Dana -or- Heartbreak and Hope

This morning I can’t get her off my mind. It started with thinking of her as I put a pen on the collar of my t-shirt, because without one, she feels naked. Now I have about an hour before I have to be at choir, and every good memory I’ve ever had with her is flooding my brain like dopamine on fire. It’s better than drugs. I knew I would come to this point in my grief, the one where good memories outweigh the bad. But it’s taken such a long time. There are so many bad things I had to work through that Sarah is recommending group therapy for it, those that have gone through domestic violence on both sides of the equation. There was no winner in that fight, only sadness and an aching hole in me that won’t go away, no matter how hard I try. When I wrote the entry in that link, I was more angry than I had ever been in my life, and while I can’t (and won’t) take anything back, I do have regrets. Just not about telling the story. I have a snapshot of how angry I was in the moment, and how betrayed I felt that Argo and Dana were, in some ways, making me out to be a lot crazier than I was. It got bad, but not bad enough to move across the country for someone I didn’t know, and someone who didn’t want to have anything to do with me at the time. Not moving to NoVA was just letting Argo scare me away from all of my familiar.

I cried all the way to the airport, holding tears back until I couldn’t. It made me feel safe that even though I was going to a place where I knew no one (Silver Spring, specifically- lots of friends in DC), it was still in the area I loved, my Paris. I cried because in a lot of ways, I felt like I was abandoning Dana and couldn’t be friends with her all at the same time. Once I got into therapy, I realized that I hadn’t abandoned her at all. She had a job she loved where she made friends quickly, and she was on her own path away from me, and that’s how it needed to be. We really did need to find out who we were on our own, and I hadn’t found what I needed in Houston- she had.

As I have said before, getting into therapy and getting Medicaid while I didn’t have a job (that may change by Monday or Tuesday) helped me realize that I was not running away from anything. I was running back. I never should have left Alexandria in the first place. I still miss 803 N. Van Dorn, but at the same time, Montgomery County had more resources to help mental patients like me and it is a miracle how far I’ve progressed with them.

In fact, Samantha has said that she thinks I was sent to them for a reason. It’s true. I have found an adopted family I adore, and I think Samantha and I have something special between us. That women friendship where we both get to be giants together. The model I needed before I met Argo and didn’t get.

Even Dana, my best friend of three years and some change, didn’t come without those romantic feelings. For her, it took six weeks. For me, it took all those years to see that what I wanted in a great marriage had been standing in front of me the whole time. Yes, it got bad… and it got dangerous… but that’s not all there is to the story. To everyone, even us, we were the perfect couple, even behind closed doors until we moved to Houston and Dana betrayed me within the first week. I will not and cannot say why, but it was BIG and we broke up immediately at my request. I do not know why I didn’t make it stick- probably because I thought we could get back to where we left off, but we never did. The emotional swings started getting bigger and bigger until neither of us could handle the other. But in my heart of hearts, there will never be another Dana and I’m not even going to try.

I have lots of friends in AA, and what they tell you when you first get to rehab, the professionals tell you no relationships for at least two years. I want to try and stick to that as well. There is no way that I can recover from so many years of a perfect marriage right up until it wasn’t overnight, and I refuse.

It’s been almost a year now, and I haven’t felt romantic feelings for anyone but myself. I know it sounds crazy, but I have to fall in love with myself before I can fall in love with anyone else. It has to be real. Deep and abiding. Otherwise, I will throw away my worth and become the Lanagan Search & Rescue system for which I am emotionally famous.

It’s coming along nicely, actually. I know my highs and my lows, and I love me, anyway. I try to be kind and considerate with my heart, considering how much I’ve lost. When the mood swings between Dana and me spiraled out of control, I felt thrown away, even though I was the one that ultimately called it. I just thought that Dana would see that I made that decision while I was on the floor after she hit me, and it wasn’t how I really felt about her. I popped off in anger, thinking there was redemption down the road.

The truth is that I would give a limb to have her right here, my face buried in her neck with apology, even if it was only in a buddy kind of way. But I know myself. I fall in love quickly and easily. Until we are healthy enough for each other, it would be the worst move ever.

I chose DC because I knew our paths would be perpendicular that way. Her parents are out in NoVA somewhere, the only thing I know about where they live is that it’s the closest Waffle House, and not close enough to reach by Metro. But still. Close enough.

But we aren’t, and it’s hard to live with every day. I used to call her my “Nayna.” Before we were married, I called her Bana Damberger. She called me Leslie Lanagan, and it took me far longer than it should have to realize that she was reversing the letters, too, they’re just the same (jackass).

Now I have to walk to choir, and all I hear in my ear is her whisper of “sing pretty,” what her dad used to say to her mom every Sunday as well.

Don’t worry, Nayna. I will.


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