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Walking Out - Everything Hits at Once
Walking Out
Have you ever walked out of a place knowing it was likely the last time and expected to feel something and there was just nothing there? Maybe you stop at a store you regularly visited in the area--or crossed paths with someone you see irregularly--and when they say "see you around" you just kind of snicker on the inside and think "not likely?" And in your brain you think that you should be feeling something. That there is probably a moment to be savored. That you should feel hurt, or a sense of failure, or disappointment. Or maybe the opposite--you should be happy and excited. But there's nothing there. At least nothing strong.

I sometimes wonder if I have a switch that just flicks off. Because I feel so intensely and so passionately about things and people and situations in my life, I wonder if it's a defense mechanism to prevent pain. And then I wonder if this is a healthy way of doing things. It it a way of avoidance--the way some people move from relationship to relationship so they don't have to deal with the pain of a break up and can instantly find someone else to boost there self esteem? Or is it the opposite--a smart way of handling things and allowing the brain to make decisions with logic and reason and without letting emotion play a part? Either way, I wrote 3 or 4 days ago about me need for significance and to feel like people are taking an interest in me and what I want, and I sometimes find that there is a point where my subconscious calculates that my needs are not being met and that I can no longer deal with the situation--and then I just check the fuck out.

My breakups--the one's instigated by me--have often been a fucking mess. But that's seldom been my fault. Because at that point I've become so numb that I state my feelings honestly and refuse to get drawn into a fight. But I've had a shoe thrown at me a few years ago for telling someone I thought we should just be friends. And I've had other people act childish and nasty and say hurtful things. (Of course, I can't say I'm much different when the breakup is NOT my idea...I've never been particularly nasty or hurtful, but I've definitely been an emotional basket case who has a hard time letting go...when maybe I should just show some pride and hope they realize what they're missing and change their mind....)

The first time I left a professional job as an adult I was 27 and I remember feeling elated. That had more to do with the place I was living than the job itself. Living in a small town didn't suit me--I need to move on. The next time I left a job I was still pretty happy and excited, although there was more mixed emotions because I was no longer going to be working around people I genuinely liked and there was fear I wasn't going to like the new job--which turned out to be true.

Since then? I don't know that I've had significant feelings worth mentioning. There's always been some disappointment and some worry about change. Sometimes there's been excitement about more money or a better opportunity...but not tons. It was more an empty feeling. And maybe a frustration that I felt like I wasted time. Like I could have spent those years doing something better--either in my actual life or in my professional life--and instead I was going over to start from scratch again. Even though it's never really been starting from scratch. I've always left for a better position, better company, and typically more money.

None of this is to say that I exist without feelings or regrets. But there is nothing about which I feel terribly embarrassed. Most of my embarrassing stories are more of the humblebrag variety--like "we knew that someone might catch us in there, but we still started fooling around and then the door opened while we were undressed...." I've known people who live with past embarrassment. I once dated someone who quit a job in terms that can best be described as "not very professional." She slipped in after hours, took all her shit, and left a note. Or maybe she didn't even leave a note--she just stopped showing up. Six months later we ran into her old boss in Dallas one night and he was perfectly cordial and didn't mention anything about it--and as soon as he left she was bawling and angry and embarrassed about the whole situation. I can't imagine any choices I've made that would lead to something like that.

Certainly there are things that I regret. Decisions I've made in the past year as well as decisions and choices made long ago. And the only thing they have in common is that I can't do a damn thing about them now. You can always course correct and hope for the best, but that doesn't change the past. Money spent is money that was already spent and you'll never see again. The past is the past and if you're lucky you learn something from it...if not, you just live with the scars and hope they don't affect the choices you make going forward. Lost time is always lost. Youth can't be repeated. The best you can do is be smart enough not to sulk about the things that you can no longer change...even if you do sometimes wonder how life could have been different if you'd been willing to look at yourself in the mirror and make hard choices in the moment rather than waiting until things were done and rationalizing away your own mistakes and blaming everything on someone else.

Still, I feel like sometimes it is dangerous to detach from the moment. In the same way it's dangerous in a relationship--romantic or professional--to yell things you don't really mean or become condescending and sarcastic when you know that ultimately you both want the best for the other person. Or at least you did at one point, and that's why you ended up together in the first place. I've been very good, mostly, about controlling my harshest feelings in work situations no matter the situation. And I do my best to never burn bridges, even as I walk out the door. And if everyone else asked that way than maybe work would be easier to enjoy. Unfortunately, I see way too many people who are only there to fulfill their own selfish ego rather than work as a team, develop and mentor younger employees, and be successful as a group. I dream of a place where that doesn't describe life...is it just an American thing, or is it the whole world? Maybe when I find that I'll work on fixing my off switch so that it's not always ready to flip over and I can focus more on commitment and being emotionally involved.

Until then, I'm not opening myself up too far just so someone else can cut me when I have my defenses down.
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