The funny thing is that I haven't had a nightmare or flashback for nearly two weeks. Even when I was feeling stress a week ago they weren't present. Granted, I did some mental work to prepare for dealing with them should they present themselves, but they didn't. So there's really no reason for me to avoid sleeping right now.
Here's the thing. I've done so many mental gymnastics and tried so hard to figure out how to navigate human relationships that now, when I've finally started to figure everything out and the stress is easing, I'm searching for the next personal mystery to unravel--and quite honestly, I'm not sure there is one. So here I am, pondering my own existence when I should be asleep.
I spent some time talking to a friend this morning and he helped me sort through some of the realizations that have been drifting about in my head. It's good to have a sounding board for that. It's amazing that I'm blessed to have friends who will talk about "me" things. Certainly it must be annoying sometimes. I'm really grateful that some of them will put aside that annoyance because they understand how important this is to me. In turn, their indulgence of my need to find answers makes me feel that they care about my well-being. That's an amazing feeling and one I've not had many opportunities to enjoy.
A man stared at me in the grocery store tonight. Feeling miffed because I wasn't in the mood to be stared at, I met his gaze a bit defiantly. He smiled. I didn't. He smiled more, and walked over to me. It turns out, we were in a touring singing group when I was an undergraduate. I didn't recognize him. He said I hadn't changed (which is a big lie). He hugged me. I thanked him for coming over to talk to me and went home.
Last year this would have made me laugh. I might have gotten the friend's phone number and arranged for him and his spouse/significant other to meet Darrin and I for dinner one night. I would do it because it would be difficult and intimidating and last year I was all about thumbing my nose at things that scared me. Now I'm ready to just be comfortable again. I'm no longer putting myself "out there" for any reason. Honestly, I don't see the point. I know who I am. I have nothing more to prove.
Former blog friend, Ward Cleaver emailed me last week. For any newbies (that would be those of you who have blogged fewer than two years), he was my first online friend. He'd been blogging since 2004, and stopped blogging in the fall of 2006. We kept in touch sporadically (which means I emailed him because I missed him, but he usually didn't respond), so when I heard from him last week it was a bit of a surprise. There was nothing profound in the message. It was short and cryptic. It had no salutation nor element of friendliness. There was mention that he would write later. I had made peace with the idea of not hearing from him again. He interrupted that peace. Now I'm hoping that he actually will write, let me know how his life is going, and allow me to talk back. There was a time when he was my sole support outside of Darrin. I have missed him. I think there are times when people don't understand how important they have been to another person. He was important to me.
There are lots of changes happening inside me right now. It's unsettling. Much of what I'm feeling comes from that awful "acceptance" thing. I realized a couple of days ago that I've accepted the bad stuff that has happened in my life. I've accepted that I can't change it or make it go away. But I haven't accepted the good things about myself. I've been working on that. I've spent so much time tearing myself down that it's difficult.
Today Sully and I were discussing some of the things many people tacitly understand about friendships and intimate relationships--things that escape me. I told him there are certain thing I have to be told, or I don't understand that they're true. I started realizing this last summer because Sully had written me a letter in which he had mentioned that he was certain we would be a part of each other's lives forever. That's not something I ever feel certain about--but to have him state his surety that that was true gave me the impetus to believe with him. I couldn't do it on my own, however. I needed him to say it.
Realizing that I need to hear certain things helps me understand why, if I don't hear them, I become insecure. I mentioned that I should probably just tell people when I need to hear reassurances. Then I said, "But it makes me feel less of a person. It puts me in a vulnerable position for me to admit that I don't understand what others take for granted. And I feel like an idiot saying, 'Hey, by the way, I really need to hear that you love me. And it would also be nice if you could mention that you'd like us to be friends for a long time.'" But the stupid thing is, if someone I cared about had similar difficulty and came to me to ask for such reassurances, I'd feel incredibly honored that the friend was comfortable expressing his/her needs and had faith in me to respond.
Sully said most people who love me would feel similar feelings if I told them the things I need to hear. He said he definitely would. I think I need to come to a place where I can accept that I am a person who can and should be valued. Sully said he thinks my belief that I will be left behind and forgotten is incorrect. Perhaps my email from Ward bears that out. He didn't sound as though he missed me at all, but still, something reminded him of me. He was changing his email address, and may simply have come across an old email and felt it courteous to respond--but he didn't have to tell me he was changing his address. If he truly wanted to disappear, he could have. Perhaps I'm grasping at straws...
The truth is, I believe everyone wants to have importance in other people's lives. I don't think it's an ego thing. I think maybe, it's a basic human need to connect with other people and not be forgotten. I've always known how to connect--and I've traditionally followed it up with a disconnect. Now that my goal has changed, I don't wish for the disconnect, and I'm learning to deal with the uncertainty that creates.
It sort of goes back to faith in human beings. It's about trust. Two things I lack. I think I'll go to bed now. I believe I've just figured out the thing I need to work on next.