Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog
Caspar David Friedrich, 1818.
Today marks the appropriate day for me to write about the somewhat daunting topic regarding “second chances”.
I’ve had this topic sitting in my draft box since the 28th of March, 2018, and I’ve always wanted to tackle this subject as I do think it’s a common occurrence in all of our lives. I could back then, but I was at a loss for words. My thoughts were and are, as usual: thorough, tangled, and incoherent to anyone except for me until I decide to decipher them into tangible sentences.
Despite its ubiquity, the nature of this matter is so touchy as it is able to penetrate into our deepest, most vulnerable layers. We crave to be accepted, liked, and even loved by peers we hold high regards and esteem for, and when there is a certain gap and breakaway between reality, hopes, or even expectations (though, lingering in the gray area is occasionally dangerous), it hurts. A lot more than we’d like to admit to ourselves, let alone to others.
Now I understand why though – it is because the timing wasn’t quite right back then. The seed was planted, but didn’t sprout and grow until now.
We’ve obviously encountered situations where someone, despite the reasoning behind it, turned into part of our past. It could be from an argument from a trivial subject to an extreme one, a misunderstanding, a mutual fade out, or even for something that you are ignorant about.
Regardless of the reason – in fact, ditch the entire cause right now, unless it is a major deal breaker, an enormous cause of this falling out is because of our feelings, more specifically: how we feel about the situation itself, how we feel about the other person and how we feel about his / her respective actions and reactions towards what happened.
Ugh, I know, feelings (my avoidance says hello to everyone).
Obviously, all of those assembled together leaves a bitter taste that you want get rid of, unsurprisingly. We cope with hardship in different manners, so there is no right or wrong reaction.
As usual, time heals wounds, lags burning curiosities, and ceases questions – not without hurt and care towards that other person, and yes, let me just say it now: not without internet stalking these days – whether it’s through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, perhaps even LinkedIn (you’d be surprised, based on personal experiences), or just simply through previous chat logs.
Suddenly, on one random day and moment, you find yourself wondering less and placing less importance and attention towards that person.
The person who broke the whole of you to minuscule pieces.
The person who heartlessly left you high and dry (note: I know you may think so, but that someone definitely isn’t void of feelings).
The person whose life seems exponentially better without your existence.
The dread usually gets replaced by an odd sort of optimism and acceptance of the reality that a specific chapter of your life is more than likely closed…and instead of crying or being furious about it, you manage to make peace with it. The arduous process of finally aligning with experiences and events lets you gain an inexplicable sense of calm.
It’s such a blissful realization to know that the door is closed and that you are still alive and well, even though you definitely swore up and down that you felt like death from the pain. You could have sworn that your tears and ache were genuine and irreplaceable, and they are, in fact, one of a kind, one of a type. Growing up, getting over, and eventually letting go of something and / or someone does not decrease the value or magnitude of your feelings, emotions, mentalities, actions, and reactions at the time. They are all equally valid despite where you are in life.
Those are parts of what made you who you are today.
The Son of Man
René Magritte, 1964.
So, what happens when you are absolutely certain that the door is closed, perhaps locked, and that particular someone who could twist and tug your heartstrings at one point of your life comes back knocking?
What the fuck do you do?
Personally for me, just to prove that I’m absolutely human and flawed in case any of you feel bad, I usually end up avoiding the issue for a few days and let my overthinking fester to the breaking point, then I do the logical action of reading the message sent from the other side. I know, really mature of me, but I honestly believe it’s more of a “deer in headlights” type of reaction. I was so certain that it was over for good, and that I would never, ever whisper, let alone say that person’s name aloud ever again. Yet the truth lays before me as the innocuous and ubiquitous notification pops up out of the blue from that person.
There was also some sort of fear at play, because I’m terrified to be shattered by that same person again, especially after making peace with not just history, but also with myself.
For clarification, I’ve been the person who has disappeared and the one who was left behind, so I’m not pointing fingers at anyone.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be given a second chance by someone else. We never ended in bad terms, but I vanished into thin air at the time without any warning signs or notice. He tried reaching out, multiple times, and heard nothing but crickets on my side.
It was entirely my fault, and I’ve reconnected with him this February through a series of unrelated actions.
I knew I could’ve reached out to him at any time to provide an explanation and at the bare minimum, a heartfelt apology, should he decide to cut me out of his life.
But I didn’t.
I could contribute part of it to self-consciousness, shame, guilt, the cure from time (as it works for all of us), yet today I don’t want to focus on those despite all of them being partial factors of my silence.
The most significant reason of my absence was because I was a coward.
It was so much easier to just ignore the problem until it seemed faraway enough. It was so simple to close my eyes and pretend that the chaos wasn’t playing out live in front of me. Turning my face away from reality has never been so painless and inconsequential for me as I can just disable notifications and not pick up calls in this modern day.
He knocked on the door, and at the time – I hesitated for a split second, and decided to open it immediately before he slipped away. I needed an atonement, not just for myself, but because I wanted to be the better version of me and own up to my mistakes, and if it didn’t work, then so be it.
Eventually, he took me back – without blame, without fault, without resentment.
I told him everything I could, and it wasn’t just an effortless apology.
I’ve received those before from people who came, existed, left, and are not welcomed back ever, or in some rare cases, until further notice. I pointed out how inappropriate and hurtful my actions were and took full accountability instead of a terse “sorry”. I’m not quite sure which one is worse, a half-assed apology, or a sudden reappearance with a “hey, how are you” as if there were no absence and no distance in between. I’m sick of pretense.
This is how you should truly gauge whether or not you can take someone back – with caution.
We are all looking out for ourselves, so it is time to stop making excuses for phantoms in the past no matter how much you have felt or is feeling for them.
I am a believer of second chances, I truly am.
I’ve heard of recent instances where my friend recounted their personal experiences. I’ve also experienced first hand from my second chances.
I believe that we’re all malleable as long as we truly want to change. We’re constantly growing up, and fucking up along the way is the normal way to go. No one ever has their shit together at all times, despite how well their facades are presented out to the public. Sometimes our fuck ups are more than just monumental – and in hindsight, that could be a good thing, because I broke, repeatedly and differently, but I bounced back with just a little bit more resilience each time. No pain, no gain.
For those of you who are currently at crossroads, the only advice I can give you is to look at the first interaction when that person decides to reach out to you again. What was said? What is he / she saying? Is he / she taking accountability? Are you? Or are you, or the other party, engaging in small talk and pretending that there was no void in between?
We can tell if someone is being genuine and if that person is trying.
Give the person who is trying, admitting his / her flaws and mistakes back then, and being liable another chance.
Close the door on the other ones, perhaps not without pain on your side – maybe you need to control ever fiber in your body in order to do that, because of how much you feel, love, and care for that person. I can absolutely empathize with your situation. I’ve taken that route before – giving someone a second shot while shutting down my lingering doubts and questions, only to have that person leave ruthlessly once again.
I’ve managed to place myself as a doormat yet again while waiving all responsibility for that other person when he / she was clearly not excused for his / her behavior. We really do teach others how to treat us, and accepting this type of insincere and shady conduct from anyone will teach them to disrespect and use us until we are deemed disposable and useless.
It’s not worth it, not at all.
The second time around makes you question your own sanity and value. The feeling of worthlessness, doubt, and dread shroud you for days, weeks, months, maybe even years and permanently. It will inflict a long-term gash that you have to cater to and heal with not just the help of time, but also with the support of your loved ones. Just remember: you are not responsible for others’ shitty actions as that is entirely up to that other being.
You can take your time when it comes to giving someone a second chance, and if that person isn’t showing any type of effort and honesty when he / she tries to come back into your life again, be the braver one and say no. You are losing someone who is trying to manipulate and use you by treating you less than dirt, while that person is losing someone who actually cares. In the end, it is that person’s loss, not yours.
Slam that fucking door, and go on with your merry way, as that is, quite frankly, the right way to go after we fall.