a little hope

I woke up this morning to a message from a friend who asked if I was still blogging. And to my further stunned surprise, she said she missed it. It was another one of those many life moments for me where my perception of myself and what others may perceive do not match. I am infinitely stunned by moments where my presence in this universe is not something to avoid, like ticks on a hike.

After countless months I still feel the cold fear of writing. But I want to move through it.

Life has taken a turn for hope and slivers of sunshine. And the bizarre thing is that though I’ve always wanted these blessings, a job that won’t destroy my soul and a partner I adore, they feel fleeting. It’s as if they will slip out of my hands if I allow myself to be too happy, let my guard down in the laughter and serenity. I used to think if I could just have one of these things, a job that wasn’t toxic or a loving partner, my life would even out, the bumpy roads would be fewer, and my swaths of time spent in dire sadness and anxiety would largely cease. There are fewer bumpy roads, and life has shown me lovely peeks of sunshine; however, the sadness and anxiety have a trigger that’s a different side of the same coin -fear of loss.

I freeze and get stuck in moments that are genuinely happy, like the time my partner and I danced to Lady of the Harbor by Brother Sun. That is so not a dancing song, but it felt so right to dance and sing to the hope and love for humanity in that song with my favorite human being on the planet. And in that moment, all I can think is, “I do not deserve this beautiful, kind soul who can gently hear me out when I get upset, and will say to me, “You’re entitled to your feelings.” She will say this to me,  grouchy me with my too-hard-on-people ways. In that beautiful moment we shared that song, the prominent thought in my brain was, “Will I mess this up? Don’t mess this up. Don’t be a jerk, drop that stupid defense mechanism.

Before we admitted our feelings to each other my now partner asked me, “How did we get to our age and not find people we could be our true selves with?” I said to her, “The DID was a wall for me with people.” And then we both got teary after that.

And here’s the moment when I thought that maybe, just maybe, she also had feelings for me, she said this to me one night via text before we were together, “You’re a whole messy human who’s willing to let us in. I’ll take the bad with the good. It makes you you.” She won my heart in that moment.

And when I find myself losing hope I think back to our text conversation about me sleeping on the back of my family’s gold Montego when I was a kid, with my blanket in the desert night, the long back of the Montego was perfect for sleeping under the stars. The stars gave me hope for a better tomorrow. I said to her, “The stars are full of hope.” And she replied, “They are – they burn bright for millions of years. Beacons of hope.”

The Bus Terminal

I have to leave you behind at the bus terminal. It is time for us to board our separate buses. I want to be on your bus, but my ticket has a different number on it. I avoided it for a while by taking a longer layover, but in the end, I have a different destination from you. And the longer I delay my departure, the more time that passes before the inevitable will be clear to both of us: that I should have heeded my original bus ticket in the first place, when I realized we had different tickets.

You, who are kind beyond measure with my PTSD and dissociative disorder -I wish you were on my bus. But, alas, we are not even on the same busline. I will miss how you gently rub my head when I shake unexpectedly, and the fab way we baked that chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting from scratch in my kitchen. We learned the difference between unsweetened cocoa and Dutched cocoa. I still have that container of unsweetened cocoa we accidentally bought at first, not realizing our mistake. We planned on doing something with it sometime. But sometime never came, and now there it sits on my pantry shelf. It will likely remain there. I like looking at it, thinking of you in this kitchen, bringing it to life with your presence.

Aside from baking and a fondness for board games, we have little in common. Before I forget, please keep my copy of Power Grid, the board game. I had not played it in years. Let it live on with your friends. Games should be played instead of gathering dust in a study. I will miss playing games with all of you.

My heart does not yearn for you the way it should when two people are in love. We have little to talk about, unfortunately. I think that’s why we usually tried to “do” things together because we both knew, on some level, there wasn’t a connection, a passion, a love -none of that was there. What we had was a friendship, for which I hope some day can be revived if you forgive me for all of this.

I yearn for your companionship, but not your heart, and that’s why my bus ticket is different from yours. We’ve hung out in this bus terminal for a good while, and it’s been a lovely, but I should catch my bus and stop dillydallying. My bus ticket is nonreturnable, and so is yours. As hard as it is, I must wish you well. It was the best layover ever, but we can’t spend our lives in this bus terminal. It’s time to find out where our buses will take us. One last hug, but I can’t turn back when I walk away.

The best mistake

That infamous craigslist personal ad I placed is still the best mistake of my life. It is the only way I would have ever met you. That craigslist ad from a different time in my life that still, to this day, mortifies me …

First, no mamma’s boys need apply. Please … if you have to retrieve your balls from your mother’s purse, I don’t want to hear from you. Cut the cord before you contact me, otherwise I will cut the cord on you.”

I can’t bear to recall any more of that ad because it’s rather embarrassing to even read it now. You said to me in that first email that I sounded angry, but you liked my writing, and you were intrigued, and if it didn’t work out you just gave up a couple of hours for the effort.

I will always remember that it was a Tuesday that we met because I watched Veronica Mars with my friend Anita that night right before I met you at 10 pm. There was a special feeling in the air that night in anticipation of meeting you. I talked to Anita about how you sounded different in a good and special way. I liked the fact that you were upfront about my ad being “a little out there.” I liked that you didn’t completely like the ad, but you liked my writing. Anita even hugged me and wished me luck before I left her place. I always remember when Anita hugs me because she is not a huggy person.

It was an unusually warm March evening that night, a little over seven years ago. In my unwise optimism I had banished my coat to the backseat of my car. I was wearing open-toed pumps, and an almost fuchsia fitted pink shirt with a brown A-line skirt. It was a cute outfit worn far too soon with the end of winter still at our heels.

And you, all 5 foot 5 inches of you strolling into the TGI Friday’s like you own the place. I immediately liked that about you, that your height had no impact on your self-confidence. Once I had you sitting across from me I didn’t know what to talk about because I am terrible at small talk. I’m great with deep conversation, but cocktail party pleasantries are not my domain. I looked at you, and became instantly shy, and speechless. You said, “You know, I think I understand the issue. Tell me if I am incorrect. I get the idea that you are one of those people that does not do well with small talk. You would rather get right to the point of what you want to talk about, right? You want to skip asking me about the drive over, or the weather, or what kind of music I like … does this sound right to you?”

I was stunned, and impressed. I still could not speak.

You continued, “It’s okay. Start where you like. I don’t need small talk.”

And so I did. We talked about the friends in our lives that meant the most to us, we talked about our families, and our past relationships. This was all well before my fall with alcohol, before the discovery of PTSD and DID. Just a mere seven years ago the most I had to reveal on a date was that I had a 10 year relationship with a woman, and I had been married at the age of 18. We talked until they closed the place at 2 a.m. We shared a passionate kiss at my car that would have gone on longer had it not been for the bitter cold wind that was all around us. You said to me, “Are you okay with a kiss on the first date?” I answered you by kissing you until I felt like I was going to turn into a popsicle in that parking lot. You had let me borrow your jacket, but I was still under dressed for the weather that had abruptly changed on us.

You were straight forward with every request in our relationship. Even the first night we spent together, you called me while I was finishing my shift at my second job, and said to me, “I know it may be too soon. We haven’t even been on a second date, but I really want to be with you tonight.” And so it was. And just a month later you asked me to move into your apartment. We waited two months before we told your parents.

Early on in our relationship you expressed concern with me walking to the bathroom in the dark without my glasses in your apartment. I said to you that it was no big deal. I travel for business, and adjust to walking in the dark in hotel rooms all the time. One particular night I woke up in your place to use the bathroom, and I saw a small amount of light coming from the bathroom. You heard me saunter over to the bathroom, and called out, “Baby, don’t worry about it. The night light is only pennies a day. I did the math.”

Later, the next day, I found out that you keep track of how much it costs to run just about every appliance in your apartment. Some people might find that weird. I found it quirky, and endearing. I naturally gravitate towards messy and disorganized. I liked that you were so organized that some people might argue that you qualify for a treatment program. I found your fastidious ways with organization indicative of someone thoughtful, and careful. I had never known anyone like you. In my family, no one was organized or careful or meticulous. Every time you pulled out some intricate list that would make a normal person’s head spin I was intrigued.

And then we hit that point of trudging through mud in our relationship. The differences between us became obstacles instead of points of interest or discovery. The differences piled between us until I could no longer see the person I fell in love with. I just saw differences that made me want to lose my mind. You had a rigidity that was unrelenting.

We went to a board game convention in New England one winter, and you were aghast when I told you that I was not going to play in the Power Grid Finals Match in spite of having won a spot to play. I said to you that it was not worth it as there was a misogynistic guy I was not interested in spending 3 plus hours with while I played this game, it was simply not worth my time. I said to you that I was leaving with Anita, and we were going home. In front of all our friends you said that you were disappointed in me. It was a game, for crying out loud. I wanted to scream to the top of my lungs for your lack of perspective.

And then when you were ready to take the next step with me you simply said on the couch one day as we were sitting in our sweats, “So, now’s a good time to talk about engagement.” I was stunned. Was this a proposal? It actually sounded like an assumption. And then came the arguments about family planning. I have Kallmann’s Syndrome, which can be passed from mother to child. There were many risks involved with the option of having me try to get pregnant. You insisted that any child you have must be biological. You also made it clear that it was preferred if the child was a boy. And, you said that you could not raise a special needs child. But given my genetic makeup there was a decent chance I could produce a child with special needs.

The differences between us became an impasse. I was alone in my worries about all the possibilities with conceiving a child. I could not be with you anymore at that point. I felt like the man who had loved me without question was lost in a sea of trying to place the right order for a child. It broke my heart to leave you as I had been convinced that we would wind up together. I constantly saw our future flash before my eyes: you with your crazy lists trying to do home improvements, and me baking in the kitchen making a mess while you clean up as I go because you can’t stand that I wait until I’m done to clean up. I would always over plan special dinners with your parents, and you would make your crazy lists to show me that I overshot the runway with my plans. You were always right.

But it was not to be. I had to leave, and leaving you was and is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I never thought I would get to the point that our differences were untenable. I had believed I was a good match for your ways because I gave you a wide berth with your fastidious ways of organization. I just let you do what you do, and every now and then I would say to you “enough.”

I often ask myself if the biggest mistake of my life was leaving you. It’s a difficult question to answer, but I always land in the place of “it had to happen.” After I left you I descended further into the black hole of alcohol dependence, and experienced a terrible assault when that happened. We had not spoken for a few months at that point, yet you came to me, and asked me to call the police. I could not at that point. I said to you that I needed you to sit on my bed, and hold my hand so that I could sleep. And you did, you held my hand, and slipped out the door when you thought I was asleep. It had been an awfully long time of trying to find sleep, and I finally pretended to fall asleep so that you could get some sleep.

If I had not left you I may not have learned of my PTSD or DID. Or maybe I would have learned it with you and it would have torn us apart to the point that we could not even be friends. I try to tell myself that having it happen the way it happened ensured that we would remain friends.

And we’ve remained friends all these years. In those years we’ve had our hardships and disagreements, largely from things you’ve said that have pissed me off beyond measure. Like the time you said to me without preamble that you were worried that I was becoming obese with my weight gain; or the time you called my sister and told her I wasn’t doing well while I was visiting her in Texas.

No one infuriates me more than you do in my life. Yet, in the deepest part of me, I love you. All this time I took that to mean that you’re special to me, always will be, and it’s as simple as that.

But, it’s not that simple. A few days ago you asked me to move in with you as your room mate. You are buying a house, and you would like a room mate so that you can buy the big house you want, so you say.

I teared up when you asked me. I love that you thought of me. You know that I do well when I live with people. You even said that I could have a dog. It’s so tempting, and I know that so much of it would be great if we lived together.

But I know that part of me that still loves you is patched up, and buried in the basement of my soul. If I lived with you, no matter what platonic promises we make to each other, that part of me would be unearthed, and it would start to yearn for you. Let’s not have the best mistake and the worst mistake in the same relationship.