My mood goes in and out like the tide. Eroding me even when things are good. Emotions in general exhaust me and I try to spend more and more time avoiding being alone. Don’t feel it. Whatever it is. Don’t.
In the middle of the night I put out a plea on Facebook for someone to take a walk with me. A friend I don’t know well takes me up on it and we trudge around The Hill and talk about nothing of consequence. Life is simple, beautiful, goes on.
Days later we get back the light. The perfectly cloud-dispersed echo of sunshine. It shone off V’s face, danced in his eyes as Andrew drove us south. Hands out the windows the three of us took deep breaths at the sight of our mountain. A reminder that life is simple, beautiful, goes on.
Back at their apartment V leans over the stove. Stirring and inhaling deep. I like to watch him cook. It feels like a metaphor for what we are all doing here. Making something new. And we all sit down at the table and eat the dinner we prepared together. We’re building something. Learning to trust it.
Andrew asks me if I have a blog post geared up for Tuesday and I shake my head. V tells me he doesn’t know how much it matters what he thinks, but that my writing is “really good”. It’s just the kind of nudging I need to not give up on me. So I sit down and write this while Andrew draws and V finds music to play us.
So I think maybe life goes on. Maybe we keep building even when we think we’re not trying. Even when we don’t think we can. Life comes at you. On the express lane when the light is perfect and the windows are down. Hands at two and ten. Our lives in Andrew’s possesion without even considering it.
We already trust. Let’s build.
Photo courtesy of Charlie Harutaka.
We go back to places we remember. Try to nestle back into the space between tree trunks we grew with, but we no longer fit there. The moss, the roots have overtaken everything. This is not the place we once frequented. That space does not exist.
Visiting with arms I’d forgotten, comfort and safety and memory. A reflection of something I wanted, but never had. A promise unkept. Not made by the person who could keep it, but the one who needed it. People do not become other people by you envisioning a spark and hoping. What you see if what you get, so make sure you’re paying attention.
Nadine reminds me that I almost ended up in a psych ward a year ago. Tells me I am a fire that he extinguished. Tells me how she’s never seen me happier than I am now. Tells me I deserve it. I earned it. Tells me I’m worth it. She tells me, “This is like drinking. You have to just cut him out.”
Inhaling sharp I realize I’ve been one foot in and one foot out. Half-hoping there would be a reconciliation with a man who is only living in my imagination. The one I thought I married, but never actually met. With passion. With emotion. With an unapologetic lust for the relationship. Those attributes did not exist in him and so I thought they didn’t exist at all. Thought I wasn’t the type of person who deserved them. Thought I had to find a way back into a relationship that was not what I wanted, but was as close as I was going to get.
But fuck that.
I broke down the night before and Andrew drove to my house and carried me inside. Put me in bed and wrapped his arms around me even though it was so hot we stuck together like a mother’s skirt and a little kid. He rubbed my shaved head and told me I’m perfect. That he loves every messy inch of me, even as I sobbed and told him I was broken. He told me he trusts me and he knows me and he’s unafraid of what may be coming. And I believed him. And my breath slowed and I relaxed. He’s uncovered the part of me that can be comforted, that can be calmed. That is open to being loved and loving fearlessly.
So when I got back from coffee with my ex-husband I did not sit down and write the email I was thinking about. I did not tell Mason I couldn’t do this, that I need him. Instead of giving up on the idea that I deserve happiness and passion, I drove to Andrew’s work and left a note on his windshield. Too many words to say something as simple as, “I love you. Let’s do this. I’m all in.”
Photo courtesy of Loic Djim.
I tell Andrew it was a lonely day. Not the kind of loneliness that comes with not being around people, with your phone not ringing. The kind that sits down in your bones and reminds you that no one will notice if you don’t come home. The kind I’d managed to avoid for most of my life. Either with partners who had keys to our front door, or a family that shared meals, or glasses of Jim Beam and Newport cigarettes. I filled that empty space. It did not surface, did not hold sway. It did not catch me standing in my kitchen like it did yesterday.
But there is a certain beauty to it. Finally realizing that everything I do is for my own best interest. That I finally get to be honest about who I am, about what I like, about my passions. It is a grand unearthing disguised as simplicity. I ask for help from Nadine to make a shopping list. “What do I like to eat?” I’ve forgotten how to conduct life for just me. Not sure if I ever knew exactly how to begin with. Always hid it from myself under a layer of trips to the bar and wrapping my arms around strangers. Now it’s just me. Alone. I attack the life in front of me, I sink in my teeth.
Start running again. Find a gym I can lift in for the first time in close to ten months. I take my list to the grocery store and buy food that is nourishing and makes me happy. I cook dinner for myself and share it only when I want to. In the morning I sit at the kitchen table and drink a cup of coffee in solitude. I make conscious decisions about everything I do and think hard about whether or not it benefits me. What is the underlying goal here? Are you doing this because you want someone to think or feel something specific about you or do you want to, like to, need to do this? I answer the questions I never even thought to ask before. I answer the questions I once relied on other people to answer for me.
My friends, my family, my partner. They back me. Stand in my corner and make sure I continue to face the right direction. That I don’t quit. That I keep my eyes open for signs of slipping. They keep me honest. Push me when I need pushing and don’t accept answers like, “I’m fine.” But they never do it for me. Never even offer. I hold space for them in my life, but it is not at my own expense anymore. I make room for them, but I do not push out my own loves and needs and wants to do it. I do not compromise myself. I do not buckle when I feel like maybe someone is asking me to.
In the grocery store I stand in the liquor aisle wondering if I’m going to make it to year three of my sobriety. Wondering if the vastness of living my own life will leave me raw and searching for crutches. I clutch tight to my necklace that’s engraved with my date–12.29.13–and shake the feeling off again. I am not the same person who didn’t know how to face this. I am not the woman who was afraid of the pieces that make her.
Photo courtesy of Artem Verbo.