Right Words, Wrong Person
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Life in the Third Degree.
I’ve decided to start dating again, and no one’s more surprised than I am.
Immediately after my divorce was announced in the local newspapers, available (and not so available!) men came out of the woodwork. My social life was fast approaching a part-time job with probably 20 hours a week spent on these new men in my life.
Within six weeks, I pulled back. I was spending too much time on men who didn’t really pique my interest. Then along came The Treat with his hot mind and musical talent and enticing depths of conversation, and I lost interest in any of the other men I’d met. My friendship with The Treat filled or had the potential to fill my need for mental stimulation from the opposite sex, and during much of our friendship, I was dealing with ghosts of the past and needing nothing more than a guy-friend to walk verbally through our shared fires of hell and explore our burns and scars together.
Only, now I’ve looked at all my wounds and licked them until they’ve lost their flavor, and he’s still in the abyss with his ex-wife’s stiletto heels caught twisting in his heart. There’s nowhere for our friendship to go as long as I’m wandering through Oz and he’s walking through Hell still. If he ever climbs out, maybe he’ll join me for a while on this Yellow Brick Road and explore the landscape in this enchanted but somewhat scary place where I am now.
It’s a text message, of course, that changes my mind about dating again. Figures. I’ve probably sent more messages to The Treat than anyone else in my life. So it gets my attention when other things might not.
I’m sitting at Jeaneen’s kitchen table, eating Danny’s Fried Chicken with a group of women and talking about starting our lives over and how to knot Jeaneen’s husband’s tie appropriately and how we need to be more careful of discussing sex while someone’s children are wandering into the room to eavesdrop. It’s 7:13, and my girls are with their father and I’m with good friends, and my text message funky-music ditty interrupts dinner.
It could be a message from the girls, but I know it isn’t. It could be a customer, but that doesn’t feel right either. It could be The Treat, whom I haven’t heard from since his apology for not being there for me and for letting me down.
I flip open my phone and read the exact words I’d love to hear:
I’m sorry. I fell for you. I didn’t mean to. I want nothing more than what you give me. I don’t use people and I really like you, and yes, I’ve fallen in love with you. Sorry.
“What’s wrong?” Jeaneen asks from across the table. I just shake my head and stare at the message.
“It’s not for me,” I say at last. My throat fills up. Before I get to the last letter of the message, I know it’s not for me, yet I reread it as if a second read will somehow change the words. It’s everything I want to hear right now. From…anybody. Because I can’t remember the last time anyone said this to me. Except…. “It’s not…it’s not mine.”
Vicki stops eating and looks at me in that I’m-about-to-channel-the-Secrets-of-the-Universe way of hers. Which she promptly does. “Yes, it is. The message is yours.”
“No,” I argue. “It’s not…mine. It’s not for me.”
“Yes, it is.” You’d think I’d learn not to argue with Vicki.
“I don’t get it,” Kathy says from next to me. “What does it say?”
I read the message aloud. The words haven’t changed. “But it’s not mine. It came from a long distance number, one I don’t recognize.”
No chance of it being from the interesting man from Washington, D.C. whom I met in January. No chance of it being from any man in my past, wherever they may be. No chance of it being from The Treat either.
These heartfelt words aren’t from any man in my past or present and it’s unlikely they’re from anyone in my future, given that they’re a mistake sent to me from a cell phone in Arkansas. They’re an accident. A coincidence. Tonight, they feel cruel.
“It’s not my message” is all I can say.
Jeaneen looks up from her plate. “That’s the kind of text message you should be getting.”
Vicki’s nodding and I realize they’re both right, especially when I exit the text message menu and see this raw declaration of love directly above the last message I received, one that was equally raw, but an apology for having failed me.
“You needed to know how the message you deserve feels,” Vicki tells me.
I nod, noting to Shannon the sharp contrast in the these last two messages.
“It’s not a contrast,” she says with a shrug. “It’s what the next message for you should be.”
True perhaps, but if it’s the next message, it should be from the same man, and it isn’t.
Before I leave Jeaneen’s, I ask Star Woman to work with my heart chakra to progress these discordant feelings so that I’ll get unstuck. She’s worked with my chakras before, using BioGenesis energy healing tools. Tonight, it’s painful. It’s never been painful for me before. She’s used it on me to help me let go of my anger at my ex. Now she helps me let go of that fervent desire to help The Treat bear his wounds and heal himself. I’ve gotten stuck wanting so to see this really great guy get unstuck, and it’s doing me no good to get stuck in shit myself, especially his shit.
I keep remembering the description of the man who walked along a road with a ditch full of shit and saw his old friend in the sludge. His friend asked him to join him in the sewage he wallowed in. Instead, the man on the road extended a hand to help out the friend in the shit. The friend down in the ditch had a choice of staying in shit or getting a lift out.
And so I’ve let myself get down in the muck with The Treat, and I need to climb back up onto the road and enjoy the weightlessness of sunshine.
To do that, I lie under the weight of a slab of Larimar dolphin stone no larger than my hand. It’s heavy on my chest, enough so that it’s hard to breathe, which has nothing to do with the size of this rare stone. I grit my teeth through the pain of accelerating this moment of grief for not being able to help someone I really like and for not getting the kind of emotional support I deserve back.
The next morning, I’ll find that I’ve let go. I’ll decide suddenly that I need to broaden my horizons and start meeting men again. I’ll actually want to date again.
And I’ll wonder if that fact that The Treat introduced me to my new friends means that he’s fulfilled all the purpose in my life that he ever will or if there’s anything more to come when he’s finally addressed his shit, shaken it off, and climbed up into the sunshine.