Today will be a crying day. I can’t always tell when I wake up, but when I wake up and burst into tears and cry until snot runs down my face, that’s a sure sign. Last night I fell asleep acknowledging that there’s a part of me still waiting for her baby to come back, and this morning I dreamed that I followed you and your girlfriend around like K did when we were first together, trying to give you gifts and be affectionate while you mostly ignored me.
Waking up my first thought as the tears came was “But I don’t want to.” I’m still trying to work out what that means. Don’t want to be over you? Don’t want to walk away like I did at the end of my dream? None of this makes sense because what I want more than almost anything in the world is to not feel anything where you’re concerned. Anger protected me for a lot of last year but as it subsided—as my brain started forgetting to hate you—I began to remember who you used to be to me: not a villain but the man I loved.
You’ve done a lot of crappy things. First there is the original betrayal—it seems so wrong that I can sum it up in three words like that when a) it went on for so long and piled betrayal upon betrayal and b) it has left me more broken than anything that came before including rapes and beatings I wasn’t sure I’d survive. Telling me over and over again via email about your new love and your bullshit philosophical “types of love” and how I fit into this one box over here, but that one didn’t really count, and your wishes for multiple lovers in the future and your hope that she would accept that, as though that information could possibly help me heal. Then ignoring me on our anniversary after I told you how hard just the days leading up to it were and how I dreaded it. Then promising to leave me alone about the house for six months and then sic’ing your lawyers on me after only three. These are the bigger ones, but once in a while I realize that some part of me still feels that your worst crime was not loving me—not loving us—enough to stay and try to fix it. The absolute worst thing about this for me is that you don’t love me.
For the past 14 months I have been in a state of illness. For several weeks I could barely get off the couch. It was four months before I felt ready to move back to our bedroom and since I did, I’ve barely left it. I am unable to earn a living because depression keeps me from working more than a few hours a day for a few weeks at a time (which means I can get through a book editing project, but a full-time job feels out of the question). I am fighting a constant, uphill battle just to get back to the level of depression I occupied when you were still here. For the past six months I have been largely unable to blog. It’s like I’ve run out of things to say and confidence in my ability to say them.
J told me that you said your actions were hurtful. They weren’t just hurtful—they were harmful. Nothing in my life has ever left me this broken. She said you mourn the loss of your friend. My first thought, and what I said to her, was this:
“He killed his friend. And he killed mine. I will never, ever be the same person I was when I met him. I will never start a relationship with that trust. 8 years ago today I met the man who would murder the person I was that day.”
I know you’ve read things I’ve written before and come away thinking that I hated you. I have tried to, but I don’t. The honest truth—and the most excruciating thing I have to accept on days like this—is that I still love you. And accepting that, it takes everything I have not to hate myself. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned this past year it’s to be gentle with me because I have been on the edge and I know what it feels like to want to slip over and lose myself. I can’t let that happen.
Now you see where I still am 14 months after you left and a year and ten days after we last spoke. I am still crying over you. I am still dreaming about you. I am still waiting for you to come back to me. And I am still agonizing over all of these things and trying not to despise myself. The best thing my anger did was to protect me from that hope and I really wish I still had it. Since I don’t, I’m just trying to get through the time it will take for the hope and love to fade away. I really thought a year would be enough.
I painted this for you back in the early days. For me it expressed what I thought was happening between us: something so big and important that it threatened to burst out of the confines of this mortal existence.
Now I realize that it was big and important, just not in the way I thought. Now I see the flaws in a painting I once thought beautiful and I look for meaning in them. Where is the line that shows you falling out of love? Where is the one that predicts your betrayal? Which lines represent not love but pain? Which ones are the signs I should have seen that would have allowed me to prevent us from falling apart?
So, this is the state of things. These are some of the things you need to know before you make any attempt at another apology. I wish I could tell you everything. I wish that I could make you experience what I have experienced this past year. I want you to know what it is to be the one left behind instead of the one always leaving and leaving destroyed lives behind you. I wish I could communicate the sadness I’ve felt watching friends and even my family members choose to remain in contact with you even when they know how much it hurts me. I want you to feel what I have felt and know the pain that your choices—and complete lack of empathy for me—have caused. And I want to understand, I think, but maybe I don’t because every time you’ve tried to explain you’ve only caused me more pain. What I really want is for things to be ok, and on days like this it’s hard to believe they ever will be again.
We interrupt this story-in-progress to bring you an update from the future. Ok, now that you’re here, it’s the present. Welcome back!
I ran out of words a few days ago. Words about my current life, that is. I started a new freelance gig, and all my words are currently going there. It’s a welcome distraction from reality and gives me a sense of forward motion. It restores some of my confidence. It reminds me that I’m ok on my own.
B and I are on speaking–even friendly–terms following a series of talks. I unloaded a lot of anger on him in person –which I very much needed to do–when he came to move his stuff. Then we talked as friends and cried together a bit. (I did most of the crying–B never has been able to really let loose in that department, and I think he needs to learn how. I told him that the other day.) That was two weeks to the day after he left, and it was a very, very hard day. We’ve talked twice since then and kept in touch via email and text.
I had my first therapy appointment today. It was good. I wish I could have gone sooner, but my crisis happened right when everyone else was having theirs, and vacations and all that. Going back weekly. Also have an appointment with B and a couples counselor Tuesday. I don’t know what to hope for at this point.
Now and then it hits me all over again, but in between I have found some peace. I am getting stronger every day.
Never fear–I’ll get back to publishing regular stuff on a more regular basis just as soon as possible. Right now it’s all I can do to juggle one ball at a time.
When the two returned home to their houses in the same town, in the same neighborhood, on the same street, four houses apart, neither could stop thinking about the other. The girl barely slept and couldn’t eat. When she awoke in the morning, she looked the man up and sent him an email–something short and sweet and hopeful. In her mailbox, she found a painting from the man of a purple snail. Her heart sang and she sent another email admonishing him for causing her to make undignified girly noises. She immediately sculpted a matching snail for him in blue. Into it she poured everything she was feeling–all the joy and hope and dare she even think it? Yes: Love. And she brought it to him that very day and they sat across from one another at a small table and tasted every beer on tap as they talked, and talked, and talked.
Later that night they went back to the office from which he ran his “mighty publishing empire” and he played music for her and they resisted so many temptations as they listened and talked, their brains awash in love chemicals.
Over the next several weeks, the two met tentatively, as friends, as the man sorted out the life he’d neglected for far too long. And when the two were apart, the girl marveled at the string of coincidences and the seeming serendipity that had brought them together and kept reaffirming for them every step of the way that this was good and right and expected and deserved.
He moved house within a week and still kept the promise he’d made himself that until he was sure he was doing the right thing, the girl and the man would be just friends. Just friends who were falling ever more desperately in love by the day. They talked for hours at a time, stared into one another’s eyes, wondered whether the whole thing was some cosmic joke on them. They longed for their first kiss, and when the man finally gave in, they melted together in that kiss. They waited much longer to be together unclothed, but when that happened, the fireworks were spectacular.
And they loved, and they loved, and they loved.
[To be continued.]
Over the course of the evening the girl and the man continued the dance, spiraling in and away, engaging for a moment and then disengaging because the intensity was almost too much to bear. The girl found herself grinning like a fool, and saw that he was, too. She said his name to herself quietly, trying it on for size–not to wear it, but to learn what it might be like for that name to become familiar to her, cherished, like a comfortable sweater or a favorite book or the name of her true love.
As they moved together and apart, the girl and the man learned that though they were both away from home, they lived in the same town. That they lived in the same neighborhood. On the same street. Within four houses of one another. The sparred with words and glances and jibes and wondered at the magic of it all. Each one felt as though the Universe had reached down and shaken their little snow-globe into utter, ecstatic chaos. In the wee hours they said goodnight, embracing for the first time, him mumbling, “I hope to see you soon,” into her hair, her whispering, “Just try to avoid me,” into his neck.
The girl barely slept that night, and the next day the two sat down to their first meal together. The girl was nervous and giddy. The man ordered a salad and the girl ordered a hummus plate, but neither ate much. They talked about their favorite things (his favorite color: blue) and hobbies (she sculpted snails, among other things) and interests and how strange it was, this thing that seemed to be happening between them.
The man mentioned how, when one is away from home for a weekend, it can be a simple thing to get lost in a fantasy. The girl felt a little sad because she knew it was true–the odds were against this being anything as earth-shattering as it felt at that moment. Then the man said, “I sense reality here,” and the girl thought, “Who is this man who isn’t afraid to talk to me about feelings? Where has he been all these years? Can he be real?”
Then, “Please, let him be real.”
[To be continued.]
Once upon a time there was a girl–a woman on the outside, but on the inside, just a girl–and she was sad. Her life–like everyone’s–had been a series of ups and downs, and this was decidedly a down period. Unemployed, depressed, and unable to see a happy future for herself, she read self-help books, gave herself tarot readings, read her horoscope and the I Ching, tentatively started a blog, filed her unemployment paperwork–reminded each time that for the first time ever she’d been fired from what she’d only a month previously referred to as her “dream job.” Boys and girls, our heroine was in a funk.
One day she read somewhere that in order to get what she wanted, she needed to know what she wanted. Sounds simple enough, but it wasn’t. So she created a sort of electronic totem and poured into it everything she could imagine that her life could be. For Home, Work, Love, Health…for every aspect of her life, she created a place with words and images describing her perfect life and tied it all together and left it there to do its work.
Within a month or so, things began to change. Small changes at first, hints of changes. Coincidences. Portents. The Universe seemed to be telling her “Something BIG is about to happen. Get ready.”
She didn’t feel ready. But she went out into the world and one night she met a man and knew when she saw the back of his head (though she’d only met him in passing once before) who he was and that she would now go and introduce herself to him.
It was his eyes struck her first, or maybe his wide, joyful smile as she shook his hand. Or maybe it was sheer chemistry. But while they talked only briefly, she went to bed that night thinking of him, wondering. Telling herself to stop being a silly girl. But she looked for him the next day, saw him across a hotel lobby, and felt a twinge of something like hope. And felt silly all over again.
The next night she met him again, and when they spoke, her heart vibrated in her chest. They moved among dozens of people as if in a dance, each always aware of the other’s presence in the room. She knew his exact location every second and when they came together to share a toast or a joke, their eyes met and she saw fire there–a fire meant for her. It was clear to them both and anyone else who was paying attention:
Something BIG was happening.
[To be continued.]