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?”
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.