Apparently, I’m not very good at goodbyes. This is apropos of nothing immediate, just something that came up in therapy yesterday, when I was trying to explain how I feel guilty or remorseful about making plans with friends during time I could be spending with Doug – because I feel like I might be missing something good.
“But what if you spend time with Doug, and then you’re ready to move on to something else?” she asked. “Don’t you get to the point where you feel satiated?” She used sex as an example, saying that it’s possible, after everyone has their orgasm, to feel totally fulfilled and then want to go do something else, without the other person – and, whether in regards to sex or just quality time, don’t I ever get to that point?
I must have looked at her like she was speaking Hebrew: not only did I not understand what she was saying, but even the letters making up her words were totally foreign.
“Why would I want to go do something else?” I asked, baffled. “Why would I want to leave when things are good?”
“Well, if you got to the point where you were satiated…”
I laughed, uncomfortable, wondering if I’ve been missing something my whole life. “I don’t get to that point. I want to be around Doug all the time. Unless he’s annoying me – but that’s not what you’re saying.”
We talked a little more and found that maybe I do get to that point. If I’m hanging out with a friend, and have to get up early the next day, there comes a point when I’m done. If I’m on the phone with my mom, and dinner’s ready, I want to hang up. But there’s always something negative motivating it: I’m tired, my head hurts, I have to pee, and therefore, I am no longer interested in this conversation. And the longer it takes to say goodbye (because it’s never quite as simple as, “I’m kicking you out,” or, “Okay, talk to you later, bye”), the more frustrated and annoyed and desperate I get. Or I get annoyed with myself, because I get caught up in the moment and forget that I’m supposed to be kicking people out/hanging up/leaving. (Last night, just as Doug and I were getting ready to head home from his mom’s house, I mentioned that I’d like to see her wedding video. And she decided to show us right then. And then we were there for another hour.)
So no, I don’t know this feeling of being satiated and fulfilled and then calmly moving on to the next thing.
Maybe that’s why I can’t stand break-ups. I’ve tried to remain friends with all my exes, and if we’re not friends, it’s because they made that call. (Or they failed to tell me when they got engaged again, and still haven’t given back my Friends DVDs.) Maybe it’s why I can’t handle the idea of losing a friend – of growing apart or growing up or falling out – and facebook has made it far too easy to cling to the shreds of a friendship that’s been long outgrown.
I concur that it’s possible that people come into our lives to serve a purpose – teach us something, help us get through something, keep us company for a period of time, leave us with beautiful memories – and then, once their purpose has been served, they quietly leave again. Hasn’t this been the subject of so many children’s stories?: Mary Poppins, “The Velveteen Rabbit,” Peter Pan, that Frosty the Snowman cartoon… And I think there’s one story or movie out there, where a character actually says, “I was here as long as you needed me; but you don’t anymore, and I have to go where someone else needs me now.” (Maybe it was Mary Poppins, but I feel like there’s something else, too.)
I fully admit that this concept, of people leaving footprints on our hearts and changing us and then moving on, is possible. I just don’t see why it has to happen to me. Because I don’t get satiated. I still love almost everyone I’ve ever loved. I want to collect friends, not lease them. And I don’t want them to go until I’m done with them – until I’m tired, or my head hurts, or I have to pee, or they’re annoying me – and even then, I usually want them to come back when I’m feeling better.
This feels really selfish. Is it selfish?
I want to be around Doug all the time. I want to be in touch with all my friends for the rest of our lives. I want my parents to live forever. I want my fertilized eggs to stick around and gestate, not disappear into oblivion.
I am terrified of loss, and I am not good at saying goodbye. And I don’t know which is chicken, which is egg.
I used to get stuck
in the trees
when I climbed them.
I climbed them
because you did,
and I wanted to be like you,
I climbed them
because I knew I would get stuck,
because I knew
you would help me down,
taking my hand.
And when I met the ground again,
and while I relearned to breathe,
you would hold me
tight and say,
See? That wasn’t so bad.
Please don’t let go
don’t let go.
when I need help
I go back to the trees.
And I climb them.
And get stuck
and scraped on the bark.
You used to save me…
Where are you now?
I would find you here.