Certain aspects of my life have a poignant “has-been” feel to them. I reckon this is common in divorces-in-progress, especially if that limbo state lasts for any significant length of time.
This has-been phenomenon casts itself over certain life areas, such as certain people, places, or even routines that are currently active and relevant, painting them in a different light. A vibe that feels more faded, less relevant, and maybe even semi-nostalgic at times.
My workplace, for example, feels more like a ghost town. It’s very Life After People. Once bustling and vibrant and alive, the whole building, our specific partition included, now feels quieter, more solemn, maybe melancholy, maybe even slightly decayed. Almost like what happens when a hip, happening part of an urban area gets forgotten after its residents flock to the more contemporary outer suburbs.
Cue Madonna singing “this used to be my playground”, with the wistful implication that it is no longer and hasn’t been for a long time.
My current living space, on the other hand, feels more like a timer counting down. It never really bustled, per se; it was always sort of a quiet yet chaotic sanctuary. Physical clutter against a backdrop of a lack of sound. The clutter drives you nuts, inducing a mild claustrophobia, but the calm environment offers comfort. Except that it’s all temporary.
I realize that most major aspects of my life are going to change; hell, they’re already changing and have been, gradually and quietly, for a while now. My living space is undergoing a slow transition, while my workplace is undergoing a rapid and drastic one today.
My emotional disposition is just as shifty. And I’m sure people around me aren’t sure how to react or respond. Wondering what they can and can’t say. Which topics, words, or phrases are taboo and which ones are safe. Some might be over-concerned, other under-concerned.
But that’s them, and this is me.
The truth is, I’m not always sure how to feel or act. I’m not always sure what to say, how often I should talk about a specific element of the whole thing or for how long. I’m not always sure when to reach out and when to hold back.
I do know there’s wistfulness; that’s one emotion I can identify. There’s also regret and grief, not only for the has-been, but also the could’ve-been and should’ve-been. The roads not traveled, the paths not followed, the parallel universes never visited.
And pathological narcissists/psychopaths are experts at stirring up these emotional cocktails. The yanking and jerking, baiting and switching, withholding and avoiding, distance and detachment, and constant morphing and escalating, can all become just too much. You can never really have a solid, stable, predictable, Old Faithful kind of life with them. You can’t plan anything because you can’t count on anything. Just because everything looks pretty constant and consistent on the surface doesn’t mean it’s actually that way. Placid surfaces can still conceal turbulent undercurrents.
So yes, this used to be my playground, for sure, but with broken swings and cracked, rusty slides. And tetanus potentially lurking in the rust and dirt. The equipment doesn’t work anymore; it’s old and tired. And the experience isn’t fun anymore; it has become motions you go through because it’s expected of you and it’s your mode of survival. (Pick whichever facet of survival you like – financial, emotional/psychological, physical, etc.)
Mood descriptors lately have also included words like “dark” and “sour”, usually appearing together. Maybe this could be translated to “pessimism” and “bitterness” respectively, but those words don’t quite hit the mark precisely enough. The darkness has sort of an angry-wallowing element to it, and one might be able to detect something slightly caustic in the sourness.
I no longer operate on “should”s – what I “should” feel. That was never an issue in this case. I can only feel what I feel. The critical issue for many codependents (which goes double if you’re also on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum or something similar) is that simply identifying what we feel can be difficult enough, let alone expressing it or communicating it to someone else.
It gets messy sometimes. Asperger’s/autism, codependency, pathological narcissism, psychopathy…many can occur in chaotic and complex combinations.
Anyway, if I’m honest with myself, I think most of what I feel is wistful, with the waves of pre-grief I’ve mentioned before. And I think that’s where the has-been concept may arise from. I think it’s a prerequisite, anyway.
Maybe over time, “has-been” will metamorphose into something like “will-be”..or whatever. And with any luck, that perspective will look brighter and shinier and freer. I’ve just got to reach some milestones first. Milestones like not having to walk through the has-been halls or live in the countdown-timer environment.
One of those milestones I’m reaching now, complete within the next few days. The other will take a little longer, but that’s okay. The time has not yet come for that one just yet, anyway. ❤