He Saw Me Fall Into Depression. He missed the part where he shoved me.

We had a dinner discussion that turned sour, not unlike previous dinner conversations. He would say or ask something and I took long sips of alcohol whenever the words were not right there to give. I was thinking. I feel that I owe calculated answers.

“You drink more when you’re nervous.”

He had put a crack in my heart Valentine’s weekend, which I had taken work off for, when he saw the gift bag on my record player. This was just before dinner out.

“What’s this?”

“It’s your Valentine’s Day present.”

Upset, he sighed. “Autumn, I wish you’d stop. I can’t keep up with you.”

As he struggled with getting ready, getting dressed, getting his keys, pretty much simply gathering himself together to walk out the door…he announced as if the task was all too much, “I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day.”

I don’t know why he asked me why I looked so sad, eating lobster tails. I couldn’t get his expressions off my mind. I refused to explain. Tears would well up, but never actually fall. I somehow managed to suck them back down my tear ducts every time.

When I ‘pushed my gift on to him’, he seemed upset that the Armani cologne was not the cologne he already had, from his lifetime ago. But then he said, “I used to buy this”, as if to say that it was not only his lifetime ago, it was discarded from it. Or that he had simply been there, sprayed that.

His late wife had bought him the scents from the other side of the counter that are made to smell clean, but to me reek like baby wipes and Febreeze – therefore reminding me of assholes, ass wiping and covering up the smell of ass.

“’My blue guy’, she’d say,” because something is probably called ‘Blue’. All I see is that huge Febreeze bottle, spritzing over ass-covered couch cushions.

It’s fine for people who like that. It’s fine for me, that I like Armani and have a bottle of D&G stored in the closet for his birthday (along with a shirt that has a floppy disc on it and says OLDSCHOOL, get it?).

Smelling better helped. I do like my scents. His gaming room has been spritzed with Britney’s “Hidden Fantasy” more times than I’ll ever admit.

‘I never tell/tell on myself/ but I hope she smells my perfume’-Britney Spears, “Perfume”.

He took me out twice that weekend. I’ve learned to keep my head turned away from everyone else and never make eye contact with them. I can see Dan’s eyes roaming around, ever since I had painted his face for Halloween and noticed how they tallied everyone’s movements carefully. This is to keep him from ranting later on, about how he thought I was getting too close to a stranger or was somehow behaving inappropriately.

“You can’t see yourself when you drink, Autumn, you don’t know.” And yet I’ve never had this problem, or any like it EVER before in my life, to which he explains, “You were with a stupid, young person and you’re used to doing whatever you want.”

A part of me says, “Or maybe I was just being social at the Applebee’s bar”, and I have a feeling that I’m right and he has some sort of problem. But we all have problems.

Daniel received a bouquet of flowers from me, to his classroom. For the second time in the year we’ve been dating. He kept asking me why I did it, but it was too hard to explain, “Because it’s February, and the living room in fucking February should have some FUCKING flowers on it, but I trust you not to know that.”

We went out – correction, I dragged him – to the Detroit Institute of Art recently. He gets so upset before we go out because he says he has to get back to work. Having neglected to eat before the visit he was “gonna pass out”, and I nervously walked through the rooms with him. For me this is like regretting your time with me before it has even started.

At one point I was looking at a stunning oil painting of a volcano and he answered a phone call from his mother. Always on speakerphone. Always mutually sounding so upset, my background music, of those two people complaining about how much work there is to be done. On the drive home he was cursing about the time he had lost and he asked what my favorite part had been.

I hold back a lot of tears, in this relationship.

He says that his late wife understood that he always had to work and that she left him alone. “She said it was enough just knowing I was nearby. THAT’S TRUE LOVE, Autumn.”

As opposed to? SO SORRY if I felt a kind of magnetism. I’m sorry I wanted to be close.

At the dinner during my long sips, he had both hands on the table. They were two individuals.

“This person lives and grows this way, and the other person grows SEPARATELY and grows along WITH the other person.” He was being the teacher, teaching me about how relationships work. It immediately pissed me off.

“What about when one of them is always ever making a hard left”? I asked, and I grabbed his hand and pushed it backwards. “I feel like I can either constantly tag along or I have to get lost.”

“You always take what I’m telling you and then you twist it and only see it YOUR way, Autumn. I can’t believe you just had to hurt my hand to make your point. You should SEE yourself right now.”

He had been making these very separatist points for a while, now. My attachment style seemed unappreciated – he even made it a point one day to say that I had “latched on to [my] life, because that’s what you do.” Really?! Figuring out ways to help someone who claims he never has enough time to have a life worth living, and I was being clingy?

I took all of this constructive feedback and I detached.

Just started taking steps back.

Skip a few days forward, over more of the same, insert streaky little static marks like a speeding VHS.

This morning Daniel says to me about his framed photos on the bedroom wall where I’ve slept for a year, “Hey, Autumn. Do you think you have six photos that we can put in this frame?”

I never thought he’d ask. Yet at the same time, something inside of me gave up on ever believing that thing would come down. The night before I had reached out and touched the jewelry organizer under it.

“You can use the one I bought for my wife,” he’d offered, when I said I was trying to organize my things in my one room I’m allowed-

Oh, don’t say that, I’ve let you put shit all over this house, he’ll say now, because I waged absolute bloody wars for any inch of mantle I could wrestle from Americana fauxtiques and decorative cats. But believe me, all of my s-h-i-t, is in one room upstairs.

I was looking at that jewelry organizer, under photos of the late bride, something I would have never, ever picked out as it stood empty because it was hers and she died and her jewelry is all probably appraised and in a safety deposit box somewhere, and I just said, “Fuck this thing.”

“Fuck, this. Fuck everything here, that isn’t mine. I’m never touching it. Don’t want the shit,” I decided, as I fell in to bed. The same one that was theirs. To be fair, I’ve had to pick some or leave.

Do I have six photos. I don’t even know what to say. I don’t know, anymore.

I don’t go down and have coffee with him anymore. I don’t butt right up next to him on the couch. I don’t wait up at night. I’m finding time to do other shit.

I haven’t decided if I’m still fighting.

He all but spelled out that we needed to be separate and my life is NOT taking the course of a constant hard left. Gotta move forward. And now he has to bring everything up. Says it’s a pattern – even though he didn’t KNOW me before – and that my time on the treadmill and off in another room playing on my laptop is all part of getting ready to leave him.

“It’s nice just knowing you’re somewhere, around, somewhere,” I answered, flailing my hand, “It’s TRUE LOVE, you know.”

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.