I wrote this a couple of days ago. I've debated about posting it, partly because most people will be left scratching their heads in confusion, since it won't make much sense to anyone, not even most of the major players involved in the various bumps that have brought me here; partly because it barely even makes much sense to me yet; and partly because I told myself that I shouldn't need to hit publish to feel a sense of having gotten it out, but it turns out that maybe I do. Also, my grammar is atrocious and I've undoubtedly used far too many commas, but I don't know how to make this post any better, so I'm going to leave it as it is.
J. is here visiting, which has been incredibly helpful in terms of some of what my mind has been ruminating over and at the same time has added a whole new layer of doubt and confusion. J. is an ex from a long while ago. He was a lovely boy and is just as lovely a man. Unlike many of my exes, J. is someone I left on good terms - as good as terms can be when one person knows it's time to move on and the other doesn't feel the same. What saved the friendship we now have is time and distance, but especially that distance. J. and I seldom keep in contact when I'm not in Canada and that has let us move on with as much grace as is possible. He is, in some ways, one of those people who will always understand me in a way that most never will - as deep as our differences go, we finish each other's sentences and have always been able to be there for each other in a way that is easy and always just right whenever one of us has had a crisis. My relationship with him was significant to who I am now, but unlike with that other ex, all of what I learned from him was positive. I will always love him deeply.
In the years since J. and I dated, so much has happened to both of us. We both got married and divorced. I started dating women as well as men. He wanted children very badly and hasn't had any but has a career that he really loves. I have moved continents and started to feel that I have really hit my groove as an expat. At the beginning of those five days our conversation was dominated by the relating of funny stories - we both think ourselves to be quite hilarious - and reminiscing, but that inevitably led to an incredibly serious discussion. Our discussion started out articulating as well as we could what it feels like to love someone who doesn't love you, or at least not in the way you want them to. It was a tough discussion, one that brought me to tears more than once. We discussed who we are, who we were and who we want to become - it was incredible to hear the perspective of this man who knew me all those years ago, when I was younger, more naive, more trusting of life, perhaps more hopeful. It was good to hear, also, the perspective of someone back home; life here in Korea is so odd sometimes.
Way back in October, which feels like years ago with all that has happened since then, someone said something to me. It was in the midst of a drunken fight. Not even a fight, a rant really, as it wasn't really until the end that I even participated or really got upset. I did feel very bad, because when all was said and done, I had let someone down. I hate that - I actually think that there are relationships in my life that have been incredibly strained beyond my knowledge of how to fix them because of how much I can't deal with letting people down, disappointing them. But while the rant was largely directed at me, much of it had little to do with me, and I got that at the time. By the next day, in terms of forgiveness, I had more than moved on. However, my mind keeps returning to part of what was said. I can't let it go - not out of any sense of anger, but out of confusion. I have no idea if I agree with what was said or not. I can't decide if it is something I need to work out within myself or if it is something that can just sit in my brain, percolating until it solves itself, as so much of the confusion of life does. I don't know if that evaluation of who I am was valid and illuminating or just a drunken remark. I tend to feel that there must be something in what was said, because my head just keeps on returning me to it whenever it stills enough to allow for contemplation.
Since that comment, the one that haunts me, other people keep relating things to me that feel so relevant to the confusion in my brain. My friend L. has related the story of her path through marriage and divorce to how she has ended up with such a great person, in order to impart advice, or knowledge, or just a sense of "it's not just you" to someone else entirely. And yet, every time I hear the story, every time L has this discussion with this other person, I feel increasingly uncomfortable. In the beginning, it was a conversation I could participate in, one I thought I understood where I was in. Slowly, that confidence of knowing has disappeared.
It took me years, years to find a self-description that made me feel happy and comfortable in my skin. It then took more years for me to be able to share it - and in classic me fashion, I managed to share a lot of it by accident - damn Facebook! - and perhaps more casually than I could have (should have?). There are important people who I am not even sure I have had enough of a conversation with that I am fully sure that they understand what I was trying, in my own hamfisted way, to say. To be honest, who I am now, the me that makes me comfortable just being and existing, is something I am now so readily able to share I keep forgetting that there are people out there who I may even be incredibly close to that still don't know, because I haven't seen them enough in the time since. I worked through so much confusion to have this label that I could apply to myself, that made me at ease in what my life was. And slowly but surely, one comment has shaken that foundation of me that I built.
I don't at all think this is necessarily a bad thing. I don't even know if it's necessarily the case - J. pointed out a possible explanation for some of the changes I have noticed in myself and how I feel that hadn't even occurred to me, but perhaps makes more sense. Regardless of whether how I've been feeling lately is something that needs to be incorporated into how I define myself or not, I don't think that any of the thinking that will go into reaching an understanding of all this is at all a bad thing. Change has, in my life, always worked out for the best in the end, though it has sometimes been painful and confusing getting to that end. And if nothing changes and at the end I feel that I was right all along, all that means is that I can feel more solid about who I am. Contemplation has always led me to better things and I trust that it will again. It's just been so odd the last few months, the bad health combined with everything else that has been going on in my head, hanging out with a whole new group of people, contemplating the next step, and now, J.'s visit, bringing up the past and the present simultaneously, and even making me further question the future.
I am full of questions. I have been full of questions ever since that October night. Let's be honest, I've been full of questions for as long as I can remember. I don't think they are going away any time soon, but I'm okay with that. The one thing that J.'s visit reminded me of was that for all the drawbacks to my life overseas, for all those precious moments that I am missing as my nieces grow up and my grandparents grow older and my parents debate politics and develop adult relationships with my siblings around the dinner table without me, I did leave for a reason. Bolton just was never enough space for me to find out who I was. I thought when I left and moved into the city that there would be enough space there. But I'm not sure it was until I got to Korea, until I let go of that person I felt I had to be, that expectations led me to feel I should be, that I was able to let myself contemplate who I need to be.
I don't know if that night, that comment, was one of those on the road to Damascus moments or merely a moment of mental gymnastics of who else I could be. I'm not really sure that anything I've done since then has been the right thing to help me sort it all out in my head. I don't have much of a clue what to do about it all, actually, though I've made some attempts. The 101 in 1001 list started for more than just one reason, but part of it was to make me thing about who I am and what I want to spend my time doing. The more personal stuff didn't make it on the list, obviously, but I had to think it all through when I made that list. I'm a navel-gazer, so if nothing else, the need to contemplate, evaluate, synthesize comes naturally.
The funny thing about all this is that under all the homesickness I've been having of late, under all the confusion and emotions that keep wandering off along odd paths, under all the health problems I've had recently, under all that is a rock of happiness. I'm actually quite happy. Maybe content is a better word for it, but there it is. Life is, at its heart, essentially very good. Wonderful, miraculous, joyful. I have a lot of joy.
And one day, I hope, I will be able to move back to a more stable sense of me. Until then, I guess I'll just bumble along through it.