Yesterday I sent Argo a quick note just to say that I was reading over old entries and that my heart was hurting over the friendship we used to have. I didn’t necessarily want a response, but I did want her to hear me, and I hope she did. I can never be sure if she gets my letters or not, but that part doesn’t bother me. It is as if having a line to her is more important than her having a line back. She’ll use it if she wants, or she won’t. It is not my right to have feelings over whether she responds. That part is on her. All I can do is tell her my heart hurts. What she does with that information is completely up to her, because I don’t want her to think that there is anger or impatience on my end for a reply. Because that part of me is gone. Her life is busier than mine, so all I can hope is that being prayed for is comforting even when she doesn’t have the time or the want to reply.
Sometimes I think it’s easier living in DC, because now I know for sure that even when we don’t talk, we are sleeping under the same modicum of sky. I don’t think or hope that we’ll be buds, but I do find comfort that if she wants to reach out to me, that I am here. Reaching out to her is way more about trying to heal me and all of the down and dirty shit I did to her to get her to go away, when in reality, that’s the last thing I wanted and I acted shitty to her, anyway. I thought it would make me feel better that she wasn’t a factor in my life anymore, that I could move on with my life without the constant struggle to try and get Dana to make room. Impulsivity ate my lunch during that time, and had I really pondered what I needed instead of reacting quickly, things might have turned out quite differently. There would be time to Netflix and chill in the literal definition- I hate that it’s become a euphemism, when I would like nothing more than to binge-watch something with popcorn or Coco Puffs or whatever between us. As I have said before, I grieve for all the lost bacon cheeseburgers, all the lost great bottles of wine, all the things you do for your friends when either they’re having a bad day or you are.
I also miss that feeling of having that friend that knows you. Maybe doesn’t know what you look like, but has seen your soul and loves you anyway. It’s amazing how much we have seen of each other in black and white- even Dana has said this more than once, that I have seen her soul and love her anyway, as well. It wasn’t the wrong decision to let Dana into my inner sanctum, to let her read what was happening between Argo and me, because I think she got a better understanding of how I felt than if I’d kept everything a secret. It’s just not how Dana and I rolled. There were times when Dana had so much empathy for both of us, and I wish she could have held onto that feeling a little longer, because we both needed it from her. It was complicated, and it was simple.
Complicated in that because of my past, there’d never been a time where I thought a woman wanted to get close to me without the end goal of sleeping together. I didn’t know what to do with that information, and I handled it
fairly poorly like a total dickhead. Simple in that if I’d ever had a real friendship in my life, one that wasn’t tainted with that kind of thought process, I could have been an amazing friend to her that would have lasted as long as we did. It tortures me, mostly in my sleep, because I hear all the laughter behind the things we wrote to each other and I miss it so, so much. Women create these amazing bonds with each other that I’d never had before, so it didn’t occur to me that it was Argo’s angle. To create a close bond with each other where we could be open and caring friends without anything illicit.
I was so lost over everything I didn’t know, had never known, and I blew it.
I bought all these books on female friendship to try and get an idea of how these things were supposed to operate, but none of it was anything I could learn in a book. I only found comfort in the fact that many straight women blow it with their own friends regardless of the sexuality of the other. In fact, no one in the books blew it because they told their friends they were in love with them, but they hurt nonetheless. The repeating line in the book is that “no one is her.”
But the thing was, I couldn’t be in love with all of her. I didn’t know all of her. I just knew her brain, and it was the most fascinating mind I’d ever come across. My sapiosexuality (where thoughts and feelings create attraction) got the better of me the closer we became, to the point where I couldn’t hide it. Not from Dana, not from Aaron, and especially not from her. She freaked the fuck out, and so did I. I hadn’t meant to scare her in the slightest. Just to acknowledge that the rabbit hole we were creating allowed a lot of room for falling in love with absolute honesty and trust. The more she stood up to me, the more I realized I needed someone in my life like her. One of the funniest things that has stuck with me is the day that she called me a “judgemental dickhead.”
Even Dana guffawed at that, because we both knew it was true. I’m laughing even now as I type this, because I think it is one of the few things that Argo could have said that would have gotten Dana completely on board. The conversation went something like this:
Leslie: Argo called me a “judgemental dickhead.”
Dana: Did she really say that?
Leslie: WHY? DO YOU LIKE HER BETTER NOW?
Dana just grinned conspiratorially, and I knew for the moment that the waters were calm. Maybe if Argo had called me a few more choice names, she would have realized that the only threat to her was that Argo was going to make me a better partner if it killed her.
In the end, though, Dana knew that it was an easy shot just to bring up Argo while we were fighting, and it would send me into hysterics, because I didn’t want to lose either one of them. Argo was Dana’s excuse for a long time in not connecting with me, because it was so much easier to fight dirty. To pretend that Argo and I were having some sort of affair when there was absolutely no evidence of it except that my own heart was divided, but not in a way that tilted toward leaving Dana. Not ever. My heart was divided because Argo really did need me, just not in the way that Dana did… and Dana wouldn’t give Argo the access she wanted because she was so threatened. When Argo needed me, it was someone to listen. Someone to respond with love and care and prayers, even though she didn’t believe in God, she did believe in me as her “pinch hitter.” Because I was so far away, I ended nearly every letter with “God of the universe, protect my precious Argo.” But wanting to love Argo up in terms of wrapping her in prayers did not mean that I did not feel a connection to Dana that surpassed all measure, all space and time.
As time went on, I learned that it was imperative to stop thinking of Argo with any intimacy besides friendship, and though the connection didn’t change fast, it DID change. I felt horrible about the way Dana felt isolated, because Argo did not reach out to Dana when she needed something, only me. So even though my connection to Argo changed, Dana’s jealousy didn’t, because she constantly felt left out.
Dana was in the middle of a West Wing marathon, so I tried to explain it this way, that Leo needed the President more than his wife at times. It was a bad analogy, because Jenny left Leo… but funny how I just now put that together. #dumbassattack
The bottom line is that when Argo needed me, I felt special in a way that I’d never felt before, and it was a dopamine rush not part of my relationship with Dana, because we’d been together so long that our relationship had settled into long-term companionship coupled with amazing rushes of romance and even though that was what I wanted and needed, Dana did not understand the dopamine rush of new relationship because to her, it meant that she wasn’t important anymore. That I didn’t need her. That I didn’t want her. That I didn’t pray for her just as much. That I was attracted to her in all the right ways, because she was the right one for me and always would be, or so I thought.
Argo was giving me bigger things to think about than I’d ever thought of before, reaching down into my soul and guts and extracting an enormous ghost out of my closet and monster under my bed. It made me blush like a teenager, and for that, I will always be sorry, because that’s not what women friendship is about. But it had never been modeled for me, so I was trapped between thinking that Dana was ok with it and she was not…. but it was amazing how those two things came out at different times. Most often, she was fine with it until we had to talk about something serious, and her modus operandi was to switch the issue at hand to Argo’s “threat.” It was a bait-and-switch operation that worked masterfully well. For instance, how did talking about money devolve into Argo? How did talking about problems in our own relationship devolve into Argo?
For every moment that Argo felt used, I couldn’t apologize enough, because it’s not that I wouldn’t tell her what happened. Dana was angry that I’d told her, and my only reply to that was “I tell Argo everything. Everything. I can’t help that you’re mad and jealous, but I’m not going to stop because I need a sounding board other than you.” It was a serious mess of a situation, because Dana did not have her own friend that she could confide in about me, except she did…. she just wouldn’t use them. She would occasionally, but it wasn’t like Argo and me, where I could drop her an e-mail and she’d get back to me when she could. We talked all the time, multiple times a day. I don’t think that Dana used her own resources like that, and
perhaps I leaned on Argo too much, and she wouldn’t just tell me that outright, because she knew it would hurt.
I felt that I could lean on Argo easier because she was never out to hurt me, and I felt like Dana was. Argo never said anything that would have isolated me from Dana, but there was plenty of that going the other direction. Argo loved that I’d found the love of my life, but Dana did not love that I thought I’d found the friend-love of my life because to her, it didn’t mean that I’d found someone to eat cheeseburgers and drink beer with. It meant that I’d fallen for Dana’s brain in the past, and the threat of me loving someone else’s was unacceptable.
Whenever Dana and I fought, all I wanted was for Argo to be RIGHT THERE. To show Dana that the connection in the cloud was much different than the connection on the ground. For all I know, in real life I might have thought she was persnickety beyond belief and she would have driven me crazy…. or whatever it might have been where reality separated itself from fantasy. The thing with friends is that you can tell them to go home. With Dana, there was never that option, and there never would have been. The only reason I said uncle was that she raised her hand to me, first. She reached out and pushed me with such force that I just reacted by hitting her, and my small fist left nothing but emotional damage, and maybe a few defensive scratch marks, but nothing compared to the bruise under my eye when my glasses smashed into my face. It was then I knew that our ability to abuse each other had gone too far, too fast, and part of the reason was that Dana’s fantasy was that I was leaving her. I never would have thought about it had emotional not become physical, and even in the Facebook post announcing our divorce, I still wrote that I thought there might be redemption down the road.
She only read the title of the Life Event, which said “End of Relationship.” None of the paragraphs afterward even registered.
I don’t know what to say about that, because in the moment, she approved the post and then later railed at me that she didn’t have the chance to tell people quietly. I was stuck in the battle of who to call first. Was it more important to tell her family first, or mine? Facebook was the only way I could think of where everyone was on equal ground, and would all know at the same time… as well as all of our friends who would have a chance to read and respond to what I’d written, and respond they did. They sent us both such love and affection that I will never forget it. Not in my whole life. Because to me, the fight was over. We both needed all the prayers and well-wishes that our community could provide.
My inspiration in doing this was my friend Greg, who when he and his wife lost their infant twins, gathered their community together and were so open in their grief. The community that supported them helped them through a time in their lives that was impossibly sad, and I wanted the same thing for Dana and me- to be supported by our community even though some were in Portland, some were in DC, and some were in Houston.
Maybe it would have been better to let our friends know privately, but I cannot second-guess myself and I won’t. I don’t think that we would have gotten even a third of the love that poured out for us if we’d kept our pain private. It meant something to me that people had our backs. Not mine, not hers, but OURS.
There’s so many things I have done. So many things I have left undone….. so much that I am having trouble because I don’t know what to say. I just have to keep breathing, and hope that the love that poured out for us in the beginning is still there. We both need your prayers and if you’re local, your presence.
Sometimes I just need a bacon cheeseburger and a friend to split it with me.
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