Somewhere Between Helping and Hurting

Everyone’s got a past filled with the other people from the world. They have histories of living and loving before you came along. Each relationship is different, existing on its own account, whether brief or everlasting.

While it’s true that most breakups devastate at least one of us (the lyrics “When a heart breaks, it don’t break even” come to mind), sometimes both parties unwillingly separate. We don’t all choose to end it. But we do choose to begin anew.

Despite the harsh turns our lives take, none of those people in yours should be (or be made to feel) like your last chance leftovers. They are not the ruins of your previous relationships. They are not defaults or plan B’s. Don’t ever look at your partner and tell them that they came from your past without them.

To say that you’re holding their hand only because you can’t hold someone else’s is wrong. It’s hurtful and pointlessly devastating to the both of you, to live by this methodology. Life would be different if things were different; this is basic science – it’s not the basis of a relationship.

“When I was with someone else, I wasn’t with you.” No duh. Neither was I.

“If I could have stayed with someone else, I wouldn’t be with you.” Why does that matter, now?

“The only reason I’m with you is because one door closed.” Hold on there, dipshit.

For the record, I am not ONLY, ANYthing. And I’ve been with you because I’ve chosen to, and that’s what matters. That is the only direction to go with this. I’m not a crappy band-aid for your losses in life.

I’m sorry if you think your last partner was a bigger jackpot. I’m sorry that you’ve loved bigger and better. I’m sorry you didn’t win. I’ve been here, focused on you, giving you all I have and I know you’re hurting. You should be trying to do better. That should be the point.

Don’t treat someone like your consolation prize because they’re not.

You’ll lose that, too.

Sometimes Baby Steps Are Not Enough

Dear Koula,

I have spent the better part of a year struggling with the many ways you remain.

I am frustrated with the foreign Greek culture because it is alien to me, as if the household is rooting for an opponent’s team. The hand towels say “Greece”. The decorative plates have people wearing long, Grecian robes and there are strange canned foods in the cupboards with funny names. Sometimes one of the discs in the CD changer kicks over and starts playing a peculiar noise that I have to come to know as your Greek music. You started a mural on the wall in the main entryway and though far from finished, I assume that is Greece is well.

One of my goals this year is to incorporate more culture in to my new year. I think it’s wonderful that you celebrated your heritage and loved it so much. You have made me want to enjoy my own. I added a Celtic station to my Pandora app and I am proud to be Irish.

For better or worse, I moved all of my things in to one room in your house. Daniel said it was best, because his house was full. The shelves are lined with Disney porcelain, ceramic bowls and all of the things that you accumulated during your lifetime. Sometimes I try to mix my things in between, but it feels like a battle of forces that usually ends in tears as I look around and realize that there is no room nor will I ever fully appreciate your fondness for “rustic, country” décor.

There was nothing wrong with your personal tastes, and there is nothing wrong with mine. I respect you for every shade you selected and every shape you carefully placed – but they do not have to be my ideals. I see so much potential for updating and modernizing, and making things look lavish and luxurious. I will continue to develop my own style, and as I accumulate things of my own I hope that it is okay if I store them somewhere while I am here. Someday I would like to enjoy my own visions, like you did.

I hope you don’t get upset when I cancel your magazine and commercial subscriptions. I would gladly forward them, but I do not know where you are, now. There is always the philosophy that you were “supposed” to be here. And if your death was a mistake, then I am a snowball effect of people being in the wrong place. I hope you know that I am trying to grasp on to this idea of your former home as my current one. The usual signs that I use to decipher this are no longer there, such as looking around and seeing myself, and reaching in to the mailbox and pulling out my name. Please let me know if you have ideas for getting that sense of home back…because my heart hurts, terribly, over having lost it.

I wonder if you learned many things about Daniel after you parted from the world, what you never knew, and how you would have felt if you had known. Just as well I wonder what you were able to see and know about him that I have not discovered. He does not like my invasive nature, but it seems like every time I go exploring I uncover something peculiar. It is not always an unflattering discovery, but never ceases to amuse me. Is there something you want me to know?

Daniel loves you very much. So much that he can act like the past 4-5 years from his fifty were the only years that ever were. He does not think of me as the wonderful person that you were to him. It left me feeling insignificant and insecure. I had to remind myself often that you had no roots to my emotional heartbreak, whether you were the perfect saint or human as they came. It was Daniel that caused me many hours of pain and confusion.

I think he tried to love me, too. I think he wished he could. But lately he just remarks that everything is downhill for him and that he is just waiting the rest of his life out.

I can see now, that it was never about detesting where you were. It was about where I was not. And that was home.

Koula, I have really loved him, but I cannot live and love a partner with that outlook. It is destructive and abusive. As if you don’t already know, I don’t want to be around your every belonging any more. I don’t want to look on my bedroom wall and see another woman’s wedding photos. I think that Daniel would really rather be with you – not only as if you could only come back – but I think he prefers your needlework to my anything. And he always will.

I think he prefers Greece.

So Koula, let it be Greece.

I will work on finding my Ireland.

The Most Spoiled Person Without Any Money

Sometimes I think about being the guy on the other end who had lost his main source of income. That income also being his romantic partner. So I’m sitting around in unavoidable debt and I’ve just lost one of the most treasured people in my life. I’ve lost everything and all I can do is scramble after any leftovers that will determine my misshapen life.

I meet someone who is interested in me, seems to like me as a person. They are a little strange, but not necessarily in a bad way. For some reason I feel like I can trust them and I am lonely and confused. I take the sheets off the windows and let them in to my home. I like this girl. Maybe we could help each other.

Let her move in less than thirty days later.

Wow. I mean, think about that.

No wonder I heard his mother screaming on the other end of the phone.

I could have been addicted to drugs. I could have been a thief. I could have misbehaved as a roommate or partner. I could have been someone who was unable to pay their bills. I could have been someone who did not help the situation whatsoever.

And I got upset because we drew up a contract. The landlord, doing one of the only things he is familiar with, designed a lease that would allow me to prove that I had rights and was paying rent – but I was afraid of the papers, threw my copies in the trash and hoped I hadn’t signed away anything I couldn’t get back.

I took a huge chance on this person who is me.

So many things have happened since I last wrote… There are times when we take turns wondering if the other one isn’t just taking advantage of us for the unknown. There are times when neither one of us is ‘OK’, and we say things that seem so particularly inappropriate, later on. I have become more like The Child, and he is revealed as The Old Man, and sometimes we start slapping each other until we start laughing.

“I empower the powerless, and I can take it away any time I want,” I said as I willingly agreed to a demand for orange juice.

“There you go with your unnecessary deep thoughts,” he says, unsure of them.

I accidentally broke a dish and he showed every bit of concern…for his dish. As I picked out shards from the sink, cutting open my fingers and drizzling red down the drain, he wanted to know if it had a maker on the bottom and whether or not we could replace it at Macy’s.

I needed him to learn. When your girlfriend crashes your car, you don’t bitch about the car in fear of something more important, being fractured. I would stay upset over this, re-evaluating my stay in his house, for weeks afterward. Because that was just a dish, and I have not finished being imperfect – so I consider the many times-suggested ‘Exit Strategy’.

Then I dropped the top of my slow cooker on to the kitchen floor.

“Are you okay?”

There it was. The right reaction. I could stay, after all. We would keep going.

He recently called me “The most spoiled person without any money” in a way as though he couldn’t figure out what I used for tender.

And so we teeter on this fragile line between good and bad, forward and backward, wondering what’s about to happen. There are too many things wrong with everything else, to have problems with each other, but we let no single issue overshadow another.

Today I stepped back and rewound it from his side. There he was, the man I immediately wanted everything to be about, standing in the kitchen asking, “Could you feel safe here?”

I am the one he asked to share his misshapen life with. I wanted to kiss him.

I still do.

Xmas Card Exchange

Xmas Card Exchange

Late notice I know, but if you’re sealing and sending off Christmas cards like I am, I can get one out to you by Saturday’s mail! If you would like a Christmas/New Year’s card from me please comment or PM me with your snail mail address and I will reply with mine! Thank you and happy holidays.

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.