:::::::::PARTY ALERT:::::::::::::

Dana and I are getting married soon (obviously, QUITE soon), but we’re not going to do everything all at once. We’re going to go to the court house and get our legal benefits squared away immediately, then planning a wedding at Epiphany later. I cannot even. Oy the decisions. I am guessing that we will end up at a coffee shop/bar/restaurant/our backyard with food and drinks afterward. Let Dana and me know if you want to be on the txt distribution list for that and we’ll text you when we’re leaving for the courthouse. That way, you have enough time to get to our house/the meeting place by the time we’re done and can relax with “all y’all.”

Sometimes Facebook has a way of kicking me in the gut every morning. It will pass, but right now body memory is taking over and I remember exactly how I felt throughout this whole process. Soon, the memory will be our separation announcement, and even though it is here in the pensieve, it will still wake me up with sadness and rage when I see it pass by in the “memories” section that Facebook thinks is so cute.

What is so amazing is being able to go back to that memory on Facebook, and all the love that poured out for us as we began our new lives. At least 60 people expressed their sadness and their hope, and it meant the world to me. I didn’t think of it so much as an ending, but two new beginnings, and we both jumped at them. Dana found what she needed in Texas, because she didn’t have any memories attached to it save the ones we had together. I was haunted by a number of ghosts, most notably Diane’s, because learning who I was as an emotionally abused child made Houston the last place on earth I wanted to be every day. Houston had me emotionally regressing into the child I was, rather than the adult I wanted to be… which is why I think my moves to both DC and Portland fixed a lot of problems, because I was free to explore myself in a way that I couldn’t when I was so emotionally laden… until I realized that my relationship with Diane was never going to change, and in fact, our relationship had damaged me to a level even I couldn’t recognize, so I swept it under the rug for years and years until I came unglued. More than one of my friends, as I explained my teenage years, said, “are you kidding me? This IS sociopathic behavior.” At first, I couldn’t get angry with her. I recognized that if she indeed was sociopathic, that the break happened when she was a child, too. I blamed her abuser, instead of realizing that Diane needed to take responsibility for her own behavior…. which she has done with one e-mail and never face-to-face… and even the e-mail didn’t cover the extent of what I went through. It was basically, “I can see how some of those conversations might be confusing and upsetting to you.” Confusing and upsetting didn’t even begin to cover it. I was gaslit for years, with both Diane and her partner convincing me that I was just this kid with a crush who couldn’t age up. I was mentally unstable, and they were blameless.

I was mentally unstable, but they took no responsibility as to why.

Shame nearly killed me, because it was “all my fault.”

I wanted to marry Dana more than anything in the world, because I’d done it once already in the state of Oregon. I said the words I needed to say to ensure we’d be together forever, because I honestly and truly believed that we would. But as I began to see down to the core of my abused nature and just how much work I needed to do on myself, I realized that I’d jumped the gun in announcing that we were getting married, because Dana didn’t sign up to marry this version of me….. and that version is gone.

I am stronger and weaker than I’ve ever been. Some days, I am six feet tall and bulletproof. On others, I just need to hide under the covers. I am lonely, not for someone, but for her, and there is a huge difference. Someone to cuddle me and dry my tears would be a nice thing, but no one is her. In some ways, I will never get over it. In others, I am so glad she’s gone that tears of relief flow. I will never forget the moment my glasses smashed into my face and I crumpled on the floor with agony and broke up with her on the spot. I’d had about as much Dana as I could take, and I cannot speak for Dana, but I’m pretty sure she’d had all the Leslie she could take as well.

Neither of us had the emotional tools to deal with each other as we waged our own battles in our own minds. My head was in the clouds, because I wanted to be with Argo as much as I could to escape what was going on at home, and I don’t even mean that in a romantic way. We had our own language, our own emotional shorthand, and it was right and good. The idiocy of thinking that translated into romantic love is a mark left on me from childhood, and I had to learn to deal with it before I could move on.

We fought needlessly, all three of us, because I wanted to own my shit and get it right. I wanted to be married to Dana with romance and candles and “married” to Argo in loyalty and support, like all long-term close friends do. I once asked Argo what our relationship would look like in 20 years, and she told me that it was impossible to say, but hopefully strong and comfortable. I carried those words like a mantra, and destroyed them in one or two epic fights, going out of my mind with rage. But perhaps it was a gift from both of them to go it alone, and to figure out what I was going to do with me. I didn’t like me very much, and I took it out on both of them.

The reality of the situation was that I just wanted Dana and Argo to make room for each other so that I didn’t feel this constant tug-of-war between my love for both of them, outpouring in different ways. Dana told me that Argo would never see me as anything but a mental patient, and I hope that she was projecting things onto Argo that might be there and might not. What I do know is that Dana herself will always see me that way, because she has yet to own her part in all of this. The good news is that she doesn’t have to. I am far enough away from the situation to see that Dana doesn’t process the way I do, and she may never have words for me again.

One of the best examples of this is that I asked her if she could forgive me, and she said something very profound. She said, “I don’t even know myself well enough to know what you did and to figure out what I did, so forgiving you is impossible to say.” It was one of the best memories of our breakup, because those words really struck a chord with me, and I began to see her in a different light- that she was every bit as introspective as me, just not willing to let those feelings see air…. because perhaps to say it out loud makes it real, a mantra that Diane and I have had since I was little, and it is so true it hurts.

I hope that she is on her own journey now, and that the journey she’s taking brings her as much peace as the one I’ve taken alone. But it doesn’t erase my wish that there were do-overs and begin-agains. I have so many regrets, so much to work through, so much to let go before I can be the person God clearly wants me to be…. because what I have noticed is that God always calls the broken, and perhaps that is the point.

As I break open to let light in, all I want is peace. Ruminating over the end of my relationship with Dana brings me nothing but sadness, and I believe that I need to feel it. Really feel it. Get lost in it so that it doesn’t keep coming back to haunt me as I stuff it down and it comes up over and over later in life. I don’t want to seek someone else like her.

But I cannot say how utterly embarrassing it was for me to make this huge announcement on Facebook and then have to retract it. I felt like a huge failure, because I was the one that wrote an article on marriage that got shared all over the world and had I taken my own advice, I might not have felt so stupid now.

Believe me, I can solve all your problems in a hot minute. It’s solving my own that’s taking time.





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