One in a million

I recently felt something I haven’t felt in a long time, and it hurt: jealousy.

As I tried to ignore it, the more aware of it I became and the sharper the pain I felt. The details of it came into focus, and as much as I tried to turn away, it only made the green-eyed monster sink its claws in deeper. The pain, still throbbing, nested there deeply.

I am normally confident and rarely fall victim to insecurity–but when I do, it’s when the deepest heartfelt feelings are involved. I love and yet so often it has been unrequited: feeling unwanted, unloved, unworthy. How that monster, once unleashed, can wreck havoc on one’s emotional stability–a green dragon that burns with rage, wanting to burn everything down. Burn, burn, burn.

To see what’s wanted and know that it is not me, to realize the depth of my feelings and to realize it may mean nothing, as easily forgotten as words said in the wind–carried away, off to shore and over the sea, drowning in the roar of the ocean, the waves of everyday happenings in this world.

I wonder if I have been too cautious and good. I am open-minded but averse to taking risks. I will open my heart and share my feelings; I will pursue men, defying any normal convention of men should do the hunting and follow in pursuit.

Maybe I have played things too straight. Will someone love me as I am, or must I change?

The Letter

To: JL
From: F
Date: Friday, May 20, 2016, 3:23pm

Dear JL,

I know the last few months have not been easy for both of us. I appreciate your thoughtful apology. I would like to know why you did what you did, but I realize that in some way it doesn’t matter. Things are what they are now.

I hope by now that you realize things have changed. It’s not the kind of change you can undo, but more like a glass vase that’s been shattered. You can pick up the pieces, but you can’t put it together. Even if you manage, it is not the same.

When I describe our relationship to people, this is how it goes:

The first three years were wonderful. We were very supportive of each other. It was a very symbiotic, harmonious relationship. You helped me deal with grad school; I helped you with escaping Gracepoint. You were very sweet. We had a lot of fun together; you made a lot of silly jokes that made me laugh. We understood each other so well that it almost felt as if we could read each other’s minds. I am very grateful for what we shared and all the wonderful moments we had together. I felt very loved by you in those 3 years.

And then somewhere, something got off track. A switch on a train track was flipped in error, and we didn’t catch it. We moved forward side by side for a long time but didn’t notice that we were slowly veering off from one another.

The last three years were the trains veering off. It’s too late now to correct the course. You are a train bound for Chicago and I’m a train headed to New Orleans. Communication broke down, and it seemed like we fell into a pattern of having a serious fight, some agreement, but then nothing would change. Empty words, empty promises. And all the while, I began to feel bitter. I started to feel ignored, neglected, and rejected by you. Then the next year, another major fight. More words, more promises. But nothing changed as we continued to grow apart. It became more rare that our minds were aligned and it stopped feeling like we understood each other.

The bitterness and pain I felt kept growing. It was a slow drip over time, and I tolerated it. I let it go and said nothing, but it was always present. I became more resentful. You made me feel unloved and invisible. At times I felt you cared more and did more for the cats than you did for me. You would buy me things, but it wasn’t what I wanted; every time I tried to express what I wanted, it seemed that you couldn’t give it, or you got upset at me for asking. It broke my heart. And I tried so hard to do so much for you. I went along with your agreements. I hoped things would work. I knew you loved me, and I loved you too.

In February, my team did a disagreement style workshop at our offsite, and I suddenly realized my disagreement style at work was accurate for my personal life, too. Two of my top three reactions to disagreement were 1. Maintain the status quo (do nothing) and 2. Release (let someone else decide.) I suddenly realized that the past 3 years I had tolerated but had really been unhappy. I had let you make the decision for us both, and I had to fight crying in the middle of a team meeting when it all clicked.

I became interested in being more social and began doing things on my own because I felt so neglected and lonely with you. I wanted to meet people who wouldn’t make me feel that way. I hated feeling invisible when you sat less than 20 feet away. I hated feeling as if my existence didn’t matter at all to you–and you were supposed to love me. The only time I seemed aware of how much I meant to you was when we fought, and then I could see you fighting so hard to keep me.

I became hurt so much that I felt numb. I didn’t think it could get worse. I had really tried to end our relationship in April. I had been thinking about it for a long time. I felt it was already over, but you fought so hard, and I hated seeing you so torn and broken up. It hurt me to see how much you were hurt, and I agreed to try again even though I was doubtful. I want you to know that I did give it an honest shot. I was trying to make it work, and I was doing my best despite how hard it was for me, but then the Vicodin incident made me feel as if our agreements meant nothing again and it was the same old pattern: argument – agreement – failure to uphold agreement.

I know you said you felt at times as if you suspected I wanted you to fail, that I wanted things between us to fail. But I was just tired. I was tired of fighting. I was tired of fighting you, tired of being hurt, tired of waiting for changes that didn’t come, tired of my own tolerance for being unhappy. I had been hurt so much that I no longer could expect to be happy with you. I had been so hurt and miserable for such a long time that for me it already felt as if it were over. I didn’t have any hope left that things could get better.

Don’t you remember when we fought in January, I asked what you wanted? I had already been hurt enough then. I asked if you wanted an open relationship because I could no longer understand you. I had no idea what you wanted, but it seemed to not be me, and I wanted a chance to be happy with someone, anyone.

I had waited over a year for you to live up to our promise of our previous fight. I can’t tell you how much it hurt me every day when I wondered if I mattered to you, if you even remembered that promise. I cried myself to sleep many nights because I was so deeply hurt. I would lie awake in torment asking myself if you would ever remember, disappointed as the weeks passed to months and then a full year. Ultimately, it wasn’t important, I wasn’t important enough, to remember.

And maybe that’s not true, but there isn’t a way to take back that it was how I felt for a long time. I realize now that your depression was so deep that you couldn’t see what I could see. Every time we fought, it felt as if you couldn’t understand me. We were speaking different languages and not understanding each other.

Please know that I love you despite how much pain you have given me, but we cannot stay together after the incident at Caleb’s. I want what’s best for you, and I want you to take care of yourself. I want you to get better–emotionally and physically. I know you are bright and creative and can do great things if you dedicate yourself to something, but I cannot be more than a friend to you.

As long as we are together in a relationship, I am a crutch: having me means you can convince yourself that nothing needs to change. I do not want us to fall into old habits. I do not want to continue tolerating what I have in the past where nothing will change. I can’t let that happen. I can’t keep letting myself be unhappy. I would rather be hurt by a thousand people than be hurt again by you.

You need to change for you, not for me. If you cannot love yourself, you cannot love me or anyone else. You have done the best that you can, but you need to take care of yourself first before you can be in a relationship. Please don’t ask me to wait for you or set up any expectations that this is a promise we can be in a relationship again; after everything that has happened, I cannot promise either of those things to you. As long as we live together, a relationship beyond friendship is not even possible.

I know this change makes things very difficult. Please understand that I am not judging you in any way. It didn’t work out, and I am not blaming you. Both of us made mistakes.

I know that the rent market is ridiculous and it would be hard to find a new place. As long as we live in the same apartment, we will have to remain friends. You can live your life and I will live mine. It is too easy to fall into old habits, and I can’t let that happen again. I can’t fall back into a relationship that makes me tolerate being unhappy. If you need to move out, I will not stop you. If you find a place that allows cats, you can take them with you; I know how much they mean to you, and I want you to have support, no matter what your decision. Only my name is on the lease, and I will make things work on my own.

I can support you and share things with you as a friend, but please understand that you have broken my trust. You and time are the only things that can change that. I cannot invite you out to the social events or friends I go to, and you must take responsibility for the consequences of your actions. Some things you will need to do on your own. I cannot make you welcome in a place where you are not welcome.

I realize this information is a lot to take in. If it hurts too much that you don’t want to see me, I can try to stay away for a few days, or if you want to stay with Adam or Kristina, that would be okay. If you can’t stand being so close at night and need a physical separation, I can sleep downstairs on the blowup mattress. I guess I should have let my Dad buy us some stupid futon. It would come in handy about now.

I know this all hurts. It hurt me writing it, but I knew I needed time to collect my thoughts and make sure I said everything I needed to say. Please remember that I love you and want you to be happy, but understand that we cannot be in a relationship. I need to be happy too.

If you want to talk about this in a few days, I have Monday and Tuesday off, or we can talk Sunday after my cooking class. I will be volunteering at Railsbridge this evening, and all day Saturday.

When you finish reading this, please call someone–Kristina, your mom, your brother, your sponsor. I don’t want you to be alone. I want you to have support. Please don’t do anything foolish. Hug the cats, especially Diego. They love you so much. I love you too, but right now the only thing I can offer you is friendship.

Felicitas

Writing a letter

I have been writing out my feelings to JL.

I do not want to feel pressured to stay in a relationship that makes me unhappy. I need to say what I need to say.

I get teary-eyed as I type. I have had to wipe away tears, but I know I need to be honest and I know it will break his heart.

I think the letter is complete, but I still need to send it. I know he will be very upset. I plan to send it Friday afternoon so as not to upset him mid-week. I know it will impact him at work and his coworkers will notice if I send it midweek. Also, because I will be gone Friday evening and most of Saturday, he will have time to himself if he needs it.

I took time off next week, originally planning to spend time with him for his birthday… I had requested the time off months ago, but now I guess I will have time off and he might not want to see me. It looks to be a pretty miserable, a very unhappy birthday.

Fire, fire, everywhere!

Fun week at work.

On Wednesday, Product sends out an email to 8k people it wasn’t supposed to after they removed one key filter on who should get that email. This incident causes over 400 new support cases in a 24-hour period as a result. People were confused, and it caused some users to respond and to ask questions completely unrelated. Thanks, Product!

Then this afternoon, my coworkers notice something seems to be wrong with our system and one of our products. We voice weird cases we are seeing to each other. I had one, two other coworkers had one each. Our tingly-Spider sense starts to go off that something is very wrong by these three cases.

I start testing and realize it seems to only be an issue for new users whose program starts Sunday. There are nearly 2k of them, so that’s a big fucking deal to have a product be broken on their first day and not linked correctly.

My coworker and I sit down together and dig deeper in our investigation. We confirm our worst fears that it IS an issue for that segment.

We report it to engineering. They appear to be confused because the product is working for everyone else, and they seem to have trouble seeing how it’s not working for the group of people we see are having this issue.

Sometimes I think engineers need to get their heads out of the codes. If they would just look at the UI support sees, it then becomes very apparent something is wrong. Very, very wrong. I then check email logs because we send an email confirming devices are linked when activated. We had only 8 so far for today. EIGHT. Out of 2k. I would have expected hundreds at a minimum.

Fuck.

Our team rallies, we brainstorm, we get an action plan going. We ask Product for help because, provided they prioritize this incident, they can save us a lot of work and make a better user experience by having shit work as it’s supposed to, or at least send these people a mass email for us. I mean, product has set that expectation for them that shit will work by a certain day, you know?

Product’s response: Fuck you, just ride it out. It’s only 2k people.

So now I and a coworker have to be on call this weekend to deal with this chaos if it’s not resolved on time.

The funny thing is we just had a workshop on non-violent communication yesterday, but all of us really wanted to flip some tables with Product’s response.

A Relationship Designed for Damage

Things a healthy relationship should not make you feel:

– Lonely and alone
– Trapped and suffocating
– Neglected and invisible
– Unheard and ignored
– Rejected and not worth it
– Dead and empty on the inside
– More pain than happiness

And yet I have felt those things, all of those things in my relationship with JL. They were issues I raised when I tried to break it off last month. JL would go on binge Civ V playing–to the point where he could sit in the living room, not move for 6 hours, and then when I would ask for an hour of his time, he would say he was too tired or too busy. It was a horrible feeling, to feel as if my own existence meant nothing.

I would express my needs for intimacy. I would try to initiate things–and was rejected over and over, often for the same reason: Too tired. It killed me; it was a stab right to the heart each time, and that knife was twisted like a screwdriver whenever it happened after I watched him binge-play video games all weekend.

So here we are again. More empty words, more meaningless promises. He once promised me he would initiate intimacy because he kept rejecting me when I would try, and each time, it buried that knife deeper. So then I waited. And waited. And waited. I waited over a year before we fought again and I asked if he preferred I see other people and if we should have an open relationship. He scoffed and thought I read too much Savage Love.

I have been vocal about my needs. I have been the best GGG (Good, Giving, Game) girlfriend I can be.

But I can’t be that anymore for him.

He asked me to judge him by his actions over the next few months. He’s been going to NA meetings, and has gone to four this week.

I don’t care. I don’t care what he does. He should live his life because I am going to live my life, and I am not going to waste my time waiting for anyone.

For him, it’s easy to say and ask to give our relationship time: he wasn’t the one who was getting more and more hurt for the last three years. Even he has had moments of realization where he has acknowledged that his behavior towards me in the past amounted to “torture” and was “terrible”.

I had an epiphany back in February when our team had a disagreement style workshop. As I read over my answers, I realized it was exactly what I had been doing my whole life in relationships and why I had stayed in relationships longer than I should.

My top three styles (all tied): release, maintain, decide by rule. It’s the first two that got me teary-eyed in a room with my team, who probably didn’t notice the sudden seriousness that overcame me.

Release is dropping it, letting go, deciding it’s not worth further discussion, and letting the other party dominate.

Maintain is just letting things continue as they are and taking no action.

I have taken these two approaches for too long. Five years of my life have I wasted in relationships I shouldn’t have. Essentially my last two relationships were twice as long as they should have been (JL – 6 years; P – 4 years).

I confided in my coworkers Tuesday because otherwise my only confidant was C, and I wasn’t sure if I should keep some distance for a while. They had the same conclusions I had already made long before this week: 

The thing with addiction is people have to reach rock-bottom before they can change. As long as I am in a relationship with JL, I don’t think he has a reason to change. He hasn’t lost everything; I am his crutch. He has to deal with his depression. He can’t love me before he loves himself.

As Mikey put it beautifully yesterday, “Right now he has loved you the best that he can. He has to love himself before he can truly love you.”

Hello, Darkness

Yesterday was a fairly normal day, minus the butterflies in the stomach for 12 hours and confessing being in love to a friend.

The rejection that followed also seemed fairly normal. If things had ended there, I would have called it a pretty good day. Got my feelings out, and now I can put them behind me. That is a good thing. And now we can just be friends–and that’s much better than the alternative of him freaking out and never talking to me again (I’ve had that response too.)

But C’s next question I had not anticipated: “Why is JL stealing my vicodin?”

My heart dropped. The magnitude of a migraine ripped my heart apart as I sat on a bar stool, looking at some ugly gray clouds heading in.

Major fight number four heading in with those clouds, at this rate we’ll soon average one a month.

I am tired of fighting. I was not looking forward to confronting JL, but I already knew it was true. JL broke down and confessed as soon as he was confronted. The look on his face when I asked said everything, as if it were Nagasaki, crumbling away with the blast.

“Is it over?” He asked, getting choked up.

“I don’t know what you want from me.”

I was too tired and just wanted to shower and go to bed, so that’s what I did.

I slept only 3 hours at most. I didn’t cry when I was C, but at some point in the middle of the night, I cried.

From a very young age. I struggled with depression. I remember being seven (if not earlier), taking my deceased grandmother’s lipstick out of a box in my closet and writing “I WANT TO DIE” over and over again on pieces of paper I stuffed under my mattress.

I was a lonely kid. Not many friends, often bullied for being fat, resented for being the intelligent kid who skipped a grade and was always the youngest in my class.

I was a lonely kid. Still am. Not many friends.

When I really wanted to die, I couldn’t go the razor route. Too messy, too obvious. In my mind, I should freeze to death in my sleep. I would close my bedroom door and leave open my giant window, then sleep without blankets. It got down to freezing at times in the desert, but not much below that.

The disappointment to wake to another sunrise, my parents clueless, exclaiming how freezing cold it is in my room and expressing that they have no idea how I can sleep in such a cold room.

Kids do the darnedest things. I guess I am still a kid, but where is my window now?

L’Idiot

Our team hired a new guy 7 weeks ago. We were all excited about him joining. Big mistake.

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Scene from Detective Mittens (1940): "What do you mean I only see things in black and white?"

L’Idiot is arrogant, aggressive, selfish, and rude. He makes assumptions all the time and often is wrong, but he gets defensive if you point out his mistakes. Yesterday he even threw a tantrum and vanished for an hour because the whole team told him it was wrong to do what he wanted to assume would be correct.

And he makes a lot of mistakes. He doesn’t focus on the details unless it’s to argue over the nuances of “suspicious” as it is used in two different places in a document. He then overlooks actually important details like if we need to place a hold on new accounts for a client.

I am a very patient person. People compliment me on my patience all the time: “You have the patience of a saint.” If you have worn out even my patience, then something is seriously wrong with you.

And something is seriously wrong with L’Idiot. This is just a small sample of shit he’s done:

– Cut the lunch line with no sense of shame whatsoever.
– Seriously consider stealing the banana off a fellow teammate’s desk because, “He won’t notice, right?”
– Outright refuse to help a teammate with our normal job duties when asked because L’Idiot was too busy assigning himself projects no one asked him to do instead.
– Invite himself to a coworkers birthday party and then creepily ask her for the phone numbers of her friends. (Keep in mind he is over 40 years old and the coworker who had a birthday is mid-20s.)
– Ask a coworker with too many girls in his dating pool to send some girls his way (Ewww!)
– Refuse to read documentation about our role at this job; instead, he makes sweeping generalizations about everything and makes terrible assumptions.
– Waste time, waste time, waste other people’s time. He has spent many days sitting at his desk emailing others in the company, trying to schmooze, and not getting any work done.
– Never listens to the team. We have a meeting and talk about X and how to handle those cases. 5 minutes later after the meeting, I hear him ask a coworker, “What do we do with X cases?” God.
– Doesn’t pick up on social cues. The guy has 0 emotional intelligence. People have abruptly left the lunch table where he is sitting because they can’t stand hearing him continue to rail on about shit no one cares about. We witnessed one occasion where at least 4 people sat with him (the only open lunch table) and leave within a minute of sitting down when they realized they would be better off eating alone at their desks.

There are definitely stupid questions, and he will find them. I was ready to flip some tables when he told me, “I was looking through your documentation on ABC-LA. Does it apply to ABC-MN?” No. NO NO NO NO. WHY WOULD YOU EVEN THINK THAT! One is rules for Louisiana… how would those apply to Minnesota?! Is the document titled ABC- LA and MN? No, it is not AND FOR A REASON.

Before this, my team had been fairly lucky in hiring good people who were great team players; the team dynamics were harmonious and we were a close-knit group–and we have the most diverse team in the office. Other teams would comment how cute it was that our team would sit and eat lunch together when we already spend all our time together at our desks.

But L’Idiot’s presence has quickly become toxic to the whole team, and we try to time lunches to avoid him sitting with us. He is such a miserable failure at life that I really want to talk to his references. Who could ever recommend this guy for ANYthing? And how has he gotten this far?

A Strange Thing Called Desire

Desire is a strange thing.

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Can you contain desire behind bars if you throw away the key?

At times it surges as if it were a game of whack-a-mole. The more you fight it and try to suppress it, the faster and more furiously you find yourself trying to stamp it out. The actions are all in vain, like trying to sweep away flood water when the levees have failed and the water level is only rising.

You can’t force it. Can you have a relationship without it? What happens when desire arises for someone you are not in a relationship with?

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Troubleshooting Shrödinger’s Kitten

A consultant for our team led a workshop titled, Imagining Solutions.

She wanted to empower us with the ability to solve problems as she does and has helped us in the past. She said we’re all so great at what we do that we don’t even realize how many problems we’re solving each day, and she wants us to feel comfortable tackling the complex stuff with which she has helped us in the past. She also said this knowledge applies not just in the workplace but in all aspects of your life, including relationships.

I now share this knowledge as a testament to what I have learned.

To get started, first you must understand that there are three kinds of problems:

  • Simple
  • Complicated
  • Complex

And of course problems are best explained when cats are involved.

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Exhibit A: Coffee and Cats (auf Deutsch: Kaffeekatze)

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