Confession: I’m an idiot.
There’s a type of fictional character I don’t like and a behavior I see in friends that I have little patience for. It’s when a person keeps making the same mistake or fully understands a problem but willfully perpetuates it. Two highly regarded books come to mind: She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb and The Lost Father by Mona Simpson. While most readers liked them, I wanted to reach into each book, grab the main character by the throat, and choke her until she moved the fuck on.
With my friends, I’m much more patient, but eventually I’ll hit a wall, and it becomes obvious that I’m no longer a sounding board for that topic. Granted, if there were a crisis, I’d relent, but something unspoken passes between us at a certain point, and the sine wave of ups and downs, starts and stops, certainty and doubt comes to a halt.
Given that history, it’s all the more shameful that I’ve become that character, or rather the friend who I would have long since closed the door on. My bit of nonsense is about a guy who I’ve been hung up on for a long time, depending on whether you call 10 months of constant agonizing a long time. The situation is made all the more difficult by the fact that, for practical reasons, I can’t cut ties with him. He’s in my face. All the time.
It’s not my imagination that I’ve become unbearable: one friend told me that I’m not to so much as mention the guy’s name. I’m so mortified by my behavior that I’ve taken to hiding what’s happening—outright lying to friends that I have it under control. Or I lie by omission, telling half stories, leaving out the parts that reveal that I am stuck on this guy like a snail on aquarium glass.
And so I embark on a hunt for someone new who will listen. I’ve told an appalling number of people about it, spreading the wealth so that each person will not truly understand how much this nonrelationship has become the centerpiece of my life. (It’s a delusion to think I’ve succeeded.)
When I’m not talking about him, I’m talking with him. It has to stop. I feel a little (more than a little) like an alcoholic. Do I need a 12-step program?
Probably I do. I’ve tried to break the habit more times than I can count, so much so that it seems like my best bet is to tell him to stop. But that means admitting my feelings, and on some level, I know that’s wrong probably because I know he is wrong for me, that there can’t be anything but trouble in store if this genie were to get out of the bottle.
This wrongness is the life raft I cling to, but just barely. I know, among other things, that my needs would not be met in a relationship with this guy, and I remind myself of this fact whenever I’m tempted to let him know how I feel. The fact that he doesn’t know already is a big, red flag. As one astute male friend said, “He’s into you. Either that, or he’s a fucking idiot.” After all this time, I have to go with option B. Trust me: if I wrote out the list of why a relationship wouldn’t work, you’d think I was out of my mind—as most of my friends do—for wishing even for a moment that this stubborn bud would bloom.
But that’s the rational side of the scale; the weight of how I feel is the thumb on the other side, and that’s hard to counter, as my utter failure to get and keep this thing under control has proven. But, hey, today is Monday, and every Monday offers a fresh start. So, as they say, God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to take action, and wisdom to move the fuck on.