awareness · dating · fear · isolation · safety · self-preservation

“I Hate to See You Go, But I…”

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I will never stick around long enough to watch you leave.
Like a forest animal who senses the seismic shift before an earthquake, I will
run to high ground before you even know there’s trouble a’comin. Where’d she
go?
I heard that a lot in my drinking days: Where did you go last night anyway?
I was always leaving. I left because I was antsy or bored or
horny or wasted. I left because I could sense the swell of the evening had
reached its peak, and I don’t stick around for the lull. I left because I knew
you couldn’t give me anything more, and so I went elsewhere to seek it.
It was a different kind of dragon I chased, but one
nonetheless: The perpetually up moment. The height of hilarity and connection.
In relationship, I am becoming aware, I do the same thing.
Because relationships are never “Safety Guaranteed,” I try to figure it out:
Will this “work” / will this not “work?” I will look at the barometer and try
to figure out if we’ve reached our peak, and if it’s time for me to bail.
Before I do, however, I will engage in a lovely sequence of
emotional aerobics: If I am standoffish, will you chase me and thereby prove
you like me, and I’m safe? If I am more attached, will you reciprocate and,
here, prove that you like me, and therefore I am safe?
Somewhere in the distance between initial connection and
“the end,” I have attached my personal safety to this “working” or to my
assurance that it won’t. Either way, certainty, I have believed, will keep me
safe.
And if, through all my calculations, I still cannot devise
whether this will work or not, or if I begin to spidey-sense that your interest in me has reached its apex, I will high-tail it so fast, you
won’t remember the color of my eyes.
What a lonely way of being.
Particularly, because I won’t just leave: in order to
ensure that I am doing the “right”
thing, that I am following our projected course, simply in a truncated fashion,
I will likely nuke the relationship first. This way, I know there will be no
questions, and no “What ifs?” because it’s dead. I killed it. Hard.
And therefore, I am safe. Because I have certainty about
things. About everything.
The horrible variable in this equation is humanity. The
uncertainty principle.
Human relationships are not quantifiable by my fear-brain.
The flaw in it, too, is that I have attached, long ago, my
feeling of safety to assurance in relationships.
I know where this cycle comes from. I know that having a
formative environment that was unstable is not the foundation on which to build
ideas of safety and trust. I know what it feels like to love, and have that
love turn, viciously and swiftly.
And so, I have learned to turn first.
If I can only figure out the exact moment when we’ve reached
our groundswell, I can outrun your abandoning me.
But sometimes, dear self, rain is just rain, and it doesn’t
mean anything more. Sometimes you stay in the shallows while it storms, because
after it passes, you’re witness to god’s great rainbow. Sometimes when you stay
put, you learn how to sway in the storm instead of to rail against it or
crumble beneath it.
I don’t learn these things if I leave first.
I want to. Believe me. In the simplest of encounters, like a
phone call even, I want to be the one gone first. Because then I’m safe.
But, as I posited in “Safety Guanteed(?),” perhaps I can
begin (again) to test the theory that “I am not in control, and I am safe.”
Perhaps I can begin to root my personal sense of safety
somewhere within, instead of without, and then I never have to try to figure
others out, manipulate my behavior, or believe I’ve predicted an end. If I can
seat my personal safety in trust of myself, maybe I’ll become willing to see
what happens when I stick around.
Because maybe the party isn’t over after all. 

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