I have a tendency to forget my past boyfriends’ names, their occupations, their likes and dislikes; basically their existence. I’ve never found this strange because once they are no longer a part of my life, they rapidly fall down the hierarchy of what is important to me just like every other man who came before them. No longer a priority, they have a slim chance of survival in my head, that, or I am simply horrible at remembering names. When I spoke to my girlfriends’ about my issues with remembrance, the look they gave me was a telling sign that it was rather odd that ex-boyfriends and anyone in between were soon lost in some black hole. I’ve always brushed it off as a mild form of dissociative amnesia due to the psychological and emotional trauma of the breakup. I’ve told myself that the events of these relationships triggered selective memory processes in order to protect me from painful recollections. The further I probed, the more I realized that it was not so much a defence mechanism at play, it was that during these relationships I had spent so much time planning for the future that much of what had happened in real-time was lost to me; I was never fully present. While a lover could have been telling me about his dad’s love for fishing, I would have been more preoccupied with the thought of what a great addition I would be to his family given that so many of my fondest memories have been made by a river. I was never there; I was always further ahead.
I’ve tried to estimate the percentage of time that I had been fully conscious during a relationship compared to the percentage of time spent in some alternate reality; the results were but encouraging. While watching this past season of The Bachelor, a contestant named Sharleen Joynt had said that she wished she were a little dumber so that she could simply enjoy her connection with the lead. I instantly got what she was saying. I overanalyze and pour over every aspect of my relationships and most of the time, I am clearly absent. So when a past lover reached out to me wanting a go-again, another attempt at love, for the life of me, I could not remember what events had transpired that had driven us apart.
My mind was a mass of confusion. I was unable to decipher my thoughts and bring some semblance of reality or rationalize the scenes in my head. He was here now and he was ready to make a commitment to me. Should I have felt joy? At one point in my life I wanted this man to be by my side and I must have wanted to spend every waking moment staring into his eyes. Had I really wanted to be with him or had it been the mere idea of being with somebody that had interested me? He was so foreign to me, standing there in all his complexity. When we were together, had I taken the time to discover this stranger or had I been too busy orchestrating our future and creating an ideal man from the raw materials he offered? What was it about him that I really knew and how had we connected? Why could I not recall what had made me fall in love with him? Had I even been in love? If I had to think this hard, it could not have been real. I’ve heard that once you’ve loved someone that the love never goes away, it surpasses time. When you see an old flame, you remember, even if briefly, the love that you had shared. I felt nothing. I could not remember any details of our time together because I had been in a perpetual daze. I was here now, pulled away from this dream realm that I had operated in. In that realm, I had spent the majority of my time planning, analyzing, and wishing and not enjoying what was, I had been focused on how it should be. In this constant state of distraction, I had been preoccupied choosing the pieces of the puzzle that would make up my future with him and discarding the pieces that had threatened to wake me from this trance.
I’ve often heard successful individuals say how much they wished that they had savoured the cornerstones of their success. These had been times to celebrate, but they had been too busy planning their next move. They had sacrificed so much of themselves, yet their achievements had passed them by. To be in the now, is to live; not only to live, but to live fully.
I don’t know that I’ve ever been fully present in a relationship, but moving forward, I have every intention to be here. So, there I stood before this man who claimed to know me and who claimed to want to be with the girl he once knew, a girl who had never existed but in her head. No matter how hard I tried, his presence did not evoke any emotions. It was his lucky break, we could start over. There would be no expectations and, in this new world, I had made a pact with myself that I would not attempt to change him. I would be here now and I would be a conscious presence in our blooming relationship.