“A signal is what you use in your car, dude. Not a way of communicating with someone who clearly needs direct answers.”

I only get through things and process them by writing and thinking. It does not work to talk about things, not only because I don’t know how to say or explain things without introspection and processing first but also because I am so bloody concerned about how things will affect other people. Like… if I say things that are not fully formed, I’m putting burdens onto someone else – and of course, in a two-way exchange, you can intuit and know when that the other person can’t handle or deal with whatever you might say, or will take it all on board and cloud things up for them, or make them feel worse or guilty. And why do that when you could suffer with the uncertainty or hurt on your own without making two (or more) people feel bad? It sounds like I am being some kind of martyr (I’m not), but I just can’t do it. It is not my nature to expose a larger group of people to harm or damage if I can take the hit myself (even when that means internalizing something). I have to work on this. Anyone who knows me knows this.

By the time anyone gets the full lowdown on something I experienced or felt, it’s because it is in the past – over, done, processed and packaged neatly into a box and tied with a bow. Then after the fact and all the acts, curtain closed, I can reveal all the feelings I went through – but it is like I have to finish going through it before I can show it… which is not the healthiest way to go about it. I write, think, feel my way through things, and then revise, think and finally come to a peace with even the most painful of things. Then perhaps I put the ‘incident report’ in some form or another into blog posts, but by the time I do this, the deep-seated and immediate emotion is long gone. There was a time when I would not even have made this much public, so I like to think I am making the most imperceptible steps forward. Sometimes the disconnect between the brain and the fingers is enough to make these moves for you. For example, deleting something that you wanted to save, hitting send before you were ready. Are these really mistakes or is the immediacy of the fingers taking action where our brain fears to go?

This is perhaps also where my own blind spots/insensitivities are. I process and publish, and because it’s all over for me, and I am just ‘clearing out cobwebs’ and more or less just telling a story after the fact, I don’t think about how the retelling and my own rendering (which is a compendium of my feelings and interpretations throughout my processing – not an objective recollection of fact) of ‘how things went’ might be hurtful to anyone else. Another thing to work on.

But at least all of these ‘operations’ provide an indication of where close partnerships, friendships, relationships and the like are actually impossible. Where you find you really censor yourself, close up and hold back – not because you can’t share but because you don’t want to unduly influence or trouble the other person – where’s the parity – or clarity – there?

It’s a little bit fucked up – when you’re adults, intelligent and seemingly capable of communication – and even talk ad nauseam about the importance of communication (thus ending up being all form and no content, which is a good way to fool yourselves into thinking you are actually communicating…) – you should be able to say what is on your mind. But it becomes one of the hardest things to do. You then detach to get to solid ground again, and that journey takes you through the full range of feeling – or elements*, as DH Lawrence would have it. But you eventually make it back to the start, to rediscover the things that made your mind race with joy and thought.

It’s a shame, too, as you end up at such a distance from, in a protracted silence with, someone who is without doubt beautiful, amazing, hilarious, messy, quirky, witty, and smart – exactly as you always believed, someone you genuinely care about and truly miss. But having communicated – or not – in staccato fits and starts, never quite saying what was going on, never quite being truly open – you may never get back to a place where you see anything but yellow caution lights in a sea of faceless stop-and-go traffic.

Most importantly, and this is my signal: I am still, and always, here, and I still love. Unconditionally. If I didn’t, it would not have been such a trial in the first place. Of course.

-D.H. Lawrence
Why don’t people leave off being lovable
Or thinking they are lovable, or wanting to be lovable,
And be a bit elemental instead?

Since man is made up of the elements
Fire, and rain, and air, and live loam
And none of these is lovable
But elemental,
Man is lop-sided on the side of the angels.

I wish men would get back their balance among the elements
And be a bit more fiery, as incapable of telling lies
As fire is.
I wish they’d be true to their own variation, as water is,
Which goes through all the stages of steam and stream and ice
Without losing its head.

I am sick of lovable people,
Somehow they are a lie.

Photo (c) 2006 Rachel Knickmeyer used under Creative Commons license without modification.

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