The War Up

I have never in my lifetime connected to a set of scriptures as deeply as Mark 6:4-6. I sat with them for a long time, at first fuming in anger and then letting my emotions roll off me like a sine wave crashing on the shore. I was angry at all the people who called me crazy. That thought moving to DC was specifically designed to hurt someone. That my dream of creating St. James and All Sinners as a building on the Anacostia was less important to me than meeting Argo. If this was all about Argo, I could have just come to visit. I didn’t have to fucking move. I felt rejected in my hometown, so I left. I didn’t want to go to a city where I didn’t know anyone, because I was afraid to completely start over. In a sense, coming back to DC was coming home, because I never should have left in the first place. Two years ago, even Argo was on board. She said, “come here- NoVA is tolerant of all… even Republicans.” That was when I laughed and told her it was definitely a possibility because Dana’s parents are here.

Moving to DC has been in the works a long time, because I cannot even tell you how much Houston gives me the creeps. I love my family, and would willingly step in front of a bus for any one of them. It’s the city itself where I falter. I hate the rednecks that would willingly bash me into a tree. I hate that not wearing makeup had one of my bosses say to me that I always looked like I didn’t feel good because I wasn’t “dressing up,” and I hate that feeling I get when I want to show my girlfriend/wife affection. I look around with so much internalized homophobia that I cannot let go at all. It is with me, an ever-present albatross around my neck that tightens when I don’t know who’s watching and if I am in a safe neighborhood, etc. Houston has changed, attitudes have changed, and I have not. I will never forget the abuse I experienced at HSPVA. It stays with me and I cannot let it go. I have said before that I didn’t want to marry Dana and it didn’t have anything to do with fidelity and companionship. It had everything to do with my own fears and how I hadn’t let go of them, even though it’s been 25 years since I came out.

When I came to DC, I was able to let go of a little bit of my fear. My church had plenty of gay couples, so Kathleen and I fit right in. Getting out of Houston is a relief so great it’s only between God and me. It’s HARD to talk about internalized homophobia. It’s HARD to talk about the fact that society has changed around me and I still feel at times that I have to hide who I am, even though I don’t. In Portland and DC, the relief is palpable. There are still places in southern VA that I fear to tread, but the important part is that I left a city I viewed could hurt me, whether that was the truth or not. My perception is everything to me, and the fight against gay rights in Texas is just a shitshow of epic proportions, and I am glad to watch the fight from really, really far away.

It pains me to think what I could have accomplished if I’d stayed, but I cannot concentrate on that. I have to concentrate on what’s next. In fact, when my dad heard about my divorce from Dana, the first thing he said- the FIRST thing- was “what’s next, Mrs. Landingham?” I can see it. I can see my dream as clearly as I see the empty cup of tea in front of me.

Hold please.

Ok, the empty teacup problem is fixed. Now I can concentrate on the topic at hand.

What’s next?

I have not heard anything from Howard, and I am a little pissed. I do not want to know if I got in, I just want to know that they’ve got my essay and all that. Just an acknowledgement that my $50 was well spent. I am having dinner with Pri Diddy and Elena on Thursday, so I think I’ll just go to Howard then. It’s the same Metro stop. I’ll go to Admissions and Financial Aid because a) I’m poor b) in this line of work, I’ll probably always be poor. Unless Oprah, from whom all blessings flow.

Speaking of which, if anyone knows her and can get some of my stuff to her, I’d appreciate it. My calendar is pretty empty these days. I think I can JUGGLE SOME STUFF AROUND if she calls.

I also want to get back to my fiction, but I am still too emotionally invested in letting go of Dana and Argo to spend time on it, because the emotions that run behind it are our Trinity of sorts. It’s a psychological thriller because Argo said that would sell, and she’s usually right about things, so psychological thriller it is. However, because it is in a sense, about us, it’s too extremely loud and incredibly close for me to delve right in. Maybe a year from now. Maybe two. Maybe five. However long it takes to get these women further down the z-axis so that when I write about their characters, it doesn’t hurt me as much as it does right now. We were so good together right up until we weren’t. The difference between Argo and me is that I choose to focus on the good things I love about her, and she focuses on the things she hates about me. Maybe that will go away with time, but I doubt it. Neither one of us trust easily, neither one of us want to let down our walls to let the other one in, neither one of us wants to live in toxicity.

I would like to think that some of the toxicity is gone simply because Dana is out of the picture and there is no triangulation. I didn’t divorce Dana because of it, just that no triangulation is an added bonus. I hated the way they both pulled away from me when I got really sick, because I needed them more and not less. Luckily, I had other friends to pick me up when I fell, but I was butt-hurt it wasn’t them… this is because I know within myself that if it had been Dana or Argo that was really sick, I would have tried to pick them up in an instant. They both became part of my heartbeat, and I never would have let them hurt- either of them- when I was in my right mind. I wasn’t, and I threw emotional grenades at both of them because I couldn’t see clearly enough to stop. I was lost in my own illness, unable to care for anyone else but me because I was in deep survival mode, pushing them away even though I had no business doing so. It just flipped my shit when all three of us were sharing deep information and then everything turned on a dime and all of the sudden, I was the psycho instead of the one with amazing insights and an ability to read them. Argo’s comment about a restraining order was fucking ridiculous, but I shouldn’t have seen it, anyway. I was playing with Dana’s phone because she let me, and I couldn’t help myself. I peeked at their conversation and found out way more than I ever wanted to know. I own that it’s my fault. I had no right to know what Dana knew, no right to snoop even though she gave me her phone willingly. At that point, we were broken up. I should have known better, and I acted horribly anyway… not for malice, just for curiosity.

To say that I was surprised was an understatement. If Argo had told me directly that she felt threatened, I could have assured her things were fine. I just needed time to cool off, redirect, and refocus my energy. It wouldn’t be a thing that haunts me every day. To think that I hurt someone to the point that they felt threatened is mind-numbingly bizarre to my world, that she would think something like that about me without talking to me, but I understand, and have let go of most of those feelings of anger and abandonment. People like me create strong bonds, and I trashed ours without even realizing what I was doing. However, even though I was really sick, that doesn’t mean that I get off easy. I still have to own my behavior. I didn’t think she would think my words mattered that much- that she would write me off instead of going to that place, the one that says I am not worthy of her trust.

I think I am, but she has no right to trust me right now. I have said it before and I will say it again that if the stars were to align, I’d start at the axiom that she shouldn’t trust me as far as she can throw me and I could earn it back, day by day, week by week, until trust was reestablished.

Right now, I do not trust myself, and that is the worst part of this whole thing. I broke trust within myself that says I am worthy of love, worthy of trust, worthy of anything but solitude. Daphne du Maurier says writers should be read, but neither seen nor heard. This quote resonates with me because the mirror I hold up to the world is one that not everyone likes. They do not want to interact with me because they know that to be in my life is to be in my writing somewhere, because they are my life. If they don’t want to be here, they disconnect from my life… and that is okay with me, because I do not want friends that are constantly worrying about what I am going to say. That do not trust me to give my own impressions without revealing theirs. They have their own truth, which may or may not line up with mine, and that is okay, too. We all have an enormous emotional space in the world, yet few people use it.

That’s all this blog really is. Using my emotional space in the world to ask myself how past history will not be repeated. How I can dig myself out of the holes I’ve dug. How I can safely say to myself “what’s next?” because the past is no longer affecting my future.

I do not have an obsession over either Argo or Dana. I am processing the past, and that is quite different. Not understanding that is threatening, but the reality is that processing is healing, not obsession. Processing is taking a large amount of grief and making it smaller, day by day. You cannot imagine the loss I feel regarding Argo, because what we had was so white and pure that it destroys me that I destroyed that relationship… more than once, in fact, because as Dana’s jealousy became more and more important to me, I pushed Argo away with fire, and yet, I needed her so much at times I couldn’t breathe. I just couldn’t tell her because it made Dana’s eyebrows go over her forehead. Pushing Argo away was literally me reaching into my heart and slashing it with a machete, because behind the fire was so much love I didn’t know what to do with it. I imprinted on her practically the first day I met her, because my world exploded with her brain and her heart reaching out to mine. I have so much rage at myself over the way I treated her, because it was totally avoidable.

I am going to a therapist to try and deal with myself. To try and learn to love myself despite the deep wounds I caused in the people around me. To try and pick myself back up so that I can be the wounded healer I was meant to be, instead of the human grenade launcher.

“What’s next, Mrs. Landingham?”

Reaching out to God, hoping it will heal my heart so that I can heal others. I may not be able to heal the rift with Dana and Argo, but I can pay forward the gifts they gave me while our relationships were alive. It helps to focus on what we did right rather than what we did wrong. I feel like they are always with me when I view it that way. I carry them in my heart and try to feel their pain, try to own what I’ve done so that I can let go in peace.

I cannot help but hope that they’ll come back in their own time, but that is not my decision. I have no control over whether that happens or not. What I can control is how much negativity I’m sending them in my own thoughts, and I have reduced it to none most days.

What’s next is going out with joy, and trying to see everything as a blessing, including bad behavior, because otherwise, how would I learn? How would I grow? I am not fully formed yet, but there are moments. Moments where I feel six feet tall and bulletproof. Moments where my confidence is unfettered. Moments where I am not stuck in the smallest version of me.

What’s next is that the world is going to see me getting bigger. Allowing for more, praying for more, going for more than I thought I could because my words matter to more people than just me. I will be fighting the war up from behaving badly to redemption, even if that redemption is only between me and God. I have to own my mistakes and pray for absolution, because looking inward is the only solution at this point. I acknowledge my humanness, I acknowledge all of the things I’ve broken in the last two years, and I don’t want to feel worthless anymore.

It’s a clarion call. The war up has begun. The horses are ready. The muskets are loaded. It’s go time.

Amen

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