SUIT UP!

I woke up so depressed that I thought I needed a mental health day, and in the end, just threw on my clothes and ran. My job is muscle memory, for the most part, and I decided that I could either feel like shit at home, or feel like shit at work. I chose…………. wisely. Argo sent me a note that said she was getting some blowback from people who wanted to make sure she was okay, as if I had something to do with blowing her cover. There’s only two people in the world that I’ve ever told who the nickname really is. One is Dana, and one is someone I thought was my friend, but as it turns out, not so much. I was pleading for help, years ago, where we’d gotten into this place where neither one of us were good for each other anymore, and I would have given a limb to make it right. So if anyone knows outside of them, I didn’t tell them, and in my humble experience Dana can’t keep a secret to save her life. This is not a slam; she just gets exuberant and things slip out, one of the many reasons I realized I couldn’t trust her as far as I could throw her and getting the hell out of Dodge allowed me to stop being afraid of what she might say at any given moment. So, the breech didn’t come from me, and of that I am sure.

Argo told me to shut it down and never contact her ever again. The contacting is easy. A snake bit me, and when a snake bites you, you don’t blame the snake. You just move on and try to get the venom out. But it is quite a different thing to tell someone that they cannot have their personal space to say what they think and mean it. I told her I’d lawyer up if I had to, because she didn’t have a case. Sedition and/or libel have no place here, because I have been up front that these are my opinions, not facts, and they never will be. Freedom of speech is freedom of speech, and of course, this was after telling me that she hadn’t and wouldn’t read what I had to say. My only reply to that was that it was like telling me she didn’t like oranges without ever actually having one.

At issue was the trip I took down to Dumfries, Stafford, FXBG, etc. because there was nothing that I could do to overcome the idea that I was somehow stalking her, even though that was the last thing on my mind… I have said this before and I will say this again, that it was important to me to see things in real life that I’d only seen in pictures, without bothering anyone and without even anyone knowing I was there. I wrote about it because that’s my thing. I go and observe and take pictures and spend some time reflecting on the past three years and all the things I’ve done to isolate people I truly love. I thought it was benign, so I sent her a picture of my adventures and the response was swift and immediate. I felt like I was a mere journalist. She thought I was trying to seek out ways to make her feel uncomfortable. I apologized profusely and told her that there was no way I meant to hurt her, but by then, she was already on the fucked-up train of “I wish I’d never met you, that there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t regret letting you into my life.”

And finally, I got angry enough to feel the same way. Apparently, for Argo to feel heard, I have to agree with her assessment, and I didn’t, but I did apologize for engendering her discomfort. That it was important for me to have my own space, and important for her to have her emotional space as well without discounting how she felt and writing it off. I handled it in the best way I knew how, which was to just listen, take in her words, and own that her feelings were important whether I agreed with them or not. I can’t erase her feelings, but I *can* stick to my guns that my intentions were pure and I will not be held hostage by her shitty accusations anymore. It just doesn’t work like that.

I’m angry that prayers, well-wishes, check-ins, and just general friend-love have gone out the window in favor of burning this bridge to the ground over something that I feel she’s been waiting for. If her hatred of me was so deep-seated, it’s something I would have liked to know as I tried to put the work into solving something I thought could go back together with enough work and time. That I owned every bit of what I did to make her uncomfortable and did everything to get out of the situation that caused me to act and react that way, including getting away from Dana and Aaron, with whom I was content to sit in my nothing box and have all these dreams without action. There’s a solid reason I left Houston, and it wasn’t to be with Argo. It was to find myself, and I have.

What I realized is a friend that placates you into thinking that things are getting better while just waiting for you to fuck up isn’t a friend at all. Waiting to push my hot buttons untll I regress into the person she wants me to be is just about the shittiest thing she could have done, because she ratchets up that anger in me that needs to pop off just to treat her as shitty as she’s just treated me, without letting anger roll off because she’s intentionally trying to get me to pop off just so she can “prove” I haven’t changed. It is as if she stores up those hot buttons and uses them to great effect, such as telling me that she would not hesitate to get a restraining order even though I have been nowhere near her ever in the history of this move.

I told her that if anyone needed a restraining order, it wasn’t her. It was me. That I was tired of being placated and lied to while she held on to this undercurrent of hatred and regret without telling me she was doing so. Any friend that would do that to me just isn’t.

I don’t want any contact with her, because I see that she brings out the worst in me because she actively tries to escalate a conversation and I fall for it every time. I just regress because she won’t accept me as I am, just pigeonhole me as the bitch while she walks away clean. It is never *our* fault we’ve fucked things up, just mine. According to Argo, she’s never done anything wrong in the history of our relationship except befriending me. It hurts like a motherfucker to hear, but at least now I know her true colors instead of her hiding behind this facade of “I’m glad things are beter.”

She doesn’t have the right to make me feel small anymore, because I won’t let her get away with it. I never have, and I never will. The fact that she will not look inside herself is not my problem. The fact that I carry all this weight of grief and sadness has nothing to do with her… because like I said, in this relationship, she hasn’t made a mistake yet. It reminds me of Katharin, because when she was a school counselor at JJP (John J. Pershing Middle School), she said that if you believe the parents, no kid in the history of the school has ever done anything wrong.

Her days of treating me like shit are numbered, because one day I will look back at this relationship and decide that I was never worthy of the hell she put me through while denying it ever happened. I wish I could hate her. I wish I could get angry enough not to want her in my life. I wish I could tell her to take a long walk on a short pier. But when I look back at the interactions we’ve had, the good wins out and I cannot focus on the bad. But she can. And therein lies the rub. We’ve both given each other a good amount of road rash, but at least I can admit my part. She sticks hard to her guns that I created this entire thing. I hope that strategy works out well for her. I’ve always thought it was better to keep the peace and take it and just sit in my wrongness, hoping that one day, she would, too. But none of the resurrections I’ve hoped for have taken, even when I thought they did and we were good. Because I cannot get out from under things she won’t talk about…. and there are fucking plenty.

Yesterday, when she contacted me and said that people were checking on her based on what I’d written, I said, “I’m done. Your mess. You clean it up.” It’s not my responsibility to take on the feelings of her friends, especially since they are her place to fall and not mine. I didn’t tell these people she was Argo, but someone did, and instead of asking me what I meant, she just came out guns blazing. I got provoked into white-hot anger, and again said some things that were beyond the pale.

I apologized this morning, saying that even though I felt provoked, that didn’t make my words okay, and that it wasn’t important to me whether she responded, but it was important to me that I returned to an even keel.

But I also expressed my feelings about that matter, that when a snake bites you, do you really blame the snake? No. You just try like hell to get the venom out. Her snake in the grass approach to treating me like a friend and having these deep-seated feelings of hate and regret running underneath were not the way I expected this relationship to end. I thought that my words and actions would count for someting, that she would see that I only wanted the best for her, and I can’t help but think that this latest iteration was planned. It was her chance to get rid of me and she took it, because then she’d never have to face the reality of her own mistakes. She could just hold everything over my head and continue to believe that she is always right, no matter how I feel about the situation, because of course, my feelings don’t matter.

I should have listened to Dana when she said that I was pouring emotions down a hole; that I’d never get anything back… because in the beginning, our relationship was mutual and beautiful and the friend my INFJ personality profile said I’d get… this person that would walk with me my whole life because I only have the ability to create a few friendships at a time and devote myself deeply to them without having a ton of acquaintances just to make small talk. But when that piece of us broke, there was no redemption, as much as I might have wanted it. I feel wrecked at all the times I prayed for her, wished her well, sent peace offerings, and thought we were on our way to being the valued people to each other we once were. But Dana was right. That part of us would never come back, and I couldn’t love enough, forgive enough, apologize enough to make those dreams come true. All the love and care we poured into each other turned nasty on a dime, and if things could change that quickly, where the hell was I that I didn’t see it?

I just feel so stupid that I didn’t recognize what Dana was trying to tell me… that the relationship was broken beyond repair and yet, I still tried in vain. It’s the hardest part of me to realize that relationships are broken, because I don’t think they ever end. If I think of my whole lifetime in DC, what if we end up at the same party? What if I innocently end up in her neighborhood because one of of *my* friends lives there? Is she going to see that I have my own life and my own friends, or is she going to try and take that away from me as well? I don’t think that these things will come to pass anytime soon, but I have a long vision and a long memory.

So, in short, I have to stop caring altogether and just say “que sera, sera.” Her take on it is that I will never hear from her directly ever again. She’s said it before, and within a few days, we’ve been in contact with each other after having the make-up conversations that needed to happen. But I don’t think it’ll happen this time, because I am too strong to let her in. I have real trust issues now. I spend my days regretting I ever met her, when I never had to before. I was doing my dead-level best to be open and transparent, and if I truly was the stalker she’s making me out to be, I never would have told her shit. Stalkers live on being secretive and obtuse about what they’re doing. Stalkers have this dark side to them that says people need to be watched from the bushes. I don’t have that bone in my body. I have a writer and observer’s point of view, curious to a fault, and obviously that curiosity was scary to Argo and I didn’t think it would be because again, I was so transparent. I even said, “I’ll send you a picture of my license plate if that’s what you need to know that you’ll NEVER see me in your neighborhood.” I was willing to work with her fear to resolve it, not add to it. I am not the person she believes that I am, and to live with these false assumptions is hell on earth, because I just start to feel more and more worthless, more and more depressed. I WILL NOT let her put me into that place of fear ever again, and I will not be scared of her. She wants a restraining order, get one. Total waste of money because I wouldn’t choose to be around her for a million dollars. She gutted me like a fish, and I know I hurt her, too… so why add to it? Why cause even more destruction without meaning to? I stepped into it up to my ass without ever meaning any harm. She’s the one that took it and ran with it, and how could I have been so stupid that sending little prayers and checking in when she’s had a bad day and giving her jokes to lift her spirits would count for anything? It must be a good feeling to know that you’ve never done anything wrong. I can’t say the same, but I can say that I own it. She emotionally can’t, and never will, and I should have known it long ago.

But my family will catch me. I know they will, both bio and my host family.

Please hold Sam and Dominic in your prayers as Dom’s mother is about to transition due to a long battle with cancer.

Those are the people I need to focus on, pray for, check in, and love to the best of my ability. But at the same time, I will have a hard time ever letting anyone in, letting anyone see the real me, because I don’t want a relationship in which people use those flaws to beat me with them. So perhaps I will have a lot of acquaintances, because I don’t want relationships that are more than orange-juice glass deep. Maybe someday someone will change my mind, but it won’t happen anytime soon. I’m too busy trying to go back inside myself, trying to get rid of the hot buttons Argo knows to push so that if she ever tries to push them again, they just won’t work.

If there’s any time I wish I was six feet tall and bulletproof, it’s now. I’m going to go home and do all my laundry so that I can suit up. Leslie Lanagan™ is back, because I need a chance to put this away and lock the box so that I’m not undone by Argo’s revelations. Right now, the box is too small and I can’t close the lid. But when I do, I will feel like there’s nothing she can do to scare me, nothing she can do to make me regress in a ball of anxiety, nothing she can do to get to me… and I will protect myself from anyone else ever trying to do the same.

It would be so easy to say, “fuck off.” But it’s more complicated than that. As things always are. I have my good memories, and I will take those with me instead. What she does with our memories is none of my business, but if no contact is what makes this better, I’m all for it. I don’t want strife, I want peace… and trying to prove it failed miserably. I can’t help but think what might have happened if she’d really just taken in that I was curious, being the me I always am, rather than jumping on the “you’re a shitty person” bandwagon. But again, if she can’t love me, I can. There is no one smarter than me ABOUT ME. And What I Know for Sure™ is that I have a well of love within me that’s waiting for the right friend and not the wrong one. I just hope that when he/she shows up, I’m not so jaded that friendship cannot happen… the kind that is real, painful and honest, true to its core.

I miss Aaron desperately because I’ve already let him in. He knows my shit and chooses to love me, anyway. But I made a mistake with him, too, and it caused me to suit up. I was talking to him about Dana, and he lost his shit saying that I was putting him in the middle. It was then that I realized he’d become Dana’s friend and I couldn’t count on him to be my person anymore. A wall went up that will never come back down.

It also saddens me that Dana isn’t my go-to guy anymore, but so many walls have gone up there that I won’t let her in, either.

It’s time to go for lunch with Pri-Diddy if she’s in town, because what I know for sure is that she will come up with several TED Talks and motivational videos that encourage my growth forward and not back. Maybe she is the person that my INFJ profile said I’d get, bcause every time I see her, I am filled with peace…. my enormous guru in a tiny body. But at the same time, I am not ready to give all of myself to her in the way that old friends do. I am too content to suit up.

At this point, I trust no one except myself, and maybe that’s what the snakebite was for. To learn that lesson wholeheartedly. If you want to see the real me, you’re going to have to fight through layers and layers of mistrust because I didn’t know just how much this relationship was going to wreck me and hopefully build me up in ways I didn’t know I needed. Moving on from a fountain of dysfunction is what’s best for me right now, as well as suiting up to prove to myself that I am worthy of love even through the wreckage.

I feel like last night was a car wreck of enormous proportions, skidding on a mountain without a guardrail. I’m supposed to take a Klonopin in the morning and one at night. Instead, I took them both so that I wouldn’t feel the physical effects of being so angry at all the lies. I wanted to be able to write about them clearly, without cortisol and sin racing through my body. After I finish, I’m going to listen to Nadia Bolz-Weber preach, because her words have a way of breaking down my walls. I could let her in, because we both have some of the same wounds. I need someone who will understand them, but I’m not going to seek her out because I know she has a million people who already want a piece of her.

Instead, I think I’m going to start group therapy, because I got more out of Al=Anon than I’ve ever gotten anywhere else. I never forget that my troubles started with the revelation of Diane’s partner being an alcoholic and a weed dealer, that it made me on high alert as a 7th grader, taking on problems that were never meant to be mine but wanted to solve, anyway. You can’t imagine what it was like to see my friend in pain and wanting to be the knight in shining armor that destroyed the situation for her. But I was so little, an ankle-biter at best.

I think it was the start of wanting to join the military, because not only could I be in a jazz band, I would get bigger… more muscular, able to take on the destruction that Diane’s ex was putting into her life.

I couldn’t join because of medical reasons, but I still want to be one of those people that abides by the code. Honor, justice, impeccable honesty, and the ability to see violence for the greater good as our world continues to be attacked both literally and virtually in the cyber world.

I have great role models for this, soldiers that I look up to in times of great need. They don’t need to interact with me, because I’ve learned from them in the past and I carry their lessons in my heart.

But Volfe will always be my person, keeping me on the right track. He was the first person to tell me that I was amazing, Dana was amazing, but we were not amazing together, and that it was better for us to be amazing apart. He saw things in our relationship that bothered him to no end, and as we chatted in a parking lot, he laid out for me what he saw. It was truly the beginning of the end, or two new beginnings, as I prefer to think of it.

It was at that time I leaned on Argo for emotional support, and she was giving it to me in spades. I got so desperate for Dana to calm down that I sent Argo an e-mail that said, “could you send me a 12 page report with graphs and pictures on how much you like dick? It would help. Thanks.” I laughed until I farted when she e-mailed me back and I realized she’d changed the subject line to “bullet points.”

It’s that kind of shit that makes me want her in my life, no matter how much it costs me, because those e-mails were life rafts, and I took them. I grabbed on to Argo’s belief in me that I could accomplish anything I set out to do, and left Dana’s shitty words that I’d never amount to anything. I’ve said this before, but taking that life raft was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, because of course my worthlessness loop said that Dana was right. She was just throwing emotional grenades designed to hurt, and that one put me on the ground.

But Argo’s belief in me made me realize that if I wanted to start a church and touch many lives, I WOULD. She sent me an e-mail that I stared at for an hour without being able to say anything…. “I don’t believe in God…. but I do believe in you.”

I will sit shivah for this relationship, perhaps for far longer than I need to because it takes me a while to get this shit out of my system. When Meag and I broke up, I didn’t open up to anyone for three years. It was Kathleen that finally got through to me, because I saw clearly that we had what my friend Donna Schuurman would call “compatible wounds.” As it turns out, those compatible wounds were our undoing, but in the beginning, they were comforting and familiar. Why wouldn’t I want to be with someone who’d survived something every bit as traumatic as me? But the relationship turned bipolar, dealing with the same issues over and over as we both rose and dipped into good feelings and awful ones.

I could say the same for Argo. The relationship became bipolar, hot and cold. When the sun shined, it was magnificent, and the chill was frightening. All I wanted was for the sun to shine again, and I thought it would this year. That things were getting better to the point where the bipolar would stop.

It didn’t, and I am left with picking up the pieces, meat tenderizer on my skin as I pull the poison out. It is not lost on me that some of the poison is mine, but it is also not lost on me that some of it is not.

I give thanks for the way that Argo carried me, loved me like a mountain lion biting a cub on the neck to carry it to safety.

I also give thanks that when that part of us ended, I could own my own stuff and walk away, whole and complete within myself.

Amen.

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