Big Night

When I arrived at the Silver Spring Metro Station last night, I was going to go home… and then I realized it was Friday. I got on the circular intending to go to the movies, but I saw this restaurant that I’ve been meaning to try for ages since it’s in the same building as Vesta. I knew that I would make friends if I sat at the bar, so that’s what I did. After I took off my coat and got settled, I realized that the bartender was trying to sell a couple on Old Overholt, and I chimed in that I thought it was the best rye you could buy, with an amazing price point. The bartender gave me a grateful look and poured me a shot on him. I asked him for a PBR to go with it, and he said, “want to try a local beer?” I said, “sure,” and he brought me something that tasted exactly like PBR in a different can. I’m pretty sure it’s all Miller High Life with a different label. Lone Star, PBR, doesn’t matter. I don’t remember the name of it, but it was an excellent back. Then, every time he opened something expensive, he gave me a taste of it. I sat there for three hours, enjoying the man sitting next to me, head of the National Association of Black Journalists.

We got to talking, and he’d actually spent quite a bit of time in Houston, because Kirbyjon Caldwell (pastor of Windsor Village UMC) was one of his fraternity brothers, as well as Melanie Lawson’s dad (I forget his name) that’s pastor of Wheeler Ave. Baptist Church. He had connections to TSU, and I told him that he was right down the road from me when I lived in the dorms at UH. He told me to let him know when I was ready to go on to grad school at Howard, because he had connections there, too. He’s a bachelor, so he has dinner at this bar almost every night, so I know I’ll see him again. I asked him who his favorite black journalist was, and he gave me a name I should have written down. I don’t remember who said it, but it’s true that “the biggest lie we tell ourselves as writers is that we’ll remember it and don’t write things down.” He told me that this journalist was friends with Ta-Nehisi Coates, who has become my favorite black journalist, coming from the Washington City Paper and gone on to write several thought-provoking books. He was on the Diane Rehm show recently, and if you can catch that episode, you’ll fall in love with him, too.

After that, his friends came in, and I shot the shit with them, as well. I get along with old black men. We’re all funny together regardless of race or age, because I honestly believe I’m just an old man stuck in a relatively young woman’s body. 😛

The man sitting next to me (I think his name was Darryl) was thrilled that we knew people in common (or at least, I knew *of* them since Kirbyjon and my dad were in the same conference when my dad was a pastor and there are very few Houstonians who’ve never heard of Wheeler Ave. Baptist since Melanie is a famous news anchor). He introduced me to everyone in the bar, even the chef, and that was amazing because we talked about lamb chops and how he was going to finish them. When he said “espresso,” I was in.

As for my own dinner, I had chicken salad on top of cheddar Sriracha biscuits, and a deconstructed Boston Cream Pie for dessert. It was one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time, and I think I made an actual, let’s go out and do something friend with the bartender, who is also a stand-up comedian. I asked him who his guys were, and he said Louis C.K. and Steven Wright…. both excellent influences.

At the end of the night, I paid out and gave him a $20 tip, because that’s what you do when the bartender lets you explore his drinks for free. If someone gifts you $50 worth of tastings, leaving a regular tip is just mean. I’ve worked in restaurants long enough to know that much. And besides, I haven’t gone out to eat in months, hoarding money and ready to give up another night of eating a peanut butter sandwich and going to bed. It’s not something I’ll do again any time soon, but it was good to take a night off from complete isolation.

It doesn’t happen often that the bartender becomes your real friend, but because I’ve worked in the service industry for so long, we had a lot to talk about, and we were both passionate about high-end alcohol, because as I told him, I would rather have one perfect shot of something expensive than five shitty ones, and he agreed wholeheartedly. I was feeling stuffed up, and he noticed. He said, “so, can I make you a hot toddy, or would you like to try a beer laced with red chilies?” I opted for the beer, and it was so good that I ordered a pint. As he handed me my check, he told me that he’d rung up this outrageously expensive beer as a PBR can. See? That’s why you overtip the bartender. He didn’t have to be that nice, but he was.

After I paid out, I Ubered home and looked at Facebook. Kristie was watching The Godfather, so I put it on as well, and fell asleep during Michael’s homecoming. I cannot say enough how this one evening lifted my spirits, pun intended. It was a God moment, this wandering into a bar on an off-beaten path and genuinely meeting people I’d like to see again.

Especially someone that could make it possible for me to get into grad school a lot easier…. divinity school, in fact.

But when I looked around, I realized that divinity was already here.

Amen.

Donuts, Nachos, Popcorn

The title is an inside joke for every church musician ever. Grace and peace to you live from my office, where I am wet, cold, and want to go home. There, I can work with my electric blanket set to hell, and I won’t look like Gerald Ford every time I want to go somewhere. On the flip side, I had a meeting with myself. We got a lot done.

This project is consuming my life, but not in a bad way… although I did not have enough spoons for choir practice because of my epic fail in getting to the bus. Today was one epic fail after another as I tromped through the snow to get to the office from the Metro station. I finally gave up and decided to walk on the street, and that was another fall, trying to get down from the snow drift. Luckily, there were no cars coming when I landed in the right-hand lane. The snow was shin-deep and trying to get down caused me to really fuck up my hand. It’s covered in road rash and the right side of my left palm is swollen and sore, as if I slammed a raw nerve right into the concrete, which I probably did. It will probably bruise, so at least I got that goin’ for me. They’re so attractive……

At least I had my Docs on, so my feet stayed dry. Everything else, pretty much soggy. it’s supposed to get up into the high 60’s later in the week, with rain, but at least the rain will be warm. I hope. It’s time for the snow to melt, even if it doesn’t completely clear. Ankle deep would be fine. But do I miss Houston weather in the winter? Noooooo. I’d rather be knee-deep in snow, because even when it’s snowing in DC, it’s SNOWING IN DC. DC is the best thing that’s ever happened to me, even during Sept. 11th and the confusion it caused (395 was locked up for weeks with people stopping their cars in the middle of the freeway to gawk at the Pentagon. For the first few days, they stopped their ignitions and got out.). That being said, they don’t have DC in Houston. I checked.

Before I moved here, I decided that I didn’t want to be a Houston-based writer. I wanted to be a DC-based writer. My parents gave me that chance and I leaped at it. DC is my Paris, and I’ll never leave if I can help it. There’s just too much here to be explored, and I could wander DC until the day I died and still not see everything. I’ve been in love with DC since the first time I visited, when I was eight years old and we went to the White House. And, if I’m honest, it’s all Aaron Sorkin’s fault that the yearn to actually live in DC became a thing.

I was the one that convinced Kathleen we needed to move here. I do not regret that decision in the slightest. It was a wild ride, and I needed it. It was the first time I’d lived so far away from home and had the ability to find myself outside of everything I knew.

What I know for sure is that this is where I belong, and if that’s not pure peace, I just won’t find it. Landing in DC after the breakup with Dana was a huge dose of Fuckitolâ„¢ in that I could let go of my past to make room for an unencumbered future. I need to stop loving her, stop caring about her, stop worrying about her because that’s what she wants. It’s not what I want, but it’s what I need, and I will survive it. Grief is an amazing thing, but only if you make it so. It changes you in ways you didn’t think possible. It breaks everything in you and rearranges the furniture.

I still trip over the couch, but I just keep setting up the chairs.

Amen.

Black Ice

The #14 bus comes right to my street, Wire Ave. As I was walking to the stop, I slipped on some black ice and fell flat on my back. Almost. I was wearing my backpack on both shoulders (nerd that I am), so when I fell, it wrenched my back hardcore. I knew something was wrong, very wrong, but I went on to work and from the Landover Metro Station to the office I fell three more times because the sidewalk isn’t plowed and every step was shin deep in snow. By lunch time, the pain had become unbearable, so I asked my supervisor if I could take some personal time and go to the doctor. I didn’t have to have an appointment because my GP is first come, first serve if you get there before 1500. I asked Samantha to come and pick me up, and she said she would if I’d buy her a pack of cigarettes. Uber would have cost me $25, so I said yes immediately. Since I knew he would also refill all my psych meds (Vesta does not take my insurance), we ran by the house before we jetted to Dr. Akoto’s office.

When Samantha arrived, she gave me half an oxy and some water. The pain was so great that even with that strong a narcotic, it didn’t help, but it did make me forget I was in pain, so I suppose it did something. It was really sweet of her to think of it, that’s for damn sure, but I couldn’t help but think of Nurse Jackie…. so when I got to Dr. Akoto’s office, I told him that I wanted an NSAID. He prescribed a strong dose of Mobic and an X-Ray, and I’m doing a lot better now… relatively. I felt like dog shit before. Now, I am at least up to barely functioning adult. I’m going to take a strong dose of sleeping medication, because it terms of wrenching muscles, there’s nothing that helps more than a good night’s sleep. Lactic acid is cool. After I finished at Dr. Akoto’s, I went directly to Safeway to have my prescriptions filled and got some groceries, both for the house and for the office. I was out of simple things like Crystal Light with caffeine, plus I got some frozen meals and some of those cheese crackers with peanut butter, which I believe are one of God’s gifts to mankind. Pushing the cart around the store while I was waiting for my pain pill felt like punishment, but unavoidable because I hadn’t been grocery shopping in so long.

Since I felt so bad, I decided I wanted junk food for comfort. They took my weight at my appointment, and I decided that I was doing a good job of keeping my weight down, so one night of complete bliss was in order. I got White Castle burgers, more chips, and Airheads Sour Apple ice cream (and some Neopolitan for good measure). They were trying to get rid of the Airheads ice cream, and it is one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth. We have Hershey’s caramel syrup to put on top, and it tasted like a caramel apple pop on steroids. It lifted my spirits immeasurably.

I’d been in a really funky mood because Aaron said something that damn near made me cry and it took me a long time to move past. I said that when I think of Dana, I don’t think of pain. I think of laughter. He told me not to think of her at all, because if I think of her laughter, I will invariably think of how I’ll never hear it again and it will ultimately hurt me. At first, I was angry, and then it melted into thinking he might be right…. especially after I got off the phone with my sister this evening.

I told her what Aaron said, and she told me that Dana had contacted her on Facebook to tell her that she was in Virginia over Christmas. It just reinforced for me that her response to me about no contact was shady. I told Lindsay, “I didn’t get what I wanted, but I got what I needed. I wanted to bum around DC with Dana. I wanted to look at monuments and shit. But maybe that’s not what I needed.” The universe is telling me to move the fuck on, and I am listening. It was a major moment to me to realize that there is such a difference between “want” and “need.”

I am so grateful for Prianka and Elena, because there is no chance that they are not my friends. Prianka has met Dana, but that doesn’t mean that she’s trying to juggle relationships with both of us. It is a clean slate for me to be able to have friends that don’t have ties back to Dana, because I feel like I have “my people.” I also love that Prianka is always about moving forward, and I feel like I have spent time with my wise old guru every time we hang out, even though Prianka is younger than I am.

Saturday she asked me about dating. I told her I’m not ready, and my standards are impossibly high, anyway. I want to be with someone that has Argo’s quality of overclocking my processor, and not someone who is satisfied with the status quo. I want to be with someone that is continually going to challenge me to be a better woman than I was the day before. As I wrote in a song years ago, “I don’t wanna cross your path until we finally agree / that I bring out the best in you ’cause you bring it out in me.” As I told Susan, I don’t want to be in any relationship fraught with conflict because I do not want to lapse into old patterns of toxicity and pain. I’ve had enough of that to last my whole life, and I am DONE.

I don’t even mind if my friends want to be Dana’s friends as well, but if they’re going to do it, not behind my back. I need to know because I have clear boundaries around that subject. People who are friends with both of us don’t get to be the repository for my feelings about her…. and they probably don’t want to be, either, so it’s better for both of us. It’s hard when I’m having a conversation and people wait until after I’m finished talking to say that they’re friends with her, too, and they don’t want to hear what I have to say. Ignorance, in this case, is not bliss. It’s just a mess I don’t want to clean up.

My sister is so proud of me for doing all of this- getting out of the relationship and going on to a job where I keep my nose to the grindstone and work out all my own shit. I’m going to take her pride and live in it. I’m proud of me, too….. because divorce is not what I wanted, but maybe it’s what I needed.

The metaphor of black ice is accurate, because there was so much toxicity in our relationship that I just couldn’t see, and I slipped and fell flat on my back.

And now, I’m getting up.

Amen.

 

Snow My God

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The Night Trek (Landover Metro Approach)

None of the sidewalks are plowed, so I walked in knee deep snow for quite a bit of the day. As a result, I am sore in muscles I didn’t even know I had. I took a sleeping pill as soon as I walked in the door (about 15 minutes ago, and it’s about 2130 now). I need to get a good night’s sleep because I highly doubt that people are thinking about clearing the sidewalks any time soon. The bus was so full going home that I couldn’t reach the stop ribbon, and ended up about a half mile from Christ Cong, the landmark for my own bus stop. I was going to walk back, but the snow got the best of me and I walked to 7-Eleven for a Cheerwine and got Uber to pick me up and drive me to my door. I realized that if I waited for the bus, I’d still have another 20 minutes of walking through the snow, and it was worth the five dollars. So. Worth.

The sidewalk from the Landover Metro to my office is the worst. This morning was easier because I could see better, but tonight was just a long slog. I got a lot of exercise, though, so maybe stopping for a Cheerwine wasn’t the worst thing I could have done. I normally drink diet, but every time they get some, they’re gone in a hot second. I think it’s one lady (who is not me, but should be). I also got bread, peanut butter, cold medicine, and Utz chips in both bacon horseradish and jalapeno cheddar. It was easier to justify Ubering home if I had grocery bags. 😛

One of the reasons it took so long to get home is that I decided to take the bus from the Metro station instead of Ubering in the first place. The first bus was so full that I had to wait for the next one, and even then I was sandwiched between two very large men that had obviously either just bought weed or just smoked it, because the smell was everywhere. Just everywhere.

Every time that happens, I’m like, “vaping. Look into it.”

Since weed is legal in DC, taking the bus is almost always a contact high, as is walking through Metro Center to change trains. No, I take it back. L’Enfant is infinitely worse. When you go to the lower level to get on the green line, it’s like, “well…. it IS the green line.”

Always reminds me of my first contact high. Lindsay wanted to go to Numbers (Hashtags?) to see Ben Folds Five, and there was so much pot smoke in the room that I was choking. I didn’t know what it was, but I figured it out when I tripped all over myself trying to get back to the car.

Ahhh, the car.

It was one of the best and the worst things that has ever happened to me. I locked my keys in my car and I knew my parents would be mad at having to come and get us, so I made Lindsay call them. They were coming from Sugar Land to downtown (about 20 miles), so we had some time on our hands. The band stayed with us until they got there.

Yes. That’s right. THE BAND.

Since it’s been 20 years, I don’t remember what we talked about, but I do remember that they cared we got home safely.

Just like I did tonight, after doing what felt like eight miles of elliptical.

Oh my Jesus do I hurt. Thank God I won’t be awake much longer. It will look different in the morning.

I think.

 

Snover and Out

It’s the first time I’ve left the house since Friday night, so I’m seeing the after-effects of Snowzilla 2016 for the first time. The snow is still very, very deep, and we’re having trouble finding places to put it…. although it is supposed to warm up to 40 today, so hopefully we’ll get some meltage up in this bitch.

And at the same time, I can’t stop thinking about the last entry that I wrote, and a quote from Louis C.K., “when you hurt someone, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.” I said that things had been blown out of proportion when I was hospitalized, and I will never take that back. What I will apologize for is both Dana and Argo being out of their minds with worry at what I might do. They didn’t know what was going on inside my head, and to me, a few shitty e-mails did not a stalker make. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t have the right to think that about me, they were just wrong. But that’s because they couldn’t and wouldn’t get into my head and ask me those questions. They just made assumptions that didn’t line up and talked to each other rather than reaching out to me personally. But I take nothing away from their pain.

I didn’t think it was stalking so much as that Argo’s e-mails to me were every bit as shitty as the ones I sent her, just in a completely different way. I was in that unlovable space where I just wanted to push everyone away, and I did it, masterfully so, in fact. But that didn’t mean that there was anymore there there, you know? It was a coping mechanism, and a completely wrong-headed one at that, but I didn’t know what else to do because healthy coping mechanisms were beyond me at the time. I have progressed mightily, and will continue to do so. I just need to find a new therapist and a new psychiatrist, because while Vesta takes Medicaid, they do not take BCBS-MD.

I am sure that I created nightmares in both of the women I loved, and there is nothing I can say that will erase my own pain at that fact. Nothing that I can do for myself that will make me forget that time in my life. Nothing that will make me forget how much I loved them, how much I would have done anything for them, and how betrayed I felt when they thought of me as someone who needed to be handled instead of a person with real feelings.

I understand their pain, probably more than they’ll ever admit, but that being said, I don’t agree with their assessment. Moving to Silver Spring is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself, getting away from every negative behavior and thought process that hounded me with both of them. It is a shame that Argo and I could not have made up before I moved, so that getting to live in NoVA wasn’t a thing. But it worked out for the best, because Maryland had so many more mental health resources that I was able to tap into immediately.

But, if anything, the feeling that I needed to be worked against instead of with made me feel even worse, and if that was their idea of friendship, they could keep it. In the months since, I have received the blessing of Argo’s peace… but I doubt we’ll ever be seen strolling down the streets of DC, arm-in-arm and giggling at stupid people we find along our way.

It’s a good thing I didn’t move here for that, because I had no illusions. Just hope. Hope is a funny thing in that you hold onto it not to drive yourself crazy and when you reach a modicum of sanity, it’s ok to let go. It’s ok to realize that hope can die for better or for worse. In my case, I am going with better, because new relationships are releasing me from the person I used to be, the one that I cannot wait to discard.

I am regenerating, without a new face… just a commitment to walk humbly, and hope that new relationships are the driving force in my life to make me better than I was, called to a higher purpose than just someone who needs to be handled. I won’t get better all at once, but I will get better. It takes time to work out the amount of shit that’s been thrown at me pretty much all my life. There are only 11 years of my life where I wasn’t constantly being emotionally abused/groomed, and those patterns resurfaced every time Diane and I were in the same room, but if you think she wanted to talk about it, you are wrong about that. I cannot help but think what might have happened had we really opened up to each other, but at the same time, things worked out the way they were supposed to.

All I can say now is that I love you, Dana. I love you, Argo. I am sorry.

Snover and out.

Sudo Add-Apt-Repository

It has come to my attention that right now, I am just broken. It has been said over and over that when you are broken, it leaves cracks for light to shine in. I am reaching for those moments over and over, because it is true. Light shines on me all day, every day, as I mourn the loss of my relationship with Dana. I am slowly moving on, and the process is just devastating. I am mourning not only the past, but the future I could have had with her and the great things we could have accomplished if we’d just managed to get our shit together. The Truth, at least in my own mind, is that when my career as a writer started to breathe, our relationship started to die. I do not think that I have any higher calling than to be the writer that I am, because people are starting to notice even though I don’t write for them. I write for me. Accolades are great, but I don’t need them. I need this space, this repository, funny because that’s how you get software with Linux. The image in my head is that each little entry is a package.

“sudo add-apt-repository ppa:leslie’sfeelings”

Little morsels of my day that get stored away for other people to download. And it’s an even funnier analogy to say that my packages are broken, because you have no idea what horrible gut-wrenching pain broken packages cause to a Linux box if you don’t have one.

The hardest part is mourning the future that didn’t happen. The future that was full of kids and grandkids and sitting on the porch together as little old ladies, or chasing each other around the nursing home. As I have said before, I love Dana more than air. I am not to the point where I can say I loved her like that. Past tense is the easiest way to get tears to fall, and they are threatening now. I want to love her with that intensity, and because she does not return it, there is a Dana-sized hole in my heart, and if you know her, you know how big that hole is. Her personality is just enormous, and I learned to love her flaws, which is the best thing you can hope for in a marriage and in moments, it was perfectly pure and the best definition that marriage could offer. In the deepest recesses of my soul, I need her. I convince myself all day, every day that I don’t. But I’m not there yet. In my smallest, softest voice, I know how utterly I fucked up that relationship. I know it was a two-way street, but I tend to take on way more than is rightfully mine, and I torture myself over things that may or may not be my fault. It doesn’t matter now. I can choose to take on what I will and what I won’t. When I am not feeling the depths of my grief, I know that it was a mutual blessing and releasing. That I wasn’t the same person she agreed to marry and in her words, I was “too much to handle.” She needed to step away every bit as much as I did. In my darkest moments, anything and everything that went wrong is something for which I am responsible, and the feeling in the pit of my stomach is utter and complete chaos.

How could I have been so stupid? How could I have been so careless? How could I have listened more and talked less? How could I have fixed this relationship so that it didn’t ever die? In retrospect, I see that living with me was every bit as difficult as living with an addict in the last years of our relationship, because something broke inside me and I just started vomiting all the emotions I’d been holding inside since I was a teenager. I could see all the way down to my damaged core, and exactly how my abuse affected me in a way that I couldn’t see before. I dove into myself, and I shut out the one person that could have made it better….. and alternatively, I talked about myself so much that I couldn’t see that she needed to talk about herself, too…. but she didn’t. Maybe she thought that I was in a place where I couldn’t listen. I would like to think that wasn’t true, but maybe it was. I felt that I was listening, I just didn’t agree with her. I think she thought her opinions didn’t matter, when I hung on her every word…. I just couldn’t bring myself to say she was right, because she wasn’t. She was making assumptions that weren’t correct, and I couldn’t give in. Without even meaning to, I set myself up to be right and alone. I’d found my North Star, my true personal compass, and I could not give in and let her be right to keep the peace. My own rule in marriage is that it is better to give in and be together than right and alone….. and yet, there were some things that were just dealbreakers with me.

I agreed to be Argo’s friend, and she agreed to be mine. We broke each other’s hearts in that pact more than once, because I had to deal with my own shit. I was in over my head because her words got under my skin in a way that no one else’s ever had or will. In the end, it was a dealbreaker to me that Dana couldn’t give me the space to get over whatever it was that made my friendship with Argo feel like romantic love and get it back on track to the friendship we agreed to in the first place….. I went to God in desperation, because it was getting harder and harder to look at myself in the mirror anymore. I did not want to be that person, and I needed time to get back into my body and figure out what was real and what wasn’t.

So I did what I always do in those situations. I ran. Dana manipulated me into thinking there might be hope while at the same time reassuring everyone else it was over, and I couldn’t take it. When I started to pick up my toys, I realized that I was not running from anything. I was running towards and running back all at the same time. I forgive, but I do not forget that Argo screwed me to the wall emotionally over it, and I can only hope that since I’ve been here for months cultivating old relationships and beginning new ones she will see that I am not that interested in creating any relationship she doesn’t want to have. I’m just around. The buzz then was that I was trying to be some sort of creepy stalker, when in reality, all I wanted was my old life back. Because I decided to hospitalize myself in order to get myself stabilized, everything was blown out of proportion and I felt more worthless than I’d ever felt in my life.

After I got out of the hospital, I had another suicidal episode because the people I considered my world thought of me as a monster instead of just leslie. I was in my smallest emotional place, begging for support and lashing out at the same time. I didn’t get better all at once. It was one day at a time, and I was more miserable and afraid than I’d ever been, mostly because I knew I was unlovable, or at least, not worthy of any. I pushed Argo away the worst, and the words I said to do it haunt my dreams, because I am normally so easygoing and affable that those words seem like they came from someone else… and they did. I wasn’t in my right mind, destroyed by my own anger at seeing myself for who I really was- an abused kid who’d never really taken care of her shit because she didn’t know where to look. Argo scratched all my wounds open and I just cracked. I couldn’t handle the damage that had been done to me because I’d been keeping it in a locked box, and when it opened, Pandora had nothing on me.

It took time for me to recover, and with them, it ran out. They wanted to believe that this Pandora’s Box was my true personality, instead of one that was waiting to be freed, lifted out of me so that I didn’t act and react like that anymore. I should have unleashed on a therapist instead of my loved ones, but I didn’t. I have so many regrets that sometimes I am paralyzed by them, and sometimes, I can put them away and focus on “what’s next, Mrs. Landingham?”

I am not the person that I was then. I came back into my body and got grounded again when I fell into my “host family,” as Pri Diddy has named them. I got grounded when I had Pri-Diddy around me for real, and meeting Elena and hanging out with both of them has been the highlight of starting the setting down of roots, even as they begin their travels. Pri and I have been friends for so long that I know I’ll miss getting to hug her, but we are still connected in the cloud, as we always have been.

My standards for myself are impeccable. I am now trying to walk humbly and make my word my bond. I am trying to re-wire years and years of subterfuge. I have lost enough, and for me, the only way to build myself up is to dive into the wreck. It hurts like hell. It burns my skin and makes my stomach hurt. But the truth will set me free. I have hopes and dreams for the future, because I know that I have a lot to pay forward. So many people have jumped in and helped me through my grief, and I wish that money were no object so that I could lavish them with gifts, because no matter where our relationship stands now, there is nothing I want more than to show gratitude for the past.

The past is what brought me here, to this time and place, the one where I have a steady job that pays me what I’m worth and a family that looks out for me because my bio family is so far away. I miss them every day, and yet, I cannot go back… or at least, I cannot right now. I do not want to feel the pain of being in the same city with Dana knowing that she won’t go with me for a beer. I do not want to feel the pain of reliving my abuse and the recovery from it. I remember clearly driving to my first psych appointment with a new therapist, and discovering that I was a block and a half from Diane’s old house and not even wanting to get out of the car, I was so ensconced in my own head. Moving to Houston was a brilliant idea right up until it wasn’t. I had to abort the mission, or maybe it just ended.

I am broken, and trying my best to glue the pieces back together. It is painstaking work, but here it is. Day by day. One blog entry at a time. A package for you to download, just like I do.

I just feel like I am vibrating with pain, because grief is so weird. It’s never in the right order and there are days when I am on top of the world and a minute later, I feel bereft. But that is the process. I am on track, as winding as it might be. I want to find someone to be with that I actually like, and by that, I mean that I am with me all the time and I want us to be good. Because there’s always that part of you that comments on you, and I want that part of me to be proud.

Amen.