white ops

After the darkness comes the dawn, always. Yesterday I wrote about feeling so disconnected from my emotions that I felt like I could slice someone’s head off without regret. This morning, I wrote a note to a friend that gave thanks for kissing my broken places and being the cherished and honored friend that the NF description said I’d get. In every way, this is the friendship I’ve waited for all my life and had to, because I could not have seen the pieces on the chessboard that needed to move for me to be capable of it.

My psychosexual dysfunction says that you don’t really know me if you aren’t having sex with me. Therefore, I could not and did not allow myself to really have friends outside of Dana because I was afraid of creating chaos. I did anyway, and as I watched those relationships burn, I realized that I’d made my choice. If opening up to someone triggered a sexual response in me, then I wouldn’t open up to anyone. I’d just compartmentalize friendship so that I wouldn’t allow myself to feel what was missing.

I came into a friendship in this broken place, and because Dana trusts me to know my own darkness, I didn’t feel bad about telling the friend that I didn’t know if I could be friends with a woman that excited me this much, that I couldn’t betray Dana, etc. etc. etc.

She didn’t even blink. Not once. She told me that she wanted to be everything for me that was good and right and pure about friendship, and I fucking lost it. That’s the tape. That’s it.

As a direct consequence of my abuser’s actions, friendship and sex are inextricably interrelated. How did I not have this epiphany before? My first real “my parents didn’t pick you” friendship was broken in exactly that way, so of course at some points in my life ALL OF my friendships were broken in the same way.

Once I was able to figure out where the tape was, I sliced through it. No more. Friendship stands on its own, and the testament to it is that when I offered up a broken place, she kissed it and made it better.

Warning: Triggers Ahead

This is my personality without my abuser:

Your Keirsey Temperament Sorter Results indicates that your personality type is that of the Idealists (NF), as a temperament, are passionately concerned with personal growth and development. Idealists strive to discover who they are and how they can become their best possible self — always this quest for self-knowledge and self-improvement drives their imagination. And they want to help others make the journey. Idealists are naturally drawn to working with people, and whether in education or counseling, in social services or personnel work, in journalism or the ministry, they are gifted at helping others find their way in life, often inspiring them to grow as individuals and to fulfill their potentials.

Idealists are sure that friendly cooperation is the best way for people to achieve their goals. Conflict and confrontation upset them because they seem to put up angry barriers between people. Idealists dream of creating harmonious, even caring personal relations, and they have a unique talent for helping people get along with each other and work together for the good of all. Such interpersonal harmony might be a romantic ideal, but then Idealists are incurable romantics who prefer to focus on what might be, rather than what is. The real, practical world is only a starting place for Idealists; they believe that life is filled with possibilities waiting to be realized, rich with meanings calling out to be understood. This idea of a mystical or spiritual dimension to life, the “not visible” or the “not yet” that can only be known through intuition or by a leap of faith, is far more important to Idealists than the world of material things.

Highly ethical in their actions, Idealists hold themselves to a strict standard of personal integrity. They must be true to themselves and to others, and they can be quite hard on themselves when they are dishonest, or when they are false or insincere. More often, however, Idealists are the very soul of kindness. Particularly in their personal relationships, Idealists are without question filled with love and good will. They believe in giving of themselves to help others; they cherish a few warm, sensitive friendships; they strive for a special rapport with their children; and in marriage they wish to find a “soulmate,” someone with whom they can bond emotionally and spiritually, sharing their deepest feelings and their complex inner worlds.

Idealists are relatively rare, making up no more than 15 to 20 percent of the population. But their ability to inspire people with their enthusiasm and their idealism has given them influence far beyond their numbers.

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And then the part of her that lives in me tells me that I could just as easily slit one of these precious people’s throats and walk away with no remorse, especially if it was justified and sanctioned by someone else. I love the idea of The Code. I love anything that feeds my dark side because I feel like no one can handle it. No one can go deeper and darker than I can in my group of friends. It is my illness and it is huge. There is not a monster inside me. In a lot of ways, there are pockets of me that are just black holes. No morality. No conscience. No fear. No joy. No anything. Just terrifying and cold silence. I don’t think I’m dangerous. I think it’s lucky that I’m NOT dangerous given everything I’ve been through. If I have an alter ego on television, it’s Quinn from Scandal, and I don’t even blink when I make that comparison. I spent the entirety of Dexter in my head. I went there and I liked what I saw. I am addict. I will do anything to get other people’s dopamine when I’m in that head space, and everything to find my way back to the sweet kid I was…

If you (plural) love me, you won’t read this and freak. You’ll say, “Leslie has an imaginative fantasy life.” That’s probably true, because my blog and my head are my most dangerous weapons. Actually, no, my mind is truly fascinating. I have the capacity to love you until I just can’t anymore. It’s so big that it will swallow you whole and you’ll adore the way I dote and flirt on my friends.

Just don’t stay around to watch my eyes flash, because you will see it and it will scare you into absolute and complete submission.

You know the really fucked up part? It should.

I have proven this weekend that if you try to hurt my family, I will respond in kind. My mother lion is so vicious that I emotionally cut someone to shreds because they DARE speak to Dana that way. I would have died rather than let them win. DIED. Do not come into my house and accept my hospitality and tell me that God didn’t create me and that my wife and I are mistakes. Seems like a reasonable request.

Apparently, I would be surprised.

Don’t ever test me and try to get me off my leash. The genie does not go back to the circle couch on this one.

F*ck it, Dude. Let’s Go Bowling.

“This aggression will not stand, man.”

I hit my limit and I exploded. I slayed all my dragons at once, including finally telling someone in an actual place to help me. The meeting was… productive.

She hasn’t done anything illegal, so there’s that. However, eyes are on her that will not go away. Not today, not tomorrow, or ANY of the days of her life. If she ever touches another 14-year-old, even if it’s only her brain, and anyone finds out about it, I am sure that the consequences will be ominously severe. And since I am not threatening her, just showing what will happen if this happens again, I will tell you that in her wildest nightmares she’s never figured out how powerful I am. I had the balls to tell someone that MATTERED- without excusing her behavior. When I tried to protect her, I was called on it and accepted it as fact. I told that I was not protecting her future, just her past, because those are the only memories precious to me.

She will never be able to get away with anything ever again. And watch the speeding, Mario.

Capiche?

Hercules, Hercules!

I am thinking right now about how happy I am to have found friends, the kind of friends you keep for a lifetime because they know exactly who you are, warts and all, and don’t even blink. The people that can take your dark side because their dark side is either the same shade or similar. The places that we can go in our minds and not be threatened by each others’ thoughts is enormous. With one friend in particular, I have absolutely stood in front of her, or hope I have, and laid myself bare. It has been a hell of a day, and my story is that I slayed another dragon by letting go of the hope that they would change, and at the same time came clean about something I’d been holding in for a while. In both cases, my friend picked me up and hugged me and said it was okay. What is an even bigger miracle is that this happened to me three times today. THREE.

I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Overwhelmed. These past two days have been better than the past two years in terms of the heights and depths I could reach emotionally. I believe that it was my faith that carried me through, because it was faith in the God inside me. I lost my temper, but I did not lose my dignity or humanness. My faith in God allowed my humility to apologize for the things I’d done, and the things I’d left undone. Those words are written on my heart and I say them every week. They are not just words to me, they are a comprehensive response to life.

Grace to the God who strengthens me, because God sure as hell doesn’t need me for strength. I’m 5’4 and 125 lbs. I could bite someone at best.

Amen.

Strunk & White

I was so proud of myself. I sang a movement of the Rutter Requiem, and it was extraordinarily well-received. I had a lot of people come up to me afterward and congratulate me on a job well done, and the best part was being able to take it in. To really hear the compliments given and not write them off as, “ohh, you’re just saying that.” It’s usually my normal mode of operation to reject a compliment, but that hasn’t worked my whole life so why not stop it? Why beat myself up while other people are trying to give me love? I think and pray on these things, and with each day, I feel a little bit stronger.

In fact, I would have made it the entire day without crying had it not been for one woman that gutted me like a fish, and thank God she said it as I was walking out so that I could go home and cry instead of what I did yesterday, which was sing at a funeral and cry all the way through it even though I had never met the guy. This woman was trying to give me something precious, and I am sorry that my first reaction was not to take it in the spirit in which it was given.

What she said was so loaded that the thing I’d been trying to ignore all day came screaming out. Tears came to my eyes and I shuddered with grief, because she said, “I really like your style.” I like my style, too, and I know exactly where I got it. Even while I was singing, I knew I sounded just like her. Not in tone, mind you, but in the little flourishes in our musical personalities are quite similar from having spent so many years together in choirs. At first, she was my handbell conductor and sat next to me in adult choir. Then, when we moved to Portland, she was my conductor for a lot of years at her partner’s church. I live and breathe her style because I have been in love with it for longer than I can really think back.

I heard her before I saw her, which totally made me think she was some sort of supergenius… weird only because after I got to know her, I hardly noticed her voice at all. I don’t mean that in a bad way AT ALL. It’s just that our emotional relationship was so tight that I was never really a drooling fangirl, you know? She may have seemed like an idol to me for a little bit, but within a few months we were laughing and joking so much that her status as The Best Singer in the World™ faded into the background. It is always lovely to hear her sing, and I have a couple of mp3s of her somewhere so that I don’t forget… and never want to… but at the same time, her voice wasn’t what drew me in. It was her stories.

One of OUR funniest stories is that when I was a little kid, she said, “Let me explain something to you. I can’t date you because I am on one side of the desk and you are on the other.” At the time she was a middle school teacher, but not one of mine. At another school in the suburbs while I lived close to downtown. We spent years and years being as equal as we could be given the circumstances, and then I got my moment. She told me that she’d met someone, and that this person was 15 years older than her. At the time, she was only like, 28 or something, so I said, “Let me explain something to you…” And the laughter starts. “Susan is on one side of the desk, and you are on the other.” She was snorting she was laughing so hard and she said, “fuck you Leslie Lanagan!” I had scored a point and it was DELCIOUS. PRICELESS. ALl THAT SHIT. It made my cocky teenager’s brain sing. 🙂

After church I went to my friend Aaron’s and helped him move the last of his stuff into his apartment from some storage units. On the way back, I got lost in thought and just kept taking wrong turns on purpose just to turn the day over in my head as I drove and listened to the Weezer station on Pandora. For a few minutes, I let myself feel fucked up that when I sang today, her style came out of my mouth. That she had influenced me to the point that there wasn’t ever a time when she wouldn’t be there with me. I have learned to talk to that part of myself and try to heal it, because especially listening to recordings I get overly emotional- because I don’t want to sound like the best imitation of her. I want to be the best genuine me.

I just have to get back to the elements.

Flying Without a “Rutter”

Rutter’s The Lord is My Shepard is playing in the background on repeat since there’s this one phrase that I cannot seem to get right, because my brain doesn’t seem to keep the metronome going. I have a good enough accompanist that he’ll catch me no matter how many entrances I miss, but it is a career limiting move to show up to a solo without knowing how it goes. For the singers in the crowd, it’s the last one- “and thy…” There are several of you nodding. It’s ok. I’ll get it. Eventually. It’s on the and of wtf somewhere.

It’s a movement in the Rutter requiem. No, I didn’t pick it. I really didn’t. Joseph did. He said, “you can sing Pie Jesu if you want since you’ve done it before.” Yeah. I had to go with no on that one. Maybe later. Too soon. And it was ten years ago, capiche? For those of you just joining us, my abuser had me sing Pie Jesu with a community orchestra, and while I was singing, she just stared. Then, she got up in front of the choir and said that it was like watching her little girl grow up. Then, a few years later, her partner said that I read too much into it and it never really meant anything to her… and she could get away with saying it because my abuser wasn’t in the room. My suspicion is that the only reason she said it was to injure me. I certainly left that conversation with my tail between my legs from having my nose pushed in shit.

I have to keep remembering that these scenes in my head are in the past, and I can let go of them now. At the same time, it is the panic of losing those memories that stops me from moving on. In a way, though my blog has taken care of some of that, because they’re on the Internet, saved for posterity. I can go back and read them when I want, and if my computer crashes, I haven’t lost my stories, the things that make me, well, me.

It’s the pictures I’ll lose. It’s the feel of her hand on my freshly buzzed hair. It’s the way the air electrifies for me when she’s in a room. It’s watching her navigate every situation with unfailingly smartass humor. A part of me truly feels like it’s dying… and should. I don’t regret a moment of it, because I’ll never get that time back. To look back in anger is counterproductive.

And yet, sometimes I have to, because if I don’t, the big ball of rage will swallow every good feeling I’ve ever had, including the ones not about her. It clouds everything. Rage and anxiety rule the easiest when I need them the least. I would like to believe that writing it out, piece by piece, allows the ball of rage to live online instead of in my personality.

Letters. I Get Letters.

Leslie,

I’m confused — how is it that you didn’t know there was attraction on her part? Nobody behaves like she did without a romantic element involved…….

You are on the right path. I’m glad you recognize your own value…….

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Tony,

I was naive. She told me it wasn’t like that, so I believed her. In fact, she would emotionally shut down every time the subject came up. I never wanted her to be displeased, because then she wouldn’t open up to me. I learned to play the game early, so if she said it wasn’t like that, IT WASN’T.

I am only now picking up the pieces.

Love,
Leslie