Swirl is my favorite place to get yogurt, but it is also the summation of my entire existence. Everything is being swirled together. I do not have a full minute of thinking one way about anything. Sometimes, Dana is the most evil person that ever lived, and sometimes I think this is the biggest mistake I’ve ever made. I did not allow for counseling in the moment that she hit me because I was terrified. I posted our separation on Facebook. Dana is saying that it’s over, that we can’t work on it because I’ve already our divorce. I told her that I didn’t even rule out the possibility of getting together in the Facebook post itself, but that was neither here nor there. It was the crux of the problem. I did something we can’t undo.

She has a problem with how many followers I have. I said, “why do you even care what they think? I don’t.” For real. If we are in a conflict, I am running my mouth to deal with it. I don’t give a shit what you say to me afterward. Your story is not mine. Get your own fucking blog. It will be so much easier than trying to meld all our personalities on this one. I don’t mean that as a gutter snipe. I mean, you have all the tools in terms of using your emotions as an outlet on the page that I do. The fact that you do not use it is not my problem. The fact that you would rather attack me than let me have my space is not going to happen. To me, success comes from doing what you love and letting the money come to you. If people believe in me as a writer/theologian/pastor/etc., then they will give me enough money to implement some sort of plan. If they don’t, then this blog continues to be for me what it’s always been. My private thoughts that people are allowed to read to understand me. I do not count on my blog as a financial resource. I count on it to heal me and maybe one day, when my writing is sharp enough, people will approach ME instead of the other way around.

What do I mean by “giving me enough money?” I mean that I could afford to live cheap and travel a lot, both in terms of missionary work and travel writing. I could start a homeless ministry in a neighborhood that needs it. The food is the faith, people. Giving people food is the key to ministry. You do it every week- home in one wafer. No matter who shows up at the table, you give them food, anyway.

Speaking of ministry, I left Epiphany butt-quick. Just disappeared. I hope you will forgive me. It is not my place to fall, and Christine and Lisa are not my priests. I have always looked at going to church as continuing theological education, because as a preacher’s kid in another denomination, I do not have the ability to function as a parishioner AT ALL. What do you even go to priests for, anyway? I mean, aren’t priests and parents the same thing? Um, no. Not anymore. Yet still don’t wish for the skills. Priests don’t take care of me unless I take care of them. It is a mutual relationship and not a power hierarchy. Honestly, anyone who wants authority in my life right now I just cannot handle. If you can meet me where I am, I will receive you. You start treating me as lesser than, and I’m out. And right now, you only get one shot to do it right, because I am in the place of wet cat in a corner claws extended. I have gotten so much better than last week, but now is not the “I want to meet new people” phase. I am protecting you. Believe me.

I scare Dana so bad that she can even look at me the right way. When I told Aaron and Angela (the Red, old girlfriend from Bayou City Women’s Chorus days…. the Red because my stepmom was red at the time, too, so we called them The Red and the Med) that Dana had said she was scared of me, they fell on their fucking asses laughing. “She’s LOOKED at you, RIGHT?” was the consensus. Normally I am incensed by people calling me small. Today it’s all I need. I need validation that the fistfight never should have happened. I’ve gotten letters that say that since she pushed me first, anything after that was defensive mode and they don’t blame me for anything that happened after that.

It’s in that moment that Argo’s dog comes romping across my mind, and I lean into the feeling of praying to God……. funny only because I can’t tell you his name.

A Virtual World

The biggest reason Dana and I are breaking up is that she does not understand the world that I live in and I don’t understand hers. She thinks that when I’m talking to friends on Facebook that I am talking to people I don’t know. Since she doesn’t know to whom I am speaking, I think she thinks I sit here and get people to love me.

I do, but not my friends. You cannot be my friend if you are impressed by me. It’s for people who think of my feed as sort of “The Hot List.” For the ability to reach millions instead of just one. As for chatting, the only person I’ve ever really chatted with on a consistent basis is Argo. The rest are friends from middle school, high school, college, etc. I KNOW THEM. Like, on the ground. Argo is the exception to the rule, because we developed an unusual kinship by sharing stories and jokes and just talking about our lives. It was amazing how someone so far physically could be so close emotionally when I needed her the most. She just loved on me from afar, and her letters were worth as much as hugs to me, so when Dana said that she thought her life was better because she got lots of hugs from real people, I told her that plenty of people hug me. Plenty of people write to me and say that they want to hug me.

She then told me that she thought I had the ability to lead millions and she was somewhat jealous. Nice to hear from a former part of the dream, but meaningless to me right now as she tries to “manage a mental patient.” She, in fact, told me today that I was too much for her to “handle.” I felt like the biggest burden in the entire world, and my worthlessness loop went off in a hurry. Then I remembered that Dana doesn’t have to handle shit. She never did. The more she tried to “handle” me, the more I rebelled, because Dana comes across like my mother after ten years.

I do not want to be handled, and with Dana, I wonder when in her mind she decided she needed to. The more suffocated I felt on the inside, the more it showed on the outside. Without meaning to, she reinforced my worthlessness by taking care of my every need and telling me that she worried about me because she didn’t think I was taking care of myself.

I wasn’t…. but not because I couldn’t. I didn’t have control over anything, so I started wasting away to nothing and trying to make up for it with a smoothie now and then because that’s all I can manage. She has no idea how far her fist to my face set me back in terms of recovery from abuse, because while I am emotionally abusive, my abuse would never go to the place of physically injuring someone’s face. By the time there is that much rage involved, it should have been taken care of long ago and just wasn’t. That kind of rage doesn’t come from a fight with your wife. That kind of rage comes from being mad since childhood and only now having an outlet. That’s just conjecture on my part- I have no idea what she’s really thinking. She does not share and I do not want to know.

It has been the most humiliating thing that has ever happened to me that Dana’s responses to my hospitalization run the gamut from “I’m so glad you got help” to “why didn’t they keep you longer?” to “it must be nice to have insurance and just be able to check out like that.” This, to me, demonstrated her complete and total inability to see that the setback she caused in my recovery led me to making plans to commit suicide and that’s why I checked into the hospital. I wanted the plans to stop, because I knew that was the very last exit before you get to SpongeBob HeadStone.

She did not believe me when I said that the nurse practitioner signed my release papers before I left because she didn’t think I would get much out of staying in group over the weekend. She thought I could get more done in outpatient, because that’s where the real work is. Why she didn’t just call the clinic and verify I was telling the truth, I don’t know. But it would have been very easy to prove

Now I have to listen as revisionist history takes place- on both sides- but at the same time, it incenses me that Dana thinks our relationship ended with a Facebook post and I say it ended when she punched me in the face with my glasses on while I was already crying, the fight in me a puddle on the floor.

She’s been saying we were going to break up since, oh, our first date. Her reaction to my new glasses was “you’re so hot now you’re going to leave me.” The more she tried to “handle” me, the more insecure I felt, especially in terms of my glasses. When I thought, “maybe I should take them off” just to please her, I should have known it was going to be our last fight ever.

Dana and Argo Deserve Each Other

Dana and I got into a fistfight and that’s why our relationship is over. I came back home against medical advice******* because when I got to the ER, my weight was 118 lbs and my heart rate was 97. The fight started over money and invariably devolved into the amount of time I spend with Argo, because it’s an easy political shot that takes no time to wound me at all.

I won’t lie. I gave as good as I got in that fight. But there are two things that will stay with me. The first is that I emotionally escalated. The second is that Dana physically escalated by pushing me. We fought, and then Dana says that she walked away and I reengaged. I disagree, but I have been telling people exactly what she said because to me, none of that part matters. She outweighs me by a hundred pounds. There is no way that fight ever should have happened.

But now Dana is trying to say that because I’ve manipulated her for years, I deserved everything I got in that fight, including two broken blood vessels in my face. However, she doesn’t say it on the surface. She says everything in an “I’m sorry, but…..” As in, “I’m sorry I hit you, but you’ve been a monster for so long that I just exploded.”

Now Argo’s on board with Dana and they can both go fuck themselves, because Argo’s first reaction to hearing that I wanted to be with ALL my friends and my old church and try to undo the damage that I did to myself by leaving DC in the first place is actually an elaborate ploy to get close to her and wants to know if she should get a restraining order. I’m sorry, what? I am interviewing all over everywhere. If I get a job here, then I get a job here. I am not completely dissociating. I haven’t figured out what I’m doing, and I figured it was better to ask my friends for help than go to strangers.

So far, I have been wrong about that. Neither Dana nor Argo will let go of past hurt long enough to see that they see the darkness in me, but not the light. They are both judging me as a split personality, not one that is slowly reconnecting its damaged neurons to make new thought processes that were supposed to grow and just didn’t. For those of you who are about to say that I am a monster for publishing this, I asked Dana if I could write about it if I said exactly what she told me. I don’t care. I don’t have to disagree or not. She can argue all she wants that it’s my fault. She can hear from Argo all day long that this is really about her and nothing I am doing is to make a better life for myself down the road- to not be stuck in the day-to-day of being a cashier and really try to make something of myself before I die.

I am the one that checked myself into a psych ward, and they are the sickest people I know.

******My friend Stacy said, “why did you leave against medical advice? I thought they were helping you.” That’s not what I meant. I meant that they advised me not to go home, to go straight to a battered women’s shelter, and I went home because I thought I was coming home to my best friend. I still did, but I didn’t count on the fact that the emotional swings would be much, much larger. I made a horrible mistake and I don’t want to do anything about it tonight. I just took my Neurontin and my Atarax and shut the door to my office.

This Kind of Thing Happen to Me Every Week

The greatest moment of my right now just happened. My dad invited me to go to a jazz concert tonight. Seriously, it makes my entire fucking year. Because you know what we do when we go to jazz concerts? We allow ourselves to be GIANTS together and flip each other shit like the adult trumpet players we are. Check this out. Argo, you will friggin’ spit your coffee all over your keyboard. I am almost arrogant enough to be sure of it.

Last Sunday, I was feeling kind of low, so I decided to go visit my dad between rehearsal and service at Second Baptist. I didn’t want to get into politics or religion. I just like the guys on the brass line A LOT because OF COURSE I DO. They are part of my heart- the brotherhood of being the leadership in most cases, especially in a band vs. an orchestra. Exponentially multiply that by oh, 11 (because our ability to out-asshole each other goes to 11), and then you might have some idea of the arrogance that goes on in the trumpet section of a jazz band. BELIEVE ME, it does not matter which one.

Here is as much of the conversation on Sunday as I remember. ;)

Mike: Haven’t I met you before?
Me: Yes, I’ve played here once.
David: You notice we only asked her once.
Mike: You can replace your father at any time.

Dad is talking to Noe and doesn’t hear what Mike says. I thought it was so funny that I said, “Dad, did you hear what Mike said?” I tell him and Noe is busy on his phone. Doesn’t even look up when saying, “you notice you had to ASK your father if he could hear you…….” I set ‘em up, you knock ‘em down. It’s been that way since birth. When I was two or three he taught me how to say “antidisestablishmentarianism” and “beta hemolytic streptococci” so I could be the straight man, ironically.

Seriously, I wear it so well.

Joel is the music director at Second and a dead ringer for my boss at Marylhurst. Because of it, I like his face. It’s a good one. I remember his manager love for his employees and his kindness. There will never be another boss like that for me, and I mean it. It is unusual to feel good feelings for a boss, and I am so glad to have had three or four relationships like that. Speaking of which, my old boss from University of Houston is picking me up for lunch.

Doors are opening that I never thought possible, and I wish you the light of life as well. It feels good to be able to give what I’ve been so lucky to receive. You will never know how grateful I am to you, for responding to me in the same way you do to Heather and Jenny. You don’t sugar coat, you tell me what you think. And that means more than gold to me, which is good because as I writer, I’ll never have much. Unless Oprah calls. Then I will lose my mind with gratitude.

No, SERIOUSLY (in a Meredith, Izzie, and Christina kind of way).

Burning on Re-Entry

I knew that breaking up with Dana would break me, but I didn’t realize the degree until I got home last night. I was telling her about my feelings and having a very intense moment of “small-l leslie,” and instead she called my dad and told him that she thought I was having a psychotic episode. She then told me that she would call the police if I didn’t go away, even though I was sitting on the floor, talking in my smallest voice. I am on a medication for stress and anxiety. I cannot get rattled to the same degree ever again. Dana has the right to feel what she wants about me, and I have the right to say it was a bad call. I have never and will never want my father to be involved in my marriage. I was trying to tell her about my weekend. She asked me to stop, and I told her that we were just getting somewhere, because she would get deeper and deeper and say, “this conversation is over,” so that I had plenty of chances to hear her and few chances to talk.

Dana told me that the reason Angela called her first was that she was appalled I posted our divorce on Facebook. She thought THAT was the reason for my psychotic break. Without breaking confidentiality, all I will say is that Dana has chosen my parents over me, and it breaks my heart. I refuse to talk shit about Dana, but at the same time, I think I am well within my right to say that maybe she is overstating her right-ness and overstating my wrong-ness so that she can feel better about walking away. I feel so broken that it doesn’t matter whether she walks away or not. I have to fix myself regardless of her decisions, and I am glad that I have so many options available to me that do not include reconciling with her. It is obvious to me that she does not understand the depth and breadth of fear that she’s re-enforced by threatening to call my father and possibly the police at a time when I needed her more and not less. I may not be the wife anymore, but I am still the person that remembers hiking to the top of Angels’ Rest and having Dana hold on to my ankles while I got a shot of the entire gorge.

My problem is realizing that woman is gone. She left some time ago. She just didn’t tell me about it. The last fight redefined us, and no apology is enough on either side at this time. I just want to go on record as saying that I am working through an enormous thunderstorm, and again, people are reacting as if I am entirely mentally unstable when I feel more in my body than I ever have. Letting go of Diane was a thunderstorm that luckily took way less time to exorcise than it did to create it, but only because someone proved to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was experiencing post-traumatic stress. It wasn’t that I couldn’t “get my shit together.” I will be in occupational therapy for a long time as I learn to manage my trauma reflexes and break them down to create new healthy patterns.

When I said that it felt like everyone was out to get me, I don’t mean all of you. I mean the people in my life closest to me. Because when Dana retreats, that’s not my friends retreating. That’s my entire world thinking that I am a monster…. that I have abused her emotionally for so long that I deserve everything she’s given me so far, and if you are a party to our inner monologues, you know what fucking bullshit that is. I could never give as much as I got in a fight. Ever. I am not wired that way. I just have a Napoleon complex that comes out when threatened. I am a five ton personality in a rat dog body.

Maybe that’s why I love Argo’s dog.

The Apple Does Not Fall Far from the Tree

The scar is an X on her wrist.

So that’s what hardcore looks like. It could have been me, but it wasn’t. The scar is on her wrist, but implanted in my brain. I cannot forget it. It stays in my mind, a reminder that I cannot give up ever again. I see that X in my dreams, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt how much pain it takes to get there.

We all have different stories, but the idea is the same. We are all grieving the loss of control of our lives and what led us to believe that we were worthless enough to stop taking care of ourselves. For my roommate, it’s the dopamine from cutting. For Siobahn, it was catching her husband in the act of adultery. No one has talked about childhood abuse and it’s effect on them. In some ways, it has been a loss to be unique, if that makes any sense at all. However, both my nurse practitioner and my social worker are lesbians (I’m guessing…. gaydar intact….) and they cannot even. It BOTHERS me that they lost their clinical separation because my issues hit too close to home for them. This is why I prefer male therapists. Women tend to lose their objectivity with me, but men are too gruff for that (generally). It’s like having built-in clinical separation instead of trying hard to maintain it.

Plus, I’m a Lanagan. I can move people to tears. You know it’s true. We’ve met. I don’t mean to say that I’m better than them. I’m a WRITER. I tell my story LIKE A WRITER. Many people are unprepared for how deep I can go and be both incensed AND hilarious at the same time. I am ambivalent about going home today. My nurse practitioner said that it’s really quiet on the weekends here, and she wanted to release me so I could go to outpatient. A little part of me is like, OH JESUS I AM NOT READY. I mean, it’s nice to have time to not worry about anything. It is nice to get feedback on what I say, and my group is as close as a heartbeat. It’s a cohort where we are all mutually in love up to our EYEBALLS because we know each other so well. It physically hurts that I’m not allowed to touch them at all. I want to hug, comfort, etc., but the idea is to learn to self-soothe, which is great when I’m talking, but horrible when the floor belongs to others. I just want my entire group to move in with me so that we can protect each other forever, but that’s not life and never will be.

What is life is learning that social services are open to me that I never knew existed. If you need help, the number is 211. However, having done my research, Montrose Counseling Center is the most well-rounded, and they don’t give a shit about your sexuality if you’re a straight person and you need help and feel welcome in an LGBT environment. It’s ok. We don’t bite that hard. But anyway, these people are capable of finding me a cheap place to live if Dana wants to stay in the house (fine with me, I’m not married to anything- especially having survived a complete and total house fire at 11. It’s freeing. I could lose a vase from the Ming Dynasty and I would be like, “oh well. It’s just a vase.” Why? Because my house started burning and the only thing that mattered was me. Fuck everything else. I am so proud of myself, because at least when my world was literally falling down around me I could function.

I am the type person that is calm, cool, and collected in a crisis. Well, usually anyway. I am the type person that will take care of what needs to be done, fuck all how I feel. I will break down when we are all safe. But sometimes, though, I don’t break down after a crisis and I just carry it. One of the things that I told my nurse practitioner is that it didn’t feel like my muscles had as much stress since the Neurontin med change.

I also told her that since it was our last meeting, she was really cute (shut it. We’ve met).

My Keyboard

I love my nurse practitioner. I really hate that she works here because I want her to have her own practice so that she can be my actual doctor instead of just the one I saw for a few days. She understands that I try to be the funniest person in the room and she is going to try and kick my ass in all the right ways. I cannot abide a doctor I don’t think is smarter than me. I do not have that problem.

I also have a social worker that is hooking me up with all kinds of services. I don’t know which I’ll need because Dana doesn’t know where she wants to go, either- or I assume. I cannot talk to her right now. I told her to come last night and then she told me that she was grieving the loss of our relationship and I said, “did we make a mistake?” She said she didn’t think so. I was so down that I just uninvited her. I’m grieving, too. I do not want to believe that it is over, and I am also ready to leave and never look back. It is a strong cognitive dissonance, because I do not know which I want more.

I still think that moving to DC is the best option for me at this time. It’s not really that I need a change of venue. That’s just an added bonus. It’s that I’ve lived there before and I have friends from DC to New York that I NEVER get to see. Plus, I miss walking downtown. I used to take the Metro in and just get lost for hours on purpose. In DC, there is so much to see that it is beneficial to wander around by yourself. I tend to take lots of pictures and journal my findings. My favorite place to sit is on The Mall, because it is the BEST people-watching. Sometimes you’re watching famous people, but most of the time, you are watching families out with their dogs. So calming to be by myself- an observer and recorder, like most writers are.

I can picture my apartment. Hopefully SE Waterfront, near my old church. It’s a funny story about how we found it to begin with. My first wife, Kathleen, and I were in Lambda Rising when I found a book with Susan Leo standing in the sanctuary at Westminster. I took it as a sign from God and the first Sunday I met Brian and Ruth Hamilton, the co-pastors, they were doing coffee and muffins for communion. Ruth said, “I hope you don’t mind.” I said, “of course not. Coffee has always been a life-giving substance for me.” It THRILLS me that Ruth and Brian are STILL THERE!!!! So, even if I live in a different area and decide on a different church because of it, I still want to visit occasionally. I helped put in the tile floor in the sanctuary.

But that is later. Right now I have to make sure that I am stable enough to go to work every day. The struggles I have been having at work are all due to repressed trauma that hasn’t been treated until now. I am hoping that getting rid of the trauma is as easy as getting it, but I know that’s impossible. It is good to feel hope today. It is good to feel alive and to know what I want to do and where I am going. I am applying all over the place, and I have a friend who works for Congressional Quarterly that is next on my list for a phone call (look at me! I make calls now!) I will also be applying at The White House, because I deserve to have a shot at an interview to be Sam Seaborn. I don’t know that I deserve the job, but I deserve to be SEEN AND HEARD. What I do know is that people can tell within a millisecond that I am every bit the writer I say I am.

By myself- an observer and recorder, like most writers are.

Which brings me to two awfulsome moments (thanks, Paul Gilmartin):

  1. My occupational therapist said that I couldn’t write the whole time. I had to do these worksheets (that she has never given me, so I have no idea what she’s talking about). I said, “would you mind if I sat at the computer and type? My wrist hurts too bad to hold a pen.” She told me that it uses exactly the same muscles to type as it does to write and handed me a golf pencil. I said, “this is total crap,” and I left, because I did not want to engage in a fight. Diana (roommate) said, “I was there and she was shitty to you.” Nice to have validation and to know that my roommate has my back.
  2. Mike (the Viet Nam vet in the wheelchair) told me he was leaving and I said, “give me a hug before you go.” We hugged and the orderly yelled “NO HUGGING!” I turned around and said, “I FORGOT!” He took exception to that. They’ll probably put me on Haldol for it (kidding, this is not Nurse Ratchett up in this bitch)