By means of introduction, here is a redacted, but verbatim version of a communication I sent just about a month ago:
[Name],It makes me sad to write this.I stated to you that I desired no further dialogue, and required time and space to heal. A month is neither reasonable nor sufficient time or space.I am rebuilding a life after a difficult choice, profound disappointment, and hurt and loss, both deeply felt. That boundary was well-considered. I placed it for good, self-loving, and self-aware reasons. I know letting people go is a difficult, painful, and protracted process for you, but I will not put those difficulties in priority over what is best for me: a clean break. I am actively trying to place distance, both temporal and emotional, between myself and all that has occurred. Episodic updates, photographs, jokes, and the rest — no matter how pleasant or well-intentioned — inhibit my ability to do so. It simply opens wounds back up, after they had just begun to close. I don’t know how else to say this: I need to be left alone. I have lost something of great value, and then felt it necessary to give up even more. Please respect that, even if you don’t understand it.I have a great deal to say about what you have written here, even knowing that you didn’t have bad, cruel, or disrespectful intentions. I realize you are not the person with whom I should address these feelings. You are in the middle of your own process. I don’t wish to interfere with that by venting my spleen, so to speak. I had left this channel of communication open in the event of emergencies, and also, to ascertain based on your actions, whether you had the desire and capacity to honor my explicitly stated needs or desires without further instruction or prohibition.I see now that you lack the desire, understanding, and/or capacity to do so, though I believe your intentions were good, and your words, magnanimous. While I am grateful for the good intentions and magnanimous words, I am left with the knowledge that far too much remains unresolved between us, and it is likely to remain that way indefinitely. I simply do not believe that you hear me.Despite all this, I am glad you are well, and that life brings you joy in my absence. I hope it continues to do — that puppies grow tall and you flourish at work, and that life provides you with ample opportunities to thrive with new, exciting people. I hope the [performance location] feels more and more like a place that is yours, and that you continue to find delight in creating art and learning new things. I hope your passion and curiosity continue to grow, and that perhaps, one day, you can see the world as less ‘stupid’. I hope that all you desire for yourself comes to you, with the knowledge that you dug deep and worked hard to become whoever it is you desire to become.All things considered, I ask that you not contact me again. If, in six months or a year, I desire to reconnect with you, I will reach out knowing that there is a significant risk that you might not feel the same way. Those are, as they say, the breaks. People come and go in our lives, and there is no guarantee that they will want to return once we’ve asked them to leave. I have made peace with that possibility, and hope that you will do what is best for you.Perhaps we will speak again, at some point. Even if we don’t, I hope you continue to thrive and that life brings you the things you desire most.– RDAs a post-script, since PersonX and PersonY were copied on your communication to me:
PersonX will not be a part of my life again, nor will he be part or subject of conversations had with me, now or in the future. Given his responses to my email cutting off communication, I’m taking the precaution of blocking communication from him — it will be deleted automatically.
The line of communication with Person Y will remain open, but filtered; I do not believe she will abuse it, as she has treated me gently and respectfully even when I have been difficult.
When I wrote that, I was feeling all of the following things: violated, disrespected, barking mad, furious, and more than a little gaslit. One of the things I pride myself on is my ability and willingness to be magnanimous, diplomatic, and firm in the face of deliberate crazy-making. The moments when my emotions get the best of me and I fail that particular strength are times over which I feel a great deal of guilt, and aspire to Do Better Next Time. I usually do, in fact, Do Better Next Time, so there’s that.
However, in my drafts folder is a very different version of this communication. It dissects, line-by-line, how utterly invasive, inappropriate, and honestly, deranged the original letter to which I responded was. I revisit that draft periodically in an effort to make sense of what has happened, and to remind myself that the choices I make about who gets to stay in my life and who can have a one-way ticket on the A-hole Express Train to the faraway land of Never Near Me Ever Town are sound and well-founded. I will never send that draft to the person it addresses, or anyone connected with her. (Look at me, with the Doing Better Next Time!) This is largely because it would serve no one. But I do sometimes wish I could share it with someone. It feels like Too Much, you know? Like “hey, here’s me totally dismantling this person and all the hurt and sadness and squicky feelings. Please tell me that I’m not insane?”
I don’t know how to honor these feelings, or what space they are supposed to occupy. I don’t even feel like I can return to my own therapist with any of this because [Name], above, is also her client (at my referral, because I am a pollyanna asswagon) and it somehow feels like a really unfair position for everyone if I were to be selfish and try to return that professional relationship. This is especially true, given that I know [Name] has a strong tendency to demonize and obsess over the people she has lost or has rejected/have rejected her. While I know that the professional we shared in common is absolutely equipped to handle that, I am not confident that I could feel okay being totally open about all that has happened with her. It would feel like sabotage, or like asking someone to take sides. Looking into another professional is likely something I should do, but it feels very much like gambling and starting over. I loved working with my former therapist, and we were well suited to one another. And besides, yeah I’m angry, and yeah sometimes it feels like a real struggle. But honestly, I’m in pretty terrific shape over all, and [Name], well, isn’t. Part of me knows that I’m just having a difficult time claiming the space to be fully heard, seen, and affirmed. I’m having a hard time not just making it into this colossal cosmic joke, and giving myself the space to acknowledge and honor my feelings and feel understood.
I’ll find a way to make sense of having said what I intended, and wishing I could say what I really mean.