There was a time, back in 2008 I think, I felt somewhat like what I do now. That was when I was caught up in a tricky relationship with a girl who had a boyfriend back home in England. It was a tumultuous, difficult time that left me wondering what was about to happen next. As a result I felt unusually uncertain, though it was situational rather than personal. I felt as if everywhere I looked there were signs and portents, and I sought them out. I’m definitely not experiencing that now, but what I have in common with that time is a sense of extreme sensitivity, and often times a feeling of great tenderness that seems to sweep over me feeling tender and gentle. I don’t mind it, but there is a precarious sense to it as well.
This time the cause is the decision I made at the beginning of the year. Looking back it feels as if I’ve levered open a door that had been long rusted shut. Through it now are coming all sorts of unexpected feelings and thoughts, and unforeseen events. The very act of doing so seems to have changed my personal climate, which has become volatile and uneventful. By opening up things are happening, one after to another. It’s challenging, though not in the sense of it being difficult – more so in that it keeps asking questions of me. That’s no bad thing.
It feels like it’s been a busy year, the most recent events as noted the emergence of my step-sister, and an ex-girlfriend coming back onto the scene. All over I’m being engaged much more than ever before. I have become much more candid and open on Facebook, so much so that people have commented. It’s very much out of character, but feels right for the moment. Nothing is really different except than my sensitivity has been dialled up, and the things that normally I would keep to myself I’m now putting out there – and people are responding, as if my candour permits them to be just as open. I feel a great amount of goodwill.
This will not go on forever. I’ll retract a little, though it will be a natural thing. This is a phase, but at some point that way of thinking and feeling will be instinctive, with no further need to prove or test it. It will be me.
The only real inconvenience right now is the situation with the girl, which continues on in quiet tumult. It’s felt quite intense at times, and at times she has been forthcoming – but then she withdraws again. I’m less concerned than I have been in the past because at least now I have put it out there, and she responded. All the same, I feel moments of frustration. I still like her, but more and more I’m backing off from anything more than friendship, if that is at all possible. I’ve given reasons before, but here is another, emerging in the last few weeks. We have a lot in common, but in one key attribute we differ: she’s a polished insider, while I am forever and very happily an outsider. That may be a good combination for all I know, but it doesn’t feel it just now.
I’m on my Facebook account yesterday and randomly I click on the Followers link as I see the number has increased. I scroll down, noting that they’re either people I don’t know, or people who have submitted friend requests I haven’t approved. All, that is, except one.
I give a start as I read the name of my stepsister, someone I haven’t been in contact with since about a month after my mum’s death.
We used to be very close. I was easily much closer to her than I was to my own sister, and she was a favourite of mum to. She was the daughter of the man mum married, and I met her first when she was 17, a very attractive girl still carrying some puppy fat. In the early days she had a bit of a crush on me, which is almost clichéd – the son of the woman your dad is in love with, older, more worldly, a little bit dashing, and giving you the time of day. To be clear I was very fond of her too, but our relationship shifted from borderline inappropriate to fond and affectionate, which is how it remained up until the day mum died.
It changed after that. It’s ancient history now, but when mum’s will was promulgated all bets were off. Any bond between us was set aside in favour for the family ties – she had an older step-brother she’d never been close to, but now found it convenient to ally herself with. Things turned nasty and at some point she unfriended me. The whole thing still leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.
About two years ago there was an attempted contact by her via Facebook messenger. It was post-midnight, and after she’d had a few wines I’d figured, and I didn’t get it until the next day. I pondered it for a while. I was torn, angry still, but with a residue of affection remaining. In the end I did respond, but not till a few weeks later, enquiring if she was okay. She never answered.
That’s where it remained until yesterday. I don’t know how long she has been following me, but probably not more than 6 months. I note that she is still friends with a cousin of mine on Facebook, which means she has probably had access to my newsfeed.
I felt very strange on seeing her name. I clicked on it and was taken to her profile. The first thing I noticed is that she’s reverted to her maiden name. Her marriage had always been fraught, and it would be no surprise to hear that they had split. There were photos of her children, now nearly grown up, and pictures of her too, just as I remember her – a handsome, engaging woman.
I was curious, but I also felt stalked. I was surprised it was so easy. And though I’d felt initial surprise on seeing her name, on reflection the surprise lessened. I’m sure she reflects on that time with regret and sorrow, and may even feel remorse at some of the more extreme things done. I’m sure she feels just as affectionate for me – I did nothing wrong except abide by mum’s wishes. And, as the bond was deep, it becomes unsurprising that her thoughts might return to me, years later, her life moved on, and her husband gone.
The question is, what do I do about it?
It’s funny, I was explaining the circumstances of what happened back then to someone about a month ago? She suggested that perhaps it was time to patch it up. I heard, but didn’t think it was time – or perhaps I felt embarrassed by the notion, my pride sticking, thinking that it was not for me to do the patching.
One thing I’ll say about myself is that I can’t bear a grudge. Passion runs hot sometimes and I’d happily kneecap someone who does me wrong, but give it time and it seems pointless. That ability to move on and keep moving on is one of the things that allowed me to survive my travails. Now, faced with this situation, I have to ask myself do I still want to stick to a point five years old?
In my heart, I think not. I was greatly disappointed in her at the time, and saw something in her ruthless and calculating I didn’t like. It was a very unsavoury episode. But we had more than twenty years of being as close as a brother and sister can be. We were sympatico throughout, chemically connected.
I think it was stronger on her side than mine – I think had it been allowed she’d have chosen to take up with me. Even when married, it felt as if we had an easier, more natural relationship than she did with her husband.
People get stuck on things as if they’re written in stone. It’s very common. I’ve never wanted to be so inflexible, and never understood it because it was foreign to me. I suspect ultimately I will send her a message. I think it’s probably the right thing. And given I’ve set myself the task of being more open and receptive then this is a good test of that, and aligns with those principles. Better yes than no, almost always.