by Phyllis Capanna © 2012 joyreport
Sheesh. You set a limit. You stick to it. The world ends. It felt like a stretch to commit to thirty days, and now it feels like falling off a cliff to not post.
This is what it feels like to break up with somebody. You know it’s the right thing to do. Your life will be so much calmer and saner without their craziness and neediness. You don’t have room for someone else’s needs anyway. It’s time to focus on yourself.
You move out. Your first night alone you feel the relief of a change in routine, a let-up in the stress of trying to work it out, having finally made a decision and done something. The next morning you feel like your heart has turned to ash, as has everything you brought with you.
You go through the motions of your day. You can’t enjoy anything. You arrive back home to your tiny, disheveled apartment with nothing but overhead lighting, and you discover that there’s no one to blame for the coffee grounds in the sink and the mail kicked under the couch but you. And that’s when you realize how stupid, stubborn, tunnel-visioned, and self-obsessed you really are.
Break-ups. Endings. Deciding. Choosing. Arbitrary, self-imposed limits. Okay, since it’s my life I do get to choose, and I can treat it like the experiment it truly is. I can make note of the results, take in the information, adjust. I am, I notice, writing an essay at nearly midnight, but I’m not posting. I’m sitting up in bed with a fan blowing damp air through my bangs, and a crazy couple of four-leggeds are doing their best to distract me. I’m doing the right thing, writing.
Here’s another thing. It’s different writing for you than for me. I have an obligation to be honest, emotionally honest, and to speak responsibly. I can’t assume you’ll know what I’m talking about like I can me. I really do owe you decent vocabulary, good sentences, correct punctuation, even if you don’t think so. I’ve noticed that sloppiness in any of these distracts from the message. Appearances do count, but not for themselves. I owe you thoughtfulness.
See, here’s what I understand now that I didn’t before: many of the things about having a relationship with you that I already miss and value are the same things I wanted to run from when I broke up with people all those times: having to take into consideration your feelings, communicating, making a commitment, keeping my word, being on time, being kind, being vulnerable and owning my stuff. What I didn’t get then, and maybe for good reason, is that what I get in return for having you in my life is connection. Intimacy. Closeness. Remember the Fourth Dimension in Joyland?
No, I’m not about to break up with you. The relationship’s just getting going! Besides, you bring out the best in me. I’m nothing without you. I just need some space to get centered before we take it any farther. That’s something I’ve never done before, which makes me hopeful that this is the real thing. And if it is, we have the rest of our lives together, so what’s the rush?
It’s important for me to tell you, a week after the last of the Thirty Days of Joy, that it isn’t you, it’s me. It’s also important that you know that I haven’t stopped looking for joy everywhere, and, luckily, I haven’t stopped finding it.
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