Sunday, May 21, 2017

Folding Into the Past

I'm going to be accused of vagueness in this blog post, but I am not prepared to fully divulge all the details of the circumstances I'm examining here.  This is due in part because it would require me revealing names of individuals without permission or prior notice, which is something I try very hard not to do, particularly when I am sharing sensitive information.  Mostly though it is because I have still felt the emotional pangs that have made up the aftermath of the situation.  They have lessened with time but can be very much present, sapping my confidence on occasion and causing me to doubt myself in ways that have made it difficult to move on.  It has felt, from time to time, as though the idea that the past isn't always done with us is all too true a sentiment.

With that said, it is funny how mundane tasks can sometimes inspire moments of clarity and revelation.  The other night I was folding tee-shirts that I had just taken out of the dryer.  Now there are two things you must understand: 1) I have a massive tee-shirt collection which I go through with some regularity especially with the workout routine I've been following, and 2) I am extremely anal retentive when it comes to folding in a those-Gap-employees-ain't-got-nothing-on-me sort of way.  My point is that I was taking my time in getting the tee-shirts folded, and such tasks often cause me to reflect on my day and, sometimes, my life in general.

This night, I was thinking about my back and the emerging soreness in the lower part of it.  It is nothing serious, just a little strain from a recent workout routine.  I began to think of ways to ease the stress on my back without compromising the intensity of my workout.  I then reflected on the reasons I have started working out regularly, one of which deals directly with my desire to look better and healthier for any romantic opportunities that present themselves to me.  There are other reasons, even some that are more pressing than the romantic ones, but I would be dishonest if I said that wasn't a significant factor in my decision to be more fit.

At that moment, I was putting away the folded tee-shirts and came across one that I haven't worn in more than four years tucked way at the bottom of the drawer.  This will sound strange, but I bought it all those years ago as a direct result of my being romantically happy at the time and having more optimism about that part of my life.  More than that I cannot say without revealing more detail than I think appropriate, but suffice it to say that that period of my life ended in heartbreak.  Part of it from my own doing and part of it not.

Of course, I had seen the tee-shirt over the ensuing years.  It wasn't a long-forgotten item.  Far from it.  But on this occasion, I picked up the shirt, unfolded it, and took a good long look at it.  As I regarded it, a feeling came over me that I never had in the years since the relationship ended.  For the first time, I saw the tee-shirt's pointlessness, its unnecessary occupation of valuable space.  It wasn't even a very well made tee-shirt to begin with, and I'm pretty sure it no longer fit.

So, without thinking too long on it, I simply wadded the tee-shirt up and tossed it in the nearby trash can.  I wish I could say the moment brought about some sort of powerful catharthis, but it felt more like a dried scab finally falling away from a healed wound.

And perhaps that is ultimately more important than a big moment of emotional realization.  Does the loss still hurt occasionally?  You bet.  But, it didn't hurt when I threw away the tee-shirt.  On the contrary, I felt like I was exercising a muscle for the first time in a long while (forgive the workout simile, but that's where my mind is currently) and realizing it is stronger than I originally thought.  So, maybe it means that even if the past isn't done with me, I can still be done with my past.

We'll see.

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