The self-appointed task of going through my journals feels pretty heavy. I’m committed to this chore because there are bits of poetry and fiction strewn about that I’d rather not lose; there are also long tracks here and there of existential philosophy, essential writings that remind me of who I am. And I can’t bring myself to dispose of them without reading them first.
But too many of my journal entries from a long swath of years (my 30s and 40s) were written in lieu of dealing with pain in relationships that didn’t work. Although I failed in my teens and twenties in relationships with men (keeping in mind that I had my son when I was nineteen) I thought that the underlying reason for those failures was that I am a lesbian (and, to be honest with myself, there were two relationships with men, B and H, that actually didn’t fail, although I left them). So when relationships with women failed so miserably, it was devastating.
I readily admit now that I never learned how to hold on to my self-identity in a relationship, with either men or women, and not just give myself over to the other. For the past 20 years or so, I’ve put aside memories of how many years I desperately wanted to have a partner, to be in a couple, to have what I then thought was essential to a meaningful life. Along the way, there has not often been much support for the choice to live alone, or much understanding that living single is the best way to be in the world for some of us.
So I remind myself here.
Sometime around 1986
I cannot cry every time you hurt me. I would find myself doing nothing else. But I feel as though there is a bruise, a sore spot for every hurt. There was a time when I was able to heal, but now I can’t. I don’t know if the difference is in me or in the relationship. I just know that I hurt and that I constantly fear that you will hurt me again. And that this relationship is little more than accumulated hurts. I have this scene in my head where I am following you around the house from room to room and then out the door as you are leaving me and I’m begging you to stay for just a moment, to talk to me. You have forsaken this relationship, you do not act as if you understand that you must give me some of your time, if you want to know what is going on in my life.
What I feel from you is a combination of jealousy, resentment, and the accusation that I do not help you in ways that you need or want me to. You never ask me anything without me feeling criticized or accused. I don’t think you see how badly you treat me or how my withdrawal from you is a result of the way you take me for granted.
I’m becoming increasingly less and less interested in being hurt all of the time, in crying all of the time, in being afraid to tell you what I feel because you will just hurt me again. And believe me, you can’t hurt me no worse than you do now almost every day. I’ve got to stop crying. Otherwise I’m gonna drown.