I learned from the “Memories” section on Facebook today that the blog post I published that introduced me to Argo was three years ago today. As you can imagine, a stone has dropped to the pit of my stomach and I’m kind of sweating out the grief. I made the fatal mistake of e-mailing her about it, but not fatal because she wrote anything back. Fatal because of the promises I’d made to myself… it let me down that I couldn’t keep them. She’s told me that I’d never hear from her directly again, and I’m ok with that. What I’m not okay with is being untrue to myself. I wanted this detente to last, to stop the fighting between two unhappy countries, and I haven’t done anything except make myself a sad sack’s worth of memories.
But I did tell her that to me, she was perfect despite all her flaws, failures, and vulnerabilities, and anything that happened after that was irrelevant. Those words may not resonate with her, but it made me feel good to say them. And perhaps that is why I needed to write- to ease the pain inside myself, rather than the pain inside her. There is nothing I can do about that, because her reactions are her reactions and I take nothing away from them. There’s also a chance that she’s not getting my e-mails at all, and that kind of makes me feel even better, because knowing I can write into the void of space and time without knowing whether I’m being heard or not is better than anything she’d probably write back. Although there was a time when she told me that she’d blocked my e-mails, and after writing to her regardless because I knew it was just going into the void of interspace, I realized she was indeed getting everything. Just everything.
However, I am lucky that I did not say anything in those e-mails that would have mattered one way or the other. I just talked. One was a 20-minute voice message in which she never said anything about, but was mortifying knowing she got it in the first place. Again, it was nothing. Just talking into space because I thought that if she could *hear* me, really hear me, it would be different than just seeing me in black and white. What I learned from that escapade is not to count on the fact that she tells me my e-mails are blocked. 🙂
Holidays are hard, extremely so, because those are the moments I remember back to the people we used to be to each other and wishing there was some sort of reset button in which we get to start over at flipping each other shit and leaving it at that…. or at the very least, a chance to give each other our hearts and mean it in the sweet and light it was meant to be. The kind where Dana wouldn’t have had to be threatened. The kind where I wouldn’t have had to be threatened. The kind that would have sewn our fabric with a double stitch instead of ripping it apart.
And then I think, “who am I kidding? Dana would have been threatened no matter what I did, because she didn’t like me having friends outside of her.” We could have joint friends, but individual friends just wouldn’t have happened on her watch. Her jealousy knew no bounds, because, well, I can’t tell you why, but it just was.
I could have Dana or I could have Argo, and I made my choice. It was the difference between “you’ll never amount to anything” and “I don’t believe in God, but I do believe in you.” Given those two statements, I doubt anyone would have made a different choice. It didn’t matter that Dana was my partner and Argo was my friend. I could do without being married if my wife was going to treat me like shit.
My friends are my lifeblood, and are saving me one day at a time as I navigate learning to live again. What I never counted on was Argo’s “oh-shitometer” going up as high as it did, because moving to DC only had as much to do with her as she wanted it to be, to cultivate real friendship instead of just knowing each other in the space we’d created over long e-mail exchanges. By that time, she wanted no part of it, and I respected her wishes.
Eventually we made up, but not to the point where we were comfortable enough to meet on the ground. Just enough that seeing each other’s names in our inboxes didn’t incite fear. Because the truth of the matter is that we were both afraid of each other in our own ways, not sure how to navigate being geographically close (but not incredibly so), and how I tried to meet her fear with braggadocio that covered up a million insecurities because I didn’t want to be in a small place of fear. I wanted to stand up to her, because the more she harped on me, the worse I felt…. and yet, there was nothing I could do to be equal. By God, she was going to be bigger and stronger than me no matter what I did or said, and the more she impressed upon me just how big and strong she could be, the more I folded into myself, unable to get light in my eyes again because I was again trying to take up as little space in the world as I could. I sat in my room and prepared to get owned.
For the first couple of months that I was here, I didn’t even leave my house unless I had to go to the grocery store or to the pharmacy. Occasionally, I’d let myself have a trip into DC, but they were short-lived due to enormous anxiety. Anything and everything I said was filed away as just another reason why she needed to be scared of me…. and had she looked at me, really seen into my eyes instead of into my letters, she wouldn’t have been scared of me at all.
Instead, we’d have a close moment, and then fight our guts out, and the close moments got ignored in favor of every fight escalating into cutting each other off at the knees. I got plenty tired of kneeling, but as a fixer/pleaser, it didn’t stop me from trying to erase all the fear and turn it into the goodwill I actually wanted for her…. but even being nice to her was fraught with being wrong. Even in trying to be kind, I felt small.
My other friends have rescued me from this fixer/pleaser attitude because clearly, it was only hurting me. I still hurt, every day, in fact, but the fact that the fights are gone are doing me a lot of good. I don’t feel so small. I am coming into the fullness of myself after having missed it for a long time. So much so that I realize writing to her is the biggest mistake I could have made, because it hurts so damn much that I couldn’t not. I couldn’t keep the most important promise I’ve made to myself in years.
Even if it was the anniversary of the day we met.