Every time I sign on to IM I look for Frank's handle. I feel rather tragic when it doesn't appear. Tears will come into my eyes if I let them.
I can hear how it sounds and it makes me wonder: how do people process this stuff? How do they process loss that doesn't have death to justify the sufferer's pain?
It's my observation that we treat people rather impatiently, dismissively even, when they grieve lost friendships or loves. I roll my eyes myself when some acquaintance simply won't shut up about this person who clearly doesn't give a damn, As if showing some empathy would make me equally pathetic, as if it would make me a reject too.
What do other people do? The ones with enough pride to not want to seem so banal? Do they just suck in their stomachs, square their shoulders and soldier on? Do they lonelily listen to Damien Rice when no one can see their weakness? Do they punch walls when it still hurts when they wake up the next morning?
Can they somehow push it away into some dusty corner of their minds as if they never felt anything at all? Is that why we're taught that dwelling on unrequited love is for teenagers and women with a propensity for Harlequin only, and that romance and feelings are for losers, an unworthy pursuit of adults with jobs and children? Is it that for the majority of people, myself excluded, that's what love is: a childish distraction, something to grow out of?
Years ago, in my psychiatrist office, I told the doctor that I simply couldn't let Frank go. As the words left my mouth I winced. If there is something that's been endlessly repeated and I have accepted as true, it's that we control our feelings, and that's it's never really a matter of "can't", it's always "won't". The psychiatrist scoffed at me, and told me I had to grow up, I was married, I had to accept there were things I couldn't have, there is no such thing as can't.
It seems to me now that my divorce is final more than a year ago, because I screwed Frank, and he is still a frequent guest in my mind, that my psychiatrist and Wayne D Dyer are either wrong, or I am an exceptionally weak and immature person, who probably likes feeling rejected and humiliated and unhappy.
Or maybe it's true that some of us, when we fall for someone, tend to get fixated, and that for us letting go is like weening off a drug. Yeah, we can tell it's bad for us, that the very strength of our feelings, reality based or not, stands in the way of interactions on an equal footing with the object of desire. Yet, because it's so intense we tell ourselves that unequal is better than nothing.
Why is it that we acknowledge other types of behavior as compulsive and deceased: a need to check that the coffee maker is off that's so strong that the sufferer puts it in her backpack and brings it to work, but when it comes to infatuation suddenly we're in control? Why is love a choice even when that emotion leads you down a path of bad choices and self-destructiveness?
A couple of years into our marriage Ted felt driven to seek out prostitutes. The therapist he saw to help him sort that out, and I, accepted that he was compelled, that he was driven by sexual addiction that was spiraling out of control.
To deal with my fear and distrust, and in order to suppress my fixation with Ted and the suspicions that had caused me to discover what he was up to in the first place, I changed my mail password to "I will never ask." It was to remind myself not to ask where he'd been, what he'd been up to, to not check his email, or our bank accounts for unjustified withdrawals of $200.
Because clearly, and my therapist at the time, my psychiatrist, and Ted agreed, that I was the one who wasn't controlling controllable emotions.
Fuck you, you fucking assholes. And fuck you, Frank for being such a pathetic excuse of a friend.
What? I am not thin enough for you, not extroverted enough (with loads of cool friends for you to claim as your own), not smart enough to let you bully me into silence with your brilliance, not black enough for your racist relatives?
Yeah, I'm sorry if you thought there were no vitriol coming your way. Cue: joke about women scorned.
Note to self: I will never ask why I am not good enough. Low self-esteem is for losers.