In this article I talk about my ex boyfriend Nash. For some good background information I would recommend reading the post I Loved an Alcoholic
I recently had a very candid conversation over dinner with my friend Miles – an accomplished writer I met while having a lonesome dinner at a posh bar in Ocean Beach two years ago and who’s become a trusting friend and confidant. During this dinner, while we enjoyed the animated and verbose conversation that is typical of our weekly meet-ups, I finally made an admission that I had been too embarrassed to make, even to myself, after bringing up the subject of how I was having an uncharacteristically hard time dealing with disquieting emotions following my break up with Nash – my erratic alcoholic ex.
“I don’t know Miles. I feel like I replaced the anxiety I had with Nash – which was the result of endless arguing – with a totally different kind of restlessness caused by having to put up with myself. As unreliable as Nash was, he was a constant. He was company that kept me from getting lost in my head,” I explained. “I’ve dealt with much heavier burdens with so much more tact. I’m embarrassed. I was stronger as a teenager than I am now in my thirties when I should have better coping mechanisms,” I lamented to Miles while he enjoyed his grilled lamb chops.
“Look, you’ve gone through a lot of changes this year. You broke up, you moved on your own, you started dating again and hopefully by now you’ve realized what I’ve been telling you all along – that you are an attractive and intelligent woman who is desirable to some very high achieving and intellectual gentlemen. If your work-outs and hobbies are not enough to keep you occupied, I say get back on Tinder!” It was an unusual suggestion for Miles who had more than once pointed out the pitfalls of putting hopes on strangers met through online dating website.
“Nonono! I can’t Miles. First, I’m already seeing someone and it’s in that awkward phase, like when you are growing out your hair; we are still finding our rhythm but I really like him. Second, this problem isn’t a dating problem. I don’t want the next guy I let into my life to be someone I need. Should the relationship end – a real possibility in any relationship – I would be right back where I started and probably more emotionally compromised. I want to avoid putting myself in a situation where I end up depending on some unsuspecting guy and thus risk pushing him away before he gets to know me; I already have the natural urge to move fast and over-indulge when I like someone, or something. Truth is, all I need is to have access to occasional and even superficial interactions that will take me out of my head-space from time to time – a girl, a guy, a dog. Just knowing someone is there, sleeping in a room 10 feet away, will be enough to help me avoid another panic attack. I just don’t want to go through that hell again.”
“So what exactly is making you anxious?” He looks at me confused.
“Currently, it’s several things. I’m worried about my job and my future work prospects. I’m afraid that any day now my car will die on me. I’m concerned about my injured knee from falling so hard in roller-derby and that it could be permanent. What else…hmmm…I’m still grappling with my goal to be more open and communicative regarding my needs and wants. Then there’s that guy I like. Heck! Not being able to define what I need or want, which seems to be a constantly mutating and moving target, is enough to fill my head to the brim with thoughts. I ask myself all the time: Is what I want also what is best for me? Without an answer, I sometimes find myself paralyzed by uncertainty. Ultimately though…I…”
“What is it?”
“Errrr…” I stammered, covered my face in embarrassment which is a very rare emotion for me, and blurted out “I’m feeling lonely Miles. I don’t think it’s good for me to be living alone,” I sighed, relieved as if I had popped a tumescent boil on my brain, “I’m really lonely. Even when I was dealing with PTSD I had my parents and brothers to provide distractions even if I wasn’t speaking about it, but in my 32 years, I have never been alone until now.”
“I knew it!” He proclaimed smugly. “Now, you always claim you are an introvert Sandra but you are too garrulous and intense. You need to interact with people to expel your energy. Look how fast you talk and how much you move your hands when you talk! You operate as typical Jungian archetypal extrovert,” he remarks. Miles always enjoys psychoanalyzing me using Jungian analytic psychology having read the entire man’s collective works. I always appreciate his erudition and how he’s unafraid of putting a mirror to my face. He knows how to ground me.
“No, I am an introvert!” I insisted defensively. “I don’t share about myself during my interactions. I’m always probing and I hardly talk about myself. When I ask ‘How are you doing?’ I am actually asking ‘Has anything of tremendous importance happened to you that will impart a lifelong lesson as to what I should do, avoid, or change in my life?’ Then, if the information seems interesting enough, I tuck it away for reference. An extrovert doesn’t really analyze his or her interactions, but I do it constantly and have been doing it since I can remember.”
“To reference what?”
“I don’t know. I’m trying to learn about human nature, I guess. People are a fountain of information. I try to compute everything that I make a conscious effort to observe, question, experience or read up on. Sometimes, my thinking and analyzing whirls out of control without any particular direction, sometimes my brainstorming leads to epiphanies and, on rare occasions where I’m emotionally compromised, I can become paranoid. That’s what happened when I had that panic attack in January,” I winced, putting my hand over my heart as I remembered it’s erratic pounding and the almost painful feeling in my chest which made me consider calling the ER at three in the morning with the hopes that a first responder would knock me out with a punch, put me in a straight jacket, and sic me with horse tranquilizers so could finally sleep after more than 48 hours of sleeplessness caused by my scheming mind. It had been a sudden and profound sense of loneliness had triggered the attack. I continued, “A clusterfuck is what I am.”
“So you serious about this then? You seemed so excited when you found your new place.”
“I know, that was short lived. Remember when I was staying at the house with those two engineers while I pet sat for ten days. I felt super at ease. They weren’t talkative, and our interactions where sparse, but knowing they were there made me feel relaxed. At least with them, I’d be thinking about something and before I could obsessively pursue a train of thought, one of them would walk into the living room pulling me out of my reverie and directing my attention towards easygoing conversation.”
“Sandra! You are not actually as neurotic or as big a ‘clusterfuck’ as you portray yourself. You have lots of youthful energy and combined with your over-active imagination, can come across as intense. You need to surround yourself with intense people.”
“Hahaa! Neurotic?! Me?!” I repeated, feeling a little indignation over the negative connotation of the word neurotic. I consider myself one of the more rational humans puttering on this planet. I racked my brain looking for a defense against the word neurotic, but unable to remember the definition of neurotic, I stopped, and conceded, to my dismay, that my dear friend might be right.
“Look, I wrote a best-selling novel about a neurotic guy. That guy was me. I am neurotic,” he pointed a thumb to himself, then points his index finger at me, “and I can tell that you are neurotic. You’ll be fine. You’re normal. Keep doing your sports and hobbies and you’ll slowly find your rhythm again, but you need to be more forgiving with yourself and give yourself time to heal and reflect because I think you are more raw from your break-up than you realize,” He leans back, crossing his arms confidently and nodding at me.
“I’m normal?” I chew the statement pensively.
“Yes,” he bobbed his head, “you are NORMAL.”
“Normal….okay. Good to know,” I exhaled, feeling grateful to have had a sympathetic ear, “I’ll work on letting that sink it.”
“I think we need to get you some baklava ice cream cake for dessert.”
“Yes please! You know it.”