Somebody That I Used to Know
I wasn’t sure what to call this post until I woke up with a strange burning need to listen to this popular song, so let’s just go with that title.
You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness,
like resignation to the end, always the end.
Before I explain how these lyrics connect to my situation, let me just clarify that I won’t go into messy details about my breakup. Plenty of people already know (which I’m sure my ex would hate), so if you want to know details I’d be happy to have a one-on-one bonding session and tell you all about it.
Unless you’re someone who takes emotions waaay too seriously, you might actually chuckle at how well the lyrics for “somebody that I used to know” fit the situation. I initially told her we would still be friends, but then cut her off entirely. So you could say I stooped quite low, and I even considered asking a friend to retrieve some sweaters and my coffee-maker (“have your friends collect your records“) and I blocked her phone number (“…and then change your number“). Am I saying all of this proudly? No. I admittedly acted like a butt-hurt asshole. But the point here is that she could genuinely direct the lyrics of that song towards me and refer to me as someone that she used to know. However, the twist here is that these days I am also singing that song to myself. As I said before: my goal is to no longer write these types of posts centered on disappointment. I’m painfully aware of the role that I played in screwing up the relationship, so I
want need to change a number of things in order to improve myself for my next relationship.
Resignation – n. – the acceptance of something undesirable but inevitable.
“Resignation to the end, always the end“. The reason why I use the term “tragedy chaser” is precisely because I’ve learned to embrace and perhaps even enjoy the journey towards undesirable-yet-unavoidable disappointments. I know that’s weird. But perhaps I would argue that it might be somewhat healthy to enjoy feeling disappointed, feeling sad…. feeling alive. Granted, the reason why I seek change now is because I think the tragedy chasing reached an extreme level. I’ve explicitly told some friends that it feels as though I need chaos and calamity in order to roll my sleeves up and say “finally, a challenge.” When you’re used to fixing things and making the best out of bad situations, it’s hard to feel motivated by things that are clearly fine and not broken, so you chase trouble and you strive for tragedy. As I told my therapist:
“Most people don’t know what they want in life; but when you’ve lost the very few things that you know you deeply want[ed], it’s hard for anything to faze you anymore. And by then your emotional range extends from the highest peaks to the lowest depths, so it takes a lot more stimulus just to feel things. Feelings are like drugs. and clearly I miss the high they gave me.“
It’s pretty crazy to realize that about yourself. Then again a few of my closest friends have seen the extent of my psychoanalyzing. Let’s just say that I’ve often spent more time in someone’s mind than they have, and if you (reading this) disagree with that statement then I probably already know who you are lol. Given that my own mind is the primary source that I have direct access to 24/7, I think these stories, these risks, have given me conflict solve, emotions to feel, and an ever-present character to constantly analyze. I’ve apparently needed internal chaos and disorder in order to take on the challenge of reorganizing and restructuring my thoughts and myself. And then I write about it. Again, the character and the writer, the two selves. “Conflict” in general and “internal chaos” in particular are not pleasant for most people, but I would argue that I’ve personally become addicted to that certain kind of sadness, because I love turning it into happiness.
Before I get completely self-absorbed into my own thoughts and experience, I want to take this opportunity to connect this briefly back to my ex. Here’s a post she wrote a few days after the last time we saw each other. If you read it (and you should, because I don’t want you on “my side”), you’ll notice that she talks about returning to Bolivia feeling like a cup that’s recently been refilled. She mentions learning how to get out of depression, and she talks about the death of a friend alongside the memory of his laugh. She even mentions one of my top 3 books! (Though I’m pretty sure I recommended it to her when she was in Mozambique lol). All of these are things that I’m quite familiar with about her and about myself, which made me feel rather shitty about the breakup (given that we’d been focusing on our perceptual differences rather than our deep similarities). But if you recall the first post in this final series, I’m apparently “a waterfall pouring into a coffee cup“. So unlike many people who need refills, my cup is always [obnoxiously] full and overflowing. Chasing tragedy and taking risks gave me a chance for the cup to spill so I could feel like I need a refill. (Annoyingly for all of us, it’s not long before I’m overflowing again. Sorry about that.)
If my ex had been into superheroes at all, she’d probably agree that I’m like Wolverine not just because I’m mega hairy, but because even the deepest wounds that I described to her have healed. And yet after overcoming this latest heartbreak and healing this wound quicker than I would have liked, I realize that I might never reach lower depths or create deeper wounds than some of the ones I already have. So I guess it’s time for change. It’s time to stop taking epic risks and desist from testing how well/quickly I can recover from wounds. It’s time to stop chasing tragedy and start chasing stability. I said I wanted to write a new book, so hey, maybe I’m now skilled enough to write a good story about watching paint dry. Let’s write a boring book about stability rather than adventure, shall we?
Desire vs Desire
During one of the sessions with my therapist, we discussed how the end of a relationship was a sort of death. On the one hand, it may be the case that the person disappears from your life entirely; but on the other hand, in order to move forward and not get caught up dwelling, it’s often necessary for the person that we were to die off. If I may reference the same book that I often do, my therapist’s comments reminded me of a passage from The Road Less Traveled where he says:
“My depression is over now. I have given up part of my desire to win at games.
That part of me is gone now. It died. It had to die.
I killed it. I killed it with my desire to win at parenting.” – Road Less Traveled
I often argued with my girlfriend about priorities and sacrifice, but if you want to learn to manage yourself and your emotions (before others learn to control you through them) that’s really what it comes down to: priorities and sacrifice. We overcome suffering by creating/adding meaning to one thing and prioritizing it over another. Some do it subconsciously, others like myself do it willingly. So in the same way that the author above realized that he had to kill a part of himself in order to improve, I realize now that the tragedy chaser who activates in chaos has to die. I am very familiar with killing one desire by pinning it against another, so that’s why my desire for stability and peace needs to take priority over my desire for good stories. It’s been nice to hear people say I have an interesting life, that I’m a world traveler/nomad, and a number of other things that make me feel unique and special. But enough is enough, and that guy needs to die here in Kansas while I go somewhere else.
So let’s conclude with one final story…
That One Time When I Wrote to the President
I’m not sure if I ever told/showed anyone that back when this whole
drama trauma and blog started, I hand-wrote a letter (and also sent an email) to President Obama about migration. Unfortunately my story wasn’t useful for political purposes at the time, so of course you didn’t see the White House boasting about it like they do when kids send letters. However, the response that I got was quite meaningful in a small-scale individual basis, and I want to finish this post by showing you that response, which came from a therapist in Kansas:
If you want to read the actual letter that I wrote, you’re gonna have to ask me for it directly, because I don’t want just anyone to read it (hey, it’ll also give us a chance to catch up more personally). But as you can infer, I wrote about my own death. In her response, Kristin says “I also wish that I knew who I could send the letter to that would be able to help or have an impact. I hope that you have found that person and your compelling, amazing story made it’s way to more than just me. I hope that you are safe and well.”
Four and a half years later, I have finally found that person, and I guess I should have known the whole time that it was going to be me. No one else was going to help or have an impact. But in order for me to be here right now, my former self had to die and there was no good reason to save him other than personal attachment. That’s why the guy who applied to the diplomatic service and who had a breakup is no longer here.
I have died many deaths before, and the one I mention in this post is simply another one of them. I’ve always been an “all eggs in one basket” kind of person, and fortunately for me I’m also a human hen who lays way too many eggs; that’s why I simply fill a new basket when the old one comes crashing down. It hasn’t always been pleasant to live through all these stories, but this blog has been my rock. I’m honestly incapable of telling you these stories out loud or in person, so this blog is where my stories get written in stone and resurrected by a digital wand while I sit behind a cloak of invisibility. But I guess I need to start using these hallows for purposes other than for self-therapy to resurrect myself after my soul is split. I’ve put a lot of life energy into various job opportunities, romances and narratives where deep down I expected disappointment, but maybe it’s time to stop creating horcruxes and start actually mastering my own death.