Thursday, 23 January 2014

Serendiptiy and Choices

As I previously mentioned, during my great American voyage in May, I'll be staying in Atlanta, Georgia. A but out of place when you consider my other destinations, but there's a story behind this visit.

Last Summer, following a break-up with my long-term boyfriend, I went out on a first date. The guy in question was not a stranger to me and we had been casual accquantices for some years. However, given that a) I've never really "dated", it had been more of a case of kiss shared, "You like me? I like you. Do you wanna go out?" followed by "making it Facebook official and b) First dates, by and large, are just bloody awkward, I was nervous.

I shared my trepidions with one of my friends as the hours passed by, edging me closer to meeting the guy in town for a drink. My friend reassured me (in his piss-taking, sarcastic manner) and mentioned that he was going to be around town that night, so if I needed a quick escape route, I was sorted.

So. Make-up on, an attempt at creating something passable with my hair and an outfit carefully picked out (not too revealing, not too purtican), I made my way to The Bankers pub on Dame Street. I'd never actually been in the place, but it seemed quite nice - a quaint, stereotypical Irish pub to draw the rake of tourists visiting Trinners.

                                                   The scene of the crime. Photo:culch.ie

We sat down. He, very gentlemanly, insisted on buying our drinks. As I awaited his return, twiddling my fingers and hoping I was wearing enough deodrant to mask any fluctions of nerves, I heard a Southern accent as think as honey.

"Hiiiii, sorry, are you from Dublin?"

I turned and saw two ladies, mid-fities and mid-sixties respectfully, sitting at the table next to mine. The remenants of their "Irish" dinner lay before them, along with a map. They smiled, expectantly waiting my answer.

"I am indeed, why?" I replied.

The ladies, Becky and Leslie, were looking for a place to go and hear some traditional Irish music. I advised them to go to Temple Bar and throw a stick - they were sure to find somewhere. Directions were exchanged as were thanks. Now normally, this is the ending to a dialogue with strangers, especially given my date had returned to the table with our drinks. Not these ladies. Instead, the conversation expanded dramtically. Two hours later, couple of drinks in, I have somehow found myself on a double date with two strangers while on my first date with this guy. Well. That was unexpected.

I however, thought the situation ideal. It took the akward focus of "the date" and made it a much more relaxed manner for the guy and I to get to know each other. I was effing delighted at the turn of events. "So random" I thought to myself, thinking of the laugh my friends were going to have when I told them - in particular, the sarky one who had given me advice about all this.

All of a sudden, my sarky mate was in front of me. In the bar. If I looked shocked he just looked completely confused. I should mention that my date was significantly older than me (not creepy old, just older) and my friend's response upon seeing me with a 30-something year old, 50-something year old and 60-something year old was

"What are you doing with all the old people? I thought you were meant to be on a date?"

"I fucking am" I told him through clenched teeth. Only me. Only this, could happen to me.

At this point, it was about half-ten at night and I figured the whole thing was a hilarious bust. Sarky friend had text one of our other friends to tell them about the ridiculous situation I found myself in. She then text me "Bring your date to Doyles!", where she was out with her friends. "Ah fuck it" I thought. "This night is a nonstarter in terms of romance, anyway!"

We extended the invitation to our new American friends. Leslie declined, preferring to go back to the hotel. Becky, however, was totally up for her Irish pub experience to continue. Happily, myself, my date,my sarky friend and Becky set out on the short juant to Doyles. All was well.

Then, Becky tripped. Although there should be a better word than "tripped" to describe her greeting the stone steps of The Westin Hotel with her chin, and splitting it open. Cue lovely American lady, sitting on the steps of the hotel, blood pouring out of her chin and three strangers looking at her. We applied pressure and checked the damage - she was going to have to go to hospital to get stitches. And I informed my date that both of us were going with her.


                                               Romance, with a side of IV. St James Hospital
                                                                    Photo: hse.ie

I crawled home that night about 6am, smelling of disinfectant and with a dead leg, thanks to St James Hospital. That is how Becky came into my life - we instantly bonded and have kept up our friendship ever since. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Some people would call this coincidence, but I believe there was a little more than that involved. Despite never meeting before, Becky and I had a rapport and discussed topics and personal issues like we had known each other all our lives. I'm sure the alcohol we consumed helped, but it is a friendship we have mainatined soberly over the last few months. Becky and I met at a time when we both could benefit from having a friend and I believe that she was meant to come into the script of my life. In the words of Humprey Bogart, "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

In contrast to that serenditptious relationship, I've recently been grappling with a choice to end an unhappy one. If you were to label myself and the person in question "Human A" and "Human B" and laid out the facts of this tortorous relationship, it would appear to be a simple decision to end it. Take the facts, look at it rationally, employ the solution. Ahh, but emotions make it much more complicated.

I have had many good moments with this person and good experiences. I've also had many terrible ones. Our relationship is one of extremes. When bad, this person has the capability to, and has utilized it, to destroy me, and make me feel utterly broken. Nobody, in my life, has ever made me feel as dark as this person. When we go at it, I feel worthless. This dyamic is nothing new, it's something that has been present my whole life. It has peaked at certain times (being kicked out of my home and the contents of my bedroom being tossed out the window because of something my Dad, not I, did, is one example). But, given what I've experienced the last year, it has been having a more consuming effect over the last few months.

Now, between the past and the present, this relationship has become extremely painful for me. My self estem lies in tatters around me after the latest bout and as I try and sew myself back together again, I've begun to wonder if I'm a masochist for allowing this situation to happen time and time again.

I am not innocent in how things are between us now. However, this person has no boundaries in what will be used to hurt me and while the apology that follows such drama stopped meaning anything to me a long time ago, I find myself in a situation where there seems to be no adequate solution.

I know I can no longer continue this destructive pattern. I don't want to be destroyed, I don't want to be made feel like I'm a horrible person and there's nothing good about me. Those feelings take me to a place I really don't want to go. So I've decided to stop being an active player in this. Or, as I said to the person, "I'm done." I'm done with second chances, I'm done foolishly believing things are going to be different. I'm tired of it all; that everytime I try and build a good and happy life for myself, it is inevitabaly torn down. I don't want to be afraid anymore.

I know this is a choice I've made and I will have to live with the consequences of it. The guilt I already feel, the questioning of myself as whether I should try and salvage things, the omission of this person from my life. I believe some people are meant to come into your life and some people are meant to go. Some things are serednitpity, some are choices. I don't know if I'm making the right choice, all I know is that it's what I need to do now to survive. Nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be this hard.

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