Wednesday, March 16, 2011
The Road to Hell is Paved in Good Intentions
Not sure why I'm even thinking about this now. Not sure why I even give a shit about it but you know me (or you don't but you're getting to), I'm a glutton for punishment. Let me set the scene. A few years ago, I decided to contact one of my former teachers. As you might know (or might imagine), I was an incredibly shy, awkward kid, afraid of my own shadow and TERRIFIED of the rest of the world. I hid behind big glasses, long hair and anything else I could find. Anyway, at some point, this particular teacher came into my life. For some reason, I thought that he could see me. He treated me like I actually mattered, like I was a talented writer (which was my secret wish. I loved to write and prayed that I was good at it). That affirmation was so desperately craved and so deeply appreciated. Of course, even then I wondered if I was placing too much confidence in this person...if he, like everyone else in my life, would fail me. Still, years went on, I felt appreciated, to a degree, by this person, and it was one of the rare light spots in my otherwise dreary existence. Of course, I eventually graduated and that was the end of this person's place in my life. Many years later, I found myself looking up people from my past and I came across a professional contact e-mail for this person. I thought for a moment then took the plunge and wrote a quick note, re-introducing myself, so to speak, wondering if he would even have the slightest recollection of who I was. To my surprise, he did, with startling clarity. We continued to correspond for several months, through frequent notes sent from my end and occasional replies from his. In time, I found myself back in New York for a visit and we decided to arrange a meeting. We went out for drinks and had a lovely conversation. I, naively, thought that I was making a new friend. If you know me at all, you know that I desperately crave kindness, companionship and affection (though not, of course, in a romantic way). I'm a hugger, always have been. I have no qualms about telling people how I feel about them if it's in a positive way. If someone pisses me off or disappoints me, that I sit and wallow in for fear of losing that person altogether (even if, in many cases, it would be to my benefit if I DID lose them). But when it comes to liking or caring for someone, I wear my heart on my sleeve, much to my almost constant detriment. I can't help it, I lost my father way too young, all of my grandparents and, for all intents and purposes, my brother (but that is a story for another day, perhaps). I don't like losing anyone, for any reason. So, back to this teacher. We went out for drinks, talked pleasantly for a while, and ended things on a positive note, with a friendly hug goodbye and the promise (at least, the perceived promise) that we would continue to correspond and continue to grow a new friendship, no longer student and teacher but now two married adults with shared interests. Apparently I assumed entirely too much. I returned home, wrote a few more notes, got a few more replies but quickly got the very distinct impression that he wanted little more to do with me. He indicated, in so many words, that I was expecting too much, that friendships were organically grown and that I was trying to "force" something that wasn't there. My level of openness and honesty was clearly uncomfortable for him and though he didn't outright say "leave me alone," that was the strong implication. So, I did. It was really disappointing, to say the least, and if I were to be completely honest (which I am, often to my detriment), it was rather crushing. I am not initially a trusting soul, I don't know if I ever have been, but once I start to open up and let someone in, I expose my inner being entirely too quickly and make myself the perfect victim, just waiting to be rejected. After the devastating blow, I responded to this person, who suggested that perhaps we might correspond a few times a year, that I would leave him alone completely as that seemed to be his true wish. I kept to my word for about eight or nine months. Then, fool that I am, I once again sent out feelers. I did so in a much more reserved and restrained way than I typically do but nevertheless, my attempt was ignored. Sure, it's possible that his contact information had changed since then. Perhaps the e-mail got lost in cyberspace as they often do. But really, he probably just ignored it as he wants to be left alone, at least by me. Why am I writing about this? Why do I even care about something that ostensibly ended about a year ago? I suspect it has a little to do with the fact that this year will be (if it takes place) my 20th high school reunion and it is conceivable that I might run into this person again. Even more, it is because I am a glutton for punishment and seem to live to torment myself. I'm not sure I used this example before but I liken myself to a puppy in a pet store window. You know the one, the one that presses its nose to the glass, hopping and jumping, making adorable faces, doing everything it can in a desperate attempt to get your attention and be chosen. I am not showy in that way, but inside, that is me. I am always the one desperate to be noticed, chosen, assured that I am, in fact, good enough, worthy, lovable. I don't think that will ever change. I have a fantastic husband, a wonderful mother, amazing friends. They all assure me constantly that I am worthy and loved. Then why is it that what seems to resonate most is when people DON'T deem me worthy or lovable? Why can't I focus on all the good instead of the pieces of bad? I guess that is a question I'll never be able to answer to my own satisfaction. It is, simply, the nature of me. Which reminds me, every day in every way, why I wish I could be somebody else.