There’s a Sheryl Crow duet with Sting where she sings the lyric, “Every now and then, you come to mind.” It’s a sad song, a song about lovers who once knew one another and now no longer talk or see one another.
The song speaks to the core of me. A common theme throughout my life is that I don’t let go of things easily for whatever reason. My counselor told me last session that I am a compassionate person. My mother tells me I care very deeply. Other people will tell you I am a humanist, or I am emotional, or I am giving. I guess these all are true.
It swings me back to The Man I Once Loved. Late last year, I did the whole “Lot’s Wife” thing and turned back. One night, a horrible dream came to me where he was very upset and crying like his world was caving in on him. The dream was one of those very vivid dreams, which, in my life, has always meant there is a message or I need to do something. In this case, I sat on it all day and arrived at the conclusion he was in pain. It was his soul reaching out for help.
I was deeply in love with him once, and I can’t deny I love him on some level still (even though I am angry at him and disappointed with him and every emotion in between), and he has been one of the only people in my life to touch me to the absolute core of my soul; how could I simply march away? I’m too kind to be that cruel.
I reached out. After so many months or even years of no contact, I emailed him to see if he was okay.
My conscious rested a lot easier knowing I did what I thought was right. And, honestly, it was the right thing to do.
His birthday rolled around, and suddenly there was a flurry of activity on one of my social media accounts. Lots of likes from him.
Again, I didn’t respond immediately. Cool down and let a calmer head prevail. My thoughts returned to the dream. It haunted me still. Maybe the activity was a sign? A message? I didn’t know. I never was good at the whole ambiguity thing, even less so after the depersonalization came along.
I sent a message — a very, very short message — to wish him a happy birthday and thank him for the likes.
No response again.
How fucking dare he play with my emotions like this? A common recurring theme throughout the time we had known one another, our relationship was like we were two countries on a battlefield: attack and retreat, lines redrawn, divide and conquer and lick our wounds; there were no set boundaries, no rules, no consistent emotional engagement. This was the endless war I wanted an escape from.
So, feeling emboldened by my counselor empowering me that anger is a tool, and I should use that anger (separate from anxiety) as a power to protect myself, I sent him a text with screen shots of his likes and (nicely) told him if he wanted to talk, he knew how to get a hold of me obviously.
Score one for the bitch in me.
Honestly, I didn’t think any more of it. My mind returned to a state of peace because I knew I did the right things while sticking true to myself: I thought he might be in trouble, and I reached out; I took his cryptic symbols the best was I knew how and responded in kind with my hand open in kindness; and I let him know as nicely as I could that if this was some sort of game he was playing, I was taking my ball and going home.
Think that was the last of it?
Several weeks later, an envelope with his handwriting appeared in our mailbox. It was addressed to me solely. His handwriting was haphazard and obviously put down quickly, as if he didn’t want to be caught; I wasn’t quite sure. My address was something he still had, despite the lack of contact for years, so that was something, I thought.
I waited until I was alone to open it, because I didn’t honestly know what my reaction would be.
Inside was a Christmas card, one of those ones American families do with photos of themselves and kids on them. Not that anything is wrong with that, but it seems a very American thing to do.
On the front, there was a photo of his kids and his partner’s children, all happy, all smiling. On the back, a smaller photo of him and his partner. The message, as typical as all Christmas cards, was a pre-printed message from their blended family to have a great Christmas.
No note in the envelope, no handwritten note on the card, nothing. Again, I’m not exactly the best at connecting the dots other people throw at me (especially since my depersonalization started), so my mind came up with a million scenarios on what exactly the card meant. Was it a peace offering of sorts? Was it a message to say he was okay? Was it the ultimate “fuck off”?
I put the card away for a while. Not like weeks, but maybe a day or so.
Then, in a very uncharacteristic fashion for me, I ripped the card up and the envelope up, and I chucked them into our garbage bin.
Ironically, the photo of him and his partner landed face up, whole, in the bin, looking up at me. I picked the photo up, tore it into several pieces, and sprinkled it deep into the garbage in the bin.
Being open and honest with my counselor, I told him about this. He asked me how I felt with a very serious expression on his face. And my answers were frank: I was sick of games; I was tired of people like The Man I Once Loved not being forthright and honest with me; and I felt as if the main question should be, to The Man I Once Loved: “Are we five years old or can you be an adult and use your big boy words to tell me how you feel?”
Seriously, all he needed to do was email back and say, “Listen, I’m fine. I’m happy,” or, “One of my kids got my phone and liked your social media stuff. Sorry.” Something. Anything. As long as it was the truth, I would have accepted it and went from there.
But we had to play games.
Instead of doing a common sense thing and being forthright, he took a spare Christmas card, left it ambiguously blank, spent an insane amount of money on a stamp (which isn’t like him because he leans towards frugal), and posted it halfway around the world on the hope the postal service wasn’t hopeless and it would get to me eventually.
I’m fucking done with games.
The last few days, I have been thinking about him again a lot. Something in the universe is off, and maybe that is why.
But I’m not giving in. I’m not being the person to ask, “Are you okay?” As difficult as it is for me not to do that — because I care, because I acknowledge part of me loves him still, because I don’t know if I could live with myself if something bad did happen to him due to my inaction — it is more difficult for me to deal with cryptic clues and radio silence. I’m not Nancy Drew, and my anxious mind makes one-sided conversations horrible.
Maybe it was the anniversary of the 22 February 2011 quake that caused all this to flare up, or maybe he genuinely is thinking of me. At this point in time, I don’t know, and, to be brutally honest, I’m not sure if I have the energy to care any more.