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Reflections

I've given myself many reasons not to write about the confusion and mixed feelings I have about Crystal. I might hurt someone with my words. What right do I have to say these things; hypocrite! I'm biased, and probably rather unsympathetic, because I've grown tired of guilting myself. I've done way too much of that. Those who know me hopefully know that I am fully of compassion and understanding, but since those things aren't very useful for venting, I think less of that will be apparent here. I don't want others to judge me, to tell me how I should feel, or "how it really is," but maybe I have no right to feel this way, and maybe I'm really messed up for feeling it. Also there's the problem of putting into words exactly what it is that I've wanted to write about. I have feelings, but I don't know what they mean. I'm going to have a heck of a time coming up with a title for this entry!

On the other hand, perhaps honest communication, expressing the sometimes (on the surface) harsh truth about feelings, while it may hurt someone in the short term, is not harmful in any real sense, so long as it remains compassionate and open-minded. Compassionate, in that I truly care about and want the best for those involved. Open-minded in that I realise I am not expressing actual facts, but only my own perception, based on limited experience, totally open to those perceptions being altered at any time. Also, it may be fair to hypothesise about another person's behaviour, if you've tried the route of communicating maturely with that person, and that route failed. Especially since I was affected by that behaviour, and it would cathartically benefit me to write about it. As for hypocrisy, I suppose I fear being perceived that way, but I know I am not judging. I have learned many lessons, and when I see someone making a mistake I once made that is no longer in my nature to even consider, it becomes a passionate issue for me. My mistakes teach me what I don't want to be. Similarly, the way Crystal was (while not making the call to label them 'mistakes') teach me what I don't want to be. This is no comment on either of us, as there is plenty of positive to go around, and who am I to say if something that appears harmful to me may be beneficial to her (who knows?) But important lessons are often learned from perceived negatives. Mine were.

I think it was a conversation with Erica's boyfriend Ron that finally helped me stop beating myself up over this. He showed me how to see myself in a way I had forgotten. "This would be a lot easier for you if you were a little more selfish," he said. Hell yeah. How delightful when someone sees in you what your guilt prevents you from seeing in yourself. He also told me I needed to learn to take more. Be more selfish? When he explained, it made perfect sense. "You're a very giving person," he said. "You're always asking, 'What can I give?'" Rather than accepting happiness for myself, I am always looking for someone to share it with. Ron had just been telling me how he'd had a wonderful time throwing snowballs around and being silly. He was all alone. I don't know if I could allow myself to befriend myself to the extent that I could be content sharing joy with myself alone. I'm trying to learn, but how do you go about learning something like that? I cannot keep my awe and fascination with the world to myself; I need to share! "This would be a lot easier for you if you were a little more selfish." The moment he said it, I knew it was true, and it was validating. "You have so much to give, and no one to give to." It was so hard because I cared. Because I wanted the best for her. Because I worried about her well-being. I worried about the affect I'd had on her; whether she was on the right path, pursuing her truest dreams, holding onto her ideals. I worried about whether she would overcome her insecurities and become comfortable with herself. When I discovered something fascinating, or experienced something I knew she would enjoy, I wished I could transform into someone else, so I could share it with her, and brighten her day. I've learned so much, even to the point where many of my weaknesses have somehow transformed into strengths! -- but I often wished she could reap the benefits instead of me. My instinct to be the best friend I could be was difficult to follow, because that friend was one who couldn't be there, who couldn't even let on that he was a friend, or even existed. I really was being the best friend I could be (I'd learned that much), but it didn't stop part of me from feeling that I should be doing more.

I constantly seek meaning and understanding, depth and authenticity, in life, and especially in relationships. Somewhere in that last sentence, I think, is an explanation of why I feel the way I do, and why my confusion can be so troubling for me. Was there depth and authenticity in our relationship, I wonder? How could she have made me feel so at home in the world if there wasn't depth or authenticity there? I try to answer these questions. I think they were there in some ways, but not others. Perhaps depth and authenticity were there for me, but not for her. Maybe they were there for both of us, in spite of her histrionics and avoidance of issues, my manipulation and criticism and failing to create an environment of total trust, our mutual failure at open communication. I wonder how my intuition skewed so far off course (if, in fact, it did)? How could my perception be so different from the reality (or at least, how could my former perception be so different than my current one?) If I don't know depth and authenticity when I see it, how can I ever really trust myself?

How could I have read Crystal's first few Open Diary entries and fallen in love with her? Did I have even a glimmer of what now strikes me, for lack of a better word, as 'superficiality'? I should say, not superficiality, but lack of depth, avoidance to the extreme, insecurity. I sound mean. I don't mean to be. I'm very compassionate, I really am. I know she has depth there, and a genuine heart. It's just harder to see, when what's hurt me, is a certain (seeming) lack of depth. These things wouldn't matter, and really don't, except for the fact that I've felt personally hurt by them (and that I hope for her to discover the strength and genuine beauty she has inside herself to confidently face the things she's afraid to face). After she left, the things she wrote and said were incredibly uncomfortable to me; it felt to me that what she wrote was a blatant attempt to avoid any kind of depth. I think I chalked the way I felt about this up to heartbreak, but I think a lot of it was my intuition perking up and noticing something I hadn't noticed before. I wondered if I could trust my own perception. I guess I was happy to know that I wasn't alone in feeling that way, and that the lack of depth (according to someone else) actually was more in later entries, when I began to notice it, than in earlier ones. "It was there in those first few entries," she said, "but she seemed a lot more clever about how she disguised it then."

I wonder if part of my confusion may be that I didn't know myself as well as I do now. I used to think I was INTP, and I wonder how I thought that, because now I feel so naturally INFP. I thought maybe I had changed. Elizabeth tells me, after reading my earlier entries on Open Diary, she thinks I have always been INFP, just less aware of the role that feeling played in my decision-making. I thought I was T; I tried to be T. I can express myself analytically and logically, and explain methodically how I came to a particular conclusion,, but the decisions themselves most always come from feelings, not logic. I wonder about Crystal, too. I think we came to the conclusion that she was INFP, but now, I see her as much more S, perhaps ISFP or ESFP. Why didn't I think about this possibility before? I can't make up my mind about it. Elizabeth says the difference between N and S often has to do with motivation: is her interest in farming or romantic poetry, for example, for the sensuality of those things in itself, is that where the meaning lies for her, or is it an attempt to seek deeper (more abstract/philosophical/spiritual) meaning through sensuality? I'm not sure if I even asked the right question. Is it about watching the flowers grow, smelling them, tasting the fruits, or is it about what it says about life, the world, spirit, when the flowers do grow?

I was seeking depth and meaning, and I used to feel she was a seeker of the same, but then she seemed to be avoiding these things at all costs. I wanted peace, mutual understanding, honest communication. Those things weren't important to her (at least with me). She preferred to throw me and all the issues that went with me under a rug, and then, Hakuna Matata! She claimed to be "blissfully happy at least 95% of the time," or something like that. Who puts a percentage on their happiness! And then attaches the qualifier 'blissful' to it!! In the past, I'm not sure if I would have seen that as extreme insecurity, but now, I don't see how it could be anything else. I had been worried about her before, but when I read that, I really worried. I tried to find out from her friends how she was doing, tried to make sure she was okay. I know she is... but it comes with caring. Despite knowing that I have to be a "friend who can't exist," I still try to understand like a friend who "exists" would want to understand. I just don't have the benefit of conversation, so I probably sound a thousand times more judging than I really am. I only know that, had I been in her situation, and thrown her under a rug, I'd have felt very guilty for it. This is not to say that there aren't plenty of things that I myself felt extremely guilty about; I just wonder how she could do it without feeling guilty; and I wonder about the implications of that.

I was attracted to her optimism. Optimism is something I find incredibly attractive, because with another person who's equally optimistic, with similar goals, I feel we can accomplish anything. Even through failure that optimism will keep me going indefinitely. Optimism for me is as an end in itself; it can make life meaningful. I do wonder, though, how much of her optimism was really that, and how much of it was avoidance of the whole picture. Her optimism really motivated me, until I sensed there were real problems to work out, and she was unwilling to look at them. I felt I could overlook her failure to look at the things she didn't want to see, up to the point where it meant running blindfolded towards a cliff. That's where I sit down and think about other ways to get to the other side. My optimism also encompasses darkness, trials, tribulations, pain, and emptiness, and is based on the premise that the world is okay, nay, good, and beautiful; despite and often because of these very things. Why deny them? To me that would seem to make the darkness even more foreboding. Accept it, and it becomes gentler. Friedrich Nietzsche's "He who has a why can endure any how," comes to mind, and Viktor Frankl's experience in German concentration camps provides a concrete example. Also coming to mind is Elizabeth's awesome Irish poetry teacher, Adrian Rice, who talked about a particular Irish poet, whose name I unfortunately don't remember. This poet, though some perceive him as pessimistic or cynical, claimed that perhaps he was more of a romantic than the self-proclaimed romantics, because he saw what the world is like, good and bad, and embraced it, and was awed by it. Bertrand Russell, although I do not share his view, writes eloquently and poetically about the possibility that life is but a random occurrance, meaningless, an instantaneous ball of fire out of nowhere that is just as soon extinguished... but for that brief moment... it is awesome, amazing, unbelievable, and therein lies the meaning... some people see it as a dismal take on life, or at least everyone who commented on it in my philosophy of Religion class did, but I find it incredibly romantic. I digress!

We both manipulated each other emotionally. I think it was generally innocent, but just the same, incredibly unhealthy. Neither of us was aware of what was going on clearly enough to communicate it to the other. Thankfully, not through any particular study of what constitutes emotional manipulation, but as one of my many lessons, I figured out on my own how moronic it is to use a particular behavior or emotional response with the specific intention of controlling someone else's behavior. "Woe is me" behaviors. Acting like a drama queen. A good definition of emotional manipulation is Fiona McColl's: "emotional manipulation is a method of using words, body language and behavior for the purposes of provoking a particular reaction, getting a desired response or to just plain ol’ screw you over." I now, sadly, wonder whether Crystal really fainted on the floor that day she was sick, and I made sure to take special care of her. She scared me to death, I thought she had died. Then she started behaving more irrationally than anything I've ever seen, saying strange things about beehives or something, and then (when the episode was over) insisting that she didn't remember any of it. And to think I rewarded her, told her how wonderful she was, when she seemed to make an extraordinary effort to get up, in her 'weakness', and come over to the couch to give me a hug. She got her desired response out of me... Or maybe it *was* real, and I am diminishing something that was genuine. Maybe it was genuine, even though it was manipulative, simply because she really did want love and affection, but didn't know how to get it in a better way. All these things, emotional manipulation, histrionics, avoidance of deeper issues, lead me to question. They can make even something genuine seem like something else...

Now something that makes me angry. I wouldn't have even thought of this possibility if someone else, after reading both our diaries, hadn't suggested it to me. I don't always feel this way. I think she used me as a tool to play the "woe is me" game, a means of obtaining sympathy, pity; this time, now that it no longer benefited her to seek my pity, she got it at my expense. She used me. She claimed that I tried to strangle (or was it "choke") her. I questioned my sense of reality then. I knew I'd done nothing of the sort, or did I? This person I loved had claimed this about me: could I have done that? I guess she might have perceived it that way, although I don't know how. Maybe she was just continuing the game of melodramatics that we were both formerly playing, that I had since learned was ridiculous. I can only say how it made me feel: betrayed. Manipulated. Really confused. Of course I'm sure I made her feel the same way. The person who read that entry told me, and I felt comforted, that she didn't really believe it. She said someone who had really gone through the things she wrote about, and experienced it like that, would not have written about it as she did. (I'm not exactly sure how you *would* write about it, though). She suggested that she may have done it for a different reason as well: so she could find a way to have (or pretend to have) zero doubt about leaving. She doesn't seem to deal too well with things that are more ambiguous than all or nothing...

I don't know if that's why she never sent me any kind of "how are you doing" note. Maybe I'm "evil" now. Maybe she didn't want to accept the possibility that I'm not so bad, that maybe things aren't so clear-cut, that maybe we *both* had things to learn. If she can't, or doesn't want to, see that I'm a good person with a lot to share, that's okay. Or maybe I scare her away with honesty. I've been afraid of doing that in the past; but deception and avoidance, if you ask me, hurt a lot more than honesty. A part of me screams, "She's afraid of realness!" I don't know if I really believe this, but it really has been my perception of a lack of realness on her part that's hurt me most. Maybe I'm crazy. And it is sort of hypocritical, because for a while I lacked the same realness. Maybe thinking about me really still hurts her. I had beaten myself up over that for the longest time, and then even more, because if it hurt *me* that much, it must have hurt her even more, and on and on. Not healthy. Tired of hurting myself because I'm not "a little more selfish." So I don't do it anymore. I care, but whatever.

Last time I called her, I was surprised that she actually picked up the phone, rather than ignoring me, as I had come to expect. But then she came up with an excuse to stop talking to me, and it felt like the same old thing. I am so tired of games. Had she, instead of suggesting "my phone battery is dying," told me more directly, whatever it is she meant to convey: "It hurts too much to talk to you." "I'm sorry, but I don't want to talk to you." Or even simply "I want to stop talking now...," that kind of simple honesty would have been so refreshing, liberating. I try to find people who are able to be upfront about things and don't avoid them, who value openness and honesty. Without those things everything can be so much harder.

Good communication is essential, at least to me. Then again, I don't blame her if she thinks I'm incapable of that very thing! Why would she? :) It just really frustrates me when the avenues for communication are not open, still gives me bad dreams, feelings of conflict and tension, when peace and goodwill could ostensibly be so easy. Maybe this is just strange to me because I am personally incapable of utterly ignoring someone with whom I've made a connection. It's always there. I'd probably even make an extra effort to explain where I stand, on faith that, if we understood each other, peace and acceptance would be possible. I would never think of brushing someone under a rug as an option. I could not get myself to ignore someone; I'd worry about them too much. But that's just me. If that's what she wants to do, and if she's going to make excuses rather than being upfront, I guess it's for the best. It's just not like me at all, and it can be very frustrating.

I worry about her acting in ways that will lead a potential mate to respond to her in an unhealthy way. Any kind of emotional manipulation can do that. It seems to spread like wildfire. Get melodramatic or avoidant about anything negative, for example, and then suddenly, you could have someone who's afraid to communicate any bad news or criticism to you, who's afraid to be honest -- afraid to be himself (which, hopefully, is the most important thing!) I've learned the hard way how easy it is, when someone makes themselves vulnerable to you, loves you -- loving is vulnerable -- to say or do something that will break their trust (and therefore, good communication). So, I try to constantly work on relationships, building trust, and never (as I used to) taking offense at petty things. When you do these things you risk losing all honest communication and trust. Make someone afraid to communicate with you genuinely (and we both did that), and it's incredibly hard to get back to ground zero. I'm grateful to have learned these things. I just hope she has too. If I do take offense at something, or something bothers me that I don't think should, I can just say, "I'm not sure why ___ is making me feel ___ emotion, but it does, and I just thought you should know." If communicating something is difficult for me (and it sometimes is, because I have trouble vocalising when I feel invalidated or judged), something Elizabeth taught me (because she has this problem too), write it down. For me it can be so much easier than talking when the words just aren't coming out. We may look silly occasionally writing back and forth to each other on a pad of paper, but it's a lot better than not expressing vulnerable feelings at all.

Something maybe even she can't answer. Did she love me? Was she just in love with the idea of being in love? That would fit with her melodrama (and I'm just trying to put things together) and need for acceptance and sympathy. Maybe she just wanted someone to fawn over her, to tell her she was beautiful in the morning, to feel bad for her, to feel excited for her. Speculation, but I wonder if I'd just appeared at the right time. She didn't want love; she thought she did. She didn't want to work at it; she just wanted connection and she wanted it to be easy. I was just that random person who found her attractive when there was no one else. Then, being able to go into something anywhere between 0% and 200%, she believed it was real. Or maybe it was.

Edit: I do think she's true to herself. I also don't think she'd intentionally hurt or use anyone. I really just wish I could see it more clearly. I definitely read into things, try to put pieces together, because I have no other way of understanding. She never communicated anything to me, when I needed that most. So I do the best I can sorting through sometimes irrational thoughts in my own mind.

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
geek3o1415
May. 20th, 2005 06:30 pm (UTC)
That's very kind of you, and of course I'm here for you too.
faire_damsel
May. 21st, 2005 06:06 am (UTC)
*Hugs*
geek3o1415
May. 21st, 2005 01:28 pm (UTC)
*hugs*
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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