I have summer seasonal affective disorder. Too much sunlight turns me into a wrath monster. September is historically a bad month after an August full of sunlight.
What does it feel like? I can’t get started until 4 or 5 p.m. My brain goes nocturnal. I have zero energy to initiate anything. People who generally require extra energy feel like energy vampires to me. When they want to hang out, I don’t feel any enthusiasm. Just dread. It’s not irrational dread. It’s my body saying, “NO.” How do I know? Because my body tells me “YES” when it’s the right people.
I’m starting to shut down conversations. I’m learning how to tell people when I don’t want to talk about something. N wanted to talk about some criminal at the station. And then about family trauma. I said no. C wanted to talk about trans kids. I said no. M wanted to talk about someone she knew who died. I said no. K wanted to talk about the genocide in Serbia. I said no. This stranger wanted to talk about her fear of monkeypox. I told Andrea to get me out of that conversation as soon as possible.
I know I’m not shutting down pain. I listened to a stranger talk about her own pain the other day. I can listen. I can offer comfort. I can just be present to someone’s life. What I can’t do is participate in these fear-based conversations that have no remedy and have nothing to do with me or the person exclaiming it. I don’t have to be anyone’s therapist. I don’t have to absorb anyone’s negativity.
And just as real is that I don’t have to wish people ill who annoy me or feel jealous or are resentful that I can’t give them what they want. This year has been about learning that good things take time to mature. Bad things take time to go away. Rushing gets you nowhere fast. Lessons come at the speed they were meant to come.
If I could wish for one thing, it would be that I could change my phone number. Without that, I could guarantee that The Israeli could never contact me again. I burned his name three times and I repeat to myself “Out of my past, out of my present, out of my future.” I want to be able to say, “Go away,” if and when he pops up. I want him to know that there is no future in which I care for him. There is no future in which he has a place in the life I created. I thank him for sparking something inside of me. I am grateful. It doesn’t matter how strong the bond was. How intense it was. How the draw kept bringing me back. I don’t need it any more or ever again. I thought I needed it. It was my security blanket while I was becoming me. Training wheels. Those gutter bumpers on bowling alleys.
But I lapped him. I surpassed him. I developed. I know more than he does now. When we were on the phone and he was telling me all these big realizations he was having, I was happy for him. I’d prayed for them to come to him. It sounded like he needed me to approve of them, though. “Do you think ______?” He kept saying that. And he was so excited to be having these big thoughts. All I kept thinking was…he’s taken so long to catch up. He’s finally thinking straight and making sense. It was brutal because the next thought was, “How is he going to sabotage all of this when he gets scared? Just to fulfill his own vision of himself as the eternal fuck up? I don’t want to be there when the other shoe drops and he relapses.”
So I pushed. I pushed and pushed and pushed to force the end. The last time he called he was at a bar. As soon as I heard the background noise, I knew.
I think that’s different from wishing someone ill, the knowing. I don’t wish anything bad happen to him. But I’m not going to pray for him anymore. That keeps him bound to me. The only lesson he has left to teach me is how to say goodbye. I want him to forget about me forever. I have nothing to offer him. I have nothing to gain from him.
All I want is peace. Peace is the one thing he will never be able to offer me. Only I can give that to myself. So I say “NO” and “STOP” as necessary and “YES” and “I LOVE YOU” to whoever pleases me. I refuse to torture myself or participate in anyone’s sapping of my energy.
And for my part, it’s time to either be kind or keep my mouth shut. The one thing I don’t have control over is my visceral disgust of phony, self-unaware people. I have to stop talking about them full stop. I can’t be the person who takes other people down anymore. Even if they are essentially awful. That’s not my job.
Let it be written. Let it be done.