.journal 2000.11.13
Some thoughts on goodbyes and bad situations and the need to fulfill one's own dreams.

Now listening to: Chopin, Romanza from Piano Concerto no. 1
Now reading: Poppy Z. Brite, Wormwood
Now playing: Final Fantasy VII (Playstation)

Goodbyes can be such a funny thing, can't they?

I mean, perhaps it's just the romantic in me, but I was never one to want to say goodbye. There just seems something so final, so ultimate, about saying goodbye. Especially when you know you're going to meet again sometime later, I never saw the point in saying "goodbye." I'd much rather say "see you soon." It seems so much more right.

But then things happen, and sometimes you have to say goodbye. And even when you want to say goodbye, when you want to leave, it can be such a difficult thing to do.

I never got the chance to say goodbye to Antioch, or to most of the wonderful people I met there, because on my last day there I simply said, "See you soon." I had no idea that things with my father's business were in the state that they were in, and that he needed my help so much, so I thought I'd be returning in the fall. But when autumn came, I simply had to stay by my father's side. I thought maybe I would go back in the spring, but then fall became spring and nothing changed. And spring went back to fall and again to spring and before I knew it, all the friends I'd had at Antioch had either left or graduated, and there simply was no point in me ever returning.

One of those friends was a young woman by the name of Aurora Peterson. Aurora and I actually didn't gossip all that much on a regular basis, but she and I were both taking piano, and so when the end-of-term recitals came, she and I would hook up a bit then. As a composition major I was always playing my own pieces, while Aurora would play the classics. That first recital at Antioch, she played the Romanza from Chopin's first piano concerto, which I currently have on repeat in my CD player. (Most of you would probably recognize it as the music that plays over the credits at the end of The Truman Show.) It's a wonderfully sad piece, bordering on tragic for me since it always evokes memories of the nirvana I found at Antioch that I was never able to return to.

The reason I've got the song on repeat right now is because a few days ago I found myself in a situation where I had to say goodbye. I wanted, I needed to say goodbye. But that didn't make it any easier for me, especially now, since the repercussions of my departure are starting to truly be felt in the little universe around me.

I don't know what happened to Aurora, but I'm sure Antioch could help me locate her if I asked. Several months ago Antioch helped me locate my best friend from college, my confidante, a woman who meant more to me in my brief time at Antioch than anyone else. That friend (let's call her "L." because I need to protect her privacy) helped me realize just how much I'd really died inside since I left Antioch, how I'd let all my dreams deteriorate and let myself get caught up in what other people expected from me and not what I actually wanted myself. One of the reasons I took so long in asking Antioch if they would help me find L. was because I had grown accustomed to the idea that I didn't deserve happiness, that my memories of her were just one of those "college things" that was best left in the past so I could instead focus on "the real world."

Since she and I got back in contact with each other, L. has perhaps been even more important to me than she was in college. She turned me on to Julia Cameron and her outstanding book The Artist's Way, a recovery course for people like myself who let their artistic visions and dreams be cast aside, and together L. and the book, and a few new buddies I've made since then, have helped me realize once again who I truly am and what I was meant to do. I never really lost track of my dreams, but I just lacked the willpower and the courage to pursue them. I felt it would be too selfish of me to put my own desires above those of others, that I had to fulfill my responsibilities to other people before I could fulfill my own. In truth I still have problems grasping these basic concepts, that I deserve to be happy, that my first responsibilities must always be to myself, that I have to act on my dreams and desires because they are who I truly am. But I'm getting better.

This past week hasn't been easy for me, though. In the months and years where I was out of contact with L. I had taken a number of responsibilities and opportunities, things that made me happy within the limited context I knew happiness in during that time. Since L. came back into my life, though, I began to realize just how empty, and hollow, that happiness was.

And there was this one situation in particular, that over the past few months had just grown progressively worse and worse, that was just eating up hours upon hours of my time every day, that was causing me a great deal of emotional and psychological anguish, for nothing in return. Well, that's not entirely true: it was giving the comfort of a routine, the false comfort of having something to do, anything but try something new, take a risk, take more time for myself to pursue my dreams and do the things I actually like doing.

It can be addictive, that routine. And like I said earlier, I've had a real hard problem putting my responsibilities to myself over those of others. If I were to leave this situation, it would mean other people would have to take on all the duties I had in my position, duties which I knew they weren't as well-prepared to handle as I was. And I had a hard time doing that, I felt like I had to swallow the pain of my current situation simply because the people whom I was working with in the situation needed me to do what I did.

It also doesn't help that I've always been a very shy and timid person throughout my life, and that makes taking the stand I had to take doubly hard. Not only was it harder for me, I expect it made my departure all the more unbelievable for those in the situation to take, as if they were saying, "That's not like Sean." But the situation had just deteriorated to the point where I was so thoroughly disgusted with it, and I had so many other opportunities open for me and my dreams, the things I would actually enjoy doing, that I had no choice in the matter but to go.

At first I thought about just leaving for a while, and in truth that's how my departure began, as a "temporary hiatus." In truth, I knew it would be permanent from the start, especially after a five-day period in which the situation deteriorated so quickly and rapidly that all the loathing, anger and other bad feelings I felt were starting to feel like they were oozing out of my eyeballs, my ears, every orifice of my body like a thick, black, hateful pus. But I decided to wait a week and see if my feelings changed, if I could find a light at the end of the tunnel, if I could find a singular good reason to tough it out with the situation just a little bit longer under the pretense that things would get better.

I could find no reason.

And after that week of contemplation I realized that my departure really and truly would be permanent. I was going to leave something which I'd poured thousands of hours into these past few years, something that I had accomplished a lot in, something that had, at times, made me happy. But I realized those pleasures would be but trifles compared to the happiness I would have if I were to pursue, perhaps fulfill, my dreams, and that the situation was only eating away hours a day that could be put to much better use in pursuit of those dreams, never mind the turmoil the situation was presently causing me.

So I was left in a situation where I had no choice but to say goodbye. The permanent, haunting tone of those two syllables were all that I had left. And I said them. And now that I am out of the situation, once and for all, and I have all these extra hours to do what I truly enjoy (this site being one of them), you'd think I'd be happier than I am right now.

I don't want to say I'm miserable right now, but I'm pretty damn close to it.

The extra time I've had these past few days has been spent in silence, daydreaming and self-doubt, instead of writing or the things I gave the situation up for. I suppose a bit of mourning over the situation is to be expected; as painful as it had become, I had done a number of things in the situation, accomplished quite a bit, and I had to abandon all the little mountains I'd erected. I know I made the right decision, but that doesn't make it any easier for me to deal with. It didn't when I was contemplating it, it didn't when I was acting on it, and it isn't making it easier now.

I know this will pass, but my ego wants it to pass faster than it is. I want to think I'm strong enough to take this in stride, to be able to celebrate the fact that I found the fortitude to get out of a bad situation and not allow myself to be tortured by it any longer. But the truth is I'm still in recovery, and these things take a good deal of time to happen, and I can't push them or I'll only make things worse. And this misery is part of that recovery process, a necessary step to understanding who I am and what I am inside. Better to feel the way I do now than go through the Prozac-like stupor of fulfilling other people's wishes before my own any longer.

I'm sure that in a couple of weeks I'll grow accustomed to my new freedoms and all the benefits of them, and be glad to be rid of the emotional wounds the situation had caused me. In the meantime, though, the Chopin continues to play, and I continue to be sad over what has happened recently. I think I'll be okay, but it's moments like this that I wish I were back at Antioch to talk things over with my friends, perhaps go out to the Little Art Theatre to see a movie or something. But I will make do with what I have, and I'm glad I have the opportunity to write this down for all of you to read.

And I will see you all again soon.

- Sean