Clarity of Chaos

We sat together, alone on a Friday night.  What an atypical Friday night, without people hanging from our rafters and music blaring.  A couple of cans of beer and a pack of cigarettes were the only occupants of the old grainy table with red paint peeling.  I chipped at it a little carelessly while watching him intently.  It was him and me, peacefully alone, deep in light, airy conversation.

I was mildly distracted by the clarity of his voice.  No ambient noise of idle chatter engulfed his words.  They slipped from his full pink petal lips, with the crispness of mildly intoxicated honesty, confessions from a fortress of a man.  He explained his position, the station in which he found himself in within his own self.  My ears perked up at the heaviness of the content, and I felt the weight shifting from a crushing burden of existence onto him, sliding onto the table, begging for me to grasp it.

All I had desired, each last truth and beautiful, intimate moment sat before me, ready for my embrace.  However, I failed to understand the dimensions of it.  He began to clarify, “I need you.”

Befuddled, “Need me how?”

“I need to be with you.  I want more time with you.”

Those two sentences struck me with the force of a wrecking ball, crumbling every wall throughout each layer, penetrating me into a sweet surrender.  Simple words completely ravished me, turning my entire world on it’s ear.  And in this entire duration of the last six months, I had been none the wiser.

I wrote an article for A Canvas of the Mind entitled, “Disorder and Love: What We Do and Don’t Know” It went into a detailed analysis of relationships and how disorder can come to affect them.  I wrote:

Mental health disorders have a way of putting blinders on a person.  I have to say, there are a lot of things in this world that I miss.  Whether it’s because I’m wrapped up in my own head, or I have one of the different shades of the multiple pairs of glasses I don on, I know that my own perceptions are often distorted.  In short, I miss things.  Sometimes, I miss very important things.

I am not one to take a hint.  So, one of those subtle things, such as love, often slip past me or whiz over my head.

This admission was far beyond my own powers of perception, interpretation, and insight.  Riding a ten year roller coaster of various states and natures of friendships and romantic partnership, I came to expect that no further surprises existed.  He had seen me in the worst of lights, beyond any imagination of my own personal wreckage.  This is just as he had seen me in my greatest successes, radiantly reborn each time out of my own ashes.  And I witnessed him in his own pits, disheveled, yet hiding it well. With each crack beginning to show, every time pulling himself back into flight.  We ran our own cycles again and again.

People don’t change, they just become more so.  Murphy was sorely mistaken in this context.  And I had made some serious fallacious conclusions in this progression.

Have I folded into myself so tightly that I failed to see this?  Clearly, this desperate longing existed within him, stirring and quaking for eternities, extensively understated.  Had I walled myself into such complete introversion that existing within his own mind and heart was an impossibility?

It no longer mattered.  The blinders came off, and he had never been so radiantly focused though my own eyes.  We were unencumbered by the shackles of responsibilities and obligations.  In that moment, we were young lovers, engulfed in each other, professing each perfect droplet of affections in fine, caressing detail.  The purity of those exchange brought definition and order into our world of chaos and illusion.

That simple phrase was so multifaceted, in such a simple package with a little satin bow.  He had lost me, the pure, undistorted, unadulterated me before him now so many times.  He had lost me to our child, sacrificing so much time and energy that there was not much left to give.  Again, I disappeared into the abyss of postpartum psychosis, and dropped even further into the depths of bipolar disorder.  Each relapse must have been more inexplicably painful and confusing for him than it was for me.  A wild woman emerged in each episode of psychosis, severing him from me as reality slipped through my fingers and out of my grasp.  In the last six months, he had to have been suffering the same loneliness and mourning for the life and love we shared.

“I’m not going back there,” I assured him.  “I am better, and I will keep getting better.  We know what’s wrong with me.  And we can make me better together.  You don’t have to lose me again.”

“I just want it to be us.”

And it is.  And forever will be, us.

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Love the Way You Lie : 30 Days of Truth

Day 3 : Something you have to forgive yourself for.

Mutually Abusive Relationships
There is practically no literature on the subject of mutually abusive relationships, as this is only a recently recognized phenomenon.  While professionals, such as Dawn Bradley Berry, J. D. acknowledge that it occurs, few can agree on whether it was mutual in nature.

The dynamics of abusive relationships are significantly more complex than professionals seem to think.  In decades prior, society bred women to be docile, obedient, and complacent.  Most research reflects that in abusive relationships.  The man “attacks”, and the woman is “victimized”.

Unquestionably, that is precisely the manner abuse presented itself in my relationship prior to this one.  It began innocuously with casual criticisms and negative remarks.  A person is inclined to believe that a loved one only means the best, even if the words sting.  There was hardly a second thought toward the words.  Eventually, they grew into berating remarks, lambasting lectures, and generalized nitpicking over every action, behavior, expression, inaction, word, thought, emotion . . .

By then, I was already convinced that these heinous contortions were the embodiment of what I truly was.  I was already manipulated into believing I had been delusional about my own nature to begin with.  It was like being in a house of mirrors.  Every reflection revealed a new flaw.

But, a miniscule portion of my consciousness spotted the cracks all along.  It seemed I was not entirely convinced that this was the absolute truth.  Contradictions existed at everywhere in this fun house.  How was it possible that I was so stupid when my grade point average was far above his?  If I was such a flawed, inadequate, and vile person, why did I have so many faithful, loving friends?

At that point, the seeds of alcoholism were taking root.  I violated my own rules of drinking.  It’s 5 o’clock somewhere!  I’m not drinking alone if I’m drinking with my boyfriend.  Hair of the dog, best way to cure a hangover.  If I’m still managing to get to school and hold an honor’s average, I’m not drinking too much.

Liquid courage and comfortingly numb.

Naturally, I engaged the fire breathing dragon with my own fire.  Raw throat from screaming for hours, until one of us locked the other out, or I started packing a bag.  I was attempting to turn his own game right around on him.  The problem is that he was the gamemaster, and I was just a pawn.  I was always the pawn.  He could play me against me, and change the rules at will.

It was common knowledge. I would never leave.  I was already too terrified of the potential consequences.  Besides, all of my money was tied up in that apartment.  We had acquired a sizable amount of mutual property.  I was unwilling to sacrifice all of my gains, my gains, because I paid for them, to someone else.

Next, we moved into the isolation stage.  Suddenly, all of my girl friends were whores and my male friends wanted to get into my pants.  Your friends are a reflection of who you are.  No wonder you’re a completely stupid whore.  A drop of truth existed.  One of my closest friends was a teen mom, a stripper, and into drugs.  I didn’t see a whole lot wrong there.  She had a good heart, despite her mistakes.  But. . . maybe I was wrong.

We graduated college, lost our apartment, and moved onto some family property.  This was the turning point.  Here, we were completely alone.

I was a victim as much as I was an abuser.

It is one of the most difficult realities I have to face.

Prior to that point, I had never laid my hands on anyone with malicious intent.  And truthfully, I can’t pinpoint where it began.  Being in a perpetual state of inebriation has likely damaged that portion of my memory to beyond retrievable.  I can only recall certain events.  But, my mind will never be able to purge itself of the horror, guilt, rage, terror, hurt, and animosity I felt.

He started abusing me first.  Again, it started innocently enough with playful roughhousing that usually got out of hand.  Eventually, it turned into vulgar, degrading, often coerced, dangerously rough sex.  Then, it finally graduated to domestic life.  The transitions were so smooth that it was too hard to distinguish in the house of mirrors.  Sometimes you need to be put in your place.  You don’t know what’s good for you.

I became the monster that I loathed.  I was an animal, trapped in a cage, and emotionally, verbally, and now physically beaten for mistakes.  Sometimes, it was events that were beyond my control.  And, I gave in to my natural instincts.  I started fighting back.

I wanted him to feel the pain he inflicted upon me.

I recall a specific incident, the worst of them all.  We were drinking and playing World of Warcraft.  He was highly competitive, and I was entirely defensive.  As usual, he had remarks on my lack of skill and inadequacy in the team.  I started back in on him.  There was a back and forth that eventually provoked me to get up in his face.  He saw me coming and hit me in the face with a CAT5 cord.  The cord slashed my face and the connector rendered my right eye useless.

I pounced, but he knocked me flat on my back, with his foot on my chest.  He commanded, “You stay down there!”  I wrested myself free and attempted to get on my feet, only to be knocked flat and pinned again.  “Stay on the f***ing floor!“  Once more.  “I thought I f***ing told you to lay on the f***ing floor!”

I couldn’t free myself this time, and I angrily searched the floor for something, anything.  I grabbed a discarded vodka bottle and hurled with all of my strength at his head.  He jerked to dodge the impact, and I got to my feet.  I stared at him defiantly with my mouth twisted into a snarl.

“What the f*** do you think you’re doing?!  You could have f***ing killed me, you stupid b****!”

“I’m sorry I didn’t!”

He came at me, but I lunged for him, tackling him to the floor. I began mercilessly wailing on him as he antagonized me, “Is that all you got?! A fly could do more damage!” I slapped him across the face so hard that my red handprint swelled on his cheek.

He threw me off of him, but I was still in pursuit. My cheek burned, my eye puffed shut, and my rage incinerated every last shred of humanity that remained. I grabbed him by his shirt before he made it to the front door. He shoved me, but I remained latched to him.

“I’m leaving you, you crazy b****!”

“Take this with you!”, I spit at him and sunk my teeth into the flesh over his heart. He picked me up by my throat, viciously thrust me to the floor, and slammed the door. I laid there, coughing and gasping to regain my breath.

That wasn’t the end. The end didn’t come for nearly another year. And in that year, incidents such as these were commonplace. I could not legitimately claim victimization. I shared equal fault for the escalation of the abuse that occurred. Despite any trauma I have suffered, I am responsible for another person’s trauma.

That alone hinders healing.  Most of the world will never see themselves in that light.  I have more than glanced at the monster in the mirror.  I became it.  I abhor all parties involved in each and every single last act.  Including myself.  How could I possible forgive myself for such atrocities that I committed when I have personally felt the pain they inflict?