“We don’t have reentry protocols, because we’re not supposed to need them. We’re supposed to magically stay in touch just the right amount.”
They didn’t not text you back because they hate you. More likely, for the last three days they’ve been trying to put just the right words together at just the right time in order to be there for you. And failing. Because life happens and life is a rolling distraction. Trust that they love you. It’s not about you. Especially if you are both intensives. Especially then.
Transcript and notes:
Recorded 22 February 2023.
Hi, everyone, thanks for tuning in.
Listen up, Intensives. I love you so much. Everything is not about you.
Everything is not about you. It feels like it is, because in your world, everything is about you. And that is how we are. And that is okay. And also everything is not about you.
That voice yelling at you, that tells you that when someone didn't text you back- I know, I've seen the meme too- that they hate you. Yeah, they didn't text you back, because they put down their phone and got distracted, and then their kid needed help. And then their pot boiled over on the stove. And then they were too overwhelmed. And they went to bed for six hours. And now they're backed up. And so you're not going to hear from them for two days. But it's got nothing to do with you. They just haven't opened the texting program.
Or they feel like they should have the right thing to say and they don't know what the right thing to say is and so they're trying to figure out what exactly the perfect right thing to say is. And meanwhile, the minutes and the hours and the days are slipping by and now they feel like they can't write to you at all, because they should have written to you right away, and then they didn't and-- they love you so much. And they just want to say the right thing.
Or they know you're struggling. And so they aren't talking to you. Because they are also struggling and they don't feel like they're struggling and you're struggling is gonna help either one of you. And maybe they're right, and maybe they're wrong. But they want to be good. They don't want to cause harm.
And let me tell you how many times in their lives intensives have been told that they caused harm by existing. That they cause harm by being their natural selves. That they caused harm by not magically, magically, knowing what you needed or wanted. I don't have to tell you, you're also an intensive. There have probably been those times in your life.
And maybe you have learned that the way to not do that is to be as precise and perfect as you possibly can be to get everything absolutely right. Never to slip, up never to have a flaw, never to break down, and certainly not in front of someone else. And when you don't do that, they won't do it either. And then well, then they don't text you and you don't text them. And it's been a minute, and then it's been a while, and then it's been too long. And now what?
We don't have reentry protocols, because we're not supposed to need them. We're supposed to magically stay in touch just the right amount. Not too clingy and not too distant, and not too intrusive or demanding or invasive, and not too quiet. Not too uninterested. Exactly the right answer every single time. Listen, it's not about you. It's really not about you. They love you. And they are not thinking about you all the time.
They think of you while they're in the car and cannot text because they would really like to not get in an accident this time. And then they think about you again, but they're in the middle of a work meeting. That's not optimal, either.
And what if they text you and then you want to have a deep conversation? How do they say, "Hey, I wanted to text you. But I didn't have enough time. And I didn't know whether I was going to need to be deep with you, or whether I was going to need to try not to believe that you hated me because you didn't respond right away. And so I just didn't for a while. And then it had been a long time. And then it had been a very long while and now... are we still friends?"
If we're both intensives we might still be friends just misunderstanding what's happening or just not understanding at all. But so many times I've been told that it turned out it was about me in the worst way. In the they were waiting way. I don't read minds. I told my congregations that. I tell my friends that. I tell my family that. I've told my lovers that over and over and over. I don't read minds. But I don't expect you to read minds, either.
For a while, I thought it was all about me and I thought I had to read minds and I thought I had to be precise and perfect. And then one year I gave that up. Not for Lent, but for massive depression. And I never picked it up again. And it turned out there was a whole community of people that actually didn't care.
They just wanted to hear from me sometimes. Just for reasons. Just to hang out and talk. And if all I had was two seconds to say, "Hey, I love you, I only have two seconds" then they would write back and be like, "Hey, I love you too, only two seconds." And we would wave at each other across the internet. And it was enough. It was enough to know: I love you, and I only have two seconds.
When I was a kid, I thought that I had to understand love to do it. And probably I did. And that took some time. But sometime in my 20s I did finally work out what love was. I didn't know how to do it yet, but I did at least know what it felt like. I knew what it felt like to be loved. I knew what it felt like to have love for someone else. Eventually. I realized that I had started having love for other people a couple of years before that, but only a couple. Because before that I didn't really know what love was. But even that wasn't about me. And it's not about you.
If you don't think anybody has ever loved you that may or may not be true. But it is not about your loveability. It is almost certainly about them. And there's no real way to know if you're loved. It's one of those things you have to take on faith. But even if you are loved it's not about you. I mean it is, but it isn't. We can't deserve love. We can't become lovable. Love is this thing that comes from beyond us, through us, to each other. Love is this thing that we can share, and give and give and give because- especially because- we are intensives and we love hard and deep.
But when we love someone, it's not about them. It's about us. That part's about you, because it's your love. But listen, if you're an intensive and that voice in your head is telling you that everything is about you, that everyone is judging you, that every time you have a thought or do a thing somebody else is having an opinion about it, and that is why they are doing the thing they are doing- nah. No. Especially not in the world the way it is now.
No, no, it's not about you. It's about all of us trying to slackline and high wire our way through the world, while it insists on having earthquakes and wildfires and pandemics and climate crises and hunger and houselessness and poverty.
It is about us trying to plant one tiny little frickin' seed of joy. Somewhere. It is about us beginning to celebrate dandelions which will grow in a crack in the sidewalk and which do not need careful tending. But it is also about us celebrating when our orchids bloom for the second time.
Because we are trying to manufacture just a little bit, just a little bit of beauty. Just a little bit of joy. Just a little bit of something. That tiny tiny tiny quarter-inch deep toe hold that you can balance your rock climbing shoe on so that you can make it to the next ledge. Don't forget to keep your hips close to the wall. Your center of mass low. Push with your legs. Sometimes that's all we've got these days.
It is not about you. When someone doesn't text you back it is not about you. Most of the time. Even if they are deliberately ghosting you it's not about you. End even if it is about you, as long as it's about are genuine you, maybe it's the best thing. And yes, it fucking hurts.
The world fucking hurts. Right now, it hurts. But it's not about you. Not really. Not even if they say it's about you, it's not about you. Because you know the story. The story of waking up and ping-ponging from obligation, to desperation, to hunger. To water, to a breath of fresh air, and life, and then back into the fray.
You know what it's like to feel like, "Oh, yes, there's the first thread of a poem, I can just grasp its tail. If I inhale now, the words that will come out, will make music. And if I do not, it will be lost to me and to the world forever." That's not being dramatic. It's just true. Everybody who has a muse knows that.
When the muse demands an audience and you haven't seen joy in four days, you invite her in. Let's make some grace. Let's make some grace. It's not about you.
Invite her in.