“My survival is, in fact, the final irony. Everyone was always in better health than me. All my friends, two husbands, my sisters, so many who never complained a day in their lives until death tapped them on the shoulder. The grass is green over them now–and I’m still here.” — “Mozart’s Wife”,Juliet Waldron

A few days ago, I completed an author interview that will hopefully be around and about in the next few months. In it, I was asked about the state of indie publishing, and whether or not traditional publishers were still the only reliable source for for quality literature.

A year or so ago, The Guy I Am Currently Dating bought me a Kindle Fire, which I wasn’t even sure at the time I wanted. As it turns out, I love it, and it’s gotten me into the habit of reading more. Since I don’t live near a convenient library and spending $15-$20 for a new release every time I’m excited to read something can become an expensive habit, discovering relatively inexpensive indie authors is a fun hobby. I’m already somewhat addicted to clothes and jewelry and headpieces and perfumes. I don’t need anything else on which to spend money (but more about me and my 2013 shopping adventures later.)

The truth is, for every 10 “free” or “99 cent” Kindle books I download, one is worth reading. Recently, I downloaded a book that sounded so promising to me in premise, and was written by a retired humanities professor with the requisite letters after his name. I made it through 10 pages. I couldn’t help but remember a time, as a freshman in university who was slacking off and called into the adviser’s office for a “chat about my potential”, the professor speaking to me told me that I was more articulate and visionary than many of his colleagues. Even though I studied in the arts, where graduating with a job offer is considered a success, my adviser expressed disappointment that I didn’t turn it down in order to continue my education. I remembered this episode, with a total lack of humility, because I encountered an instance that proved him right. Not every well-educated person should be self-publishing, at least without an editor.

I’m picky about what I read, in the same way that I don’t have the patience to sit through a bad movie and will fall asleep during a TV show I hate. I don’t mean to be critical. I guess I just am. If I dislike a book within the first 20 minutes, I’ll delete it without a thought. I’m sure plenty of people would do the same to mine. ;)

I downloaded “Mozart’s Wife”, because it was a work of historical fiction (which I enjoy), and because in my years of singing, my operatic repertoire has become particularly Mozart-heavy. Mozart loved his coloraturas, and wasn’t afraid to write very difficult pieces for them. Of course, I know a great deal about the less-than-admirable life of the child prodigy who, like so many child prodigies, did not end his life with the same promise with which it began. However, I know less about his wife Constanze (Konstanze, or Stanzi in this book). She’s always depicted as petite, slightly plump, voluptuous, and bursting with energy that attracted many admirers. Since Mozart has a reputation as a philanderer, an alcoholic, a gambler, and a person of many other vices, it’s widely portrayed in books and popular culture that his wife was of the same temperament. One would assume, especially after watching “Amadeus”, that they were a pair of liberal party-hoppers with high aspirations but little sense of practicality.

This book shows a different side to Konstanze, a woman who struggled to deal with a neurotic, unfaithful, and chronically irresponsible husband whose flaws were to be forgiven because of her genius. She also struggled of living in the shadow of two gifted sisters, one an extraordinary beauty Mozart wanted to marry but instead helped her to launch a career as a prima donna. In the character portrayed, you don’t see a flighty and sensual woman, but one who might have been content with a less glamorous and more stable life. Upon Mozart’s death, she found herself to be 28, in severe debt, prematurely aging, and willing to bury her husband in a pauper’s grave and lock up all relics of his life. You see someone who is not mourning the loss of love, but carrying the burden of anger at how many lives the man she loved destroyed.

I do not know how much of the story is fictional, and how much is based on papers left behind by Mozart himself (which Konstanze later edited and published in order to build a sense of financial security), but the speculation that Mozart had illegitimate children and died by poison at the hands of a fellow Masoner who found his wife seduced by the musician is certainly a possibility, and an entertaining one at that. Regardless of Konstanze’s feelings toward her late husband, if she had simply thrown his stacks of compositions and correspondence into the fire, history would have been denied much. An artist who struggled to earn a living for his family during his lifetime has been turned into one of the greatest legends of all time, and I suspect most of that is owed to the sheer practicality of his widow.

I’ve always adored Mozart’s “Requiem”, and the dramatization of his death surrounding the composition of it in “Amadeus”made it that much more heart-rending for me. At one point, Waldron writes a scene in which Mozart acknowledges the requiem he is writing is for himself, and cries during attempts to create the “Lachrymosa”. (the last part of the “Requiem” most scholars agree Mozart completed completely on his own.) This scene shook me, because it is perhaps the most musically powerful piece ever composed by someone who spent so much of his gift creating entertaining stories and bawdy farces. It is at the very end of his life, you see and hear the true genius that was perhaps never entirely discovered.

I had to look through 20 “free” Kindle books to find something as well-written, well-researched, and engaging as this novel. Fans of Phillipa Gregory, Juliet Grey, Antonia Fraser, and Alison Weir will all enjoy this work.

On a somewhat related note, I experienced something that I can now cross off my bucket list: receiving my first rejection letter. I submitted a series of short stories for publication as a chapbook, and it was rejected with a polite semi-form letter that said “I’m glad to have read it, and while I found much to like in it, I think I’m going to decline the chance to publish it as a title. Please don’t take this as a reflection on you or the work–when making editorial decisions like this it’s more about the larger picture of the vision for the grouping of titles as a whole than it is a singular comment on one particular book.”

I actually took the rejection harder than I thought I would. I am not unused to rejection. You don’t get through a lifetime of working in theatre without knowing how to handle rejection. You don’t live life as the sort of person who will tell someone how you feel about them without the risk that every so often, your feelings simply won’t be reciprocated. You don’t apply for freelance jobs expecting every single person will be awed by you.

Yet, there’s something about a rejection letter that’s extremely personal and final. It is the equivalent of hearing “It’s not you, it’s me, but it’s really you.” I cried and felt inadequate about the whole business. At least when you don’t get a role in a show, it’s often because of a director’s vision, or because you’ve seen with your own eyes that you weren’t right for something or someone was better than you. When you confess your love for someone who replies with “But I’d rather be with someone who isn’t you”, you cry and realise that person is just an emotionally unaware idiot and it’s for the best. When you don’t land a job, it’s a disappointment, but an impersonal one. The real and personal nature of a rejection letter has a way of hitting hard. It must be a little like being one of Taylor Swift’s ex-boyfriends listening to her new album for the first time.

It isn’t even so much that I believed that a chapbook was the right format for what I wanted to put out there. As always, a simple idea of “I should write some stories” turned into a larger project that will likely end up being a 150-page novella with an over-arching theme that 10 people will read. My inability to do anything on a small scale is nothing if not consistent.

I suppose it was more just a case of me hoping to hear validation and encouragement, in the form of “You’re a creative person who isn’t wasting time working on creative things.” When I received the opposite, it felt like quite a blow to my already delicate self-esteem.

On a final, somewhat related note, I’ve had my first author interview published regarding “Ophelia’s Wayward Muse“. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can read it here. Make certain to leave a comment or a “like”, to let both the blog owner and myself know you’ve visited and appreciated what you happened to read.

It’s been an odd week. The weather changes almost every other day, as does my mood, and both have been difficult to handle. I hope to be able to take some time in June to travel and visit a few friends I’ve been missing dearly, as both travel and the company of friends I see too infrequently generally makes me feel more exuberant and less…well…old. *laughs*

On the up side, we have tickets to see Fun. in October, and while that’s a lifetime away, I have something to look forward to. :)

“If you ever feel that you are no longer important to someone… then leave their life silently.”~ Anonymous

I wasn’t going to blog about this, because it’s a relatively small and unimportant matter, in the grand scheme of things, and is a situation that’s somewhat personal, besides. However, I found it was something that upset me in a way that I simply couldn’t let go of the way I wanted to…and it upset my emotional balance all evening, and consequently, how other people felt about spending time with me. In short, it made me really, really sad, and I’m not even sure why it hit home as hard as it did.

I have a friend who has been in my life for some time, only recently, after quite a number of years, we took the time to meet face-to-face. Before that, he’d always been the sort of person who’d been content to be my friend at somewhat of a distance. A naturally introverted person with a pretty rich inner world and a very busy life aside from that, he’s never been the type to call me up to gossip about our lives, and if I were looking for the kind of person to remind me of my importance on a regular basis, I’d naturally feel hurt by this friend, because he’s the type that forgets to send an e-mail for a week, or two, or four, or eight.

Of course, whenever we did communicate, I always got the sense that underneath our many difference, there was a complex and unique level of connection…and since every letter seemed to mention “I’m sorry for not communicating more often”, I took it as a sign that I was someone he wished to get to know better. I even took it as a sign that in some way, I was worth escaping from an introverted and self-sufficient world to spend time with, which he did, although neither of us were certain we’d get along…at all.

We did indeed get along, in a way that led to a more heartfelt, interesting connection than I’d anticipated. I’m not an inexperienced girl when it comes to people, the ways of the world, and seeing the parts of people and their inner worlds they don’t typically share with others. I saw in this friend someone I felt an inexplicable connection to, despite a myriad of superficial differences—whether that connection is a sign of simple romantic attraction, a meaningful friendship, or someone who has been put in my life for a purpose, I do not know—but I know that connection when it shows up (and it doesn’t often), and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been wrong about the existence of that connection. I also know when that connection is reciprocated, if not understood, and there really doesn’t need to be much conversation about that. People just intuitively sense how others feel about them, I suppose, even if it’s illogical and confusing and makes little sense. The “why” and the nature of human connections are harder to figure out, but their existence is fairly simple.

Anyhow, my response to all this was to react in the way I’d react to anyone I’d been friends with at a distance, clicked with, and realised we should spend time getting to know one another: by communicating more frequently. Unfortunately, since this friend lives at quite a distance from me, is too busy to screw around on Facebook all day and rarely uses it, doesn’t reply to e-mails in a timely fashion, and has a schedule that precludes long, in-depth phone conversations, it left me with one of my favourite and most adaptable ways of becoming closer friends with someone: text.

A few weeks ago, we had a rather heated discussion (re: argument) about communication, which ended in me overreacting and feeling rejected, because I received a rather sharply worded letter about how this friend simply didn’t have the time or emotional availability required for the whole “getting to know you better”, communication thing. The letter wounded me so deeply that I briefly considered simply dismissing any possibility of anything past a casual, once-a-month friendship, and cutting off communication. Fortunately, when I expressed myself and my feelings, my friend sent me back a more emotionally-oriented explanation of what he was trying to say, something I could relate to. This led to a series of communications and rather vulnerable, emotional conversations about ourselves and our lives, and on my end, I saw as even greater evidence that, deep down, I’d met someone who truly wanted open, meaningful, and sensitive connection with others…despite an outward appearance that might point to the contrary. The more I connected with this friend, the more I saw how much we had in common on a deep and internal level, and not just the differences existing on the everyday lifestyle level. Again, I received feedback from my friend that indicated he also saw this, and was both pleased and confused by the dichotomy of feelings evoked by that kind of friendship.

Somewhere along the line, we reached a truce. We agreed we both had broken pieces in terms of how we communicate with others that could possibly destroy not only any possible friendship between us, but likely affected other friendships and relationships in our lives. We agreed that I would cut him some slack and not assume that not hearing from someone every day means they don’t like me, are abandoning me, or have lost interest in knowing me. In return, he would work on being more open and communicating and taking the time out to truly connect, because it’s an important part of life.

This worked for about two or three weeks. I agreed not to text him at work when he pointed out it was disruptive, or when he was sleeping, or to be overly clingy and lack understanding about the need for focused, introverted time, which meant I might not get a response to a text or a call that day. On his part, he acknowledged that me opening myself up and trusting him enough to want to make a space for him in my world and my life, and doing that the only way I know how—via communication—was indeed a special gift, and one he felt hurt by not appreciating enough, letting me know that getting to know one another better and “spending time together”, so to speak, was important for him, too.

Today, things kind of blew up, and there was an unpleasant exchange of texts that again led me to feel hurt and rejected and as if the gift I was offering was not only something not of value to him, but one he clearly did not want and was returning unopened. This shocked me because, quite frankly, I’d thought I’d understood that not only was this friend attracted to me on some level, but also felt a connection with me that was both intimidating and intriguing.

I see that it happened because we both failed. Neither of us followed through on the promises we made, on the ground rules that we established that said “This is what’s going to work to help our friendship grow”. I naturally fell back into my old habits of texting whenever I felt like it (although I did try not to do so during work hours), and because things seemed different, in that my friend would not only answer my texts but communicate and have long discussions with me—sometimes about important stuff, sometimes about nothing—-I began to assume the friendship was, in fact, becoming more comfortable to him. I understood that I was dealing with someone who didn’t need my level of communication, but it really seemed as if my friend were trying to bridge that gap, the same way I was trying by being more respectful of his time and obligations.

However, at the end of this week, things seemed to go awry. My friend stopped communicating, for days, and of course it didn’t take long before I started to take it personally. He let me know that he was very busy with other obligations, and at one point, even apologised for not being around—something I think is probably not normal for him to do. Yet, although I understood, I seemed to focus on the fact that not only was I being ignored, I was getting a different vibe from my friend’s sparse communication.

I felt as if something had suddenly become different, as if this person I felt comfortable growing closer to backed away—and like all intuitive people, I’m not sure I’m not right about that—-and like all people with abandonment complexes, I freaked out and felt abandoned.

Of course, I tried to mask this with sarcastic humour, and my friend instead accused me of being confrontational. I didn’t intend to be, but being an equally intuitive person, he likely detected the hurt feelings and fear lurking underneath the snarky comments. Somehow, things escalated into him feeling like something was wrong with him for his inability to make me happy with the communication he was offering, which then hurt me that he was so hurt. As a result, I immediately moved into abandonment mode, accused him of being disinterested in any sort of meaningful friendship with me, and using all the typical things you’d encounter in ending a relationship (“I’m just going to walk away now, because it’s for your own good; I make you sad and I don’t want that”) and the counter, (“We can still be friends though, right?”)—with someone you weren’t even involved with, ever, to boot. It became upsetting, distracting, dramatic, and in the time it took us to have this text fight, we could have had a lovely, uninterrupted 30 minute phone chat about something that left us feeling positive about each other and ourselves, rather than fighting about communication.

I still have this odd feeling that something happened to cause my friend to create an emotional distance I didn’t expect and I responded to in an overly sensitive way. Perhaps it is a “me” related thing—perhaps he finally read a regrettable piece of correspondence I’d sent after our first fight over communication and freaked out, perhaps it’s because I told him I was planning to stop by and visit on my way up to see my family and friends in the Northeast (something he seemed pleased to hear, but people are complex and difficult.), or perhaps he simply decided he’d had enough and needed AlaynaFreeTime. Perhaps it’s something related to work, or difficulties with another friendship or relationship in his life. But there was a specific point when I felt something change, and because that scared me, I couldn’t just let it go. I should have, especially if it was an emotional misperception on my part. But, this idea that this new friend in my life wasn’t yet someone I could trust not to disappear on me—either literally or emotionally—or withdraw to the point where sending me a “checking in” letter once a month was the extent of interest he had in knowing me; well, that idea is powerful and pervasive when it’s been a hurtful part of your past.

I understand that we both failed…both in communicating with one another and in working to understand one another, and to help one another overcome certain trust issues and insecurities.

I said to someone recently that usually,when people who care about one another fight, it becomes about everything except exactly what you want and mean to say.

What I meant to say to my friend this week was this: “I understand you’re really busy with life and overwhelmed, and I appreciate you taking the time to tell me that, because you’re not accountable to me in any way, and that choice shows me you care. Yet, you’ve been more emotionally distant than usual, and I have this weird feeling that you’re withdrawing back into your own little world, which makes me feel scared of being abandoned.”

Instead, I didn’t say those things. I didn’t say “thank you” for making the effort to try, which might seem like such a minor thing to me, but isn’t at all to someone like my friend for whom communication isn’t a daily necessity. Instead, I hid behind annoyingly snarky messages about his unavailability in hopes that he’d reach out and connect with me, say “This is how I’m feeling and what’s going on, and it’s not personal…and if it is personal, here’s why.” Instead, I made someone I cared about feel inadequate and unappreciated and unaccepted for who he is—which couldn’t be further from the truth. And, of course, rather than opening up more, this seemed to get the reaction of him shutting down, backing away from me, realising it was just easier to dismiss things by saying “We’re broken people” and “We’re really different, and look at close friendships differently” than to really talk.

And, in that way, my friend failed a little bit, too. It takes two people to connect, and when things went awry, I put myself out there in an emotional way that went largely ignored and disregarded. He retreated into his safe, comfort zone where someone getting too close or demanding too much wasn’t an issue, and there wasn’t anyone to let down or feel harangued by. Rather than remembering, “Alayna is opening up to me and attempting to know me in a way that is meaningful and flattering, and that is a gift that not too many people freely give”, he only saw demands and inconveniences and expectations he couldn’t fulfill—-something that I’d suspect likely reminded him of other friendships and relationships in his life where that was in play, and reminded him of other times he wasn’t understood or accepted. In fact, after apologising to me for being too “broken” to communicate in the way I—and many people—need, I felt the need to hug this friend, and remind him that he was just as he was supposed to be. He thanked me for accepting him, which I found odd—only moments early, I responded in a very emotional way because I felt judged, when he pointed out, “Most people would do this, instead of what you do…”. I felt it necessary to give him something I didn’t feel from him, which perplexed me..but, like I said, I don’t always understand feelings. They just *are*. I was very hurt, but his reaction made me feel bonded and protective, all at once. Perhaps I have a nurturing side to me, after all.

I may be really, really wrong…but despite the really unpleasant, hurtful conversation, I still feel like my friend is someone I know and see and understand, deep down. I can’t always express that when my personal insecurities get in the way, and I hide behind drama and histrionic outbursts, and the old standby, “I’m walking away so you can realise how important I am when I’m gone.” At the same time, I think he has a fairly deep insight into the person I am, the person a few layers deeper than most people know—but when something stresses him out or scares him or overwhelms him, he retreats into this very logical mode that can sometimes border on hostile (or maybe just for an emotional person like me.). I wish that he could communicate with me *before* that happens, to speak openly about thoughts and feelings and concerns and not just while we’re having an argument and hurling around all the statements about what we don’t like about ourselves, or one another. Because I know we are actually fond of one another a great deal—and we both like ourselves enough to get by. ;)

I know and understand enough about people to know that both my friend and I use well-developed defense mechanisms on a regular basis, two different tactics that have always been successful for two people who have developed a lifetime of self-protective instincts, distrust of letting others too deeply into their world, and fear of ultimately being hurt, abandoned, used, or betrayed. I accused my friend today of not being willing to open up or take chances or give anyone the benefit of the doubt or to let anyone in, but the truth is that I’m no better—-I push away the very people to whom I want to get closer. And, being more intuitive than most, it’s like I *know* what’s going to accomplish that self-protective sabotage that I’ve relied on to keep me safe—an instinct that’s resulted in a lifetime of commitmentphobia, polyamoury, a string of broken engagements and ex-lovers who won’t speak to me, friendships that change every few years, and the unique talent I have for telling people I want them to come closer while simultaneously pushing them away. Maybe we both share the same fear of intimacy that means our friendship can only exist on a superficial level, but I kind of instinctively feel the opposite…that perhaps we are the kind of people that can really and truly relate to one another in a way most others cannot. I suppose only time—and the mutual interest and willingness to figure that out, if such an interest exists— will tell.

I also see that, deep down, my friend and I aren’t that different. I deal with many of the same issues in an extroverted, hyper-emotional way that he deals with in an introverted, “this isn’t comfortable for me” way. I wouldn’t be surprised if, despite that dichotomy, our feelings and insecurities and fears are very much the same. And I also wonder if this underlying dichotomy is that inexplicable *thing* that would draw two very opposite people together, and despite reason and logic, create feelings of “You’re supposed to be important to me, and I don’t know how or why, but I know you are important.” When you turn around the mirror image of yourself—the one that is superficially opposite in every way, yet still essentially you on some level—you either find something life-changing in some way, or something you simply can’t have in your life because you–or the other person–can’t deal. Again, I suppose it’s a matter of time and mutual interest in getting to know one another that will reveal which this is, but regardless, I have this feeling that my friend and I finding one another, and discovering these things about one another, is meant to be immensely significant in some way. Good, bad, indifferent, life-altering, or just confusing? I don’t know. But I’m willing to be open and patient enough to find out.

In some ways, it’s asking the impossible. For us to get to a point where we have the kind of friendship I think we could possibly have—one of that rare variety that pass through your life, teach you something valuable, and change everything when you’re not looking—-we both need to appreciate one another and see the small things, rather than making demands. We both need to get rid of defense mechanisms that aren’t doing either of us any good…because (and again, I might be wrong), I think that deep down we both look for the type of connections that we simultaneously fear and push away, and instead choose other types of connections to populate our lives. We both need to stop running away, emotionally detaching, or hiding behind sarcasm and other forms of communication meant to not betray any real, meaningful feelings.

I was really upset about the conversation today, not just because I felt hurt, rejected, and abandoned, but because I felt I let down someone I’ve come to care about greatly, and possibly destroyed the chance for a real,honest, deep connection. I assumed my friend would feel relieved and as if a weight were lifted, making it clear he didn’t want to know me as well or hear from me as often. But, writing this, I realise how inconsistent that is with the person I believe I’ve come to know…and that I forgot I’m not the only one with a great capacity for feeling emotional, abandoned, misunderstood, rejected, and not good enough. Wanting space to be yourself is not the same as not wanting to become closer to another person. At the same time, I could see why he’d be hesitant to want to become any closer to me than we already are. I think there are aspects of our friendship that confuse and overwhelm and scare this friend of mine—and at the same time, he truly values and wants in his life. Ironically, many of those are likely the same things. I asked him why, knowing about me and my tendency toward clingy, dramatic communication in compensation for other, more meaningful things—he still chose to befriend me, much less meet me, much less admit he felt the same inexplicable connection with me upon meeting that I did—and I don’t believe I ever got an answer. Knowing the answer might clarify some things for me. Am I just a curiosity that’s outlived the entertainment value by becoming a demand? :( I don’t actually believe that, but I’d hate to find out what I felt as connection was mere intrigue by something long heard about, but never experienced. I’d hate to discover that I was a novelty for this friend.

In an emotional outburst moment, I informed him that he could send me away and choose not to communicate with me anymore, but after a few days, he’d miss the presence he found annoying and distracting. I told him that I believed the fact he thinks he doesn’t need or define closeness in the same way I do might be true, but he also might be surprised to find that it’s not exactly the way he always thought to define it, either. An overemotional, dramatic statement, of course…but I suspect there’s an element of truth.

I think that my friend and I did, in a way, let each other down this week…and while that’s sad, it’s nothing that should put an end to what has the makings of a very special and valuable friendship. Sometimes, people fail one another. Sometimes, people fail themselves. That’s precisely what forgiveness and insight is for.

I know my friend doesn’t read my blog, or tries not to…but I do hope perhaps an exception exists for this one. He may not see things as I see them—my intuitive read on things has been known to be wrong—but somehow, I believe he’ll understand more about me, and about our disagreement, than I was able to communicate while it was happening. And if not, well—at least I know I understand better. I am not going to be the person who simply walks away and says “You have no idea what you’re missing out on in not knowing me”, and talk to him once a month, once every two months. If he’d rather we have that kind of friendship…well, that’s not my choice. I can only make my own decisions. But I’m not allowing my fear of feeling hurt and rejected and suffering from wounded pride to shut someone out of my life who has become quite important to me.

I think that’s a type of personal growth on my part, and I can only hope the continued interest in carving out a small place in life for another person who may one day become a great friend is ultimately reciprocated.

Sometimes all you have to say is, “I care about you, and I’m sorry all my own crap kept me from letting you know that, and not giving you what you asked me for.” It is OK to tell someone else what you need, but it’s also important to remind them how important they are in your life—if, in fact, they truly are, and you want them to stick around. And, when someone asks you for something, if you truly care, you owe it to them to keep trying to understand, to provide that…especially when it’s relatively small, but requires you working through some of your own issues. In a way, it’s the hallmark of one of the strongest types of friendships that can exist…one with a strong enough foundation to challenge one another, without drifting apart or growing resentful in the process. Under the right circumstances, those are the people who leave an indelible imprint upon your life…and I guess that’s why I feel as attached as I do to a friend I should be able to easily walk away from. After all, I have experience in walking away from relationships built on much more, with much more time invested…so why not this one?

I don’t know. It’s just something that, in the core of my being, I *know*…some things, some people, are too important to give up on. Most aren’t. But once in a very great while, you find the one that is, and there’s nothing logical about that. Yet, it is one of the most real and honest things there is in the world. Not everything has an explanation, yet some fundamental understanding of that thing’s importance exists on a very personal level.

I know I sound like a person who’s read too many Paulo Coelho books, which I am, but it’s how I see the world, and how certain things make sense to me. We all have multiple soulmates in life—and I’m not speaking of the romantic variety, although for some, that is part of it–but of the people who have an irreversible impact on who you become. Some grow with you, some stay with you, some merely pass through your life, but all leave a permanent mark that can’t be undone. Something tells me my friend is one of these people for me, even if he is not the type to believe in such things.

I’d like to hope that, whatever the purpose of our friendship and however confusing and rocky the path, the emotional side of my friend is able to understand and appreciate that, too. Because, sought out or not, it is truly a gift that life sometimes puts in your path.

Of all the words that can open a conversation, a phrase involving the word “incompatibility” is typically up there with “We need to talk..” and “I’ve been doing some thinking”. When you preface any conversation by remarking upon the general level of incompatibility between you and another person, what follows is inevitably going to be a form of rejection. The context of the remark, and the intent of anything that follows, is irrelevant.

Well, it is not actually irrelevant, of course…it probably makes a huge difference to you in one way or another. It probably makes a huge difference to the other person, as well. However, it doesn’t detract from a certain level of implied rejection present in the comment.

This applies to most situations, be it in the workplace, disagreements with friends, the reason someone doesn’t want to go out with you, or is choosing to end a relationship. Between all people, there’s a certain level of incompatibility. Dismissing things, feelings, people, or ideas on that basis really is just a form of rejection, albeit a really kind and thoughtful one, and one that’s often based in logic rather than feeling. It’s also one you really can’t dispute, because the conversation would go a lot like this:

“I think we have too many incompatibilities for “XYZ” to be successful”.

“I don’t see it that way. I intuitively feel that you’re wrong/have misjudged the situation/are personally rejecting me.”

“Well, I do see it that way. It’s not rejection, but you can take it however you want.”

Really, you can’t go much past that point. That’s sort of the end of the line for any conversation relating to the situation, and there isn’t any lack of clarity there. You know how that person feels about you and your interactions.

Today (which was actually yesterday), I told a story about a relationship that ended very amicably and without drama, and it was a more personal form of the hypothetical conversation referenced above. Of course, it was longer than three sentences, but those three sentences were the intent behind the breakup. And, because there is really nothing that can be said when someone says “We have too many incompatibilities for this to work”, it was one of the least drama-filled breakups I’ve ever been through. Not to say it didn’t hurt like hell. It did, for a long time. We are still friends, in that casual sort of way people are when they are friends after a breakup, and when I think of him, there’s no bitterness or egocentric “I hate you because you rejected me”.

(It’s kind of like when you ask someone why they don’t pay more attention to you, and they respond, half-jokingly, with “Because I have enough common sense not to.” :P )

You *have* to see these things as a type of rejection, because they really rather are. Just because the answer isn’t “Because I don’t like you” doesn’t make it not rejection. It just makes it less mean. :P

Considering these things and reflecting upon this past breakup in my life—how I saw it when it happened, and how I feel about it now—made me decide to write a blog on the topic of criticism, rejection, insecurity, feeling less than accepted, and all that not-good stuff.

That being said, I’ve gotten rather awesome at handling various types of rejection in all spheres of my life. I, of course, do not like rejection or criticism or disinterest in any form—-editors sending back my work for revision upsets me, as does feedback that implies my work is less than perfect—and, along the same lines, criticism and rejection in my personal friendships doesn’t bother me any less. Yet, I’ve learned to handle all of these things with a lot more grace and attitude of “c’est la vie” than I used to.

People have, over the years, told me this is something that happens to people around the age of 30. As your sense of who you are and what you want, need, and value becomes more solid, the emotional reaction that accompanies someone not liking you, someone criticising you, someone not being attracted to you, someone finding flaw with your work, someone thinking you’re replaceable, someone defining how they wish to interact with you in terms of limitations…it’s not quite as earth-shattering as it was 10 years earlier. It’s somehow less personal, and more about “this is how life works”.

That being said, it’s totally not without effect, either. The reason most of the world doesn’t put themselves out there and walk around wearing their heart on their sleeve is that rejection sucks, even the nice kind, even the teasing kind put out there by people who genuinely care about you, and the logical, obvious kind that’s..well, obvious and makes sense on a purely intellectual level (which is not always where the fundamentals of human interactions are formed.)

After recounting my drunk texting weekend drama, a friend of mine laughingly told me that I lacked in subtlety (which, of course, I naturally took as a criticism, although it was meant as a compliment…like me, this friend finds subtlety an overrated virtue). I thought about this, and realised that of course he is right, but it’s also partially why I have struggled with any form of criticism or rejection throughout my life.

Starting at a very early age, when I started performing and making auditions a huge part of my world, I opened myself up to encounter more criticism, feedback, rejection, and other opportunities for hurt feelings than most. This sort of naturally translated into who I became as a human being…I’m quite frank, very straightforward, and some people find that direct approach to life shocking or unrefined. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I share it with the world, something reflected in everything from my personal relationships and friendships, my approach to work and art and creativity, even this blog.

In reality, I probably do encounter criticism, hurtful remarks, and rejection more often than most people, because I put myself out there in a way most people do not. Sometimes that comes across as lacking in subtlety or not caring for social propriety, and that is criticised (which could be why I’ve struggled a little, finding acceptance here in the Southeast.) Sometimes, it comes across as confidence or social fearlessness, and is something that other people (especially women my age or slightly older) have told me they wished they possessed.

It’s an odd choice for a naturally sensitive person, living not only a lifestyle but being of a personality where “I’m putting it all out there, you can judge if you want.” is normal. It’s even more odd for someone who is naturally hurt by the slightest criticism, offended by the slightest disinterest, or implication that she is somehow secondary to another person. Yet, this is obviously my natural inclination when it comes to dealing with people, since it is a tendency that’s amazingly amplified when I have been drinking and have a phone in my hand.) I don’t think it means it’s not there throughout the rest of my life, because it very obviously is…it’s more that part of me must feel some freedom in displaying that natural tendency without considering consequences.

I know I am not alone in this seemingly contradictory approach to life. I have a friend who is an actress, and has gained a certain level of success and notoriety in the business via the world of reality TV, a world that isn’t for people who aren’t willing to put everything out there for judgment and be vulnerable. It isn’t a world in which highly sensitive personalities have an easy time of it, and my friend certainly did not. The negativity and outright hostility, not to mention rejections and judgments in both her personal and professional lives, took her a very, very long time to deal with. Yet, part of what made it so difficult for her is simply being a highly sensitive person who is also quite naturally lacking in subtlety or a sense of the right way to play the game in the world. She goes her own way, is a person who is very different from most people, is hurt when others dislike her, but not enough to keep it from her path. With age, she’s lost a lot of her insecurity, and rejection and criticism doesn’t seem to affect her in the way it used to. In many ways, she and I are very similar people, and I’ve learned a lot about life from her experiences.

While television and stage and the world of performance in general are, admittedly, a different world from every day life…a lot of the same tools apply. Learning to cope with judgment or criticism, being rejected because there’s someone who comes across as smarter or prettier or a different “type”, being reminded that not everyone thinks you’re as charming or interesting as you find yourself to be, and having people label and typecast you as a matter of business are things that affect all of us, performers or not.

As for me, my friend is 100% correct in one respect. I absolutely lack in subtlety, and engage people in a way that’s more direct and requires more vulnerability than many feel comfortable with. I think, at heart, I’m just a typical New Yorker. I don’t have time for games, I’m not interested in BS and “social propriety”, and I’d rather be judged for being me than loved for all the effort that goes into trying to be someone else. I put everything out there, even when it invites rejection or would be emotionally easier to avoid an unpleasant conversation or to use discretion and keep something to myself. Yet, there’s a a part of me that’s also incredibly closed off, that few people see, that’s difficult to get to know, and probably leads people to form a picture of me that resembles a puzzle..missing a few key pieces here and there. Most people think they understand me pretty well. Most people are incredibly wrong.

I don’t like rejection, dismissal, criticism, or any form of being made to feel insecure or inferior. Yet, I leave the door open for it in all aspects of my life, most of the time, just by being me, speaking my mind, wearing my heart on my sleeve, and approaching people in a very direct fashion…and then I need to figure out the right way to deal with it when I don’t like what I hear. I’m actually so overly sensitive that I hear rejection in comments that aren’t meant to contain them, that are issued by friends who truly like and value me. Yet, simply by behaving with a little more subtlety, and approaching life a little less directly, I might mitigate some of the things I hear that don’t make me smile.

Yet, that’s not what I do. I probably never will. It really is interesting, the opposing forces built into the the building blocks that comprise my personality. :)

And I think it’s kind of awesome that a friend knows me well enough to point out that I generally lack in subtlety, but that’s exactly what’s likeable about me…at least in the eyes of some people. *laughs*

Do you know what never works out well?

Randomly running across someone who is friends with your ex on Facebook, which then puts you in the frame of mind of wondering what he/she is up to, and how much that person has changed since you dated.

If you’re doing this, you obviously didn’t stay on good terms with your ex, and he/she is no longer your friend, on Facebook or anywhere else. Most of the time, you give this fact little thought, except when you’re drinking and melancholy—or you’ve been unfairly reminded by Facebook.

Because you are not friends with your ex, he/she has probably hidden all the personal details available to friends, leaving you to look through the list of his/her friends in order to guess who your ex is dating now, and whether or not he/she seems more attractive, accomplished, and popular than yourself.

There is no answer to this scenario that will make you happy, and yet, it’s like a train wreck. Once someone points out its presence, you kind of just have to look.

And now that Gotye and Kimbra song is back, and this time, it’s appropriate. Facebook should have a feature called “Somebody That You Used To Know”, and be smart enough to hide those people from you.

It’s OK. Rejection abounds in my world recently. ;P