Hitting the Tape

Oh, so this is what it feels like to have a body again. I feel strong, stronger than I have in ten years, and I think it has a lot to do with forcing myself to sit outside. My Vitamin D level was so low in Portland that it made my bones go soft, and any depression that I felt ranged from “I’m a little under the weather” to “I just want the pain to stop.”

When I got to “I just want the pain to stop,” I knew it was time to come home. I had fallen too far to help myself up, and I did not expect my friends to shoulder the burden of being untrained therapists. Besides, it wasn’t my friends that gave me problems. It was the woman that abused me when I was a kid and refused to face the music when I grew up. I flat-out ignored her behavior until my dreams became so terrifying that I would wake myself up… a repeat of what happened when I was little, but something that I hadn’t thought of since then.

The mark of an excellent abuser is the absolute denial that they’ve ever done anything wrong. I screamed into a black hole of seeming indifference until I thought I would die from emotional laryngitis. I am bipolar and I take medication for it every day. When I take my medication every day, the chemical imbalance goes away and therefore, I have the diagnosis, but not the behavior.

Instead of taking that into account, my mental health provided her with a fountain of reasons why she couldn’t possibly be held accountable for my pain; I mean, obviously. I’m just a crazy woman.

A crazy woman whose crazy started when we met. I didn’t know how to handle what she was telling me, and I didn’t have anyone to tell about our conversations because they were a secret. She had the audacity to tell me that her life was an open book, and even then it was insincere. Even when I was young, I learned how to turn the pages. I learned how to evoke reactions, and how to keep her from reacting at all. It was a game. It always had been… and not only that, it was rigged so my only choice was to resign.

The analogy of “an open book” is apt, because for my fourteenth birthday, she gave me her college journal. I read about everything college kids do, including sexually.

Learning to break the cycle of emotional abuse was to entertain that she knew what she was doing when she gave it to me. I fell for it hook, line and sinker. Other people were so worried about me that they tried to get me away from her, but it didn’t help. Because she was a lesbian, I thought they were just prejudiced and I willingly drowned in quicksand. There was nothing on earth that could get me to walk away.

She had me, and she knew it. For the next quarter century, our relationship looked like a game of tug o’war. I would run toward her wholeheartedly, and then she would emotionally shut down. I would try to run away, and she would bring me back in. At no time were we ever equals, but there was a lot of lip service that I was. In fact, what broke me was her insistence that I couldn’t, wouldn’t grow up and act like her equal… but there was no set of instructions, and even if there had been, the rules would have been changed daily just to make me feel even more worthless than I already did.

…because if I felt worthless, I wouldn’t leave. I couldn’t. I didn’t have the strength, because I knew that her Siren call would be ever-present in my life unless I drove my own ship into the rocks. Getting out of this situation has been the best thing I’ve ever done, because what I had to realize is that I grew, but she didn’t grow with me. She tried to keep me in that one-down position, had to feel like she was in control, because when she wasn’t, she felt powerless and railed against it. It was all or nothing, with no happy medium.

I’ve done this before. I’ve walked away before. Like many, many abused women, I was foolish enough to think that if a little bit of time passed, that I could go back… in reality, it was just more of the same, except that it got worse and worse. Selective memory took over so that not only was I crazy, I had made the whole thing up.

Because that’s how you treat people when you’re running away from yourself. I know it because I’m so good at running away now. The blessing that has come out of running away this time (and hopefully, the last) is that I’ve finally hit the finish line. All that’s left is the victory celebration, but a very quiet one.

There are good memories, too, and I’m sorry that there won’t be new ones. So I grieve that part. I grieve the loss of a future that won’t happen…

As I sit in the backyard with strong bones and a healthy mind and a zeal for whatever is next. Dana and I are starting to ask the big questions, and it’s fun receiving the big answers. Before, they didn’t have a wide enough road to drive through. Now I’m installing a highway.

Buccee’s and I are in negotiation.

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