I hate it when I commit to writing projects (like keeping a blog) and then I don’t follow through for whatever reasons. This time around, it has a lot to do with my previous post from several months ago (Lisbon 2017). At the time, I had just finished my last semester of coursework, passed my PhD exams, and popped off to Lisbon with my sister for a week. I had also been dealing with a work conflict, one that had been weighing heavily down on me at the time, and that unfortunately followed me around Lisbon.
That was December 2017. It is now June 2018. I am nearly finished with my dissertation and am planning to move shortly to start a new job, and hopefully turn over a new leaf. I wish I could say it’s just the dissertation writing that’s been keeping me busy – and it has – but the conflict I had previously alluded to has played a significant part in my silence.
I’m not quite ready to talk about it openly or with details. And please do not assume that my hesitation is the result of guarding a salacious story of sorts – but rather, it is more out of wanting to look out for myself as I navigate the rough waters of academia. At some point, I probably will share – here or in another forum – but not today.
The elusive conflict was somewhat resolved back in February. The person hurting me was separated from me. Or he stepped away from me. I’m not sure which. In any case, he was suddenly out of the mix and was to be out of my life. In theory anyway.
We’d still run into each other from time to time, and even when we didn’t he still had a looming presence in my life – he was and still is part of my colleagues’ lives and they’re a part of mine. #TransitiveProperty. I would say the situation is comparable to being dumped by a shitty, abusive boyfriend, and then having to see him/hear about him from your friends, who are all still friends with said ex.
Of course, it’s not entirely like that. Friends and exes and whatnot involve interactions among peers. It’s quite different in a work environment, particularly in an academic environment, full of professors and students and power dynamics at play.
I’ve been feeling isolated for many months now. My friends never meant to hurt me, but they did. Do. Every time I’d see them with him. Every time they mention him. Every time they try to tiptoe around my feelings and avoid mentioning him. Nothing they did or didn’t do could change the fact that the well had been poisoned for me and only me. Nothing changes the fact that the only solution was to leave and find another well and leave them to keep drinking.
Looking back on my previous Albany posts, I feel a stab of pain. In Part I, I had just moved here and was feeling optimistic. In Part II, I was starting to feel a connection to life here – something I rarely ever experience. Part III is about parting ways under painful circumstances. Well, the whole finishing up my dissertation and landing an exciting new job isn’t so painful. It’s that broken connection that makes this departure more bitter than sweet.
On the one hand, I want to take solace in my friends here. I want to confide in them. Or not confide, and just enjoy their company. On the other hand, being around them pains me. I can’t stop myself from resenting them. Working in the same environment and yet being subjected to extremely different work conditions and treatment. I resent the injustice of it all. I resent everyone’s unwillingness to stand up to it. I resent the fact that they’ll get to graduate as happy cliches – teary-eyed, nostalgic, bittersweet about leaving behind their happy memories and their wonderful mentors, excited to celebrate their milestone with friends and colleagues.
I intend on finishing in the summer, most likely when no one is around to attend my defense or celebrate with me when it’s over. There will be no summer commencement, and I am reluctant to come back for May commencement. There will be no wonderful mentor to say goodbye to because my wonderful mentor became my abuser and is not my mentor anymore. I’m regularly teary-eyed, but it’s not from nostalgia. I won’t have any of that – my happy memories are stained.
As in my last post, I can’t help but express guilt over writing about the sadness and bitterness I feel over closing this chapter in my life. I want to write about more exciting things, about more positive things. I want my writing to sparkle and exude happiness, like a Kate Spade bag. I want to reflect on my journeys in a way that connects with and inspires people, like Anthony Bourdain did. However, in light of their recent and tragic deaths, I’m sharing this anyway because I suppose it’s OK to let the world know that you don’t always sparkle or inspire, that sometimes you have feelings that you’re ashamed of, and that sometimes you’re just a mess.