One of the things I discuss a lot, whether on my blog, in my private journals, or through my poetry and fiction, is the difficulty of struggling with a personality that tends to over-idealise a majority of people, things, events, and relationships, while simultaneously having a high level of distrust that borders on cynicism. It is a tough type of personality to have, one who sees the world as it could be, as it should be, yet is chronically disappointed that it isn’t, while knowing all along that reality is going to be the eventual outcome of a situation.

I have particular difficulty when it comes to friendships, and even acquaintances. The problem takes on a whole new dimension when it comes to relationships, but that’s a different story for a different day.

You see, I always expect other people, if they are a friend, to treat me in the same way I’d treat them…which, a majority of the time, involves a high degree of sensitivity that borders on well-developed intuition. (i.e. “If you really knew me, you’d understand why this is such a big deal.”) Unfortunately, I’m the sort of person who usually goes above and beyond when it comes to the “thinking about what others would feel” situation, thanks to an overly empathetic nature that often causes as many problems as it fixes. I am by no means perfect, and there are plenty of times when I let others down, when I put my own feelings first, where I speak first and think too late. As a former friend told me—and he is absolutely right—I value being right and having the last word over simply keeping the peace, which isn’t an attractive quality. Yet, for the most part, I try to go through life thinking about not only what makes me happy, but what makes others in my life happy. I have a lot of qualities that could use some work, but for the most part, I’m a really good friend.

The older I get, the more I realise I don’t have the time, energy, and interest to invest in someone who really just doesn’t think I’m that awesome. This isn’t just pure narcissism…although a small part of me does believe everyone I meet should think I’m awesome…but because I’ve been hurt by people who just didn’t care as much as they should have, or didn’t express it via actions. That’s a hard lesson, particularly for someone who has spent years running a social group where my job is to make unappreciative strangers happy as much as possible, and the number of “thank yous” and genuine friendships that have come out of that are far smaller than the number of people who complain, blame, treat me with disrespect, or say negative things about me or my group, when, frankly, they didn’t take the time to get to know me and aren’t giving any indication they can do what I do, only better, after offering their criticism. (there is one memorable exception, which, rather than offending me, makes me laugh.) It’s a hard lesson for someone who’s spent a lifetime understanding when so-and-so didn’t call, why a person she generally liked never wanted to see her again, why people aren’t as interested in connecting with others as in “fluff” and fun and not taking things too seriously. It’s a hard lesson for someone who has historically made excuses for people who don’t offer what she deserves, in terms of respect and appreciation and the value in friendship. (It’s been even worse when it comes to relationships…I have a rationalisation for why someone still loves me, even though he did this horribly disrespectful and hurtful thing, and I will use it, over and over again.)

Sadly, that lesson has been presenting itself in my life a great deal over the past year. There are a few people I genuinely liked and considered friends, or felt a connection with and wished I could get to know better, who simply cut off contact with me and made it clear they’d rather not know me. There are people I don’t know and have never behaved rudely toward to who criticise my social skills and call me fat to total strangers, while avoiding confrontation with me.

Every event I hold, there are 1/3 of the people who say they’re coming who simply never show up. It’s a complaint every Meetup organizer with a large group has, and there’s no way around it. It’s one thing that never fails to upset me, because I simply don’t understand it. I get that people are busy, that plans change, that there are people that others would just plain rather hang out with. However, the “no-show” business…the chronic idea that not showing up somewhere you made plans to spend time with someone, even a stranger, without so much as a phone call or an e-mail or a two word text….it makes me feel like giving up the gig altogether. I don’t understand how others can disrespect someone who is putting him or herself out there when it’s not necessary. I just wouldn’t do that, because I don’t believe in taking anyone’s presence, anyone’s friendship, anyone who offers something when they don’t have to, for granted.

It’s even worse when said behaviour becomes from a friend. A few years back, I had a friend who was known for this behaviour. Something would come up on the way to an event, and she’d change her mind and not show up. A day before, she’d inform me her plans had changed, and I’d have to deal with something entirely on my own. I’d make plans with her, only to be abandoned at the last minute, too late for me to make different plans of my own. This friend has changed a good deal over the years, but there was a point where life took us in different directions and I didn’t really reach out (although she didn’t, either), because I remembered all these moments where we really didn’t treat one another the way friends should. Fortunately, we are again friends, and now that we both know how to behave a little more maturely, the “situations” that caused the drama no longer happen. It helps when people are around the same age and go through the same growing-up process together. *laughs*

On the other hand, I also had an acquaintance for a long time who I tried to be friendly with, but we were just never that close. We had mutual friends with whom we were much closer, but she and I together just never really hit it off in that “Let’s hang out and be friends” way. For me, one of the reasons was a reluctance to open up to her, because she’d consistently RSVP for things and not show up, or tell us right before the event started. I generally think if someone is that casual about making plans with their friends, it’s often the case that said person is that casual with the feelings of others, and I’m just not in to that. I don’t need more friends I wonder if I can count on when I really need it, or are the ones talking about me behind my back, and printing out my “friends only” journal entries to read out loud and laugh about with their friends. :P

Tonight, I had flashbacks of this long-term attempted friendship with the flaky girl, while waiting for a friend who was supposed to join us for trivia this evening….one who never showed up. I didn’t get a phone call, or a text, and when I made it home later in the evening, I saw I didn’t even merit a two word e-mail or Facebook message.

Of course, my first thought was to be concerned about his well-being. Once, I had a friend who stood me up on Cinco di Mayo, and I was pissed because he turned his cell off and didn’t bother to get in touch. I resolved that I deserved better, and planned to discontinue the friendship ASAP…until he showed up at my front door needing a drink and someone to talk to. As it turned out, my friend wasn’t an inconsiderate jackass…he’d spent the night in jail after getting pulled over on the way home from my place the previous night.

At the same time, I have this intuition that tells me the non-trivia-playing friend is absolutely fine, and happened to be off drinking with friends, or hanging out with his girlfriend, or had an otherwise exciting change of plans that meant it was cool to ditch joining us…which it would be, if I’d been important enough to get some form of communication telling me so.

And, really, that genuinely hurts me. Frankly, I don’t know this person all that well…it’s one of those situations where I feel like I’ve gotten to know someone pretty quickly via chit-chat and sharing and even some “deep conversations”, without ever spending that much time together. But, for a while, I felt we were genuinely on the road to becoming friends.

Since the holidays, though, this friend has really shown limited interest in communicating with me…a far cry from how we were getting along previously…and when we do speak, it’s not in a very “connected” way. And perhaps that’s just what happens in life, and not everyone’s meant to be the best of friends. Sadly, though, this is what I do, the idealist that I am. I meet people who have qualities I like and admire and gravitate towards, and try to befriend them for that reason. I don’t always remember to take the time out to notice that if that person isn’t that interested in communicating with me or hanging out, it’s probably because they don’t see qualities they like and admire and gravitate towards in me. Friendship, like all other things, is a two-way street. I’ve been told a cardinal rule in life is to never chase after anyone, because if they’re not aware of how fabulous you are, there are plenty of people in the world who are. Somehow, I’ve learned the truth of this in relationships, but when it comes to friendships, I still expect too much of others. I still expect others to treat me the same way I choose to treat my friends. I still have this idealistic view of friendship, thinking favourably of others, and building connections.

One of the biggest has to do with respect. If someone thinks I’m not interesting enough that they’d rather ditch something I invited them to in favour of something better, I kind of get that. That someone is usually right. I’m not the world’s most exciting company. But if they think that it’s cool to just not show up without a word, while I care enough to wonder if that person is OK…that’s just not a lack of friendship, a lack of interest, but a lack of respect.

I am overidealistic and expect too much from people, and therefore, am constantly disappointed when I see others aren’t quite what I imagined them to be…but I know I don’t deserve that lack of respect. Being my friend may not be the most fascinating prospect in the world, and maybe some people will naturally be psyched about the chance to get to know me while others kind of take my openness for granted and think it’s not all that special…but the fact that I care, I think that should always count for something.

It hurts when the world takes that so lightly, and being the busy, self-absorbed, emotionally detached place that it is…well, it so often does. I’ve tried to develop thicker skin over the years, and to make myself less open, less accessible to befriending others. Sometimes, though, I wonder if it’s really me who needs to change how she sees, treats, and thinks of others.

The cynic in me says, after the experiences of 2011, “Whatever, I don’t need new friends. I have some perfectly great people in my life.” But once in awhile, I come across someone that has some rare quality, some rare connection in common with me that says they might be a good addition to that collection of wonderful people in my life. But, when that interest and that level of respect for building a friendship doesn’t run both ways…I have to know when to admit there’s nothing I can do.

It doesn’t keep me from feeling hurt, and disappointed…and wondering why I’m so different, so overly sensitive, because so many people wouldn’t care. Yet I always care, too much, and always end up getting hurt by that. Is it stubbornness, a lesson I refuse to learn, or just emotional masochism?

I heard from the no-show friend today, who apologised and explained a situation came up, he still wanted to be friends, it wasn’t personal, etc., etc. I know those things are probably true and genuine, and that my intuition is right…I’ve been dealing with someone who is a genuinely nice person. I am glad that he is fine and his situation got sorted out, but I also feel extremely distant, as if an important dynamic has changed in said friendship.

I deserve a thought, an e-mail, a phone call when you can’t make it to things. And I’m actually nice enough and have enough positive attributes that I’m worth getting to know; some people who really do know me will agree that in my own special and unique way, I’m pretty awesome. And so, I can’t be the one always reaching out and attempting to be friends with someone who may or may not see that. As I’ve said, I have literally thousands of acquaintances, some of whom I know better than others…and I’m always happy to add more. But if you really and truly wish to be my “friend”, it takes work, it takes interest, it takes respect and consideration, and it takes a willingness to put yourself out there.

Life has taught me not everyone is up for that…it’s not what our society is about. It’s not always fun and easy. It’s not always about the happy-go-lucky image instead of the real person. Actual friendships take work…and that’s why I know I’m blessed with more “true friends” than most people have, because I’ve put in the ups and the downs, the laughter, the tears, and the craziness. Most of my close friends have been an important part of my life from 5-15 years, and I don’t know what I’d do without them. I just celebrated a birthday, and while many of those friends couldn’t be present, virtually all my close Atlanta friends were…as well as a few new ones. And not a single person forgot to show up, or came three hours late. I was really touched that people brought cards and gifts and cake, when their presence would have been enough.

A guy who plays trivia with us on Saturdays, albeit on an opposing team that always beats us, has been having a tough time, as his dad is extremely sick. It seems likely that, barring an unexpected recovery, he may pass away soon. My heart really hurts for this person, and what he is going through…and it also reminds me how short life is. At any time, any person you know could be that person in a hospital bed somewhere, which is why it’s so important to actively appreciate everyone you care about, everyone you love, everyone whose presence you appreciate on a regular basis.

It’s a high ideal to live up to, and we all fall short (I don’t call home nearly as often as I should), but one that’s consistently worth trying for. That’s how I try to live my life, and like to surround myself with people who do the same.

There was a period between early 2006-2007 in which I lost a great deal: my home, my circle of social acquaintances, friendships, relationships, lovers, financial security, freedom, even things as basic as my reputation and sense of myself. It was a particularly trying time, and in retrospect, one of the most important in my life. Many people say there’s a point in one’s life, usually in the late 20′s and early 30′s, where one is confronted with life in such a brutal way that it marks the transition to adulthood. Usually it happens due to the death of a parent, illness, an unexpected child…something that makes you look outside yourself, grow up, and take some responsibility for your future. It teaches you to start looking toward the future, not just at today, as so many younger people do.

My life-changing crisis happened a little earlier than it did for many of my peers, but it affected me in the same way. It turned my world upside down, and for an extended period of time, I wasn’t sure how to make it through or what to do with myself. Looking back, I see it brought as many gifts into my life as painful experiences. For every loss I endured, every struggle, there’s something meaningful I likely wouldn’t have in my life now if things hadn’t worked out in the way they had. It often takes life-changing experiences where you wonder if anyone in the world understands, is on your side, is able to help you through, to learn exactly who you are and stop taking time to “find yourself”.

I learned I’m much stronger than I think I am. I’m much more capable–emotionally, mentally, practically—than I generally consider myself to be, and thus, much more so than I let on to the rest of the world. I learned that for all my drama and histrionic scenes and inability to cope with emotions quietly and rationally (something I know now is a combination of a highly sensitive personality and long-term suffering of anxiety issues), I am resilient. I don’t always feel like I want to get back up again…but I do. I sometimes feel so devastated by circumstances that I don’t know how I’ll cope…but I always do. Underneath the layers of emotion and over-sensitivity, often mistaken for weakness, is a survivor. To a certain extent, that survivor is even pragmatic, self-protective, and able to adapt to change. I learned that part of myself, while often invisible to all but those who know me well, is what has kept me safe and resilient through a number of negative situations. It defeats my self-destructive tendencies every time, tells the masochistic side of my personality, “Hey, I am stronger than you”. (Freud would have a field day with me.:P)

In any case, this period of my life brought losses of other types: in particular, five friends and/or lovers (of varying degrees of closeness) passed away during that time period. Not one of them was older than 45, and I saw clearly that I wasn’t the only one in my circle of friends and acquaintances that was regularly challenging the inner self-destructive demons. I wasn’t the only one haunted by things nobody ever talks about. Not everyone has an internal survival mechanism that’s strong enough to win, despite what life throws your way.

I’ve lost a lot of people in my life, in a variety of ways, to the extent where it’s a lesson to me: nothing and nobody will be there with you forever. There is no forever. Even I, myself, am not even necessarily promised a tomorrow. I attempt not to focus on that knowledge, because it brings out the pieces of me that are cynical and self-destructive. But, the only promise people cannot make is the one I need the most: the promise that that person will not abandon you. I know that better than anyone, and therefore, abandonment hurts me more than anyone…even if it’s just a friend who no longer wishes to be friends on Facebook, or an ex whose wife won’t let him be in my life anymore.

Why does all this sad, depressing reflection matter? It matters because recently, I hung out in an area I no longer spend time, because it reminds me of someone, and the reminders are sharp and painful. They are often euphoric, and painful at the same time, the ultimate in emotional masochism. I thought I could handle that, until I realised our car was driving past the place at which my friend passed away, and 30 seconds later, I was crying behind my sunglasses.

I told myself it should not have mattered; that was a different life, a loss I’d mourned a long time ago. But, The Guy I Am Currently Dating, either not aware of how touched I was by the situation or not knowing what else to do, parked in an area that required me to walk by the building. I stopped for a minute, and as soon as I did, I felt my heart beat in my throat, too fast. I couldn’t breathe. Everyone told me it was walking in the cold when I’m ill, and the strain it put on someone on the combination of medications I’m dealing with…but I felt like I was going to collapse. I just stood in front of the building like I couldn’t move.

This week, at night, I’ve been seeing that place when I close my eyes at night, and I cry. I haven’t made peace with a loss I’d closed my heart on and moved past and think about once or twice a year, because I can’t not think “This is the place where someone I loved faded away forever.” I can’t not think about where that place will be for me.

Moving on with your life doesn’t mean forgetting, and coping with the past doesn’t mean it ever stops hurting. I tried to talk to this with both a very close friend and The Guy I Am Currently Dating, but nobody’s interested in engaging discourse about something so sad and personal. There’s no need for me to call up the loss and pain others carry around because I was recently confronted with mine.

Part of me wants to go back to that building, and curl up next to it, and cry…because I never did. I never went back to that place, never returned to any of the spots in which we hung out together, never wondered who lived in the old apartment we’d made memories in. I just refused to think about the existence of any of those places and moved on.

Of course it’s natural that I’ve been crying, listless, depressed, overwhelmed by loneliness this week. Of course it’s natural that I’ve been questioning my relationship….which has been fraught with miscommunication and lack of simply being on the same page, particularly since I got sick. I believe that we have many different soulmates in our lives (a huge part of my basis for an essential belief in non-monogamy), people who come into our lives to open our eyes to different things, teach us about different parts of ourselves, understand us in a way few others are able. I do not believe in the traditional idea that this is one person who will complete you and you’ll love unconditionally and with perfect understanding forever. I do, however, believe there are many who touch us in an essential way that forms who we are, who we become along the way.

I have been quietly mourning the loss of one of mine…although I know nothing is forever. I do not know when I’ll feel at peace with goodbye. I did what people do; I laughed and drank and spent time with my friends, and tried to forget how much the experience of walking past that space affected me. I didn’t talk about it, because nobody could understand.

I am a highly emotional, intuitive person…and I don’t know how to explain the experience, except I felt something, and it was magical, and overwhelming, and devastating, and I wish I’d have been in a situation to experience it alone. Because more than anything, I felt I needed more time; more time just to *be*, to be close to the memory of someone you’ll never hold again.

Sometimes, I see this friend in DreamLand, and it reminds me that emotional memory is both devastating and of great comfort, at the same time. All I know is that since that day, I’ve constantly wanted to cry—whether from joy, sadness, fear, loneliness, anger, anxiety—and I don’t understand why. I don’t understand why I feel so misunderstood.

Today, I do. You never stop missing those that claim a piece of your soul, no matter how long ago.

Some days, you just feel like you’re having the scariest, crappiest day in the history of the world, and then you open your mailbox, and see holiday cards from people you’re really happy to have as a part of your life.

One today was from a long-time friend in Australia, another from a long-time friend who lives much closer, but I don’t see any more frequently than if he lived in Australia. They both contained beautiful and heart-felt messages that made me cry.

My life hasn’t been the most stable this year, and I know I’ve been driving everyone up the wall with my constant issues and neediness and emotional ups and downs. My life and my personality and my relationships and friendships aren’t the most conventional, and not everyone I meet likes me or wishes to be a part of my world, and I’m OK with that….because I know I’m blessed with friends and family that love me and want me to be happy.

My mailbox today made me remember that: that there are people who care, no matter how busy life gets, no matter how hard life gets, no matter how far the distance between old friends and family. Life is bigger than just the here and now, which I tend to forget. There are people who have loved and supported and stood by me through some tough times, and years later, are still there to tell me they’re there for me.

While it might hurt that not everyone is the person you think they are, and you can find yourself abandoned or hurt or betrayed when you put yourself out there, you can also find yourself with some pretty amazing friends.

I hadn’t checked my mail in like three days because I’m lazy, but everything happens for a reason, because today I needed the reminder that I am far from alone in the world…and that was there. In addition, I had some good conversations with people I do get to see on a regular basis, but still reached out and talked to me and cared, without even knowing I was struggling today.

As the Golden Girls would say:

Thank you, all of you who truly have been over the years, for being a friend.

This last week wasn’t really the most stable one, at least when it comes to interpersonal dynamics, friendships, health, money, and emotional well-being. Other than that, of course, it’s all been pretty boring.

Rather than writing about the tons of interesting…and mostly personal and off-limits….anecdotes that passed through my life this week, I’ll just fill you in on the list of life lessons I learned that have helped me grow into an older, wiser, and more perceptive person.

1) There’s often a very fine line between friendships and romantic relationships, and that line is not always—not even half the time—defined by whether or not you’re sleeping together. In fact, “defining the relationship” is probably one of the most traumatic experiences that occurs between people. Life is way more complicated than that.
2) When it comes to people you once allowed yourself to care about, merely the passing of time and the changing of the relationship does not result in you caring less. The reasoning behind who emotionally affects you a certain way, and why, defies reason. Life is complicated like that.
3) When it comes to people with whom you shared a connection, and then stopped liking or respecting for a bit, time not only heals many of those issues, it allows you to again see the things you liked about them in the first place. These things typically fall into the “Too little, too late” category. Life is complicated like that.
4) When it comes to people with whom you shared a connection, but probably should have liked a little less than you did, the desire of those individuals to want to sleep with your best friend(s) is an instant cure for any of those uncomfortable feelings. That’s one of those few life lessons that’s totally not complicated at all.
5) When it comes to other people whom you like, but struggle to communicate with in a conflict-free way, there’s always talking about the weather. The untimely arrival of Fall means Atlantians can avoid awkward and conflict-free conversations for at least the next two weeks.
6) When it comes to other people, virtually everyone wants what they can’t have, and when that thing becomes attainable, it’s almost always less interesting. In the rare cases this is not true, you’ve stumbled on to something good. At that point, life gets a little less complicated, with the exception that you will continue to want what you can’t have, and what you don’t really want.
7) Alcohol is a better and more successful treatment for those with mystery House-like diseases and anxiety disorders than are any drugs, prescription or otherwise obtained. I don’t understand it, but martinis and good company heal things.
8) Reality TV is not a contributing factor to any illness, but it won’t be long until doctors start putting it on health questionnaires and psychological inventories.
9) When it comes to knowing how you can expect to get along with others in your life, Meyers-Briggs is right almost without fail…in my not limited personal experience. :) They’ve figured out a reasonable way to navigate the complexity of life and predict which of your friends you will ultimately end up fist-fighting at some point.
10) It doesn’t matter how often you talk to your parents, or how far away they live. They will undoubtedly call you at the most inconvenient time, every time. It’s like they *know*
11) When someone is telling you that you don’t listen and therefore are not as sensitive to the feelings of others as you think, and your mind is already formulating the appropriately indignant rebuttal before that sentence is even finished, they may be right about you.
12) That couple that constantly breaks up and gets back together? It surprises no one when they get back together. If I worked for Hallmark, I’d design a card for that.
13) Overhyped parties where the premise is that everyone should dress kind of the same are, unsurprisingly, the most boring parties in the world.
14) Open mic night at comedy clubs are typically painful experiences. Very few people can ever say their first time was amazing, noteworthy, and memorable. Open mic is no exception.
15) You’d be surprised who doesn’t seem to remember you, or expect you to remember them, when they send you an e-mail. Perhaps I just have a far clearer memory than most.
16) It *is* possible for me to get from PJs to “ready to go out” in 15 minutes. An award should be given.
17) When I am 94, I will be Andy Rooney.
18) Witty sayings should pay more, even if you don’t print them on a T-shirt.

That was my week in a rather large nutshell. This upcoming one won’t be nearly as exciting…the highlight being my dizziness test on Wednesday. Considering I have panic attacks and other unsettling physical and emotional reactions to my unexplained vertigo, 75 minutes of doctors moving you around and saying “Are you dizzy yet?” doesn’t sound like a good time.

Keep your fingers crossed for me. A speedy diagnosis means more good times will be shared, and I’ll have less time to sit around and think about life. :P

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been around much lately, and the “Life Less Ordinary” project has found itself on hiatus. Initially, this was a good thing—I spent two and a half weeks traveling to see family and friends in the Northeast, hanging out in NYC, Philly, and spending a week in the sun at the Jersey Shore.

Not unexpectedly, the latter is where things began to go terribly, terribly wrong.

If you know me, you know I love the beach. In fact, most of my “what I want to do one day when I’ve made enough money and am ready to disappear into anonymity” scenarios involve living on a beach somewhere. And, since I’ve been under a rather large amount of stress lately in my everyday life, I figured there was nothing better than spending hours each day on the sand, soaking up the rays.

This provided a fun and relaxing holiday, until the very last day, when I decided to rent a beach chair and sit near/in the ocean, while reading my book and drinking my contraband vodka and clementine Izze soda. It was a great day, and when I got back to the hotel and took a shower, I noticed I’d acquired a killer tan.

Two hours later, I noticed that the tan was actually sunburn, and it was kind of painful. By the end of the evening, I could barely walk without crying, and of course, the next day was the day we were set to travel to Philly.

I made it—barely—but spent the next week largely in bed, with blisters and painful 2nd degree burns over my legs and belly. In addition, I started to have dizzy spells for no reason, often accompanied by a feeling that fainting would soon occur, heart palpitations, and a feeling that my body was out of control. The first time, I thought I was having a heart attack, and was going to die. :(

I can’t tell if these experiences are provoked by heat exhaustion, anxiety, or a totally unrelated medical issue—but let me tell you, nothing is more frightening than the feeling your body is working against you. For nearly two weeks, I’ve been unable to tolerate bright lights, heat, and staring at the computer screen. Even small things have tired me out immensely, which is unlike me, and my typically energetic, vivacious approach to life.

Slowly, things are improving, and over the past few days, I’ve had the physical and mental stamina to return to work, largely through the help of sunglasses. (wearing sunglasses indoors so you can work on your computer looks silly, but if you are intolerant to light, it actually works quite well.) Yesterday, the sun and the 100 degree temperatures decided to disappear, and it was the first day I actually felt like my old self…so I have some level of confidence that I am recovering, although perhaps not as fast as I’d like.

As always, I enjoyed my time in NYC, although I’m always there far too briefly for my tastes. I had the opportunity to catch up with three old friends I’ve known for years, and always miss dearly. It seems like years ago, distance wasn’t such an impediment to friendships, since there was always time for phone calls, IM chats, e-mails, and the like. Nowadays, there’s rarely the time, and when there is, there’s not always the energy. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, but it’s something that kind of sucks about getting older.

Philly, on the other hand, was a bit of a disaster—with the exception of July 4th. If you’re going to be anywhere on the 4th of July, you want to be in Boston, Philly, or D.C., which is one of the reasons I always plan my trip up there over that timeframe. Unfortunately, being ill really limited my ability to see anyone or do anything, and also reminded me of how difficult it’s always been for me to get along with my family. They’re largely like strangers to me, strangers I find negative and less than supportive, and who don’t really relate to me or anything I have going on in my life. It’s always been that way, of course, but the older I get and the more well-defined my own life becomes, the less they seem like people I know or understand. There are always arguments, always difficulties co-existing, and within two or three days, I begin to miss living in my world instead of theirs.

I think that, all these years, I’ve tried to create a relationship and an understanding with my family that just doesn’t exist. I’ve tried to create a feeling of “home” in this place that should be home to me, and I’m always devastated to remind me that it’s not. I’ve created an ideal in my head that I’ve always wanted, a place that feels like I belong and am loved and understood, and it’s natural to assume that safe place should be with one’s family. For me, it isn’t, and I’ve come to realise that the stability and support and comfort I want from “home” is going to have to be one of my own creation. It’s reminded me why I’d like to focus on finding a place I’d like to live on a permanent basis, and being able to buy property there, so that “home” doesn’t have to be someone else’s, and it doesn’t have to be a transient idea.

I’m glad to be back in Atlanta, though, and to spend time with the people I care about here. Even if I have to spend a chunk of my summer in bed, watching TV and working with sunglasses on, there are still some good times to be had before the summer is over.

And, of course, Big Brother is back, one of my favourite summertime guilty pleasures!:)

Infatuation is the state of being completely carried away by unreasoned passion or love: ‘expresses the headlong libidinal attraction‘ of addictive love. Usually, one is inspired with an intense but short-lived passion or admiration for someone.” ~ Wikipedia

Day #5:



Infatuated, by Pink Butterfly Of Death

*~ Embrace Infatuation *~

I’m a big fan of infatuation, and it’s a state of being that’s played a huge role in my life over the years. In fact, it was the title of a short-lived, private, and thoroughly self-indulgent blog I kept off and on during my early 20′s, filled with emotional angst and feelings about….well….infatuation.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not excellent at relationships and everything that makes them work, which largely accounts for my rather complex and chaotic history in that department. However, infatuation I know well, and rather enjoy. There’s something invigorating about waking up each morning and being immediately reminded there’s this person or thing out there in the world that makes that day an amazing one.

Of course, infatuation doesn’t last—in the worst of situations, it burns itself out in the form of abrupt or cruel disillusionment, and in the best, the object of infatuation becomes a part of your daily life, changing your relationship with it and putting an end to idealism. But, during the brief point in time it exists, it’s a reminder of the human capacity to thoroughly enjoy and adore the people and things in the world, and makes it impossible not to enjoy life.

For someone like myself, someone who is happiest living in a world largely of her own making, full of idealism and emotion and ideas and creative energy, infatuation is a hard-wired personality attribute. I’m not just talking about infatuations with people—although they do exist, and contrary to popular conception of the word, are less romantic in nature than you might imagine— but with ideas, movies, music, books, culture, fashion, food, and even electronic gadgets.

When they apply to people, my infatuations can become dangerous; after all, I’m the type of girl who rarely ever had crushes on movie stars. Instead, I fell in love with characters, fictionalised representations of the types of people I’d be excited by meeting and to whom I’d be immediately attracted. As I grew older, these tendencies shifted themselves into my relationships with others, making it easy for me to idealise those that captured my attention, and even more insistent that I should be that interesting to others in turn. Too many crushes, flings, relationships, and friendships in my life have ended with the realisation that they were in fact infatuations, and I was far more inspired by the possibility than the reality. It is always the process of idealising and admiring another person that I fall in love with, which leads me to quickly fall out of love with the reality of that person, one of many factors that led me to embrace a non-monogamous lifestyle for a number of years. I also think it’s a character flaw that’s kept me from having relationships that work over the long-term, and the recognition of this has forced me to redirect my infatuation energy.


Nowadays, I’m far more likely to become infatuated with ideas, things that inspire my imagination, things that others have created. Over the winter, I became wildly infatuated with all things Tudor, an odd interest for me, because I’m not a history buff. After a previous infatuation, researching my family tree on Ancestry.com, led me to discover that many,many, many generations ago, a branch of my family tree descended from the Tudor line, it turned into me wanting to learn more about some of the crazy characters from that time in history. After immensely enjoying countless hours of The Tudors series by Showtime, I even found a few documentaries I thought were interesting (and I don’t tend to like documentaries.) Not only did I watch all the seasons in a period of a few weeks, I also started reading both fiction and non-fiction relating to the time period, and discovered a new favourite author in the process, Philippa Gregory.

Of course, this infatuation lasted for months, and didn’t disappear until it was replaced by another. Some are much shorter-lived love affairs, like deciding I was going to become more educated about wine, or reading Time Magazine, or that I was going to publish a book of poetry. However, I love that these infatuations come and go, and that some turn into lasting interests and talents—or, at the very least, help me accumulate trivia facts.

Reading over my old journal, which makes me feel a bit embarrassed for the version of myself that was around back then, reminded me that infatuations are healthy, invigorating, and inspiring. They help you grow, they help you discover yourself, and they sometimes even bring others into your life. Of course, the best part is that, unless you’re ready to mention them to the people in your life, your infatuations can stay your own little secret for a lifetime. ;)

There hasn’t been much posting here lately because, to be honest, I’ve been in a little bit of a funk lately. I can’t blame it on the weather, because it’s been unusually sunny for February in Atlanta. In fact, last weekend, it was in the 70′s, and felt more like May than February. However, it hasn’t been enough to overcome this feeling of frustration and discontentment with nearly everything and everyone. I feel a little like I’ve had month-long PMS.

It doesn’t help that last week was one of the worst weeks I’ve had in a long time. In the course of 48 hours, I broke a front tooth, got pulled over by the cops (and my roommate and I were both very lucky we didn’t end up in jail), and found out I got fired from a writing job I’d been working on for six months. I’m going to need a root canal and crown for the tooth, which is a $1700 bill, because I don’t have dental insurance. The job is replaceable, but I’m already financially struggling this month due to a huge amount of expenses ever since December, and this week, the primary place I work for isn’t sending any clients my way. It’s really a terrible, awful month here.

On the brighter side of things, last weekend, one of my best friends in Atlanta (and my former roommate for two years), got married. The wedding has been in the making for a few months, but in terms of wedding planning, all came together in a relatively short amount of time and ended up being beautiful. It certainly helped that the order for 72 degrees and sunny was filled. *laughs*

The bride and groom have been living together for some time, and have a beautiful little girl, so in some ways, the wedding seemed a little like a formality. To most everyone who knows them, it’s as if they’re already married. However, during and after the ceremony, both of them looked so happy with each other….so I guess getting married is definitely something more significant than cementing a relationship with a piece of paper, particularly if you’re the church-going type (which these two are.)

However, planning a wedding is stressful for everyone involved, and the weekend of fun wedding events (bachelorette party, rehearsal dinner, nails, hair, and makeup) leading up to the ceremony ended up being an experiment in drama. In addition to having three bridesmaids from Atlanta, two of her good friends flew down from NYC, which I thought would make for an awesome weekend. However, somewhere along the line, the girls started bickering, which led to fighting, crying, silent treatment, gossiping, confrontation, and a year’s worth of resentments, annoyances, and who said what about who becoming an issue in the midst of all the things that needed to happen.

I’ve known, and been friends with, two of these girls for over four years. I’m not certain why, all of the sudden, I find out that Person X has a problem with me, and Person Y supposedly agrees, but Person Y says she never talks about me and she doesn’t trust Person X because she supposedly talks about everyone. The more I talk to both of them, the more I realise their stories don’t line up, both in terms of things that involve me, and other things that happened when I wasn’t there. To a certain extent, Person X must be telling the truth, because she told me about things she couldn’t have known about unless Person Y told her. However, on the same side of the coin, there are instances where I just intuitively know Person Y’s account of an event is the more accurate one.

What it’s led me to believe is that, among this circle of friends (and their close friends and significant others), everyone talks about each other. ALOT. Most of it is done behind backs and closed doors, and is more in the form of “venting” and dealing with the minor issues in a passive-aggressive way, so they don’t become major blow-ups. Most of the things said are things that are never meant to be repeated, and when they are repeated, are typically repeated out of context, causing resentment. This has characterised my friendship with these two girls for years, and for the most part, it works, because major blow-ups are rare. But now, somehow, it’s become the case that people are feeling as if they can’t trust each other, accusing each other of being fake or self-centred, and wondering if their friends are really their friends.

I care about both of these girls, and like them both, although they’re both quite different from me, and I don’t always relate. I think it’s largely true that we all talk about each other too much, and gossip, and repeat things we shouldn’t. I think it’s largely true that we all make rude, insensitive, and obnoxious remarks to/about each other, rather than addressing problems or insecurities. But I also know that these girls have been supportive of me through some really tough times, have been the ones to help me through life’s dramatic moments, and have kept the big secrets I’ve trusted them with. I hope that everyone can take a step back and take a look at what really matters, and as a result, work on ditching the high school drama BS.

I personally am going to work on remembering that snarky remarks are not a way to vent your frustration with another person, and even when someone makes them to you first, saying obnoxious things just makes you look like a bitch. I know this is one of my less likeable personality attributes, and it’s gotten me in trouble along the way in life, so it’s something worth working on in terms of growing as a person.

Anyhow, despite the drama, the wedding itself worked out beautifully, and I think that everyone had a great time. It occurred to me that putting on a wedding is almost exactly like putting on a show. There are all these details to take care of, numerous things go wrong, everyone has to remember exactly what they need to do, and there’s always a ton of short-temperedness, stress, ego, and inter-personal conflict involved. But, in the end, it looks like it all happens effortlessly.

As much as I don’t want to be a director, I also don’t want to be a wedding planner. *laughs*

This week hasn’t involved anything of the negative variety, really, other than not having enough work and concern over paying my bills. However, I can’t seem to shake the sad, blah feeling that’s taken over my week. I don’t even know where it’s coming from. But I hope it will leave when February does, if not before.

While absolutely nobody reads this blog, save for a handful of close friends, it seems I’ve been targeted by a spammer-bot that found me on LiveJournal, and just won’t quit with the comments. So, I’m going to handle the situation like I usually do when a problem with someone or something comes my way: by writing a polite note that is perfectly cordial on the outside, but on the inside, contains a very large middle finger. :)

Dear Spammer-Bot,

My comments are moderated for a variety of reasons, but you are one of them. Your comments will not be approved, so, please, stop wasting your time and mine.

Thanks,

*~ A.

In other news, I have now officially failed at/ broken all my New Year’s resolutions. I haven’t lost a single pound since successfully convincing the scale to take 5 off the number it shows me every day, I spend more time wasting time on the computer during my work day than actually working, I’m not in a financially promising situation due to all the things that are going into planning a friend’s bridal shower, bachelorette party, and attending her wedding next month, and I’ve only read one book and watched one movie on the “classics” list. The past few months have brought a good deal of distance, both physically and emotionally (though, ironically, not at the same time.) into my relationship with The Guy I Am Currently Dating. We’ve had open and kind of emotionally draining conversations about the future of our relationship—or, in my mind, the lack thereof.

I’m certain that those that have known me for a long time have pegged my recent sadness as simply that thing that happens to me every so often, where I realise I’m dissatisfied with my life, and ready to run: from a job that isn’t ultimately what I want to do, but is improving my life and good for me *right now*; from a relationship that often seems too hard and too complicated and destined to end as soon as it is time for me to make any kind of major life change; from a living situation I don’t like, with a roommate that simply refuses to find a full-time job and hasn’t paid more than $100 a month toward living expenses for a year; from friends that talk about me behind my back and I’m not always certain truly like me or consider me a friend, nor if I truly like them. I know I tend to run away from things rather than moving forward, but I haven’t done that in a long while, and as a result, I feel stuck.

And while I know there are options for unsticking myself that don’t involve just packing up and going somewhere where nobody knows my name (which I guess means Boston is out. :P ), that idea can’t help but seem appealing and exciting to me. I’m ready for a new adventure, and for things to not always feel so stagnant. Part of me just wonders if I’ve exhausted my adventures here in Atlanta, while another part simply wants to move closer to the city and into my own apartment. Either way, I find myself being bored and restless, and while I don’t want to leave behind all the positive relationships I’ve built here and find myself all alone in the world, it seems like every time I finally develop something that feels like home and family, my natural inclination is to want to go away from it and visit it on holidays.

I am really, truly, in need of personal growth, adventure, and excitement. For the first time, concerns about relationships, work, money, and everything else aren’t paramount in my mind, although they really should be. My energy and focus always drifts away, and dreams of adventure, exciting changes, and recapturing my spirit.

I’m not really sure what to do with that, or about that.

Sometimes, the whole relationship thing seems relatively impossible, and really kind of depressing.

I see other people all around me, every day, who somehow make it work. There are people in the world that accomplish this idea of having a committed relationship with one person that is not only a good match and free of horribly destructive tendencies like lying, stealing, cheating, screwing around, beating people up, needing to control others, and engaging in addictions to anything out there that a person can find himself addicted to—but then on top of that, actually wants to build a future with another person and has goals headed in the same direction, and doesn’t have any huge life obstacles preventing this potential future from happening. Typically, I do not know these people—although there are a few in my circle of friends—and I have historically not ended up in relationships with these people, but I do somehow know they’re out there.

I am, admittedly, not the most commitment-oriented person on the planet, and I have my share of huge issues to deal with, which is likely why I attract the same. I’ve been dating The Guy I Am Currently Dating for two and a half years now, and during that time, I’ve discovered he’s still one of those truly good guys, the kind that is free of deal-breaking habits, is willing to put up with my shit and like me anyway, treats me well, and helps to make me a better person. It’s hard to find those guys, particularly when you’re me, and you’re attracted to drama, chaos, and things that don’t make you a better person.

The trouble is, whenever I think about the future, I feel a little depressed and lost. It’s not just that after two and a half years, we’re not living together, not engaged, not married, and have no immediate plans to move the relationship forward past the hanging out three days a week phase. That is kind of unusual, based on my previous life experience, but let’s admit it, my previous life experience hasn’t exactly worked out for me. I’ve made living together and getting engaged important steps in the relationship, which then lead to a desire for freedom, independence, and the realisation I’ve committed myself to the wrong person—or perhaps that I’m just the wrong person for that kind of commitment.

However, I’ve also ended/caused the end of relationships because it occurred to me that after two years, a guy who hasn’t proposed or asked me to move in with him probably isn’t the right person for me. In my mind, that’s enough time to determine whether or not you’ve found the right person—and if you haven’t, it’s a good idea to move on. Maybe it’s not so much that I need that kind of commitment in my life *right now*, it’s just that I need to know that the person I’m investing my time, energy, and feelings in actually likes me enough to want that kind of commitment with me. I need to know that the other person sees a future with me, and plans for that future could actually be a possibility….you know, in the future.

The Guy I Am Currently Dating tells me I am the right person for him, and he sees a future with me, but what I see is a whole lot of obstacles and uncertainties that would make that kind of future an impossibility, even if he wanted that…and I’m not sure he does. In my experience, guys who have gotten past a certain age and have avoided making serious commitments in the relationship department have done so for a reason—and the reason is often that, no matter how much they like someone or how perfect that someone is, they’re happy being permanent bachelors. And, commitment-phobic as I am, I somehow know that’s not right for me.

I’m afraid of continually making this same mistake, of investing years of my life into someone who doesn’t want what I want—either because they’re in a hurry to get married and have kids *right now*, or because they’ve made it to a different stage of life, where dating and maintaining separate lives is ideal. When I think about the future, I feel sad, because I’m tired of having to say goodbye to people, not because I don’t love them, but because our futures don’t fit together, or the obstacles are too great. But, when that’s the case, the only alternative is to not say goodbye…and accept that the other person may never want what you want.

I’m not sure which is the more painful, so most of the time, I relegate “the future” into that “thing I don’t think about” category. But one day, I’m going to have to, and it’s going to put me back in the position of making really hard choices. :( ((

I am not sure how people *ever* get together, much less make it work out for the long term. But, with a 50% divorce rate in this country, I’m not sure anyone else does, either.

Sometimes, I think relationships for me are always about someone falling for the idea of who I might be, who I could possibly be in the future, or who I was sometime in my past that might make a reappearance. I think this because it’s easy for me to start relationships, to find people who are interested and profess love and admiration, but once it’s 6 months or a year or two into things, life seems more about “No, you’re wrong.” and “I don’t agree with your way of looking at things”.

It’s harder to just be myself, without the feeling of disappointing someone who wasn’t quite aware who that person was, whose subtext is always, “I didn’t know you were like that” and “You’re hard for me to figure out.”

It’s easier to be quiet, to neglect pieces of myself that don’t quite fit the picture, to not mention that after all this time, I’m still an incurable romantic who just wants that end-all-be-all connection with someone who just gets me; who clicks, and connects, and understands, and still likes me in the process.

Every relationship I’ve ever been in, as time passes, I start to hide myself…or at least, the pieces of myself that don’t seem worthy of commentary, or I deem too uninteresting for another person to care about. And, inevitably, I grow farther and farther apart from that other person, until it occurs to me that I’m still looking for that connection I’m at least partially responsible for making sure doesn’t happen.

I think that’s why I’ve had such struggles with ideas like monogamy and commitment in my life; they’re so wrapped up with this idea of losing myself, hiding myself because it’s easier than openly addressing the fact that the person you’re with might not “get” you in the particular way you need to be understood and related to. It’s easier than seeing that you run from relationships, make yourself unavailable because part of you is always chasing something—something that’s this elusive ideal and may not even exist, and most people know not to look for or expect, but you just can’t quite give up on.

I can’t give up on the idea that I don’t want so many of the little things I do or say or think or believe to become less endearing and more annoying as time passes. I can’t give up on the idea that the right person for me is someone who knows and appreciates who I am on some fundamental level, and as a result, finishes my sentences and knows what I’m thinking even when I don’t say it out loud, and still thinks I’m adorable. I don’t think I’ve ever found that, and logically, I know I shouldn’t need that. But I do.

So much of the time, I feel like there’s someone else in my life—-friends, parents, significant others—who tell me what I think, feel, say, and do is wrong, no matter what. Sometimes, I feel as if the world tells me I’m wrong just for being me, and I should work on being someone a little entirely different, something I’ve never quite figured out.

I don’t want being loved for who I truly am to be a compromise another person makes to make things work; an “in spite of”, when it should be a “because”. I wonder if that makes sense to anyone else but me.

On the other hand, consistently having relationships with people who are my emotional opposites, or with whom I don’t share as many common interests as I’d ideally like in a relationship, probably makes this issue harder for me to deal with. I know I’m very rarely the only one who feels misunderstood. :(