Having Heart

I remember the first year after J and I split, I spent Thanksgiving afternoon on the Simsbury bike trail. It was completely vacant, which was a picture of absolute perfection to me. It was sunny, warmish, and I remember loving each and every second of being in solitude before I had to go be with family.

Last year I went straight to my boyfriend at the time’s house after Thanksgiving at my sister’s. It made me really happy to be there with people I consider family, too.

I don’t only think about what I’m thankful for on Thanksgiving, obviously, but it is a tradition of mine to write about it on this day.

This past year has been one filled with the extremes of complete bliss and total despair. I rang in New Year’s at a friend’s house, where I felt depressed and out of place. My boyfriend and I had just ended things, and I was once again broken-hearted.

Shortly after New Year’s, I received a text from a friend who never forgot about me. He would always check in with me when I was so awful at doing the same for him. Even if it was every few months or once a week, he’d text to ask how I was doing.

In late January, one of my good friends suddenly passed away from a heart attack. I missed some work. Had trouble sleeping. Began to fear that everyone I loved could disappear at any moment.

On the last day of February, I threw myself a birthday party. It was really fun and debaucherous, and although not everyone I wanted to be there was there, I was happy.

On the first day of March, the same friend who texted me in early January came to visit me. We hadn’t seen each other in about a year, since he lives in New York City.

And on March 2nd, I found myself slowly falling in love.

This year has been filled with so many changes, losses, and new friends.

Things at work have changed drastically in the span of one calendar year. I am now in charge of quality assurance, our team has organization, and I even have a standing desk.

My relationship with the beautiful man from Brooklyn flourished and kept me in a haze of complete bewilderment that someone could be so incredible, handsome, sweet, smart, and like me back at the same time. Long distance sucks–I don’t recommend it–but it was totally worth it, because now my life had this added dimension: love.

I completed a writing apprenticeship this summer with Elephant Journal, started my own website, and became a published writer. I got a roommate for the first time in three years.

I made new friends and formed stronger bonds with pre-existing friends. I have a whole community of friends who live in my apartment complex, now, and we get together every week to play dorky games or eat meals.

I mended old wounds with my ex, and we have been able to be friends again, which is something I never thought would happen.

I found a soul-mate friendship with a person who has seen me through some of my toughest moments in the short amount of time we’ve known each other. I have been able to be support for him as well.

I went to NYC to see a friend and reunite with the beautiful man. I swear nothing is better than that moment when you first connect bodies. The lingering opiate-effect that washes over your entire mind as you gaze at each other in between kissing and holding hands on what felt like the longest subway ride to Brooklyn. But nothing is worse than disappointment, having the weekend not go the way you had envisioned, and being told by the man you have fallen for that he’s too scared and too busy. Not wanting to hurt myself more, I removed myself emotionally from the situation.

I have cried way more than I’d like to admit over this. Crying in the bathroom stalls at work, crying when I first wake. Crying in the car, in the shower, into my cats’ soft fur. Crying myself to sleep.

Two weeks ago, my male cat suddenly became very sick. After the most emotionally tumultuous weekend of my life, I had to put my cat down. He was operated on twice. Had complications with both surgeries. Was having difficulty breathing. Needed another expensive surgery, of which his survival rate was fifty percent. I wanted him to be in his momma’s arms as he took his last breath.

Everyone was there for me on that day and the days to follow. I couldn’t believe how much support and love I felt from all angles, and even from people I rarely talk to on facebook. No one thought I was ridiculous for being so upset, and no one told me to get over it. J spent time with me on the phone to make sure I was okay (after all, it was his baby, too, at one point) and said some of the most soothing things I needed to hear after Zen passed. I am truly thankful for the genuine outpouring of kindness in the past week and a half.

This has been one of the most devastating things I’ve ever gone through. I’m not just a “pet person”, an “animal lover”, and hyper-emotional. No, my two cats are my existence. They’ve been with me for nearly seven years. They were my support and company when I went through my “divorce”, because after six years and and an engagement ring, it’s essentially a divorce. They have been admired, adored, and cherished every single day of their lives, and they have become my closest friends and my children.

Zen, my male cat, was my best friend. Nearly every night he slept tucked under my arm like a teddy bear. Now, I have his ashes resting in my bedroom, and my female cat, Aum, is more clingy than ever. But she will never be a “lap cat”; she will never snuggle under the folds of my arms as I sleep. I’ve lost something immense.

And the crying continues. It’s almost every day. Sporadic. Random. I am wracked with guilt that maybe I missed some sign that Zen was sick and all of this could have been prevented. I feel total desolation for my other cat, who cannot possibly understand where her brother went. Why all of her favorite beings keep disappearing with no return.

However, through all of the hardships and watching close friends suffer and experience sadness and loss as well, I have heart.

I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s there. It’s the only reason why I am still standing.

I am in my own microcosm of pain and suffering–I know the world has so much more suffering and trauma than I will ever personally experience, but my pain is still my pain. The last three years of my life, I have been pummeled by loss and heartache. I have had moments, weeks, and even months of true happiness, too.

No matter what has happened to me in the last year, I do know that I still have love; I still have heart. Loving is the thing that makes me happiest. I can’t stop myself from it. And with love, comes gratitude, appreciation, cherishing those I adore, and forgiving those who have hurt me.

I have had suicidal thoughts a lot. Nothing I’ve ever acted upon, but they are there. I have hated and shamed my own body. I have harmed myself physically. I have called myself a pathetic mess in the bathroom mirror hundreds of times. I have considered what the point of living is when life is filled with constant loss and disappointment, and the outside world is a magnified mirror-reflection of the same thing.

My answer is that I can always find love. And that love is what drives me. My cat needs me. She purrs and sleeps at the edge of my bed every night. She needs reassurance when she eats these days, so I stand there with her and coax her, because she’s confused about the change in the household. My friends need their hands held when they are experiencing hard times. And even though things are not the way I wish they were with the man I adore, I feel happiness in knowing him, in feeling the way he makes me feel, and in knowing I can still bring joy to his life. I’m not gone. He’s not gone.

I am thankful that I have always been the type to cherish and remember things. Every single day. I am grateful that my male cat had the very best life he could have had, with an absurd amount of love, cuddles, kisses, cat nip, and wet food.

Mostly, I am thankful that I always give and love with my whole heart. I may say harmful things to myself when I am feeling particularly low, but I do know that my heart is always the thing that saves me, probably the most sincere thing about me, and the thing that makes a difference to others.

Today, I am thankful for having heart.

#RedIsTheNewHypocrite

I’m not going to launch into a huge dismantling or discussion about the recent Starbucks red cup “crisis”, because honestly, I haven’t really read anything about it, avoided it on purpose, and have only seen the sensationalism that’s spread across my facebook page.

That being said, I do have a few thoughts and words on the overall subject:

  • You are always going to offend someone.

There are just too many people with self-righteous indignation. They need outlets! Some people live their lives merely to make a scene. It gives them a sense of purpose; it fills their narcissistic needs.

If anything, Starbucks should feel honored it was them this time! Hey, if you think about it, free advertising!

  •  Everyone’s a hypocrite.

I think it’s fairly obvious by now that every religion holds pockets of hypocrisy. A religion (in my opinion) is an organized and blatant display of ideologies and beliefs. It’s almost axiomatic that something like an organized group of unique humans are bound to stray from what is “right”. It’s like trying to take a Kindergarten class and asking them to stand in a straight line for more than five minutes.

It’s impossible to adhere all the time.

That being said, I don’t subscribe to any organized religion due to its nature to be “ridiculous” or “hypocritical” at times. I believe in being a good person, having morals, being kind and loving always, and cherishing all living beings.

Anyone I know who shares the same beliefs doesn’t care about the color of cups, because they are “in this world, but not of it.” Who cares? We’re just lucky there is such a thing as sweet, wonderfully delicious coffee.

  • What is wrong with red?

This has nothing to do with the color red, people. If the cup were blue, oh man, you bet there’d be a stink! The poor marketing team at Starbucks is probably scratching their heads and throwing up their hands in astonished defeat.

You win, Christians.

I mean, isn’t everything today politically correct? We can’t say “Merry Christmas” any longer; it has to be “Happy Holidays”. We cannot celebrate holidays in school, because it might offend someone. Didn’t you think for just a minute that perhaps Starbucks was trying NOT to offend anyone here?

But clearly some people are just offended that no one tried hard enough to offend them.

That brings me full circle to my first point, so here’s a good place to stop.

Conclusion:

It’s an inanimate object for crying out loud. We’re just going to use it as a receptacle for coffee, tea, and the like, and then it goes in the garbage. There are bigger things about which to worry, folks.

Everyone’s a hypocrite. People live for drama.

Sensationalism and being a “brat” actually creates a very symbiotic marketing system, where both the offender and the offended get free press.

So, everyone wins. Lift your red cups in solidarity and Salute.

The Truth Is:

You are so beautiful. So. Fucking. Beautiful.

I wish I had been more aware when we met. Maybe you would have really given us a chance. You seemed less jaded, more silly, less worn, had fewer battle scars from the wear and tear of city life and its gravity pushing in on you from all angles.

When we met, compassion poured from you. At first, I thought you weren’t interested at all. Of course. A good-looking guy–why would he want me? And then, you turned towards me and asked me about myself. We didn’t stop talking for a couple of hours. We talked so much about so many things that everyone who came outside to smoke went in, and when we returned, frozen from the cold, and continued talking, my ex gazed out the window perturbed.

That was day one.

We wrote each other emails pen-pal style about our lives, about questions we had for each other, and about deeper things. I was going through some really heavy stuff during this time and slacked off on talking for a while…You were my little secret, because no one we were with that night could know that we had become good friends.

Our bond was formed immediately after that first day, because I believed you when you told me your side of things; I had empathy. You said that I was a better person than the people we were with that night, and you just knew upon meeting me. You never gave up on me, even though I was difficult to reach at times.

You came to visit on a couple of occasions; you tried to put the “moves” on me. I rejected your advances, although the lady at the restaurant took down our name as the “really attractive couple” while we were waiting to be seated.

You remembered everything I’d ever told you. You even remembered, a year later, the name of the fruity drink we ordered at Meadow on a dinner date.

I don’t. Admittedly. That whole time we were friends was a frenzied, horrific mess in my head. My heart was splintered and worn, and my thoughts often drifted off to other places or I was too busy getting trashed with my friends so I could subdue heartache.

I remember chatting with you on Facebook Messenger when I found out that my flight back from Cleveland was canceled due to bad weather. I don’t recall what we said to another.

I had every opportunity to ask you more about your life. You had ample time to provide it. When we finally spoke again this January, you told me you missed our emails–could we email like we used to? I told you yes, of course.

I remember when you had finally given me your phone number, because you were going to visit family in California and wouldn’t be near a computer. I texted you one snowy afternoon, while in the living room watching “Spring Breakers” (ironically starring James Franco, the very man who has you by the balls, working like a horse, at his Studio). We went back and forth for a while, but what we talked about? I don’t know, sadly. I bet you might.

Now I remember everything. From the smell of your skin to the freckles on your chest. The pale shade of your hands and the geometric shapes adorning your knuckles. Your sleepy voice. Your silly voice. Your seductive voice. I remember details about your life you’ve shared and the dates of all your performances I never got to see. You are so busy that you forget things I’ve told you. Your pretty head so rife with lines, with places you have to be, with things you need to accomplish, that you have room for nothing else.

So unfortunate that we had to reunite when everything you’ve wanted in your career is beginning to fall into place. There’s no room for me at all.

But there was. For a time.

For a time, you made every effort you could to come see me. We rapaciously texted each other throughout the day and sleepily talked on the phone late at night. I tortured you while you were at work with thoughts about what I wanted to do to you when I saw you next, and you made me accidentally spill an entire glass of water on my desk at work when you sent me a photo of your post-workout abs.

It was much more than that, of course. Finally, we had both found someone we could trust. Someone we couldn’t get enough of. Another soul that filled ours with the effects of opium every time we talked or thought about the other.

It was magical.

When we were together, it was hard not to want to be continually touching. We giggled and did silly psychology tests and surveys together. We played out fantasies. We lazed on the couch, holding hands, watching tv shows. We went out on dinner dates. We groggily went out to breakfast the following mornings. I made you coffee that was sickeningly sweet–the way you like it.

I missed you so fiercely while we were apart, and it was nearly too much for me. So many months began to slip by without a visit, because you were about to be homeless or were completely immersed in a thousand duties and rehearsals.

It was hard. Really fucking hard. But I thought we were doing a damn good job of making the best of it. Of talking when we could. Of keeping the romance and spark lit. I was thoroughly impressed with us. Any time my voice changed from effervescent to sultry, you nearly had to sit down because of my affect on you. We were beating the odds, because of both of our hard work and communication.

Then, I dunno, you started to recoil a bit. Becoming more busy, you realized you hadn’t told me I was beautiful in days. The tiredness in your voice was apparent when we spoke, and I felt you pushing me away when I asked about your dad or when I accidentally interchanged the words “seeing each other” for “dating each other”. You reassured me this had nothing to do with your feelings.

You, afraid of disappointing me, were hesitant to set dates for when we might see each other, because twice you had to cancel our tentative plans.

It was becoming painful not seeing you.

Then…I saw you. You! Gorgeous, beautiful you.

We reunited at Penn Station a little after noon. We saw each other from several yards away and you quickened your pace, and I, standing in a red dress, dropped my bags as you came towards me. Just like in the movies, we kissed, we embraced, we kissed some more. Then, hand-in-hand, we got on the subway.

On the subway, we kissed, we held hands, we kissed some more. It was nothing short of incredible to finally touch you again. And at your apartment, we spent many hours alone together doing what you expect two lovers to do when they haven’t seen each other in months. Then, we blissfully lazed around naked, playing video games, being goofy, and taking pictures.

We walked to the water’s edge in Williamsburg, clasping hands. We ate pizza; we had ice cream. And then, you had to take me to Manhattan to see my friend. I thought that I would get to spend the next night and all of the following day with you, but as luck would have it, rehearsals and studio got in the way.

I know you can’t help it–the responsibility you have is huge, but my heart sank. I was finally in the city and I couldn’t wake next to you.

Over breakfast on my last day in the city I told you I couldn’t do this anymore.

It hurts to like you so much. It hurts not having you, too. There is no winning, here.

We spent the rest of the day like we were in love. We walked on a flower-covered bridge. We sat on a bench in front of the water. We made-out and didn’t care who was watching. We told each other how beautiful the other’s eyes were. How the sunlight plays on them and lights them up…and in that tender moment, your voice got weak. We closed in and kissed again, arms wrapped around each other tightly.

My train was delayed and you had to leave. I didn’t want to let you go. We had been standing in front of the train schedule for twenty minutes, my head buried in your chest. Tears began to fall onto your shirt–you said it was a good look and you didn’t mind. You told me not to cry. I told you how could I not when nothing compares? And after kissing goodbye at least a dozen times, you walked away towards the subway. Right before you entered the tunnel, you turned to look at me and waved.

Then you were gone.

I was alone in a massive current of people, moving in different directions to their destinations. Mine was, first, the bathroom to cry, then, outside to smoke, and finally, inside to head home without you.

You always say to me that things went the way they did and they couldn’t have gone any other way. The way they went is the way they had to go.

This time you didn’t have to let me go. You could have brought me back to your room, late at night, so we could enjoy each other. You could remember why you like me so much–how I am not like other girls…or even other people. How I have traced the scruff on your handsome face and sent you surprise cards in the mail to brighten your day. How I was supportive and understanding to you during one of your toughest points this summer and never gave up. How nothing could fill the void of missing me or how nothing will ever compare in this lifetime.

You could have remembered those things and not let me go.

You said I am much braver than you for opening my heart again and again. The truth is: the bravest thing I’ve done was tell you that my heart hurts and I can’t continue. Nothing in me wanted to say those words, but I’ve been waiting for ten years for a love like this, and if you’re just going to fade away, I can’t take the heartache. Not after baring myself to you.

I have to get back on the subway and get off at the next stop, wandering around lost in a city of people who are not you.

Tu me manques.

Destined for “Almost”

My quiet, slightly messy apartment on a Saturday afternoon looks like a picture of mild chaos. Nothing is really disorderly, but there are way too many empty bottles in the kitchen from nights and nights of drinking, the carpet is coated in debris and cat hair, and my bathroom counter is scattered with the careless rushing of half-assed morning preparations.

I’m “this close” to getting the things I want: returning all of the bottles and having a clean place to cook; dismantling the computer desk–but first, to find places for all of the things on the desk…

I’m “this close” to going back to the gym. What’s my excuse now? I’m done with my writing apprenticeship; I have the time. I’m “this close” to writing a new song on guitar. I just need my muse.

Do we all tend to live in a place between chaos and order? Is that what makes us thrive, ultimately?

When things are too good, it’s boring. When life is a mess, we break down. But when the sine-wave of ups and downs form to create a rolling pattern of predictability, we find reprieve.

We need just enough chaos to keep us moving.

If that’s the case, then why do I feel like I can never catch up? Why is my mind pummeled by inhibiting thoughts of “never enough”?

I took on a writing apprenticeship to hone my skills in editing and writing. This is the first time I have felt inspired to write since it ended a week ago. I applied to continue with the program as a teaching assistant and was not chosen; I contacted them about being a volunteer editor and heard nothing. I need to keep trying–but my initial reaction is: Why am I not being heard?

This is my calling…or so I thought.

Everything in life that I have ever wanted I have wanted so ferociously.

A thousand pages of script written manically with sweat dripping off my brow; My soul being pulled through my mouth thread by thread until a pile of invisible karma lay in my palms, as I present it to my lover; The pounding of musical notes and harmonies reverberating into the cosmos… Everything I do is with utmost passion.

And yet it never quite seems to do. Everything just sort of slips through my hands at one point or another.

I have learned to let go so well that I’ve reached Zen Buddhist Monk status by now.

All of these things haunt me to a degree, still, as I am only human. Is it possible to be both a respected writer and musician? Do I have what it takes? Am I lovable enough to be worth committing to?

The most painful aspect of all of this wondering is that I am really scared that I am just not destined to have the things I want. I don’t want much, really. I want my words to be heard, I want to be a good friend and thought of respectfully, and most of all, I really want to be loved. I want to be loved so much that they cannot imagine a life without my presence. I want to be that precious to somebody.

I always put others first and not myself. I negate the things for which I long in order to compromise or give happiness to others. And it seems, in life, that others are totally fine with this.

Totally.

I am told I am so special. I am told so many other things than that, too, and yet I feel I’m not enough. And I know, truthfully, that I am not enough.

I am almost enough.

Sometimes Things Just Suck a Little & That’s Okay

[Some adult language]

My life has been something out of a story book, lately, so of course, it was only due time before it partially came crashing down on me. Don’t worry, everything is fine; I’m a bit down and a little stressed. Things just suck a bit.

For about a month now, I’ve almost steadily been on cloud nine with perhaps a day or two where I’ve felt a little bit grumpy or hormonal. Why is that? Well, my life is becoming what I want it to be. I have a new roommate, and things are going really well. I got a raise at work. I even have a new standing desk and have been going for walks at lunch time with my girls, so I’m feeling healthier. I also have an amazing connection with a truly beautiful man. He says things almost on the daily that make me swoon like mad. I am doing my writing apprenticeship and loving it. All ducks are lining up in their pretty, little row. Well, until yesterday and today.

Sometimes, things just suck a little. I feel far away. I haven’t seen this swoon-worthy man in over two months. He’s facing some difficult things right now, and I can’t even help him. I’m powerless, in the dark, and alone. I worry for him, yet have zero ability to actually do anything about it.

My first writing assignment for my writing apprenticeship did not come out exactly how I would have liked. I wanted better than that for my first submission. I have a hard time keeping up with all of the social media postings I have to do each day, and I turn down plans to be with friends. I probably spend well over the prescribed 12-15 hours a week towards working on this class, and that’s on top of a full-time job.

Most of the time, I don’t even mind these things. In fact, I love the alone-time. I like the pressure and challenge of my writing apprenticeship. But some days, and today is one of them, I am just worn down emotionally, and I feel like sleeping until all challenges cease to exist.

I want to be in the arms of a caring man. I want to keep my past in my past, instead of where it’s been creeping in lately, and I want to be the best goddamn writer I can be. In dire need to purge my household of extraneous physical baggage, I am constantly in a state of anxiety until that task is finished. It’s all a process.

Everything will be okay. At least, I think it will. I just need to remember that sometimes I don’t feel my best, nor do I act it. This is a sometimes thing, not an indicator of who I am in perpetuity. I am not perfect; I am only human. I falter, I take things personally, I feel shitty, and I worry excessively.

And some days, I rain love and affection in inspirational waves onto those surrounding me. Just depends on the day. Each moment is a moment from which to learn, and sometimes, you realize that you just need to get through the moment.

I was driving not too long ago, and as I crested the hill at sunset, so, too, emerged the brilliant, red-neon sun. It was only there for a few seconds before I made my descent, but it caught me off-guard. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen the sun look so delicious like a sucking candy mounted in the sky. And that’s when I remembered that this is just another day. Beautifully radiant in its own way. Some good, some bad, some cherished moments, and some I’d soon rather forget.

There’s always tomorrow to try again. Sleep does wonders for the soul, as it washes away today’s stains and renews faith and hope. I wish it for everyone: for my friends, family, strangers, acquaintances, enemies, and for the man with the handsome smile, when he actually allows it to grace his scruffy face.

I cannot make others happy, because that’s not how life works, but I can make sure that I am taken care of, and that, in turn, allows me to be the reminder to those who need it of those blaring red-orbed days when there’s too much beauty to feel completely lost.

Worth Its Weight in Gold

They weren’t kidding when they said, “anything worth having is worth fighting for.” I feel like I’ve been fighting my inner monologue for months on this one. He’s just so damn beautiful that I can’t help it.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, willingly: he’s gorgeous. Like, stop, turn your head and gawk, gorgeous. But that’s not what I mean when I say he’s beautiful. It’s in the way he so thoughtfully tells me that I am. The way he clings to my shoulder when we’re sitting on the couch and only have precious hours together. How he smells when I am pressed against his neck in a long embrace. He’s beautiful when he remembers to tell me goodnight or when he makes himself vulnerable. He tells me that he doesn’t want me to hurt the way I’ve been hurt in the past and will do everything he can to avoid it. He tells me I’m a goddess. He is so damn beautiful, because he truly cares.

Doesn’t make this easy, though, because, of course, I had to find him in a not-so-convenient location and time in his career.

Anything worth having is worth fighting for.

On days when my brain shouts at me that I deserve better–that I should be with someone I can relish daily in the flesh–my heart remembers that she was there not too long ago and it wasn’t all that great. When I’m afraid that he’ll lose interest, because there are so many gorgeous girls in NYC and the industry in which he works, he reassures me that I am so attractive to him because he finds my mind sexy, too.

When I am feeling positive, which is most of the time, I am astounded at how I have found a man so amazing; it is hard to believe he’s real.

One day, I said to him: “You are the perfect combination of sultry, dirty, sweet, and tender.” His response: “Just to you. I feel comfortable being all those things with you.”

It’s like I awoke from a long, wintery nightmare and walked straight into a Disney movie. It’s surreal.

He says perfect things to me. No one is perfect, and I sure wouldn’t want him to be, but about 85% of the time, he is perfect. Five percent goes to his foibles, and the other ten to the distance and time spent apart. I like him so much that I actually look forward to fighting with him, missing him, or being worried about him…because, I want it all. Eating all the frosting off a cake comes with a bellyache, sometimes, and I am fully prepared to take it all on.

He says that I say perfect things to him. It’s second nature to me. I cannot believe another woman has never said the things I’ve said to him! And yet, for some reason, he’s astounded that I tell him what I crave about him, what I want, and how I feel. None of it is fabricated, and it rolls off my tongue so easily, because when something is so real, how can it not?

That man is my dream fantasy. It scares me to even think about it in depth at times. Like, what? This is insane! He is intoxicatingly beautiful. It’s like someone handed him the secret code to turning me on. He turns me on physically, emotionally, and mentally…it’s a trifecta.

Most of the time, after talking to him, I feel like I took some kind of opiate. I am drugged. Relaxed, but charged. Singularly-focused. Hazed and foggy. Caught somewhere in a chimerical dream and reality. It’s hard to come back down to earth after immersing myself in him, at times. I don’t think anyone has ever quite had the affect he does. It’s uncanny.

It takes all of these “good feels” each day to keep my mind positive when there are days where we don’t get the chance to talk a lot or when I have no idea when I’ll see him next. I could just say no thanks to the whole situation, but how can someone let go of something real when real is what they’ve been searching for their whole life?

I Was Just As Bad

[some adult language]

I remember it clearly: me, sitting in our old apartment bedroom by the desk; he was on the bed, facing me. The lights were out, but it was afternoon. We were arguing.

J pointedly says to me, “I had all the money saved, but then you acted the way you did, and now the money has been spent.”

In hearing these words, I burst into frantic tears–he was talking about the money for my engagement ring.

That was probably about five or six years ago. Some things you will never forget.

To what he was referring (with my behavior) was something completely fabricated, because J had paranoia issues and was very manipulative with his words out of fear of abandonment. He thought that the next door neighbor and I were bumpin’ uglies, when I was not even remotely interested, nor had I ever been. I only had eyes for J. But because it was so real to him and he felt the magnitude of the indignant righteousness, all of the money put aside to keep his promise to me went to drugs and cigarettes. Maybe a toy for himself or some magazines. I don’t know what he did with his money.

That man knew how to bite hard. The term “mind bullets” accurately fits how he would fight, because he was scathing and unforgiving in his choice of words. But to say that we argued would be misleading. I never fought back.

As part of my healing process over the past three years, I have divulged a lot about his and my relationship that, previously, I kept a secret. I’ve needed to in order to accept that it happened and to realize that I was taken advantage of emotionally. However, I am no saint. Not perfect or all-knowing when it comes to relationships, in the slightest. Part of the reason for our failure was my fault.

I never fought back. I never stood up for myself. I let him whip me over and over with his nastiness and sat there silently, tears leaking from my eyes. Some days, after the pain had been too much and I no longer felt it, I shrugged at him with a straight face and walked out of the room.

I was inactive.

Part of it was because I felt as though no matter what I said, he would twist my words. I felt manipulated. That’s true. Yet, most of it was fear of losing him. What did I have to lose? I was naive and didn’t recognize that I had already lost my integrity and sense of worth. Without excusing him for his behavior, I see the magnetic attraction to someone abusing something that is cowering in the corner. That’s how it works. I never asked for it to begin, but I allowed it to continue.

Sure, I could play the victim role, especially since I experienced emotional abuse from multiple partners–some of the things that have happened in the past year, alone, are enough to garner sympathetic hugs from listeners. Screw that, though, because no one ever gains forward momentum or breaks out of the cycle by the mere recognition of victimhood.

I am an active party in my life.

Shortly after the breakup, J called, harassing and hurting me. Every time I tried to speak up, he would cut me off. I yelled into the phone, “SHUT THE FUCK UP! SHUT THE FUCK UP!” His response was one of glee: “Finally! I have been waiting years for you to say that to me. Good girl. Good for standing up for yourself. You tell me to shut the fuck up. Do it.”

What? Yeah, that’s right. Not that it was ever okay to begin with that he was controlling my emotions, but he respected me the moment I gave it back to him. Things were different after that day.

angry

I finally had a voice. I finally had nothing to lose.

Unfortunately, I had to lose everything with J to find my strength to stand up for myself to him. Sometimes, that’s how a lesson is learned. I was no longer afraid of him, because he wasn’t mine.

Since then, I have the integrity to fight back. I never play dirty, but I communicate, and sometimes, fervently or with anger. I express what I need to, and I don’t worry about the other person pushing me away, because if they do, then that is a demon within themselves. It says nothing about me as an individual.

To gain this personal responsibility, I had to accept that I was part of the problem. I contributed to my own abuse by letting a man destroy my happiness and mental state for five and a half years. I could have left at any point; I could have stood up for myself. I didn’t.

I may not have asked to be abused, but I have a voice and two legs. I can speak up and get out whenever I need to.