I need a force field. I used to have a really good one before the stroke, one that helped me foresee and evade hurtful people, and manage painful comments lobbed in my directions. They would irritate, but they would not wound me. But these days, my force field has gone missing (apparently it is in the thalamus), and so I stride into social situations, only to be stung.
What am I talking about? I am specifically referring to my MFA program–the last time I stepped onto campus, I emerged stunned at my inability to deflect or respond to hurtful comments.
Today, I stepped onto campus again. I was feeling stronger, but the tide overwhelmed me quickly such that I assumed a heads-down pose, trying to stay focused. I left campus briskly and if you were to judge me from my pre-stroke behavior, probably uncharacteristically.
Late tonight, as if on cue, I got another email from an MFA peer that said the following:
First, let me thank you for your good intentions and greetings. That was very nice of you to wish me well. Thank you. I am well. I have been very busy with teaching and studying. I am totally blessed that I have been keeping up with the pace of things and very happy.Because of the intensity of the circumstances in my life, I’m not able to reach out to everyone I’d like to be able to. I apologize that at this time in my life, I can’t maintain our friendship. Perhaps in the future we will find that our paths cross once again, and we will perhaps try then.
I need to remain absolutely committed to my process, and that means that I can’t be in this now. I hope you understand and respect my decision.
Of course I wish you peace and wellness. I always remember you in prayer. Hope you are making a steady recovery. Take care of yourself!
I didn’t understand, but of course I had to let her go, even though I had all this faith and hope in a burgeoning friendship (did I tell you she emailed me everyday for 3 weeks as I recovered? I thought that was truly awesome, and so now I am stunned. In fact, she was responding to an email of mine that thanked her for being so kind to me as I recovered. Did she really need to write an email with this sort of tone?) This was an abrupt, surprising, and hurtful end at a time where I need friends. She signed the email “Sincerely,” an awfully cold sign off, and after I exerted all my effort to write a kind response, I was left feeling very…empty. But the email g*ds were looking out for me, because right after that hurtful email, came two emails from two close friends with random words of encouragement. I was not, as I was immediately reminded, alone in the universe.
Life is insane. In a way I’m cherishing this time without the force field, because I really feel like I am touching things that I have not touched in years. (Of course, I also end up quite hurt). On the other hand, this sends me into retreat, both subconsciously and consciously; my life these days are selected family and friends.
I’m looking forward to the material that this all brings to my writing–I discussed with a good friend tonight the good changes to come. These last few months have been a big shift, but I have all hope and faith that they are for the better.