i don’t want be a bad woman
and i can’t stand to see you be a bad man.
i will miss your heart so tender
and I will love this love forever.
– cat power
when i left m for the last time, i had this song on repeat for hours, and days, and months.
…it was my anthem. my reason. the only explanation i could justify in finally separating myself from the only life i knew. everything he touched turned to shit. he made me a bad woman by proxy. by the end of the four (worst) years (of my life), i didn’t recognize myself anymore. my family could barely speak to me, and i had severed ties with so many friends only so i could keep my secrets to myself. so i wouldn’t have to explain the bruises, or the holes in the wall, or the destroyed belongings, or why i felt like drinking every single fucking day. it wasn’t only to numb the pain, or to forget. i drank because when i was drunk, i felt alive- something i hadn’t felt in years. it was superficial, of course… but i felt it none the less. i was social, and i laughed, and i would dance, and i made friends, and broke hearts, and i would exude confidence that had been shattered by m.
when i met him, i thought i had fallen in love with my future husband. the man who was going to father my children, and make me breakfast in bed on mother’s day, and spend time with my family, and take care of me when i was ill. i thought our story would stand out, not because of its horror, but because of its beauty. its simplicity. i thought it would stand out because it was special. and it was- at first. it was all of those things, and so much more than i could possibly explain.
i was barely sixteen years old when i saw his darkeyes, and cotton candy pink lips for the first time. he was waiting for a bus, and our eyes locked for a few seconds, and i felt the wind get knocked out of my lungs. this man (so young then) was so quiet- leaning against a wall, smoking cigarettes, his entire body covered in tattoos. my heart stopped, and my palms got sweaty, and i had made up my mind- right then and there- that i was going to have this man. it was a feeling so fierce, i could barely shake it.
our paths didn’t cross for another five months.
and it was the end of my life as i knew it.
had i known then, what i knew now- i’d have trusted my gut.
… but i’m a heart girl, through and through, and although it’s been wrong (time and time again), i followed this coffee-haired, black-eyed, beautiful (so goddamn beautiful) stranger. we followed each other at a party- watching each other from the corner of our eyes, touching hands when we spoke, whispering into each others ears over the music. he had a mohawk, and i could taste the vodka on his tongue when we kissed that night.
that’s how i like to remember him, unfortunately. pure, and young, and gentle. the way he would hold my hand, or touch my lower back when we spoke, or the way he would kiss me- all day, every day. the first time he’d see me, and between sentences, before leaving. he’d kiss my mouth, and my forehead, and my hands, and my eyes. he’d kiss me just to kiss me. his voice, so sweet and so low- almost a whisper. and we made love, believe it or not. he would light dozens of candles in the basement, and we’d kiss every inch of each others’ body. we’d touch and take our time, and really love each other. he’s the only person i’ve ever done that with, actually. he’d drive me home, late at night… holding hands, and kissing at stop lights. he would run my baths, and make me breakfast in bed all the time. he would wash my hair in the shower, and take pictures of me all the time. he’d leave love notes by the bed, and he’d draw me pictures, and write me letters. he’d buy me cards- just because. he would tell me he loved me every single day. we’d lay on the beach in silence, for hours. we’d take walks, and shower together every morning.
he loved me…
a lot. he loved me harder, and stronger, and better than any man has ever loved me in my life. without question, or condition, or doubt. he lived for me- he told me every day that he lived for me. it’s difficult to be loved like that, so young in your life. to be sixteen years old and feel like i knew what the next fifty years of my life would look like- that i’d be this lucky in love for the rest of my life… and then have it ripped from me.
he changed over night.
i look back now… i dig deep for signs, or red flags. and i just can’t find them anywhere. i look back on the first year of our relationship, and i am shattered by confusion. this man- this young, incredible man who loved me, and cared for me, and took care of me every single day… he woke up one morning hating me. hating our life. hating the simplicity of our love and companionship. he woke up fiending for drugs, and wanting to fuck strangers, and taking out his aggressions on me- the only woman who loved him the way i loved him. and that struck me harder than his fist ever did- the way his heart loved me still, but his actions didn’t. the things he would say to me… i can’t even wrap my head around it sometimes.
just the thought of our bed
makes me crumble like the plaster
where you punched the wall beside my head
– ani difranco
i stayed for three years longer than i should have.
out of fear, out of survival, out of naivety and guilt. and when i finally left, i never mourned the loss. i celebrated the victory. after a few weeks of drinking myself to sleep, forgetting to eat and shower, and not even stepping foot outside of my own bed… after weeks of anguish and fear, i finally celebrated. i celebrated for days, and then weeks, and months, and years. i spent so much time being angry, that i forgot to be sad. i spent so many years celebrating the funeral of a monster, of the demon that was our poisonous relationship… that i forgot to feel pain and sadness over the loss of the year i’d spent with the m who loved me. i forgot to mourn the loss of my first love. the loss of the baby we almost had together. the loss of the life we’d started to build. the loss of my dignity, and self-respect, and confidence- things i am still working on, years later… trying desperately to rebuild.
i don’t know why it’s surfacing now- why all this pain has boiled over, and why i feel disconnected again. i don’t know why i feel the need to mourn now that i am finally safe, and happy, and healthy- trying to put my pieces back together after being derailed. but it’s happening and i can’t control it anymore. i can’t help but feel angry that my first love was lost, and that i’ll never have anything good to say about him. i can’t help resenting him. i can’t help resenting myself and the decisions i made not to have our baby, or build my own life with that child- safe from her father and his demons. and don’t get me wrong- i’m happy with every choice i’ve ever made when it comes to m… i didn’t have the tools then to understand what abuse was, or how to escape it. all i knew was that i needed to save myself, and it’s only when i was finally ready to be without him that i gathered the courage to stand up to him, and walk away forever.
and it makes me sick, you know… to feel sad over this. to miss (the beginning of) that love.
but now that the shock has worn off, and the anger has subsided… i’m left with this incredible sadness, and self-pity. i’m overwhelmed by anxiety and confusion. and i never want this space to be censored. i hope writing about m won’t ever stop feeling cathartic… but there are some stories i’ve burried so deep inside of me- certains things i’ve never had the courage to share, or the words to even describe things that happened- and i need now (more than ever) to purge those stories from inside of me. to rid them from my bones, and shove them in a metaphorical bag, and then set that bag on fire. i need to share my truths with a professional, so i can get some closure, finally.
real closure- not the kind where i tell everyone i’m okay, and i belittle him as a human being, and share his indecensies… i mean real closure, and healing, and finally closing a book that has been open for seven goddamn years. and i realise that a lot of my behaviours in life (and love) stem from surviving abuse- but i can’t let those behaviours define my relationships any longer. i can’t let my secrets dictate my happiness, or my future.
i just forget what that kind of blissful happiness feels like. i feel like i got the private screening to the unatural, disturbing ways of the human race, and i’m rattled. i’ve seen too much, and i’ve felt too much, and i know too fucking much about what it feels like to be torn apart at the hands of a bad man. and that makes me incredibly, and unforgivingly sad…
and i want to fix that.
a written letter to m, in the early summer of 2008
you were my temporary insanity.
i have come to terms with the fact that i met you for a reason, and i’ve stopped agonizing over what my life would be like had i never spoken to you in the first place. i’ve decided to stop living with regrets- to stop beating myself up over the things i could have done differently. i am impulsive, and you know better than anyone that i wear my heart on my sleeve. this is something i’ve had to deal with all my life (especially with you), and the consequences weren’t always good, and they were never easy, but i’m still learning. i’m growing into myself and although i may be burning bridges, hurting myself, or fucking up horribly along the way- that’s okay.
i will always resent you and the things you’ve done. but a small part of me is glad i did everything the way i have. you & our relationship were a lesson on life, love, growth, pain, and utter desperation. sometimes it was perfect, and other times it hurt like hell- but at least what we had was passionate.
you were a very difficult person to love.
i was so afraid to move on and separate myself from the only things i knew. i couldn’t accept nostalgia, or the look on your face when i’d walk right past you: a ghost; a shadow. i had people tugging at me from every which way- pushing, pulling. but not now, things have changed. i will look forward to new lovers, future endeavours. i will soar greatly, and fail miserably. i will be in and out of trouble. i will open myself up to greater possibilities, compatible people, love. i will learn to accept myself in all of my imperfection; in my successes, in my downfalls.
a man once told me “to hate takes as much effort as it does to love… let go, be indifferent, otherwise you will always be bound to him”, and i never quite understood what he meant by that, until now. you will be nothing more than a stranger on the street, a face in the crowd, a discarded memory.
thank you, and good riddance.
i was reading a post by one of my favourite bloggers earlier- a post about her lover’s birthday and the absolute luck she had in meeting and falling head over heels in love with such a wonderful man. a man who opened her heart after so much pain, a man who pushed her to be everything she could possibly be, a man who captivated everyone in the room the second he walked into it.
a man who shares the same name as m.
and i cried.
i can’t even hear his name, read about an amazing person with the same name as him without wanting to rip off my skin, tear my eyeballs out of my own face, and light my skeleton on fire.
it still makes me sick, it makes me ache to even think about him.
i’ve been having dreams. feverish dreams that he haunts, regularly. i see certain people, hear certain songs, and he is on my mind constantly. and it makes me so goddamn angry i can barely even function. i signed onto my facebook today, and his childhood friend sent me a friend request.
and my heart nearly jumped right out of my throat and i almost got sick to my own stomach.
how irrational is that, after years apart, years in hiding. it’s been almost two years since he’s even tried to contact me- save for that brief run-in on the street in the spring. and i am still filled with such rage, such resentment. i just want to erase him from the planet so i can learn to breathe again.
break ups are hard.
and after enduring (suffering) leaving m for the last time, i thought i’d never be capable of love again.
dan proved me wrong.
he proved me wrong when he kissed me, when he moved in with me, when we moved into our new home together. he proved me wrong every single time he looked at me, and my heart dropped to the tip of my toes. when rubbed my shoulder and told me he loved me if we ever argued. when he peered up from the sea of pillows in our bed to tell me he thought i was beautiful.
he proved me wrong when he left me- because he was scared of us, of our feelings, of the future.
he was scared he couldn’t be enough, he couldn’t fulfill his dreams, he couldn’t love me the way he wanted to love me.
he proved me wrong because when he told me he was leaving, i felt my heart rip open for the first time in years. it physically hurt my insides to think of a life without him. it broke my heart to think i’d never wake up to his messy hair, or his morning kisses, or the scent of his neck. nothing ever pieced together in my life the way his body did with mine.
he made me whole, again.
and when dan left, i needed to grow a pair and learn to be whole on my own if i ever wanted to be a real human being again.
that’s the hardest part.
because when you’re ex-boyfriend calls you to tell you he’s still in love with you, and you spend days together – watching movies, going for breakfast, drinking beer in bed together in your underwear- when you spend days doing that together, the way you did when you were living together, you’re bound to end up fucking.
you’re going to have a moment of weakness (or six), where you can’t help but rip each others’ clothes off, and hit the high notes, and have him touch you places no one else even has a clue how to because he’s the only one who knows you well enough to know how to make you feel that kind of ecstasy. and when the moment(s) are over and you peel yourself off him, and recover from the shakes, you wonder how the hell you got here.
how you went from scream fits on the phone, and ignoring text messages, and telling him you’re busy when really you’re absolutely wasted in a different city in a room of handsome men, one of which is totally about to makeout with you. how you went from that strong, independent woman, to the one laying next to him, covered in his sweat, in his bed, in his new shitty apartment with no air conditioning, and six couches but no tv, and nothing in the dirty fridge but beer. how you swore you were only going over to check out his new place, and help hang a few pictures, and then he made you come so hard you could barely walk for three hours.
and so we’re back here. going back & forth between hating each others’ guts, to telling each other we love each other so much it hurts, and then having sleepovers where we don’t even touch, but he’ll kiss me before he leaves.
he’ll always kiss me before he leaves.
and i want no part in it.
i want no part in feeling like this because i know his schedule, and when he’s closed up the kitchen and walked home, i don’t know who he’s with, or what he’s doing, or where he’s sleeping- and i can’t think about those things because they do NOT concern me anymore. or at least they won’t when i stop fucking him. because i need to stop that.
i want to close that chapter, and learn to be his friend again- i want to forget the way his lips feel on mine, or how awful it feels to wake up without his dumb snoring and long toe nails scratching my freshly shaved legs. i want to forget how comforting his voice is on the phone when i’m sick & bed-ridden. i need to find new ways to deal with panic attacks & anger issues that don’t involve him holding me and singing my favourite song while he runs his fingers up & down my arms until i’m calm enough to breathe, again.
i need to create those boundaries and draw those lines, because i’m feeling weak again… and i’m REALLY bad at losing these kinds of battles.
but you already knew that.
this is the face of someone who is trying SUPER hard to fight off a virus that is totally trying to get all up in my biz-nass
last night, katie and i ate dinner in my bed and we gushed over matters of the heart. “i’m having feeeeeeeeelings” – this is what we say to each other when our hearts hurt but we don’t necessarily know how to articulate what the actual fuck we’re feeling.
so basically, always.
she’s been sick for two days and my face has been hurting in that weird sicky way your face would hurt if you were about to catch something. i went into a tea & narcotics coma early last night, trying to focus on the episode of animal planet i’d chosen. i feel pretty alright today, but it’s raining out and i have bootcamp tonight which likely means death.
i know i was on this huge happy kick (which i totally still am), except i’m feeling a little off these days. i think i’m just used to having someone around that i can care about and makeout with and text stupid things to. and i mean, i obviously have katie who is basically my new life partner, and dan still calls me every day for little chats and to make me laugh- which is wonderful and lovely and all that other cute and sappy shit, but alas.
i guess i’m lonely.
which is basically the dumbest thing i’ve ever said, and part of me wants to go right back up those few spaces and delete that sentence entirely, but ugh. i am constantly surounded by friends and family and humans who totally love me, and that has definitely been the key factor is dealing with breaking up with my best friend in the whole entire universe, but still.
one of the first nights me and dan had moved into our apartment together, we spent the whole night getting really drunk, listening to my subhumans records, and playing hockey in the apartment with our empty beer cans. things got sloppy and he shot a can right in my mouth and hurt my lip, but i just couldn’t stop laughing. we were rolling around on the floor, laughing so hard we were crying, and kissing between sentences.
that’s the best thing about young love- the laughing, the comfort. the fact that i probably had a fat lip and looked like a stupid idiot, and he could not, for the life of him, stop kissing me and telling me how much he loved me.
i constantly worry about the future. i worry about the same things when i’m expected to start over because i am so, so scared i’ll never know love again. when i left m for the last time- when the highs couldn’t ever possibly make up for the lows- my biggest fear when leaving him was that i’d never know that kind of unconditional love again. and of course i was naive, then- likely the way i’m being naive now, but that’s beside the point. i had spent four years loving a man who abused me, and despite the fear and the awful lifestyle i was living with this person- i was afraid i’d never be capable of opening my heart again.
… when i left m i was scared i’d never meet someone who would wash my hair for me in the shower, make me breakfast in bed, or paint my nails for me early sunday mornings- naked in bed. i was scared i’d never kiss someone and have my heart drop to the tip of my toes.
i was scared i’d never meet someone who would play beer hockey with me in our new apartment. someone who could make me laugh so hard i cry- instead of the opposite. i was scared i’d never be at ease with the feelings in my heart.
and of course that is fucking ridiculous because obviously i’m a lot softer than i let on…
but as much as i love being single, and independent, and strong- as much as i love relying on my own two hands to figure out how to use power tools, or change light bulbs i can’t reach, or cook dinner for two only to save the second half for the following night… as much as i love giving into crushes i’ve harboured for years, or spontaneously kissing handsome men in back rooms at crowded parties, or getting giddy over holding hands on a walk home in a foreign city at 4 in the morning- as much as those things bring out my youth and freedom, and all those other awesome things i shamelessly enjoy- there really is absolutely not one thing in the world that could even compare to how alive i feel when i wake up to the same person day after day. nothing could possibly compare to how it feels to share your life with someone.
it’s beautiful and it’s twisted and it’s fucked up to feel that kind of ecstatic desparation for someone, but it’s true- i once read somewhere that love is everything it’s cracked up to be… it really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for.
and i believe that now, more than ever.
i wasn’t so sure when i’d left m, and i certainly had my doubts when dan left me- but in loving dan, i proved to myself that i have more strength and peace in my heart that i never thought i’d get back. i had this ugly void- this big black hole in the red of my heart for so long. and it isn’t by filling that void with distractions that i healed – i never used dan as a bandage to cover old wounds. i loved him in new and stellar ways i didn’t even know i was capable of. i see the courage in that, now.
i suppose this is what healing is.
a few years ago i lost a baby.
not physically, per say. i wasn’t walking around a super market with my child when, WHOOPS! i totally lost them in the dairy aisle when i was busy comparing yogurt prices.
i was eighteen years old when i peed on a pregnancy test for the first time. and considering the unprotected sex i’d been having since i was young- too young… it was a miracle i hadn’t had to even experience that before then. i was actually running around my apartment, waiting for my hair straightener to get hot and for friends to show up. m had been gone for a month at least- what seemed like an eternity then. i hadn’t heard much from him actually- save for the two page love note he wrote me on a bus on his way to halifax, a note he scribbled in the middle of the night to tell me about everything… the things he’d seen, the fun he’d been having, the agony in his heart since leaving me. he couldn’t spell for shit, but i always knew he was a poetic writer- he sucked me back in the way he did when we first met.
i’d been spending my twelve hour shifts at the smoothie bar, hunched over empty buckets of fruit, trying to hold down the little food i may have had in my stomach. i had spent so many weeks drinking to forget that i didn’t have any real idea as to how long he’d been gone, or what my cycle was even like at that point. all i knew was that he was gone, and i was sad, and this was how i dealt with things: by not dealing with them at all.
so i peed on that little pink stick, put the lid back on, and threw it on the bathroom counter. i tried to busy myself with other things- making sure the living room was tidy, or that the liquor was in the freezer.
there’s always those scenes in movies, where the room starts to spin and the narrator says things like “in one instant, i saw my entire life flash before my eyes” – that’s a real thing. that really does happen. and there must have been a moment where i blacked out because one minute i was sitting on the toilet looking at this pregnancy test, and the next i was on my stomach, hands flat on the cold tile floor, sobbing uncontrollably.
and if there is anyone in the world who knows me at all- they know how badly i want kids. how badly i want to be a mother- how i would drop this lifestyle in a heartbeat if it meant i could mother, and nurture, and love like that. i get dizzy when i think of a parents’ love for their kids- the courage and strength and determination. the unconditional drive to want and need to be better- so you can raise this little tiny human being and not fuck it up.
i guess that’s where the anger and resentment come from- i knew he’d fuck it up. the way his father fucked him up, the way he saw countless men fuck his mother up, and so on. the way the abuse in his life destroyed him and deteriorated him as a human being so hard, that he became that nightmare himself.
i must’ve been sixteen when we were sitting on a city bus, heading downtown. he looked me right in the eye and said “if you ever cheated on me, i’d leave you. i’d kill him, and i’d leave you”. my naive little brain then was so in love with that- the idea that he loved me so much that he could never possibly move past the idea of me being with someone else- that he would destroy anyone who had me, if it wasn’t him.
how heroic, i thought.
how fucking cowardly.
i don’t think the shock ever really set in, after looking at the test. i slept with it next to my bed, waking up in the middle of the night to check to see if both lines were still there. i was so, so scared then. not for me- not once for me. i wasn’t scared about my financial, emotional, or physical state. i didn’t care that i had been on a drinking binge since god knows when- i didn’t care that my bullshit smoothie job could barely put food in my own stomach- i didn’t even care that my baby’s father wasn’t even around when i peed on that stick because he was too busy snorting blow off some dirty table in someone’s basement in a foreign city- that he was half way across the country when my world had stopped spinning on its axis. these were all concerns, of course… but what i was most scared of, was that my baby would have to grow up and know what it felt like to love m.
i knew what it felt like then, and i still know now. the shellshock of loving him still haunts me today. certain sounds, certain smells… places, songs, faces. anger and resentment i couldn’t shake from me if i even tried. the fear that makes my own bones vibrate inside of me if i know i’m in a part of the city he may be in. if i ever made someone else feel that way- what kind of person would that make me? how could i make my child live that kind of crippling fear on a daily basis? how would i explain to my baby, that papa just had his fists wrapped tightly around mama’s neck because he was angry- because the drugs had worn off and i’d said the wrong thing again, and this time he wasn’t going to show any mercy. this time, i was going to have to use every ounce of strength i had left inside of me, because papa wasn’t letting go- papa burried his thumbs deep into my throat until everything went back.
she would have barely been two, then.
i didn’t have it in me.
m‘s dreams of travelling crumbled at his feet immediately. two days after i’d made the appointment, he called me from his mother’s house. “hey, honey bee” – his voice awkwardly resonated on the other end of the line, and i was paralyzed. there was a moment of silence, of shock, of complete disbelief. he immediately asked me what was wrong- something triggered in him, halfway across the country, telling him to come home to me… for reasons he couldn’t explain. all he knew was that i was hurting, and he needed to be by my side.
life is funny like that- connecting you to people you want so badly to separate yourself from.
all i know is this: i didn’t walk into that old cement building. that young little thing, with sweatpants on, and a tear-streaked face… that girl who had enough strength in her to walk into that clinic, fill out that paperwork, and go into that room… that was not me. there was a force inside of me, making me do this awful, gut-wrenching thing. i remember that day so clearly, it makes me sick. it’s like i’m floating and i can see myself going through the motions, and i keep yelling, “STOP!”, “GET OUT!”, “RUN!”.
.. but i can’t, and i won’t, and i didn’t.
my shaking fingers slipped that sedative under my tongue, and i waited. a young woman brought me to a dark room with curtains everywhere. it was sterile, and cold, and i fucking hated that room more than anything i had ever hated in my goddamn life. i remember not hearing much, then… i was sobbing so uncontrollably, my ears were ringing. the technician gently lifted my gown, and told me i had pretty tattoos on my hip bones.
it hit me then, like a ton of bricks. this woman was looking at a tiny little screen, looking at my baby, this distorted black & white image of my own flesh and blood. i caught my breath, if only for a moment, and demanded -“show me”. i must have caught her off-guard because she looked horrified.
“my baby, let me see”
“i’m so sorry… it’s against regulations”
“turn your screen and let me see my fucking baby”
she hesitated for a moment, looked around quickly and turned the screen to face me. i don’t know what i was expecting to see- some beautiful image of a pale-skinned, coffee bean-haired, black-eyed little girl bouncing around in clear, fresh, blue water. a perfect mix of her father’s best features and mine: a vision i’d had in my silly little head since i was sixteen years old. he was a handsome man, that fucking asshole. lips pink like cotton candy, and a smirk that still makes my heart drop to the tip of my toes.
what i saw was so, so much more, somehow. this little black & white bean floating in the pit of my body. my own little creation- perfect in its entirety. i’ve never experienced anything more painful than seeing that.
the drugs must’ve kicked in then because i don’t remember getting back to my chair. a nurse peeked her head into the hallway and called my name. i looked her dead in the eye, walked up to her, and collapsed in her arms.
“i don’t want to do this”, i whispered.
i don’t think she had experienced a patient like me, then- a young spitfire so determined to do the right thing, the only thing i’d ever done in my life that felt selfless. she caught me mid-fall, held me against her- the way a mother would, and apologized, endlessly. she lead me to a room of metal and latex. a room so devastatingly cold. she helped me out of my little black underwear, lifted me onto the table, and held my hand- i cried, and cried, and so did she. we looked at each other knowingly, and she didn’t leave my side once. i don’t remember her face- all i remember is the sincerity in her eyes and her heartbeat pumping against mine between my fingers.
the extra drugs i’d taken, and the gas i’d demanded before the procedure kicked in just as it was ending- i don’t remember much then, but my nurse helped me back into my underwear, and more or less carried me into recovery. she left me with a “care package”, stayed with me awhile, and left. it was the last i’d seen her.
i’m still angry.
i’m angry with myself for taking that route, angry with myself for being angry with myself. it’s a pain i don’t think i’ll ever be free of. i haven’t cut myself a break about this since the day it happened.
people joke about it sometimes- the thought of me putting down the beer bottle, to pick up a baby bottle. i get it- it’s funny, i’ve fucked up so hard for so many years… but truthfully? it stings. it pierces through the only good pieces left of my heart because i know if there was one thing i could do in this fucking world, and not fuck it up beyond repair, it’s motherhood. i want to do it, and i will, and i will be the fucking valedictorian of it because i am so, so meant to be someone mama- a feeling so fierce i can’t shake it.
a feeling so fierce i won’t shake it.
for a long time i wanted to leave this city.
i wanted to pack up everything i own, hop a bus to my favourite place, and forget. i wanted to work easy jobs, and live in tiny little apartments with my best friends, and finally let go. i was living alone, then. sitting on a fence between wanting so badly to leave, and managing my emotions enough to stay.
that’s always been my problem. it was never indecision or nerves. i wasn’t scared to fall off the map, no. i was afraid to sever the ties for the last time. i was scared i wasn’t independent enough, or happy. i was scared i’d make all these big plans, and have them crumble at my feet. i was frantically searching the internet for little apartments i could share with my friend. a place we could lay around in our underwear, reading comic books and listening to dykie folk rock. a place where we could wall-paper the bathroom, he and i. a place where i’d cook and we’d read books, and watch old films, and things would finally just be quiet.
because that’s just the thing with 2009 and the year i lived alone. the silence was so deafening, i surrounded myself with noise. there were always records spinning, or the tv blaring, or friends in my bed drinking wine from the bottle. and when i left him, finally and i couldn’t even muster the courage to put on some fucking pants and leave the house to buy groceries, the static and noise of the blatantly obvious became too much. the empty bottles of liquor scattered in every room, the cat litter over-flowing in the kitchen, or the piles of dishes i hadn’t touched in months. i didn’t have to worry about the dirty laundry on the floor because i couldn’t remember the last time i had clothes on my back.
christmas rolled in, and it was the first time i’d bought a real tree. january came and went as fast as february and by march i no longer had a fir, but a weeping willow. my father eventually came to my rescue- removing the decorations and storing them carefully as i sat quietly on my sofa. he dragged that thing through the kitchen and out the back door, and the only thing remaining was a trail of green needles.
it kills me to think of that, now.
by spring i’d come alive again- the weather and the hum in my heart had made it possible to breathe. i was still hiding his secrets- flushing his drugs when he asked me to, and crying silently when he’d leave. it all seemed new and yet so, so fucking the same. i guess it was the first time in four years that he’d been honest about the poison he’d been snorting and the people he’d been seeing in the nighttime. maybe that made it easier. he was so open about his indecencies. i was so young then- so naive. i would carefully unfold the foil, staring so angrily at this white powder, before i’d flush it down the toilet, again.
i didn’t have many words then, but i just remember thinking “how?” , over and over. how could he possibly choose these four bumps over us? over our lifestyle? over the family we nearly started- the family i was so quick to destroy, so quick to give up on.
…i could feel my heart pounding in my chest so hard i could hear it- the ringing in my ears blocking out his sobs from the other room. i remember laying there for hours after wondering when the fuck it would get quiet again.
in the years we’d been friends, and the months we’ve been dating, dan and i have never gone to the movies together. aftera particularly angry blowout on friday (where i’d been accidentally locked out of the apartment for over two hours without shoes or my phone), he’d promised me a date. a few friends joined us on a double-date as we walked the quiet streets last night. we live in the heart of the city, and yet by dusk on sundays, the streets are deserted. it’s my favourite part about living here. dan paid for our tickets as i bought us the biggest bag of popcorn they had- dan whispering to me, making sure i was asking for extra butter, “the real stuff!”, he kept saying. we saw a particularly gory movie, that had us roaring in laughter (as i hid behind my own hands). he kept rubbing my leg, or kissing my head- right on the temple. i close my eyes when he does that. i can’t help but get sentimental when he’s so gentle, like that.
“this is our first movie together!” he eagerly whispered, as the lights dimmed. i nodded and smiled the kind of smile only he can effortlessly get from me.
we walked home in separate directions- he was going to meet with a friend, and i was going to collapse into bed. i had forgotten my ipod at home, next to our bed, so i walked quickly, hands in my pocket. the final stretch of the long street before turning onto ours seems so much longer than it really is. i slowed my pace only briefly before being so thankful for dead of night. not a car in sight, unless it was parked. the yellow dim of the street lamps accentuating everything so perfectly. the leafless trees motionless, like skeletons.
i used to look over my shoulder at every sound, every footstep behind me. but things are different now- they’ve changed.
i exhaled a long, audible sigh, as i smirked and thought of a line from one of my most favourite comics…
(…) i should be scared or angry, the newsfeed says, but the sky is so empty and quiet and beautiful.
i finally, finally feel safe here.