Thanks for Coming Over- Have Some Tea

Today I’m dressed to the nines, just because I can. I like the way I feel about myself when I’m the male equivalent of “all dolled up.” It’s not that I’m not female, it’s just that I don’t really look it in black Dockers, a grey t-shirt (complete with blue TARDIS), a Nautica blue and white striped button-down, neon green and TARDIS blue striped socks, and black leather shoes. Samantha saw me and I said, “do I look cute today?” She said, “yes, why? Do you have a date?” I said, “no, but I might want one.” Seems legit. Dress for success, baby. Dress. For. Success.

Then I asked Samantha, “will you take me to a store? Like, right now?” We took off for Giant (grocery store) because I needed three things. The first was an industrial size can of CoffeeMate, because it tastes much better in black tea than it does in coffee (go figure). Running low because of the sheer amount of tea I drink every day would scare most physicians. The second thing was Zyrtec, and the third thing was a Diet Coke so I could take it in the store, immediately, Do Not Pass Go. OMG the allergies. Hayat and Mike love plants, all kinds, and I am *dying.* I cannot go for more than a couple of minutes without having a sneezing attack, and my eyes itch like a mofo. It was on sale- a month’s worth for $10, so I got two. It will take me almost that long to rebuild it in my system. Zyrtec is not like pseudoephedrine, you don’t take it as a spot treatment. In order to really stop the sneezing, itching, etc. you have to take it for about six weeks. Just sayin,’ because a lot of people don’t know that. It will work, sort of, but “histamine blockers” take a while to get up and running. They aren’t built in a day. I only put “histamine blockers” in quotes because my dad and I both thought it was hilarious when that ad campaign came out… not sure if it was Claritin or Benadryl, but we both convulsed in laughter. “You mean, ANTIHISTAMINES?” Ah, buzz words.

Then, once Samantha and I had some time alone, she told me how her doctor’s appointment went yesterday, and it’s not good. She’s not going to die or anything, but she will have to go through treatment and it is weighing on me, tender heart bear that I am. The best piece of advice she’s gotten so far, and I love it, is “you just do your everyday stuff and let other people worry for you. They’re going to do it anyway, so just let them.” I wish I’d gotten the same advice when I was going through all my mental hell. It might have kept me from isolating quite so much.

Actually, it was my old, old friend Jonathan who got me through the worst of my hospitalization, with one simple Facebook comment. I was so overwhelmed with all the love notes that poured in that I said something to the effect of “thank you so much- I will absolutely jump in for you when the time comes.” He said, “right now, just jump in for yourself.” Those words literally carried me for days. Jonathan, if you’re reading this, I need you to know that and take it in. Your words helped me focus on myself rather than all of the other patients who seemed “so much worse than me.” My dad has this saying that rang true with Jonathan’s words: “definition of major surgery? Yours.” I wasn’t recovering from surgery, but it seemed like it, in a way. I didn’t get better overnight. I went to the hospital, but it was several weeks before I truly felt better. I felt so much guilt over spending time at the hospital at all, especially when Dana said, “it must be nice to be able to just check out like that.” Well, it was better than staying with her and continuing to beat myself up, that’s for damn sure. I dismissed her take as ignorance, but I’m still furious about it. The best thing about getting a divorce is not having to listen to her bitch and moan about my mental health while she continues not to take care of hers.

I just got to this place of survival mode, like I said earlier. Jonathan said “jump,” and I fucking did. Once I got out of “I am going to die if I don’t take care of this” mode, of course I wanted to work it out with Dana. However, I couldn’t get her to see that I needed to be strong before I could be a partner to her, because by then she’d taken it all as selfishness. It was way too late for us to rebuild, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t think about it constantly for a while.

In our last conversation, she also beat me up emotionally for not helping her more with the move to Portland. That I just sat on the driveway close to Diane’s house and mourned. The problem with that is she didn’t do jack or shit while I was sitting there. We BOTH left everything until the last minute. It was not my fault or hers. It just was. So to blame me for both of our ADHD attitudes is just putting more on me than is rightfully mine. I needed that time to mourn. That relationship predated her by almost 15 years. My parents were married for less time than I was “friends” with her. One of my real friends likened it to “battered women’s syndrome” because of all the emotional weight I’d carried for so many years in silence. To say that I would let go easily was an understatement. Besides, I had an eternal hope that Diane would jump in for herself, that she would agree with me that it was time to pack it up and go the fuck home.

She didn’t, but that’s neither here nor there. All of it was wasted energy. On that, I agree with Dana. I just couldn’t bring myself to that place on my own. I had to have help, lots of it, mostly from her. I have called her my Rock and my Redeemer, and at that time, she was. I’ll never forget it, regardless of whether we reconnect or not. She took care of me better than anyone else, because she knew me inside out, upside down, and backwards. She was the Jordy Nelson to my Aaron Rogers, using a football metaphor because it will please her.

I wish I could bring all that back, so that I could be the Jordy as we continue to stumble through life, like everyone does. I couldn’t at that time in my life, so I’m prepared to be that for someone else if they ever ask me. I can’t go backward, but I can pay it forward. I have so many regrets in the way I’ve behaved over the last two years, but at the same time, I don’t think there’s anything that shouldn’t have happened. I am a better person for it, having had to sit in that much pain.

Because as is my continual anthem, after the flood comes the rainbow. Apt, because I am a Houstonian at heart. I will never move back there unless there are extenuating circumstances, but you can’t erase where you’re from. It just don’t happen. :P DC is my lifeblood because of my writing. Nothing will ever change that. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t need a Drank once in a while. That doesn’t mean that just because I live here, Mike Jones is any less burned into my brain. Also doesn’t mean that my heart doesn’t beat for Annise Parker, whom I’ve admired since I was a kid. I am so proud of her that I could burst with pride.

I know I’m a bit all over the place today, but I just want this entry to feel like we’re sitting on the front porch, having a conversation………. because that’s exactly what we’re doing.

Amounting to Something

In a way, the fight with Dana was freeing. Now she’s just one more person in my life who believes I’ll never amount to anything. Over the years, there have been plenty. Now she can high-five with that crowd while I work toward wholeness. Far be it from me to stop her. What I will not allow, though, is for her to throw me away and then later on act as if she always knew I’d be successful. When I said yesterday that I thought what she was saying was mean, it wasn’t really the words themselves. It was taking my insecurity and thrashing me with it. Taking something I already felt horrible about and using it to beat me down further. Nothing about my writing to her is reaching up. Nothing about my writing is making a better life for myself whether it comes from my blog getting famous or from me using my words to propel myself into a different reality. In this blog, I have something she will never have unless she reaches for it. I know myself. I know myself so well that there is no insult on earth that anyone could levy at me that I haven’t struggled with in my own heart.

When I said that it hurt that she was there for all the pain and none of the promise, I realized something important. She’s paid so much attention to the pain that she could not see the promise when it arrived. Does she believe I am a well-respected author? No. Does she believe that I am capable of writing a book? No. Does she believe that this blog is anything more than self-serving ruminations? No.

That is not the truth and I will not accept it. My truth is that people have taken money out of their pockets and with it said, “we believe in you.” I have made enough money now from different donors to know that I am on the right path. Of course I need a real job to supplement my income, and I am not scared of that fact. At the same time, though, that will always be a “real job,” and this will always be my career. I am never more in my element than sitting in the quiet, writing to all of you. It’s the reason I am so dedicated. You lift me up in ways that I cannot lift myself.

The weirdest thing has been happening…. the more I share my work, the more people quote me to me. People tell me the lines that have stuck with them and I know my words’ importance because they have life past my own mind. For Dana, this is my delusion…. that my words matter, that I am respected. I have money in the bank that says that’s not true.

My reach is extending further. My roommate is from Iran, and she started reading my blog. She said, “you are a wonderful writer…. perhaps you would write my story, too?”

All of the color drained from my face and I started to sob. She was surprised and said comforting words, “oh, Leslie…. you shouldn’t cry…. it’s ok….. why? Why these tears?” I said, “you would trust me with something like that?” As you can imagine, her escape from Iran is not an easy story to hear, and I haven’t even heard a tenth. To hear the whole thing and to have her trust that I could do it justice was more than I could emotionally bear without showing so much emotion that I shook with it. I am still recovering, honestly, because her words touched a place in me that said, “Dana is wrong. You will do more than you ever thought possible, much less more than anyone else thought you would.” It set me down a path of hope, redemption, prosperity.

I asked her if it was okay to give her a hug. We stood on the porch, the light streaming around us as our arms reached across an unspoken divide, the one where all the feelings are.

Skeptical

Dana and I had a conversation that gutted me last night, and I don’t think we’ll be friends after this. I want to, but her words stung so bad, scored such a direct hit, that I know I do not need her energy in my life anymore. I thought that there was no limit to my understanding, my willingness to hear her, my willingness to submit to the fact that I’ve hurt her. I found my limit not because I was angry about what happened. Just dead. Flatlined. Could not show any more emotion in front of her, and perhaps not ever again. It remains to be seen what will happen in the future, but right now it’s time to disengage completely, because she wasn’t just saying something in a fit of anger. She was telling me how she truly felt.

I said something to the effect of it hurting so much that she was there for all the pain and not the promise. She said that she saw so much promise in me, but that I’d put energy into something and then get distracted when the next big great idea came along so that everything was theoretical and nothing was real. That she would be skeptical of promise in me forever.

It is something that I struggle with on my own. I know my personality. I am ADHD. I have more great ideas before breakfast than most people have in a lifetime. Where I fall flat, where I’ve always fallen flat, is in follow-through. I do not have the coping mechanisms, and never have. I feel differently now that I’ve gone through so much, because letting go of the tidal wave Diane created made room for so much more. I was so emotionally laden over my teenage heartbreak that I could not depart from it for more than a few minutes at a time, because I had to figure out a way she would stop calling me a liar. That she would believe the words that I spoke. There had to be a way.

There wasn’t. The answer was just to stop caring altogether. Dana also said something about that, that I’m like a dog with a bone and I just cannot drop things. It’s true. Emotional injury is my stock and trade, both figuring out my own and how to heal it, and how to heal others as I heal myself. I just want my world to be whole, and I will try every combination of words I can think of in the English language to try and figure it out….. when sometimes, I am trying to fit the wrong key into an ancient lock that’s already been covered in rust for quite some time.

I do not get letting go of people. To me, that is saying that they are unworthy of redemption, as am I. Relationships should be long and prosperous, no matter how much hell they go through, because the relationship is in working out the hard parts. Relationship is taking an emotional injury and finding ways to connect afterward, so that we can both look back down the road and see how far we’ve come, as opposed to how far we need to go. Relationships to me are never temporary affairs. I would much rather work through issues than give up, mostly because it makes things awkward if we run into each other at the grocery store (that was like a joke). I choose not to run away from emotional problems, and I am finding that I a tad unusual in that respect. I am tired of Dana’s insistence that my words are so much worse than hers, that my reactions of anger and enmity are more severe than the ones she’s handed down. I am tired of her insistence that the problems in our relationship were all mine to own.

I will not say much more than that except she’s ADHD, too. If we’re going to talk about squandered promise, I’m just going to leave that riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight there.

She has asked me the question, “since we wrecked each other, why do you even want more?” Because after the flood is the rainbow. Her answer is that what is broken should just stay that way. It is an approach to life that I do not want, especially if all she can see in me is the promise I’ve wasted and not the promise I live in right now. I am glad that I took my shot in getting away from her. I do not think that I could handle trying to emotionally separate from her, so I enforce physical boundaries instead. The dog with a bone attitude is gone, because I realized I didn’t want her energy in my life if all it was going to be is sadness at all the things I did not accomplish and skepticism that I ever would. I felt it long before we separated; one of the reasons Argo became so sacred to me so quickly is that she saw promise in my writing, something that I do gladly and faithfully every day. It is something to which I am completely dedicated, and the blessings it has endowed on my life are something that Dana does not see.

I have enough words to have a portfolio now, a recognized one at that. I may never be well-known, but of the people that do read me, I am respected. I have created something out of nothing. I have lived in my own promise. One day, it will pay off even bigger than it does now, because I have a wealth of sermon illustrations, book ideas, history so that I don’t repeat it…………………..

The hardest part about hearing Dana’s words was knowing that I’d said them to myself, and I told her it was just about the meanest thing she could have said to me. She didn’t see how I could possibly misconstrue her belief in my lack as mean. She was just telling me her emotions.

I. Am. Skeptical.

Sermon for Pentecost, Year B

It’s not often that a scripture hits me as hard as the Gospel did today. I actually shed a few tears as I was reading when I got to the part about “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” Because he’s right. I cannot bear anything right now that means Jesus is further away. I do not want Jesus to preach from the cloud. I want him HERE. I am in the place in my life where the Mediator, Advocate and Paraclete means so much to me that there is nothing more I want to do than touch the hem of his robe and be healed. To have Jesus turn around and say, “who touched me?” To be delivered from my distress, and there is a lot of it. In the past few years, I have lost a lot of friends, most notably my precious Argo and my precious Dana. They both carried me, sometimes kicking and screaming, into a new reality, one that I knew I needed but was reticent to give hope. They are my Holy Spirit Incarnate, which is a big phrase, but apt in this case.

I don’t normally do confessional sermons; they seem self-serving instead of serving God. But at the same time, the story of this Gospel and the scriptures set forth by the Lectionary are too personal. They got under my skin, the words tattooing themselves in the deep, dark recesses of my mind. There are just so many.

Why in the world would I say that Dana and Argo are my Holy Spirit Incarnate? Hear the words of Luke in the book of Acts:

When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

They were so disoriented that Peter had to stand up and tell everyone they weren’t drunk. It is in direct opposition to Jesus’ message, or at least, it is to me. Jesus is telling the Disciples that if they don’t let him go, they will never know the peace he has to offer. The peace? He is a member of the Trinity. Hearing about the Holy Spirit just does not compute.

Luke writes that the Holy Spirit is like the sound of “a violent wind.” Where could they possibly meet in th middle? They just don’t……….. unless?

Whoever said that the people didn’t NEED to be shaken out of their complacency? I once said of Jesus that he doesn’t so much comfort me in my distress, but distress me out of my comfort. Perhaps I was putting emphasis on the wrong entity? When Peter preaches, he quotes the prophet Joel:

In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
And I will show portents in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist.
The sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day.
Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

I know this is old language, but there is just so much here that is relevent to progressive Christianity. The first thing is that Joel is all-inclusive. Sons, daughters, slaves. It doesn’t matter. We are all going to be taken forcibly out of our comfort zones because what is right side up will be upside down and vice versa.

In my own story, Dana and Argo were my violent wind, taking me forcibly out of my comfort zone and forcing me to accept my own upside down and right side up. Dana and I were married for seven years. We got comfortable. We created our own family dysfunction and because it seemed normal, we stayed there. Lost in our own little world. The sun turned to darkness and the moon to blood when our dysfunction showed even to us when Argo came into our lives. She became a catalyst for both of us to look at ourselves and see the patterns we’d developed over time, both positive and negative. As time progressed, Dana became a mighty wind herself, because she could see the catalyst happening within me and shook me up as well. Both of them were justified in their anger at me. I said and did things that haunt me to this day, because a month ago I took their anger and let it motivate me. I took their Holy Spirit warnings and realized that their work wasn’t done. I had to believe them, I had to submit to them, I had to internally accept what I had done, and the violent wind I’d become in my own right. I also shook them up, in a way for which they did not ask.

Whether I motivated positive change or negative, I do not know. I am not entitled to their opinion unless they want to give it. However, I can accept that getting me out of their lives might have been the best thing for them. I can accept that my blood and fire was unwelcome. It is a situation we all face at different times in our lives….. whether we can own it or not.

The question now is whether we can recover from it, and if so, how in the hell do we do it?

By reaching out. By reaching up. By accepting the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Most people think of that day as The Second Coming. I do not think that in the slightest. To me, the Lord’s great and glorious day is when we reach inside ourselves, own our sins unto other people, and ask the Paraclete to make us whole……

Do you see what I did there?
Do you see it?

There’s the meeting of one and another. The violence and the promise. The internal struggle and the need for comfort as we face it head on. Moses gave us the Caduceus, now used as the symbol for doctors the world over. It is no accident that hundreds of years later, Jesus was called The Great Physician. You go to a doctor when you need a cure. The Great Physician can heal your heart, but only if you make the commitment to ask. To keep asking. To see the violent, mighty wind coming and ask for help.

After the storm comes the rainbow. What does that rainbow look like to you? In my own life, it is prayer. It is the constant joy of speaking out loud and believing that someone is listening whether they are or not. Believing in God is not a requirement for prayer. Believing in prayer is a way to channel your own distress into prosperity. The longer you pray, the more you listen to your self, your inner being, your godspace.

When I realized that I was a person even I didn’t like, submitting to the power of Jesus’ messages of hope, redemption, relief, and comfort gave me strength inside myself to take the violent, ugly changes in my life and walk away from them so that I could forgive myself and be the person I wanted to be. I did not want to participate in violence. I did not want to add to the mess I’d already created. I wanted to be whole.

When I touched the hem of Jesus’ robe metaphysically, my mental health changed. I started to feel a peace I hadn’t felt since childhood. An ever-present rage went out of me and I started to send both Dana and Argo constant prayers of safety, comfort, relief, atonement for the things I felt they’d done and wishing for their peace as well. Wishes became reality when I realized that I did not need their forgiveness, because it had come from sending the prayers themselves.

Christ gave me an invitation to peace once the violent mighty wind had passed and the raging storm became the calm he said he would give.

I ask that wherever you are in your journey, that you are given peace as well. That you are able to reach out in distress and metaphysically touch Jesus’ hem as well. Because he preaches from the cloud, he won’t have to ask who touched him.

He’ll just know.

Amen.

Not So Much

My skin is buzzing. My stomach is queasy. My mouth is dry, and I am having a bit of trouble breathing all the way down. It’s not a panic attack, just shock, and I know it will pass. I’m not sure that I want it to, though. I kind of need it. I need to sit in the pain of what just happened, because it is necessary for me to process before I can move on. That’s the thing about being a writer. Something can happen in a moment, but it could be months before we understand it….. because it’s not just understanding. It’s the full knowing of every side to the story- or the ones we’re able to tell, anyway. There is no way that we fit into another’s mind. There is no way that we can understand the depth of human emotion to the degree that we can just describe someone else’s feelings. All we can do is hope that by describing our own, we reach some kind of understanding with ourselves.

When it was good, it was very, very good. When it was bad, it was wicked.

I am speaking of my relationship with Dana, both the way we came together in fits of joy and laughter, and how we came apart after years of making each other miserable with our words. We both deflected the other’s pain so that nothing was ever owned, just thrown at the other. It was never either of our faults, because we both felt so put-upon. I felt as if every time Dana had a problem, she found a way to make it mine. It wasn’t that she was depressed and isolating; I was inattentive even before Argo walked into my life. The problem with that statement is that I spent every waking hour not at work with her, and she resented me working long hours because she did not have anything to keep her busy while I was gone. Therefore, she spent her days waiting on me, or so it seemed, so that when I walked in the door there was a burst of happiness and light that seemed dependent on me, rather than lighting her up from inside.

When Argo and I connected with such an explosion, she did not go out and make friends of her own. She sat and seethed that I had a friend and she didn’t. Argo was Dana’s excuse for not trying to connect with me, because in her mind, Argo would eventually submit to me and I would be out the door. Nothing was further from the truth. I begged, plead, cried with myself and God to take the feelings I had for her and return them to a normal state of friendship, the kind where I didn’t ache for her because in my marriage, I felt so lonely. Dana’s depression left me quite vulnerable to Argo’s attention, but there was no reason to act on my romantic feelings for two reasons. The first is that my fidelity with Dana was sacred. These were feelings I had to work through on my own in order to heal and move on. The second is that if Argo had been a lesbian, I would not have allowed myself the luxury of feeling “in love” feelings in the first place. I would have seen a threat for what it was, and disposed of it promptly. Because she was so wholly other, I rested in the fact that it wasn’t going anywhere, that it was just fun…. and it was, for about a month. After that, it was just me feeling butt-hurt all the time because both of the women in my life were unavailable to me in terms of contact comfort.

Had Argo been in physical proximity, I know for sure that she would have supplied the hugs and cheek kisses I needed to survive the lack from my wife. I didn’t need sex, I needed affection. Aaron made sure that I had plenty, hugging me and putting his arm around me when I thought I would fall apart with grief. I isolated more and more in my office the lonelier I got, because it was more comfortable to write to Argo than it was to look at the problems going on in my own house. As I have said, I was on the ground and in the air. I had to make a choice. I chose the ground because I COULD SEE IT.

I chose Dana. I will always choose Dana. However, that did not mean that as her depression worsened and she began exhibing behaviors that I could not tolerate that I did not choose to disappear into the cloud again. My heart began to walk outside my body where Argo was concerned, because wherever she was, I wanted to be with her. I did not picture hot and heavy. I pictured the love we had on the ground growing over time, slowly, because I knew that it would take time for me to get over her in a way that my love feelings didn’t feel like small internal attacks. I was beating myself up, handily. I’d feel rejected by Dana and take my sadness to Argo who would put a Band-Aid on me and kiss it and make it better. Those Band-Aids became liferafts of an enormous proportion, and I could not hide my feelings any longer….. but not with her. She knew it from the start. I wasn’t shy, ever, about telling her, because here was my fear. My fear is that we’d meet and she wouldn’t know how I felt about her and there would be some sort of awkward moment where a touch creates a reaction and I wanted her to be sensitive to it. To know that she needed to treat me every bit as carefully as she would a man interested in her affections, because I didn’t want those memories burned into my brain. By then, it wouldn’t have taken much to absolutely undo me. Punch me on the shoulder if you want, but don’t ever let your fingertips brush the back of my neck, capiche?

It seemed like a fair warning.

Over time, though, even that wasn’t enough. I cut off all contact several times, gutting her emotionally because she didn’t want to lose me as much as I didn’t want to lose her…. but she understood my reasons for it. I wanted more than she could give, and I still valued her as a friend, but I just could not even keep it together. I cried and moped every time we fought, sometimes for days, and Dana was on the receiving end of all of it, as was Aaron. They both stood by me because they knew how hard I was struggling to bring my attention back to Dana and our relationship, and it worked. We sat around the living room and talked incessantly about anything and everything. Argo faded to the back of my mind…………. and then I thought it was okay to start working on rebuilding friendship, and within 48 hours, I knew I was wrong.

48 hours to undo everything I’d been working on for weeks and weeks of self-reflection, self-abuse by deprivation from contact with other people, just isolating as far as I could get because I didn’t want anyone to know my pain. It was humiliating. Falling for straight girls was such a middle school thing to do. It doesn’t happen to adult women, right? Adult women have the capacity to see that people are wired the way they were wired, right?

The problem is that I saw it entirely too well. I knew that it was hopeless, but so was my relationship with Dana at that point. She’d begun hiding things because she was scared of my reaction. Big things. I cannot elaborate further, but it caused waves of nausea in me that I didn’t know how to handle. My reaction was to run away, safe in Argo, or so I thought.

We had an agreement at first that I could say anything I wanted. She did not tell me when that agreement changed, and she started seeing my words not as useless rumination but out and out threat. She cut me to the bone when I found out that she wasn’t playing anymore, I’d lost my safe space, and don’t contact her ever again. She told me to stop ruminating, but I couldn’t hear it. I needed my safe space more than air. I needed someone to listen to my struggle, to listen to my heartache, to listen to the feelings I shouldn’t have told anyone but God.

But now they’re all there…. all out in the open. All there for her to digest, dissect, castigate.

I never felt like a threat. I felt like I was in my small place, in the fetal position, hoping the anger would stop long enough so that she could hear me without judgment again. But we were way too far gone for that, and I should have known it. I ignored all the signs, big ones, because I thought our relationship was invincible. As it turns out, not so much. Her judgment was swift, to the point that I almost didn’t move to DC at all because I didn’t know what would be waiting for me when I got here. What originally felt like a triumphal homecoming turned into slinking off with my tail between my legs. I cried all the way to the airport, and my dad said, “you know, Leslie…. you don’t have to do this. Do you want to call it off?” I said, “no, because then I’d just be letting Argo scare me. This move was never about her, and staying home just says to the world that it was.” I got to Maryland and threw myself into my own health and wellness, just like I’d planned all along. It was then that I allowed myself to get angry. It takes two to tango, and even though I had to own my half in what went down, she didn’t own hers. She just walked away and let me sit in my wrongness so that I’d know how ashamed I should be. It worked. I’ve been crawling on my belly with God since I got here, asking forgiveness for my sins so that even if God doesn’t exist, the peace of Assurance would still take my heart and help me to feel whole again.

In the month since, I have sent Argo some of my prayers, because just like God, I don’t know if there’s someone on the receiving end of them, but I hope so. I do not want anything so much as I want peace. The fear of enmity is overwhelming, because when the fight left me and I could see reality for what it was, I came back into myself and realized that even if there was no answer, there might be peace from sending.

I have done the same with Dana, and she is just as angry. She has a right to be, and she has the right to tell me that too much has happened between us to ever work on our relationship again. But that doesn’t ease the shock in which I am just bathed. I held on to too much hope, thinking that our relationship was invincible.

As it turns out, not so much.

She just told me about an hour ago that this month has been better for her than the last several years. I feel the same way. This past month has been more peaceful than I’ve been the entire time we lived in Houston, and my entire meltdown in Portland.

So why would I want to get back together? To prove that all of the enormous emotional work that I’ve been doing has a point. That I am capable now as a wife because of all I’ve been through in terms of self-discovery. That I understand how the relationship with Argo undid us because of my past history, and how that cannot affect me in the same way because I don’t pay attention to my bruises. I pay attention to my invitations. I concentrate on the ways there are to say yes to life, and not the ways my mind has tricked me into saying no. I feel that there is more redemption in resurrection than there is in moving on, but I care about Dana’s feelings and ultimately, it doesn’t matter what I want. I have put my needs above hers since she stopped taking care of herself because I went into survival mode. I had to be strong for both of us, and in the end, I couldn’t do it.

I begged and pleaded with Dana’s parents to help me, and it took me losing my mind with rage in front of them before they really heard what I was saying to them. I didn’t want it to come to that, but it did. I congratulated myself too much for standing up and protecting her, and not the emotional damage I inflicted. But what do you do when you go to your wife’s mother pleading for help, and she says that she cannot give any more than she’s already giving and perhaps Dana should find a new mother figure?

What would you have done in that moment? I tried to be the valiant husband-type that protected her wife from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

As it turns out, not so much.

The Dime Bag

I bought the first book with my Christmas Amazon money from last year, so like the old saying goes, “the first one’s free.” I have sent two tweets today about the second book, “Dragonfly in Amber.” Here they are:

Tweet One:

Tweet Two:

It’s like having a dealer in your living room. It’s a good thing it’s books. There are worse things on which I could spend money, I am sure. But at the same time, I was going to be PRINCIPLED, DAMNIT.

And now I’m not.