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.