Posted by: canaryinacoalmine | November 10, 2006

unconcious navigation

In the mail this afternoon a large manila envelope arrived. It looked official, stamped with the address of an old friend, someone from a past life. I slit it open with my thumb and got a paper cut. Just like that, in one small sliver my mind traveled over distant memories of the former me. I think of traditions we spoke of and suddenly my heart feels to big for my chest. I did what he had wanted me to do. I acted like women I watched from a distance: pretending to like tennis and giving a shit about what Martha says. I invited his coworkers to dinner smiling at the compliments they bestowed, wanting to vomit with each passing half witted smile and hurl rejection at their feet. I turned into a shell he could be proud of. I was his, and now I’ve spent the last six years figuring out what I want to be….who I want to be and most importantly who I am.


The memories of Us are disconnected from the me of today. I try to envision my hand grasping for his and how he adored the way my mouth curled when I said the name of the cat we picked at the SPCA. The one he still has and I left behind. It’s a cat, not a kid. I try, but I can’t succeed – the pictures are too fuzzy or too distant to do the memory justice. Maybe this is how it works with failures of the heart. Maybe you edit your history, so that the stories you tell yourself become legend, so that accidents never happen. But then again, all I have to do is remember the blur of images as my head smacked the window by the strength of his arm. One. Two. Three times and the weight of his, “I’m sorry for years ago,” in the letter haunt me with memories I’ve purposely left untraveled.


The letter states, “I’ve tried to call you, and once watched you shop from a distance at Kroger. I hid behind a cereal box as you walked by. The fact of the matter is, I don’t know what to say. Every time I think I have the apology right I remember the fright in your eyes as I pulled away realizing what I was doing. Jess that was the worst day of my life and I want to apologize. I’m sorry and I wish you well.”


I tore up the letter ripping it to shreds, walked it over to the nearest trash and tossed it like a chemical spill I wanted to deny. The worst thing about endings is knowing you’ve had the daunting task of starting over. And have I ever started over, forgot him, and dropped this weight.


I’ve had to understand my past and what has fashioned me into who I am. After reading the letter, examining the message and tossing it I imagine he’s spent years making himself into someone other than that lost little boy who idolizes the Land of The Misfits from the Rudolph movie – into someone whose cornerstone of self-actualization is that he is a good/non-violent person, into someone who is sorry for the things he’s done.


Recently, I sent the below email to a friend who got married at an early age and now in her mid twenties is trying to figure out if she should stop divorce proceedings.

Even though we’ve only known one another for a brief time I can already tell you that I am in the long run of life with you and want the best for you. I want to see you be true to yourself. When you first told me about X your thoughts were distant of him. You vaguely connected the memories you had of him. You mentioned the action of getting married as though it was something you did one night on a double dog dare….like TP the neighbor’s house. Over the last few months you’ve had an opportunity to meet up with him once again, to reconnect and see if you are still that person with him…’ve tried to salvage a friendship and own up to your past. For that, I think the world of you. If there is one thing in this lifetime we own it is our past.

I don’t know if it’s the way you mention X to us, your friends, or the way you are trying to play it off but, it does not appear your heart is in it. We are completely different people in our early 20’s vs. our late 20’s. Heck if I was the same person at 22 I would be living with a guy who chocked me.

My point to all this is, yes we all want to go out to dinner with friends on the weekend and be tame but…you’re questioning everything with him. He hurt you, he walked out on you and you’ve since been able to confront him on it but, you still question the relationship. You still question if there is one left. I know this because you’re telling us the question and if you have to ask the question you’re heart already knows the answer.


Over night her world changed when he left. She’s since picked up, started her own business, and stands taller without his stilts. After a dinner, the life I was living transformed into a shrill of colors and salty tears. The signs of an aggressive nature were there. I ignored them. It was easier to stay than go because if I questioned him the door of possibilities swung open smacking the wall behind it. I froze until the signs were actualized and question how one can go from dropping sentiments of care thoughtless as pocket change to the very thought of a person wringing you dry of sentiment. Dry of emotion. And full of forgiveness.


The only question that remains is how he got my P.O. Box address.


  1. Your older memories are often much less cryptic. The even better news is that it’s a memory.

  2. I hope he isn’t regularly watching you shop at a distance. Be careful.

  3. OH CRAP! I was just rearranging my subscriptions in Bloglines and I realized that the last time I rearranged, yours accidentally got marked private! I hope you didn’t think I deleted you from my blogroll. I’m soooo sorry!

  4. There comes a time in a guys life…usually after he has just been dumped by someone he thought he was going to spend forever with where he sits and evaluates his past failures…then some guys feel the need to contact them and say they are sorry, some realise that the past is gone and the woman has moved on with her life, some regret the loss knowing that as a the person they are now the result would have been different, and some just decide to say “fuck-it” and don’t care…

    but here is a secret, most guys, feel bad, and even if they don’t actually do it, want to say sorry.

  5. I’m suddenly feeling very protective of you Sass….How DID he get your PO Box?

    I had an overzealous admirer once and I went through a stage where I didn’t even want to open a bank account…because my address would be on record somewhere. It eased off in the end. But it was NOT fun while it lasted.

    Don’t be paranoid, but be aware.

  6. indiana has the right of it. ive felt this need to apologize with a certain individual on more than one occasion. if its as strong a need in him as it is in me, a p.o. box addy isn’t hard to get.

  7. Sass, in one part of my business, there’s a saying… “It’s not whether or not you’re paranoid, but whether or not you’re paranoid enough.” You can’t be too careful with someone who goes to the trouble of getting your PO Box. It’s not that it’s hard to get, but I’d worry about the guy obsessed enough to actually go to the trouble of doing it. Not to mention watching you “from afar” while you shop at Kroger’s.

    I understand your need to be kind, but, please, for the sake of your loved ones, be safe, too.

  8. I don’t care how much someone changes or how many times they say I’m sorry somethings should never be forgiven. Granting forgiveness is lightening someone elses load for the mistake. He should have carry that load always purhaps THAT would change him. Be careful.

  9. i’m at a loss for words right now…i feel guilty for being so happy…oh i’m sure it will pass…and you and L, and I will be swapping boy hating stories again soon enough…but i’m glad i’ll never have to read another one like this…you’re so much stronger and wiser now…

  10. Who the hell do they think they are to just waltz thier asses back into our lives…years after the fact? After everything they’ve done, they think an “I’m sorry” is going to fix it? That we’re going to forgive them?
    All they’re doing is opening up old wounds…

    Stay strong Jessica.

  11. WOW! That’s a little crazy! I was married at 18. At 26 I realized I had lived one life and needed a new one. One with options, freedom, and FUN. Somedays I still question my decision but I know it was the right thing to do in the long run.

    Stay safe. Strange he got your PO BOX but I’m sure that is public knowledge with a little internet work.


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