Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Judge, Jury, and Executioner

"How was your weekend?"

As every week, this was the question I got asked from everyone on our team as I walked in the door (late*). Now, here's the thing that I have noticed about my life and the lives of those around me. Does everyone do this?

If someone you haven't seen in months or years asks you, "What's new?" one typically responds with, "Nothing" or news about big life events. (Like, "I got married," or "I bought a house.")

If someone that you see every day asks you, "What's new?" one typically will respond by telling every little story about life, such as, "This guy cut me off today," or "I went to the park with my kids."

If I spoke to a relative once a year and they asked me, "What's new?" I would probably say, "Not much. I'm still going to school. I bought a new car and I moved out on my own."

But I see these people all week long. When someone at work asks, "What's new?" my response it to tell them about events that happened over the last few days. This would sound like, "DM and Keem came over to scrapbook on Saturday night. I went to karaoke with DM on Sunday night and The Boy showed up and then I went to the dentist on Monday. Monday night, I went to Perkin's with Matt." Now, they all know DM, Keem, and Matt. They realize these are the normal, every weekend things. Of course their focus is going to be, "The Boy showed up?"

Now, I'm confused about what to think about the whole situation with him. There are a lot of people telling me (without my asking them to) that I should not give him the time of day. There are others who think it's still a huge possibility. There are those (and these I like) that tell me I should just wait and see what happens. There are also those who just listen and laugh appropriately.

I sometimes feel like a prosecutor and sometimes feel like a defense attorney. Why should I have to try a case from either angle?

One woman told me, "He's not worth a second thought. He doesn't deserve you." Well, she's bitter and hates men. But my logical brain says in response, "I don't know if he's worth another thought. I do not know the full story so how can I come up with a judgment?" Her words make it sound like he's guilty until proven innocent. That's not supposed to be the case, is it?

And really, what is he guilty of? Not calling me after I gave him my number (without him asking, remember) and then being out of town. What am I guilty of? Getting way too excited over a guy showing an interest in me. I tend to overreact to things like this. I build them up too much in my mind and I spend too much time trying to figure it all out. This really only creates a barrier for myself and doesn't help anything take a natural course.

What bothers me the most is the not knowing what to think, not knowing the full story, and not knowing what I should do.

What do I know?
I am attracted to him and would like to know the full story.
I gave him my number and then he went out of town.
I liked seeing him again on Sunday.

There's really not enough evidence here to send him to the electric chair. The fact he didn't call is a strong piece of evidence, but I don't know the entire story. I do know that if he had given me his number, I wouldn't have called. I would have thoroughly freaked myself out. I'm not saying it's a good thing or a bad thing that he didn't call. I know I wanted him to call, but that doesn't mean the reason that he didn't call was positive or negative.

I guess I do know what to do. I know it unconsciously and thinking it out over and over helps me deal with it. I am learning how to handle being patient, how to handle being confused, and how to not let it "bother" me. I've written so much about how bad I am at relationships. It's not so much that I mess them up, but I'm so afraid of messing them up I never take a chance.

Where has being guarded gotten me? I've never been truly hurt; I've never been completely crushed. I have sat on the sidelines and watched as opportunities after opportunities pass me by. I'm twenty-six years old and I can think of five guys who I would even consider remotely resembling ex-boyfriends. Three of them were never even defined as boyfriends. Charlie and Andriy were never actual BOYFRIENDS. We never had the "Let's go out" conversation. It was more of the fact we spent all of our time together and laughed and lived life. Being a couple was implied, yet never discussed. One of the others was a guy who I knew for a long time and there was tension in our interactions, but we were never actually a couple. The two others were high school boyfriends. Each of them was defined as a boyfriend, but that doesn't mean a serious relationship. It was high school. I was just a kid, even if I thought I knew it all back then. I never took either of them seriously and never thought about "our lives together".

I am not looking for "the one". I am not telling myself that if I'm not married with 2.5 kids in three years that my life is over. Hell, I don't even know if I ever want kids. All I know at this point is I'd like to get to know someone to see if I'd like to spend more time with him.

So I've never taken "the plunge". I've never risked it all. I've never exposed myself to hurt and rejection. I am still scared to death about taking a step. I'm trying hard not to stand still, frozen. I'm trying to pop my bubble, because as safe and sound as it may be, it's not living. It's not fun being alone.

I guess I have been hurt in relationships, but not to a point where it hurt my self-esteem or my inner feelings. The pain I felt when Andriy returned to Ukraine was bad, but I could be fine by blaming it on the ocean. I didn't have to feel as if he rejected me because that's not what happened. When Charlie and I stopped talking and seeing each other, I could blame it on growing up and choices that I made to not see him. I severed that contact. I also severed the contact with the other three guys I would consider having romantic relationships with. I've always been in control. I've always been guarded. I've never had to feel bad about myself because of a failed relationship. And I've never let a relationship get to a point where I could be crushed.

It's my life, why don't I live it?

I need to ease up a little on the control meter. That's hard for me.

I guess I'm saying that I am attracted to The Boy, I want to find the answers to these questions, and I don't want something I don't actually know deter me from living my life. I am still scared to take a chance, but fear only holds me back.

I guess I also don't care in the slightest about the defined responsibilities of men and women in relationships. I figure guys have just as many fears about dating as women do. It's almost easier for women. Women don't have to worry about society's expectations of them to make the move.

My internal goal for myself is to learn something every day, to grow more, and to become a better person. I try to use life's experiences to teach myself. I guess it's about time I learned how to open myself up to risk. If I don't, I'll never find a reward.

Giving The Boy another chance, not convicting him before I know all the facts, and letting myself smile when I see him has little to do with him at this point. It has more to do with ME. It's closer to choosing the path I would not normally take just to see where it leads. I already know what's at the end of the path of least resistance. What's on the path of taking a risk? What stops and sights are there to see? What is there to learn? What feelings and emotions could I have on that road? Maybe that road has bumps and detours, but I'll never know if I give up the chance to turn onto it.

I have a few facts and I am still guarded. But I'm making a conscious choice to look at those facts for what they are. I should not be looking at them with what others think they are. There is a difference between thinking and knowing. I want to keep reality in check. This may involve me looking at the known facts under different lights and making myself figure out what is reality and what are assumptions.

I'm not defending his actions. I'm not prosecuting him for those actions. I'm not judging the facts. There is too little to go on. If I want to be able to find a verdict, I need to do some more investigating. The jury is still out. The executioner can take a vacation.


*I've been late to work a total of three times in 7 1/2 years and one so didn't count. The first time was not my fault. My lead teller had changed the schedule on Tuesday. I didn't work on Tuesday to see the change. She had scheduled me an hour earlier than I was notified. So I guess it doesn't really count. Today, I was late due to a little bit of oversleeping (not much) and the fact I had a crisis with my learning group at school and had to do a couple of changes to a paper due tomorrow.


At 7:53 AM, Weary Hag thought...


I'm impressed with your writing but even more impressed with your thinking. I love that you recognize your own need to control and are willing to let loose a little bit in order to risk being hurt. I have no advice about your "boy" ~ I don't know enough of the situation to even guess what your next move (or his) should be. But I do know this ~ there really are no rules. Stuff just happens - if we let it! Nothing happens if we won't (control). I'm glad you realize that you're not the only one a the party though ... he might be agonizing about the same issues! No matter what, you'll come out of it just fine and you'll be able to etch another notch in the life-experience belt. Main thing at your age? Have fun with it!
Great piece of writing.

At 8:31 AM, CarpeDM thought...

Beautiful writing, Beth, I agree with the Weary Hag.

You've got a good point, too, about not judging the boy. I'm thinking I might know who told you he wasn't worth your time and she's wrong. It does bother me a little that he never called you but yeah, if he had given you his number, I know you would not have called him. So why don't we give him the benefit of the doubt.

I'm going to be honest, I'm a little divided on this issue. Part of me wants to shelter you and protect you from bad experiences and from making the same mistakes that I have done. The other part wants you to have fun and live your life to the fullest.

I think the over-protective side of me is going to take a vacation for a little bit. The fun-loving side says "let's see what happens on Sunday. I hope he shows up! Maybe you could sing Shut Up and Kiss Me."

At 7:45 PM, Matt thought...

I do agree with the opinion of this being a beautiful piece of writing, it truly was. I also would like to say that I am happy to see that you have realized some of the things that are about you, you have not forgotten who you are. Too many times that has happened in life and then you end having something horrible happen to you, but you have such a wonderful head on your shoulders that I do not see that happening to you. I do not know what else to say on the subject of the boy, other than what I have already said to you during our talks at Perkins, so I will not say anymore. One thing I do know however is that you should never ever be afraid to take a chance and have fun, that much I do know. I will talk to you later, as always, your big brother,