Stop It! (by Mary-Jeanette Taylor )

I'm going to stop thinking about him. I'm going to stop thinking about him now. It's over and it doesn't do me any good to think about him. Oh, god, why is it over? How can it be over? Can't we start over?

Stop it, stop it, stop it. stop it! We can't start over and I'm not going to think about it anymore. I'm going to think about something else. You can only think one thought at a time. I'll think about someone else.

That's it, I'll think about another man. What other man? What about Joe in my Spanish class. I could think about him. He likes me. But I don't really like him. I like Robert. I love Robert. I don't want anyone else. I want him.

Geez, I love his long blond hair and his high cheekbones. His green eyes. His ...

Oh, heavens, I'm still thinking about him. When will it stop? I'm obsessed! I can't stop thinking about him.

No. Yes. Yes, I can. I will. I can. I'm going to put him out of my mind. Every time I think of him I'll pinch myself really hard. That'll make me stop thinking about him. It'll hurt too much. God, it already hurts when I think about him. More than I can stand. It hurts so much I don't want to live anymore.

That's ridiculous. I don't want to die now. If I die now I'll have to spend eternity feeling this way. And that would be awful. If I don't live anymore I can't get him back. Oh, I'm thinking about him again. Ouch! Yeow, it hurts when I pinch myself. Maybe I shouldn't pinch myself so hard. Maybe I'll wear a rubber band like a bracelet and when I think of him I'll snap it on my wrist.

What do they call that? Aversive conditioning? Just like Pavlov's dogs, only the opposite. Or maybe I'll get some spirits of ammonia and when he comes to mind I'll take a whiff. I read somewhere that really works.

I'll go for a drive. That's it. It's a beautiful day. I'll put the top down on the car and I'll drive to the beach. Oh, no, not the beach. Every time I look at the ocean I think of him. We spent so much time on his sailboat, bobbing on the waves, watching the sky, diving. The best dive was down in the keys.

Looe Key. The coral was magnificent. Huge, towering above us twenty feet. We saw a huge green moray eel. Must have been twelve feet long. And yellowtail snapper swarmed around us. One of them kept coming straight at my mask. God, it's beautiful being down there. I loved sharing that with him. There was a French angel fish which followed him all over the reef. It kept biting him, nipping him really, just gently, but it wouldnít leave him alone. I didn't blame it.

That was the last time we were together. Really together. I was so happy. I thought we were both happy. No, I won't go to the beach.

Oh, geez, where's a rubber band? Iím doing it again; Iím thinking about him! Stop it! When will I stop thinking about him? I must get a rubber band, put it on my wrist and every time I think of him, I'll snap it.

Here. Here's one in the desk drawer. Oh, dear, what's this? That picture of us at that party for my girlfriend. I thought I threw that away. Oh, we looked so in love. What happened? Why couldn't we have stayed like that, moon-faced and wide-eyed?

No, I mustn't dwell on that. I mustn't. I won't. I'll stop. I will. I've got to get out of the house. I'm going to go for a drive. Where? I don't know, I'll just get in the car and drive. Where are the keys? Wait, I'd better change first. I look terrible in this outfit and what if I run into him? Let's see, I could put on the peach sweater. He loved me in that sweater. He loved the color. He used to tease me because most of my clothes are black. He likes pastels. So I got that sweater and he loved it. I wore it a lot. Then he started teasing me about always wearing that sweater. But he loved it.

Stop it!

Ouch! The rubber band hurts, too.

I'll just put on the denim shirt over a pair of shorts. Yeah, I look good in this. Shows off my legs. And my hair looks fine. A little wild and tousled, but that's okay, it'll just get blown around in the car.

He loved my hair. My hair and my eyes. He thought my eyes were grey when we first met. He said he'd always had a fantasy about a woman with grey eyes. But my eyes are green, I told him. Sometimes reality was better than fantasy, he said. He said that, those exact words. We were sitting in a cafe in the village on our first date. I couldn't believe I was there with him. He touched my face, massaged my forehead. I was so nervous I got a headache.

And then he kissed me. God, it was sweet. Warm and gentle. Just like him. It was wonderful. After dinner we walked around the village holding hands. Both hands. We were wrapped up in one another like we never wanted to let go. I didn't want to let go. I still don't want to let go. God, why can't he love me the way I love him?

And why can't I stop thinking about it? Why should I think about him? He doesn't love me, not that way. He doesn't and that's that. Oh, he says he loves me. Loves me as a friend. Told me that when he broke up with me. Really! Could a man say anything worse? Never told me he loved me when we were together. Uhuh. Only after he decided we could only be friends.

I'm simply not the right woman for him. He wants someone who's not insecure. I can't stand it when people are driven by their insecurities, he used to say. Probably still says it.

Everyone's insecure, I told him. If you can't stand other people's insecurities you must be afraid to look at your own.

I can't stand it. I can't stop thinking about him. Why can't I just forget he ever existed? It was only six months. Well eight months if you count the eight weeks we were "Just Friends". What an odd concept of friendship he has. Everything was the same, even sex. Except it was all less often. And it hurt to be with him, knowing he didn't feel the same way I did. It hurts now. When will it stop? When I stop thinking about him, I guess.

Allright, I can't stand it anymore. top. I will stop. I will think about ... I will think about ... I'll think about my ski trip December. I'm going to Aspen for a week with a girlfriend. Her kids will be with their dad for the holidays and she didn't want to be alone. I donít want to be alone either.

It would have been our first Christmas. We were going to Costa Rica to plant trees and save the rain forests. He's big into the environment. Even does a radio program on it. He got me to start a compost pile in my backyard. He gave me string bags to carry my groceries. I recycle newspapers now and crush my Diet Coke cans and every time I throw something into the one of the color-coded bins I want to cry.

I'm doing it again. I'm thinking about him. Why do I do it? Why canít I stop? He's not thinking about me. He's probably thinking about his boat. He used to think about me a lot. When he called me after our first date he said: I'm not thinking about you when I'm asleep yet, but I'm thinking about you a lot while I'm awake.

Geez, it was good in the beginning. We liked everything about each other. We got along perfectly. We never had a fight. Not one. We liked doing all the same things. I learned SCUBA so we could dive together. We spent the weekends sailing or just relaxing on the deck of his ketch watching the sunsets.

I don't enjoy sunsets anymore. They remind me of him. Thank heaven I don't wake up early enough to hate the sunrise.

I hate sunrises, sunsets, the moon, the stars, everything we used to enjoy together. I hate all of it. I hate him.

No, I don't hate him. I love him. But I am mad at him. I'm angry. I'm royally pissed off. I'm angry because he doesn't love me. He hates that. He hates it when I get angry. Anger is not an acceptable emotion to him. But it's a natural feeling, I said. Everyone gets angry sometimes. Yes, but your anger is misdirected. You're angry at your father for leaving you when you were a baby. I don't want that in my life, he said.

Don't you ever get angry?, I asked. Yes, but when I do I think it through in my head and get over it, he said. He sees his anger like a ticker tape for stock prices. The words run though his head and he reads them off the running banner until his anger subsides.

I thought that was really interesting. My therapist said she didn't know if it was so very interesting or it was so very sick. He's disassociates from his feelings, she said. Hm! I'd like to disassociate from my feelings right now.

Why do I have to feel this way? My therapist says I have to feel the pain until it's gone. Don't run away. The only way out is through. Well, I'd like to be through. I'm sick of feeling this way. Sick of missing him. Sick, sick, sick!

Oh, what's the use? I can't stop thinking about him. I'm going for that drive.

It's a lovely day for a drive with the top down. The sun is shining and there's a soft breeze. November is wonderful in Florida, not hot, but not too cool. Perfect. I love it here. The weather's always nice except in the summer when it gets a bit too hot. Only it's a little too chilly to go diving right now. I don't want to go diving anyway, It would just make me sad that I wasn't diving with him.

No, no, no! I'm not going to do that. I'm going to think about something else. I am! I'll think about where I'm going to go. I already decided I'm not going to the beach so I don't have to think about that. I don't feel like shopping so I won't go to the mall. I'll drive through the village. I'll have to go past the marina to do that.

Well, I just won't look. I'll drive right by and not even look at the dinghy dock. I won't even look for his car in the parking lot. I won't pay any attention at all. I'm going to think about skiing.

Oooh, that will be great! Schussing down the mountain. I don't mind the cold at all when I'm bundled up, roly poly wrapped like a polar bear. When I get home I'll get out all my ski clothes and see what needs to be cleaned. I've lost weight since last year and I might have to get my ski pants altered.

Oh, heavens, change the radio station! I can't listen to that song. It makes me think of him. No, no, I can't listen to that one either. Every love song makes me think of him. I'll just turn off the radio altogether. There, that's better. Much better.

Oh oh oh, I'm getting near the marina. I'm not going to look. See, I won't even turn my head. I'll just stare straight ahead. Keep my eyes on the back of that red car. I won't look. I won't. I won't. I won't.

There it is. There's the dinghy dock. I'm looking. Dammit, I'm looking. Well, I can't see anything anyway, and his car's not in the parking lot. I wonder where he is. Maybe he's in the village. Well, I'm not going to think about it. I'm just going to enjoy the fresh air.

Here's the village. I'm looking at the people on the street, but I'm not looking for him. I'm not. I'm just looking at the people strolling on the sidewalks and sitting in the cafes. I am not looking for him. Oh, look at that couple. So happy, entirely oblivious to the rest of the world. We used to be like that.

I am not going to think about that!

Oh, my god, look! There he is! Sitting in the cafe with the green awnings. He's wearing that old blue tee shirt. He's sitting there, all by himself, reading the paper. Gee, he doesn't look so great, does he? His hair is all disheveled and he obviously hasn't shaved. I can see that even from here. His face is pulled into a long mug. He certainly doesn't look happy. I don't remember ever seeing him look like that. He always had a soft smile on his face. Even in his sleep.

Hey, I drove by and I didn't even honk the horn. Why, I didn't even have the urge to stop and go talk to him. And there was a parking spot right next to the cafe.

Whew! I must be getting better.

I think I'll go home and read a good book.

Thank god he was alone.


The End


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