Before you accuse me of foolishness (“Why would you call someone who never replied to you?? Can’t you take a hint?”), let me tell you why I did it.
I was speaking to my dear friend The Philosopher yesterday, by instant messenger. She’s on a research trip in another country, but we’ve probably spoken more now when she’s been away than when we lived in the same city. It’s just one of those things.
In any case. The phone call to the Charmer.
I called because The Philosopher asked me probing questions about why I wasn’t calling him, and why I was ascribing all of these negative assumptions to The Charmer’s behaviour. She made me think about whether I was being over-deterministic and possibly mis-characterizing his behaviour. She reminded me that he did express interest in me, after all.
I hated that needling sense that there may be some truth to what she was saying. I hated that sense of anxiety that the conversation was provoking in me, the way it was making me feel that I still hadn’t quite fully moved on; that I was basically stuck somewhere between Step 1 and Step 2, where I was blaming him without reservation, using him not to examine my own position, and thus also not acting at all. Damn that friend.
So, after much thinking, worrying and wondering to myself about whether it was a good idea to call The Charmer or not, I decided to do it.
I was amazed at how anxious I was when picking up the phone. My hands were cold; my mouth was dry, my bowels were turning over. I noticed my hands shaking with anxiety, my heart racing uncontrollably. It was disturbing to me that I would be so strongly affected. I was brought all the way back to a series of events over the past summer where I had to lie submerged in the water, upside-down, still seated in my capsized kayak, patiently and breathlessly awaiting rescue from another kayakker. The experience terrified me to no end initially; I am not the strongest swimmer, and had almost drowned as a child. But I learned over the summer to control my thoughts, and to visualize my visceral terror as having its own process, but not dominating, my active mind. My one standby of controlling my breath was useless to me in this situation: I could only parcel out my depleting store of oxygen, watching bubbles float from my lungs and break the surface; all the while controlling the steady awareness that I was slowly, deliberately suffocating.
And so I had to turn inward to stores of strength I never knew I had.
This is why I take risks: one never knows one’s boundaries until one pushes at them. And maybe even breaks them. And in the latter case, those are the moments that reveal whether repair or recovery are possible: another invaluable learning experience.
So I concentrated on my breath, dialed the phone, waited for the connection, let the call ring, let it go eventually to voice mail, hear The Charmer’s recorded voice, and leave a calm message. All the while panicking, adrenaline rushing through my veins.
Once again, I don’t think he’ll call back. That’s just not his style. But I’m really glad I called.