Last weekend, I got an email from my friend D–the one in Washington–thanking me for my post about talking too much. He’s recently started seeing a new guy–a Missed Connection, in fact (sorry D, had to)–and things have been going well–save both of their tendency to overanalyze.
He told me that he’d forwarded the post to his interest and that both of them had a good, sympathetic laugh.
A few days later, he sent me another email. This one, though, had no text: just an image.
“Omigosh,” I wrote back, immediately. “Can I post this on the blog!?”
“Absolutely,” he responded. “That’s why I sent.”
At first, I thought it felt appropriate to follow suit and post the image without any accompanying text. But by the next day the words you’re reading here started forming in my head and I thought: if I was the kind of person who could just post that picture directly, without commentary, I would probably be the sort of person who could heed its’ advice.
Which, need it be clarified, I’m clearly not.
As I confided to my friend E, with me when I got the email, I like talking to my friends about guys–even though I know it can exacerbate my already quite fertile set of neuroses.
But I’m pretty sure the bowl of homemade banana ice cream I just spooned into my mouth won’t make me feel very good, either: that doesn’t make it any less delicious, or me any less inclined to eat more of it later tonight.
Often, the things we like to do aren’t very good for us.
“Talking about things is fun!” I said to E. “More fun than doing work. I mean, I’d rather be an emotional basketcase than grade papers.”
We laughed, cause it’s true. I mean, obviously: it’s why I’m a writer. I like to tell stories. It’s the only way I know to make life interesting.
But I’ve been thinking about that more the past few days–how the things we like to do aren’t good for us–as I’ve thought about what it is I want to write, and how it is I want to make things interesting.
Because my luck with men, as you may have gleaned, has not improved of late. Somehow, keeping a public log of my unhealthy relationship patterns has not made them go away. I keep winding up pulled toward people who, for whatever reason, I probably shouldn’t be.
And I want to write about it, but also I don’t. I want to write about it because it’s a natural impulse, because maybe some of you will relate, because sometimes it makes me feel better.
But I don’t want to write about it because it’s complicated. Because as much as I’m prone to oversharing, I’m not ignorant of its consequences. Because sometimes, thinking and writing about these things doesn’t actually make me feel better.
When I was in Minnesota recently I saw an old friend: my ex’s mother, actually, with whom I always had a strong bond. It had been about four years since I’d last seen her, more than one since we’d spoken. In catching her up on my life, I told her things overall had been really great–in every area except love.
And then, at another point, I told her about the blog.
“That must be really difficult,” she said. “To have to focus on that so much, even when you don’t want to.”
I shrugged it off, not having much considered her point until then.
But I came back to it this week, as I mulled over this post. I remembered what my therapist had said (back when I was actually seeing him) when I first mentioned that I was contemplating a dating column.
“It’s one thing to make up stories,” he’d said. “But to have to write about your own love life all the time? That might not be very healthy.”
I’d shrugged him off too. What does he know, I’d thought. I’m a nonfiction writer. Who cares if it’s healthy: That’s what I do.
Maybe it’s just that it’s summer, and the prospect of doing just about anything feels inordinately cumbersome. Or maybe it’s that he, and she, had a point: as much as I might like to write frequently about my relationships, it might not always be good for me.
In other words: I may need a break.