Monday, March 25, 2013

Pat's Problem: The Incident

When last we met, I briefly mentioned an Incident that left me feeling bitter and angry. With a couple of weeks' distance, now, maybe I can talk about it from a relatively calm and rational perspective.

Here's what happened: I mentioned in an email to someone I know -- for maximum obscurity, let's call them Pat and avoid gender-specific pronouns -- that I'd been on a few dates with B. (This was before we decided to make it exclusive, if that matters, though I don't think it does.)

A day later, I received an email from Pat in which they said that (rephrased in my own words) a) they thought I had been making poor choices ever since Matt and I separated (that they were, in fact, embarrassed by me) and b) they recognized they couldn't control my "lifestyle" (Pat's word!), but only their reactions to my actions, and therefore c) they were no longer following me on Facebook and would appreciate it if I didn't discuss my dating life with them any more.

Now, there was a possibility that Pat would not be too happy about my dating B., for reasons that are not mine to tell, but this email felt like something much bigger than that (and illuminated something that had happened a good month earlier) -- and it completely floored me. (I believe what I said to KT about it at the time was, and I quote, "WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK?") Not least because I have no idea what bad choices these are that I'm apparently making, or what morally questionable "lifestyle" I'm living.

After thinking (okay, stewing and fretting) about it for a while, I came up with a few possibilities, but none of them really make me feel any better.
  1. Pat feels I should wait until Matt and I are legally divorced before dating at all. This, I might point out, is merely a question of semantics, as Matt and I have made the firm decision to get a divorce. I'm not resting a lot of moral weight on a bureaucratic tick-mark, or putting my life on hold for it. (Especially since I can't seem to get a danged lawyer to call me back to arrange the divorce mediation.)
  2. Pat thinks it is a mistake for me to date multiple people at a time. This seems kind of unlikely, but if this is Pat's big embarrassment, then Pat needs to take a deep breath, because dating more than one person at a time is what our grandparents did. Anyway, dating casually was a reasoned decision that I came to, with what I felt were excellent reasons behind it.
  3. Pat thinks that I am (was) being sexually promiscuous in the extreme, i.e., using "dating" as a euphemism for "sleeping with" rather than the way I actually meant it, which was "meeting in a public location for a meal and/or light entertainment and (usually awkward) conversation." I expect this one is the most likely, due to my tendency to post what I assumed everyone knew were lighthearted tease posts on Facebook like, "Got a date tonight -- don't wait up!" At any rate, if this is Pat's point of pain, there's a big misunderstanding going on, because of the six or so guys I've gone on dates with in the last six months, only two ever even got a kiss out of me. But if this is it, then I'm torn between being offended Pat would think this of me and furious that they would be so judgmental over something so superficial. (This is not a contradiction. Something can be not right for me and still okay for someone else. I am constitutionally incapable of a one-night stand, but that doesn't mean I judge others for it!)
So whatever Pat's deal is, it's going to remain a problem, because there's bloody well nothing I'm going to change about my "lifestyle". (Well I've changed the bit about dating multiple people at a time, but if B. and I split up, I'll be going back to that plan, because I still think the reasons for it were strong and valid.)

And normally, I'd just say to hell with Pat and go on with my life, but it so happens that Pat is someone with whom I interact on a fairly regular basis and whose opinion is, in fact, something I value. But since they don't even want to discuss the topic any more, I can't even figure out if it's a fundamental disagreement of opinion or a misunderstanding that could be cleared up with some plain talk. (Also, the whole thing struck me as a little passive-aggressive. But I've pulled plenty of my own passive-aggressive bullshit in my life, so bitching about that would be a case of pots and kettles.)

Now it's a couple of weeks later. I'm still just as confused as I was when I first got Pat's email, but the initial wave of anger and indignation has faded. The couple of encounters I've had with Pat since then (faithfully free of dating discussion, as requested) have been even-keeled and at least superficially cordial.

So I'm beginning to regain my balance. I'm pretty happy with my life right now, after all. I debated even mentioning it here, but this blog/journal is, above all else, my own record of my life. I've gone back looking for other Incidents and been confused to find them missing, and a little sad that I couldn't even piece together what my thoughts were at the time.

So rest assured, O Internet, that I'm not letting this affect me too much. It made me angry for a while, and it stung. And then I gave it some serious thought and decided that I feel pretty good about most of the choices I've made, and that Pat's problem, whatever it is, is only really a problem for Pat.

Stay tuned for another blog post, shorter but happier, in which my daughter is, provably, my daughter.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I'm sorry you've had to deal with someone "yucking your yum" (a phrase I picked up from ze frank), and I hope all misunderstandings, if that's what it turns out to be, can be reunderstood. I wonder, not knowing who the person in question is, whether the genre in which you author/edit maybe skewed perception of what you'd group under "dating"? Not that it should - you are not your characters, afterall - but it could happen subconciously maybe? And unrelated to that, I spent several minutes trying to imagine how "divorce meditation" works before realizing you said 'mediation'; amazing how much difference a little t makes.