Last night, for the first time since our fistfight, I was invited again into Dana’s silence, and I listened. I sat on the floor outside her room because I wanted to hear her, but I did not want her to feel threatened. She didn’t even have to look at me unless she wanted to. But I wanted to know some things- and I wanted to know what she thought about me. We healed a lot of past injuries because when I expressed myself, Dana heard me and did not reach for the phone to call someone else. The breakthrough, and the one I will take with me, was that she finally said, “I’m sorry I caused you phantom pain. Where is it?” Then I had her touch my cheek where it still hurt. As she was touching my cheek, I reached out and hugged her and sobbed harder than I ever have in my life. It healed a part of me that I didn’t know would ever come back. She apologized in a beautiful, beautiful way and it really did make things look better. It wasn’t that she couldn’t apologize enough; it was that I could not name what I needed from her to move on.
Now, I have, and it feels so much better. For those of you reading my blog as if every sentence means hope, you can shut that down. If you think that one hug means that we’re getting back together, you obviously don’t know how separation works. We’re still a mishmash of feelings that need to be processed on our own, but as I told Dana last night, “I think I can at least be a little friendlier to you now.” The hard part isn’t loving her day in and day out. That part is autonomic, like breathing. It’s the liking her. This goes on both sides. I am an asshole and an angel. So are we all. I think that separation and/or closure is where you own both sides of yourself in their entirety. Dana says that I never told anyone that I punched her first. “Yes, I have.” I said. “It’s just that most of the people I’ve talked to have said that since you pushed me first, I just went off like a rat dog.”
Well, there’s that.
I know myself. We’ve met. It is so true that there aren’t better words for it. Dana said, “did you tell everyone that you charged at me with a Coke Zero and threw it in my face and then ran off?” Ummmm, yes. I did. I’ve also told them that I thought it was a “get the fuck away” warning shot and you took it as reason to charge. I am not running away from this fight. I am owning every bit of my 5’4 inches and my 118.4 pounds on ER arrival. I know I am not a saint; I would never expect anyone to think so. But I do expect that someone who bullied me realizes their own strength. Dana is the receiver for a liquor store. She can move pallets by herself. When she was working at Tapalaya, she routinely carried 50 pound bags of flour up the stairs over her shoulder, using the other hand to hold onto the rail. At my 170 lb heaviest, I have never had that kind of strength, and that was ten years ago. I lost the weight by beating Dana into submission.
Get your mind out of the gutter.
I mean that I had just met a French-trained cook, and everything she cooked me had 2000 calories and huge portion sizes. I finally made her give in to the tyranny of the Mediterranean and cook with some damn olive oil once in a while. Taught her all the snacks I know that taste good even though they don’t have a lot of calories. I lost a lot of weight quickly. Dana did not, because she was not ready to give up cooking butter-fried butter for dinner. This was early in our relationship, before we were even dating.
The moment I moved in, I went from “you can eat like this when I’m not here” to “oh hell no, not on my watch.” I wasn’t worried about Dana gaining weight. I was worried that if I kept up her diet, it would ruin mine. Eating became about willpower because I could not give in and let myself eat a thousand more calories than I needed.
Dana strains to understand why I control my diet the way I do. It’s because I know what I look like at 170, and I prefer 118. It’s not about how I look. It’s about excess. It’s about not making my body too big for my frame. It’s about giving myself everything my own body needs, and denying because I want something, not because it’s bad for me. For instance, I would almost always rather have a second piece of chicken than a piece of cake. So I eat two pieces of chicken, realizing that I have traded the calories I had left over for cake for chicken now.
Dana would serve me two pieces of chicken, all the fixins, and a beer and then ask me if I wanted cake. I couldn’t even move. And if you are reading closely, I have just told you the story of our entire marriage.