

Soooooo good!

Jodi said...

the past always teaches us lessons, doesn't it?
great post. ~Jodi

Cece said...

Nice... I'm all worded out so I'll leave it at that. Nice.

with sprinkles said...

Unfortunately, flakiness seems easier than straightforwardness. It’s difficult and painful to sit someone down, look them in the eye and tell them you no longer feel the same way about them. I’ve been guilty of distancing myself from someone else in the past. Then karma bitch-slapped me and I had the chance to get it from the other side from someone else. It sucks, it’s confusing and I’m sorry now that I wasn’t brave enough to sit her down, look her in the eye and tell her she was better off without me because I had moved on.

doc-t said...

there are lions and tigers and bears in dating???

I dont think we've been dating in the same realm...

I dont think i'd survive yours....

wow.. carnivores even

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Everyone else's comments sum your post up but I do believe that you are one of the very best writers of closing lines ever. The thing about the beast being a bunny put the stamp of emotion into my head and its not gonna leave.

Zenchick said...

amen, sister.
This really resonated with me.
I am, however, a firm spiritual believer that what you need is brought to you, over and over, until what healing you need is done.
Love is never wasted.
(and if it's real, and it's meant to be....neither the beast nor bunny was really killed, eh?)

Sober In the City said...

So, as I was walking out of work today I saw that you had posted something new. I rushed home to sit on my couch and give it a proper read.

Again, I so relate.

Lately, I've been working through casting off my defensive approach to men.

Mostly because the last few men I dated used all my tricks. On me.

When the tables are turned, you see the silliness and immaturity and it's just, well, ugly. We are all just scared.

Imagine how different we would live our lives if we didn't have fear.

Don't wait so long to post the next one. I missed you for like an entire week!

Jailbait said...

Yeah Sober, she left us but she's back!!!

I'm really feeling this post. There are not many things that I fear (because I know God didn't give us a spirit of fear), but definitely getting my heart broken is one of them. I just can't meet someone and start getting to know them without looking for the 'signs' from day 1. In my lifetime I'll probably shoot, kill, and/or maim many bunnies. Lord help me!

bt said said...

Real Talk like a mug, this is one of your best posts to date. I'm not into the whole patting on the back ish but I must say you kept it all the way real here. Now I'm going to Bed (damn its late!)

~Deb said...

Incredible post! You know, I think if we try to read too much into the 'signs', we may fail to just be content with who the person is. Some people hold traits that just seem a bit odd. I'm sorry you had to go through all that.