*wipes brow* Well, this has been an experience-and-a-half.
I feel like I’m finally beginning to move on – how do I know? Because, at long last, my brain, my cherished mind, appears to be wrestling the steering wheel from the clutches of my heart/soul. The extent to which my thoughts are dominated by my recent romantic interest depend on how occupied I am – in other words, how distracted I am. I’m not a huge fan of this as I’ve always been someone who likes tackling issues and problems head-on and being British, have encountered countless people who “like a drink” when the going gets tough. I find myself in the odd position that I need distracting. Or do I?
The same fundamental quandary beleaguers me. Yes, she rejected me verbally. But she’s an anxiety sufferer. Read any anxiety-related article on Google’s first page of results and you’ll find some mention of how they “kick” their nearest and dearest to the kerb in a misguided effort at protecting them from their perceived trouble and effort. You see – this is it. When I read articles like that, they dredge up a horrifying, yet hope-inspiring idea – is her anxiety that bad? And then, so it might not have seemed as final as I believed? So I’m left with a horrible choice:
- Do as agreed – make no effort at contact. Wipe the above idea from my mind and settle with the thought that her demons (figuratively) are completely her own to deal with.
- Belay what we agreed and push back in some form, on the premise that there may still linger some flicker of hope, obscured by these mists of anxiety.
The worst part is both these options are mutually bad – both have the power to leave me with nagging questions and thoughts whilst either could increase her own suffering.
Long story short, I’ve decided I will contact her one final time. I’ve drafted the email in question which is a lot more balanced now that I’ve had time to sort my head out. I’ve also reckoned to waiting until the next half-term break to send it. If it should trigger any anxiety-response, I’d rather it be done when she has time rather than when she’s submerged in the world of teaching. Now that I write that, I’m unsure whether that’s a kindness or not – but it gives both of us time and space to judge where things are at.
I’ve had people question why I’m still bothering given that I received a seemingly clear rejection. And maybe I did. Maybe I didn’t. Do you know what would have helped make a clear rejection? An actual reason! There are literally hundreds to choose from – for someone with my character, refusing to phrase it as anything real is tantamount to suggesting the rejection is layered and not entirely honest. So two sides as always; I don’t honestly know whether this blog has become the ravings of a lunatic, seeing God’s work in every step and movement; or that of a gentle soul trying to manoeuvre his way through the quagmire of human emotions, attraction and reactions.
One thing’s for sure. My “ability” to identify what I thought was God’s presence in my path is shot. (Hopefully, temporarily). I used to be quite adept at connecting the dots, seeing and understanding why I suffered negative experiences and most importantly, realising those rare moments where there just seems to be too much coincidence for it to be happenstance. This recent experience has nullified all that. Now, every time I think I’m receiving a sign, small or big, I question it and see it from a secular point of view too. This I don’t like – it’s exhausting. It has, however, resulted in more prayers…
I suppose a couple of examples would help even if they make no sense across the distant void that is the Internet. So picture the scene: Maundy Thursday just gone (13th April), our local parish wasn’t celebrating Mass but they had a late session of adoration on instead. We were due to leave home at 1-2 AM for our flight to Rome. Bearing in mind, earlier that day, I had sent a silly email to the woman outlining how a lack of spark could be accounted for in relationships. (Third day post-rejection). I went along to adoration with my head in a whirl and left my phone at home charging. Adoration was wonderful – the most peaceful and prayerful time in recent memory actually. A pure half-hour of just kneeling in a silent church and communicating with God. I posed what felt like thousands of questions and made even more intercessions. Anyway, I left feeling better; slightly relieved of my weight. The second I stepped back into my house (gone 9:30 PM) I could see my phone ringing with her name flashing. I’ve detailed that phonecall in an earlier blog post – the point is this. It’s slightly unnerving when you’re at your lowest, you pray intensely for guidance and help only to receive unexpected contact the second you walk back in – I could’ve missed that call. She could’ve emailed me back or ignored me. The hilarious part, as with all signs, is I was pretty convinced it was a sign, but was still unsure where it was pointing!
One other shorter and altogether more pointless example: fast forward a few days. I’m now in sunny Rome. We’ve covered the main street (Via Nazionale) and have made our way up to Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri (a minor basilica). It’s an impressive building as you’d imagine. Part ancient Roman architecture; part impressive art and altars. Anyhow, so the usual Catholic statutes you’d expect. I stop before one of the Virgin Mary and make a quick prayer. I amble on to the next one not looking up – I can see the black habit of a nun. I’m scanning rows of candles and then I gently lift my head to gaze upon the statue’s face. I froze. For a split-second, so did the spinning world. The face above me, benignly looking into the church was haltingly similar to that of my serial dater. No word of a lie. Same skin pallor. Same eyes (colour and shape). Same gentle, closed-mouth expression. A peek of dark hair was visible beneath the dark veil too – another similarity. Now this was no religious Saul/Paul moment where I believed something to have happened. The statue remains there and is of course one of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. I knew that the instant I looked upon it. But why did it have such a resemblance? I’ve seen statues of her before – there’s one in my weekly parish church – they don’t evoke the same reaction at all. Their paintwork and sculpture is entirely different, despite depicting the same person. Once again though – what feels like a sign – but saying what? It’s safe to move on? Or rather, don’t forget about her – you’re charged with a mission – help her – do your Christian duty; do not abandon her. Those last ones are what it felt like. With the beauty of some hindsight, that feels more like self-imposed fantasy now…
Well, I’ve some fun questions to be answered. Perhaps I ought to direct my prayers to St Thérèse of Lisieux as I’ve done to St. Raphael, St. Jude and the Mother of God herself… In the meantime, back to the world of day-to-day teaching it is!
Until the next one.