This past year has changed me. For the better and worse.
I am more bitter and stronger all at the same time.
I confess I am bitter because I have believed that people would truly be there for me when I needed them the most. That was what they promised. Those promises were false. When I tried to take them up on their offers, I found out that neither the offers nor the offer-ers were genuine. To stop the pretense of these relationships has been mournful and yet a great relief.
I am stronger because I have done so many things I never ever thought I could do, out of sheer necessity. Even my suicidal feelings have come in handy. Not caring whether I live or die has enabled me to say and do things I would have been terrified of in the past. Now, I just don’t care about so many people’s reactions. Confronting people is not a problem when you know you can survive just fine without their assistance and approval. The African American community has a saying I just love: “I can do bad all by myself.” It’s not bragging, just brutal honesty. It’s like saying, “I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m just as capable of figuring it out as anyone.” That’s what caring for Barry and dealing with the house have taught me.
I believe that the reason people are in such denial and so resistant to change is because they know on some level that, if they truly deal with situation as it is and not live in their fantasy world, life will change them permanently. They will cross many Rubicons. There are many points of no return in life. Once you proceed forward, there is no option to go back. You can make a different choice and go forward in a different direction, but backwards is not an option because time does not reverse. I am 48. Next year, I will be 49. I will never be 25 again, thank god. It was not a “very good year”, to mangle Sinatra.
My life has been involuntarily simplified. There is only so much I can handle. Pushing me harder will get you nowhere. And if you push me hard enough, I will re-evaluate my relationship with you to decide whether or not it is worth maintaining in the long run. Life is not pretty sometimes and I refuse to make it more complicated than it needs to be. Part of simplification is a ruthless courage to eliminate all non-essentials.
And that includes relationships. It is easier to have fewer and more genuine relationships than to pretend to have lots of friends and not really know what you have or don’t have. Eliminating non-essentials makes space for more of the good stuff, I have found. Getting rid of the crappy couch gives you the space for a nice new one, for example. Same principle, writ large. I can be there more for my friends now because I have more free time. I now have fewer relationships, but they are of a higher quality. This process has created much grief, but it has also been satisfying, once the dust settles.