Last night I was writing, alone in the dark, the only light the glow of the laptop screen, no noise but the sound of my keys on my keyboard being punched, rapidly as my hands tried to keep up with my thoughts and I heard a noise, not a loud one, but loud enough to give me a pause.
I stopped typing. Waited, listened. A couple more noises, one louder than the others, then a steady increase in the level of the sound until I got up, and looked out the window.
It was the sound of the first few raindrops falling. I could hear them, one, because I'm living alone again and things are quiet. I could also hear them because I have become more attuned to sound, like I had before in Phase 1 of Living Alone. You do that as a woman.
But the sounds of rain are not alarming. Once you know what it is you go back to the moment you were just in, the rain enriching it, the rhythmic sound soothing.
It helps. I have intense fear right now. I have to manage it. I cannot let it take over and control my life. A blog I admire, a writer I admire, wrote about how much grief can feel like fear. Fear has its own set of unique characteristics too. Fear of the future, about how I can try to manage it, fear of yesterday, of events that transpired showing me how masked we humans can really be. How we hide under layers of smiles and vanilla who we truly are.
How ugly we can truly be.
Then I realize something, whether it be a perception or a reality. I survived an abusive relationship. Emotionally, not physically. But abusive nonetheless. It was my cousin who named the affliction for me in a phone conversation one night. I detailed to her, on the phone, how things had been hanging by a thread. How he had found somewhere else to stay, to live, and I had no idea where that was. How, after a period of time when he felt he could deal with the bullsh*t he had created, he emerged from his hole and finally gave me, his then-girl friend, the common decency of letting me know he had found somewhere to stay, somewhere away from the home we shared. (that took two weeks). How can I not feel grief, and it's very close cousin, fear?
Emotional neglect is abuse, make no mistake. I have no tally for the times he left me alone at an important event, worried about where he was, if he was okay or not. No tally for the disappointing last-minute cancellation of plans, throughout our relationship. The emotional toll for his up-and-down mood swings, how I tried to accomodate that frightening pendulum, all by myself, a tiny boat, bobbing up and down on open water, praying for some sort of repreive from my fear.
I blamed myself. I went back for more. My self-esteem, my self-image, was not cohesive enough to tell him to go f(ck himself and put myself first. But it's ok. Any realization (no matter how late it is) is better than nothing at all.
A bad person disguised as a good person? He used to tell me, when we were first dating, getting to know each other, and I was suspicious of his motives, as a man, he would repeat, over and over; "I'm NICE. Why can't you just accept that?" I don't like the word nice. I don't like to hear people described as nice. I don't want to be described as nice. Kind, generous, a gentle spirit, complicated, big-personality, strong; not nice. Hearing someone described as nice, either by themselves, or by someone else, sets off an alarm bell for me. I'm almost never wrong about mistrusting this very bland mis-leading word. It makes me nervous.
That being said, a conversation about the dual natures of most people, with a friend on the phone the other night, does help me in terms of not demonizing him. I also take my own role in this very seriously. I am no angel, and anyone who knows me knows that I pull no punches, that I stand up for myself, and sometimes, I make glorious mistakes, arcing free-falling ones, right from the sky. Sometimes I think I can defy gravity. I can't.
They love me for how I am, anyway.
I delayed telling my parents about the break-up, the move-out, the spectacular ending, for a number of weeks. I was so disappointed in my failure, and they are dealing with so much right now. At my dad's first appointment at Princess Margaret (PMH as we affectionately call it), we were, the three of us, my parents and me, waiting for the doctor, when my mother suddenly asked
"How is ________? We haven't talked to him in a while." as if this had just occurred to her. I stiffened slightly, unsure of what to say.
I answered lightly; "Oh, he's fine. Just working away...I'll have him call you..."
And we left it at that. I left out the part about the previous evening about the explosive fight we had had, as he hadn't yet moved out at that point. About the five hours of sleep after his screaming at me escalated. It was not the first time I'd been afraid of him, but it was, when I look back now, a turning point of making a clear decision not to participate in this anymore.
I wondered, aloud, to him, if I was some sort of catalyst for bringing out the absolute worst in him. If, when my comments to him about whatever he happened to be ranting about, delievered in a calm way, without raising my voice, inspired him to even further temper.
It's now June; he moved out in May, my home feels like my own again, the negative energy dissipating at a rapid rate. I am at PMH with my dad one evening, while he has his chemo treatment. He brings up ________ moving out, cautiously. We don't talk about emotion and difficult subjects in my family very often. We keep it light, jokes, laughter, and block out serious.
When he speaks, he ambles sideways up to the subject.
"So ________ moved out." Pause. "You know, you'll be much better off. Much better.
I don't say anything, my eyes are filling. I don't trust my voice. I nod, a couple of times.
I can finally speak.
"Yes...I know. I'm fine Dad. Fine. Everything is ok".
I think of his words, 'Poor ________'.
Poor nothing I sneer in my head. But I correct myself. Yes, he is poor....poor in the sense that life gave him an opportunity to make a go of being happy, and it involved a bit of work on his part, but in the end, he traded it off. I've said it before--no bother.
I know life, as you get further along in your journey on this revolving-door planet, doesn't just hand out chances at happiness left, right, and center. When one comes along, it's worth taking it in hand, and trying to preserve and care for it.
I'm lucky I guess. I know how to be happy.