Monday, September 17, 2012

The Upside of Being Down

In every romantically inclined film ever, the protagonist, at some point, loses love. She spends days in bed, first sobbing violently, but soon reduced to silent tears at the whisper of every floorboard creak that might mean he has returned. Her friends console her, first with sympathy, and then with tough love phrases like “if you don’t get up and go to work, we will 51-50 you.” In the movies, she gets a 10-minute depression montage, where she is melancholy and listless in no fewer than four separate locations. After that, the music changes and she becomes emboldened with a new sense of self-righteous indignation. Who needs love, she battle cries. I have no feelings anymore! With a new attitude and a snappy new outfit, she is triumphant and healed. 

And then when she inevitably runs into that murderer of love and happiness, she is classy and charming and “so over that shit.” 

And boy howdy is he sorry. 
And boy howdy was he wrong to leave her. 

And boy howdy is that not my life. 

I’ve had relationships end before. I’ve been dumped. I’ve been screwed over, burned, left out to dry. I’ve had my fair share of rage blackouts and some stuff got broken. I lost myself, and rose heroically from the ashes of the lesser person I had let myself become. And yet, never before have I found myself unable to stop crying in the middle of a fairly routine coffee order. In the past, words like “snarky” and “independent” have described me. Phrases like “inspiringly hateful.” Never before have I been referred to as “forlorn and overly weepy.”

And then just any other day happened, and I went from having everything, to desperately grasping at anything. Just another day happened, and my everything shifted. 

Maybe it’s that I’m simply dating the wrong type; as in the type that doesn’t think breaking up with me is a horrible, horrible mistake. I guess I should really start trying to date the opposite of that. But I chalk it up to experience, right? Because if I don’t, there comes a time on my everyday drive to work that I start to muse the notion of swerving in to oncoming traffic. It’s not that I’m saying I think that’s a good idea, I’m simply saying, I get it. 

The problem lies in the midst of all the “meantime” in between having everything, and having a new everything. The problem is a huge pit in the middle of those two peaks. This is the sadness pit. This is the pit where a girl becomes an emotional leper to the universe around her. 

I know, it sounds horrid. But hear me out. There is an upside of being so down. 

That moment my world realizes the full weight of any difficult emotional change is always out in public; it never fails. For two weeks, I was able to successfully delude myself into believing that I was only dreaming. It could be that living in my crazy-person world of fiction had made facing the truth even more jarring, or it could be that it didn’t matter when I accepted it. Once it sunk in, it was futile to dispute how I ended up the crying, snotty shell of a person in a car on the side of the freeway that even highway patrol didn’t want to deal with. 

I’ve never been the girl to get swept up. Always one step ahead, always the first to correctly identify and bail on the sinking ship, always the one to know when I’ve had more than enough. But love is tricky, and it snuck up on me – it was hard to even know just how far he had sunk his teeth in until he let go. I mean, think about every time you’ve been stabbed. (No? No one? Well okay then.) Think about every time you’ve gotten a tattoo. (If you don’t get that one either, that’s too bad. I’m leaving you behind!) At first the sting is sharp, maybe you wince, maybe you cry out, but after a few minutes, the area is numb. You go the rest of the day with deadened nerve endings, and you think, “maybe that was just an overreaction at first. I feel okay.” Then it’s the day after, and the “healing” begins.

Have you ever noticed the way the general public behaves around a person with a “healing” tattoo? With almost unprecedented diligence, they maintain a safe distance at all times from the flaky, bleeding work of art with a human being attached. That same social curiosity can easily be applied to the way normal, functioning people behave around the emotionally plagued. 

The first night I went out to interact with the regular people of Earth, I immediately discovered one of the benefits of being sad Eleanor-bot. It was in the very moment I opened my mouth about “how I’d been.” The free drinks just appeared. Sympathy drinks, appeasement drinks, whatever. I had stumbled upon the greatest truth of our culture: people are so uncomfortable with the fragility of the loveless, they will just throw whatever they can at it to make it stop doing what it’s doing. 

In my case, what I was doing was talking. And the solution was free anything. Dinners, drinks, therapy sessions – it was all bought and paid for by the good, fearful people of Oakland; as if my emotional instability were dead skin cells flaking off my personality in droves, and since a tattoo can’t be bandaged and hidden away, they chose to drown it in distractions. I couldn’t blame them; I even went so far as to suggest making a sash, similar to the one that an engaged woman gets to wear at her bachelorette party to announce her achievement. The only difference with mine was that instead of saying “bride-to-be,” it would say “will-probably-die-alone.” Shockingly, THAT got vetoed. 

Not long after, I realized the other big plus of being miserable. Everyone around me was actively avoiding sharing his/her own feelings. Sure, in my free time I was slowly being crushed by the weight of agony that comes with getting your heart precariously ripped from your chest cavity, but in social engagements, I didn’t have to pretend like I was happy for anyone. My new, tragic robot disposition became such a happiness-suck that no one would fess up. Amazing things were happening in my friends’ lives, and I heard naught a syllable. It could be that my failures as a functioning citizen made them uncomfortable; it was probably that they didn’t want to remind me of just how much I had lost in one fell swoop. And there is always the smallest possibility that I just frighten them, generally. Either way, the burden of thinking good things for anyone else had been lifted. And let’s be real, it was a trying task for me on a good day, anyway.  

In the past month, I’ve grabbed a firm hold on everything that mattered to me, and done my damnest to break it apart. If the sensation of ending a relationship is equitable to the act of getting a needle gunned into your arm a billion times, then the past month has been a repeat of the day after.

The day after you get a new tattoo, or stabbed, for those of you still following that one, it’s not just that it hurts. It’s that it aches. A constant throbbing that never eases up, that never goes away. You see, a lot like a tattoo, a lot like getting stabbed in a non-fatal area of the human body, we have learned to love with our incisors. Teeth that break through boundaries and walls, teeth meant for getting down to the very bone. And when the teeth pull away, all that’s left is mangled, torn and nearly unrecognizable. When the needle is gone, when the knife is removed, when he leaves, you bleed. And that makes a royal mess of things. You bleed into your job, you bleed into your other relationships, you leave stains on everything that touches you. And then you just have to wait. Waiting for the ink to settle, for the blood to clot. Waiting for the taste of his name to fade from copper to vinegar to nothing at all. And waiting does help, time helps. But when it’s done and you wake up one day to feel that your tattoo doesn’t itch and your stitches are out, the marks are still there the same. What time can’t fix or undo is the impression all that waiting left behind.

I can’t say what lesson I learned here, or that I’m better for it. Given the number of bridges I’ve lit up like the 4th of July in the past month, I can’t imagine anyone would call that progress. All I can tell you is that it’s true. Every part that is funny, and every part that hurts. No one is ever just one feeling at one time; no one is ever just one goodbye. Not a single damn person looks pretty when they really cry, and no one gets out of heartbreak with a mere sadness montage. In time, I’ll feel better. In time, the seas will settle. In time I’ll look back and know if the bridges I burned were made of more than just plywood. In time. 

For now I’ll just revel in the fact that no matter my mood: happy or miserable, I still have the ability to scare away the joy of just about everyone else.  

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sometimes the perfect job just EMAILS you.

From: Michael Welsh <>
Date: Fri, Mar 16, 2012 at 3:14 PM
Subject: Re: Personal Assistant Needed‏ ( Contact me on 916-222-4213 )

I'm got your email through the employment database. Oh really? I did not realize I HAD a account. Good to know. I am looking for someone who can handle my personal and business errands during his or her spare time. I’m a her. Please continue. I’m intrigued by your ambiguity. I need your service because I am constantly traveling abroad on business. I own an Art Gallery that specializes in international art.

Oh right. I remember now. Back before I decided to throw in the towel and become an audio engineer, I was actively pursuing an entry-level career in the international art trade. It's so great how you did all this research on me before reaching out. I can see that you really care, and are totally legitimate

Your Responsibilities are. 
Oh hell, you lost me. 

1. Receive my mail and Drop them off at the post office or shipping center. 
Take your mail, and then send it back to you. The post office feedback loop. Got it. 
2. Pay my bills on my behalf and sit for delivery at home.
 Can I pay MY bills on your behalf as well? 
3. Pick up my items at your nearby post office at your convenience. 
Your items? Are we talking about international art, or maybe balloons of heroin? Either way is cool, I just like to know.
4. When you get my mail or package, you would mail all items to where I want them shipped. .All expenses and shipping charges will be covered by me. 
That’s a relief. I was worried I was going to have to pay for all this international shipping. Because you’re abroad, and I will apparently be living at the post office. Are you sure this isn't just a position FOR the post office?

The contents of the packages are mostly art materials and paintings. In addition, there will be clothing I need for business and personal letters. No heavy packages are ever delivered! 
What kind of “art” are we dealing with? Do I get to read the personal letters first? Even if you say no, I think I probably will anyway. Are they love letters? Are you running some kind of "Letters to Juilet" ring here? I saw that movie, it wasn't very good. 

I am currently away on business in China. If you decide to accept the position, please read the employment requirements listed below. 
I was with you until you said China. I have a personal issue with the Chinese. (Author's note: this is a joke. I love the Chinese. Big fan. Seriously.)

A. You are an honest and trustworthy citizen.  
I was with you until “honest.” Everything after that just doesn’t sound like me.

B. You will be required to work between 15 and 20hrs a month. 
A MONTH? That is just so much post office and sitting around

C You need to be able to check your EMAIL 3 to 5 times daily. 
That is too much commitment to having my phone with me at all times. Also, I only have e-mail. I don’t know what EMAIL is. It sounds aggressive. 

THE PAY IS $1000 WEEKLY and you are entitle to a brand new car after 1month if you are hardworking and honest with me, WHICH IS NOT A BAD OFFER.

Okay, in the “list of requirements,” hardworking was not mentioned. I feel this is an unfair addition to you already overwhelming technical qualifications. That being said, I think we should discuss how $1000/weekly breaks down when I am required to do NO MORE than 20 hours of a work a month. Technically, that is 4 hours a week. You are telling me that you need this mail checked SO BADLY that you are willing to pay $250 an hour? What exactly do you mean by “international art?” I can only assume you mean black market internal organs.
I do like cars, though. What do you need from me to get this going?

In closing, I have a couple of questions for you.
First, If I were to mail you money to do my shopping plus an upfront payment for your service, where would you want it mailed to? Preferably my Gringotts vault, because it is the safest, securest place in all the land. 

Second, how would you like for your name appear on the money or check? 
In all caps, underlined twice, and no less than three crying emoticons bookending it.

Maybe you can provide me with the following details below

Name: E. “Snootypants” Swifty-Lavigne Thibeaux (III)

Third bunk from the left, Slytherin House, The Dungeon


Magical Mayhem

...pity do dah?

Cell number 294; Phone numberI’M A WITCH I DON’T HAVE A PHONE.
I would like one, yes.

What is your bank Name: 
Gringotts. Please see my accountant, Griphook, for further instructions. Do not anger the dragon.

Also, Robb Stark is King of the North. I’m pretty sure my bank is in his territory. I’d check with him, too. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Eviction notices and definitions

There was a very specific practice at the dinner table of my childhood. Every night, my mother would ask about school. Greg, my older brother, would mention some test he did well on, or a question that he answered correctly. Geofrey, my little brother, would complain about eating chicken for dinner two days in a row. I would tell my parents that I did, in fact, go to school. That’s how it was.

After the round robin of daily anecdotes, my father would start talking about something. A general concept, a life skill, some sort of scientific anomaly – it varied from day to day. And in the middle of explaining it, he would slip a higher-level vocabulary word or technical term in to the conversation. Greg would nod along. Geofrey would complain about how he didn’t want gumbo, he just wanted white rice with butter. I would fume silently for a few minutes, pushing my food around the plate, mentally scraping together all the context clues I could accumulate. My first concern, of course, was if I was being mocked; after I could eliminate that, my focus turned to what the hell Patrick Thibeaux was talking about this time.

“Okay, stop. What does ‘anachronism’ mean?” I would cave. Every time.

My father would look to Greg first, who, by this point in the meal, had already finished inhaling his food, as he is the fastest eater on the planet. Greg would mumble something close to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, and my father would then recite the actual definition, complete with the parts of speech and a quick pronunciation guide.

“Why couldn’t you just say that? I knew those words,” I would whine. Every time.

“Knowledge is power,” Greg would reply as he reached across the table to steal the last slice of French bread.

Fifteen seconds later a fight would erupt over dishes versus homework. Thirty seconds later my parents would send us all to our rooms just to shut everyone up.

As adolescents, defining people and words and concepts is a cornerstone of development. Starting out, it’s just objects, or tangible ideas. People are identified as how they relate to you: teacher, mother, crazy person at the bus stop. Learning how to put finite words to specific people or ideas meant that they were understood, and understanding builds confidence in one’s ability to navigate the universe around him/her. The next time I heard the word “anachronism” in conversation, I wouldn’t need to spend 45 seconds trying to decide if that was a word that meant, “Eleanor sucks.” I already knew all of those words by heart anyway. Confidence, and competence: definitions are the gateway to effective communication, and self-esteem.

So naturally it seems remarkably unfair that the older I get, the less I am really able to define in a universal way. Definitions change, words are adapted, shifted ever so slightly to fit a new purpose. What was once micro is now being viewed from a macro perspective, and all that I once had confidence in knowing begins to distort away from the edges of my mental reach. People and concepts I previously put in one compartment of my mind now belong in different compartments, or no compartment at all. It has become painstakingly clear to me that definitions are no longer just for memorizing. Words are loaded, and labels mean so much more than any dinner conversation could convey.

For example, all my life I have been gathering information on what it means to be a grown up. I watched my parents reach the top shelf where the good cereal was kept; I watched my mother attend parent-teacher conferences to discuss Greg’s “gifted” status, or my inability to just shut the hell up. I watched my father make sacrifices and work terribly long hours so my brothers and I could want for nothing and get the best education available. I watched as the ‘he said – she said’ game blew up in my face when I tried to pit my parents against each other. But now that it is almost time for me to leave the 18-24 bracket, the only thing I know about being a grown up is that my parents were awesome at it, and I should still be an undecided college major.

What I seem to stumble over most is that definitions have multiple meanings now. There is what the word means according to Merriam Webster – the idea that when I use a word in this manner, people will know that I mean this thing. Then, and maybe more tragically, there is what the word means to me when I say it. I feel this way, and I have selected this word because that is how my feelings are best reflected. Take, for instance, when I say the word, “girlfriend.”

To me, this word is a label that means I have chosen to be on his side no matter what, to spend my time and energy invested in his happiness, to say, ‘You, more than any other person, are worth the blinders.’

To the world around me, this label means, “I have decided that I will not let anyone else buy me dinner, unless I’m really hungry.”

And occasionally and unfortunately to him, the word means “someone who is supposed to do everything I like, make my life easier, and have no more friends that are just her own.”

We all have little compartments in our minds where we define people and ideas: this is my brother; she’s like my sister. He’s my ex-boyfriend, or that’s just my coworker. Each term means something very specific, not just about a person’s relationship to me, but more significantly, how I relate to them. So when someone’s definition changes, so do the compartments. When he tells me that he cannot think of a reason he wants to be with me, he is giving notice of moving out. And so I adapt. He leaves the boyfriend box, the box that is a relationship like no other, and I clean up afterwards. Sweep up the floors and plaster over the holes in the walls that got punched through when he flung open the door too hard. I prepare the now emptied room for a new tenant. I change the locks.

Change is uncomfortable, but inevitable. Starting something new, letting go of something old, either situation brings with it an alteration in what was previously defined. It’s a strange territory to live in, the limbo of not knowing what to call someone, of not knowing how to interact with someone, but it is absolutely necessary. The confidence of having all the right words falters; the dizzying notion of opening and soon closing my mouth out of an inability to explain how I feel in common terms is so very frustrating. He is, well, he is who he is. And I am who I am. We are whatever we are. It’s not eloquent and it’s not safe, but it’s the truth.

Adaptation is a skill; being ever resilient, faithfully taking the blows and returning to a new, compromised medium is no small feat. There are people in this world who welcome change; there are people who fight it. Then there are people who ignore it. It doesn’t much matter which person I am, because it doesn’t diminish the fact that nothing stays the same, not ever. Sometimes definitions change in a positive way, and sometimes getting someone to get all their shit out of the compartment they didn’t want to live in anymore is like pulling teeth. It’s not ideal, but it is what it is. Like a very smart person once told me, “you don’t have to embrace it, but you have to accept it.”

At the dinner table now, my mother might ask how our day was. Greg would mumble something about ‘fine’ through mouthfuls of whatever food was on the table. Geofrey would mention a new concept he learned in college, or maybe a paper he did well on. And in a flurry of words, I would describe a conversation or two, something that was amusing, and something that was uncomfortable. Maybe my father would offer a new vocabulary word, or abstract concept.

But always, my brother would finalize the argument.

“Knowledge is power,” Greg would remind us as he grabbed the 7th and 8th slice of pizza without asking.

Definitions are knowledge. Knowledge is power. Power is control.

Definitions are just another form of control; to not have definite answers to people and words and concepts is just a lack of control, like a roller coaster. And I think I’ve made it abundantly clear how I feel about those things.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mighty Morphin' Wedding Woes.

There have only been a handful of times in my life when I was genuinely convinced I might die. Once right before the train took off on Space Mountain; once when I was eight and a duck tried to eat me; once when I was a 16-year-old girl.

And once when my best friend since the third grade asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding.

Now, I need to be clear about one thing: these psychological near-deaths are self-made and extremely self-perpetuated. The bride, my adoptive sister and actual cousin, could not have been saner. Maybe it’s because I don’t understand that shows like “Bridezillas” and “Platinum Weddings” are not the industry standard, but I prepared for the worst. So the reality of our situation dances closely to ironic, retrospectively. If we had been taking bets, those of you who put your money on me for being the most “crazy in a bad way,” could be shopping for that new yacht right now.

For me, vanity has always been, and will always be the cause of my undoing. However, that term spans much further than perfect hair and manicured nail beds. Vanity is the devil on my shoulder who says, “They are all waiting for you to fall flat on your face. Everyone is looking at you to do something stupid, something so very Eleanor.” But rather than addressing the foolishness of that particular idea, I focus on the minutest details of my physical appearance in order to maintain some sort of control. If my shoes match perfectly with the dress, and my nails are painted and not chipped, and my eyebrows arch cleanly at every angle, I will win this wedding. I will prove to the voices in my head and the couple of people who still know my name that I am no longer the Eleanor who messes everything up. I’m Eleanor 2.0.

You see, when I was in Kindergarten, I had to take the bus to school with my big brother. There was a group of kids that waited a couple houses down from ours every morning, and I didn’t particularly get along with any of them, especially not Tyler McAllister. The thing was, Tyler and I had different political beliefs. He was a chauvinist in the making, and I felt that it was ridiculously unfair for me to have to be the pink Power Ranger just because I was a girl. Everyone knows I should have been the black Ranger. EVERYONE.

It was a rainy Tuesday morning when our childish disagreement came to blows, and before I knew it, Tyler had pushed me down into a muddy ditch. My school uniform, because it was Louisiana and my family is Catholic, was ruined. (It was ruined because of the mud. Not because I’m Catholic, just to clarify.) Immediately and without hesitation, I pulled myself up; I thought of the meanest thing a five-year-old could say to a seven-year-old and walked back to the house to change. These are the facts.

The story I have been telling myself for two decades is entirely different.

I have spent the majority of my existence believing I needed help; that my life would not begin until a hand pulled me up from that ditch and then proceeded to punch Tyler McAllister in the face for being such a wang. For years I have let myself sit in that ditch, just waiting for someone to save me from being the sad, pathetic girl who gets pushed around and forced to be the pink Power Ranger. 19 years of telling myself I needed someone to fix me, 19 years of sitting in a ditch, just waiting. It very well could be the help I’ve been hoping for wasn’t a strong hand and a chivalrous act of violence. It was a wake up call in the middle of the night that simply said, “That’s enough, Eleanor. Get up.” 

I told myself that someone had to permit me to be the black Ranger; until someone said it was all right, I was just a fool wearing the wrong suit. But the thing is, I didn’t want to be the black Ranger because I hated pink. The black Ranger was awesome and did awesome stuff. The pink Ranger sucked.   And sure, I can’t put together Ikea furniture very well, and I call my father every time my car makes a new squeaking noise, but I moved 2000 miles across the country on my own, and I was Prom Queen and no matter what I might thinkhappened, I did actually pull myself out of that ditch. Does that sound like something the pink Ranger would do? NO.

It was in those few moments before I walked down the aisle at Meaghan and Phil’s wedding that I realized why I couldn’t seem to stop fidgeting with my bouquet or staring at the scar on my left index finger from a lost battle with a microphone stand: more desperately than I wanted anything, I wanted to be a different person. Over the course of those forty feet, my only thought was that I was no longer going to be that girl who had to be “Heart” when we played Captain Planet. Everyone in that room was going to see a confident, graceful woman who surely never got pushed around, and was never told she was the pink Power Ranger. 

And then I forgot to bow.

The priest was whispering to me calmly, “you need to bow,” and the church was laughing because I made a face that said, “Yep! I messed up!” It was only then that I realized I was the exact same person I have always been. Constantly being told to be the pink Power Ranger, and forever refusing to even entertain the thought. I am still the girl who gets punched in the face for mouthing off about the Queen of England. I am still the girl who tells Tyler McAllister where he should go and what to do when he gets there.  

It was twenty seconds after I accepted this fact that I was brought to joyous tears over another obvious realization: the entire event, the reason I was there, had nothing to do with me. I watched the most stunning bride that will ever live walk down that same aisle with a smile that broke me into a thousand little pieces and simultaneously put me back together, and I thought, “We used to have serious conversations about beanie babies. You and I built a Geocities webpage about cheese and stayed up all night chatting on AOL Instant Messenger constantly. We used to LiveJournal. And now you’re getting married. And I have lived through your life with you and that’s why I’m here. And no one cares what I do, because we all just care about you.”

And I was free from the pressure and I was free from my own vanity, and I remembered what it felt like to think about someone else for a moment. And that was nice.

That was something the black Power Ranger would do.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Funny Person Syndrome

I grew up a “funny person.” This is a clinical condition. One of the fatal attributes of funny person syndrome is an uncontrollable need to have the last word in any exchange. The last word is where the joke lies. The last word sends the conversation off to the next topic in a blaze of hilarity and glory. The last word wins. Funny people can’t feel successful losing a conversation unless they set themselves up for the loss in order to be funny. Funny people have control issues. My name is Eleanor Thibeaux, and I am a funny person.

What is misleading about funny person syndrome is that most of the time, the side-effects are the antithesis of amusing. It’s a compulsive desire to be the ending punctuation in any interactive event. Funny people seek a certain level of supercilious personal validation from having the final say or getting the loudest laugh. This works just fine in social situations and the blogosphere *cough right guys? cough* but not so much in intimate relationships. The last word, like any drug addiction, leads funny people like myself shaking and spinning out of control in between fixes.

I never considered myself a last word addict. I like to make jokes, and often see any conversation as an opportunity to banter and stretch my rhetorical legs. While I do have a flair for the dramatics and an eye for the absurd, I understand that in the real world, where I occasionally vacation, there is a time and place for everything. So two weeks ago when my relationship ended prematurely, I thought only to suffer in silence. I have lived in shame of many dozen overly emotional live journal accounts to know that some personal information is best kept to the messy handwritten notebooks of yore. But in spite of my radio silence to the outside world, the ideas began to gather. First I thought only in sad phrases; then as the hours ticked away, the justified resentment and frustration scratched and clawed my pathetic weepy words into scorned sentences.

Before I knew it, I had a paragraph; then suddenly I had a short answer essay. How exonerating it would be to spin my words around his dizzied head just once more. Surely after everything that happened, I deserved the chance to defend myself! With my inner crazy person at the helm, a scene with blurred edges plays just behind my eyes of venomous words and objects thrown. The crazy person is free from any social obligation to remain calm and civil; she doesn’t buckle under the weight of anxiety or worry about his feelings. When she’s in charge, I say things like, “You can’t break up with me. That’s not how this works. Redo. I break up with you. There!” She’s fun.

Unfortunately, too much exposure to the real world and a substantial amount of years logged as a girl scout has its pitfalls. As the golden rule pulls annoyingly at the sleeve of my conscious, I catch my tongue. Because even if I were to say all the things I want to say, would it really be the right answer?

The last word might just be the singular “goodbye,” and there is a very likely chance was not meant to be mine to speak. The issue at hand is that everyone goes on and on about closure, like it’s this crucial goal we need in order to survive the rest of our life. Books and movies drill it in to our brains; the only way to move on is to recite a heartfelt speech that is both honest and vindicating in the middle of the street, or maybe under an awning at a coffee shop with rain spilling down over the sides creating a curtain of sadness and feelings that would bring even a soulless individual to tears. My speech houses all that was left unsaid. My speech has swear words and more cons than pros. My speech has literary devices to really drive the message home.

Yet, the problem with my speech is glaring. Only one side of it is within my control. Even if I found myself in this movie moment, I can only script one character. That’s the beauty and curse of reality – it’s all improv. You can choose the scene and the characters, but the dialogue is ever-changing. It’s why the phrase, “that’s not what I meant,” is so damn popular. Real life isn’t a movie or a book or a blog. The grace of the real world is in the things we didn’t mean to say, or the things we know we shouldn’t have said. Does he regret showing me a pros and cons list about myself? I can venture to guess he does, and after my blog went up, I can only assume he REALLY does now.

So if I catch him at Starbucks and it’s raining for the first time all winter, and my brain implodes and the lines I have been repeating since the day he told me he couldn’t think of a reason to be with me come cascading out, will I find the personal validation I so vainly seek? Will he see the metaphorical light and realize what a huge mistake he has made? Despite the fact that I am confident our relationship has run its course, will telling him everything I think he should know really make him miss me like I want him to? And if he misses me, will that be the closure I think I need in order to move forward?

In a moment of brutal clarity, I realized the answer is not the one I wanted. Telling him the things that he did that drove me insane won’t make me feel any less sad that the relationship is over. Listing off all the super cool qualities about myself that he so casually left off his stupid list won’t make him really see me the way I think he should. Even if he realizes he misses me the way I want him to, he won’t tell me. The closure isn’t lying in wake of my self-proclaimed protagonist monologue; it is in accepting that the validation I seek externally must first exist internally. If I truly believe I am all those things that should have been in the pros column, then it doesn’t matter if he knows it. More to the point, if he needs me to tell him what is great about me, maybe throwing in the towel was for the best.

If he doesn’t see the significance of my qualities, or the humanity in my flaws, it is because his values are focused elsewhere. Just as he could never make me love rollercoasters or get a cockatoo for a pet, I cannot redirect his vision of what makes for a worthwhile partner. For the first time, I am beginning to understand that the last word isn’t the final moment. There will be other stories with more moments and happier endings. And if I can keep my mouth shut, maybe there will be a story that doesn’t need a punch line at all.