I’m a Lover & a Fighter

You can’t leave love without being a willing participant.

When men have broken up with me in the past, it’s not like the love just stopped that same day. I always loved until I was forced to move forward.

I have spent so many years lamenting over lost love and puzzling (wildly) over why they always leave.

I think I finally have my answer: It’s not that I just wasn’t good enough or what they wanted. I just had the balls to love harder.

I had this bathrobe that was a total comfort item. My step-grandmother had given it to me for Christmas when I was in my early 20s. It was the perfect level of fuzziness, and I would often wear it to bed or even out on my deck, in lieu of a jacket, when I was cold. This glorious, pink and white plaid robe lived with me in three different apartments over more than 10 years. By the end, it was thread-bare and a continuous joke among my closest friends and boyfriend at the time. I had worn the butt of it so thin that you could see through it! I didn’t care. I knew it wasn’t as warm as it used to be, but when I put it on, I felt safe.

I probably held onto that bathrobe far longer than I should have. When I finally did decide to let go and move on, I clipped a tiny piece of the belt off, so I could sleep with it if I ever felt lonely. That belt scrap came to Ireland with me a couple months later and dabbed the tears of joy and nostalgia that I experienced visiting the birthplace of my Nana, while tucked away in a bunk bed in a hostel in Dublin.

I am obstinate. I am reticent to let go of something I have loved so much. Something I spent so much of my energy adoring. This is much like my love for humans. Not always to my benefit, because there were times when I was too naive or afraid to let go. I was a little too tolerant of abuse. Then, there were the times I just loved and fought a little harder than they did.

In a world where you can just buy another bathrobe if the old one is getting ragged, everything loses its preciousness.

I recognize and cherish the precious moments in life. If that means I must get out my needle and thread and do a little patchwork, so be it. If that means I may be left behind because someone else couldn’t put in that drive and energy that so naturally occurs to me, then, so be it.

I’ll be the one who stays and fights. One day, instead of being the girl who was pitied for always being left, I will be loved the way I love, because he chose to stay and fight, too.

No Pain, No Gain

Last year, one of my goals in therapy was to find out more about my ability to have children.

I am a relatively anxious person. I spent the better part of 2019 on anti-anxiety medicine, which I eventually weaned off of at the end of the summer. I was having health complications and suicidal thoughts, so stopping the medication was the best option. I was prescribed a different medicine, but before I started taking it, I realized that I felt good. Like… good, good. So good, in fact, that I felt better than I did since before J and I broke up.

I was back. I was energized and motivated. I felt excitement about things. I felt emotions. A LOT of them. But all in a good way. I created a lot of art. I read books. I made lists. I was me.

Although my anxiety was doing better and I was feeling so much more fulfilled in life, I still had this gaping curiosity and fear about my own fertility.

So, I ordered this hormone test online called Modern Fertility. I just lanced my finger a little while ago, and as I awkwardly type this with a bandage on my left, middle finger, the sample is drying on a card that I send back to the laboratory. In 7-10 days, I will get my results. Typically, one should test every 12 months or so for the most accurate results, but this will give me some indication if things are okay or if I need to see a specialist.

Having a child is something I’ve always envisioned, and as I near 37, I know there is not a lot of time left. This hasn’t escalated my search for a life partner or donor; I haven’t even dated anyone in a year and a half. I don’t want to rush into a decision that may be for the wrong reasons or may not be right for me, because I don’t know the person well enough. I still need time to heal myself, too. Ideally, within 3 years I would like to have a child, if it’s still in the cards for me.

Depending on what my results are, I will know if there’s extra precautions or steps I can take to ensure my chances of conceiving in the future.

Either way, for today, I did one more thing on my “Amanda To-Do List”, and I am proud of myself. Since I started therapy a little over a year ago, I have made so much progress. Not only am I more stable and much more intrinsically fulfilled, I have also healed a lot of emotional wounds, learned the power of “no”, and created boundaries where needed. I have taken charge of my life instead of being a silent on-looker, who was essentially apathetic about whether the trajectory was heading to success or a tragedy.

The blood draw was a mere pinch, but the months that led me to today have been like being pressed tight in a vice, wrung out, then hammered full of nails.

I can lose a little blood for this.

Miss You (7/30/18)

I miss you.
All the goddamn time.
Even when you’re in the room,
I miss you.

I once told you this,
but now that luxury is gone.

I suffer alone
with the immensity,
the missing.

The knowing that everyone now gets
more of you
than I ever will again.

Dysphoria

The heartbreaking ease of going to sleep with tear drops blanketing my face is like a familiar song. Although I feel so alone in those moments, I know every verse, every note.

I’ve hummed it my entire life.

This has been the longest breakup. He broke up with me July 8th, and it is only today, September 26th, that I wake up no longer having to worry about the old apartment, the storage unit, or any of that. Of course, there are still a couple loose ends to tie up, but it is so close to being final.

I have been telling myself for months that things will be better once it is all done and I am no longer breathing in the air of purgatory—stale, tepid, and apathetic. I also knew that once all the pieces were put away and our lives were once again separate and unknowing that I would feel the panic of isolation, erasure, impermanence.

Both are true.

So, I am left in a wind-swept tunnel, clear of the physical presence of him, but every molecule in the air is vibrating with the verse I sing myself to sleep with.

I will slowly forget the words, and new words will fill that space. The song will never be gone, but it’s nice to get it out of my head for just a while, if I can.

Boxes & Rain Drops

I am moving in a month, and the unwieldy mountain of stress is identical to the literal mass of things I own.

In an attempt to get a head start on the increasing agenda of tasks I have to do, I’ve begun to sort through miscellany. Boxes I had in storage, my medicine cabinet, old make-up… I reached into my walk-in closet last night and found a small shoebox of letters I have kept for years. Since 2006, to be precise.

It took me a few hours to sift through them all—opening each envelope, inspecting the contents, skimming the hand-crafted words that took commitment and dedication.

These letters all came from a friend who was incarcerated. He and I had dated, and right after we broke up, he did a bad thing and went to jail.

We wrote each other for the entire 6 years he was locked up.

Emotions pelted me throughout the reading like a gentle rainstorm that occasionally picked up or slowed. I was caught off guard by a sentence of deep regret, or my skin blushed by a few compliments of my beauty and effervescence about which he would sometimes reminisce.

I’ve read all of these before. Some of the sentences were so familiar even after all of these years, because, for a time, I had relied so much on the comfort and happiness those paper confessions provided me.

Yet, so many little things I had forgotten. He had written, telling me that I reminded him of a girl in the 2008 Ford Edge commercial, who was lost in thought looking up at the stars with her big, brown eyes.

Or the hand-made stamps his father would carve every year for Christmas cards, and how I had succeeded in putting every other person alive to shame (except his father) with my creative cards I sent him every year for his birthday and Christmas.

Or how he remembered that I used to eat soy bologna sandwiches and never smiled with my teeth in photographs.

It was such a strange and unusual bond we created during his time away, because we both avowed to continue the practice of hand-written letters.

We’d talk about our rituals of writing, where we sat, and what our surroundings looked like as we penned long notes to each other. He’d start letters off with a gregarious greeting, punctuated with far too much excitement for his caged-in existence, musing with eloquent language about my current antics. He shared an intimate look at the inside of a penitentary, while I wrote on and on about outings, my cats, my relationship woes, and, apparently, how great my ass was looking (that came up a few times—I know, because he made sure to comment in his letters sent back).

I held a six-year time capsule that was one-sided. I only had his letters, so I had to fill in the gaps of what was going on in my own world, while he talked about his. I could infer from his commentary easily, and it was like a nicely boxed-up version of my life from the moment he went to jail until the day Rocky and I first broke up. That was the last letter from him before he was released—commenting on how sorry he was to hear about my breakup. That was in 2013.

The letters began with talk of him missing his Myspace page and texting on his phone, and galloped forward into Facebook, various tv shows that had their popularity over that time period, and onward still to mention my employment at the company for which I still work.

I remember when he was released to a half-way house and I was finally able to talk to him on the phone. He had a crappy flip phone, and we talked for over two hours that first night. I chain-smoked cloves, and we delved into everything we didn’t say in our letters.

I went to visit him at his job in West Hartford. We talked a few more times.

That was a few years ago.

He’s free and we don’t talk. Convenience and real life has stripped us of our intimate bond.

But we are Facebook friends…

He often wrote to me, expressing his gratitude for my continued devotedness to writing him, but in the last letter, he stated that I had swayed his mind on womanhood, which went beyond his expectations and even broke down the rusted barrier of his misguided trust.

And now we don’t talk.

The gentle rain of emotions pelted me a little harder right then.

I always re-read everything personal before purging it. I set aside an entire evening to remember. It was only four years later that I decided to take the shoebox down from the shelf, because I need to simplify my personal belongings before moving.

The stress and commitment of moving has caused me to remember what a great friend I have had all these years. How I was once capable of staying true to a friendship with a steadfastness that is only now seen in the few hours left I have to vacate this apartment and start fresh.

Hand-written letters may never be in our future again, but I hope he knows when he reads this that, even in silence, the bonds of friendship still lie.

Antidote

A few days ago, I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw a post about my ex’s brother and his girlfriend “in a relationship”. They have been dating since the summer but finally made it “Facebook official”.

My ex’s mother responded to the post: “The best thing to ever happen to this family!” Although I agree that his girlfriend is simply amazing and a genuine sweetheart, it stung. Why?

Well, because for years, I was the best thing that ever happened to that family.

I was the glowing spectacle in the eyes of his mother, brought in from the world into her undeserving son’s arms, hopefully to remain indefinitely. Obviously, he and I broke up. More than once, in fact, because at the time, he simply didn’t know what he wanted, couldn’t own up to his emotions, or wasn’t ready.

While I can accept that and know it was he who cast me out, why did it sting so much to read that comment?

It’s the phrasing; in particular, the word “family”. Why would she be the best thing for the family? Wouldn’t she merely be the best thing for my ex’s brother? Similarly, why was I the best thing that ever happened to the family and not just to my ex?

The thing is, I may have been the best thing that happened to my ex in years, but I also received so much warmth and approval from his family that it really felt like I was the new bulb replaced on the string of lights that made things once again bright.

I never had his affections and emotions in an open sort of way. He hid himself from me and rarely made me feel very loved or special, so having his family’s acceptance was part of what kept me going. I needed it to have the patience required to wait for him to shape up.

That’s why the comment scraped the inside of my heart: I was just as much in a relationship with the family as I was with my ex, and in some ways, more connected to them than I was to him, at times. Breaking up with him was breaking up with three other people all at once.

Now I have the devotion of a man who isn’t afraid to tell me how he feels. He tells me I’m beautiful, sweet, cute, and amazing every day. He even says I’m the “most beautiful” he’s ever seen. Although I like his parents, I don’t need them in the way that I relied so heavily upon the relationship I had with my ex’s family, because with Bryan, I am given more than enough adulation and support. I don’t feel like I’m wading in a pool of my own emotions for someone else, while they are on the shore holding the life raft, like I did with my ex. I was always waiting for him to jump into the depths with me or at least scoop me out to the beach to be with him.

In that way, I very much required the acceptance of his family, because without that, I was swimming alone in my love for him. Buffered by their love, I could be strong enough to hold on a bit longer.

That’s why it stung.

It’s completely personal and nothing to do with my ex’s brother’s girlfriend. She is beyond a blessing to be around. It’s nothing more than coming to terms with my own insecurity I felt in my past relationship.

Realizing that I am now submersed in the warm cocoon of a submarine barrack with a man who openly and unabashedly loves me gives me security. His acceptance is the one I need, and it has finally been found.

Chicken Little

I finally told him.

I told him and the sky didn’t come crashing down as a feared Chicken Little might have suspected. I wasn’t engulfed by volcanic ash. No earthquakes shook and rattled tall buildings to the earth.

I don’t know why I told him. The only purpose it served was so that I no longer had to hold it in, pressed against my gums all the time, wanting to be released.

I have come to the realization that saying it isn’t the scariest or hardest thing in the world. I’ve said it in the past and not had it returned. I’ve been laughed at and rocked back and forth in an embrace of confusion and patronization.

I survived.

The most arduous undertaking is knowing that it needs to be said and not expressing it out of fear or self-preservation.

I didn’t say it because I wanted him to say it back. I didn’t tell him because I wanted a hollywood romance moment, where all the messy pieces of my life are placed exactly where they always needed it be. I wasn’t attempting to bargain him back into my arms. There was no ulterior motive.

I declared it because he deserved to be told.