Sunday, December 4, 2011

Day Three: Silence

I was not expecting a test to come so quickly, but received a text from recent infatuation last night asking about my plans.  This latest infatuation, with his hots and colds had been the one to finally drive me over the edge - not, exactly, because he's an awful person just that he was exemplary of the way my silly man illness can kick into overdrive which has resulted in a lot of wasted time and worry.  And very very pointless conversations with friends when there were much better things to talk about.

I am at an early stage in this project, so the resolve was there.  I quickly deleted the message and his number for good measure.  I've actually deleted his number several times, the misfortune of which being I can recognize it.  That part felt simple enough.  I drank some tea and felt really good about myself.  Then I started reading my new book, Joyce's Dubliners.  And maybe because I found that book to be so dull, or maybe because there was a little part of my heart that leapt back ("he DOES like me!  All this disinterest was completely feigned"), I found myself suddenly pacing.  I realized that I was wondering what to do about the situation - and since the situation was inextracbly intertwined with the boy himself, this meant I was breaking my vow of celibacy by thinking about boy.


Luckily my sponsors were available for the query:  should I just ignore it or text back "sorry, busy."  After considering the options, I went for the total ignore.  First, because texting back, even to be unavailable shows that you are available enough to respond which encourages a response on his side.  And second, this boy and myself have not been a good combination for me, so it is time for him to exit stage right.  Not bothering to reply would probably do the trick a lot better.  Oddly, resolving to do it did make me feel better although it did not make Dubliners more interesting so I got on the computer and read about necrophiliacs instead.

In retrospect, the correct choice of not reply seems somewhat obvious, but in fact it is not.  It occurred to me today that there are two types of ignoring : 1) that in which you are actually blissfully ignorant of someone else and are not doing it with a malicious purpose and 2) where ignoring is actually a desperate cry for attention or a form of game-playing.  I have definitely gotten the two confounded - thinking I am awesome serene blissful ice princess while my eye is consistently on the other party seeing how they will react.

It reminds me of the ambivalent way I always felt toward a dear friend's love advice.  She always said "the best revenge is living well."  YES, perfect.  At face value, the best revenge is living well, but I would add "without regard to whether the other person notices."  My friend herself gave a perfect illustration of the potential flaw in this reasoning.  After being dumped by a waiter in a restaurant, she would consistently get gussed up to the nines and drag me with her to the same restaurant, illegally parking her shiny new $90,000 Audi right in front of the sidewalk tables.  Then she would act haughty and gorgeous when he was nearby, pointedly talking to everyone around him.  And afterwards, grill me "do you think he noticed me?"  The answer was no.  He was a jackass for not noticing her, but he did not.

I myself have done the same thing.  A long time ago when I worked in a bar I got involved with my own jackass, who also happened to be married and was a real player on top of it.  This did my twenty-four year old self very little good.  And so, after one particular night of putting up with a bullshit roller coaster ride he was putting me on - and recognizing I was far too similar to those weeping suicidal French heroines - I decided to ignore him then next time he happened to be in the bar.  But of course, I also did it the wrong way.  I put on makeup.  I flirted with men I would never find attractive.  I talked to everyone around him while not talking to him.  I laughed too loudly, flipped my hair too often and was always aware of his presence.  As I passed him, he said to me "you're ignoring me" in a tone which indicated this absolutely delighted him.  It delighted him because it showed that he knew that he still had so much power over me and my emotions that it would cause me to act differently because he was there in the room.  Trying to recover my dignity, I denied it and he just smiled.  It was infuriating.  The French film heroine(?) ruminations went on even longer until I found someone else to transfer them to.

So, I think ignoring lies not so much in the deed of refusing to acknowledge the other person, but to genuinely deep down dark deep not even care that they are in the room because you have other things to do.  And, and this is the part where you truly win, even forget that they are there.  I'm so not there yet, but I want to be.

My own experience was before social media.  Earlier in the day, before the texting, I confronted the true ignore issue with my facebook account.  Should I defriend this person?  It seemed so aggressive - particularly since there wasn't really a good reason.  With some discipline I plan on enforcing, I could keep from looking at his page - with the luck being that during my regular cyberstalking stage I learned he was not really an active user anyway.  But keeping him as a friend meant that - at least right now - I might still be pulling a "look at me!" on my own page.  "Look, I am beautiful!"  "Look, I am having fun!"  "Look, my status updates are incredibly witty!" 

I realized I had spent twenty minutes thinking about this when I decided that, although right now not the perfect solution, I would put him on the "restricted" list that could not have access to any wall posts that weren't public.  (Those that are tend to be my happy birthday wishes to my relatives that still haven't figured out privacy settings.) I have no idea if he looks at my facebook page still, but I know it's enough for me to not be trying to impress him.  One day, I will simply stop caring - maybe so much that I won't even bother defriending or even remembering that he's a friend.  It's not perfect, but it will do for now.  While I was at it, I did the same thing to an ex who had broken my heart years ago, but still reaches out to me although he is supposed to be married now.

So, electronic ignoring in the true sense is tricky, but I think it's a good first step.  The real trick will be having to deal with someone in the same room with the same nonchalance that I was never able to achieve.  I anticipate this happening at some point.  A sage sponsor pointed out that the best way for them was just not to end up in the same place in the first place, and wondered how I always seem to be in rooms with people I might want to be with.  (Hee, point of celibacy project, friend.  If I don't have a lover, I will be searching for one and that is something that needs to stop.)  I think the deliberate avoidance of the situation is good, and agree with the advice about rewarding oneself for good behavior with shoes, but I want to be able to genuinely not give a damn if someone I find attractive but who is putting me into a tailspin of either mutual (or my own) making is in the room.  I hope that getting on the path to ignoring texts and stifling my social media reach-outs will help me in that regard.

And, although I haven't been as productive today, I've noticed there is not the same buzz of anticipation remaining that there would have been if I had responded - even coldly.  I got other things done.  I ran a personal best in a 5K, I had a long and very helpful talk with my parents about some practicalities, correspondence with some friends, cleaned the house and am about to get my ass some groceries.  Normally I hate Sndays - they make me lonely and this loneliness often leads to unhealthy romantic longings and a feverish need to force things that leaves me emotionally unfulfilled.  Today, I think I'll be okay with a bath and Dubliners.  Okay, maybe just the bath.  Dubliners needs to seriously get better.


  1. So, at first I thought your friend's advice was "the best revenge is a living will." I laughed and thought, yes, that does sound like great revenge (i.e. Terry Schiavo). Then I re-read it correctly. Makes sense now. I obviously worked too much today.

  2. Hello lovely. So inspired by your project in ways that might be unexpected... I'll elaborate upon them soon. Keep up the good and heady work, it's a good fight you're fighting. I've been in a sad and stupidying (or is it stupid-making or something else - I would know if I was reading more!) reading lull for way too long - my latest excuse being the lack of a bedside lamp...of course it must be the perfect bedside lamp. Instead I'm back to stockpiling them, and I daresay I have an attractive pile going. The one at the top is Cloud Atlas, and i wondered if youve read it? one of my new tres interesting friends recommended it after discussing a few surprising shared loves, and it left me w a good feeling abt it ...anyhow, it might be a nice place to turn after dubliners puts you to sleep.

  3. I've heard of Cloud Atlas and will have to add it to my goodreads list. Are you on yet? It's marvelous fun, if a little obsessive. Lots of good recs and I don't get so overwhelmed with what to read next anymore. Get on it and friend me so we can swap books!