One of my favorite songs is called “Angry Anymore,” written and performed brilliantly by Ani DiFranco. It reminds me of my childhood. “She taught me how to wage cold war with quiet charm, but I just want to walk through my life unarmed.” The problems snowballed when the cold war grew civil and I lost part of my emotional spectrum, and I struggle to heal daily. I was walking through life armed to the teeth, emotionally laden with so many lies that I could not keep track of them all. I wasn’t someone who made a career out of that sort of thing, just an amateur with too much imagination and too little sense.
Two years ago, I stopped seeing the forest for the trees. I woke up to a bigger picture, and do not think that I say this lightly, because it was hell on earth. Someone held my hand as I explained the details, and at the end of my story, told me my reality instead of asking for my opinion. In that nanosecond, it was out of my hands. Someone had taken an interest in my story and proven the Occam’s Razor in it. Let me assure you that it slit my wrists emotionally. I could barely breathe for weeks.
My resurrection came in the letters after I wrote The Cost of Shame. Many were words of encouragement, some were friends of Diane’s that thought I was being dramatic. I assure you that I have been accused of being too dramatic about things since this relationship started, and I will also assure you that line of questioning amounts to a tall dose of horseshit. The thing I struggle with is “how come it took so long for me to get here?” Diane told me when she moved to Portland that I could come and live with her in Portland and go to Portland State. She told Susan that she thought I “would just go away” when I was 18.
Even if she meant it as entirely appropriate, friendship-type love, the the lie compounded because Diane told us each what we wanted to hear and freaked the fuck out when I held her accountable to those words. Eventually, I did move to Portland, and while sometimes we were close, the rest of the time she was distant and cold. I never knew whether I was going to feel awkward and cold-shouldered or whether I was genuinely going to have a good time with her. I again, tried everything I could think of to keep her happy so that she wouldn’t emotionally shut down and railed when it stopped working. Jesus CHRIST how much did I have to beg, plead, and apologize even though our fights were never about me. They were about me hating your ability to absolutely draw me in, intoxicate me, and the moment I reacted in a way she didn’t like, she would shut down like a trap and I wouldn’t hear from her again until I was useful to her in some way. Because I’d loved her my entire life, it took me 25 years to realize she was taking advantage of me. The rest of the time, I’d thought I was taking advantage of her.
Maybe I was. I don’t know. Maybe there was something I could have done differently, and I’m sure there are a thousand. But I don’t think that any of those things were supposed to happen. I think I was meant to freefall into acceptance of who I am and the gift I gave myself in this web site.
That being said, I will also remember that I stand on the shoulders of giants, Diane included. Her place in my heart is secure……………. but so is her place in my rage. One day, I’ll let go of it. But that day will not be today or tomorrow, I assure you wholeheartedly.
Mostly because I have found that I am stronger when I keep Diane far enough away not to let her bother me and close enough to be able to describe her as a three-dimensional character. Not good, not evil, just human. Full of flaws and beauty for which I am grateful to have loved in any capacity, much less just one. When I do not send her love and light, remembering how beautiful life felt when she walked into a room, I cannot function. I am laden with dark ruminations and the homicide that’s happened in my dreams since I was just shy of 15. I choose to love the everliving hell out of her because when I don’t, IT KILLS ME. DO YOU HEAR ME? IT KILLS ME.
It’s just easier to love her from wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy over here, made even easier by letters like this one, received when I was trying to decide which entry to send to Paul Gilmartin of Mental Illness Happy Hour:
Hey Leslie….There is an entry or entries in your blog where you really explain emotionally how your abuser has affect your life…..you talk about her actions and your thoughts and feelings at the time about her actions and about how the words she said to you didn’t match her actions or your feelings/feedback you were getting from her. You talked about her manipulation. These are the details I remembered because my gut was turning because I could feel the pain you were expressing through the writing……AND I had never seen/heard this kind of behavior from a female/female “romantic” relationship. This is the kind of behavior that we hear about in the news all the time where the man is the older abuser but you are the first one I have heard express it in the lesbian version where a woman is really a villain. Even though we all know (from female friendships that women can be master manipulators). I also thought because your/your abuser’s story is all wrapped up in religion/church that this makes it even more interesting and complex……any way….I can’t find the exact entry…..but I wanted to share these thoughts….
Thanks for letting us be a part of what is on the “inside” of you…..it is beyond courageous.
It floors me how generous people are with their analysis of my writing. I don’t take compliments well, but I’m learning. To hear that I am courageous is humbling to an embarrassing degree. I saw something on Facebook that made me start to asphyxiate with laughter this morning. It is so me that you’ll laugh because it sounds like I wrote it. “Writers are people that spend the entirety of their lives in solitary confinement all in the name of communication.” Dead accurate, according to me. I mean, I know me. We’ve met.