Friday, March 25, 2011

Things you can't learn without experience:

Are we inexorably bound to wear every mask in this play? I think I've been every character so far.

We tell ourselves stories. Line up the memories, situations, and moments until they all fit a story line. This is how we met. This is what our relationship was like. This is who I was. This is who they were. We forget things sometimes. Memories that don't fit the story we tell ourselves. Or maybe just memories that aren't relevant to the story. Life doesn't work like the novels, but we write and read novels because we think life should be like that. So we are ever trying to re-evaluate the past and make it into a story that makes sense to us. Or at least I do.

So my story has inter-chapters. Short stories in the overall arching plot. The story of my friendship with Katelyn. The story of how I fell in and out of love with Jeremy. The story of how Ashley Jelonek taught me that some people really do stay forever (and further, how she became known as Ashley Jelonek and not just Ashley.) The story of growing up as a child of drug addicts. The story of losing 100lbs. So many of them. Full of characters too.

You see, we can't ever fully know another person. We learn bits and pieces and fill in the places we don't see or understand. People become characters. Complex, wonderful, difficult characters. And I'm finding that, over time, I keep playing the roles these other people have played in my life. The actions that seemed to me so incomprehensible are suddenly being acted out by my own limbs and I see that, in this story, I am the villain that he was. I am the enigma that she was. I am the selfishness that they were.

I can't be certain, but I'm fairly sure that other people practice less introspection that I do. But I want to know if this happens to other people.

It is an uncomfortable feeling to realize that you are the villain in someone else's story. I suppose villain is too strong a word. The one causing the pain. But is also enlightening in a way I never expected. I can go back and revise that old story. Flesh out the character a little better.

Why yes it did hurt when I fell on my face, but now I can see you didn't trip me on purpose.
And I know you lied to me over and over again, but now I understand how if feels to be afraid that the truth might hurt more than the lies.
You were being selfish and inflexible but I let you and didn't know how to draw boundaries or communicate effectively.

It is really easy to get to the end of one of the short stories and just say "he was a selfish, mean, inconsiderate jerk who didn't know how to love himself, let alone anyone else" or "she wanted attention and adoration more than friendship because she thought she was a goddess fit for worship".

The harder thing is to say: He didn't love me the way I loved him. He couldn't and never would. But he still loved me in his own way. He was broken in places, just like we all are, and didn't know how to balance being friends with me and not hurting me. He failed miserably. But we both were at fault.

Or: I changed and she didn't. The things our friendship did for me became things I didn't need anymore. I didn't know how to communicate with her about the things that made me unhappy and she didn't know how to listen to my stumbling, awkward tries and the friendship failed. We were both at fault.

I learned these things because I played these roles in other peoples lives. It will probably happen over and over again.

Are we inexorably bound to wear every mask in this play? I think I've been every character so far.

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