Focus on the Negative

Relationship > Career

That’s the software that runs my life. But ever since that disaster with C., I haven’t allowed anybody else to follow me down the rabbit hole of missed work days / classes, downshifting of responsibilities, or any sort of derailment from the course of their life that was set before I came along… except A, and that was another disaster.

Relationship > Career for me, but I assume that

Career < Relationship for everyone else, regardless of what they say to me.

That seems like I’m doing it for them, like I’d prefer them to succeed without me instead of being less successful with me. And that’s true, but it’s not the entire truth.

Career – Relationship with Me > Relationship with Me – Career


But also.

Absolution From the Possibility That I Ruined Their Life > Relationship With Them

That one is for me.


I made up my mind after ____ told me about winning an award for her work a few days ago. It was the HM who decided, so I knew it was probably right, more right than the decision any other M would have made, at any rate. Anyway this is how it went –

I didn’t feel any sense of dread on my way, though I was tired and a little nervous about not having any more money for cabs, due to having budgeted exceptionally poorly in the past week. I was extremely late. I was thinking that I was a rational person who had made a rational decision that I would express rationally.

But I was unprepared for how seeing her would make me feel. Rationality and all my reasons were banging up against things with no words inside my brain. A few things happened and we talked and she was beautiful and sad. I still got an hour or so alone with her and, at a total loss of how to spend it, we played a board game. I began to feel quite disjointed, like my brain was hanging or breaking, which is a thing that goes on for weeks when I’m extremely depressed. Especially when I have to organize data into something coherent, or remember a series of something, or (if it’s really bad) remember anything at all. So I said okay I couldn’t play anymore. Then I put away the board for something to do and then I think I read a story for something else to do and then I just sat on the floor and tried to look her without looking at her. I felt like I was going to burst into tears or lunge at her and start kissing her or maybe set myself on fire (well, not so much that last one) so I left early.

I took the purple line, which was good, but when I had to switch trains, the line for the next one I needed had stretched out of the station. So I took a jeep instead, and I had my mask and I was listening to my favorite podcast. I had run out of change so I asked a gay-looking guy next to me if he wanted to trade some change for my train card and he said he didn’t want my train card but I could have some change, so that was nice.

After I got down, I still had to walk a bit to get home. The podcast was about stereotypes. One of the speakers said that one of the most obnoxious quotes he hears regularly is “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result,” which is by Albert Einstein, because Albert Einstein was an expert in a very specific field which he had studied for a long time, and that he was in no way an authority on mental health or insanity or anything else. Basically that a person being intelligent in one field doesn’t mean they know everything. He pointed out that after Albert Einstein became successful, one of the first things he did was tell his wife that she was going to be treated like a servant, and she sensibly left him after that. Besides, he said, there are situations where doing the same thing over and over again does bring a different result, which I knew to be true, of course, but the quote just sounds so convenient.

I had used this quote in the conversation with her, so I started feeling even worse, and started wondering again if there were such things as signs.

By the time I got home I was a bit of a wreck. I sent my friend several novels over text messaging about how weak I felt about my decision even though I believed it was right. My brain was breaking so I stared at the date and time for a few minutes before I managed to write it down. I cried for few hours while listening to “Up All Night” by Best Coast on repeat and writing poetry and thinking about holding her hand. Then I washed my face and put on some eye cream and put an ice pack on my eyes so they wouldn’t look too bad in the morning.

When I woke up I continued the conversation with my friend about everything that happened. I also received a message from _____ about how she had matched on a dating app with my ex-girlfriend. I told my friend about that and she said that was an odd mind game. I told her that it wasn’t as mean as it sounded since it was a running joke between us that we had dated so many of the same people, but that I did think the timing was a little hurtful, and that I was also too sensitive. She didn’t disagree with that.

The message made me feel a lot better about my decision because it allowed me to tell myself, “See, this is exactly the kind of inadvertent hurt you would have faced constantly being with someone much more low-key than you.” And whether that is true or not, it helped tremendously.

I still felt like crying though, and I have a mantra for when I’m crying: “Consider anything, only don’t cry.” It comes from this:

“It is so very lonely here!’ Alice said in a melancholy voice; and, at the thought of her loneliness, two large tears came rolling down her cheeks.

‘Oh, don’t go on like that!’ cried the poor Queen, wringing her hands in despair. ‘Consider what a great girl you are. Consider what a long way you’ve come today. Consider what o’clock it is. Consider anything, only don’t cry!’

Alice could not help laughing at this, even in the midst of her tears. ‘Can you keep from crying by considering things?’ she asked.

‘That’s the way it’s done,’ the Queen said with great decision: ‘nobody can do two things at once, you know.”

– Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass

So I wrote a bunch of things other than poetry, and even got out my art materials to try to paint something, but it didn’t work out. Then the driver came to pick me up and now I’m home and sitting on the couch. My dog is doing her usual thing of laying down, and looking longingly at the street outside. I haven’t spoken to her all day; I don’t know what to say. Every time I think of her hands or her eyes I start crying again. I don’t know how long this will last.


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