What’s With All Of This Old Shtuff.

I’d like to apologize to anyone currently subscribed to my feed in a way that notifies you via e-mail of any activity. I’ve been looking through the things I’ve hidden and, deciding to no longer cast shadows for convenience, I’m spell checking and returning them to public status.

It’s no longer my burden, if anyone else believes that my life has been unacceptable. Been there, did that, don’t agree with all of it, either, sorry, move along.

WordPress will notify you of a “new post” when it’s really not. I’ll be done with it by the end of the afternoon. Thank you. Let there be light.

I Already Had My Happy Ending, then I re-wrote it at the last minute.

brad

I have a confession to make. A big one. My online journal hasn’t been telling the whole story for a very long time.

I would flip back through the entries of my life over the past several years and note how free they were from scandal. From story. From excitement. I only made this observation after an old love came back in to my life. I managed to drum up as much of that “life” as I could, and I started going crazy, again. My writing was more interesting, to say the least. And for a while I thought that it meant my life was “moving again”.

I believe that my previous love interest was a catalyst for the downfall of my ten year relationship with Brad. Before that we were happy, boring together, filling our days with too many dinners out and Netflix in front of the TV. But you would never have known it, after what happened. I proceeded to go behind his back and communicate with Glendan and his family, pursuing MY destiny like it had always been MY OWN and not one with Brad.

I had gone in my journal, found the times I had talked about us and I hid them as if I didn’t want them to speak for ME. I was ashamed of my body and had told Brad to never put me on Facebook – but I also didn’t like the idea of being linked to him like a chain, limiting and defining me beyond my control. Just writing those words hurts my heart more than I can explain.

Brad was Mr. Right Now, because I needed him in every way. Mr. In the Meantime, Future Pending, because I didn’t know if I wouldn’t end up in a different story for some reason.

I became involved online with that other person because I thought they’d always had my romantic heart. What they really ended up having was my 16 year old heart, preserved and repressed in the perfect condition for ruining everything I managed to make for myself once I “got over” Glendan and went out in to the world with a real boy.

Once I finally put my affair in the past (which I came to realize and admit was such), Brad looked past it like history. He knew it had happened, but he thought we could learn from it and make our future better after it. He forgave me. He knew it had been a dark, manipulative, heart-wrenching thing I had gone through and he gave most of the blame to the self-proclaimed “phantom” who had haunted me.

It didn’t help that everyone in my life would say, “Really? Brad?” as if he was a poor match and I had settled. Their unkind words left bad impressions in my head, and through the years down the road I would make Brad feel bad for not being “intellectual”. Sure, he loved to talk – he was friendly and good at sharing – but I was preoccupied with criticizing everything about him. I brought him down. I never said it but I made him feel like I thought he was stupid, all of the time.

I have had mental and premenstrual-related issues coursing throughout me for years and those became considerably worse. I had to have control of everything, control over Brad, and when something made me upset our life together had to be put on hold until it was made right, big or small. I stopped cooking – hell, had never started, house chores had become difficult so I stopped doing those, too – and I had to be reminded by him to at least “please greet me when I come home with a hug and a kiss.”

And so it became, almost mechanical. I wish I could have seen now that it was depression and my inability to just believe that I loved him truly.

Meanwhile he was taking care of me. He did everything for me. He showed me how the world worked, got me my first bank account, my first phone, showed me how to drive around, and he was there to listen to my every complaint. He paid the bills, worked the hard job, cooked the meals, and kept us going when we would get in to a slump. He tip toed around me, was careful never to lose his temper because he knew it would cause me to be upset, and he always made sure that everything around me was perfect. He wrote me poetry, made crafts for me, bought me gifts – and I stopped doing a goddamn thing.

Although I’ve always been very self-oriented and selfish, I started to separate and become one person more than ever, since that online affair. I wanted to start losing weight, because love doesn’t care what you look like and I had not taken care of myself. I went on a diet and went in to a separate world. When we lost the communion and the celebratory factor of food, we lost a lot of touch. Then as the world started noticing me again (funny, how our image really is everything) I was faced with factors and a reality that I hadn’t felt since my initial weight loss in the early 2000′s, when I had met Brad.

He would be quick to point out that he knew me and was interested in me, before I ever knew who he was. Before I ever started starving myself. So I just want to say that. I met him at a smaller size, but he liked me way before that.

Brad really did love me more than I did, and when that song “All Of Me” came on the radio one night, I started crying in the passenger seat.

“Why does it make you sad?”

“Because he loves all of her, completely. I could never love myself that much.”

“Do you think of someone, when you hear it? Someone other than me?”

“…No.”

But there was an incompleteness I didn’t understand, and I romanticized it and rationalized it in to mean that there was some distant destiny I couldn’t reach. I would look at the moon and think that I was preventing myself from going there with the life I had. And that meant, Brad.

In reality it was me, criticizing and being a bitch about our life together. I was NEVER satisfied. Only ever focused on the ways that I was unhappy, disgusted, turned off, what wasn’t done or maybe I would just sit there in that beautiful home (I felt trapped in) and cry like a baby because my piece of cake wasn’t big enough. It had too much sugar, it was too small, I wanted more.

I couldn’t connect Brad with the world in my head. I rarely dreamed about him. I was completely compartmentalized, inhibited, and split almost in to different personalities.

We connected in the most basic way. Meals together, games together, laughing together, drinking together, and him showing me how everything worked, keeping me alive, and kissing me. He literally made an unhealthy person function and had created an alternate sort of environment where she could do whatever came naturally and survive.

I got really sad in the apartments. I started to pace, look out the window and cry. He asked what I wanted and I dreamed up the idea of a home, a more permanent and acceptable scene (because my apartment life had been criticized by an old friend from Adrian and that planted a seed that grew). So what did Brad do?

He bought us a house.

We had been together a good 5-6 years. Neither one of us were planning on doing much else. So I tackled the project. I did all of the paperwork, made sure he had everything in order, sent all the e-mails and info, and then we had a home he could barely afford.

That caused more stress for me, but it was good whenever I did something like, decorate the mantel, or host a dinner, or play the part in the pretty little box. I did have a love for it, even if I hated it the other half of the time. I loved decorating, loved the control, and I dwelled there with Brad. Nested, but like a maniac.

After so many years of listening to each other pass gas and eat Halloween candy right out of the bag, I lost a lot of attraction to him. I wasn’t sure if I could do anything about it and it made me sad, made me feel like there was no passion, anymore.

I should have known that we had just grown so close that the sparks would be harder to create. We’d sit at dinner together, comfortable, exchanging smiles and people would ask if we were brother and sister.

He said once, after I hopped off the treadmill, “I’m scared to death that some richer, older man is going to sweep you off your feet and get to fuck the shit out of you.”

By the time I was so mad, stressed, yelling and going off on tangents that I was actually moving out in a haste (even yanking my flowers from the ground), he warned me,

But at this time that shield I had crafted for a long time, in my defense and in my anger, was held at my chest,

“Autumn, you are impulsive. You don’t always think right. You don’t know how hard I have to work, to keep you somewhat level. You don’t know because I never tell you. I think you need help. I’m afraid you’re going to get out there in the real world and not know what hit you, I’m afraid someone WILL hit you. Autumn, you can’t treat other people the way that I let you treat me… Autumn I love you I will do ANYTHING for you…”

Emotionless, I stood there and watched him break down and cry. I heard the words but they didn’t hit me. My lack of reaction rendered him speechless…not that I ever seemed to take much interest in listening.

Through his tears, he tried to piece things together. If I was doing it because of US sucking, or because Autumn found something else. He heard me talk about Mr. Walton, the principal who had just lost his wife. How I had seemed drawn to him, talking with him when he came in to work…

That was exactly where I was headed when I went out the door for the last time. I wasn’t in love with Mr. Walton – it was a safe place to go, but Lord knows I felt attracted to him if I wanted to rent out his house while he lived in it.

And so I let the greener grass call. I looked at that gaze I always held out of the passenger window and I followed where it went, telling Brad that it would be OK, that I was sorry but that I had to go and follow the sensation that was leading me.

And that’s how I lost him. I left him. I left the house, my home, and the man who loved me unconditionally since he was twenty.

Brad was the sweetest, most giving, one-in-a-million guy. “Has the kind of heart that anyone would die for” as the song ‘How Could I Want More’ goes. I used him, abused him, fucked around, let him be the perfect boyfriend through it all…and then I smashed him in to a million pieces and he actually missed me when I was gone. He cried so hard and got so sick that he couldn’t move.

You didn’t hear about Brad very much, did you? My readers of old? No, you didn’t. You’d almost forget he was around. Many of you would think he was never there.

My first entry, though…Dear Live Journal, I have a boyfriend. I’m going to keep him.

That shield I talked about that I had built around me, as I have been taking care of Mr. Walton and his estate, slowly started falling off. The other day I came across Brad’s baby picture and something hit my shield at the seam, causing the lot of it to crash off in one startling moment…

And I grabbed my hair with my hands,

looked around me in a place I didn’t recognize or feel connected to,

Started to feel the mass of thousands and thousands of days together,

Flashes of my awful ways, his beautiful, beautiful support and love,

And I started screaming.

Today I admitted that I was wrong in the things I had been fighting for. My goals, my thoughts, my beliefs, just a whole swarm of fucking buzzers resounding in my ultimate wrongness. Formerly the Girl Who Knew Everything, even Formerly the Bitch Who Thought She Knew It All. I. Fucked. Up.

And I brought people in to this earthquake with me, luring them, making them believe in solid ground and then I shook the foundation. Changed people’s lives in all the ways I used to be so proud in being influential. All so I could say, “Stop. This is the wrong way.”

My foundation is brittle and we could all fall through.

I’m sorry. Everyone, be careful. Slowly, slowly make your way… well, uh… I don’t know.

I don’t know.

I want to go home.

I just want to go home.

Choose Your Own Adventure

I’m not looking forward to Halloween. Dan wants me to dress him up as the Mad Hatter and as fitting as that may be, it’s also half of the contest he won with his wife when paired with none other than the Queen of Hearts. I feel like he wants to be half of a different twosome.

I’m a skeleton. I got one of those Spanish headbands with the skull and the roses, and I’m dressing in black with face paint. I bought him a black shirt with skeleton bones on it so we could be similar, and we did go out earlier to a haunted house as such:

skellies

But this weekend is children and candy and the marital house and having to go out in to the massive garden planted by another woman so that it can be weatherized for winter. In short, lots of work and emotional landmines.

We were at dinner on Friday and he showed our waitress that he was the only one wearing a wedding ring. Insta-whore sitting on the other side of the table, I gave a humiliated look and wondered if things were ever going to seem like Dan and Autumn.

There was a fight because I had taken some of the Halloween candy and stashed it in a drawer. He woke up from his nap (which he invites me to sit with him and accompany him for, resorting in his snoring and my staring ahead blankly at whatever awful thing he cued up on television) and caught me eating the candy before he emptied the entire drawer in a fit, declaring that Halloween was cancelled. As if he had the power to nix national holidays at his whim.

“You owe me a bag of candy.”

I wasn’t cool with that. I left the house without a destination. He called and apologized about candy.

“It’s just candy. You’re right.”

I reasoned it as a much needed “time out”, a session that can’t be had in a place that embodies the entire problem itself. So I stayed gone for a few hours and he texted about possibly having a fire, something we haven’t done.

Later on that night we sat in front of a starter log, each with a glass of the wife’s favorite wine, and we fought by the fireplace, shouting and crying. I started sleeping on the couch and some back pains later I hiked back upstairs to find that he had locked the bedroom door in his own communicative stint.

“It sounds like he’s got candy at the end of a stick, and he’s poking you with it,” my co-worker sympathized. I laughed an awful laugh.

I wrote Dan a letter in the convenient form of e-mail explaining how inappropriate it is for me to hear every other word about his romantic relationship with another person. He had cast her shadow at the cider mill we attempted to enjoy when he guided me to the entrance and declared, “Me and my wife would always sit over there”. Totally spoiled. It wasn’t our moment; it was theirs, and mine never happened. The e-mail goes on to explain how much I need for him to deal with his past, find additional support, and try to move forward while giving me occasional consideration. All in the form of an ultimatum that merely points out the fact that we either continue to sink slowly and die, or find a way to change.

Dan calls the e-mail a “book” and indicates that it was probably too long for him to read.

“So he’s either ignoring it or he read it and won’t admit it,” someone de-coded.

“He took a napkin at the end of dinner, twisted it in to a ghost and dipped his fingertip in spilled salsa to make eyeballs. That was charming. I took it home with us.”

“That’s not taking a turn for the better. That’s a brief plateau before another plummet in this relationship of yours.”

It was suggested that I print and read my letter out loud, but it has its own snarkiness that may be ridiculous all the same.

“It has the line ‘you can’t have your dead cake and eat mine, too’ in it. I’m not sure it maintained decency or understanding.”

“But being in-the-moment offers you the blessing of improvisation,” Kyle pointed out. “I dunno, Autumn. It’s time for you to figure out how this terrible Lifetime drama ends.”

I just know that Halloween happens next. And that I owe Dan one bag of candy.

I Would Write One Thousand Words.

Baby, it’s 3 a.m. I must be lonely.

There is something all too cliché about the “middle of the night” publication, but I honestly couldn’t sleep. Daniel does this thing when he goes to bed – he turns on the television. And it will take a while to wake me up, but it always does. This time the ‘Sons of Anarchy’ were having a blowout, gunfire ablaze, bright lights flashing like crazy. This would send any normal person into seizures, but not Dan – to him, it’s a lullaby.

He’ll say the next day, that he had to work all night and how by the time he finally made it to bed for a few hours rest, I was fast asleep. Snoring.

What little does he know.

I swear to God, sometimes I look over at him and his mouth is open and this old man sound is escaping from it and it scares me to death. I’m not ready to take care of an old person; I’m not exactly doing a stellar job with my own self. I get worried that I’m going to wait for him to come round long enough to look over and find that he’s using a walker with little tennis balls on the bottom.

Of the 120 indoor plants I have been nursing, one of them started to look unhappy once I removed it from the bathroom I use. It is by far, the ugliest plant I think I’ve ever seen from the succulent family of cacti-looking atrocities. I didn’t want the damn thing in my personal space, so I took it from the room that was always bright and sometimes humid – and ultimately removed it from its climate of survival.

He says, that was his wife’s “favorite” plant. But I think I’ve heard him say that before, about some goddamn thing growing outside or whatever else we happen to be talking about. So I have been killing her favorite thing as long as I’ve let it slowly petrify in front of the fireplace. Recently I summoned the last remaining charitable bones in my body and divided the two living stems in separate pots and fertilized them before I set them by windows.

One of the things is here with me, now, in the room I moved all of my furniture in to. A ticking clock of a plant that will either sprout something new in the next few days or give up the ghost. These plants, these step-children of animals that puke and shed and shit everywhere, I find myself so sadly out of love for them. It’s just not the same.

The chaise I’m sitting on now to type is just here, the blanket is the blanket I found lying over it. I pulled the fabric over my lap, so foreign to me but instinctive, like a hotel lounge I never leave. Like a woman who must have stayed here and then lost her memory. The little sign in the window that I’ve carted from one place to the next says: Home is where your story begins.

Home was where my story began and there is truly, truly no place like it.

I decided to come in here, put a record on and write over the little cry fest that has started to become routine. It’s simply exhausting, when your breathing is all restricted and you’re trying to maintain the level of snot coming from your nose. I’d rather be here, away from the anarchy and all of its sons, doing something that I enjoy.

Some days, as I’m backing out of the driveway, I remind myself of something Daniel said to me.

“You can’t let yourself be happy.”

All of the bullshit, the struggle that is so hashtag real, I tell myself that it’s my personal syndrome. My refusal of satisfaction. And then I tell myself to get over it because that broken record gets awfully repetitive and annoying after some thirty years. Everything is okay, it just seems like it isn’t because that’s the only thing I believe in.

I gave the dogs a bath last night. Duchess was jealous when Tess was in the tub and she kept trying to hop in with her. Silly pug. She’s next to me, sharing the blanket and pillow because I always have a place for her, always. The big dog is lying on the cold, hardwood floor and when I tell her she should go to bed she just gets up and nudges me with her cold nose.

I’m looking at her, messed up haircut and all, and I’m thinking: this was someone’s family dog. This dog was loved like I loved Lacy, the girl who accompanied me growing up. But the woman died and those kids left and didn’t take any animals with them. So she’s here, half-stupid, looking back at me with a little of that frustration of having to deal, day in and day out, that I can relate to.

I’ve always had my own room. Home, college, home, apartment, house – even when I was living with someone else I felt a sense of ownership because I had full control – and used lots of it. My bed, my closet, my decorative boxes filled with My Little Ponies and everything always black and pink. Well, once Daniel loses the bedroom set in there as part of a pending court bargain with his step kids, he is turning that in to his gaming room: fancy seats that vibrate, cords galore.

I realized yesterday that for the first time, I’m losing my room. I have to consolidate. Say goodbye to the little box I’ve been coordinating my entire life, the color scheme I’ve loved for so long, the pink room that contained all of the cutesy shit I always refused to let clutter up the rest of the house. I have to figure out where my clothes go. Where I’m doing my makeup. That space I’ve always had…is going away.

Daniel’s bedroom is not an option. He took the liberty of filling every closet with his own clothes once the space freed up. My queen size pillow cases don’t match his king-sized Waverly bed set. The vanity in there is two feet from the ground, in the darkest corner of the room, and that flimsy little stool would ruin my knees and my back. And her pictures are still on the wall.

I don’t suppose I’ve ever really had my own room, anyway.

The illusions we keep.

This blanket, this pillow, this seems like it will be just as well. Nice and quiet, too.

Good night.

A Little (Too Much) Off the Top

I’m just a big ball of hormones, I’ve come to realize. Granted the stress has left me on edge, always on the brink of tears, but my moods have been drastic and my perspective, ever-switching. I picture my predicaments and people one day and see it all accompanied with a golden glow, just to have the same scenarios and relationships in a totally different light some hours later.

In short, I am crazy. And I just typed “perdicaments” because that’s how I say it when I get this odd southern accent going from unknown origins. Spell checkin’ this bitch.

If it is possible to be a desperate whore by food, then I have accomplished that these past few months. I found myself jetting from work over to the local McDonald’s, stress eating on a very restrictive lunch period, stuffing my face with fries just so I could handle going back to whatever the hell I was doing before – an odd combo of absolutely dick, and tons of shit. It wasn’t enough old habits to actually go up a clothing size, but let’s admit it – jeans stretch.

Does anyone remember that old animation for Charlotte’s Web where Templeton the rat goes on an eating rampage at the fair, drowning in lemonade, swallowing entire foods whole in a colorful kaleidoscope of culinary delicacy? Yeah. I did that. From like, May to October.

I’m back on coffee and electronic cigarettes, today. Because I’m crazy, so extremes are the only thing I understand.

Daniel is incredible. An incredible piece of fucking work, and a work of art. He thinks he’s waking me up with a ‘hey, Autumn’ when I’ve actually been listening to him running around, groaning and growling, and he’ll say something about how I could help him, or something that needs attention, as he continues to dread before work. Once at work, he hates his job. Then at home he enters grades and works on teacher stuff until the early morning, cursing and screaming all the way. I have prepared a meal, made his lunch for the following day and set out the next day’s clothes to crawl in to. We see each other briefly, long enough for him to tell me that his day “sucked a big, black dick” and for me to “take care”, then the cycle repeats.

In between these days when he swears there is no time for anything else, I try to get him to do things. I took him to a fundraiser walk for the Michigan Humane Society last weekend. During our stroll along the river he kept complaining about how he had to get home and work – and he wouldn’t stop bitching about the dog.

Oh, the dog.

His dog is one of those mutts-on-purpose, a poodle crossed with a retriever. So it has shit all over its face: long whiskers and chin like some kind of schnauzer, and hair growing over its eyes. Its chin is constantly dripping from lapping up water, which gets smeared all over you when the dog is nudging its snout. During a grooming session, I took a little too much off the top and turned this:

start

In to this:

end

Which he will simply not forgive. He kept saying how bad he felt for her…even though she had no idea what she looks like. And you know…can actually see things, now.

Everyone swooned over my pug. A cameraman came in for a close up when I was holding her, and Duchess took her paw and put it to the side of her face in this totally perfect model dog moment, because my dog is the people’s dog. She can’t help being perfect.

When we got in the car to leave, I was wishing we could have stepped off the path on Belle Isle to admire the other dogs. I felt like everything was cut short. And I thought about how Daniel was just going along to appease me even though I had set the whole thing up to stay involved with him.

I started to cry on the way home when he said, “You’re not happy.”

After I told him why, he made me look at him by turning my chin, and he leaned over from the driver’s seat and kissed me.

We attended a Detroit Symphony Orchestra concert recently. His school is affiliated with a church that DTE funded the community event for, which meant free admission. Which meant sniffling children, clapping along, crying babies and everything else. But it was still beautiful. I had been wanting to hear an orchestra play, to which Daniel reasoned that we must have been “thinking alike”…

It was the conductor’s birthday and the playlist consisted of his favorite pieces. They opened with the ‘Wedding March’ and I fought back tears a good five times. The whole thing made me think about how Daniel says he “can’t get married for at least ten years” because of some social security he will inherit on account of who I have lovingly been summing up as ‘The Dead Wife’.

“How’s Dead Wife Guy doin?” someone will ask me. “Hey, are you bringing ‘Dead Wife Guy’ to dinner?”

It’s a dead wife thing.

Have you ever seen a cartoon where two super figures are fighting, each having shot out a beam of light from their palms that clashed at their center point? The opposing forces, the streams of energy are going back and forth, one trying to overtake the other… that’s how I feel a lot of the time. I get to mediate that, to fight for every little thing I want to do, for every little moment I want to have. It’s exhausting.

Sometimes I don’t know why me, Daniel, The Dead Wife and those awful fucking curtains can’t all just sit back, tip back a beer and have a good laugh together…then I remember it’s because there’s nothing funny about it. And because neither dead wife nor curtain can drink.

It sucks to be all of us, right now.

But enough of the trivial shit (too bad it’s all trivial shit). I gotta get ready for work. This weekend I get to drag Daniel from his study to carve a pumpkin with me, which he is already not looking forward to. Then I cart his ass to a haunted feature that’s outdoors; it takes a good half hour to walk through. I know it will all be good for him. And I have to remember that for everything he swears up and down that he detests, I will often look over and catch him not-so-secretly grinning about.

Like a circle through a square peg hole, we’re working.

Like A Wrecking Ball

The last time I finished free writing, I looked at my entry and said, “Shit. This is totally a break up letter.”

The following morning I looked at my undelivered break up letter and refused to give up. I dropped a ridonkulous amount of money on plush bath robe replacements by Ralph Lauren, tackled the 27 piece Waverly bed set from hell by toning it down with neutrals, and when I asked Daniel, “Tell me something good that happened today” and he answered with something negative, I repeated myself.

Yeah. I’m not fucking around.

We attended a Tigers baseball game last week, which he seemed to enjoy. I had never seen Comerica park before and I swear to God, the moment I sat in my seat and realized he was appeased, I just about collapsed with a much needed exhaling.

“You’re no fun. You’re like an old lady,” he remarked, bouncing around. It made me think of when my mom would take me and my brother to the mall and she would rest in chairs out in the hallway.

This week I sent him flowers to his school. The ‘Golden Autumn’ bouquet, quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, “Love is an education in itself”. Maybe he’ll learn something.

Last night his Xbox suddenly wouldn’t power on. All he could do was look at me like it couldn’t have possibly been because of him and his lifestyle patterns – it had to be me, the disruptive force, that broke it. I informed him that his beloved, always shedding, always jumping up in the most disrespectful ways and champion chipmunk murderer cat Dink, had been chewing on the cords. He didn’t want to believe it. Even after I pointed out the chew marks on the cord – which I wondered if he thought I had created with my own teeth – he insisted it was because I kept the cat indoors.

I figured it was a good time to point out that Dink had also been pissing on his school papers that he had set aside on the basement floor.

“This is a goddamn petting zoo. I need to just sell this fucking house.” And it’s not that I wanted him to break; it’s the realization that his elaborate shit mess was no paradise, that I had been hoping for. It’s hard, living here. He needed to admit it.

Yesterday I rearranged all of the shit on the porch, taking his tall plant urns and putting them to the back, so my things weren’t totally blocked behind them. Now the front of the slab is clear for real-deal jack-o-lanterns and not just the gaudy plastic ones he’s waiting to unleash on the yard. Yes, I will show this man what beautiful is. Yes, I will find that autonomous space if I have to make it myself.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to continue being wonderful.