Never let go…

Dad let go of her hand but she never let go of dad's hand.

Dad let go of her hand but she never let go of dad’s hand.

 

Humans of New York (http://www.humansofnewyork.com) posted this photo with the caption “Dad let go of her hand, but she never let go of Dad’s hand.”

My earliest and perhaps most innocently poignant memory is of having to let go of my dad’s hand. I guess myself at around three. My mother and father were viciously arguing. My sister and I were hiding on the stairway. My heart was racing; scared of the fighting and petrified I’d get caught for sitting on those steps listening to all the loud yelling I didn’t understand and be punished for my curiosity. Two policemen showed up. They appeared larger than life and what frightened me most was the billy club each had dangling from their belt. Menacing, baseball bat looking clubs as big as my leg, which I knew were there to be used. In my confusion for sitting on the stairway…or maybe it was the automatic assumption I’d carry with me for the rest of my life that as usual, I’D done something wrong …whatever it was, somehow I knew instantly that billy club was to beat me with. The minute I saw it, I ran as fast as my legs could fumble themselves up those stairs in my panic, too scared now to even worry about being quiet!

I ran straight to the top of the stairs and turned into the first door on the left, my parent’s bedroom. My bedroom was straight ahead and the same distance to run, but somehow I felt sure that billyclub would come looking for me in MY room. So, I thought I was quite clever to hide in my parent’s room where they at least wouldn’t come first looking for me, maybe buying myself a few precious seconds before the beating.

The yelling downstairs had ceased. I could still hear talking; the policemen and my parents’ voices, but no more yelling. I wanted so much to hear what they were saying…to know what I had done this time…and get a clue as to how bad the billyclub beating might be….ohhhhh, how I wanted to know! Sheer terror kept me hiding behind the leather rocking chair in the corner of my parents’ bedroom, though. I didn’t DARE peek out and be nosy with the billyclub man there, no matter how overwhelming my curiosity was!

My sister had gone under their bed. I stayed behind the chair for what felt like my last eternal moments before my inevitable death, making myself as small as I could to hide completely and occasionally putting my head sideways against the floor to peek under it and see my sister under the bed.

That lasted forever and I must be missing some time in there because the next thing I recall is my mother standing in front of my dad by the big wooden front door downstairs. My mother facing my dad directly, his face looked sad and hurt, not angry and mean like my mother’s and I knew something was horribly awfully wrong. My dad smiled and laughed perpetually. I’d never seen this look on his face ever.   Not once on my entire three years! My mother held mine and my sister’s hands on either side of her, facing him and saying to us, who do you want to go with? This was a hard question. I didn’t want to hurt either of my parents’ feelings and I didn’t know what the right answer was. I love my mommy so much and I love my daddy too! And forever without one of them seemed an impossible choice. At that moment, I really believed this was the most final and permanent decision I’d ever have to make in my lifetime. My sister immediately piped up with, I’m going with you, Mommy.  She either knew the right answer because she was an older, wiser five years old or it simply wasn’t the dilemma for her that it was for me? I didn’t know. I was looking at my dad’s face right that moment, still that sad look that was hauntingly unknown to me and I knew I couldn’t leave my daddy alone no matter what. My sister had already picked mother. I couldn’t leave my daddy alone with that expression on his face and I could feel the hot anger seething off my mother, while my dad felt quietly just hurt and defeated maybe…somehow seeming much safer than the alternative. I stepped over to my obviously wounded gigantic daddy and said, I’ll stay with you, Daddy.

It was decided. My sister left with our raging, seething mother and I stayed with our wounded, broken hearted Daddy, just knowing I could love on him enough with hugs and kisses to chase that sad look away and bring back his usual jolly smile. Strange that the few seconds it took me to make that choice feeling afraid because I believed it would be forever and I’d answer wrong, was immediately replaced with as much confidence as any three-year-old could have after answering such a question. I knew I belonged with my daddy. I loved and adored my mommy like crazy as any child does, but I knew the minute I took those few steps over to stand by my daddy’s side, that that was exactly where I belonged in this world, even if it DID mean I’d never see my beloved mother’s face again. I felt sad, but I was no longer afraid that I’d answered the question wrong. Yes, I belonged with Daddy; my happy, laughing, loving daddy with the smile that lifted my heart high in the air full of joy every day.

I didn’t understand this was only for the night…or a few days…or whatever it ended up being. I can’t recall. The last thing I remember is feeling that odd confidence that I’d made the right choice and knowing I would be safe forever right next to my daddy, holding tight to his great big warm hand.

But it wasn’t forever. Not too long after this painful choice…a night…two or three days…my mother returned and took me with her and my sister. And, my daddy had to let go of my hand. I never let go of his though. Over the next 14 years, I held onto my daddy’s hand once in a while in person when I was allowed to see him, but every day and night I held onto his hand in my prayers, in my dreams, in my thoughts when I was scared, and in my heart when I felt unloved and unwanted or confused and beaten. And I continued to hold it the 27 years following that as I trudged my way through life, love, rape, abuse, and many scary choices.

Forty-one years later from the day I made that first great big life choice to hold my dad’s hand, I’m still holding that big warm hand in my mind and my heart. My daddy is gone. He let go of my hand again to go to heaven but I haven’t let go of Daddy’s hand.

Complete culpability

Thank you for loving me, Daddy.

Thank you for loving me, Daddy.

It’s pity party time. I’ve officially spent my second birthday and the second anniversary of my dad’s death alone. Without one single phone call on either day…not a “checking in to see how you are”, not a “hey, I’m thinkin of you”…not a single friend or family member thought of me on the two most significant days of my life: my birth and the day I lost the only love I was ever going to know.

After 44 years of life, millions of friends, several boyfriends, one husband, and two children of my own, I now realize what I feared most from my earliest days is literally true. My mother, my sister and all those other people over 44 years couldn’t ALL be wrong about me; I’m not someone who can be loved. I’m just not…
I suppose I could write of how it’s my mother’s fault. How being raised by a narcissistic sociopathic woman damaged me so cruelly, left me with huge holes in my soul that can’t be filled, making me so desperate and needy for the one thing that scared me most, love. I found it crazy ironic to discover at 26 that I have a flap in my heart which doesn’t close properly. What a perfect description of me…it was almost an explanation at last for what I am that I can’t seem to help or change. The pieces of me that are so just wrong that they’ll never be right finally made literal, physical sense when the doctors told me that back when I was pregnant with Savannah Grace.

I suppose I could write how it’s other people’s fault, as well. How being so painfully insecure and desperately needy for love and approval for as long as I can remember being alive led me directly to the kinds of people who would manipulate and abuse that…furthering the unlovable clause I was born with. Seriously, WHO gets molested as a 6 year old by a teacher and a babysitter? And WHO is ridiculous enough to get raped *three* times in 44 years? And WHO is blessed enough to have had so many wonderful men profess the most beautiful depths of undying love and still ends up alone? What kind of idiot runs so fast and so often over a lifetime from the very thing she has been praying for since the tender age of 4? I certainly could never convince myself that it was all THEM…that there was something inadequate with every one of THEM. No, the common denominator there is me…and only me. I chased, pushed, argued, and crazied every one of them away from me, even the most tenacious of them. I could try to blame any one of a hundred girlfriends who shit on me, stabbed me in the back, devastated and used me…..but again, who’s the common denominator there? Me.

And what about my daddy? I was fortunate that my mother kicked me out with just a trash bag full of clothes at 16 for lying about smoking a cigarette. Thus, I spent the majority of my life, from 16 to 42, with a most amazing parent who demonstrated love, acceptance, kindness, honesty, integrity, and joy. So many children don’t have that kind of example or love in their life from ANY where growing up, at ANY age. Hell, I was fortunate that my daddy somehow always found the strength and ability to love me at all. Why didn’t that fix those fucking holes I was born and raised with? Not everyone who is unloved by her mother is blessed enough to be unconditionally loved by her father. If the cause of this unending and irreparable unlovability issue isn’t ME, at my very core, then that shower of my daddy’s true blessings would have repaired that. It should have, right?

Yes, it should have. It would have. If it wasn’t me, my fault, my issue, my fault, my inadequacy…mine, mine, MINE.

I’ve never felt good trying to blame any of this on other people anyway. Contrary to many people’s beliefs, I’ve just never been the person who could blame someone for anything at all really and feel confident it wasn’t really my fault. When the teacher molested me at 6, I even felt guilty when he got in trouble…even at that tender age; I felt it was me, my fault. After all, I had actually appreciated the special attention he had always given me, hadn’t I? I had looked forward to his smiles in the elementary school hallways that made his face beam whenever he saw me….it actually made me think of my daddy’s huge grin whenever I got to see HIM! And my favorite was the day he lifted me up to drink from the big drinking fountain. I had appreciated feeling special to a grown-up who saw me every day and still seemed to think I was someone special in this world. I would have never told on him intentionally. Not EVER! And I really didn’t want him to get in so much trouble either. Somehow, even way back then, at such a young and innocent age, I just knew it was my fault. Everything was my fault, so that had to be too. All three times I was raped, no matter how cruelly, I still felt deep down it was my fault…that I HAD gotten what I deserved. And I think I was always afraid to tell my mother because I knew she would be sure to bring that to my attention immediately and then all doubt of me “not deserving” to be raped would be totally eliminated. Hell, somehow I’ve been “asking for it” since the age of 6! I’m sure at 17 and older, I was REALLY asking for it. I just wanted to blame them because I never figured out HOW I “asked for it” and thus, couldn’t figure out how to stop “asking for it”. I only blamed them in my own mind out of frustration that I couldn’t fix what had always been wrong with me.

I’ve never minded taking the blame for things, actually I usually prefer it. After all, if it’s MY fault, then I can fix it. If it’s not, then I’m powerless to ever get it right. And yet, in spite of years of therapy, and so many wonderful years with a loving father, a zillion self-help books and strategies, I’ve never been successful at fixing it. And I still don’t feel satisfied trying to put the blame on other people for anything really… It’s been my life problem as long as I can remember; therefore, it’s still MY problem. My ex-husband even said to me once, “NO one in this world has such chronic shitty luck as you. The shit that happens to you regularly, just doesn’t happen to anyone…not even one of then usually, much less a lifetime of them!?” He was so right. I’ve always known that deep inside too. It’s me…it’s GOT to be. There is no other logical explanation. Hell, my mother abused the hell out of me physically, mentally, and verbally for 26 years and I was STILL desperate for her to love me. I’ve counseled so many children whose parents were fiercely abusive and still, they loved them and would do anything for their love. Me? I have two children who tossed me AND my love in the garbage without a second thought or one single look back to just wave good-bye….just threw me in the trash like the worthless garbage I’ve always been. And in spite of all my mistakes and failings as a mother and a human being, I gave those two children the very best of anything good I have ever had inside me to give, which was still apparently utterly worthless.

And since it seems to get worse the harder I’ve tried to repair whatever this is I was born with, what does that even really mean? If I own it all, I still can’t fix it; if I blame everyone else, I can’t fix it either.
I have so many of my daddy’s amazing qualities…deep down I think, where most can’t see them, but I have them dammit! So, why don’t they make me and my life even a fraction as valuable as my daddy was in this world to almost everyone who ever met him? Why can’t I fix what’s wrong with me?

Why?

I realized recently that I’ve never really been afraid to die… Well, as a mom I was because I felt my children deserved to know the love and nurturing of a mother…the love I never knew and started my desperate journey toward a life of failure lacking. Other than that, I never was afraid to die though. Obviously, my greatest fear is living. And figuring out why I’ve been forced to do something for 44 years that I’m just not able to do well. I’d rather not do something at all, than try for 44 years just to get worse and worse at the effort.

I did always hope that someday, before he passed or I did, I’d have the opportunity to deserve to matter in this world by giving back to my daddy somehow. I always told him, “someday Daddy, I’m going to get myself together and do something REALLY amazing for you to repay all you’ve ben and done for me over my life time”. It still wouldn’t have ever been enough, but I really always hoped I’d have that opportunity and ability someday. I didn’t. He is gone and I’m still fucking alive and every bit as unworthy, useless, and unlovable as the day I was born.

I’m sorry Daddy. I’m sorry I didn’t get it together in time to return your wonderfulness to you even a little bit. I’m really sorry. I know it made no difference to you whatsoever, but it really would have made the world of difference to me.

It seems so cruel. So much death all around me over the last two years since my daddy passed. All these beloved people and children dying and leaving behind heartbroken masses of hurting folks who loved and admired them. Yet, on and on and on I go…. 44 years of nothing but worthless efforts to somehow give the world what I always dreamed of. A life of nothing; worth nothing, for nothing, meaning nothing. No one notices or cares I’m alive and who can blame them? I don’t. So, why does God take the cherished ones and leave the insignificant failures to continue being a burden.

Yet, on I go…

With or Without…Him

Will I ever stop loving him? I truly think not…

Things are better, but only as friends… a friendship which is slowwwwwlllyyyy developing and gaining trust (I think!?). I’m okay, no actually, I’m grateful for the friendship we are creating. I would rather have him as a dear friend than not have him in my life at all.

Just when I really believe my feelings for him have finally transformed into a more brotherly-like love, I will look at him and…

I just stopped over to his house to get a donation for a cause I’m collecting for. Coincidentally, as I’m driving over there, the song he once told me in the smack dab middle of our personal not-together-but-not-separate hell starts playing. Even as I pull in his drive, the song (With or Without You) is still playing. I can’t help but play the moment when he asked me to be sure they played that at his funeral through my mind. A thought I’ve not allowed myself to re-live in quite a few years. But I do now. It’s safer now, right? We are truly just friends. Pulling in his drive, I hesitate to turn the car and song (and sweet memory) off, but I gotta grab the donation and get somewhere else.

He’s just fresh from the gym, wearing sweats and kinda sweaty… I actually think my feelings have changed. No, I mean I really believe that.

Then he holds me for a moment and after all this time of craziness and whatnot, I feel for the first time in years, more than a mere friendly hug. His arms wrap around me just a bit softer and more tender than they did for our last few hugs. They hold onto me just a tad tighter and longer. At first, I don’t want to let go. I want to cling to him for life the minute I feel that something more from him. I do hold on, not for dear life, but like him, just a smidgeon more from my soul and not just from my trained-to-love-him-as-a-friend mind (that protection mode I’ve developed after all this time).

And I think to myself, am I imagining this? Is my eight year long fantasy running away with my rational side? I hold on for a minute right back, then gently push away from him and tell myself, Yes, you’re only imagining that something extra. Okay yeah, the hug is slightly different than he’s been hugging you for the past few years, but it does not, and I mean does NOT mean anything.

Snapped back to the reality, we continue a friendly chat for a few minutes. As I prepare to leave (no matter what type of visit/relationship/hug/whatever, I always, always hate leaving his house!), he grabs his donation to carry to my car for me. I walk next to him to grab my handbag sitting on the table. I’m not sad we are just friends. I don’t look at the picture on his refrigerator with the girl he’s dating now and feel any jealousy or even any hurt or twinge of “what if” like I once would have felt like a nail piercing my heart. No, I don’t feel that anymore. So yes, my love for him now must truly be friendly only; love coming from that pure place in my heart which loves forever when it truly loves at all. So, as I’m standing rather close to him grabbing my bag and he’s got his donation bag, I’m preparing to leave. We are laughing about something trivial and suddenly he sets the donation bag back down…(what? what is he doing? No donation after all?).. Yeah, he sets it back down….to hug me again!

tidal wave

This is an even longer hug than the first one…and just as tender..but maybe I sense something almost sensual in this one as he holds me close and brushes the small section of exposed skin on my upper back. Is it? No! I only love him as a friend… yet my heart soars, pitter-patters, skips, and plays hopscotch like a little girl. And this time I struggle with correcting my feelings and I rest my head in the nook of his neck and shoulder where it has always fit just right and I want to let go and melt into him like I have a million times before.

Oh, will I ever, EVER stop loving him?

Moving, flowing, stagnating…decaying…

Now what?  Will the stench of my battered and beaten soul carry over?  Will the people here smell it as easily as the people there seemed to?  Will the breakdown of the very fiber of my being, atom by atom, continue here to break down?

Woke up this morning to thoughts of him, resentfully wondering when will the first day in six years that I do not think even once of him? …not remember some cruelty, or worse yet some ancient loving kindness which should by now be so stale and moldy that I’m not at all tempted to revisit a site or feeling so ancient its very authenticity should now be questioned…because it’s validity has been so thoroughly contaminated by age and drenched in poisonous toxins of regular cruelty…  When?

…can people smell the decay of a rotting heart, the bloody and beaten spirit from 2,000 miles away from the scene of the crime? And four years after the initial deadly stab?  All the countless following merely a swift revival of that heart, just to rip its tenderly mended pieces apart yet again?  Does mere redundancy smell of the bitter metallic scent of the initial blood-fest?

“Stalked” his FB page the other day, overwhelmed with curiosity. (Maybe that’s why the thoughts?  Haha..who am I kidding here?!)  Yes, he has an official (albeit not FB status official yet) new bi-annual flavor.   So interesting!  Took the man four years after our split to make a commitment for anything beyond a one-night-stand, well other of course than the 2 AM booty call “regular”…  And now he’s suddenly a serial committer?  WTF?!  His booty-call turned engagement split was a mere 7 months ago or so and he’s already on to another “girlfriend”?  Is this due to the hardened heart he’s claimed so many times that I caused as he stabbed another knife into my heart,  yet another time?  Or is it desperation on his part to stay away from me..or desperation to have someone, anyone, something meaningful in his beginning-to-age years?  A sudden newly developed fear of being truly alone?  Exaggerated quick commitment because his fear of commitment has grown beyond his control?

After crying and whining for over four years that he could not find what we had..nothing even close to the passion, joy, and love we shared, suddenly he’s meeting these types of suitable replacements back-to-back? 

What is that even?  Other than either just plain good fortune (I  mean, WOW!) or mere pathetic desperation stemming from a  weariness of chronic one-or-two-night stands with faceless, nameless people full of drunken meaningless redundant sexual escapades?

I shouldn’t even ponder any of this..it certainly matters not a smidgen on any level at this point…  However, it’s mystifying to me…  What on earth does this even mean?   So odd…but hopefully he’s found “the one”.  In spite of my resentments that he refuses to leave my heart and mind once and for all (ugh!), I actually do wish him happiness…..well that mixed with a bit of karma too perhaps…hehe…  After all, I am still a human being, perhaps barely, but I am…I am…still flawed and human after all!

Goodbye Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the day!!!  We fly out of here with a one-way ticket….no return, no changing minds, no turning back….  it’s one-way, baby!  Scary and exhilarating.  I will cry.  Good-byes are in the realm of unbearable for me…literally.  I often find I’d rather be rude and avoid people than ever say good-bye.  I’m not even good at saying good-bye to the people I don’t like!  I just detest good-byes!  Typically, I avoid them like the plague…

There is no avoiding tomorrow…  Which means there will be crying, sobbing, heaving, the embarrassing kind of tears…the “OMG Dave and I broke up” kinda crying probably…ewww! 

I returned DK’s clothes I’ve had for a while.  I wouldn’t want the next ridiculous accusation to be that I’m a thief.  Sadly, that’s not even an absurd or paranoid fear with the way he bashes my character.  Crazy to realize that after hitting the best of the best and the worst of the worst, the man has zero feelings for me at all.  After all the nights he came running to me, crying and sighing, full of words he couldn’t get out, as well as words he never should have let out.  After it all, there is nothing.  Empty.  Void.  Zero.  Nada. 

I thought of keeping his clothes out of spite even, but realized I just don’t want them and he does, so why not take the high road?  It’s not as if keeping a few articles of his favorite clothing would ever compensate for all the cruel damage he’s done anyway…and it would mostly just serve to make me feel petty and small.  So, I dropped them at his house when he wasn’t home..nor was the new “bi-annual flavor of the month” there either. 

Strangely, I don’t wish him ill.  I almost wish I did or could, but I just don’t.  I even sometimes have little prayers and hopes that perhaps this is finally  “the one” for him..this latest strange car parked at his house down the street from my soon-to-be old house.  Perhaps this is the happiness he needed, minus any inconveniences or challenges which I represented to him after all the years and tears?  The mean part of me wants to hope he just gets what he’s dished out to me for so long – cruelty.  But, my heart would ache to think of him hurting even a moment the way he’s hurt me.  I don’t know if that makes me strong or just plain stupid..but  I’m leaning toward the “stupid” answer.

I’ll never know how someone could be and do so much good (and horrible) in my life and then just be absolutely nothing.  The two just contradict themselves.  I feel as though this sets a low-level of importance on anything.  As though the most wondrous of experiences and feelings will always be significantly lessened in my mind and heart because maybe someday that very thing will merely be a void of anything, like this whole experience was.  If anyone had ever tried to tell me that I would be literally nothing to the man who loved me so much he cried, I would have laughed at the ridiculous thought alone and been certain as I’ve been of nothing in my life, but certain that it all meant something significant.

Nope. It all was merely nothing.  Every tear, every effort, every cruelty I allowed hoping it would make things even again, hoping it would open his heart back up, hoping we could at least have a friendship…..all for nothing.  It feels as though I’m so dispensable and worthless that not even a shred of emotion, good OR bad, can be mustered up on behalf of it ALL….that just feels “off” to me…impossible actually…and yet it’s totally possible and realistic today.

And I wonder if I’ll ever bother to waste a tear, an emotion, much less an effort on any other person who claims to love me?  After all, if it’s possible to just mean nothing as though it never was or happened, then why would one ever waste even a moment on such trivial, useless-ness?   Seems pretty silly really…

And I think to myself that either he really IS a sociopath (that’s a hurtful hard thought really) or I am just a crazy person (always a possibility).  All I know is that this feels like I’m having to realize that one plus one does not equal two, macaroni does not go well with cheese, and french fries are not commonly eaten with ketchup.  Feels as though the whole world is not what I once knew; as though nothing at all is what I’ve ever thought.  It’s almost more upside down and confused than the day we broke up.  I knew he cared and I at least knew why we split.  This though…this makes no sense whatsoever.

Radical acceptance here that the grass is orange and the sky is green.  Nothing is was or will be what it seems….  I can only hope that this realization will keep things in perspective for me from here on out and I’m never again tempted  to place value (much less such precious value) on such trifling and trivial matters as this has apparently been.

What a lesson!

Did John-Boy seem the vengeful type…or was it just me?

She was torn between desperately seeking the stability and love she’d never known and enjoying her relatively new freedom.  She was seeking her own identity, uncomfortable and unsure in her own skin and never quite sure why she warranted so much attention and certainly not at all sure how to handle such attention politely, without hurting anyone’s feelings.  It’s not that she had not been told she was beautiful by boys and men before or wanted by many, it was that she literally could not see that or comprehend the possibility.  She was a dry sponge full of holes, seeking all the love and attention she had never felt before.  She certainly wasn’t a slut in any sexually promiscuous sense, but perhaps she did fit the description of an attention whore. She couldn’t understand how anyone could love her or think her beautiful in any definition of the word. In spite of her need for freedom, she longed with every part of her being to feel loved and to believe she was beautiful in someone’s eyes…to feel accepted just as she was, flaws and holes and all…

Unfortunately, she felt the closest to beautiful and worthy when she was making other people feel good about themselves and this would eventually be her slow demise in satisfying her own deepest hopes, but that’s another story entirely.  There was a supply and demand in effect seemingly at all times.  Men longed for her attention and she longed to make people feel good.  She could spend hours talking to a stranger in a club about his job, his school, his relationships, his dreams, his broken heart, anything…and treat him as if he was the only person on the planet for the duration of that conversation…often to the annoyance of her friends and/or boyfriends.

By her early twenties, she had ended two significant relationships.  The relationships themselves weren’t bad per se, but she was a lost and meandering spirit.  It was almost as if once the relationship reached a mutually satisfying point, she felt her “work there was done” and her attention needed to go to the next soul seeking her heart, time, and attention.   So after ending two serious LTR’s, which did not go quietly, she finally conceded to her long-subdued need for freedom and her completely suppressed  wild at heart nature…  She dreaded the thought of committing to a relationship with a man because it seemed somehow to always eventually end with a hurt man and her feeling as though her effort to make someone feel loved and important always began with the best of intentions and resulted in their broken heart.  This was not at all what she wanted.

So after ending an engagement with a terrific man who loved her in the most beautifully endearing and devoted way and running straight into the arms of an abuser, she resolved to stay free.  In her partying and carousing with friends she only gave a few hours of dedication to anyone and moved on to someone else…until she inadvertently and unintentionally met John.  Strange that she’d caught him watching her quietly on many occasions and took note of him.  She found him truly handsome in the most adorable boy-next-door way, but he never approached except nonchalantly in passing.  After several of these incidents, they finally had an actual conversation.  He was so damned likeable and undeniably adorable.  She loved his eyes – the way they watched her quietly without attempting to connect with her or pick her up (ugh!) and she loved the way he innocently made her laugh without even trying.  She spent several platonic evenings with him, just partying and having fun.

Since this started innocently enough, she felt no warnings that trouble was brewing.  They were both having a blast and neither seemed intent upon choking the other’s freedom, but they enjoyed their time together so much each day would follow into the next.  She even discovered that he was a few years younger than she and it didn’t  matter at all to her. He wasn’t even jealous of her flirty personalityand he gave her total trust and freedom!!!!  She loved this.  Could it be he actually understood her?    It seemed natural that suddenly one day she realized that their affections had grown big and they were spending all of their free time together…and she didn’t even want to change that or run from it…were they falling in love?

Yes, it seemed so.  This realization hit when she received acceptance to the school she’d applied to upon her last release from a relationship.  She had applied in a moment of freedom and need to not be held back from her goals again…a brief respite between obligations.  But against her design and intention, he was now in love and she loved him in return as well. Uh-oh..scary, as this never ended well for her.  Always seemed to end in a flurry of anger, broken hearts and her immersion in guilt which provoked a need in her to run far, far away.

It was a difficult situation, but they were young, confident with one another, and happy…therefore this could still work.  Right?  No one had to get hurt this time.  Long distance relationships could work for truly happy couples.  Besides, she just wanted to go finish her education at the school of her choosing, not date around or get involved in any relationships.  This should be easy.

They missed each other terribly, though.  The connection was difficult to maintain from such a distance.  And she was immersed in the collegiate life while he was in the town he grew up in and working the job he intended to work forever.  She wasn’t dating anyone else, but she had a few study friends whom she enjoyed hanging out with as well.  They had little in common under these circumstances and their phone calls started feeling like a “duty” to her, not an enjoyment.  He planned a visit.

On this visit, he mentioned shopping for a promise ring to cement their relationship and their desire to progress into the next natural step for a happy couple.  Except, his visit, his presence, annoyed her.  She didn’t know why.  She still loved him.  She just couldn’t feel or find that connection to him anymore once she was removed from their little shared town, at least not enough to accept a promise ring or in good conscience, continue the relationship that was stunted for her and clearly still growing stronger for him. After a few days of his visit, she discussed this with him and ended the relationship.  She felt sick to do this, she adored him, but she felt it was the right thing to do in the midst of her confusion confounded and highlighted by his devoted certainty.  It was over.  He left.  She could tell he was very hurt and she hated that, but he didn’t seem angry and for that, she was so grateful that it almost sparked her feelings again…but not quite enough to change her choice in the matter.  She had to be fair to him.  He deserved at least that and her conscience refused to accept less for him.

Fast forward five or six years.

Back in their hometown for a few years now, she was a single mother, scared and still lost.  One night she runs into him at a bar.  They start talking and reconnecting.  Inside she is scared and far more damaged than she was years before.  In her loneliness and fear, he represents something good and safe to her.  She decides to go home with him.  After all, it’s John Boy.  The safest place she’d known at this point.  He’d never gotten angry at her for who she was.  On the contrary, he had always seemed to understand her when no one else could.  Ahhhhhh…safety and sincerity. 

When they woke up the next morning, she felt happy to be next to him.  No it wasn’t the answer to everything of course, but it was a safe and familiar place at last and she had always adored him anyway.

As he was driving her home, he said, “I don’t want you.  I just wanted to pay you back for breaking my heart all those years ago….  How does it feel?”  Her heart ripped as he laughed.

Well done John Boy…very cruel effective.

Elephant in my living room!

I can’t talk to M about much of anything anymore and it scares me.  We are moving so soon and so much rides on him for that…. 

I keep trying in a delicate, but honest, way to point out my concerns, but just like 13 years ago, everything is an “attack”.  Every word of concern gets met with, “I AM NOT A BAD PERSON!!  I AM NOT A BAD PERSON!!  I AM NOT A BAD PERSON” screamed repeatedly over my trying-to-stay calm voice and words, until I have no choice but to hang up the phone.  Obviously, this doesn’t result in anything productive and does the very opposite of reassuring my fears. 

This experience throws me clear into full force PTSD as I’m hurled instantly to 13 years ago…trapped, scared, nervous, with a 3 month old child to care for.  My knees shake, my head spins and the frustration at not being heard, not being counted, not being considered, not being able to even TALK is overwhelming and terrifying to my core.  What am I doing?

Mark, he who I’ve watched struggle and kick for years, fighting his way past and beyond all that once haunted and controlled him, is yet again unreachable, irreproachable, impossible to reason with. And I am left feeling two options:  return to that horribly handicapping environment which threatened my sanity or continue raising my children far away from their loving father.  

Even the choices alone don’t feel like choices.  They feel like steel walls closing in on me fast, boxing me in tight, with the “rules” written in graffiti all over them in bold black paint.  Rules from my childhood; rules from my relationship with Mark 13 years ago. 

The rules:

  1.  No matter what M does or says, it’s always absolutely fine.
  2. No one is to question, doubt, or worry about M’s behaviors or choices.  They are all as close to perfect as could possibly be.
  3. No one is to point out (kindly or otherwise) any fears or, God forbid, discrepancies in Mark’s choices.
  4. If you see an elephant in the living room, no one is to speak of it, question its presence, or for God’s sake call it an elephant.  Nothing is what it appears and only M knows what it really is, so he cannot be questioned or expected to communicate with the rest of us. 
  5. It’s M’s world…only his reality counts…the rest of us are just graced with the opportunity to live in it…so SHUT UP.
  6. If you speak or imply any of the above, it is a direct “attack on M” and he will kick and scream accordingly, deftly playing the offense is the best defense game to the point that you’re wasting every word you can actually get into the conversation, trying (in utter futility) to insist that you’ve not attacked or insulted M.
  7. Every word you say that is not an ass-kissing “M, you’re the GREATEST!”  is, in fact, going to be considered an attack.
  8. Your actual words will not ever matter.  They are ALL an attack on Mark, unless they are a direct and undisguised compliment of his person and character.
  9. M will hear what M hears and it’s not up for discussion…  What M hears IS what you said, no matter how far off it may seem (to you) from what you’ve actually said.
  10. Questions, doubts, fears (authentic or otherwise) will NOT be tolerated or spoken of EVER.
  11. Unless you are complimenting M on how wonderful he is, you must SHUT UP AT ALL TIMES.

I am afraid.  I am rendered paralyzed to act and terrified to speak of my concerns…while the walls close in tighter on me.