Her: "Jessica, I'm so stupid and embarrassed. I told <women at work> about the whole freeway thing, I told them he was a scumbag and went off on him, I can't believe I did this to myself and him."
Me (I hear her voice wobble and start thinking fast): "Sweetheart, I've been around for a while and I'm going to tell you straight up that I've never had a guy pull the freeway exit thing on me. I'm going to march into PT, slap him across the face, and give him a piece of my mind. Who does he think he is getting off on the wrong exit of the freeway anyways? I've never been anything except great to that guy besides the one time and I apologized to him for that. I told others about him, I gave him business after he messed around with a friend of mine's emotions, we are done and believe me, by the time I walk out of that clinic he will know how I feel about this and so will anyone and everyone else who happens to be there. This is not okay."
My friend starts laughing and I'm glad I chose to try humor before anything else. "You're a good friend, thanks for making me laugh. I just feel so stupid."
Me: "Don't be too hard on yourself, anyone who tells you they've never done an incredibly stupid and idiotic thing because of a love interest is lying to you. We have all been there at some point in time. He did stupid things too, how many other guys his age are pulling into the parking lot without a shirt on so people can see how ripped he is? I have teenagers and that's the kind of behavior I would expect out of a guy they were interested in, my teenagers could see through games like that, come on buddy, grow up, in the grand scheme of things this is sad, but understandable, and not even that bad when you think about what you or I could have done to him. He is freaking fortunate that we can be bigger people and you are both incredibly blessed to have a friend like me who sees both sides. No matter how much you think I always take his side, that's untrue. He makes sense to me and you don't, but I know you've heard me outline where I think he went wrong and just because I went back to PT and forgave him for what he did doesn't mean I can't see his flaws and areas where he could be improving. There's a reason that guy is treading lightly around me. He knows I am very unafraid to say anything to anyone and he knows he screwed up, he really does."
Her: "He's lucky he has you. I am too. I still think he could be nicer to you though. That's crappy."
Me: "I'm guilt by association and he knows that. That's why I called before I went back in, once I heard him say I could come back, I expected some distance, I just didn't think it would hurt like it does although I think we're back on track again. He said hi and bye to me. He knows his clinic is more fun with me around."
Her: "I just wish I could tell him I'm sorry. He shouldn't act like that to you after you called and asked if you could be his patient again. You were never anything other than kind to him."
Me: "I didn't ask if I could come back as a patient, I told him I didn't want it to be awkward. You think I gave him a free pass and I can assure that I did not. I was basically telling him, look, I know you have issues, but I respect you as a therapist enough to walk through your doors again. I would like to be your patient, but if there's going to be drama or you think I'm going to pretend this whole thing didn't happen, he is sadly mistaken."
Her: "You said that to him?"
Me: "I told you that."
Her: "Really? I must have missed that. You really said that to him?"
Me: "You know how direct I can be. I can be subtle and diplomatic, but I laid it on the line for him so it was crystal clear. People want to be held accountable for their actions no matter how much it hurts. They may not like it, but this is ultimately how we grow. I was asking if he could set his personal situation with you aside to see me and I gave him an out. Either way I was fine with his decision, but I gave him the option to open the door, or slam it again. Putting the ball in his court gave him the freedom to choose. He can have more business and a possible chance at relationship repair which I didn't explicitly or implicitly state during our conversation, or he can let me see another qualified professional. I have standards and I'm not going to compromise them because my friend and some guy have commuication issues. I was giving him a second chance and I think that was understood which is why he let me back. I don't need his permission to go to his clinic, the call was to warn him that I might be back and to give him an out if he felt like he needed it. A lot of people think you can't speak your mind freely, the key is to keep emotions out of it and stick to the facts. The fact is my ankle is jacked up and I want his help getting it back on track. To that end I'm willing to compromise and open myself up to whatever awkwardness and uncomfortableness exists during my appointments. I want the win/win/win situation where he gets forgiveness, you do, and I get pain relief and more stability for my ankle."
Her: "Wow, you're really brave. I can't believe you said all that to him."
Me: "The conversation was actually very short. He acted like I was more than welcome at his clinic and seeing him again was a bit tense, but I get VIP treatment from his people and he leaves me alone so there are no conversations with me where he can get information from me about a friend of mine. I think I understand where he's coming from and I feel like he respects me because I have always respected him and I think we both feel that from the other person. It's still a game, but we're both winning and so are you. I just went through this with someone at work and it was awful. Had I not had someone else in my life to act as a go between I would not be where I'm at today. When I worked in footwear I was routinely the liaison between feuding parties, but until this fall I've never had anyone do that for me in my personal life and I am deeply grateful to her for doing what she did which was showing me that she wasn't going to tolerate my crap, but she wasn't going to put up with his either. Rarely is conflict a hundred percent one sided and fortunately I'm not the type of person who sees a lot of value in dividing up blame like slices of pie. Most mature people can see how they contributed to a situation. Rather than get upset and blame him I owned my side of it, apologized, and I did change. Your crush did too. He's a lot quieter and less confident than he was. His ego is hurting and you know how I feel about personal pride. Relationships are not about winning to me even though I'm very competitive. It's about growing and learning and sometimes those lessons cost me very dearly. I wouldn't go back if I couldn't address how he might be feeling, you were mad at me when I wanted to go back, we had that conversation and I gave you the opportunity to tell me to go to someone else because I like him, but I do not want to lose a friend over a guy I might never see again when this is over, he's cool, but any qualified PT should be able to help me with my ankle issues. I want him, I don't need him, and that's where I wish you could be. We're in a better place because I was willing to have a difficult conversation with him. All I said was that I didn't want it to be awkward. He knew what that meant and he stepped up his game so I'm having a much better patient experience and I thought I was exceptionally well treated before. Only you can make yourself happy, he can't."
Her: "He really is lucky. You could have called him names and been a bitch to him. Other women would have."
Me: "How does that help? I figure out who I want in my life based on where I'm at and then I do what I can to try and make a relationship with me worth their time and energy. People sense when you want things from them, you have to be willing to walk away from people and situations that are no longer serving you, I love to negotiate and compromise and fortunately he's easy to work with for me because I can see things from his point of view. I'm a fun patient who makes the place better for everyone. He liked you because you were fun and then all of a sudden you forgot how to be that smiling and carefree person he saw when he came in for lunch. He couldn't care less about me coming in there as a woman, I'm a connection to you and him treating me as well as he does is good business sense and smart of him on a personal level. He knows darn well that we are close friends and there's every chance you'll hear about my experiences there. You like a girl, you romance her friends and show them how well you can take care of them when they have an issue you can help them with, this is as old as the hills. I got to him through you and I'm grateful for the introduction. I almost lost him because of you, but I know that almost every problem has a solution if you're willing to be patient and think strategically. Could this have blown up in my face? Absolutely. Am I pretty careful about strategic risk taking? Yes. He is too, another guy would have lost my business and never have known why. He's a great guy in my opinion. I wish I could fall in love with someone like him. He has so many great qualities, but like me, you have to be willing to accept the good with the bad. I see the negative too, I'm just choosing to focus on the positive. He hears enough complaints and deals with enough crabby people. I need to show him that having me as a patient is a drama free experience because I do want him to think well of me and you. I really do."
Her: "I wish I was as confident as you are."
Me: "Well I wish I was as compassionate as you. Don't wish to be someone other than who you are. That's who he fell in love with, he needs someone who will help him relax. That's a big part of what he does for me. I walk in there and I can feel the tension melting away. I'm safe with him and his people. That's an incredible gift for someone like me."
Her: "Do you think he will ever come back to the store again?"
Me: "Right now, no. Just give it time and get a plan together. You have to have an action plan or you'll be the same person you were if he does walk in there again. You have to show him things, you can't tell him anything. Give me a reason to walk in to his clinic and brag about my friend who is doing cool things with her life. His job is stressful and he puts a lot of pressure on himself. He's seen how I've changed and he was a part of that. My success is partially due to things he said and did, he earned that credit and I'm very willing to do what I can while I'm at his place to build him up as a man and as a therapist. He wants to feel like he can be helpful and take care of you. Pointing out his every flaw is not going to get you very far with someone like him. He knows where he has room to grow. If he needs fun and relaxation, give that to him. The worst thing you can do in my opinion is to keep rehashing what went wrong. Start focusing on the future instead of living in the past. As soon as I walk through that door people know the game is on and they're willing to play because I make it fun and challenging. Whining about my ankle isn't going to do anything for it, working with them will. I hang out with you because you give me permission to relax and take better care of myself. If we have a lot in common, maybe he needs that too."
Her: "I read an article on closure. You're going to laugh. It said a lot of things that you told me. I bet he gets a kick out of you. You're one of those people who brightens my day when I see you at work even if I don't act like it because I get caught up in work stuff. I wish I was your size (she starts crying again), I felt like, he was one of the few guys who saw past my size. My mom told me, you're not your size. He was nice to me even last summer and I was a lot bigger then than I am now."
Me: "He's not shallow. He doesn't care about any of that. He can help you get into shape and lose weight. That's an easy problem for him to solve. He spends his days helping people he doesn't love, don't you think he would be willing to invest in a woman he cares about? He's tough on himself. Be soft, be gentle, let him come to you and get a break from whatever he has going on at work. I can't do that for him. I can tell him he's great at his job and send people to him, but we are going to keep pushing each other higher and higher which is why we would never work as a couple even if we were madly in love. It's like the sports conversation we had the other day. I don't need a man to help me understand sports or appreciate them. I need someone to listen to me. I need someone who tells me, hey, you're good at what you do because I don't always remember that. I need a cheerleader who is very logical and helps me with the problems I can't solve on my own. I also need someone to get me out of my own head. I need someone who is curious about everything, who wants to learn more and thinks that type of thing is fun. I need a sensual reprieve, someone who will touch me and drive the darkness out of my mind and show me that there's still a lot of fun to be had in the here and now. Look what happened when I was upset and had to go to PT. I needed a hug and he made me exercise. My mood improved, but that wasn't the way to handle me when I needed emotional support. I'm hard enough on myself. I needed him to see that exercise isn't always the answer, I think he sensed that and didn't know what to do so he resorted to his stock answer. I need a guy who makes me feel like it's okay to melt down every once in a while regardless of how silly I feel when I'm done ranting, raging, or sobbing."
Her: "We had a lot of fun sitting up on the terrace. Aren't you excited for spring?"
Me: "I'm excited for winter. Now is the time to seize the day and do what you can to change your life for the better. Why wait for spring? Winter is here, let's enjoy it." She starts telling me about her dad and pretty soon we're both discussing that loss and how hard it is to lose a parent earlier than you expect to, I tell her about my hairdresser leaving and how I went to work with a wet head and felt self conscious after woman at work with remarking how curly my hair is, I sat around for so long just thinking that by the time I started getting ready for work I didn't have time to dry my hair. It's kind of funny to me because I've always told them I had curly hair, I remember this conversation up in the break room with my unicorn friend. Her hair is perfectly straight, I was admiring it and she told me all I had to do was grow mine out and it would look like hers. I told her my hair was curly and hers was straight and no matter what I did my hair wasn't going to be a smooth and shining waterfall of silky color. My friend keeps telling me how my hair is so much like my former PT's and I guess seeing how his hair looks now that it's longer has made me braver about walking around without a hat on even though I did bring it into work in case I needed it. It took me so long to find someone who understands how my hair grows that I'm frustrated by having to start the process again.
One of the guys I went out with after I got divorced told me my hair was sexier when it was longer. This is probably true, but I really don't care about that. Other women seem to have hair figured out better than I do and I don't really like it when people can see it because I don't want to be judged for a color or curls I have naturally. I don't want to be spending time in the bathroom or money on hair care products which is funny because I work in that department and part of what helps me at work is suggesting products to others who have the type of hair and skin that I do. I can relate to people who have natural curls and dry sensitive reactionary skin. I'm grateful to the women at work who have helped me select products that calms down my skin and soothes it, I can only use a select few products and the extra money is worth it to me. It's humbling to feel like I still have so much to learn, fortunately I like to try new things and I'm quick to get rid of things that aren't working and focus on what does. I have a tendency to get irritated with people who come to me for advice and dismiss it, I try not to take it personally, and I realize sometimes I do this as well. The people who do listen and come back to me with either thanks or praise make it very worthwhile and more than make up for the few who I fail to connect with on whatever level makes sense to them.
Him: "I like the yellow jacket. You don't see that color too often. Is yellow your favorite color?"
Me: "I'm dressed in unrelieved black and you're asking if yellow is my favorite color? What do you think?"
Him: "You have a yellow jacket and yellow shoelaces. You have the important accessories covered. Do you switch your shoelaces out every day to match whatever you're wearing?"
Me: "If shoelaces are such a critical component how come your shoes don't have any?"
Him: "I hope these awful jokes help with any tension and nerves. Again, good luck and lemme know how it goes; I hope it's something you want rather than just getting out of the current situation."
Me: "This is absolutely something I want to try."
Him: "New stuff is good. Attack it!"
Me: "All I can do is my best."
Him: "Interiewer: 'Do you have any qestions for me?', Jessica: "How many hot men do you employ? This is contingent on my acceptance of any offer that may be forthcoming.'"
Him: "Hey Jessica, just wanted to check in on you. I hope you are well."
Me: "Thanks. I appreciate that. Dealing with an ankle injury, but doing well other than that. How have you been?"
Him: "Need to stop sliding feet first into second Jess. I've been, everything is alright I guess, getting by for the most part."
Me: "Ha! How do you know a runner didn't try to take me out? You sound down, anything you want to talk about?"
Him: " I mean, I'm doing alright. Same old, same old. Nothing specific. You're a good person Jessica. Not sure how often you hear it, but you're great."
Me: "I hear it often enough, but rarely believe it unless a person's actions match what they say. In this case I feel respected and understood because you reached out and I do that when I care so I assume others have similar motivation."
Him: "Good! And just FYI, I may fall asleep and we could talk some other time, but I just wanted to reach out to say hello and see how you were doing."
Me: "No worries, I'm headed to bed myself. Glad we were able to connect, however briefly. Take care. You're a good guy and I hope you hear that frequently from people who are important to you..."
Him: "I don't, so thank you. But it's nice to hear! Take care of that ankle!"
Her: "Where's Miss Sunshine today?"
Me: "She went out drinking last night and now she's on the internet searching for hangover cures <winking emoji>."
Me: "Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your friendship. You're like that big sister I never had and it's had a very positive impact on my life. Hope you are rocking this day <tulip emoji>."
Her: "Awww jess, that's sweet. U r a great friend."
Me: "Hey lady, was thinking about you today. Hope all is well..."
Her: "All is well. Thank you. I am sorry I forgot to reply back. Hope all is well with you too! Many carrots for you <carrot emoji>."
Me: "I want one of these at home."
Him: "But Jessica, you're a minimalist, you can't go buying more things, you need to get rid of the things you have instead of buying more."
Me: "Minimalism is more than just getting rid of things, it means whatever you own brings you joy and has utility. Like this for instance."
Him: "So you're not really a minimalist then. If you were you wouldn't want anything else at your place."
Me: "It sounds to me like you're trying to tell me what to do and how to live my life. That is definitely not a part of the minimalist movement."
Him: "I'm not trying to tell you how to live your life, but no wonder you have back and ankle issues if you sleep on the floor."
Me: "I had a bed and got rid of it because my back is better since I started sleeping on the floor. I have a set of bunk beds and nobody uses them. Do you want to hear something funny?" I motion for him to come closer so nobody else can hear us. "A friend of mine asked me what I would do if I had a guy over, I told her that I've never had a guy ask me where the bed was if he thought that some of his sexual needs were going to be met, then I told her that he has a lot to learn about me and life if he thinks you need a bed for sex. I've been down that road before. You get a guy a bed and then he wants you to make breakfast and bring it to him, you end up doing the laundry, dishes, and putting clean sheets on the bed after he messed it up with you. If he can't figure out shower sex, or explore other surfaces, I have no time or interest in him. I need a man who can think outside of the boxspring."
Him (laughing): "Do you want to hear an inappropriate pickup line?"
Him: "Hey, I heard you were looking for a stud, I got the STD, now all I need is you."
Me (laughing): "This goes back to what I said about getting a partner who can give you things you don't have already. I don't need a guy who is interested in sports. I need him to do the things I can't on my own."
Him: "Such as?"
Me (after a pause): "Dishes. What did you think I meant?"
Me (after getting my ankles taped): "What do you think, is this going to help me land a man? It's kind of hard to show this off at this time of year though."
Him: "Come back in summer and I'll hook you up."
Me: "Summer? I spent last summer here. I want to be free from this place and the bad jokes. This is why I need that single billionaire in my life."
Him: "There aren't a lot of single billionaires just lying around Jess."
Me: "There's only one of me."
Him: "Who sings this?"
Me: "The Rolling Stones."
Him: "Are you sure? Is that your final answer? Do you need some time to think about it? What if you're wrong?"
Male patient: "She's not wrong."
Him: "You can reschedule. What about tomorrow?"
Me: "I guess. My day is wide open. What time slots are available?"
Him (listing them off): "How about three?"
Me (smiling): "I can do anytime except for three."
Him: "This is like asking someone where they want to go to eat and they say they don't care. Then when you suggest a place they say, not there."
Me: "I was kidding. Three is fine. I'll make sure I'm in a better mood then."
Him: "I have off tomorrow. Feel free to bring your bad mood in, someone else will deal with it."
PT 1: "Jess is back."
Me: "I missed you." He makes a comment I don't catch and then walks over to the counter and asks my guy if he's had any of the fig bars.
PT 2: "I've been eating kringle. Just call me Kris Kringle."
PT 1: "She told me I could take these fig bars home. She's like a gourmet baker."
PT 2: "You're really letting yourself go over the holidays. You better watch it."
I get ready to leave, we're all kind of standing around joking about the kringle and fig bars when another patient walks in, PT 1 starts working with him, I grab my things and start walking toward the door after telling people goodnight.
PT 1: "Take care Jess."
Me: "You too." His back is to me so I was surprised to hear from him. From his tone I can tell that things are getting back to normal. I feel like the balance of power has been restored, I've been forgiven for disrupting his clinic and he's glad to have me back. Suddenly I picture my life without them and I drive home thinking about a lot of things.
Today I feel out of sorts. I didn't sleep well last night and woke up with a throbbing ankle. I found a YouTube video of a left handed violinist, I had never seen one before. I have two characters who try and compete with each other musically. He was born left handed, but she plays that way because that's the instrument she had available to her. It would be easy to make the wealthy white guy the villain and the poor redhead the heroine, but that's lazy writing. Both of their fathers are left handed, but his father had to play a right handed instrument despite his family's ability to accomodate his handedness preference. There are two women in his life and he can't have both of them. He breaks several bones in his right hand after it gets slammed in a car door by the woman whose musical ability and talent exceeds his own. She has an inoperable tumor on her recurrent laryngeal nerve so she can no longer sing or play wind instruments, her passion gets channeled toward string instruments out of necessity. The other woman in his life has a mind like his father's and he admires her business instincts. His hand is broken, but he can still sing, she plays for him and then he gets confused about who he loves more.
Writing fiction helps me add shades of gray to my world. Sometimes the real world gets to be too much and I can tell when I'm neglecting my characters because they cry out to me for attention. Real life interactions are fair game and I've learned to step back from certain events and people and think about how I can use whatever happened or was said when I go back to writing fiction. It's a bit like slicing off aspects of myself and my personality, exploring what I do well, what I don't, how different personality types interact, grow, their weaknesses, strengths, social issues, and it gives me a way to learn more about things I would like to do, career paths I didn't choose, but could have, or still attempt, I think one of the things that makes me a strong writer is my ability to see people clearly along with my refusal to make anyone totally pure or absolutely evil. I like twisting the view ever so slightly and showing the same thing from several points of view. I do this in real life too, my way is not always right, a good team takes advantage of what everyone does well and minimizes what they don't.
A friend of mine and I have been talking about day trips we want to take. I'm going to be planning a series of trips for the girls. One of my dad's cardinal rules was there will be something historical and edifying during any outing and maybe this is because I have the power to imagine and see things that aren't there, I can still remember being taken to battlefields where green grass was growing up against silent rocks and it was almost as if I could smell the stench of gunpowder and step aside to avoid flying chunks of what had been a soldier's arm. I did a lot of research on Stonewall Jackson's arm and the controversy and conspiracy theories surrounding that. A former neighbor of mine once told me I should stop calling them the girls because the term was infantilizing. I never really cared for her and have since abandoned that idea. They are my girls and if I can call women at work girls and treat them as if they are independent women with minds of their own, I think it's okay for me to refer to my own children as girls. I don't know why I'm so mad at this today, maybe because I always felt like the relationship was one sided and she used me as her personal dog walker because they wouldn't walk him and I would.
I Googled a list of destinations, one of the things my parents did was place a great deal of importance on the arts, culture, and timeless literary works. I want to take the girls to places that are meaningful to me whether they appreciate the mastery and artistry or not. Cultivating an appreciation of what I believe was done well is a gift I can give to them. Both of my children can write creatively and that's partially because they have a mother who modeled that behavior for them. I never told them how to write or what to write about. Now that they're old enough to have stories and characters of their own it's fun to talk about what they see and problems they're encountering. Just having someone to bounce these ideas off of is fun, I think this strengthens our relationship and gives us something to unite around rather than something to fight about. I've let go of a lot these past couple of years.
The way I parent doesn't make sense to others and it doesn't have to, it may look unconventional and there are many times when I wish I could hear the drummers others are marching to, but I also understand that there are other trails to be blazed and I think a great gift of mine is seeing new ways to think about the things we see and encounter daily. I like that I'm willing to spend money on dragonfruit and persimmons. Sometimes I think that love is like a perfectly ripe persimmon because it's at its sweetest and yields the most juice and flavor when it's practically falling apart in your hands. Rush it and you ruin the experience for yourself. Patience yields that succulent nectar that drips down your mouth and falls onto the floor unless you're standing over the sink or you have a plate or napkin handy. I have a romantic side and it can be tied back to foods I love and sharing them with someone else. Things like that are expressions of love to me. Learn how to love and appreciate exotic fruits and I'll notice that about you.
I want to give my children better vacation experiences than I had myself and one of the ways I'm going to do that is to give me and my younger self the time, money, and permission to set the limits and choose to follow the plan, or depart from it. A plan is just an idea that gives you something to fall back on, it's a place to start, almost nothing goes according to plan, but planning gives you an opportunity to think about the what ifs and that's fun for me. What if we were in a terrible car accident? What if I had a really cool car again? What if we rented a car or borrowed one I prefer driving? What if we invited others along? What if I went somewhere by myself? What if, what next, what then? I love questions like that, those are real conversations to me and that's one nice thing about my family I frequently fail to appreciate, you can riff on just about anything with them and they'll play along.
Today I want a bath, a massage, a nap, and someone who will keep me company because I'm feeling low for some reason. My forehead hurts, my eyes are tired, I just want to lie down and not have to go into PT, my ankle is already sore and I'm debating the wisdom of going and I really don't want to drive back in there either. I don't mind being single and often really enjoy it, but there are benefits to having a partner who will do things for and with you and that's what I'm missing right now. Someone who will just be with me when I'm not at my peak. It's a lot of work to be me at times, I know others go through this as well and think everyone needs people who can help them recharge and relax so they can be restored. That's more of what I'm about on a daily basis although it's easier and more exciting to write and think about sex, that's good too, but it isn't the be all and end all or anything like that. And now it's time to log off before I do my reputation any more damage... <wink>.
P.S. I was only at work for about an hour, but it was nice to get together with everyone in my department and pass things around. My manager is so generous. I wish I could think of more to do for her even though these past few days have been rough. She does a lot for me. I hope I can tip the scales back toward her too.