A year ago, someone accused me of something in a bit of a bizarre way. I shoved it aside for a while, but it turned up in my brain again recently. Brains are strange like that – pulling up things you thought you’d moved past, or had completely forgotten, dusting them off and handing them to you.
My brain pulled this one out of the archives, and all I can say is that I’m in awe.
You wouldn’t think one would describe themselves as being awe-struck by a betrayal, but that’s where I am. It’s not anger or rage, because I don’t feel the desperate uncontainable energy of either of those things. It’s not sadness because it’s not heavy and it’s not disappointment because it doesn’t live in my stomach.
This feeling lives somewhere in my lungs, light as air, and when I contemplate it, I can feel it when I inhale. It’s just a very bizarre, confused sense of wonder and incredible awe at how shatteringly incorrect this person was, not just about the thing they accused me of, but about me. It connects into the larger history of this relationship, one not worth telling really, except to say that it involved a lot of this other person projecting narratives onto me and getting frustrated when I didn’t play the role.
This helium-like betrayal is a feeling of…wow, you never knew me AT ALL. I was never real to you – I was a character you made up, and you made my words fit into your own private narrative as well as you could, and ignored what didn’t fit, and became furious if I contradicted it or took you out of this weird narrative/real-life role play scenario that I never consented to being in. And when it didn’t work out, you looped it into some other narrative happening in your life at the same time – completely outside of me – and tied it off so that you had a nice, neat ending in your delusional mind but to me, none of this makes any sense. I can’t process this or a find a way to understand how in the name of the holy and profane this mind warp even resulted the bizarre email I received…because it’s just so wrong.
Not wrong as in morally or philosophically wrong…wrong as in incorrect. As in, this is something I’ve never done.
All I can do is inhale and sort of float within it. You were so wrong. And it’s not just the weird accusation. That was just the symptom; it doesn’t matter. It’s what the accusation represents, it’s the underlying lack of understanding, which I can’t really put into words easily because it spanned thirty-two years of my life. And I knew, somehow, that something was coming that was going to send me into the ether. I saw the disconnect, I tried to pull us back together, I tried to explain, I begged for evolution, I weathered temper tantrums and silences and withdrew when I needed to, so it’s not like I didn’t know that chasm was there. But I thought the chasm was superficial. I thought that, at the core, there was a fundamental recognition and a mutual understanding.
So a year ago, when I woke up to that weird email, it was a moment of reckoning. This person never saw me. Never knew me. Never listened. Never cared about me. I’d had those nagging thoughts over the last few years, but I always wanted to believe that the misunderstandings were born of their clutching tightly to a very narrow narrative and my need to move beyond that particular narrative. That they wanted a very specific plotline and I was more open to evolution and exploration. I made excuses, because I thought, at the core, there was something unshatterable.
And I realized… I was so wrong. I was so, so wrong to assume that even if we didn’t speak, even if we faced separation, even if we disagreed and went in different directions, there would always be a connection.
I was wrong because YOU WERE WRONG.
And that’s at the core of the story I’m now putting this awestruck, overwhelmingly airy feeling into. I tend to channel life’s unpleasantries into stories, and my god, do I have one here.
I stare at those words – you were wrong. I write them, periodically, in my private journal. They’re in my character sketch and my plot outline. They’re etched somewhere underneath my eyelids. You were wrong. It’s a sort of emotional shock, the absolute crushing of something I held to be a truth that, a year later, I still can’t ground myself in it. There’s still only dust and awe.
You were so, so implosively, ruinously wrong. It’s breathtaking how wrong you were. It’s astounding that you were wrong about thirty-two years of me. You were wrong about everything I was and everything we were in so many ways, and that email shattered the last of my ability to excuse and overlook it.
And that tidal wave of wrongness and the wonderment I feel at it has become one of the core concepts of the story I’m working on. You never understood, you were so wrong, you were so mistaken, coupled with, …and you were the one who was supposed to understand. You were the one who was supposed to see the truth. That sense of betrayal – not for the accusations, those are incidental – but that this person misunderstood you so completely.
And from that awe, grew a story. I imagine that that’s where most myths come from, and writing is, to me, a mythical and religious experience at times. A connection to something above and beyond myself, but also a connection to others. A way of understanding the world when the world doesn’t make sense. It’s very human, really – when we’re confused, we make up stories to explain it to ourselves.
I have to explain this to myself. I have to get this out of my lungs. I want to stop being in awe of it and start taking it apart, a piece at a time, until it’s no longer overwhelming. I want to turn it inside out and examine its guts and understand how it came to be. I’ll have no peace until I do.
But I’m a storyteller. I don’t need confessions or confrontations or “closure,” whatever that means. I just need to start putting one word next to another, and another, and purge it on the screen.