Hate to see you go, but…

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.

Meow

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,
with you.

I climbed them
because I knew I would get stuck,
because I knew
you would help me down,
coaxing,
climbing,
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.

And now,
when I need help
or reassurance
or you,
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 thought
I would find you here.

(10-22-01)

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18 Responses to Hate to see you go, but…

  1. Angel Barnes says:

    great post. i have a hard time letting people go. i wish i could have strong bonds with everyone all the time. but the more friends i make, the less of me i have to give to each. and then we start drifting naturally because people change over time, and it’s hard to keep up. i guess that’s why they say it’s better to have a small handful of close friends. i’ve seen friends come and go and it’s heartbreaking, but you are right when you say maybe they served a purpose and left a footprint. i can think of many off the top of my head. it makes me think of what kind of footprint i am leaving as well. and i just about never want to get away from rob, and we have been together for 11 years. the thought of him leaving me for even 3 days makes me squeam a little.

  2. mommyodyssey says:

    I don’t think it’s selfish. But maybe it’s because I feel the same way. I just look at it as “overflowing with love” for people. That’s a good thing!

  3. Josey says:

    lol, i agree with mommyodyssey – but i’m the same way as well. people are always amazed by how i know people everywhere i go, but it’s because I love keeping in touch with people, organizing meet-ups between people, etc. i’m still friends with my childhood friends b/c i’m the glue that binds…and it makes me happy every time we all still get together (even though i live 1000 miles away now).

    i guess i’m a friend collector too 🙂

  4. Esperanza says:

    What an honest and thought compelling post. Like always. I’m going to hate to see you go when this project is over. 😉

    I actually read your post when I got up this morning and I ended up coming right to my computer to formulate a response. And that was because the first part of your post spoke to me very poignantly. I used to be like that, I ALWAYS wanted to spend time with my partner. Always. I hated when he had other things to do (which was frequently). And when someone offered to do something with me, but he was available as well, I anguished making the decision of who I should spend time with. It was horrible. I’m surprised our relationship survived it.

    Now things have changed a lot. Now I’m the one who wants to go to the cafe to work on my childrens book or my new blog. Now I’m the one who asks if it’s okay to see a friend later for dinner (and he always happily says yes). I still want to see my partner when I can, but I want our time together to be good and I also want time for me.

    I don’t quite remember when it happened but I started realizing that if I spent all my time with him sometimes that time wasn’t so great. It might be as simple as we were just doing the same shit in front of the TV and it got boring, or it could be that we’d seen each other so much that we were rubbing each other the wrong way and starting fights. And I distinctly remember laying in bed some nights thinking, wow, I wish I HAD got to dinner with my girl friend, because tonight really sucked (or just wasn’t that great). And after realizing that here and there I figured out that if we did other things, the time together was that much better.

    All my college friends live in LA. I don’t even really like LA that much but I’d go down there for weeks at time in the summer because I wanted to be with them like we were in college again. But again, I started realizing that being with them longer did not equal the better time being had. My dad always told me that if you wanted to leave at the end of a vacation it was too long. You have to leave before you’re sick of where you are or who you’re with. When I was young I didn’t get that but now I do.

    I don’t think realizing that sometimes its better to say goodbye then to linger, or force time with someone, just happened because of specific situations in which I realized I might have been happier making another choice. I think it also happened as I grew up emotionally and became more comfortable in my own skin. As I learned who I was and felt confident in what I wanted to do.

    When I first started tackling compulsive eating I read a book that had two great tips. One was keep more of the food you love around than you could EVER eat in one sitting, so you couldn’t be compelled to just “finish it”. And another was, eat what you want, when you want it. I can’t tell you how hard it was for me to figure out what I actually WANTED to eat. Sometimes I’d sit for an hour just trying to figure it out. And then I’d finally give up and just try something and usually I was disappointed. But I kept at it and eventually learned what I wanted and when. It was a valuable lesson to be sure. And I think it was part of the growing that later led to me being able to determine what I wanted to do with my time, what I need to feel satiated right then.

    As far as the saying goodbye, well I have less to say about that (thank god, you must be thinking, wrap this up already!) I have lived far from my friends and extended family for a lot of my life and saying good bye always hurt like hell. I wanted to be with them ALL THE TIME! As I grew up and realized that I could be fulfilled with my own life, in my own way, it was easier to say goodbye to them. If I knew I could find happiness without them, I didn’t get so beat up spending time away. It’s still hard having very few friends in the immediate vicinity but in general I feel fulfilled in my life and I know more what I want and I have so little time that I’m rarely willing to spend it in a way that does not make me genuinely happy. And while I love my friends and family dearly, they are not always what I need at a certain point on a given day. Sometimes I just need me.

    I don’t know if any of that makes sense. I hope that it does. I just felt compelled to comment because I remember feeling so similar to you on these issues and now I feel differently. And I thought maybe you’d like to know that it’s possible to someday respond differently about not being with someone or saying goodbye.

    • Marie says:

      I’m not going away completely. I just need to switch focus, and give myself some more time to breathe. (Right now I’m posting every day. Some days, there just aren’t enough hours!)

      I didn’t mention in the post that it actually came up in my therapy session that there’s a big difference between quality time with Doug and just regular time. Whenever I’m not with him, I assume that what I’m missing is QUALITY time – time actually spent together, with little-to-no technology getting in the way of our connection. But more often than not, we’ll come home and just sit in front of our respective glowing boxes, and then I feel even more like I’m missing something. So yes – might as well go out with friends 😉

      On a side note, I never know what I want to eat.

  5. bodegabliss says:

    I actually wish I were more like that. It’s not that once I’m “done” with a friend, I forget them…but I’m very aware of when I’m not getting what I need out of a friend, and don’t try any longer. But they never seem to do the same, then I’m stuck feeling like crap. So that, my friend, is selfish. You are not selfish. I think what you’re doing is the opposite of being selfish.

    I think says a lot about you that you can still love everyone you’ve ever loved and not want to let them go. I think that’s beautiful.

  6. Elphaba says:

    There have a been a few friendships in my life that ended that I always wish hadn’t. There’s one in particular that still really bothers me as I never quite understood why we couldn’t be friends anymore.

    And I agree the idea that you love everyone you’ve ever loved is really beautiful.

    • Marie says:

      Everyone except the ex-husband. Though I do still love his father.

      Thanks, girls. You say it’s beautiful, but sometimes it makes me feel crazy or clingy or desperate.

  7. Arohanui says:

    I have always subscribed to the philosophy that there are “helpers” in life. People who come into our lives, just when they are needed, to give us the right advice, support, tools, opportunities, love, imagination, motivation (etc) to move on through a particular life stage. Often these friendships/relationships burn very bright, very quickly. These people may then exit your life again when their purpose is fulfilled, but this doesn’t have to be a sad thing. I have always tried to keep in touch with people, but if I tried to keep in touch with everyone who has helped me in my life, who I have loved (and perhaps still love) then the quality would be lost from all of my relationships, because there are just too many people, and not enough time. I am happy to hold the memories of their gift, and if we meet again it is a treasured encounter. Social networks like Facebook do of course mean that a tenuous connection is much easier to maintain nowadays.

    I like Esperanza’s “too long a vacation” analogy, there is a lot of truth in it. FoC comes directly to mind 😉

    Sorry I have been away xx

    • Marie says:

      Welcome back!

      I am wracking my brain to figure out what FoC stands for, and coming up blank. It is midnight, so when you tell me and it’s something I should have known, remind me I have to forgive myself.

      I like the line about friendships that “burn very bright, very quickly.” I mean, it’s good writing. I don’t like the concept 😉

      • Arohanui says:

        FoC = friend of convenience, I wrote about her in a couple of posts but it may have been before you first visited my blog. I don’t have anything to do with her now as she found my infertility “too intense” and felt it was making her behave badly (i.e. be a selfish, short-tempered, moody cow). She also stated that if my infertility was going to continue to be an issue for me, then we would have to “discontinue the friendship”. I told her to f*ck off and now fondly refer to her as FoC-face (in my mind anyway, and apparently on other people’s blogs too…).

  8. Kira says:

    I think your quote is from Nanny McPhee…. but I could be wrong.

    I agree, I hate losing friends. Having my friends split all over the country makes it hard, I’m constantly in this state of “the grass is always greener on the other side” missing the friends I don’t have near (Although literally the grass is greener on the other side. I’m willing to bet good money it is green in Seattle while it is gross and half brown half green in Colorado)

    I’m the nostalgic nut who sits and thinks about friends met at camp, on family vacations etc and think “I wonder how they are? Do they ever think of me?”

    • Marie says:

      Just look them up on facebook. Stalking is so easy these days.

      Seattle is always green and gray. California is brown and blue. Win some/lose some.

      • Kira says:

        “stalk is so easy these days” LOL! Ya, a normal person probably would look them up on FB but my friends don’t call me “facebook nazi” for nothing – I only have actual close friends on facebook, I routinely go through and delete people I don’t talk to. I don’t know… just don’t like have casual acquaintances knowing my day-to-day stuff. *shrug*

        Ya, I know, my mom is always telling me to appreciate the sun here in Colorado (we get more sun then California) but there is always a trade off. I think it’s about what you find more comforting. At least Cali has the ocean… I miss the ocean a lot too.

  9. Kira says:

    Of course I say I don’t like having casual acquaintances knowing stuff and then post even more personal things on my blog for total strangers… Don’t worry, the irony is not lost on me.

  10. Pingback: Confessional Fridays: The Other Kind of Mother (Addendum Added) « Stumbling Gracefully

  11. Natalie says:

    I get this completely. Jimi and I have spent 2 nights apart in nearly 5 years – we’re together every moment possible and it hasn’t started getting old. We love each other, he’s my best friend, and I want nothing more than to be by his side. All the time.

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