Monthly Archives: February 2016

The Last Week

By the next work week, I’ll be driving either to work or to the Park & Ride. I can’t decide which is better, because I have come to love my time on the train. It’s basically the only social interaction I get that I truly enjoy. These orange-juice-glass deep relationships are fun, because I get to talk to someone for a few minutes and then switch to the Orange Line and start all over. Driving to Silver Spring station will still give me at least 45 minutes off my commute, because then I won’t have to wait for the bus. I’ll also be able to return to Starbucks easier, because the store is actually connected to one of the Metro entrances. Other days, I know I’ll choose to sleep in and take the freeway. I’m counter-flow traffic, so 20 minutes is not that bad. I can leave my house by 8:30 and still be there in plenty of time. I’m also excited about getting Maryland license plates, because honestly, I think they’re cooler than Virginia. I really want DC, but I don’t live there. The license plates in DC (at least some of them) actually No Taxation Without Representation, the rallying cry for DC… plus, I love the flag.

One of the tattoos I really want is the logo for Sticky Fingers bakery, because instead of bars under the stars, it’s a rolling pin and a spoon. As a former line cook, it speaks to me more than just about any DC symbol I’ve ever seen. But there are more important tattoos I want to get, first. I want a small dragon encircling my dragonfly, with fire singing every part of it until it’s as black as my heart where that tattoo is concerned. In fact, I had a designer draw it up, but I’ve changed my mind as to the look. I want it to be circular, kind of like the Firefox/Thunderbird logo.

I doubt I will actually get it, but I also thought about great tattoos for my ankles. Check it out- one for all four sides- an old school Mac computer, the Windows 3.1 logo, Tux, and the BSD devil. Is that not fantastic? I’d probably do it as a charm bracelet on one ankle if that kind of tattoo wasn’t so terribly cliche. It’s the ankle bracelet and the tramp stamp, the white girl dyad… but especially the Mac tattoo, an ancient SE. That was my computer in late high school/college, because I needed a word processor without ANY way to connect to the Internet. I mean, really. What writer can go five minutes now without checking Facebook… especially now that Chrome has introduced those ridiculous desktop notifications. I’ve blocked them, because they’re just too distracting.

But back to the whole tattoo thing. I get them because they are the best conversation starters EVAH. Especially with my $1.83 tattoo, people *love* that story and sometimes people tear up when I get to the part about Bill emptying his pockets. I’ve also decided that after my dragon tattoo, I’m probably not going to add anything to my back, because I enjoy looking at them just as much as everyone else. I need to get my quill cleaned up, and maybe I’ll do that first, because it’s the cheapest. I just want some white added to soften it up, and the blood red has faded over time.

I also have a lot of quotes that would be good, but I don’t trust tattoo artists with fonts. I know you can’t imagine why. I would be paranoid the entire time that the kerning wouldn’t be right, the artist would have no idea how much fonts matter, etc. If I *did* get a quote, it would probably be from Doctor Who- “we’re all stories in the end… make it a good one.” I might be paraphrasing, but you get the general idea.

I am actually writing on the train with my Bluetooth keyboard and it feels so good. It’s the first time I’ve ever done it, and I have no idea why I never thought of it before. Mostly because normally the train is so full that I don’t have room to pull it out. However, if I get to the train a little before 8:00, the train is usually not jam-packed the way it is at 8:30…. another reason to only drive to the Park & Ride. Getting my writing time in before work is still important to me, and if I don’t have time to make it to SBUX, this is a great alternative. Plus, my gas will last so much longer. Just not sure how much it would cost to double up on my transporation budget. I need to run the numbers. However, transportation, soda, and sandwiches are really the only thing I ever spend money on, except for the few gifts I’ve bought for friends lately (BRYN, I STILL NEED YOUR ADDRESS!). Amazon is just too easy. I have my Smile account set to donate to Doctors Without Borders, so not only do my friends get presents, so does my favorite non-profit on earth.

You can set your Smile account to several non-profits if Medicin Sans Frontieres (sp?) isn’t your thing, but it’s mine. If I’d become a doctor or a nurse, there’s a large chance I would have just taken off with them. I want adventure in my life, because I feel like now I’m ready to broaden my horizons.

That will happen in March when my friend Scott comes to visit. I am getting SO excited to pick him up at the airport, because I am sure it will be a mixture of going out for socializing and meeting “famous” people…. even if they are Republicans. 😛 Just because I’m a yellow-dog Democrat doesn’t mean I am immune to wanting to meet people that influence politics, whether they’re right or wrong. Because you know what I’ll do. I’ll smile and be charming in front of them, and then come home and tell you every little bit of dirt I remember.

The only time I’ve ever been “caught” writing about politics was on my old blog, Clever Title Goes Here, when I wrote a scathing review of the Democratic Party, including the words “Harry Reid needs to step the fuck up.” I got a comment from the DNCC saying, “we will take your observations under consideration.” I freaked the fuck out, because it was the best and the worst thing that had ever happened to me. It’s always intimidating to run into people you’ve talked smack about on a national level. Maybe that’s why I shy away from politics now. If I write about my friends, I have the chane to make amends or I don’t… they just walk away because they know that if they are a part of my life, they are a part of my writing. It’s just who I am, and I cannot take anything back. I can only try to present them as the three-dimensional characters that they are… the love and the difficulties, real love, painful and true, honest and real.

If I ever picked a fight with someone in politics, intelligence, etc., I might end up on a radar that never ends. I don’t want to end up on some kind of shitty list I can’t get off of because one offense leads to being watched, and I’m not interested. Getting sued is not my bag, baby. I don’t mean any harm. I’m just telling my story and hoping that it resonates with people. I have friends in the hacker community who have gotten on that radar, and their stories are cautionary tales.

And this tale is now finished, because I’m at my stop. 🙂

That’s What Family Does

I didn’t bite the bullet and get a car on my own. I didn’t even think I wanted one until I got a call from my sister, who said that my dad had gotten a new car, so he was letting her take over the payments on his car, and wanted to know if I wanted hers.

Ummm, yes.

Not only is it a manual transmission, a total theft-deterrent device because I’m old and young people don’t DO stick shifts, it’s a hatchback. Literally the car I would have been looking for had I wanted to buy on my own. And, as a total Dr. Who reference, it’s a 2007 Yaris… bigger on the inside. I will become, as my friend John says, a “Yarisian.”

It was enough to make me tear up, because when it arrives, it will still smell like her. It will still smell like home. My dad was so funny, because he called me and asked me what kind of lunch meat I would like in the trunk. If you are not familiar, there’s a thing in our family that I named “Lanagan Lunchmeat Syndrome,” because when I lived in Alexandria, my dad sent me an old Mercedes. I drove it around for six weeks not knowing what the smell was, and I finally took the liner out of the trunk and found a pound of sliced turkey that had probably fallen out of a grocery bag in 1999.

Lindsay came to visit Kathleen and me when my mother’s choir was singing at Carnegie Hall so that we could have a night in DC and then road trip up to NYC the next morning. She was eating a sandwich, and six weeks later, I found half of it under the driver’s seat.

When I moved to Portland, I had a Saturn that was killing me on payments, so I sent the car to my sister, Caitlin. I went eight months without a car, and then my dad sent me his old car, a Ford Focus, complete with a hot dog in the back seat.

Then, when I upgraded to my Jeep, Dana left a Subway sandwich in my center console…. but thank God it was still wrapped. I wasn’t so lucky with Lindsay. 😛

It hearkens back to my early childhood, when my mom, dad, and toddler Lindsay were taking a road trip to visit my grandparents in NE Texas. Lindsay, from the back seat, was feeding my dad Nacho Cheese Doritos. He ate three or four of them and then remembered we hadn’t stopped for snacks or anything, so he said, “Lindsay, where are you getting these Doritos?” “Off the floor,” she replied. My dad said, “LINDSAY!” She said, “Daaaad. It’s ok. I checked ’em on both sides and they’re not dirty.” That’s my Lindsay. She has been a cutup ever since she learned to talk. Hasn’t changed much in that department, and her Kate McKinnon impression is so good it will leave you in stitches. My favorite is when she does Kate playing the mom playing “Grand Theft Auto.” She is literally my favorite person on earth, and we’re going to have lunch the next time she’s here for a conference in Annapolis. That is something for which I am having trouble waiting.

Lindsay had a thing when the driver was ready to load up my car, so Matt (her husband) took care of it. I called him and thanked him for blessing me over and over, and he said, “that’s what family does.” I teared up a little and knew he was right. I can’t wait until I am in the position to return the favor. I have sent very small gifts to my friends for their patience with me as I’ve begun this journey toward wholeness, but I want to do more than that. If I won the lottery, which is impossible because I don’t play, I would buy houses and cars for everyone that has stuck with me over these past few years, because that is what they deserve. I hope the sentiment counts, because I am so grateful… beyond belief, really. I have not been in a space to give back much, because I had (have) so much work to do on myself before my cup was full enough to give to others.

When I was in the thick of my mental illness, I think people thought I was some kind of borderline personality, incapable of seeing anyone but myself. This is the furthest thing from the truth. I care so much it hurts. But when you get down to a place where you can’t even function, it’s hard to care about anything but sleeping to get away from the madness. My life had become so small, so insular, that I realized I was on a path of total destruction, and in Argo and Dana’s case, mutually assured.

Speaking of Dana, I wrote to her and told her it was time to get a divorce. All we need to do is file the paperwork with Multnomah county. She’s going to take care of it and send me a copy. If I don’t contest it, the marriage is dissolved. I hope the state of Vermont is just as easy, because I want to be truly divorced from Kathleen as well. The legal advice I got back in the day was just to let it go… we didn’t live there, so why bother? Because gay marriage is legal in all 50 states, I don’t want to run the risk of wanting to get married again later in life and being stopped because I’m still married to someone else. Honestly, gay marriage being nationally legal is something that never would have occurred to me in this lifetime… especially since when I came out, there were still so many people that thought of it as a disease, or a sin that could be corrected, ignoring the truth of the matter. The truth is that I couldn’t be heterosexual any more than I could suddenly start writing with my left hand the rest of my life.

Could I marry a man? Maybe. But I wouldn’t be completely happy because I wouldn’t be true to myself. I’m just not wired that way… and thanks to the Supreme Court, I don’t have to be.

That being said, I have no room in my life for romance… not yet. I am not healthy enough for anything but beginning good, solid friendships that will sustain me until I am ready.

Because that’s what family does.

One More Day…

I’m listening to the Argo playlist on Spotify, the songs I listened to the most when I realized that I couldn’t be friends with a woman that excited me and be married to someone else at the same time. The fact that Argo has never and will never reciprocate those feelings was irrelevant to me. I didn’t much care what her reaction was, I cared what it was doing to me… and actually, I did care what it was doing to her to be apart from me, because she invested in a friendship and thought I was needlessly throwing it away, tossing it like it was nothing.

She wasn’t physically there to see my reaction to those words, which was basically days and days of feeling like crap and not knowing what to do about it. I was such a sook, and I look back and feel sorry that Dana and Aaron had to deal with my bullshit. I cried like a baby, truly. I needed her friendship. I honestly did. But not in all ways, because when she made me go starry-eyed, it wasn’t mutual, and it wasn’t safe for me keep diving into her, because her words created different reactions in me than mine created in her. The more she opened up to me, the more I wanted to be her person, the one that fixed everything with emotional band-aids and sent her back into her physical world.

But in my physical world, I already had a person, and she had me. I’d made promises, and I meant them. I couldn’t wander too far from my marriage vows, and yet, I did- not physically, but emotionally, because, well, because I wanted to and I was an impulsive jackass at times… and yet, not, because there are emotional layers I am not willing to unpack here. There were reasons I strayed emotionally that I won’t talk about, because to talk about them is to betray someone I love, and whether we are speaking or not, love will never be past tense. But it’s the right kind of love, now. I just had to find it first.

I originally told her about my attraction to her for two reasons. The first is that I thought we’d meet on the ground someday, and I wanted her to be sensitive to it. I’ve said this before, but I didn’t want a situation where she didn’t know she was capable of turning me on and tripping over a land mine. To me, it was fair warning. Full disclosure, no bullshit.

Secondly, I didn’t need her to be attracted to me. I needed compassion… maybe a story about how someone turned her head when it shouldn’t have, etc. A classic “love’s a bitch sometimes” kind of story…. mostly because I wanted her to know that I thought of my feelings for her as inconvenient and, frankly, stupid. But sometimes your heart makes connections without asking your brain first, and your heart betrays you, because you can fight logic all day long. Fighting emotion is useless.

My heart was hurting, because I had to say no to Argo’s friendship in order to say yes to marriage, because when I was “in the cloud,” I was ignoring everything on the ground.

And then I couldn’t make it stick. I missed Argo’s words and reestablished contact before I was truly ready, so there were several more instances of feeling like I was touching a live wire and living to tell about it.

I couldn’t cry in front of Aaron and Dana, so mostly I cried while I was driving myself to and from work. I wasn’t crying because Argo didn’t return my affections. I was the perfect picture of David, the prime minister  in Love Actually who, when he first sees one of his staff, his head tilts and says, “ohhhhh, that’s inconvenient.” I was punishing myself because I knew it was my shit to own and get rid of, and music is how I did it.

It’s a lot of high energy stuff, because I didn’t want to cry anymore. I wanted to take those high-dopamine feelings and use them as an injection of happiness into my day. My heart beat like an 808 drum, and I tried to use that happiness to keep me floating…. and it worked, for a while.

And then my happiness began to fade, because Dana did not see how driven I was to make our relationship right again.

I remember pulling into the parking lot at Alert Logic, Wilson Phillips blasting, losing my shit. Hold on for one more day? Could you shorten it to an hour? Tears rushing down my face in utter helplessness.

This deserves further investigation, but i don’t have time to unpack it all. I’ve got to get back to work. But I will tell you that the song that is playing right now is “DC Sleeps Tonight” by The Postal Service.

It’s a song that expresses something to both Argo and Dana…. I am finally seeing… I was the one worth leaving….

I needed time to get it together. I need time. I will need time.

And now, I have it.

I’m sure we’ll talk more about this later. My mind is buzzing.

One Hundred and Crazy Percent

Today, the memory that Facebook presented from last year was the first day of my hospitalization, where so many of you poured out your love and support and told me that you were glad I’d gotten the help I needed. I have so many stories from those days, probably enough to write a book, but I’d rather put everything here. There’s something comforting about having my own space and no editors. I’ve made lots of typos, grammatical errors, and run-ons… and still you show up. To me, it’s kind of like making an MTV Unplugged album every day.

I would be remiss not to remember Argo on this day, because it was her words that finally got me off my ass; why do you expect everyone else to fix you? That’s easy, really. I didn’t know I could. I didn’t know how to take power into my own hands, because I’d never done it before. It was the beginning of learning to adult hardcore, because sometimes part of being an adult is realizing that in order to get your shit together, you have to fall apart.

When I first began to see down into the core of my abuse, I was just vomiting emotions everywhere. The Divine Mrs. B and Argo jumped in with their superpowers, because I wasn’t worried for me. I was worried for Dana… that I was too much for her to handle and I needed other people to look after her because I was too wrapped up in my own healing to give anything to anyone else. I felt like I was constantly pouring from an empty cup and I was in no shape to be a wife.I wanted Dana to feel like she had a safe place to fall to talk about me, because I knew she’d need an outlet and might not necessarily ask for one herself.

Because of the way we were raised, our Classic Response™ was to use the buttons on our clothes to hold in our feelings… and then I came along and was all like, “fuck that shit, I am going down and I cannot hide it anymore.” My parents were out of town and dealing with their own enormous amount of shit, which is why I called on my friends instead of them. I am sure they would have wanted to know what was going on, but the stress of adding things onto their plates was heart-wrenching to me, and when I asked my friends to jump in, they fucking did. In a hot second. During that time, Argo and I barely went an hour without checking in, and Mrs. B had the most sound advice I’d ever heard if I could just put it into practice- “just stop caring.” That I was the kind of person who cared way too much and if I could let go of caring for Diane and try to get angry (as I’d needed to do for years) it would help.

In short, it did.

I tapped into my rage, obviously and somewhat viciously. I will never forget the e-mail that I got from Argo after I posted that link: “I heard the sonic boom after your last post.” There is also another piece to the puzzle, and I will not name her because she is a mutual friend, who said that I should get angry, should name, not because I was angry, but because it was the right thing to do.

I also had another friend that carried me through that time in my life, but we aren’t friends anymore, and don’t think I don’t care about it. She was my “little buddha,” injecting calm into the storm, but I fucked that relationship all to hell and I miss her a little each day, wishing I could reach out and knowing I shouldn’t, because it wouldn’t bring her any peace. She told me she was pulling chalks (or something like that… I have no idea what it meant, but one of my strong points is context clues…. I knew what she meant, anyway.).

It was, as Argo said, “realizing the common denominator was me,” and trying to get all the help I needed to be able to survive this massive amount of trauma I’d been dealt and just kept sweeping under the rug, because I was gaslit so successfully that I thought Diane was right. I was just crazy. Nothing happened that was untoward or inappropriate, I just couldn’t get over her.

Getting over her was relative. I stopped having romantic feelings for her in the late ’90s, but I wanted the family she said we were, while at the same time trying to push me away as quickly as she possibly could. It was a paradox I could not handle. For instance, when I was 18, Diane wanted me to come and live with her so that I could get out of the Bible Belt and go to school at Portland State. When I talked to her partner, Susan, she said that Diane had told her that she thought “when I was 18, I’d just go away.” It was interesting, because Susan has a son, and when I met him, I instantly thought of him as a brother, because I thought I was part of Diane’s package as well.

But I wasn’t. I just thought I was. We took a road trip together, getting to know each other in a family sort of way, and yet, after that, it never gelled in the way I thought it was going to go. Too much sludge in my soul to come clean, too meek not to just go with the flow.

The title comes from a Facebook post, where I told Dana I loved her “100 and crazy percent.” It’s the way I felt one year ago today about myself.

And on that note, it’s time to get to work.

Much love and hopes for a great day for you all.



So. Full.

I bought some Marie Callender frozen meals to take to work. I know it’s processed food, but I figured it was better than going through a drive-thru. Today it was turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and carrots. Then, I had two donuts for dessert in addition to the one I ate when I got here. I’m planning on taking a long walk later. I needed food, especially sugar, because I am absolutely dragging ass. This morning I woke up at 0430, raring to go, but then I decided to sleep another hour and a half, and then I couldn’t move. Seriously, getting up was equal to the task of nailing Jell-O to a wall. I don’t know where my 0430 energy went, but it left and was replaced by a hungover malaise from my sleeping pills. I finally got out of bed at 8:15, ordered an Uber, and threw on my clothes. I put all my pills in my backpack and took them in the car. I got here just fine, but I wish I had taken all my 0430 energy and run with it. I could have made it to Starbucks by 0600 and settled into a semblance of routine.

I do not know why when I was unemployed, I was so anal-retentive about my schedule and now I’m not. Perhaps it’s that I spend so much time at the office that I feel I need every ounce of the time I’m not there. However, it would have been nice to have a shower this morning. I got a new Axe fragrance (body wash, not cologne) that smells like rosemary. It’s called Deep Space, and I’m pretty sure they don’t make it anymore, but it’s still in a few stores. I like Axe body wash because it smells so good and the fragrance lasts all day, so there’s no need for cologne/perfume/etc. I am also a huge fan of Dark Temptations, which has notes of chocolate and vanilla and whatever the hell it is they put in Obsession. Yes, I said it. Obsession.

That just took me to a very dark place. Diane wore (and probably still does) Obsession for every moment we were in the same room, and over time, it became the scent of home. When she walked into a room, the scent took me back to the bell tables at St. Mark’s, where we would share secrets and long, comforting hugs.

I choose to remember those moments as “home,” because when I don’t, I want to break stuff (it’s all about the she said she said bullshit).

I like having a note of Obsession in my cologne because it reminds me of that time in my life, and feels like home to me now. It’s like an homage, similar to Basie quoting Ellington or similar.

Recovering from all of this still leaves me in a weird “I’m sort of ok about it but I still want to kick her ass into next week” sort of place. But my goal is to take away rage, not add to it. I’d only be going back on my word that I want peace, and anger would only set me back even further in my recovery.

I really miss Sarah, and I need to find a therapist that can meet after work. I’ve got so much to do in terms of working on myself that I don’t want to abandon it. PTSD is real, and it wires my reactions in ways that I never would have even thought. For a lot of people, it is the key that unlocks their personality, and I am no exception. Until you understand where I’ve walked, you cannot understand me.

And if you cannot understand where I’ve walked, just the want to is enough.


Pizza and Coke

There really are a lot of perks where I work. For instance, there was pizza delivered for lunch. Afterward, I wanted something sweet and realized I didn’t have any chocolate, so I decided a Coke would have to do. It’s been a very long time since I’ve had a real Coke, loaded with ice like every Texan ever…. except in Texas, the type of Coke would be a Dr Pepper… we just don’t have any. Such a pity. Samantha thinks that it’s probably my blood type…. and she might be right.

Although since I’ve moved here, I’ve started buying the generic sodas at Giant, because I like the fruit ones without caffeine. They’re killing me, though, because the last two times I’ve been there, the diet grape has been out. Right now I have diet cola with lime (which turned out to be really good and doesn’t taste like Pledge™), diet root beer, and diet orange.

The diet orange tastes like diabetes.

I also bought a mixed case of Zevia when it was on sale at Whole Foods, because I had never seen it so cheap and probably wouldn’t again.Dr Zevia is quite tasty, and I’m glad that I don’t have any in my fridge because I am sure that the amount I drink of it is unhealthy entirely.

I also found Diet Gosling’s at Wegman’s, and oh my fuck. It is everything I have ever wanted in a soda. I’m getting a jones right now. I wonder if I could con someone into driving me.

I talk about diet soda a lot because it’s my only true vice. I only drink alcohol occasionally, because I’ve had my fill. When I was at Biddy’s, we used to get one shift drink every night, and I used it to try everything in the bar. I never ordered the same thing twice.The other fun night was when we found a cheat sheet of cocktail recipes behind the cash register and started trying those. The best one I found was called a “Pineapple Bomb.” 1 oz Southern Comfort, 1 oz Amaretto, 5 oz pineapple juice.

Treat yo’self.

For the record, I hate Southern Comfort, but it’s good in this.

The surprise in the bar was that my favorite turned out to be currant vodka and 7-up, or Tullamore Dew and soda with a bit of cherry juice to bring out the undertones of the whiskey.

I am a great mixologist, and I like to play around. But if I had to choose what Katt Williams calls “a drank, and a backup drank,” it would be Old Overholt and Jack Daniels. It’s best for your backup drink to be something everyone carries.

I drink both with a tablespoon of water to let it bloom.

And for those of you in Houston who like this sort of thing, Spec’s has a house brand of coconut rum that I used to drink straight out of the freezer, because it makes a coconut slushie. Tread carefully. Your ex doesn’t care about you, and no, you cannot do a handstand.

Going straight edge with the occasional drink has been the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. I used to have a drink every night after work, which invariably turned into two or three over the course of the evening, just laughing and talking with friends. It wasn’t enough to make me drunk over that period of time, but it affected the way my medication worked and I wasn’t sensitive to it when I clearly should have been.

Now, I feel better. Just don’t take away my diet soda. I will cut a bitch.

One of Us

Our divorce announcement was the first thing I saw when I logged into Facebook this morning, and because I’d written about it yesterday, it did not make me as angry and sad as I thought it would. It’s like the post yesterday helped let out some of the air in my tires. But I still need some tea for this one. Irish Breakfast. I’m not fucking around here.

Hold please.

The tea that I made is very, very strong… and that’s the way I like it. Steeped for a very long time with lots of Splenda and CoffeeMate. It’s what’s called a “Builder’s Brew,” which is basically “it’ll put hair on your chest,” in the words of my friend Dianne Maurice. I’ve already had plenty of caffeine, but I don’t write well without a cup of tea beside me, and this entry requires writing well… or at least, to the best of my ability… which is slowly coming along. I think.

Dana usually called me “her beloved,” which I believe she picked up from my grandfather, who has called my grandmother that for years and years. They’ve never met, which is such a pity because it would explain a lot. 😛 My grandfather and I share a lot of the same characteristics, like a walk passed down from him to my father to me. Sam says that I “walk heavy,” and she can always tell when I’m in the house. It’s true.

It is also true that Dana looks like my grandmother in certain pictures, especially when “Nanny” was young- something I noticed long after we met and comforting when I figured it out. Over time, Dana became a Lanagan through and through, even picking up our special language, McLanamese. It’s a combination of all our last names- McCain, McMenemy, and Lanagan. There are certain phrases we’ve used over and over, since I was a teen, really… because if something is funny once, it’s funny a thousand times. Dana would slay me every time she used a “Lanaganism,” because it just proved to me that she wasn’t just my wife. She was a daughter-in-law, a sister-in-law, and an aunt to the cutest child on the planet.

However, in my family, we do not use qualifiers like “step” and “in-law.” For instance, Lindsay’s husband is not my brother-in-law, but my brother. I use them here to explain the legal family relationship, but she was a daughter, a sister, just like me. In some ways, and I’m not sure that this is a joke, my family liked her better than me… or at least, it seemed that way to me, and it made me happy. It just showed me that she was “one of us.” In that way, it is the biggest loss I’ve ever faced. Grief flows from me like a running river, because I didn’t just lose a partner. I lost a member of my family.

As an aside, the phrase “legal family relationship” reminds me of Counselor. She used to give lectures on how to get temporary restraining orders to battered women, and one of the funniest things about it was that she had to explain that you could put “husband” or “boyfriend,” but BABY DADDY IS NOT A LEGAL RELATIONSHIP. It put Dana and I into fits, and it was one of those phrases that just came up over and over… you know, because if it’s funny once, it’s funny a THOUSAND times.

I am writing all of this down to show that to me, Dana is not a person. She’s an event. My dad said that about Diane to me when I was a kid, and I instantly knew what he meant… that when I looked at Diane, I saw her in her current iteration, and every iteration that came before it.

When I met Dana, I thought she was the most obnoxious person I’d ever met in my life, and as I have said before, I looked at Diane and said, “Who. Is. That. Woman. That. Accents. Every. Word!” It wasn’t until Dana invited me into her silence that I began to love her for all she is worth, which is a whole hell of a lot. She was my world, in the very best sense of the word. In a way, we were perfect for each other, because we both had these faces that we presented to the rest of the world, and the people we were one-on-one. I learned that Dana was very different- quieter, smaller, still. And by smaller, I mean guided by the smallest part of her spirit she could find, rather than being the biggest personality in the room. I began to wish that more people could see the Dana I saw, and we had a code for it. When she was overacting like Shatner, I could lean forward and whisper, “dial it back, Dana.”

Alternatively, she could do the same for me in different ways. I am quiet and solitary to a fault as I grow older, and there is only so much togetherness I can take. Dana could tell with one look when I was done, and would start saying her goodbyes. It was marvelous having someone not afraid to run interference.

So when I think of Dana, I can see galaxies. I see her for who she is, and who she was, and I cry my eyes out thinking about the fact that I will not see her as she will be, which I have always thought was an amazing person, full in herself. Because of the way we both behaved, I don’t believe either one of us has the right to ask for forgiveness and reconciliation, not because I have the potential to act the same as I am, but because we might lapse back into old patterns and the progress we’ve made might get lost in the shuffle.

We might make good buddies, but we can’t. We just can’t. I cannot bear the thought of watching her love someone else in front of me, and I cannot speak to her future, but I can speak to the past, that when I’ve had girlfriends and Dana has filled the best friend role, she was jealous to a fault… and huge turf wars ensued. I can say for myself that the same thing would happen with me. We have so many old inside jokes that it would destroy me not to have her by my side.

It’s something that I should have known when I told her about my feelings for Argo. Period. The turf war began in her own mind, because Argo was never in the game. As I have said before, the main idea in crushing out on Argo was because it couldn’t go anywhere, and I felt safe in the knowing of it. I’d never kept anything a secret from Dana, and I didn’t think this one was one I should hold, either, because talking about it helped it to go away… until Dana became convinced that Argo was a threat because of all the truth we’d shared with each other… that Argo would fall in love with me regardless of orientation and gender. It was never true, not ever, but it seemed true to her and that was what mattered. I think I have said this before, that I shared that information with Argo, saying, “how I have that much power, I do not know.” It is true that I told Argo to relax, that I just wanted to flirt with her in a non-threatening way, and I opened the door to something I never should’ve in a million years… maybe two million… because Argo’s wordplay is sharper than mine, and without knowing it, she stepped over my comfort zone and I thought about those flirts for years… to the point where after I broke up with Dana, I had to know the truth, because Dana’s words had gotten under my skin. I took my shot with her, and I lost… but that didn’t mean I loved her any less. It wouldn’t have been fair not to love her for exactly who she is, and not some cocked up story.

My line was always that I wanted Dana to be my “I want to scratch my nails down your back” girlfriend and Argo to be my “wine and yoga pants” girlfriend- and never the twain shall meet… and I lost both of those chances when I lashed out at both of them, unreasonably so, because I did not have the tools to deal with what I was feeling. I had all the emotional tools to deal with other people’s problems when they put them in front of me, but I could not turn around and use that toolbox on myself. It is my life’s work to figure out how.

The dream of this church, St. James and All Sinners, is real… but I need to figure out my own mental shit before I can take on the responsibility of caring for others all the time. As I wrote to Susan, “I need to work on myself because pastors sometimes show up at the worst times in people’s lives. I want to feel everything, and have enough clinical separation that I am not carrying other people’s problems when I get home.” St. James is just another reason I miss Dana desperately, because she was willing to go the extra mile and become the partner I needed in ministry. Her ability to listen without trying to fix anything became a lifeline.

I met another woman at a Meetup that scared me to the point that I never called her back when she reached out to me the next morning… I just ghosted because in my mind, she was perfect for me. She’d been a church secretary for almost 25 years, and knew how to build a church from the ground up. I was still licking my wounds with Dana and Argo, and it was the last thing I needed, to feel the dopamine rush of “new relationship.” I took her goodnight kiss with me, and it fed my ego mightily, because I knew that I was attractive to someone else. But I couldn’t in good conscience drag someone else into the morass I was facing. Dana was still everything to me, and going into a new relationship would have taken away my focus on erasing that fact.

And Argo would never tell you this herself, but she is gorgeous. Just the type of goddess where if she asked you to jump naked and backwards off a diving board singing the “Star Spangled Banner” you’d do it or die trying. The dopamine rush of “new relationship” with her, no matter what it was, also had me dying inside for a while, because I’d pushed her away in the most ugly way possible. So out of character for me that I cannot help but cringe when I think of it. She thought I was angry that “I didn’t get my way,” but I never thought of it like that. I thought that I would regret it for the rest of my life if I never took my shot, and that even if I lost, it would have been heartbreaking not to ever have been brave enough to ask. Dana’s words resonated in me, hardcore, and I had to know for sure if Dana was right or wrong.

Dana was disastrously wrong, but I do not fault her for it. I take responsibility both for taking my shot (after Dana and I broke up), and the way I pushed Argo away with such vitriol. I knew that my attraction to her would not go away until she was out of my life completely (at least for a while), and I took the biggest and best shortcut to trying to push her away that my heart breaks at my own hand… just about every day, in fact.

The thing is that Argo would have ghosted had I just asked. I didn’t need to rage at her and try to make her feel like shit. It backfired in a major way, and that is all that needs to be said about that. It was a time in which I both needed her desperately as a sounding board and needed time to get my shit together before I could take down my protective walls with her. I was so utterly conflicted, confused, and angry.

I didn’t realize how much I needed medication to deal with anxiety, along with the protocol I was already taking. The medication does not deal with my mood and behavior- that is up to me and my therapist- but it does take away the impulsive fight-or-flight response to everything. It takes away the shortness of breath and the, as Nadia Bolz-Weber calls, “cortisol and sin” racing through my body when I feel anger.

I wish that Dana and Argo could both see me with different eyes, because when it was good, it was so, so good… and when it got bad, it was wicked.

If there is any hope at all in this garbage dump of a situation, it’s that this is not the end of our movie.

But it is for now.