Friday, May 4, 2012

Letting go (or not)

So here's a thing about me. I like to understand what's happened to me. Even if I didn't understand it at the time, I will pull it out and turn it over in my head until I reach what I think is an adequate understanding of what went wrong. Then I take from it whatever I can, and I let the hurt, the pain, the sadness go.

 There are a few things that have happened in my life that I don't understand. Almost none of them are recent, although whether this is because I'm older and understand things better or because I've got a better class of people around me, I couldn't tell you. I am *terrified* that these things will happen again, because I don't understand why they happened in the first place.

The rest of this post is extremely TL;DR-type introspection. Jump at your own risk.

The biggest of these things happened in college.  My entire social group turned on me for reasons mostly unknown to me (and, in one case, deliberately obscured from me by that person - I understand that part of it best, really).  I'm a pretty extroverted extrovert, and I spent most of my senior year in college talking to, oh, three people.  And two of them not so much in public, so the drama wouldn't splash.

I *cannot* go through that again.  I'm pretty sure the only reason I survived it that time was that I knew it had an end - I would graduate and go off into the wide world and make new friends.  If it happened again here... I'd probably move. Pack up my stuff, the cats, Himself, and go to a new state and try to start over again. Again. (I've started over a lot in my life - it doesn't seem to have done me any good. I never managed the trick of "not being the same person in a new place.")

Does that sound extreme?  Well, maybe it is. But here's the thing -- I have to have a plan for "what if that happens again" because I don't understand why it happened in the first place. Sure, I'm a different person now, but people change slowly and in steps - what if the part that made that happen is a part I haven't gotten to yet?

I honestly don't care much what the answer is at this point.  It could be something as simple as "we were all ready to believe you were a terrible person because you were kind of psycho then, and it was more important to keep the snake pit from turning on us than it was to protect you." (This is actually what I think the truth is.)

I know there are layers and layers here -- I've been told I was viewed as running a "cult of personality" (which, given the low number of true friends I had there at the time, is kind of laughable).  I'd like to understand the layers, too -- given how much I hate being sucked-up-to, I'd like to know what gave rise to that belief.  (I did at one point ask some people if they couldn't defend me even a little bit, of the "please don't talk about my friends like that when I'm in the room" kind of way, in the hopes that suppressing some of the swirl would calm it down a bit. This didn't work very well, and only got them in trouble, so it didn't last long.)

Mostly, I just want to know *what happened.* I'm usually pretty good at putting myself in the other person's shoes.  I work really really hard at it. It's one of the reasons why I generally feel bad for people who I should by all rights really dislike. (Some of them I both dislike and feel bad for, which is a weird mental feeling.) People can't help being who and what they are, for the most part, and sometimes we just don't get along.  That's okay.

This one thing, this one moment in my life's history, is not okay. I keep poking at it, like bad bruise, to see if it's healed yet. It's better than it was, oh, much, much better. But it's not healed, and I don't think it will until I can construct an adequate narrative of what was going on around me that I didn't see all those years ago.

Unfortunately, this turns out to be something that I can't really discuss much in public. I get a lot of "it was ten years ago, get over it." But I can't. I am fundamentally incapable of just "getting over" this not-understanding, this thing that used to give me screaming nightmares and now only sometimes shows up in the background of those grinding, monotonous, awful nightmares instead.

My life is made up of stories, and for this one thing, I have no story other than "I don't understand." So I'll keep poking at this, but I guess after this I'll do it in private where no one has to see how sad of a person I am for not being able to let go of something that happened so long ago. That this makes it even less likely that I'll ever get the input I need to figure things out... Well... I guess I'd rather bear the burden I'm used to than run the risk of turning another group against me in my quest to figure out what happened the first time.

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