If you have to fracture your soul to create a horcrux, then I think in late 1999, early 2000, I would have been on my way. When I asked a friend and fellow Samurai whether I should press the publish button for this post, he asked me if it was true and if it was something I feel. I can answer yes to both questions, even if what I feel and what I remember are the ripples on the pond of the original events. In short, I was emotionally abused as a young woman.
I'm not sure why I chose to write about this now. I know that I am absolutely not doing it for pity. The idea of that being the emotion I invoke makes my stomach turn. Maybe it's an effort to show others that even if you're face down in an emotional mud puddle, it's not the end of the world. Maybe it's because I'm tired of carrying it around. Maybe it's because I blame the failure of my first marriage on my being gunshy to love. Maybe it's to ask forgiveness in a sly way for when I become emotionally flaky. Because of all this, I tend to disengage when I'm unsure about my involvement in a person or event. I can't say. I've paced and pondered and chewed my lips for years asking the same question. In the end, all I can do is type and realize that maybe I don't have to know why this time.
whole mess starts back in the summers of 1995 and 1996. I spent much of
the time I had in town running around with several of my groups of
friends in between work and classes for summer school. One of
these was the local BBS crowd. Yes, pre-internet, I was involved with
the dial-up geeks who conversed with each other online before there was
AOL and Prodigy was a BFD. We'd hang out on weekends, and occasionally
have "fests" where we'd all go somewhere for a big night out, or when we
got older and one or two of us had our own places, we'd have house
parties. I remember one night we were playing truth or dare, and
somehow, this goofy guy that was a bit of the omega of the group uses
his turn to ask me out. It was something like 2 in the morning, and
being young, groggy, and hormonal, I wasn't thinking clearly and said
I remember things, we spent the summer hanging out, goofing off, and
being in what teenagers thought was love. It was a strange time. I liked
the guy, but I knew he was at the bottom of the pecking order, and I
didn't know how I felt about it. I wrote poetry for the guy. Some was
flattering, some was not. Somewhere along the line, we broke up. I don't
remember the details, but I do recall that it was very much a "don't
call me, I'll call you" sort of split.
years later, after I'd moved back to finish my degree at the state
school about an hour away, I remember that he'd reached out to find me
again. He'd called my parents' house asking for me, and they'd given him
my current information including my phone number and email address. I
was furious with them, saying that they should have gotten HIS
information and given me the option as to whether I wanted to reach out.
They thought that was silly. What was the harm in giving out a phone
How fateful that ended up being.
we ended up dating again. I'm sure I fell for the whole "But baby, I've
changed!" line. We spent a few months commuting back and forth to each
others' places, but that was short lived. Since I was still in school and
he was trying to get out from under an apartment he couldn't afford, we
shacked up in my place once his lease was up. His commute was an hour
each way, which wasn't ideal. But hey, the bargain we'd struck was that
I'd pay rent and he'd pay utilities, so in the long run, he was getting a
pretty affordable place to live on top of the fact that we fucked like
bunnies. (By the time I moved out, the bedroom smelled like a
combination of lust and the clean rain candles I bought from Pier 1.)
remember very little about our actual life together. I remember the
headache from "My food's too loud!". I remember him getting his first
paycheck from his new job and skipping through downtown as we were going
to go see a movie (Tarzan, I believe.). I remember telling him I should
drive where we were going since I wasn't a drinker and couldn't, at the
time, drive a stick. I remember seeing the Matrix and J Medicine Hat together.
(Which that night alone is worth a story. Yeesh.) I remember the days we
couldn't keep our hands off each other and lost entire weekends to our
hormones. Beyond that, it's a bit eroded by time.
Though, were it possible, I would go back in time and choke out a younger me for not kicking the Doofus to the curb for:
Calling me by the wrong name during sex
Falling asleep during sex (same session. Or rather series of sessions. I'll cop to wearing him out.)
Keeping the period stained boxers from our first sexual encounter for years after we originally split.
any of those things been enough for me to send the guy home with the
Ephemily the home game consolation prize, my world would be very
different today. (Yes yes. What are red flags for most people are
eccentricities for me. I'm learning how to spot the genuinely crazy.)
I do remember is the breakups. Yes, plural. Somehow, it seemed like a
good idea to break up and get back together over and over and over.
Years later, I would call what we had a fatal binary star system where
one personality would siphon the life from the other in a spiral to the
first breakup while we were living together was epic. I mean explosive,
tear-soked, possession distance hurling, phone cord ripping, reality TV
worthy performances of love gone wrong. Apparently, his resentment for
me had been growing steadily, and one Friday he came home very, very
late with nary a word as to why or that I shouldn't wait up. We barely
spoke that night, and that alone put me on the defensive. The next
morning, as I remember, he dropped the breakup bomb in the living room.
He was thinking about moving out and calling it quits. I begged him to
give it some thought. I shoved my cell phone in his hands and asked him
to take it and do some soul searching. Four very panic-ridden hours
later, he comes home and says he still wants to leave. That's when the
remember very little of the details, only that it was perhaps the day I
would point to if anyone asked me when I can remember being on my very
worst behavior. I remember locking him out of the apartment when he went
out to call his grandmother to come help him get his stuff. When I
realized that he could still use the phone, I yanked the cord out of the
wall so hard that I took some of the plaster with it. I remember taking
one of his hand painted warhammer figurines and hurling it off the
second story balcony so I could be sure that he felt at least some
measure of the pain he was making me feel, albeit, misdirected. I
remember both sets of parents coming to keep the peace the following
weekend as he moved his belongings from my apartment into the back of
their vehicles for the long drive home. His vehicle, I might add, that
I’d given him the down payment for, couldn't hold it all.
weeks, if not months, I refused to leave the house for anything other
than work or school. I begged to be given extra duties at my job so I
could have something to keep my hands and mind busy. I didn't want to have
the time to think and be alone with the noise in my head and the pain my
heart. I remember being so emotionally unhinged that my body followed
suit and having some of the worst stomach problems of my life. I will
forever be thankful to my friend and neighbor quite literally fireman
carrying me out to his car to drag me to go see the South Park movie
because he was tired of hearing me randomly start bawling through the
wall our apartments shared. If I could express how much I wish I would
have listened to my friends that told me not to go back, that it never
works the second time around, I would. You were right. But the heart
wants what it wants, and usually overpowers the brain.
And somehow, we did this at LEAST three more times.
second time he decided to dump me, he did it in the parking lot of his
job. He was in a time crunch, had a project due. I will believe until
my dying breath that was the reason for what he told me while sitting in
my car was so he’d drive me away as quickly as possible so he could get
back to work. I was a gnat and he wanted to use a large newspaper on
couple of the things he confessed to were that he enjoyed golden
showers and had fantasies of taking it up the ass from other men. Bear
in mind that one of the things he told me the first time we split was
that he would get so anxious about coming home to me that he’d have to
stop for a breather in the rest stops between on the highway on the way
home. These were notorious for being rendezvous points for illicit gay
trysts. I had assumed we were exclusive, and since I was on depo
provera at the time, we weren’t using condoms. I was so thrown for a
loop at the idea that there might have been more to what he was telling
me that I made an appointment for a full battery of STD checks the
following week. Thankfully, I came back clean. But, that was the
scariest week of my life.
think it was about that time when both of us realized we were sick.
I’d long thought that I’d been suffering from depression, but wasn’t
able to find a doctor who could ask the right questions to get past the
veneer of wanting to please and pretend to be happy. I was so good at
the act that I’d fooled 5 different therapists, even when I was trying
to tell them that something was wrong. Thankfully, I finally found my
resolution. I was part of a medical study that eventually brought
Celexa to the market. While I spent my time recovering from heartbreak
and a fractured mind (Let me tell you, being a rational person with a
mental disease makes for a noise echo chamber in your head. There are
two voices, the rational and the emotional, and they tend to stage cage
fights over the weirdest shit.) he spent some time in the care of a
priest with an MD in his name. When I reached out to ask how he was
doing, he recoiled and treated me like a leper.
was hard to hear that he wasn’t sure why we were together because we
had nothing in common. (We were both in IT then and still are now.
We’re both textbook geeks, and even in adulthood, we share common
friends, though we never interact.) I remember being told that I
shouldn’t ask for affection because my wanting to put my head on his
shoulders was too clingy. I remember being told that I wasn’t going to
meet his friends because he wasn’t sure how to explain me. When
eventually I started feeling like I was more an accessory, or a dirty
little secret, I pulled away again.
finally did our existing in each other’s universe in was the day he
reached out to me to keep him from committing suicide. I hadn’t spoken
to him in probably a year. The fact that he’d fathered a child while we
were still “talking” with a woman he said he wasn’t even all that fond
of (she was apparently loud, and had bad teeth, if memory serves.)
wasn’t apparently enough of an embarrassment to him to keep him from
showing his face in my life again. Instead, he reached out, asking for
help from me because he knew I’d been through similar dark days and was
on a first name basis with my demons. He came right out and said it.
He’d spent many an evening planning and researching how he’d do himself
in. He was considering suicide and wanted me to convince him not to do it. He wanted me to throw him a rope and pull him back from the
edge. Use that fireman’s carry that I’d had used on me.
And I am proudly the asshole that told him to get stuffed.
it wasn’t the most graceful of methods to write him a letter. I’ll
admit to that. But, when you’re 22 and still emotionally and mentally
fragile, it was easier to get the words out on paper than it was to say
them live. Easier to stand by the convictions you should have had for
several years when you don’t have to deflect the objections or listen to
the pleading. Much like Bambi’s first experience with a frozen pond, I
knew where my legs were, but was having problems keeping them under me.
I said it, but it was at arm’s length.
kept that letter all these years. Originally written on my PowerMac
8500 and composed in my apartment on J street, a stone’s throw from the
state capital, these words were strung together a lifetime ago. I keep
it because I want to remember that even when I’ve had the weight of a
building dropped on my back, and feel like I’ll never find my voice, my
worth, or my sanity again, I have already done it once. It just gets
easier the second, third, and fourth time.
suppose if we’re counting, my alter ego that writes this blog was
conceived of these words. There is stern compassion and rabid
self-preservation from a woman held together with bailing wire, chewing
gum, and a little bit of Zoloft. To this day, I want to hug that
frightened dove and show her that there’s a eagle’s perch for her in the
near future. The scars she’ll take from this are less shameful than
they are a badge of honor. That coming through a slow and steady
degradation and emotional abuse that would have ruined others, it only
tempered her steele and tested her mettle. That young woman still takes
my breath away.
your reading pleasure, I give you my Dear John Opus. (I’ve substituted
Doofus for his actual name. It’s perhaps the kindest of epithets I can
call the guy.)
I don’t even know where to begin Doofus, there are so many
things to be said, and so many avenues to pursue. I suppose the best
place to start is in the beginning, and for me the beginning starts
around last February.
I had just taken the first step towards getting well, and I
thought that you and I were on our way towards a healthy relationship.
I knew that I was sick, and I wanted to do something about it. I
figured that it would be fastest to go thought the drug study. I was
very lucky to have a study psychiatrist that I clicked with, and he
seems to really care about seeing me get better. The way I remember
that, it didn’t seem to matter to you whether or not I needed you during
the time that I was healing. It was all about you and what you needed.
The really sick thing is that, even in my condition, I would have done
anything you wanted me to if it would have meant that you would have
stayed with me. I also was able to see where you were in pain as well.
I saw much of myself in you, and it worried me. Still, at the time I
wasn’t what you wanted, even if I needed you very badly.
So, you left, and it was up to me to help myself. I
started to get stronger. I found myself smiling more, and I enjoyed
leaving my apartment just to go to the store or the bank. In only a few
short months, I was feeling myself coming out of a fog, and I liked it!
I felt good about myself as a person, I was getting to know my friends
better, and I started to enjoy life for what it is, even if it’s
nothing special. I was able to sit through a full day at work, read an
entire novel without losing track of the plot, and I was able to take
out the garbage in less than 5 hours. I was still shaky, but I was
confident in myself. I could feel the woman I remembered myself being
under the surface, and I knew that I would soon be her again. I felt
bad about the way I had acted previously, and I was lonely because I
missed you very badly.
You and I both remember how last time went. We talked for
a couple e-mails, and then you came down here. You told me about being
a father, and I didn’t run away. You told me about your strange sexual
fetishes, you said that we were dating on two different occasions, and
never mentioned that you were seeing Mandy that night when we made love.
I said I would be there for you. I wrote to you every day just to say
hello and see how you were doing. I went to parties with your friends
and respected you when you said that you shouldn’t come down to my place
after the night at Nikki’s because you were still seeing Mandy. I
could have insisted and satisfied my own wishes, but I knew that would
only make it harder for you. I made sure that my cell phone was an
Omaha number so you could call me any time you needed me. I told you
that you could use my apartment if you needed to get away, and that I
would even find another place to be if you needed to be alone. I even
thought about, and sought after another job in Omaha just to make
everything easier on you. I barely asked for anything in return. I
asked to be respected, I asked to be a part of your life, and I asked to
be a special someone to you. I was denied all of these things.
Instead, you decided that dating wasn’t an option. You
told me that you didn’t like the way I dressed. You don’t like jazz,
what I eat, and told me I was too touchy. You didn’t like the fact that
I snuggled up during the suspenseful parts of a movie, wouldn’t answer
questions I asked you, and refused to both take me seriously and respond
to my e-mail, voice mail, and pages. You lied to me about cheating on
me just to get me to leave you. Heck, just to get me to leave the
parking lot. You were dumping me flat on my ass when I needed you,
again, and all you cared about was getting back to work so you could get
your project done. When I was concerned about you and trying my best
to give you what I thought you wanted and needed, you chased me off.
When I asked about how your first appointment with your shrink went,
you refused to answer citing doctor patient privilege, as if I was
giving you the third degree. You mentioned once that you used a message
service while you were at work, but never bothered to give me your
nickname. You never bothered to give me your new phone number, or your
new address. I only know where you are from the one time I was over
there for the party. Even when you called me your friend you never
treated me like one.
I can’t forget two things. The first being the phrase you
said to me the first time you left. “I don’t owe you anything” 9
months of living together, living off me to some extent, and you didn’t
owe me anything. I bent over backwards for you Doofus, even then. I
was going against my family by living with you. You had a good deal not
having to pay rent, only having to pay the bills. And remember who it
was that gave you the downpayment for your car.
I also can’t help but hearing in my head every time I
think about you the words you said to me when I was begging you to give
me another chance even though it was you that was acting out. You said
to me “I always do”. Doofus, I don’t need your approval anymore. I
don’t need your forgiveness for the things that you do to piss me off.
I also wonder how much of it was truth, and how much of it
was you just playing games with me when you talked about your sexual
fetishes. I had never heard you mention the fact that you were turned
on by women and animals, golden showers, and you being anally
penetrated. I, to this day, wonder if you were trying to find something
that would get me to throw you out of my apartment.
I stopped hearing from you, I figured it was forever, and tried to get
some sleep. I started going out with friends, solidifying the existing
friendships that I have, and even making some new ones. I gave up on
moving to Omaha because I wasn’t going to make anything easier for you
to screw up again. Yes, I disliked my job at the time, but my reasons
for moving to Omaha were strictly so we could be closer than 50 miles
apart. That is the extent to which I would have sacrificed for you. I
would have given up a job, an apartment I love, my friends, and any
stability in my life for you just to make your life easier. I’m glad I
stayed here. I’m working out 5 nights a week, I have a social life, and
my job is really picking up.
don’t know what to tell you Doofus, partially because I don’t know what
to think of you, your begging for friendship, or what I want to do
about it. I am of three minds on the subject.
first part of me wants to believe that this is all part of your
sickness, because I’ve been there. I want to be able to be there, and
to take whatever you dish out and deal with it privately and show you a
strong face to help you with your problems. I feel that I have it
together enough to be able to do that. I would love to make an extra
key for you so you could come use my place as a sort of sanctuary. I
would love to be there for you when you need someone. I know I
desperately needed that. I would love to just be able to turn the other
cheek and forget all the times you have hurt me and write them off as
you being sick, that you really didn’t mean it. I would love for you to
be able to look at me as a beacon of hope, that life can get better. I
want to believe that you can learn to be a better friend, to really
mean it when you say you’re sorry, and make it a point to treat me
better in the future when you’re well. But Doofus, it’s been three
years of eating the pain and trying to hold it all together. I’m
road-weary. I’m tired of hoping this time is the time that we can keep
it together and respect each other like we should. I’m tired of you
acting on impulses, saying that you don’t want me around one week and
then realizing that you need me the next. I can’t take it, it dents my
self-esteem and sends me too many messages.
second part of me wants to just rip you to shreds. I want payback for
all the times that I have been hurt, stepped on, and ignored. I know
very well that you’re at your lowest, and anything that I do now would
hurt even more. I could come back on the pretense of being a friend and
then just be a bitch. Boss you around, tell you what a failure you
are, how nothing that you’re doing is making it any better, that your
life is going to suck forever, and that I’m the best you’re ever going
to get. It’s tempting, very tempting. But I can’t.
The last part of me wants to laugh you off and go on with life.
where I’m at now. Here’s where I think it could go in the future.
Nothing that I am going to say from here on out is going to be easy,
and it’s going to be up to you to make the decision if this is something
you want to and can do. But I can’t have it halfway.
need you to think about if you really do want me, or if you’re really
looking for something familiar to grab onto for the here and now.
need to know exactly how you feel about me as a person. This might
take you some time to come up with, but I want you to be honest with
yourself, and then honest with me. I want you to go at this with
complete objectivity. If it’s positive, then good. We’ll go from
there. If it’s negative, then we can work with that too.
need to know exactly what you want from me. What made you write to me,
and where you want that to go. For now, and for the future. I have
gotten so many messages from you, I don’t know what to think. I want
you to sit down, in a quiet room and think about it. Write it down,
take notes if you have to. But I need to know.
road to getting better is not easy, and it takes work and a little bit
of pain, but it is very much worth it. I believe that you are at the
point where you want to see life start to get better, but there is one
more bump in the road. And that bump is to make an effort to start that
journey. I believe that your efforts are in the right direction, but
not quite enough to get you going, and that’s ok. It took me three
years of false starts to get there. But when I did it was all worth it.
I want to help you, but I need you to make the effort to include me.
I need a reason to believe that I can trust you.
are all the things that I need to know before we can go one way or the
other. Once you have realized the above, and if you have decided that
yes, you do want me around, then I need you to consider the following:
need an apology from you that actually means something. I also need to
see evidence that it is real. I need to see you make the effort to
correct your behavior so that you don’t hurt me again, in whatever
capacity we might be speaking.
I need you to let me worry about you, be concerned for you, and dote a little.
I’m also a package deal. You can’t say, ok, I can accept the jazz, but don’t dote on me. It’s all in one, no substitutions.
I need to know how to get a hold of you. This means, your new phone number at least.
I need you to want to get better on your own and not just use me as a crutch to get by.
I need you to learn how to think about the effects of your actions, and then tailor your actions/reactions accordingly.
I need you to be willing to listen with an open mind and an open heart.
I need you to trust me, and not put up your guard around me. That isn’t conducive to getting well.
I need you to be able to talk to me on a bullshit level as well as a deeper level.
I need you to give me feedback, not let things build to the point where you’re ready to explode.
I need you to include me in your life and not treat me like some dirty little secret.
also refuse to see you in the flesh any time soon. That leads to
nothing but problems. If you’re serious about wanting me as a friend,
then you’re going to have to find the time and or the money to carry out
a dialog over a distance of 50 some miles.
also need to know that you got this letter and what your immediate
reaction to it is. If you’re thinking about what I said, if you’re not
going to do any of this, etc. I don’t want to wait for a month before
you decide that you have the time, or the want to get around to letting
Until I hear back, I have a few suggestions that you can listen to, or you can disregard.
of all, find a new shrink. I don’t like this guy that you told me you
were going to. The thing that signaled the red flags was that your
parents picked him out, and that he was a priest. If you’re serious
about seeking help, you need to find someone that’s completely objective
about you and your problems.
stop drinking. I could see that you were using it as a crutch and an
escape. Why try to run away from a problem when you could be spending
the time resolving them?
take a step back and look at your job. Make a list of what you like
and what you don’t. Try to be objective. I loved my job at the
computer shop, but it was for the best when I left. Your job causes
real problems in your life. Try and find a way of eliminating those
problems. Maybe it’s a transfer to another department, maybe it’s a
good long talk with your boss, maybe it’s mouthing off to your AE when
she gives you shit. Maybe it’s leaving all together. I can’t say.
Only you can do that. But, I think it’s important for you to give it
swallow your pride. Ask for help. The big difference between what
you’ve been doing in the past and what I think would work better for you
is that you assume people will help, or that it’s ok to use them as a
resource. Asking gets you so much more. It’s obvious that you can’t do
this on your own, and that’s ok. Depression and nervous breakdowns
aren’t meant to be dealt with alone. People will understand. Trust me.
be honest with yourself. There’s nothing worse than lying to yourself
in the false hopes that it will make you feel better. Own up to
everything in your mind, accept it, and move on. It can take a long
time to do, but you have to. Once you have forgiven yourself, you can
don’t add anything new to your life that could get out of hand. If
that means leaving me out of it, then I would encourage it. Trim off
the fat and see what you’ve got. Take stock of the people in your life.
Are they good for you? I threw a couple of bums out of my life and it
made a huge difference. Take stock of where you’re at in life as well.
mean no disrespect Doofus, but you’ve never had strong convictions or
much direction. I never used to believe in setting goals, but now I do.
It really helped me to get myself though some rough spots. I might
not have gotten through them unscathed, but I survived. My best example
is my degree. I graduated from college with a 2.7 cumulative GPA. We
both know that I’m capable of much more than that. But, the point is,
that I made it. I realized that I was fading fast and had I needed to
wait till May to graduate, I wouldn’t have a degree right now. I’d be
waiting for this December to walk across the stage. It was unpleasant,
it made me cry, and I came out of it with less than I wanted to, but I
did it. I reached my goal. Find a way to motivate yourself. I know
it’s easier to say than it is to do. Believe me, my mother used to
pashaw my complaints about how hard life was. I know what it’s like
when people think you’re a slouch, or you’re unreliable because you
can’t get going. I know and I remember. But, there is a light at the
end of the tunnel, I promise.
don’t know if this will work for you, but I would write just to clear
my head. It really helped me in the long run. I took my journals to my
doctor and he was really helpful in helping me to find direction and
the rough spots in life that I needed to iron out. When I felt like
crying at the walls, when I couldn’t get out of bed, or if I had to go
home from work because I was just feeling lousy, I wrote it down.
Everything I could think of. It helped my doctor see the side of me
that wasn’t in therapy, and that helped him to help me.
know I’m a nerd like this, but I also did my research about the disease
of depression, and all the things that I could do about it. Know thy
enemy so to speak. By knowing what was going on in my head, I was
better able to control myself and at least, appear more rational.
what I said earlier about swallowing your pride? This is a variation
on that theme. I would often have very bad days when I was at work, for
no reason. If I could suck up my pride, I would go ask someone for a
hug. I know it seems odd to ask a co-worker for a hug, but sometimes
that would be what it took to get me through the day. Touch is amazing
in calming the nerves.
used to be of the mentality that anti-depressants were over-prescribed
and often times not needed. Well, that’s half the reason that it took
me so long to get on them, I thought that I could get better just by
talking. Well, I ended up just whining for 4 years. My advice, don’t
be too good for the drugs. They’re there for a reason. I did my
research on them too and if I had my choice, I would have picked a
different one than I’m on, but this one seems to work, so I’m not going
to ask to be switched. But, if the Celexa they have you on isn’t
working, shop around. And remember it can take as long as 8 weeks
before you will feel any effect. It seems like an eternity, I know.
But that first day that you catch yourself smiling for no reason is
be good to yourself. You are a human being with faults. Anyone who
says they’re perfect is selling something. Keep yourself safe above all
things. If that means sleeping on someone’s floor for a week because
you just can’t be alone anymore, do it. If it means that you have to
check yourself in somewhere because you don’t trust yourself not to do
anything stupid, then do it. Above all is your health. Everything else