I go through the five stages of grief backwards. This discovery came two days ago when she said it was over, and I said “Ok”. Because it really was ok. Immediately I accepted the reality of the breakup; I just wanted the best for her and I was happy for our time together and I knew I’d be able to move on. That was day one. Day two I was sad. I was so sad.
I always know how each day is going to go based on the song playing in my head when I wake up. For sure it’s the worst superpower ever, but it can be kind of fun when my inner theme music is something like 90s hip-hop (today will be awesome) or folk indie (today I reflect, all stoic and whatnot) or, like, Flogging Molly (today I will be making some regrettable decisions). So when I woke up to complete silence– and not the nice kind– I knew I was in trouble.
Now, remember I had already done my accepting and forgiving and moving on, so instead of being sad for one thing in particular I was sad about EVERYTHING. I mourned for the general state of my own loneliness, and for every girl I’ve ever hurt in any way; I was sad about all the time I’d wasted and about every opportunity I’d passed up; I was upset that the ending to the 1960s Ocean’s 11 was just terrible and that my family will never believe that Hillary would actually probably make a decent president. And as always I was sad about every failure I’d ever had and every person I’d ever let down in my entire life. All this, of course, with that accursed accompaniment of absolute silence: loud, oppressive, Dear Prudence stop the insanity silence. Yeah, day two was rough.
Day three (today) I woke up angry. I don’t know what the &÷%$ happened to “bargaining” but apparently I skipped right over that one on my way to rediscovering the therapeutic nature of silently cussing out the entire world. Hellbent, I turned to the first available outlet for my irrational aggression. Virtual head after virtual head exploded in a triumph of virtual gore, scored by the sound of my own hysterical laughter; I think my roommates could tell something was off. So I left, out the door, headed nowhere in particular, wondering what was the @#!* sun’s &*%@ problem.
I have an evolutionary biologist friend who would probably tell me that human emotions evolved as survival mechanisms. Maybe that’s true, but honestly I can’t think of a time I cared about surviving. I’ve always found emotions useful because when you feel things like love or contentment or sadness or anger you are able to breach realms of thought that would otherwise be unreachable. So here’s what I thought, walking nowhere in particular, angry at everything and nothing at all: I’m tired. And not the kind of tired sleep can cure. This was a mental and emotional fatigue, one I’d ignored so long it was now inescapable. I was tired of living by other people’s rules. I was tired of bearing responsibility for other people’s happiness. I was tired because, when it comes down to it, people are selfish. I mean, we have more access to the universe than at any other time in history. But people don’t even think twice about turning their backs to it all, content to be blindly content. They spend their lives constructing their own finite and parochial worlds, fitting everything into little, rigid, convenient boxes of pre-conceived notions just to make sure nothing will ever surprise them or force them to change their world view. It works magnificently, too, because inside these little boxes there isn’t room for any idea that might possibly drag these people from their safe, shadowy caves into a reality that has frankly never cared about brand names or health trends or Twitter or public restrooms or Republicans or school spirit or skin color or gym memberships or Facebook birthday notifications. The worst part, though, is that these people will walk right up to your face and demand that you fit inside their little box (you’d make a lovely decoration, you see). And even (especially) when you’re sure you won’t fit they cram you in anyway because not fitting inside their little box is just not conceivable. Like an infant playing peek-a-boo, anything outside that little box simply does not exist. Of course, if you don’t fit it’s your fault. You’re wrong. Or maybe there’s something wrong with you; either way you must be corrected, because if you can at least understand what your damage is then you can go ahead and think you don’t fit in their little box, but they will know better. So you surrender. You take the easy way out and you pretend: you tell them what they expect to hear, and you give them what they expect to see, and you laugh at all the right times because you just don’t have the strength to fight every battle. Well, I’m tired of pretending. I just hope there’s a third option.
Now, I know these are just cynical and angry thoughts. I know that in saying this I’m guilty of my own crime. And eventually I’ll calm down and remember that people really are good. Anyway, who knows what’ll happen tomorrow. Denial as a last step might be interesting. Or maybe I’ll just stay angry or go back to sad or– I’m sorry, what was the question? Oh. Right. Um, I’ll have the chicken with a side of potatoes. What? No, just me tonight.