Sometimes you just need to go to Starbucks and write with a Venti Italian Roast in front of you to try and get so wired you’re not going to cry. I’ve taken all the medicine I can take in terms of anti-anxiety, and physically it is helping as I roil on the insides with memory. My guru, Pri Diddy, is moving to Seattle of all places. Seattle. Three years ago, I would have been a little over three hours from her. Now I am going to be a lifetime away, as Bryn can attest, because the time difference is killing us. In order to keep my routine going, I am usually in bed between 6:00-7:00 PM her time. If I call her before work, it’s 4-5:00 AM her time, and she works as well. With my family, it’s different because it’s only an hour. Three is pushing it, just like when Diane and I were on opposite sides of the country and trying to make room for each other in our lives. It’s never gotten any easier, and that was 15 years ago. I do like Seattle, though, so maybe a visit is in order after some time has passed. I don’t have much vacation at work, but eventually I will, and there’s a few old haunts that I’d like to visit, particularly the EMP (Experience Music Project). It won’t be so bad. Prianka knows that DC is home, and wants to come back to be with her family at some point, but I’ll be waiting a little minute. I found out on Instagram, but I know that social media is the easiest way to get information out to everyone at once, so I wasn’t angry. Just sad. She owed me a phone call just as much as she owed everyone else, which is no one.
When you get into the cycle of trying to call people, you invariably run into the people that want to talk you out of it, and the decision was already made with finality. The people that wanted me to keep working on my relationship with Dana alternated between “think of all the years you’ve already had together” and “it’s ok that she hits you a little bit.” That might be overstating a little, but at the same time, it wasn’t a fight I could just look past and pretend it didn’t happen, especially since that fight didn’t start emotionally. It started over money and devolved into emotion, something I never wanted. I wanted facts. I didn’t find out that we weren’t financially stable until I’d already left Alert Logic, and I wanted to know where the money went. Her answer was to beat me over the head with the amount of attention I gave Argo and never answer the question at all.
It was bait-and-switch, and I fell for it. I was so tired. I was so tired of Argo being Dana’s go to emotion when we were fighting, as if our relationship didn’t matter anymore, when in fact, it was everything. Just everything. Writing to Argo in the middle of the night was not the same as being able to go for beers and hug each other at the end of the night and say, “I had a great time. Let’s do this again sometime.” As my relatonship with Dana and with myself spiraled out of control, so did the relationship with Argo, because I was mad at God and everybody without the tools to deal with that anger appropriately. Plus, I was losing the one person that would listen to me as I tried to process the enormity of the situation, because both Argo and I are a handful, especially when talking to *each other.*
Our relationship was easy give-and-take until I opened my big mouth and said that the rabbit hole we were lost in was creating different emotions in me than it was in her and taking an incredible toll on my marriage, because she was the one I was confiding in, for better or for worse. The better was being able to get a different perspective on my marriage. The worse was trying to push her away before she could push me. It worked masterfully well, obviously, because when I came here, Argo thought she needed a restraining order and I thought that was batshit crazy and go ahead and do what you need to do, because I didn’t come here to cramp your style. Even if I’d moved closer to her, the Virginia side where I’d lived before, there was still plenty of room for us both to be us without running into each other accidentally. I know her address, but only because she used PayPal to support my writing and I sent her a thank-you note in return. She hasn’t moved since then, and I still don’t know exactly where the address is in relation to where I used to live, only that it is not anywhere near my old house…. and I have no interest in finding out. It wouldn’t work out well for either one of us, because I am not prepared to be rejected again. I am not ready to cause her even more hurt, intentionally or not. The intentional hurt was a product of “the way I was raised” and the wet cat claws extended feeling of anxiety that said, “push her away, because it’s too hard to ask for what you want.” Because what I wanted at the time was to be left alone to my own devices, and I couldn’t bring myself to ask her to ghost in hopes that Dana would see that I was willing to do anything to get away from the hold she had on me. And the thing is, I could have just said calmly, “could you ghost, because Dana is threatened (without cause) and I cannot be in relationship with both of you because it causes more problems than it solves. At that time, I was not thinking of moving to DC, and my vision was short and impaired for all sorts of reasons that I am still wading through one at a time. The problem with this is that when you tell the truth about yourself, you have to tell the truth about everyone else, and there is too much confidentiality between us to process here. But what I can say is that I stepped into it up to my ass in this latest go-round, and I didn’t even mean to.
As my dad would say, “mean not to.” Sage advice I did not take, when I clearly should’ve. Because maybe those shoots of green would have continued to grow, and we both could have taken off the suits that made us Leslie and Argo. ™ And maybe they wouldn’t have, but at the same time, I lost a precious piece of my life over the last three years, which was having a safe space to say what I wanted, even when the response was negative. I wish I had taken more time to sit with each letter rather than jumping on it right away. I wish I’d been taking Klonopin long ago, because the fight-or-flight would have been beaten out of me long ago. I wonder all the time what would have happened had I gotten the tools to deal with escalation and how to diffuse emotional bombs without escalating right back… because we may never have made the deal to meet in person, but I might have had that friend I could write to for longer than I actually did.
Having Prianka in my life didn’t cure all of that, but it made enormous headway. She is all about the self-improvement, and showed me lots of videos on how to release shame, how to move into the future, how to let go of relationships in which you hope the other person will change and they just won’t. I tried to change everything about myself for the better, so that I could learn to deal with those escalated e-mails in a different way than I had before, and what I learned from that is when those hot buttons came back around, I would regress into my former self rather than being able to apply everything I’d learned. It hurt beyond belief, not because I hurt her, although I’m sure I did. It was more that I’d put an enormous amount of work into myself with therapy and new drugs and yet, when Argo got on her angry bandwagon, it wouldn’t show anymore because of the lens in which she saw me, and acknowledged she always would. Perhaps she was testing me to see if I meant what I said about changing gears, and if so, I failed… mostly because e-mail can only show so much.
Sharing a bacon cheeseburger would have wrought extremely different results, but I cannot help that it will never happen. I can only regret. When I asked her what more she could ask of me, all I basically got back is to “have a nice life.” The only thing I can do from here on out is to have one.
If there is any hope in this garbage dump of a situation, it’s that I’ve made new friends who don’t see me as the person I once was, and enjoy me for who I am. I am doing my best not to ever return to the angry, judgmental dickhead I was to Argo, because it was a side of me I’d never seen before or since. I am almost (almost) happier without her, because her shitty observations of me aren’t running through my head all day, every day… and Prianka was a large part of changing how I saw myself. She reminded me of the loving heart I have always been, hugging me through my darkness and putting it in perspective in terms of how successful I am and how stepping out on a ledge and moving back to DC was brave and strong and all the things I really am without the tint of Argo’s enormous influence on my thought process. For a long time, because she was so smart, so gorgeous, so grounded within herself, I thought her opinions of me mattered more than my opinions of myself. Her reality was not mine, and never would be. I did things that were bad, but at no time did that make me a bad person… that I would recover from the mistakes I made and go on to be the enormous personality I was meant to be. Because mistakes are not the sum total of my personality, and I don’t know how I got there.
In the beginning of my relationship with Argo, she thought I had amazing insights and as we got closer and closer, that devolved into me trying to see the perosnality behind the suit, but she didn’t want to show it to me anymore… and that’s ok. But what was not ok was seeing those shoots of green and not taking them for what they were… an enormous I’m sorry and I never want our relationship to be what it was.
But again, when my buttons were pushed, I didn’t take enough time to sit in her words, reflect on them, before the cortisol and sin began racing through my body and The Incredible Hulk had nothing on me. It was the definition of the word regret, and I couldn’t live my life with that much of it. I had to step away for my own sanity, and probably for hers, because I doubt that she liked being that person to me any more than I liked being that person to her.
I sat in the cold of winter hoping for spring, and in some ways, I won’t stop hoping that as I get further and further away from the person I used to be, that she’ll see it. But I am not counting my chickens before they hatch, because I don’t want to fall into old patterns with Argo any more than I want to fall into old patterns with Dana.
So tonight I am going to dinner with Pri-Diddy, in hopes we can work out a way to be the virtual friends we were for many years before I was folded into the family, knowing that a real friendship will come back into play when she and Elena make the decision to move back.
I know I’d be out after one or two Seattle winters. The weather literally made me sick, and while I would not wish that upon anyone, I do know that it’s hard not to let the months and months of darkness get to you. So perhaps they’ll move somewhere sunny, and I can meet up with them then, as well.
It’s nice to have enough money to dream…. and dream bigger than I ever have before. This is not the end, but a great new beginning. I just wish it hadn’t come so soon after I moved here, because there is nothing like going to lunch with Prianka and coming away like I am six feet tall and bulletproof, not allowing anything to get in my way.