Detox and Restoration

Dear Nora,

How has detox July been going for you? How are you handling the aloneness?

I definitely relate to the missing people, missing events, missing … it all. That was the biggest drawback when I chose to move out to Portland. I knew only one person, a cousin, when I moved out the Portland. Everyone else that had filled my life was going to be 2,000 miles away and go on with their lives without me. Our situations are different in this regard though, because for me—I had always seen my dream future and life being out here, and I was doing it solely for me. I wanted it enough to believe it was worth transitioning every other relationship into a long distance one, in order to start and build the life I wanted in the place I felt I belonged. That sounds so selfish. But no one who loved me wanted anything less than that for me. So now, I only see my loves on short trips to the Midwest, and in the meantime, follow from a distance and send bits of love their way, welcome any visitors, and hint to everyone that they should move here.

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Some of the loves I got to see in the Midwest

Feelings don’t always have to “make sense”. I even write that begrudgingly, because I find it unsatisfying. But as my therapist reasoned with me—feelings are by nature not thoughts or logic. They can be associated with those things, but sometimes they just…exist. And demand to be felt. That’s how my anger with Elise is right now. Not logical. I have no “right” to be angry with her. We broke up mutually. She moved on. I don’t wish we were still dating. So why da fuq am I mad? The only reason I’ve been able to conjure up is: I am sad. I still am in love with her. I didn’t “want” to break up… but I knew we needed to. And also, I feel guilty for the pain I caused her, because I don’t think she “wanted” to break up either, even though we agreed it was for the best. All of these feelings are… less than happy… and I think seeing that she gets to just “be happy” with someone else and essentially forget about all of this feels like a punch in the gut. Thus, the anger. I don’t have her ability to move on so quickly, I am going to have to work through this a bit longer, and it just doesn’t feel fair she gets to jettison away, leaving me in a pool of shit feelings. That quote that you sent was a good reminder of that as well. Not everything is fair… live with it.

Taking space apart has been the best remedy so far though. We did run into each other about a week ago, and I definitely wasn’t prepared for it. My heart fell into my stomach when I saw her walk into the bar. She bee-lined to me and I could tell was happy to see me. We talked for a good bit, and I was either smiling just because, I love her, or crying because… feelings, and then eventually I had to just shut off the feelings altogether to get through the situation. She apologized for hurting me, and I apologized for hurting her. And we cried and hugged a bit (it’s not truly a lesbian bar until someone is hugging and crying). But I also told her I’m not ready at all yet. She kept asking when we could be friends. “Not yet, but I hope eventually”, was all I could offer. She said she’d wait as long as it took. It was mostly “good”, thank GOD her new gf wasn’t there I would have been mortified, but afterwards I still felt shitty and shaken up. She did make it a point to tell me how “over me” she was, and said “I wish you could just be happy for me, I would be happy for you”… but at least she acknowledged we are just… very different in the way we heal. She said I’m being mean and cold, and I explained I am just doing what I have to do to give myself space to heal. I’m not going to apologize for that, not talking and being stand-offish to her to take care of myself is a world apart from being cruel.

The theme of my July has been “restoration”. I feel like I’m restoring myself to things I had lost touch with that make me who I am.

I got to see important friends and family this month, and I’m working on building stronger friendships here in Portland. And then also, I got back in touch with my ex, I’ll call her Kay. The 6.5 year ex. We had spoken very little since I moved out here 1.5 years ago. I was dating Elise, she was dating someone too. We both moved on with our lives separately from one another. We proved to ourselves we are just fine apart, she was doing her hard work, I was doing mine. Recently mutual friends of ours started dating, and it’s opened up the channels of communication. She made a stop in Portland while doing a cross-country road trip, and we were able to spend some time together talking about how our lives have been since parting, ways we’ve grown and what we’ve learned. Nora, it was so good. It felt like I had my friend back, which was always the best part of our relationship anyway. All of my negative feelings towards her have resolved—I have no anger, resentment, jealousy, hurt… any of that. When I look at her now, I just see this person I love, who knows and loves me well. It feels like a pure kind of love, and everything I was hoping we would be able to regain. The romantic feelings are gone for me, I had to let go of those to heal, but I feel finally ready to have her back in my life, and she wants that more than anything. I could and would be fine without her, but it makes my heart happy to call her my friend, and I’m so proud of the ways she’s grown. I was explaining to my sister… if both of us are in a place where we’re ready to be friends, and it’s a positive thing, why wouldn’t we be? It’d be a sad waste to throw away a person with whom I have mutual love and respect and who knows me so well, and has seen me through the last 9 years of my life, just for some principle or grudge. She made mistakes and hurt me, but I’ve forgiven her… and she won’t hold my heart in that same way anymore.

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Kay & I

Anyway, that’s all of my reasoning. But ultimately, it just made me happy to see her and catch up. I’m glad she’s saved room in her life for me, and I can definitely make room in mine for her as well. All of this has just given me hope that I can and will get to this point with Elise too.

You said: “I am setting boundaries for myself on how I relate to people and what I am willing to put up with vs what is not negotiable.” That is my task at the moment as well.

First, with friends and others. And then going forward, in the context of a relationship. I’m getting better at saying no to things and not worrying about trying to please everyone. But it’s going to be a really good area for growth. I’ve started dabbling in a dating app, just dipping my toe into the pool. Seeking out only friends or friends-with-benefits situations, I think this is going to help exercise my boundary setting, as well as figuring out more of what I like or don’t like, and need. I’ve never really casually dated or “whored around” and I’ve always said it’s because I’m afraid I’ll get the feels. But then I also realized, I’ve only ever slept with people I already had feelings for, so of course I associate it with that. I think it could be good for me to get a little outside of my comfort zone, and to know my worth independently. It feels good to not have anyone have power over me, to own my own power. Anyway, I don’t know know where I’ll go with it, but I’ll keep you updated. I think it also will help challenge my negative assumptions and feelings about my body and help me feel empowered. We should talk more about that some time, I think I could easily write a whole letter on it. Luckily Portland is a very sex positive, body positive type of community.

I am mine. before I am anyone else’s*.
And I am preparing the space to allow myself the room to grow. *from a poem by Nayyirah Waheed

How about you, what does August hold for you my dear? Single and ready to mingle? I am so happy to have you as a friend.

Love, Ruth

P.S. I get to meet you in like a month! I’m so excited!
P.P.S. I am so sorry about the lack of Trigger Warning—totally fail on that, I was kicking myself. I will be more mindful of that in the future.

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