I was the only single person at Couples Connect.
“Uh, duh,” I thought as I walked into the church, late and by myself, excusing myself for both and I shuffled sheepishly into the pew.
The program organizers advertised it as open to both single and dating – being the only single to actually register didn’t faze Raquel’s Public Persona.
That’s because RPP is brave, confident – she’s a cut above the rest and so she doesn’t concern herself too much with fitting in. RPP doesn’t need Couples Connect anyway – she was really only there for moral support for me. RPP already knows instinctively she’ll be a good wife someday – and she isn’t too concerned about when that someday will come.
Then there’s me – Raquel’s Private Self and Inner Monologue. I’m not so sure about things as they pertain to the wife department. And the longer the speaker talked, the more uncertain and uncomfortable the idea made me. I think that is what they call getting cold feet.
I looked around at everyone else, everyone coupled up – and I was happy for them, but no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t imagine someone next to me in the pew. Every time I mentally put someone beside me, I would disappear.
I imagined myself melting into a puddle on the floor right there in the sanctuary.
“Where did Raquel go?” the facilitator would ask.
The man beside me would scowl down at the puddle. “I criticized her about something inconsequential and she liquefied. I don’t know what to tell you – the woman can’t handle hot air.”
I couldn’t think about being half of a couple when I so wanted to be a whole person.
“What are your plans for the rest of the weekend?” the divorcé asked me.
“Church tomorrow, then taking it easy,” I replied casually.
“You’re really into church these days,” he said unfairly. I resented the tone and what I perceived as derision in his voice.
I should have said, “What’s it to you, anyway?”
Instead, I averted my gaze, ashamed and anxious that he didn’t like something about me. I can’t remember what I actually said, but it sounded like an apology.
I wanted him to like me – to fall in love with me even, but mostly I wanted him to quit punishing me. That’s what it felt like to me – his criticism of my decisions and my Catholicism; he was waiting for me to change my mind, waiting to see if he should leave or not.
It gave me a false sense of security to feel like I had some sort of influence over making him stay. As long as I watched myself, treaded lightly and gave the “right” answers. And his staying was important for some reason – important enough to pretend I felt differently than how I actually felt.
The problem is, all those things I didn’t say – all those unarticulated “what’s it to you’s” rolled themselves into a ball and were beginning to settle deep into my chest. They compounded with “You have no right to tell me how to live my life,” “I deserve to be accepted,” “It’s not my fault,” and “There’s nothing wrong with me.” That ball was getting denser and it was keeping me up at night.
And there’s a statute of limitations on expressing formerly unexpressed feelings. I can’t for instance, call him up now and tell him his church comment made me upset – I would sound like a lunatic. So I’ll do the next best thing. I’ll write this blog about it. Then he’ll probably read it and be angry I wrote about him and then I can roll the guilt I’ll ultimately feel from that up into the ball and make it even bigger.
I can stay awake at night questioning my ethics as a writer. I can berate myself for not having the life experience to deal with situations before I ever had to deal with those types of situations.
On second thought, maybe I’ll pass on this one. I think I’m going to let Public Persona deal with it. I don’t know how she’s going to handle it yet, but I know she’s not going to disappear into my anxiety. She’ll be fair – and she’ll be vocal.
And she won’t feel bad about writing about it.
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