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Monday, July 28, 2014

Learning to love like a normal person

I am a hoarder.

Not in the normal sense of the word-- I hate clutter and I don't collect things. I routinely sort and purge my belongings. But I hoard messages.

I believe this began when I was trying to connect with people outside of my family. When that connection happened, it was magical to me. I wanted to keep it, remember it. Because of this need to keep messages, I routinely receive the warning on my cell phone that I've run out of room in my text messages, I have thousands of conversations in my chat history, and countless emails from people I love that have been collecting in my inbox for nearly a decade.

I've been thinking for the past few months, though, that I cling to those things and those people more than is prudent. Earlier this month I spoke with someone about growing past the part of my life when we were bonding. It's a weird concept, but I really do wish to remain in that place when we were excited about learning about one another and an email or chat or text message was not mundane. Growing past that place is a little bit scary and for me, causes a bit of heartache. I can't really explain it.

After my conversation with that person, however, I made a goal to move forward. I've been purging my emailbox and my chat history. Yesterday I made the final step and erased all my text messages. I think I kept some of those things because in them words of love and support were expressed. I needed those words. Sometimes I still do. Often I do. But it's time for me to understand that those were spoken in a time when the person sending the message was involved with me. Most of those people no longer are or are involved in a more casual way. And reading words written in the past by someone who no longer cares for me in the same way is pointless. The words need to be relevant now.

I admit that when PTSD symptoms have been emphatically reminding me that I am alone and irrelevant, reading those past chat conversations/emails/texts have helped me remain grounded, reminded me that there was a time when someone said I was important and loved. But now all I see  is the date stamp on those messages. They happened a long time ago.

Darrin tells me every day that he loves me. I don't believe he's missed a day since we were married, and that's a lot of love messages. I don't get tired of hearing it. I believe I never will. Because of the transient nature of people and relationships, a deeply felt, "I love you," is incredibly meaningful to me. My sister said it to me two days ago. Boo and Blueyedane said it to me yesterday. My children say it daily. I need to hear it. A lot.

Maybe I'm the only one in the world like this. Maybe everyone else hears it once and believes it  forever. I'm not really that kind of a person-- probably I will never be that kind of a person. I need to be reminded. I need to demonstrate love to others and receive it in return. If  you say you care about me and then I don't see or hear from you for a few months, probably I don't believe you.

I think I kept those messages because my natural inclination is to just move on when people no longer respond to me. And I do that very thoroughly. I emotionally eliminate people. It isn't malicious, but rather, methodical and logical. It just makes sense. I don't really have a lot of time, so I want to spend it with people who want to be with me. In my past, though, I was eliminating people so efficiently that I wasn't bonding with them at all. Trust issues, of course, facilitated this. I wanted to change that part of my life and learn to trust people. But that involves the painful recognition that some of the people I bond with will not bond with me, or will allow the bond to weaken when I wish to keep it strong. It's not easy.

I'm trying to connect all that I've written here about my hoarding of words from people I love, and I'm having difficulty explaining myself. I guess I wanted to keep them-- the people, not the messages. The messages were a link to remembering what we had, love and laughter we shared as we learned about and got used to each other. When the messages came less often, I found myself  strenuously clinging to the old ones. It's a little embarrassing how much I wanted things to remain. I wanted PEOPLE to remain. But the truth is, once all the layers are removed and people see who you really are, some of them leave. There are many reasons for this: boredom, life events, transference of love to another person, but regardless of the reason, the end result is the same. Some people leave or lessen the bond previously shared. I didn't want to face or accept that.

However, not wanting something has never deterred me from learning to accept it. Sometimes it takes a great deal of time, but I do it. Accepting the inevitable is actually something I do rather well. I've been working on moving forward, accepting the losses, and embracing the changes. I've acknowledged that I didn't want those, but I have to allow my relationship counterparts to want them. I've spoken to those who are closest to me, apologized for not wanting to move forward and for any grouchiness or resentment I may have felt as they moved on and I tried to remain stagnant.

So the final step was to say goodby to the past and remove the tangible reminders, and I've done that. They're gone. Perhaps now I'll be free to move forward, too. But from some of the people I kept just one message. I chose one that helped me in a time when I was very stressed, or sad, or frustrated; a time when I felt valueless and unloved and they reminded me that I was not. I think it doesn't matter if they don't feel that way anymore. They did when they reminded me. I think it's okay to remember that.


  1. I was glad to hear that you ended up keeping a few. I have some messages from people that I've kept for similar reasons--totally makes sense, even if things and circumstances have changed. (I love you, btw. Just saying' ;-) )

  2. Josh, I love that you keep messages, too, and that you get what I'm saying. And I love you back. :)