Hope Can Drive A Man Insane
The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book. It’s from a chapter on Pain and Guilt in estranged relationships and the danger of hope.
You can’t explain what it’s like to mourn someone who is still alive unless you’ve experienced it first hand. This is what you’re doing now. There’s a sort of impermanence to the loss you’re experiencing because the other person is still alive.
The most dangerous thing in the world is hope. Hope can carry us through the dark times and it can also keep us trapped in the cave. There’s no point in hoping things will go back to how they were. Sure, you think everything will be fine if it could just go back to the way it was, but it won’t. Remember, how it was before was most likely miserable. The stress, the arguments, the tension…these were all part of your ‘normal life’ prior to the estrangement.
Hope masks this reality like an anesthetic masks pain.
Hope is a dangerous thing, it can drive a person insane.
For months after MD left, I held on to the hope that, with some time and space, she’d see things from a clearer perspective. I would call and text frequently to see how she was and let her know how much I missed her. After yet another conversation with her voicemail, I would call OD. At least initially she’d answer. We’d talk, and I’d ask her if MD was there and OD would say she’s busy or in the bath or some other excuse. Knowing MD like I did, I knew these were crap excuses because MD was never without her phone nearby.
I chalked it up to her being angry and still needing time.
Hope Starts To Crumble
After the holidays that year, I knew the next big thing was MD’s graduation. Living 2500 miles away, I wasn’t privy to what the plans were. I didn’t know when it was so planning a flight back to Arizona was impossible. Secondly, with as strained as everything was, I didn’t even know if anyone even wanted me there. Calls and messages went unanswered and eventually the point of no return was crossed. Getting a flight last minute is outrageously expensive and wasn’t something I was going to be able to do.
In conversations with OD, I asked her to have MD call me and let me know what the plans were, when graduation was, etc. I asked OD these questions and she would be evasive. In my gut I knew the answer, but in my head I refused to accept it.
Then one day in late April OD asked if I was coming for graduation. I told her I wasn’t going to be able to, I had no idea when it was, MD hadn’t responded to any contact in 6 months, and by now plane flights were prohibitively expensive.
Ten minutes after talking with OD, MD called, full of rage. She blamed me for not coming and said it was all my fault for not knowing when it was. She said that if I really wanted to be there, I’d have just shown up.
I explained to her that that’s not how it works. It was up to her to communicate with me and she hadn’t answered a phone call in 6 months. I also said based on the lack of communication, I didn’t know if she even wanted me there.
She wasn’t having it.
It was all my fault.
It was clear. I wasn’t wanted there for graduation. I was given every excuse in the book from OD, MD, and others. Although it would have been painful, I would have appreciated the honesty of a ‘you’re not welcome’ over the plethora of bullshit excuses. At least I wouldn’t have been in agony from holding on to hope.
A few months later I was having dinner with OD, who was in Florida for the Disney College Program, and I asked how MD was doing. She said her sister was doing good, accepted into college, planning on moving out with some roommates, and working. I mentioned that she hadn’t answered a single phone call in months. OD replied “Well, she’s really bu…”. I cut her off and simply said “Don’t lie to me. I know she doesn’t want to talk to me. Don’t bullshit your old man.”.
OD stopped, looked at me, and said “Can you blame her?”
In my head I was screaming “YES I FUCKING CAN!”. What came out is “Yes, I can. I understand she’s angry, but that’s a conversation for her and I and not you.”
That dinner was the last time I saw OD. She cut off communication almost immediately after.
That was 6 months ago.
OD and MD are now back together, 2500 miles away. Living their lives without me. I’ve come to accept this, it’s their decision. Chronologically they are adults now. The hope that things will be ok no longer rules my day. Working through the stages of grief have brought me to a place of acceptance.
I will no longer chase after those for whom my presence holds no value.
Working through accepting my role in this debacle and apologizing for my actions eases the pain. Forgiving them for what they do helps heal the wounds. No longer am I a prisoner of the hope of a return to the past. Instead, I am hopeful for what lies ahead.
I will create a future full of joy, love, healing, and happiness.
I am at peace.