Where Does Everybody Go When They Say They Have To Go?

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You’ll never have that kind of relationship in a world where you’re afraid to take the first step because all you see is every negative thing 10 miles down the road.- Good Will Hunting

I’ve been reading and re-reading this quote ever since I found it while researching a scene in my book. This scene in particular has the protagonist seated on the edge of the bed of the man she’s been seeing. She’s just told him she can’t stay over night because, reasons. This night in particular he’s revealed something raw about his past, making himself vulnerable to her in a way that makes her realize how deeply she cares for him. The section is highlighted in lavender. I follow the line across to the margin to read this:

But what is the conflict here? Clearly, she’s afraid of intimacy, but dig into this moment a bit more.

I get angry every time I see one of those little quote icons because I know there’s a fifty-fifty chance the note inside will read, “Stay with that feeling. Dig deeper.” If I dig any deeper scars will replace the scabs I pick open on these journeys down the rabbit hole.

Any time a new relationship opportunity (platonic or otherwise) presents itself to me, my minds zips down the list of reasons why I should stay away.

Me: She lives in my neighborhood and she’s a writer. We should meet for a drink!

Also me: Sure, you two will hang out  a few times, but then she’ll start dating someone and you’ll get put on the back burner.

Me: Maybe he just takes his time getting to know someone. For now I’ll just enjoy the attention.

Also me: I mean, yeah, I guess if you want to keep seeing this guy, you could. But we both know one of these times he’s going to announce that he’s met someone and you’re going to be crushed.

The voice in my head works off of a script for a movie entitled Everybody Leaves. Here’s the one-line synopsis: . From childhood through adulthood GIRL experiences a series of losses and becomes so self-sufficient that she’s incapable of relying on or trusting anyone.  This is me. I am the main character in the real-life version of the story. Why does my fictional protagonist consider fleeing her lover’s apartment? Because everybody leaves.That’s all she knows.

There’s a great line from the movie Gia starring Angelina Jolie. The scene is set in Gia’s hallway. She’s standing in her doorway without a stitch of clothes on watching the woman she loves head to the elevator.

“I have to go,” the woman says.

Gia’s eyes brim with tears. “I have to go. I have to go. Where the fuck does everybody go when they say they have to go?”

Gia’s pain is palpable. Once again, someone is leaving her. She’s not an adult in that moment. She is an abandoned little girl trying to make sense of something that her brain can not process.  What do you mean you’re leaving? You said you loved me. If people say they love you  that means they’re supposed to stay. It’s the thinking of a child.

I don’t crush on men the way some people do. Crushing on a man is agony for me. It’s never as simple as “I like him.” I torture myself with negative thoughts.

He’s not attracted to you.

You’re just going to get hurt.

Oh my God, why are you setting yourself up like this?

I do this not to keep from getting to know a man, but to enable myself to take those tiny baby-steps required to make myself vulnerable. It’s a convoluted exercise, but it’s the only thing that works. I’m in the midst of one of these situations right now and it’s grueling.Does he or doesn’t he? Will he or won’t he? If he knew the punishment I delivered to my psyche in the minutes before we were scheduled to meet he’d think I was insane. The words Go with the flow are not part of my vocabulary. And yet for a number of weeks I’ve managed to do just that. I am flowing as though it were routine.

But I know that day is coming, the one where I have a definitive answer to all the questions churning in my mind. My stomach clenches and I experience a surge of pain that I’m sure will sear my insides . It’s coming. The mystery is whether or not this anticipation is rooted in reality and based on actual events or if my brain is wired to spit out this emotional auto responder when it senses that I am letting someone in.

I don’t want to be like this anymore but I don’t know any other way to be. I do what I can to divert my thoughts during the day. When I’m in bed at night I roll onto my side and stare out my window willing myself to sleep before the voice starts up.

Why would he want you? Since when does anybody want you?

Is it really any wonder that my sleep is so fitful?

I wish my brainwaves followed a less thorny path when I took this particular trail. I need to find a short cut that leads me back above ground, one that’s not so dark and scary. For now, all I can do is what I’ve been doing: taking it day by day, coaching myself through.

I just hope I don’t regret it.









One comment

  1. I wish I couldn’t relate to this so very well. Going with the flow… being present and just appreciating the here and now instead of creating the “leaving” narrative… it’s foreign to me. It’s not based in my lived experience thus far. That said, I am hopeful (as you seem to be), that coaching myself through it and flipping the script will get me where I want to be – content and peaceful, understanding that even if they do leave, it’s ultimately their loss.
    Wishing you luck in your journey…


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