It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory
~W. Edwards Denning
This is – duh – the follow-up to Oblivious, Part I; I point that out because making sense of the following is abetted by reading its predecessor.
I considered eliminating this psychosocial rant altogether because, despite a number of attempted re-writes, it still strikes me as distressingly tedious and indulgent. I do, however, believe its inclusion is warranted by its potential helpfulness in comprehending later portions of my Julie saga. To make the reading as painless as possible, I have distilled my original composition to a few essential points with minimal elaboration.
1. Losing Julie because of being oblivious to her feelings eventually led to the realization that this was not an isolated case. I recognized that, in general, unless romantic yearnings were overtly declared, I was no more aware of them than an individual with deuteranopic colorblindness is aware of the color green.
2. This flip side of this phenomenon was that I also seemed to lack what is typically called jealousy. Once I was in a relationship, the idea that my partner might leave me for someone else literally never occurred to me, not because of any narcissistic convictions (if it were posed as an intellectualized hypothesis, I could readily acknowledge that a woman might choose to leave me for someone else), but because I was psychologically unaware of that possibility.
3. Nor did the possibility of a relationship intensifying, shifting, for example, from friendship to love, manifest itself as a conscious thought.
4. This psychological blind spot was localized; I appeared to be relatively perceptive and sensitive, in fact, to other feeling states, however subtly expressed.
5. As one might expect, these limitations had caused problems. It’s embarrassing not to notice ones best friend has fallen in love — and potentially catastrophic not to notice that the affections of person with whom one shares an intimate relationship have changed. A lack of jealousy has all too frequently been interpreted as indifference. And, by not recognizing what Julie felt for another man and what she could have felt for me, I lost her.
6. On the other hand, there were advantages. For one, it was a joy for an anxiety prone individual like me to have one important part of life free of angst, even if that was a function of blissful ignorance. Further, when a relationship operated well and did not require constant vigilance to sustain, the lack of suspiciousness enhanced that liaison.
7. I realized that I had not only disastrously miscalculated the potential relationship between Julie and me but had also failed to take any definitive action based on what I did feel and want. Although these recognitions came too late to immediately alter the course of events and win Julie over, I did begin making modifications to compensate for my restricted perspective and changes in my behaviors to assure that I wouldn’t again lose out on what I desired simply by not showing up.
Well, it turns out that this simple emotional cataclysm was enough to motivate me to make a number of changes that, on the whole, improved my life in a multitude of ways as well as, not coincidentally, make it more tumultuous.
And, although I didn’t anticipate it at the time — because such things happen only in sappy, unbelievable love stories — I would have a second chance with Julie six years later and these changes would make all the difference.
For more information about Julie Showalter and her writings as well as instructions for finding all of the Julie’s Story posts and downloading a PDF version of all the posts comprising Julie’s Story, go to Julie Showalter FAQ.