A long time ago there was a David in my life. He was young. He spent time with me and with my family. We loved him. I believe we love him still. But one day things changed, he became unhappy with me, and he stopped being in my life. For awhile I contacted him intermittently. I wasn't sure what had happened, but wanted him to know he was still welcome. Then one day David emailed me. He told me all the reasons he was upset with me-- all the things I had done wrong. The things I was accused of were inaccurate assumptions made unfairly by him. I was understandably distraught.
Tolkien Boy was with me when I was reading the email. I shared parts of it with him. Then I read the email again. And again. Tolkien Boy said, in exasperation, "Why do you keep reading that? It's poisonous and ignorant and wrong!" I remember trying to tell him why. I remember Tolkien Boy turning away from me in impatience. I remember feeling unhappy that two people thought badly of me.
Today though, I know why I kept reading. I knew then, too. I just couldn't articulate it. The ideas were still fairly new to me. They're not anymore. They began long ago with this conversation:
me: Tolkien Boy, what do you do when someone is in your life, but you don't want them anymore? Or maybe you never wanted them, but they're just there. If they cause you distress, or they bother you, what do you do?
TB: Well, that doesn't happen often. I mostly like people
me: But what would you do? How would you ask them to leave?
TB: I wouldn't, probably. I think I would just avoid them whenever possible until they stopped coming around me.
me: Maybe that's what most people do?
me: Tolkien Boy, I need you to promise me something.
TB: What's that?
me: Never do that to me. If the time comes that you don't need me or want me anymore, I need you to tell me. I think I deserve that. I've been in your life for a long time. I won't understand if you start avoiding me. It will hurt a lot and for a very long time-- so much more than if you just say it to me in words. Being ignored and avoided by people I love is something I used to deal with all the time. I don't want to do that again. I need you to tell me.
TB: Well, it's never going to happen.
me: Maybe not, but I still need you to promise me.
TB. It's a needless promise, but if it makes you feel better, should that time ever come, I will tell you.
me: Thank you.
I suppose when the email from David came, there was a part of me that felt used and angry, but there was another part that felt incredibly grateful. He told me. David took time to let me know that he didn't want me anymore. I needed that to happen. It was essential for me and allowed me to grieve, heal, and move forward.
Darrin says most people would probably rather be avoided. I've been encountering a number of situations lately where people have avoided or ignored me. I'm clearly not most people. The sting of those situations cements more soundly inside me that I don't want to be with those people anymore. At all. I would rather spend a day with David, knowing how he feels, than seek out those who don't tell me with words, but imply with their actions. Those actions leave me feeling powerless and confused. I don't feel that way with David. I know exactly where I stand. That's important to me.