Homesickness at 106

I’ve been so homesick lately.  It’s been almost four months since I moved into this new home, and I’m finally getting homesick.

Over the last few days, I’ve been looking around this home, and I realized that nothing about it feels like mine.  Nothing about it feels like the comfort of home.  I don’t see any of the useless trinkets that adorned my last home.  Instead, I see items that belonged to another person in another time.  The sugar bowls above my cabinets.  The ceramic that clutters my counter by the stove.  Inherited, ugly dishwear that we eat off of.  Foreign pots and pans that I prepare food on.

At first, it was like an exciting vacation home.  It was an escape from my ramshackle house that had strings like Pinocchio.  I was a puppet in my own home, and eventually, I was forcibly removed from that home with the final passive-aggressive jabs in a long, relentless series of them.  I had broken free of my failure to launch syndrome and was on the road to becoming a self-sufficient adult.

Now, I feel more helpless than ever before.  In my hometown, I could free myself of the bondage of my house whenever I felt like it.  There was a wealth of places I could go and see.  Here, I am trapped at the end of a beautiful, scenic private driveway in an idyllic little town.  To get off of this mountainous terrain, it’s a mile’s walk straight down a series of steep hills.  And even if I were to make it into town, there is nothing to do and nowhere to go.

I don’t miss the cramped nature of 511, with junk brimming from every tiny storage area there was.  But, now, I feel that there is no place of solace for me.  My bedroom was my bedroom.  All of my stuff was comforting, and my space was adorned with knicknacks of years past.  It was a representation of me.  I feel like this place is completely devoid of that.  This place feels devoid of me, and I’m beginning to feel lost.  I’m beginning to feel like I’m losing myself, instead of finding a place where I could discover myself once again.

There’s too many negative memories attached to that house.  So many, that they actually outweigh the positive ones.  In that house, I lived with Avi, without heat, in the most brutal winter I can recall.  I lived out of boxes, surrounded by piles of garbage and junk.  I was estranged from that house in warmer months as a means of escape.  I hit the bottom of the barrel with a miserable labor job, a serious drinking problem, and a completely hopeless future.

It was in that house that I was coerced into having immoral sex with Simon in a sick, twisted threesome.  I hardly remember it.  Most of what I can recall from the situation has a haze over it.

There were good things.  It was the place where Xan was partially unconscious in my lap on New Years’ Eve, and I fed him a special New Years’ Eve pretzel I made in the bakery at work.  It was the place where I first realized that I loved him.  That was the house where Xan and I first lived together as a couple.  It was the first place we made love.

That was the place where we started our life together.  It was the place we went back to after our wedding.  It was the house that our child was conceived in.  We brought our little bundle of joy home there, and slept on the living room floor next to his bassinet for the first month.  There, our son took his first steps, said his first words, and grew from a baby to a child.

Again, there was the bad and even the ugly.  Too much violence happened there, both physical, verbal, and self-inflicted.  It was a breeding ground for negativity.  Xan and I used to have these knock-down, no-hold-barred fights there.  I recall too many moments where I stormed up the stairs to escape him.  The whole last four months of our residence in that home was a complete disaster in our marriage.

In essence, I escaped that place.  But, is the devil you don’t know worse than the devil you do?

Positives.  Think of the positives.

This house has the potential to become my lifetime home.  Maybe I am just homesick because I spent six years in the last house, and only four months here.

This house is located in a safe area for my son, and provides a calm, free environment for him.  In addition, it has a better school district and provides better learning opportunities and support for him.

This house has additional space.  I don’t feel as cramped and caged, even if I do feel lonely and secluded.

Even though this house contains a lot of foreign items, it won’t forever.  I will acquire more items to replace the old ones that feel more like me.  It will become more familiar as time passes.

This house is not a money pit.  It is in good condition and was well built.  I do not spend a large amount of money on utilities, and there is hardly a threat that I will ever be without.

I will never be threatened to be evicted from this home.  There are no strings attached and the owner is very hands-off.  I will never find myself threatened or harassed over this house.

Xan and Beast are happy here.

It is easy to clean and requires little maintenance.  It might be a little more overwhelming, since it’s a bit bigger than the other house.  But, I don’t have to look at torn out walls and feel a sense of hopelessness and fear toward the condition.

I can be happy here.  I have been happy here.  Summers are far more temperate and beautiful here.  Autumn is gorgeous with all of the foliage.  Winter might even be nice with fresh white snow covering the yard and the woods.

It’s quiet.  I can think.

And one day, I’ll be able to get around on my own.  Even if there is really nowhere to go.  I’ll be less lost and I’ll understand the area a little better.

I’ll find my place here.  I know I will.  It’s just going to take some time.

The Friday Confessional : I Loved You More

When Xan and I were getting together, I once wrote in a journal, “What’s the difference between a best friend and a lover?”  The only answer I could muster was, “The fact that they aren’t physically intimate.  That’s about it.”  Not that two people aren’t attracted to each other, but that two people were not being sexual.  It was the only hard and fast line I could define.

Even that line begins to blur at some point.

I had my first kiss at thirteen.  It was New Years Eve and we were sitting up on a snow covered roof with a friend.  We were close together, wrapped in a blanket for warmth.  We all were talking about life and love, and it was so silent outside besides our own voices.  Suddenly, the world burst to life with people shouting and pots and pans banging.  Our friend started to hoot and holler.  I looked at my friend, and had so many fond, but conflicted feelings.

That’s when my best friend put her hands on my face and kissed me deeply.

We were the best of friends for over a year at that point.  In that year, I began to become symptomatic.  She was my confidant, and I poured my heart and soul out to her in the early hours of many a Saturday morning.  Her hugs were the warmest and tightest, the kind that brought a person back from the brink and back down to Earth.  She rooted me, and often became the sole reason I didn’t slash my wrists right there and then.

Her parents were divorcing at the time.  She was forced from her family home into a tiny apartment with her mom.  Her mom started working, so we had a lot of time alone.  Somehow, we both managed to date guys, but we never really had boyfriends.  I always had strange feelings for her.  I kept them to myself, because bi-curiousity was not encouraged in my area.  I didn’t want to be that weirdo that had a lesbian crush on her.

It turned out that she had the same feelings.  She was never one for expressing herself through words, so she just went for the kiss.  I was shocked, and didn’t know what to make of it.  Was it for the shock value in front of our friend?  We were so known for that.  Anything to shake it up, or make people laugh.  We were an entertaining pair.

The next day, in the confines of my bedroom, over a cigarette, we talked.  She was serious.  She had been waiting for the perfect opportunity to kiss me and make it count.  There was no other way she could get it across to me.

And truthfully, I fell in love with Kat.  I wrote in a journal once, “She was the first person I really fell in love with.  No confusion between a best friend and a lover.”   At that age, I can see the confusion.  But, it’s more than fifteen years later, and I still feel the same way.  I loved her.  I didn’t care that she was a female.  I loved everything about her.  I loved her fire.  Her art was intoxicating.  There’s still one piece that I’ve been attempting to replicate for years.  But, I’m not her.  I don’t have that kind of talent.

We complimented each other.  I was a writer and a musician at the time.  She was an artist.  I would write things and she would illustrate them as if she was in my head.  She always knew what was in my heart and on my mind.  We stole kisses in the night and behind buildings.  We shared my twin bed to sleep in on the weekends.  I never thought it was strange, even before we were together.

Together, in italics, meaning we were secret.  Therefore, we were never really defined.  I never understood the rules of our relationship, and I still can’t make sense of them today.  We were part-time lovers, apparently.  Eventually, friends and family started to get suspicious, because we stopped dating boys and dedicated all of our free time to one another.  So, she hatched a plan.

“I’ll date this boy and you date his friend.”

It would have been a perfect cover if things had gone according to plan.  These boys lived towns away, and without cars, it was difficult to maintain anything beyond a phone relationship.  Her and her boyfriend had a passionate, but turbulent relationship.  I was starting to get confused about who she had affections for anymore.  I’d ask, and she’d reassure me.  But, there were times where she’d push me away.  She was constantly breaking up with the both of us and getting back together with the other, when she wasn’t trying to manage the both of us.

Eventually, the boy and I grew closer.  And one night, he admitted his love for me.  I had longed for him and his kindness, being so jealous of her and him and not having that affection.  I confessed my own love and longing, and that was the day we called our anniversary for the next four years.  We had only a month before I finally gave in and told her.

Something strange happened.  I went away on a long summer vacation after that.  When I returned, she contacted me telling me she missed me.  And we were back on until the late autumn.  On a icy November morning, she was silent with me.  We used a singular computer to type back and forth to one another.  She asked me to choose between the two of them.

“It’s not fair,” the print on the screen read back to her.

“I’m not changing my mind.  You can’t have us both.”

“I have to choose him.  I love you.  I’m sorry.”

Things weren’t the same after that.  We tried to go back to being just friends, but I could see the agony in her eyes.  As far as I was concerned, she made her choice when she stepped out on me the first dozen times.  I was just finalizing it for her.  Several months later, she set me up to get in trouble, and it was the perfect cover for her to duck out on me.

I remember that Friday in March, two days after everything had thrown down.  She always rode my bus home with me, because we were going to babysit down the street.  I knew I wasn’t included anymore.  She gave me what was coming to me for all of the horrible things I had done to her.  I had hoped that there would be some redemption. She sat behind me, and I turned around to talk to her.  She ignored me, like I wasn’t even there, and went prattling on to a mutual friend sitting beside her.

I had become a ghost to her – to everyone who had anything to do with the both of us.  It had been like this at the lunch table, in our classes.  My life was stolen from me, and I deserved it.  I told her so, and begged her to talk to me.  She finally faced me and refused.  “I’ve had enough.  I’ve taken so much from you in the last two years.  You are dead to me.  Don’t talk to me again.”

I was confined to my room after the incident, so I just isolated myself to my bed.  I went to bed early and woke at dawn.  I looked up and out my window into the never ending grey sky.  And I said aloud, “If I hadn’t done any of this, she would be beside me right now.”

Later, I wrote a letter to her in my journal to say goodbye.  And I wrote, “In the end, after everything, I just wanted you to know that I always loved you more than anyone.”

With or Without You : 30 Days of Truth

Day 15 : Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.

Most people would prefer to choose a certain special someone or an object to contain all of their affections.  Though my relationship with this is troubled, I have found it to be impossible to live without it.  Even if it’s so hard to live with it.

Medication.

I have made the attempt several times in my life to live without psychiatric medication.  My first was a psychiatric evaluation when I was thirteen, and I refused treatment.  What thirteen year old has the intense desire for repeated therapy visits and pesky medicine?  As a direct result, my symptoms progressed, and I wound up my own cutting board.  When it became concerning, no one was willing to take me back for actual treatment.  Instead, I unnecessarily suffered until I humiliatingly revealed myself and my wounds to an outsider.

The next time was in my late teens.  After being medicated for nearly five years with no result, I was ready to give up on $60 co-pays for a medication that just gave me heroin-like withdrawal symptoms when I forgot to take it.  (That was also the first time I became strongly inclined to start carrying medication on me in clever, cute containers).  I spent a gratuitous amount of time on weekends in a different county, an hour away from my home.  The bus services were shoddy at best, and if I forgot to take my medicine on Friday, then by Sunday morning, I was violently shaking and vomiting in front of my relatively new boyfriend.

This new boyfriend, Avi, convinced me that there was absolutely nothing wrong with me.  The medication was doing more damage to me than good.  It was a waste of time and money.  Psychiatry was a joke and a con for cash.  It would be in my best interest to get off of the medication.

The funniest thing about that was the fact that I became irreconcilably depressed when I weaned myself from the Lexapro, an SSRI.  I required way more than my typical six hours of sleep.  I could no longer party until dawn.  And mostly, my only desire was to scream and cry my eyes out.  After you’ve been hypomanic for so many years, having a crash like that was epic.  Coincidentally, it coincided with the very first cliff fall in our torturous relationship.

And resulting in that choice, I developed functional alcoholism prior to the legal drinking age in the United States.  It took several abusers, victimization, abject poverty, and becoming an abuser to take me down into the depths of a bottle.

I found that I had even given up on self-medication.  When Xan and I got together, it became obvious that he suspected I suffered from addiction.  Though our relationship was certainly not new, our courtship was brand new.  In order to not put him off, and make a show of my own self-control, I slowly ditched the bottle.  I was so addicted that I found I had to be intoxicated to make love to him.  At least a little.

A few years later, I started treatment.  I had managed to remain sober, however, I had completely lost control of myself.  Several months into treatment, I ran into every medicated person’s greatest fear.  My medical coverage was eliminated.  Every pharmacy reported the same thing; Lamictal costs a fortune, and if I can’t afford COBRA, then I sure as hell cannot pay for it from pocket.  I found myself soliciting every pharmacy within a 10 mile radius for assistance.  Finally, one came through for me.  But, not before I suffered cruel withdrawal symptoms.

A similar withdrawal happened over a holiday.  I was unable to see my Pdoc before Christmas, and he had taken vacation through the New Year.  The office had a policy not to call in medications, so I had to make an appointment to go in.  Catch 22.  For four days, I laid there writhing in bed.  Xan took charge, and I had a refill that same day.

The very last time was one of my own poor choices.  That is exactly what mania does – it gets your hooks into you and tells you dirty little lies.  I had decided to attempt to wean myself from medication slowly so that I could prepare to attempt pregnancy.  I did so alone.  Instead of consulting a doctor, I went ahead.  And instead of getting off of medications, I had psychotic breaks the likes of which I have never been remotely acquainted with.  The result was more medication and a lesser likelihood of having a second child.

I have been without by force, by accident, by coercion, and of my own volition.  Like it or not, I cannot live without medication.

The Friday Confessional : Promiscuously Yours

This would be installment number two in The Friday Confessional Series.  For those of you that are new to The Friday Confessional, thanks to LaLa, writer at Seasons Change and So Have I, I have taken on the idea of the Friday Confessional.  There’s something so cleansing about it.  I am not Catholic, nor have I ever been.  But, I can see why confessional is an important part of their Christian denomination.  I believe that it’s important to mental health and spiritual health to come forward with any deep dark secrets that may be bothering me, consciously and unconsciously.

This is where I start working toward my clean slate.

Dear Avi,

I have written several articles about our tortured relationship, some of which are entitled, “Love the Way You Lie”, and “Decent into Hell”.  Facts are facts.  You abused me in every imaginable way.  You degraded me and manipulated me into sexual acts I am still ashamed that I performed.  Those are my own burdens now.  Karma has come full circle and dealt with you in the best possible way, although I am still unsure as to whether losing your entire military career taught you the lesson, “What goes around comes around.”  Maybe being divorced after six months of marriage in your twenties was bad enough.  Somehow, I doubt those things.

Karma has dealt with me.

For what?  Am I referring to the mutual abuse I helped to perpetuate?  Not exactly.

Sadly, the real breaking point in our relationship didn’t occur until you had made the open admission that you cheated on me.  It’s not that you cheated on me, it’s more about the lie.  I caught you doing it a year and a half prior, and you convinced me that I was paranoid and delusional.  It was damaging to my mental health, and truthfully, I never truly believed it.  Especially after her boyfriend clearly called you and threatened you right in front of me.

I was willing to let it go, because I thought I loved you.

The truth is, I never did.

I had no right to be upset with you about cheating.  Because honestly, I cheated on you probably more times and in more hurtful ways than you ever cheated on me.

I started my indiscretions at the very beginning of our relationship.  Remember when I told you I was going to be in Ohio visiting relatives?  Did it ever click later on that the only relative I have in that state is in Columbus?  Instead of visiting family, I was visiting a truly gorgeous young man who had a serious attraction to me.  We had been fooling around even before you and I were together.  I won’t attempt a justification, because if I had determined it was appropriate, I would have made the admission up front.

And we had crazy kinky sex all weekend.  It never occurred to you that those bruises were no accident.  That same lame accident I blurted out when I brushed the subject off the very next weekend.

Honestly, I had no love for Jamie, either.  But, he was a complete manwhore, mostly sexually indiscriminate between man, woman, young, or old.  Jamie was an incredibly attractive boy with incredible sexual skill and anatomy.    However, if had Jamie lived closer or attended the same school as we did, it would have been more likely for me to have chosen Jamie over you.  I may have come to have feelings for him, however unlikely. It was just a huge self-esteem booster to be the object of such a man’s desire.

Then, there was Jeff.  Jeff was actually an ongoing infidelity from the relationship prior to ours.  All of those whispered late-night calls were made from his bathroom after a booty call.  Sure, that’s all I was to him.  I was his secret sex, because basically, I just was not attractive enough for him to parade me around his shallow friends.  But, I never wanted to be his girlfriend or even his arm candy.  Why?  I failed to fall in love with him as well.  Instead, I fell in love with the thrill of his pathetic, shallow, sex-driven psyche.  I adored his compliments, sweet talk, and the ambition – all completely directed toward screwing me.  It was fantastic.

All of the unfaithfulness occurred within the first two months of our relationship.  That is the reason why I never reciprocated any loving gestures or words.  I collected them, just as I collected all of the affections from other men, however superficial.  I eventually settled for you because being promiscuous was getting exhausting.  Besides, you seemed like a guy I could probably stay with.

I was wrong.  I thought I loved you.  I fell into a hole I couldn’t dig myself out of.  And you trapped me, leaving me pacing the cage.

I cheated again with Jeff.  It was once, six months into our relationship, when he failed to sleep with Adrianne at a party that you weren’t invited to.

I cheated with Beck.  I went as far as to give Beck a third shot at dating and mating, even after everything that happened, because I loathed you so much.

I found myself seeking repeated emotional affairs.  In college, Q and I were fantastic friends.  One day, when you refused to at least walk me to a doctor’s appointment down the street, I stormed off.  Q came after me, and finally walked beside me on the street.  He grabbed my hand, and we talked.  I choked back tears as I recounted the argument.  Finally, Q stopped me in the middle of the busy city sidewalk, and embraced me.  I did attempt to pull back, but not for your sake.  For my own.  And he said, “I’m not letting you go until you’re okay.”

That was only the beginning of Q and me.  We went on “adventures” around the city together.  He’d grab my hand, and we’d skip class.  We went everywhere.  He bought me some odd Asian ice cream in the Strip District.  He taught me how to play DDR in Station Square.  He took me with a group of friends to a sushi restaurant in Oakland.  We walked through Schenley Park in Squirrel Hill.

Then, I went and ruined it by coming out with it.  “Do you ever think we could be together?”

“Not like that.  Probably not ever.”

And Simon.  Simon, a great friend for three whole years.  Simon, who I spent most of the summer with, drinking and talking on his back porch.  I had been more emotionally intimate with Simon than anyone in a long time.  But, you knew that.  That’s why we had a threesome with Simon on the anniversary of Simon’s and my first kiss.  And, Simon became weird about it, and I lost a friend.  You did it to try to prove to me that no man could ever love me, except for you who barely tolerated me.

Finally, there is you.  In reality, you were an affair from the relationship prior to ours as well.

For the record, I did not cheat with Xan.  I had an accidental romance with him over five years.  Over Beck, over all of those men, over Simon, and over you.  And in the end, Xan and I ended up where we belonged, proving you wrong.  A man can love me.

Most sincerely,

More Than Ten Years : 30 Days of Truth

Part II

Day 10 (Part Three) : Someone you need to let go of, or wish you didn’t know.

Lea and Liz, the first entry, started to describe the nature of relationships I had with my three high school friends. It is the preface for this. In summation, we were a group of best friends, entangled in each others’ lives. Mistakes, grudges, and other forces created huge divides between us, leaving lingering hatreds spanning years.

Liz and the In Between, focused on my relationship with Liz.  It detailed all of the significant events within our friendship, and how it had turned ugly at times.  These were the years in between the first entry and this one.


Kat and I eventually buried the hatchet about five years later. We were both adults who had done a great deal of growing since. We did attempt reconciliation, but mutually decided that we were too different to have a friendship. We grew out of each other. That’s life.

It took Lea and I much longer.

I recall a Fourth of July party I was invited to many years after the incident. A mutual friend of many years invited me, and his sister, best friend to Lea, naturally invited her.

Before I knew it, only a large patio table separated us. We inspected each other, sizing one another up. She still had the same snow white skin, but now she donned raven hair in place of her usual highlight job. Also, she had become much larger than me, at least fifty pounds or more. It was a little more intimidating, but I didn’t care. I’d tussled with men twice my size.

I don’t know what she saw, but she looked fairly intimidated.  I was that same, fiery haired, piercing eyes girl she had known then.  I hadn’t aged yet, though many of the girls at that table already had.  The only differences were these.  I wasn’t staring her down behind a pair of Buddy Holly glasses.  I was 1/3 less than girl I was.  And, we were no longer surrounded by brick and mortar that was the all-seeing, all-knowing, completely crooked system that was our public school.

Yes, we were in the real world. Where there were real consequences to actions. If one of us did one thing out of turn, we’d face something that didn’t include losing two perfectly good school days to absolute intense boredom of a desk with blinders, essentially.

So, we were deadlocked, powerless to make each others’ lives hell. We were adults, not children thrust together in the same place at the same time. We had the freedom of escape, to be free from the tangled web of the high school social society. As much trash as we could talk, it didn’t matter. Too much space and too few connections let those words fall on indifferent, rather deaf ears.

So, it dissipated throughout years of silence. I was already married with a child. We were truly adults, lives so far separated from those emotions and the petty grudges generated from them. What did it matter anymore? Through the power of Facebook, we put it to rest through humor over the incident.


Liz and I had settled old scores. That was, until I started getting serious with C.S. I remember driving around our neighborhood, the one we grew up in, yelling at each other. I wasn’t making time for her at her demand.

“I’m engaged to a man who is really good for me, who really loves me. Can’t you even be happy for me?”

She retorted coldly, “You’ve been engaged so many times, I can’t even take you seriously anymore.”

There was no birthday reconciliation that year. Months droned on. It seemed to be over, and I was distraught, but infuriated. How dare she judge my relationship?!

I invited her to the wedding as an obligatory gesture. I knew she’d never attend. She should have been a bridesmaid, and yet, she would have rather carry on a grudge over my priorities changing.

Mid-summer, mid-pregnancy, I received a card in a letter in the mail. It contained a wedding gift and a phone number. I hesitated, but mustered up the courage to accept the olive branch. I announced my pregnancy. A boy. He even had a name.

She came to visit, and it was the first time I saw her in about a year. She seemed overjoyed, but deeply troubled. Liz, Liz, always something brewing under the surface.

She came the day after I had my son. Later in the week, she brought us dinner, on the house. And that was the last time I saw her face to face. It was almost three and a half years ago.

In that time, her relationship with Fox deteriorated.  There was always some contingency on him leaving his wife.  When you graduate college.  When you get a good job.  When…

They were fiercely fighting, and rarely seeing each other anymore.  They had opposing schedules, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for Fox to steal time away from his wife.  One day, he left his email open on his laptop, sitting on her kitchen table.  She flipped through it, and discovered a few very old, very intimate exchanges between Fox an I on the MUD.

We talked.  “I know it was years ago, but why would he even save this?” she ranted.

Time passed, things changed.  That was pretty much the end of their relationship.  Well, that, and when she got a confirmation that he and his wife just got a new lease on their house. It wasn’t my fault.  She jumped into bed with their mutual married boss and ditched Fox.

I’ve actually searched and searched for the goodbye letter I wrote her in one of my journals.  I’m thinking our biggest falling out was in 2010.  Liz was always one of those people who insisted that she came first.  She randomly called and announced that she was back in town.  She wanted for me and her to go out.  I explained to her that a person couldn’t just drop by on me.  I have obligations to my family, plans that I’ve made, and things that just need done.  She was furious, insisting that I never made time for her.  All of these years, she made time for me, and the least I could do was see her during the few days in the year that she was in town.

Finally, I fought back.

“In all of this time, I listened to you prattle for hours about a miserable relationship with a married man, the same one that I urged you not to turn your life upside down for.  You defiled his marriage, and he still didn’t leave his wife for you.  Then, as soon as the opportunity presented itself, you jumped into bed with his married boss, your boss too. 

Meanwhile, I am being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, my marriage – to a man who fathered my son, is falling apart, and my son is showing signs of developmental delay.  The moment I tried to open up my mouth to share my troubles, was always the moment you had to go.  I’m tired of being on standby and being expected to be here at your beckon.  I’m tired of you leading me around by the nose.  So, if you’re going to get pissed off and walk out of my life, it better be for good this time.  Because I’m not taking you back.”

We didn’t speak for about a year or so.  That was, until a random birthday card for my son appeared in the mail, containing a gift card.  I let it sit in my nightstand for a month, pondering what I should do with it.  And finally, I broke down and emailed her.

Back to the status that rubbed me the wrong way. Lea is pregnant, after several years of marriage. And Liz, who I haven’t heard a word from in at least six months, made a comment. “I’ll definitely be there! I’m so excited to see you!” I know she’ll be in town; she lives far away. And I also know that she won’t make any attempt to stop by, or even contact me.

I invited her, holiday after holiday, to stop by the house.  She always said she’d try, but there was so much going on.  I never did see her, not once.

I stumbled upon what may be one of the most heartbreaking revelations I’ve ever had. Liz and I were never friends. We were frienemies. Not from my end, but from hers.

I was a pace car. I was not a concept to admire, but envy. When I actually married the man she truly desired, and had the family she secretly longed for, I had unknowingly won. She couldn’t come around, because she couldn’t bear the sight of it.  I had become her superior in every way, and that is a fact she can never reconcile, nor bring to the surface. It’s too juvenile. But wasn’t all of it?

Clearly, she’s not an active part of my life. Her absence has not made a bit of difference. In a way, I wish I could have ignored that birthday card. She would simply no longer exist, and I could retain all of our funny, powerful, intimate, and warm moments. Instead, I am in some friend limbo.

So, instead, I think I’m going to start hiding both Lea and Liz’s feeds. I don’t need it. Sometimes a friendship is beyond salvageable. The remnants are too few. I don’t want to remain friends for nostalgia’s sake. I am not a keepsake. I am a human. If we really remained friends, wouldn’t she at least message me from time to time.

I place this in the sea and wave goodbye. For the last time.

Liz and the In Between : 30 Days of Truth

Part II

Day 10 (Part Two) : Someone you need to let go of, or wish you didn’t know.

Lea and Liz, the first entry, started to describe the nature of relationships I had with my three high school friends. It is the preface for this. In summation, we were a group of best friends, entangled in each others’ lives. Mistakes, grudges, and other forces created huge divides between us, leaving lingering hatreds spanning years.


Liz. My oldest, most cherished, oldest friend. I was ecstatic that we could remain friends, while irked that a thread still connected the camps. But, I couldn’t let something that petty destroy such a long time, deep friendship. I let it fly.

Because, we were the best of friends. I spent most of my summers on her roof or in her tree. Her mother was more of a mother to me than my own. We were on a first name basis, and bummed cigarettes from one another.

Liz knew all of my dirty secrets, and I knew hers. And above the whispers were video games, art projects, and online chatting.

Liz always had this penchant for making me feel inferior. We couldn’t be different people. There she was, sleek and poised, not a hair out of place. Sure, she was curvier than I was, but infinitely better dressed. Her room was immaculate, just as she was. Liz had organizers for her organizers.

She took all of the advanced classes for college credits, and had a perfect average. Her friends were numerous, from all walks, and her enemies zero. Nobody could possibly hate sweet, whispering Liz.

Then, there was me. Frizzy, long, untamed red hair that could rival Medusa. My clothes always had some kind of imperfection, a rip, a snag. A part of me always looked badly patched, as if one loose thread would make it all come apart. My room was a mess, covered in layers of clothes, papers, and books. Nothing seemed to have a proper place.

I took remedial classes, though I was gifted. The pressure of higher courses was too much for me. I was already hardly functioning at the level I was on. (Early symptoms of bipolar disorder). I was tortured and dark; this was no secret amongst the student body. I had no true friends, unless you count the cult entourage. And, I had made a number of enemies.

That was (is?) me, Em. Outspoken, rude, ridiculous, dramatic, vulgar, crass, obscene, crazy Em. I was a one woman show who earned her red A by having sex as a freshman.

I would feel certain tinges of envy from time to time. How come I can’t be so pristine and graceful? Why can’t I get my shit together and live up to my potential? Eventually, I came to find a cozy home in the music wing, while Liz wrestled her way through academia.

Liz was neutral and remained so. She had even gone as far as to remove herself from it entirely when she joined drama club. Naturally, I was dragged into it. I was the only person who could play the sax part, and Liz just wouldn’t leave it alone.

And that’s when we met The Actor. He was a senior when we were sophomores. His personality was larger than life, and he was literally a character. He could be anyone, day to day, effortlessly sliding into natural roles of his everyday life. It was a sight to behold. And Liz was head over heels.

Personally, I felt he was a great guy and all. I was already committed, and The Actor wasn’t my type. But, I seemed to have caught his eye. The Actor wasn’t a man to chase, only one to drop hints and innuendo. I wasn’t totally oblivious, admittedly. I was flattered.

In the time period while working on the fall production, Liz got the nerve to ask The Actor out. She was thrilled when he accepted. But, he never actually took her anywhere. He’d come to her house, they would chat as friends do, and then they’d mess around for awhile. No sex, just messing around.

A few months passed and these became less frequent. Liz finally confronted him and discovered that their encounters were a complete secret. He broke it off “because it didn’t feel right.” Days later, he announced his relationship with a very respected girl in the thespian community.

She was his secret buddy, because he was too ashamed of her.

Her first “boyfriend” was not really that at all. It stung for me to watch that happen. And I detested that boy. Except, she didn’t. She still held out hope and lent her heart to him.

 

The following summer, after that turbulent year, she made an admission to me while sitting on her picnic table during that cool, clear summer night. “I envy you. I’ve envied you for years. You say what you mean, and you mean what you say. You don’t wrap it up in a pretty, little package. And people adore you for it. You are admired by others and fawned over by men.”

“Funny. I envy you. How you are able to have a handle on everything. Everything looks so effortless and natural. You have an air about you that screams refinement, maturity, intelligence. You don’t even have to speak to have people respect you.”

And we laughed. The grass is always greener, right?

Throughout the next year, we made a mutual friend via a MUD. He was a God (administrator), and he took a fancy to us. He was nice. Inside the inn was a secret door that led to private player rooms. And, it was there that much went on behind closed doors. Many things we didn’t immediately exchange between one another.

Eventually, they grew a real life, long distance relationship outside of the MUD. And once that happened, all interpersonal communication between Fox and I stopped.

It was all strange. He was more than twice her age, married, and living several states away. But, I indulged her. Liz had many things, obsessions perhaps, that never came to fruition. It was best to have her hope.

Another year passed. We made a mutual decision to drop out of school and attend a cyber-program. For different reasons. She signed up for three AP classes, and was failing two of them. I warned her it was too much of a course load. Personally, I was bored in remedial classes and felt I was not being challenged.

That spring, that’s when we met him. The man with the alluring accent, and the purring voice. He owned any room he graced his presence with, and one couldn’t help but take notice. His words were wise, insightful, and intelligent. It was prose in every breath and absolutely intoxicating.

It was C.S. Liz was smitten. I was on the fence. (Longer story that will connect later). But who wasn’t immediately striken? Gorgeous beyond words, sophisticated in a way we only saw in college brochures. He had a wise look about him, covered in a beard and a mustache that aged him five years. Most of the boys we knew hardly had chest hair.

We were quick friends. Liz had already committed herself to The Fox, but she admitted, “In the instance that things fall through, there is always the opportunity of a possible normal relationship with C.S.”

Another year, come and gone. Uneventful and irrelevant. We are now to the spring of our senior year. I was newly single. I spent the vast majority of my teen dating years in a committed relationships. I was completely lost at dating.

The Actor had freshly arrived back into town, prepared for his summer away from college. Naturally, he contacted his best girls, Liz and me. Upon finding out my new relationship status (prior to Facebook, we had to rely on word of mouth), he asked me out. I was ambivalent, but I agreed. Maybe I was wrong about him.

No, I was right about him. We went back to his mother’s place and talked. We kissed a little, but there wasn’t anything there. We didn’t click, as nice as he was to me.

I guess this was still a sore spot for Liz. Oops. I had figured that after two years and several short lived boyfriends later, she wouldn’t care. That was the first time we fell out. I profusely apologized and insisted that nothing happened. Voicemail after voicemail. And eventually, I had to stop. It was killing me.

We were speaking again in the fall. Everyone had scurried off to college but us. We were still in transition, attempting to figure out what we wanted to be when we grew up.

An old high school friend of ours reappeared. Raz was always a cool, quirky, kind of awkward guy, but in a cute way. He was fairly popular in certain circles.

In the dead of a September night, he phoned us and insisted we were leaving the state to head to the casino. It was thrilling. I had the most wonderful company, great tunes, and we were embarking on a new journey, sans map.

Miles of highway, and a half a dozen penny slots later, Liz and I stood in a women’s room. She candidly asked me, “Do you think Raz is cute?”

I responded, “Sure, I’ve though so since school. But, you know, I’m involved.”

She ecstatically concurred, “So did I! The Fox and I have been on and off for awhile now.”

You know where this is going.

A couple months later, I was single again, unemployed and crashing on C.S.’s sofa. One day, Raz and Adrienne stopped by rather unexpectedly. There I was, greasy hair in a floppy bun, clad only in an oversized band T-shirt, and a pair of gym shorts, elbow deep in dishwater.

We all gathered and had a lovely visit. The very same night, Raz called. “Would you like to go out on a date? I mean, if you’ve available.” My little teen girl was squealing inside.

“Yeah, that sounds great!” I answered. It was the first time I had been asked on a proper date. I finally felt less like a peace of meat and more like a woman. Proper, respectable.

It was another blunder of mine, apparently. By date three, Liz was not speaking to me again. She used some lame excuse, but it was pretty transparent. Even after Raz and I concluded our brief relationship, Liz was still silent. And by now, I was pretty pissed at her petty reactions every single time I dated a guy she was interested in.

My birthday broke the silence. And in another month, I received a call asking for her blessing on taking Raz up on an offer for a date. Whatever. I was laying on a futon in an expensive apartment on the rich side of the city, stoned out of my mind. I was doing way better than lame Italian restaurants in the suburbs, long drives in the country, and listening to the inane dribble.

Later, when The Fox and Liz were back on, she made an admission. After I went on the singular date with The Actor, she had an encounter. She got her teenage desire in the back of a car, in a vacant parking lot. And it was the most unsatisfying experience ever.

All debts were settled, all scores even, and all forgiven. That was that.

Or was it?

To be continued . . .

Lea and Liz : 30 Days of Truth

(Originally dated January 31, 2012)

Day 10: Someone you need to let go of or wish you didn’t know.

Originally, I read this prompt and blanked. It wasn’t until I read Gypsy’s Day 10 Post that I came to this realization.

Facebook is toxic. Cosmo did an article in the December issue about a study revealing just that. That article confirmed certain suspicions, so I started taking statuses with a grain of salt. Yeah, I bet you’re happy about your drunken single life in your late 20′s, since you brag about it so much.

But, a couple of nights ago, a status rubbed me the wrong way.

Bear with me. This gets a little complicated.

I had a huge group of best friends in middle school. One by one, they dropped off for various petty reasons. Kat and I were inseparable. Until a boy came between us. Of course, that left a huge schism between them and me. Lea took on the grudge personally. But, Liz stayed neutral.

Kat pretended like I didn’t exist. Lea campaigned for my social public execution, setting up shop right across the hall from me, and Liz ghosted between.

For thirteen years, we are encased in hallways and lockers

Eventually, Kat and Lea started dating brothers, one who I dated years ago (of course, that was Lea’s boyfriend). I had my first public scrap happened with Lea in that very hallway.

Moe and I were still really good friends. Of course we were! I was the only one who stood by him and spent countless hours on the phone with him when he was in the hospital for chemo treatment. I stayed with him, even though I knew that it was incredibly possible that he could die. But, it was too late to turn back then.

We walked through the hall talking, cutting up as usual. As he met her in the hallway, I passed him and said to him, ignoring her, “Later whore!” A whole fourty-one minutes passed, and my head was filled with Biology before 10AM. I walked down the stairs and met with my gay guy friend to head to the music wing. Lea passed me and snarled, “Fuck you, you white trash slutbag. You’ll regret fucking with me.”

It was only audible to the immediate vicinity, all music kids. I flew, screaming after her, “Are you threatening me, you fat fucking bitch!?”

“What if I am?” she turned and sneered, “What are you going to do about it? Cry and cut yourself?” She continued walking, headed up the stairs.

I lunged at her, screaming, “Get your prissy fat ass back here! I will pull you by your scraggly bleached hair down these stairs and stomp your fucking face in!”

Check had already grabbed me, and held me in a full nelson as I raged at her. A teacher from the third floor came down at that point and lambasted me without even asking what happened. I spouted off, “Fuck you too, Pistol Pete.” And Check had to drag me away. We were unbelievably late and it was still a walk to the music wing.

I told him, “Go in before me. I don’t want you getting mixed up in this.” I stood outside the room for a couple of minutes, listening to the melodies and harmonies of warm-ups bounce off of the tiled halls and wooden doors.

Calmly, I walked in. I turned the corner, and the whole room rose to applaud me! I was beyond shocked, and no words could come. I expected a slow, painful, icy death by silence. Instead, I was congratulated for my absolutely outrageous outburst! By everyone except Liz, who gave me this disgusted and pained look.

It was no surprise when I was called to the principals office by noon. She was coming out as I was headed in. Lea glared and mouthed, “Fuck you, whore,” as we passed one another. I growled under my breath. If we weren’t surrounded by a room full of elderly secretaries, I would’ve jumped on her and ripped her face off.

I sat across the desk from the principal in her little interrogation room. This wasn’t the first time. Hell, it wasn’t even the first time in that school year! But, I had never been in there for fighting. I knew protocol for a search. “Let’s dump your bookbag here, and we’ll have the constable walk you to your locker to watch you dump that all over the hall.” But I didn’t care. I was actually pretty satisfied with myself.

“So Em, would you like to tell me what happened between you and Lea?”

“No.”

“Excuse me?”

“Why should I? Lea already told you what you’ll believe anyway. I won’t waste our time.”

“Fine.”

And that was it. No, “I want to hear your side.” What was there to say in my defense? The tattletale always wins. And I already had a record.

I knew only hell awaited me at home. It always did after there was an incident at school. Going home and facing the wrath of my parents was worse than any punishment they could deal me at school.

My mother’s head was poking out to look down the street as I approached. I considered turning and running. No, that would make it worse. Then she’d send my father after me, who would literally drag me kicking and screaming back up the street.

Fighting had been the worst offense I had ever committed. And the worst part is that I didn’t even actually hit her. I only threatened it, while verbally assaulting her in front of about half of the student body.

“So, the principal called today,” my mother announced in front of my father. She must have meant business. Usually, she at least attempted to break the news gently to my father.

“Yep, what did you talk about?” I asked candidly.

“You tell me.”

Shit.

I sighed, and recounted the tale, uncensored, complete with swears and acts.

There was a long pause. I wondered how long it was going to take before she slapped me in the face for using that language, berated me for embarrassing the whole family, and let my father actually kill me. Dad stood in the background and just started clapping. My mother smiled. Was this some sort of sick torture? Get on with it!

“We are so proud of you!” she exclaimed.

“She got what was comin’ to her,” he noted.

I was so confused that I was terrified that I had actually lost my mind. “What?”

My mother explained, “That girl has been torturing you for three years now. I’ve wanted to kick her ass myself. And you finally stood up to her.”

“I don’t care what that idiot principal has to say. You did right today,” my father confirmed.

“Next time be a little more subtle and don’t get caught,” my mother mentioned.

“You’re serious?” I questioned. She nodded.

I almost died. If I was caught smoking, I’d get grounded for a month. If I was admittedly fighting, I’d get rewarded? What the hell kind of backwards world was this?

After that, it returned to the cold war. The lines had clearly been drawn, with a no-man’s-land in between. Moe made his decision – all men led around by their second head. Kat had already made hers. But Liz still had to chutzpah to traverse the DMZ.

It wasn’t until Moe and Lea had broken up that more lines were drawn. Lea thought it was insensitive that Kat was still dating Moe’s brother. Kat wasn’t about to give up a good relationship because her friend was too petty to get over it. And it was over in less than a summer.

Lea League, Club Kat, and Team Em. And somewhere where those borders met, Liz sat and slowly seethed.

To be continued. . .

The Friday Confessional : First Edition

Thanks to C, writer at Seasons Change and So Have I, I have taken on the idea of the Friday Confessional.  There’s something so cleansing about it.  I am not Catholic, nor have I ever been.  But, I can see why confessional is an important part of their Christian denomination.

October 25, 2000

It was quite an eventful day.  Not even a week earlier, I had come out to a teacher about my cutting that had gone on in secret for two and a half years.  I was on psychiatric suspension until I was able to see a doctor.  I suppose that was probably a punishment that was meant for my parents.  Their only respite from me was school.  It was likely intended to force them into seeking treatment for me, rather than ignoring the problem, as I confessed in that principals office.  They had known about it for more than a year at that point.  And it was my father’s taunts about it that gave me the little white scar with two teeth just under the freckle on my left forearm.  That was the nasty gash that led me to this very day.

My mother cautioned me before we left.  “Don’t say anything crazy, or else they’ll put you in inpatient.”  I was going to an inpatient facility for outpatient care.  It was twenty minutes away from my home, and filled to the brim with all likes of troubled kids, far worse than me, from all around the area.  I heard the horror stories of that place from friends that had complete meltdowns and whose parents were scared out of their wits.  “I roomed with this girl who had fifty stitches around her neck.  She tried to slit her own throat.”  Talk about cutting.  I was an amateur digging at my wrists with a dull steak knife.

My father was a bastard the whole way there.  I always hated being in the car with him.  It felt like I was trapped, forced to listen to him go on and on about whatever was grinding his gears, usually me.  It seemed like there was something I had done or not done that set him off on a raging tangent.  Today, it was the fact that I was going to therapy.  “This is a waste of fucking time and money!  I’ve been in therapy for 20 years, and do you know what it got me!?  A fat sack of nothin’!  So wish in one hand and shit in the other, girl!  See what fills up faster!”  At least I can say that he was memorable in those states.

It didn’t matter.  That day was about me.  It was the overdue response to all of my distress calls.  They took to prepping me in the car.  I was not to say anything about the family.  I was not to smack talk anyone, or else I was going to get taken away.  If I lied or exaggerated in any way, they’d go to jail, and my brother would be put in a home.  It would be all my fault that they broke up our family.  The fate of the family was in my hands now, and I’d better now screw it up, or else I’d never be forgiven.  They would leave me to rot in a foster home.  Eighteen was still two years away for me.  Two years is a long time in your teens.

We arrived, and I was greeted by a woman who looked to be about my mother’s age.  She was thin and had bright eyes.  Her name was Dr. H, but she preferred Ann.  I was hesitant.  It was impolite to refer to any adult by their first name.  It was a sign of disrespect.  She handed my mother a huge stack of paperwork and told me to come right in when my mother was finished.  My mother looked through the stack, and then started thoughtfully.  I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t signing my own consent, and then I realized I wasn’t of age yet.  It looked too large to be consent.  My mother leaned in to me and asked, “You don’t torture animals, do you?”

I was astounded that she even asked!  What the hell was on that form?!  She explained it was just an assessment, and that there would be ridiculous questions on there.  Some kids were a lot worse than me, she noted.  Clearly.

I went into her office, and it smelled like lavender.  The lights were dimmed, a candle was lit, and there was an inviting sofa with pillows and a blanket next to her desk.  “How are you feeling?”  I burst out crying.  I couldn’t stop.  I spilled everything.  All of my misery and isolation fell from my eyes and mouth into her lap.  I purged, like word vomit, until I felt empty again.

She told me, “This isn’t your fault.  You have a disorder.”  It was a relief.  All of these years, I had known that I wasn’t like other children.  Children aren’t sad and scared.  People don’t go around crying every single day of their lives, wishing they were dead.  She continued to explain was Major Depressive Disorder was, and assured me that I would see a doctor about getting medicine for relief.

“Will I have to be on this medicine for the rest of my life?” I asked.

“Sometimes, medication is just a crutch until you can get better.”

Famous last words.  (I’m on five psychiatric medications as of right now.)

I went home and went to bed.  Bed was home.  Bed was the only safe place there was in the entire world.

My boyfriend showed up later, and we went out to celebrate his eighteenth birthday.  When we came home later, everyone was gathered in the living room.  My mother announced to me, “We’re taking your father to the hospital.  We think he had a heart attack.  Your grandmother is coming to watch you.”

Fine by me.  My boyfriend and I went into the game room in the basement and had sex again.  He stayed pretty late, as my mother announced he had to go into emergency open heart bypass.  And all I could think to myself was, “Good.  I hope he dies on that table.”

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?

The Scorpion and the Frog

In one of my previous posts, The Family Furnace, I described a situation happening with my family, and came to some conclusions about the situation.

What I failed to mention is the circumstance of the situation.

Prior to the last month, I had lived in one of my family’s properties for six years.  I went to live there in the summer of ’06 after I was facing certain eviction from my apartment.  When my parents heard about that predicament, they offered to help me fix up the property, so we (my ex and I) could live there.  In preparation for our arrival, the bathroom was completely gutted.  The only bedroom with a remaining ceiling was plastered, and an extension cord was run from their house to mine.

Temporary patches to a desperate situation.  Which became more critical as time passed.

The house was fatally flawed.  Winter started to approach, and I started to inquire as to how I was going to get heat.  I was told that I faced thousands of dollars of work, replacing the furnace, hiring professionals to install a furnace, water heater, and rewire the entire house in order for it to be up to code with the electricity company.  It took me by surprise.  The only other option was to improvise.

I lived in one room with a futon mattress in the corner, and a kerosene heater in the middle of the room.  The floors were bare, and the house was not insulated.  My ex had the place covered in garbage, wrappers, used glasses, empty bottles, etc.  Essentially, we were squatting in a hobo house.  The only luxury we had was running water, but it wasn’t hot.  The rest of the house was so cold that the water in the toilet would occasionally freeze.

When I was not thinking about the misery of the weather, I brainstormed ideas on how to improve my life. That’s when I discovered that constantly wearing a hat increases body temperature, but has the unfortunate side effect of making me dirtier with sweat.  I learned how to warm a bowl of water over a kerosene heater so I could sponge bathe.  I also came to the conclusion that this was rock bottom.

The obsessions started.  When those thoughts were not enough to occupy my mind, I considered all of the ways that I could die.  Exposure.  The constantly recurring infections I picked up from unsanitary living conditions, chronic health problems, and a weak immune system from inadequate housing.  I could die in my sleep from asphyxiation due to the kerosene heater.  Even better, I could be consumed by smoke and fire.

After living without heat through a Pennsylvania winter, I learned to appreciate the basics of life that others often forget about.  The essentials of life are not guaranteed, and sometimes, we are forced to fight for them.  I count my blessings each day to not be cold, hungry, and dirty.

However, I still have a problem counting my other blessings.  Particularly with people in my life.  I often find that I have difficulty letting go of wrongs and seeing clearly in the present without the past forming a cloud over it.  I despite being left to fend for myself, getting kicked out of the house that I poured thousands of dollars of time, manpower, and money into that pit, and all of the rest of things in the past, I was set on putting the past in the past, and working toward a better future with my parents.

I came to the realization that my parents were never parents when I was a child.  What would possibly make them such now that I’m an adult?  True, I have a Mommy and Daddy complex, so badly that I accidentally married a man under false pretenses of not being like my father, when it turns out that he is.  Worse, I spend time daily obsessing about the similarities between my mother and me.  And the worst, I attempt to find family in other people.

But, all of that is fine.  One day, I will be able to resolve that.  But, I knew that if I dropped the inexplicable unreachable expectations, maybe it would possible to move forward as friends.  Seeing as how we have had some time and space, literal and figurative.

I made an effort to drop my suspicions and stop reading into things my mother says to me.  We actually had a good conversation, and I was happy with her offer to clean out my refrigerator.  I was ready to resign my key to her when she asked.  She was excited to hear that we were stopping by in the evening, and she couldn’t wait to see Beast (my son).

We did stop by in the evening.  When I asked if she would mind watching him for twenty minutes so we could go to the store, she attempted to make up some lame excuses.  Her voice was noticeably displeased, although she was completely enthusiastic less than twelve hours ago.

I noticed that I accidentally left my keys at home, and requested Zen’s (hubby).  He put up a fight, and I became extremely frustrated, feeling as if this was going to become a serious battle.  Yes, my mother brought up the refrigerator, but never requested the key exactly.  My parents were pleasant enough.

Until we were going to cross the street to leave.  We were about to climb into the car when my father called after me.  “Hey, when are you going to have the rest of your stuff out?”  I carefully explained that we’ve been taking serious and unexpected financial hits, and we’ve had to take it weekly in our PT Cruiser.  That’s when he dropped the bomb of complete betrayal.  “Well, I need to get in there so I can fix the place up and have it rented out by winter.”

My mother had lied to me.  She told me that it would be impossible to have it rented due to the numerous code violations that stood between them and a renters permit.  My family was passively-aggressively bounced so they could turn a profit.  And, I was stung by the memories of living in abject poverty while they stood by.  The memory of spending my last two months of pregnancy alone, because my husband was fixing the house.  And all of the money siphoned out of our account by $700 electricity bills in the winter and repairs to every emergency situation that happened to that place.

Betrayal could never be enough of a word to cover all of the emotion coursing through every nerve and vein.  I was stung, and the venom made me lightheaded and nearly paralyzed.  I climbed in the car and assured him that we would do so swiftly.

I was quiet for a few minutes.  Zen asked, “What’s wrong?”

I replied, “It’s unbelievable.”

Zen said everything under the sun to try to make me feel better.  He attested how it would be impossible for them to get it rented, because nobody in their right mind would take it.  Even so, they would never be able to do it legally.  We could vindictively turn them in to the township, or repossess the furnace in the middle of the night.

“I’d rather draw up that contract for the furnace that they will inevitably default on, and have to drag them into magisterial court.  There would be nothing more embarrassing, and it would cost them more money,” I insisted.  Still, it was nice that he would go out of his way to settle my vendetta.

I asked, “Wait, why aren’t you upset?”

“Are you surprised?”

When I made certain promises to the man upstairs (my higher power), I asked him to give me a sign as to what I should aim for.  He responded, “Put others before yourself.” The problem is the inability to accurately anticipate wants and needs outside of the basics.  I assumed that my higher power would want me to forgive and start over with my parents.  But, after some thinking, I came to a realization.

There is a parable about a scorpion and a frog.  At the end, the scorpion betrays the frog’s trust.  When asked why, he could only reply, “Because it’s in my nature.”  Sometimes, we have to be reminded that there are ugly truths in the world.  And sometimes, things are exactly as they seem.  My gut reaction when my mother asked for the key was that she was intending on pilfering belongings she did not expect that I would miss.  Zen admitted that was the reason he withheld his key.  He knew better than I did, because my mind was clouded with optimism.

Optimism can be just as dangerously perilous as pessimism.  We can be misled into believing in the best in people, when it just simply nonexistent.  I realized that I am not a scorpion, and I didn’t have to be the frog either.  Instead, I know better than to play the game.  It is the exact reason why I am put off by gambling.  There is too much risk to be manipulated into losing it all.

I resign myself of that life.  And just because I can’t have the relationship that I want with certain people doesn’t mean I am unable to have a relationship at all.  I don’t have to hang onto the past to remind me to not let it repeat.  I only have to keep one piece of it, the least poisonous as a reminder.