42: Reset

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Since this began I’ve made two commitments to myself. First of all, no more secrets. Secondly, I’d respect C’s personal space. This past weekend I broke the latter commitment and as a result created a secret.

Since C asked me to leave I have respected her wish. I haven’t shown up uninvited. I haven’t stalked her online. Out of humiliation, I unfriended almost all of our mutual friends. I barely have any contact with her, although when I do it can be too wordy.

However, this past weekend I did something I’ve never done before: I created a fake account to look at her Instagram account.

I immediately tried to delete the account. To hide it. To remove it. Unfortunately, in my anxiety, I couldn’t figure how to delete it from my phone. It was wrong. I felt sick. I felt shame. I felt weak. Those feelings welled up into a knot of anxiety the grew larger as the day progressed.

I have lots of excuses for the behavior but in reality, I cannot tell you why I did it. The simple answer is the most honest answer: I miss her.

I was stuck with the feeling of anxiety all day. It culminated around two o’clock with a major panic attack at the Madison, Wisconsin’s annual Canoecopia. In a crowd of 5,000 people, in the center of the expo, I had a full-blown panic attack.

By the time I walked to the car, I was a sniveling mess. It took me nearly an hour to regain my composure enough to drive.

I hate secrets and what they do to me.

Secrets cost me my partnership with C and all it entails, entirely too many friendships to count, and my self-respect and power. It cost me nearly everything important in life.

After an hour in the car, a conversation with some friends, I stopped on my drive to Chicago and composed an email to C. I told her what I did, that I was wrong and that it wouldn’t happen again. I don’t want any secrets from her. I don’t want any secrets from anyone. All I owe anyone today is the truth.

The reality is I’ve never been in this position before and nearly everything I’m doing is made up as I go along. Decisions are made based on a cobbling together of personal reflections, counseling, insight from friends, and a growing awareness of how I pursue a type of Partner and relationship based on a lifelong anxiety disorder.

Life isn’t always pretty but for nearly 110 days I wake up in a different hotel or AirBnB bed and I recognize the reality: I don’t have to be perfect, I just have to be willing.

In the moment, on that day, I wasn’t perfect when I created the fake account to chase a rainbow but on the same day, moments later, I was willing to own my mistakes, learn and know not do it again.

More importantly, I was willing to admit my mistake.

Just like creating the fake account didn’t have anything to do with C, neither did writing the amends email to her. I did that for myself. At almost from the moment I hit send, the anxiety disappeared.

People may use my mistake as fuel for more ghost stories but the humbling and honesty to admit my mistake is a sign I’ve begun to regain my self-worth, power, and integrity.