~Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Misty Watercolor Memories

I've been spending a lot of time alone lately. At first I was all Hello, sole power of the remote control and I just ate a bag of gummi bears for dinner and no one saw! But me spending so much time alone can also be very dangerous because I can get stuck in my own head.

I went to bed an hour early and decided to watch an episode of Gilmore Girls before sleep. I've been watching the series from start to finish on DVD over the last six months, and I was on the last disc of the last season. Rory Gilmore was graduating from college. In turn, I started thinking about my own college graduation.

The night before my boyfriend, who had severe undiagnosed mental problems, had this complete breakdown. I don't even remember over what: graduate school applications or just a bout of manic depression, but I stayed up the entire night with him while we worked through whatever had him so wound up. I talked to him in an effort to keep his grip on reality because he was so close to losing it. Then 6 a.m. came and with it the sunrise.

"It's morning," I whispered. "I need to leave in a little bit. I'm graduating in a couple of hours. I need to go home and shower. My parents are coming up."

"Well, I'm exhausted. I think I'm just going to go to sleep," he said.

My face fell and my heart sank. He wasn't coming. My boyfriend wasn't coming to see me graduate. It seemed like every time there was a moment for me, he broke down and everything became all about him, including my college graduation. If there was a moment that should have been about me, this was it.

I graduated in December—a semester behind my original graduation date, and a semester before my friends on the five-year plan. I walked in alone to the staging area in the basketball coliseum. Summer graduates get the football field. Cap and tassel in hand, I scanned the room and found no one.

Come on, Sarah. Search harder. You are at a large university. Surely there is someone here that you know. You won't have to graduate alone.

I looked again and saw him. The guy I dated very briefly earlier that year. There was a lapse in my apartments and for a week I would be homeless. He asked me to stay with him for the duration and I was elated. Moving day came and I packed my truck up. I phoned him to tell him I was on my way... and I never heard from him again. I squatted in my old apartment, sleeping on the floor for three days until I got kicked out, and then I sheepishly called a friend and crashed on her couch for the remainder of the week. And now I was going to have to graduate with that asshole.


"Hey," said the asshole in question, Chronic Bather. I called him that because he always bathed after sex, which is not unusual in and of itself, but he always made me bathe with him before sex, he'd bathe after, and then he'd get up in the middle of the night to do it again. I counted one night: four times within and eight hour span. And it wasn't in the shower either. Chronic Bather would draw himself a bubble bath.

"So, uh, where've you been?" I asked.

"Home. I sold it though. Packed up all my stuff in the back of my car. I'm moving to Atlanta after graduation. Just getting in my car and going."

"That's nice," I forced out. Hope he was going to stay with someone and she'd never pick up the damn phone.

I scanned the room again. I refused to graduate with Chronic Bather. I refuse to share this memory with him. Four feet to my left, I spied Danny. Danny and I were close friends in high school until he started dating a mutual acquaintance who viewed me as a threat. She wouldn't let him hang out with me anymore and told him I had a thing for him. Which I did, but it was innocent and harmless and moreover my self-esteem was so low that I genuinely thought any boy would pick any girl over me, so I never tried. But to my knowledge, Danny didn't go to the same college. I thought he went to the private Christian school.

"Danny! What are you doing here?"

"I transferred here to be with Laura."

"Oh? How's that going?"

"We broke up two years ago."

"Oh," I shuffled. Victory! I thought.

"I'm sorry we fell out of touch, but she hated you after we started dating," he admitted. Yeah, I know.

Danny had big plans to move back home after graduation. His mom was still running a day care out of the house. It's not like my plans were any better. I was staying in the college town, staying with my boyfriend, Poet, who was currently sleeping away my moment.

"Sarah!" I heard someone call.

I turned around to see the boyfriend of one of my drinking buddies. Despite all the time we've spent in each other's company, we were always hammered and weren't that close.

People started forming lines to walk into the coliseum. Our university was so big that we just sit within our school of degree. We'd stand up as a group and move our tassels—no name being announced, no walking across the stage, and our diplomas would be mailed to us six weeks later. I stood facing the three boys wondering who I was going to pick. Who I was going to share my moment with. I chose my friend's boyfriend.

I don't like thinking about my college graduation because it's a painful memory for me. My first thought always goes back to Poet, who chose to simply not show. Five years later and it still hurts.

So now it's a Thursday night in 2008. It's 11 o'clock at night and I'm alone in bed watching Gilmore Girls. Rory's walking across the stage and Lorelai stands up and gives Rory a standing ovation. The tears in Lorelai's eyes convey that she's giving a standing ovation not just to Rory's scholastic accomplishment, but to her life. I begin to cry because that's just so not how it was for me.

I hate thinking about my life because I hate my memories. The fond ones are few and far between and are always sullied with some disappointment later on down the road. Compartmentalizing, I don't think I'm very good at that. Not only do I hate the things that have happened to me, but I hate my thought processes. I loathe my inner voice. I'm not at peace with myself. When I'm left alone for too long, I become this incubator for self-hatred.

With perfect timing, Scott came home to see me crying in the dark over Gilmore Girls. In order to avoid looking like a wad of crazy, I told him very quickly about Poet's no show.

"Why didn't he go?" I sniffed.

"I don't know, honey. I would have gone if I was there."

"God, I just hate my memories!" I pounded.

"We'll just have to make new ones," he smiled.

I wish I could trust him. But in order to do that, I've have to trust myself first.


SuvvyGirl said...

Memories can be an evil cycle sometimes. Mine do overtime most days and it gets a bit annoying. I think everyone has been a little down lately. I have been at points. Lately when left with my own thoughts I keep thinking "is this all there is?" Makes me think if the saying off the movie Hellboy "In the absence of light, darkness prevails".

Anonymous said...

It's weird, but I have found that being alone has helped me deal with my painful memories. It gives me a chance to work them out and get over them. Life is really what you make it.

I'm sorry your boyfriend didn't go to your graduation. Men like the man you described are not worth one moment of your time. Focus on the good things in your life.

AmyD said...

BINGO...learn to trust yourself, but also be sure to trust Scott, too. He will help you through this journey more than you know.

Thanks for sharing these memories with us!

Dora said...

Nothing I can say....Just sending you a hug.

Beth said...

That was a great post - I'm sorry that you're having a hard time with the shitty memories. I completely relate and have been going through a "what do I have to show for my time on this planet" phase for the last couple of months. It passes though and I'm sure it will for you too.

Learning to trust yourself is a tough one, I think sometimes thats even harder than trusting someone else. I love that Scott suggested you make new memories. That was such a perfect thing for him to say and I guess in itself, its given you one already!

Hope you're feeling better soon xx

Paige Jennifer said...

Sometimes the past should stay there. Sorry you hit a rough patch but glad to hear you have someone there to help with your recovery.

Lpeg said...

I love Scott's answer - 'we'll just have to make new ones' - so sincere and sweet.

V said...

I think that televised version of graduation is simply perpetuating the fairy tale myth.

Does anyone really have universally great memories?

"Whenever I look back
On the best days of my life
I think I saw them all on T.V."
-- The Bravery

Even when things are great, I'm not sure that we recognize them, or mentally pin them up into our "remember this forever" file.

Of course, I'm might not be representative. I completely dodged my university graduation. I was 33, having left and come back, and too embarassed to participate. I even tossed my diploma, deeming it an "unnecessary piece of paper". A paper which would have saved me from having border guards pull guns on me at the American border a couple of years later. But that's a different story.

Peach said...

ugh - hate to say this but I often feel the same, about being alone and my past. but Debbie's right too - actually being alone makes you do an inordinate amount of mental filing and some day, that's gotta make your head feel better ... X

Peach said...

ps it's funny you chose that title, it's THE only song in the world that will ALWAYS make me cry....

Single Girl said...

I have to agree with V here - tv and movies always perpetuate this myth that graduation and ceremonies like that are always these fantastic moments for everyone. My college graduation was really nothing great either- none of my friends graduated with me, I was so hungover that I looked for the exit the entire ceremony in case I had to make a run for it, and my Mom was sitting somewhere in the huge arena the ceremony took place in, I could barely see her.

And I definitely agree with those that say that being alone can definitely help you deal with painful issues. So can a really good therapist! Mine is friggin fantastic at making me confront mine head on!

Trixie said...

OMG, Poet reminds me of my ex husband! That's the sort of stuff he would do. It drains all life out of you dealing with that crap.

At least you now have Scott, and I do truly hope you can learn to trust him.. and yourself.

lauren said...

Hi ya Sarah,,,
well found your page in a very random way actually don't even remember how now it has been so long, but I have been reading you for a while and never posted until today because this post hit me big time!! I totally get it!
Thank you for making me see I'm not the only one who gets lost in her own head!!!!

J said...

I loathe my inner voice. I'm not at peace with myself. When I'm left alone for too long, I become this incubator for self-hatred.

This resonated with me...I have to constantly work to change the tone of that inner voice. It is always a struggle. Some days are better than others.

You know, I have always said that I wouldn't change a thing about my past because it makes me, me. That said, in recent months I have been wishing that I could erase a few hurtful and damaging memories.

Hugs xx

Amber said...

Trusting yourself is so scary, isn't it hon? :(

I can feel the pain you experienced through the words you wrote. There's nothing I can say to take that away... BUT! I would like to say that a lesser person would have walked out of there and just waited to get their diploma in the mail.

You chose to stick it out and go through with it.

That in and of itself is amazing, Sarah. I totally would have hoofed it out of there.

You don't give yourself nearly enough credit for who and what you are, your abilities and talents.

And I ditto Scott: if I'd been there, I would have gone with you.

PS: I'm going to be in Atlanta July 9-13th! LoL - I'll give you a call in the next week or two. Or, you know, you can always call me when you're laying in bed by yourself and need a friend to talk to. I'm two hours behind you silly girl! :)

Anonymous said...

That is a sad story, I'm sorry. :(

My university graduation story from a couple of weeks ago is just kind of ridiculous: I was having quite possibly THEE worst hair day of my LIFE and guess what? Out of ALL the grads there (well over 500, just from two colleges) the news channel had to zoom in on ME and I was on the news that night. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaah.


(PS- blogging again at daringtobe.wordpress.com no longer at daringtobe.com!)

Blue soup said...

Such a poignant post. I have spent all today alone, half sleeping in bed, thinking about a lot of things.

Nice response from Scot.

Anonymous said...

We only have Uni graduation here, you don't graduate from High School or anything like that. I never finished a degree, so i didn't get one at all.

Think of how much you've accomplished by getting that certificate not who was there when you picked up the piece of paper.

Scott's answer was lovely, bless him

Anonymous said...

The "five years and it still hurts" really resonated with me. Does that stuff ever stop hurting? I'm so sorry to hear about your graduation day but glad you have someone who is more supportive of you and your life, now.

Diane Mandy said...

Wow. I hate your past still haunts you. I can only hope your future makes up for it.

dont eat the token said...

Oh boy, that guy deserves a stamp of assholey-ness imprinted on his thick skull.

(also, chronic bather, what an appropriate title! i think he was in his bubble bath sullying his mother's perfect image of him)

You never deserved to be treated like that by anyone!

I feel 100% like you were quoting my own thoughts in regards to inner voice and unhappy memories.

Try taking a small step in letting yourself fall completely in love for just a moment, so that the entire moment is for Scott to give to you and you to welcome it in.

I hope that makes sense. Let go, if only for a moment.


Gilmore Girls ROCKS

treacle said...

I've only just seen your post - some days later.

Sarah, you are awesome. Trust that, we all do. xxx


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