Some of it, to be honest, also was around the facts that the number of cards we received last year had dwindled down to a small amount and a number of people I spoke to said that “Christmas cards are dying.”
So that figured into my decision as well.
The last few postal delivery days — we now receive our mail three days a week — have seen a flurry of cards arrive.
Talk about making me feel like a dick.
Today was mail delivery day. It was also counselling day.
In mid-2020, after going through stops and starts, and gaslighting (again), I told him I couldn’t do that any more. I wished him well, and I strongly implied I wanted out of the very-wide-stepped waltz we were doing over the last few years. With his silence, he seemed to oblige.
Right before I got into the car to go to counselling this afternoon, I checked the mail.
And in the mail was a Christmas card from The Man I Once Loved.
I didn’t even need to read the return address; his handwriting, again, hastily written, gave it away.
I wasn’t sure if I should open the card or toss it. Of course, the nicer part of me urged to open it because he’d spent time and (more importantly for him) money on sending it halfway around the world.
I shoved the mail in my glove box and drove to counselling.
Arriving 15 minutes early, after parking my car, my hand reached into the glove box and took out the card. Instead of spending minute agonising over whether I should open it or not, my finger ripped the envelope open, and I took the card out.
Again, one of those photo cards. On the front, the largest photo of his and his partner’s kids — two of his, two of hers — then a smaller photo of The Man and his current partner, and another smaller photo of their pet. Flipping the photo over: no message.
I shoved the card back into the envelope, pushed it into the glove box, and went into counselling.
The session was more engaged than usual. We spoke about how I’d been paying attention to my emotional reactions over the Christmas / New Year break, and how when I felt emotions, there’d be this crescendoing of emotions, often mixed, and then anxiety would kick in or the emotions would dull into a type of fog, or a bit of both. We also talked about how there seemed to be emotional extremes for me in coming out of depersonalization: either really strong, intense emotions or a dead, flatness with no emotional attachment whatsoever.
Part of the discussion circled around the inaction I experience, paralysis even, when confronted with difficult emotional situations. We moved to my fear of impulsiveness, yet how I had been impulsive emotionally when at the more extreme moments of emotional engagement in the last few months. My counselor Michael guided me to a more even place emotionally: one I used to find myself at a lot before depersonalization. It really helped center me and made me feel more human again.
Coming out of the session, feeling human and full of resolve, I popped back into my car. Opening the glove box, my hand reached for the hand sanitizer bottle and found the Christmas card from The Man I Once Loved again. Pushing the card aside, I pulled the bottle out and sanitised my hands — we still are deep in a pandemic people, so, priorities are to stay safe and well — plopped the bottle back into the glove box, and brought the card out again. A quick look inside to make sure I didn’t miss a message the first time, and then…
Then I ripped the card up into a million little pieces, started the car up, and drove home.
No anxiety, no anger, no frustration, no tears: I drove home.
When I arrived home and shut down the car, I hopped out, torn up card and envelope in my hand, and dumped it into the garbage bin. I didn’t even give a shit enough to try to cover it over like I did with the last one. Merely opened the lid, shoved the torn-up remnants in, and slammed the lid shut again.
I moved on with my day, without any emotional upset about doing that, because, honestly, I should have moved on from it long ago.
I’m getting too old to play silly little games with silly little men.