I hate being wrong.
Wednesday was easily in the top ten worst days of my life. Up there with the day I had Norovirus in a British Columbia YMCA bunk bed, the day I broke my femur and the day after I drank shots of tequila all night in Nogales, Mexico. A lot of shots.
It was confusing. I’ve broken up before. Why this sucking hole of loss?
I managed. I showed up for a couple of client calls. I was DM at the weekly D&D game. Not well – I actually forgot the name of the evil sorceress who is in charge of the Cult of the Dragon. But you have to forgive the small things in such times.
Speaking of forgiveness. I was wrong.
All day, I could feel it. Not just when I woke up and didn’t know where I was, but as I walked along the water and as I talked to my beloved friends, who called and sent me poems and invited me to come to the farm, come drink wine, come read stories out loud in bad, bad accents...
I felt sad and lost and also wrong.
Okay. To be fair, I wasn’t wrong about what I need. About what’s okay and not okay. Not about that. But I was very wrong one of the ways that really, really, matters.
I didn’t ask for it before I broke up. I think this is why the sucking hole of loss. Because not only is that everything I believe in, its also what was more extraordinary about this relationship than any other. I could do what I believe is the job of courage in love, which is to say “I need this, dear.” Not in the middle of a fight. In the calm moment, later, when you can hear each other, when you can say “I need this. Can we talk about it?”
I could do that. I had done it. He had responded. And I didn’t do it this time.
I know why. I had a story. I had felt him withdrawing lately, and I had a whole story about how he was not invested anymore. Who am I kidding? That he wasn’t in love anymore.
Ouch Ouch Ouch
In which case, why would I take the risk?
This is how needs do. They are tricky. Especially when they have been ignored for a while. They don’t just walk up and announce themselves and hold your hand and tell you their name and social security number. They rush out of the dark like fanged animals. They write stories that are maybe totally untrue and get you all loaded for bear and walking into a bar where your sweetheart is innocently waiting to meet you...
Have I mentioned that I do workshops about the stories written by unmet needs? For a living?
(Actually, this is one of the things that stops me from writing. The feeling that, being a professional, I cannot fuck up like this and tell everyone about it. That I ought to know better. But my friend Horizon says that she wants teachers who are working from their own edge, who aren’t perfect, who are learning right out in front of everyone. And when she says that I realize I want that too- from my teachers, my leaders, my friends. So. Enough of that.)
Anyway, sometime knowing about the fangs and the stories and the rushing dark isn’t enough. You still fuck it up. I walked into that bar with a story I’d been writing for weeks. About how he was leaving anyway. I could feel it. And so there was no point in sitting down and opening my heart because I was sure that it was already over from his point of view, and I was helpless to get my needs met, there was nothing else I could do but leave.
I didn’t ask. I didn’t, as he has since put it to me, “Try.” Which was not faithful to what we promised each other by our time and our love and the many times I did try and he did show up.
But, it was also true that he was withdrawing. He has since told me! Because he had a need of his own that wasn’t getting met. We have this moat between his island and my peninsula and we see each other around his kids and my kid and it hits him hard. He doesn’t know if he can stand it. He loves me. He doesn’t see a fix. He’s stuck there, and has been wondering if he could go on like this. Which he hadn’t told me about either. Partly because when he tried to tell me, I kind of freaked out. But he used crazy words! Words like “I think we might not have a future.” Okay. Not those words. But kind of close enough for me to hear those words and freak out.
Sometimes, I think I am not fit for human consumption. But I also think that I am. I have skills! I often use them!
I asked him to forgive me two nights ago. Not for the need I have but for not asking. For announcing that I was leaving instead of saying, in a moment of calm connection, “My dear. I love you but I need this in a relationship. I need this place between us to be sweet. Affectionate. Safe. Like a treehouse with a “We Love Each Other Here” sign on it. No sarcasm in the treehouse.
And no breaking up either.
Yes. I do see that. I see that what I wanted and didn’t ask for in a clear and unambiguous way was for us to make love a safe place we could both count on. I see that instead, I made it less safe. I’m not sure if he’ll forgive me for that. He might not. Even if he does, we still have these other pieces to deal with and we don’t know how. We don’t. But we are talking about it. I am asking for forgiveness and still asking for my need. It is a relief to tell the truth and to be looking at it together. It is a relief to be writing about it, even though Edith is pointing out that I do workshops on communicating needs for a living. And I suck at it, clearly. And still, I believe in being transparent and not pretending to be perfect and learning from mistakes but it really sometimes feels like I should know more than this.