Write injuries in sand, kindnesses in marble.
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by carelessness.
I told you to change the channel long ago, and I doubt you’ll ever get this. But it is a letter that needs to go into the pensieve, not so that you remember it, so that I do. I learned this week that anxiety doesn’t always look like a panic attack, but flashes of rage. I cannot help but think that this is true. When you hit all my buttons, anxiety does not present as anxiety itself, but cortisol and anger racing through my body because I cannot stay calm enough to calculate my next move. I jump immediately into trying to knock over the king, when moving a pawn will do.
I get angry, I regret, I say I’m sorry, and it happens again and again and again. Sisyphus has nothing on me, and that person that pops off and regrets is never the person I want to be. It’s who I am when I feel backed into a corner, wet cat and claws extended. After our fights, I collapse as the cortisol runs out, and crocodile tears run down my face as I realize I have yet again hurt someone I love, deeply, but not in a way that I ever expected or thought I deserved.
I was telling Bryn that before I met you, and I realized that my relationship with Diane was going to fall to pieces whether I wanted it to or not, that I created an e-mail address for her called “email@example.com.” That way, I could write to her without writing to her, and I think there’s a grand total of three letters in that account, because soon afterward, I met you and you agreed to listen. It was a wonderful thing, having fresh eyes on the situation, because it helped me figure out everything that was wrong with my life. Just everything… that’s because the emotional trauma I experienced as a youth had wired itself into every reaction I had to everything, not knowing just how unhealthy it was. That lies and secrecy were not the way of the world, that I didn’t have to hide, that I could be done protecting her from all that had happened. I think it was under my skin, but I refused to acknowledge it, because there was no way it happened the way my gut feeling said it did. The gaslighting was successful. She never did anything to create emotional scars, I just took everything the wrong way. It was crazymaking at its finest.
To the point that I began to pick up those tendencies as well. There’s a lot that scares me as I continue to explore my darkness in hopes of getting rid of it, because if I really want to stick to this dream of being a pastor, I don’t want to fuck other people up the way I was. I want to be a shepherd filled with the light of Christ, and not filled with the light of me.
In many ways, you directed that change, because when I began to see myself for who I really was, I didn’t like her very much, if at all. Things haven’t changed overnight, but they have changed for the better, especially in terms of getting out of Houston and away from all the memories that haunt me there. I was never a kid in DC. Memories here are sometimes painful, but they are all with people where I was on equal footing, and not the power imbalance of being a child trapped in an enormously damaging situation.
Going to Portland to find the family I thought I had was a disaster from day one, because I thought that as an adult, I could be a part of Diane’s life without it being some sort of undercover operation. I don’t know why I didn’t turn around and go back to DC then, without waiting around to see what happened next. Instead, I sold the rarest book I owned, a poetry book by Anne Lindbergh signed by her and Charles. I bought it for 50 cents at a garage sale, and sold it for $1,500. It allowed me a few more months of just wallowing in pain as I tried to figure out what to do next. Luckily, Matt was there to catch me because he was so different than Kathleen that I could rest and relax in him… but being good friends with Diane made me wary of confiding anything in him until you came along with your sweet words and Xs and Os of support as I waded my way through the worst mess of my life… but that wasn’t until years later, long broken up and married to the woman I thought I’d spend the rest of my life loving…. and in a lot of ways, still do. If you’ve ever been in the same room with Dana, you know what I mean. Curly-haired spitfire that will take a lifetime to get over, not just because of how amazing our relationship was at times, but because of the way I treated her on the way out… a product, I am sure, of my past… to make you a catalyst to let go of her “easier,” because it was clear that she wanted out, too, and wouldn’t say it. The reason it wasn’t really any easier is that I had this dream in my mind, that things would blow over and I’d get both my sweet Dana and my sweet Argo back, after I’d had enough time to work out in my mind which end was up. But the main reason I knew Dana wanted out and couldn’t say it is that she constantly used you as a bait-and-switch operation so that she could ignore the problems we needed to work on and redirect fault onto me. When she wouldn’t make room, or at least, consistently so, I realized that I could have one of you or the other, but not both, because it wasn’t worth trying to talk about money, sex, balance of power, you name it, without it being redirected into why I was such a douchebag for spending time writing to you.
She knew you needed me just as much as I needed you, and alternately understood it and used it as a weapon of mass destruction. My anxiety turned to rage at both of you, and I pushed both of you away, violently with words. It was Dana’s choice to make it a physical fight between us, and I will never forget how bad it got, and how that was the last straw for me, even though my abused nature eventually swept it under the rug and wished I hadn’t told her it was over in the madness of the last punch… because, I reasoned, I’m not sure she was fighting with me at that point. There was so much rage behind her fist that I wasn’t sure it was all meant for me, or if there were years and years of anger that had never been expressed and I just happened to be a convenient target… childhood rage compounded with teenage rage compounded with anger at me all in the same broken blood vessels on my face.
The bitch of it was trying to think we could handle our communication issues on our own. I wonder every day what would have happened if we’d gone to a professional mediator that could have explained both sides to us in ways we had never thought of before. Things like explaining why my rage was so intense, why my communication style was so much different than hers, and why the Argo thing would go away on its own, especially if we’d met in person and not goddamn everything was an operatic swell of emotion on the page… no relaxing with beers in the backyard. I wish every day that we’d come to DC or you’d come to “Youston” early on in our relationship so that everything would have been normalized butt-quick.
I don’t know what it would be like to see you, to touch you, to know that you are real. But what I do know is that it would never be the touch of a lover, just a concerned friend who loves you beyond all measure. Someone who’d take your arm as we were walking down the street, someone who’d give you a hug when you needed it, someone who’d bring you bacon if you were sad.
Because anxiety is everything beyond the rage, beyond the pushing away, beyond the loss of light in my eyes. It will never be the way I truly feel about you, and it should never have been. I feel like these fights have been because we are cut of the same cloth, bulletproof until we both walk away in pain and confusion at what we’ve just said to each other, not knowing what the right thing to do might be, but knowing for damn sure that fighting like that wasn’t it.
Your name is stitched into my heart, sewn so fine it might as well have been done by a cardiologist. That will never go away, whether we speak again or not….
…because your injuries are written in sand, and your kindnesses are written in marble.
I was stupid and careless with your heart when the final blow came down, but I hope that one day you will see that I was not trying to be malicious, just lashing out because I was so anxious I didn’t know what else to do. It was a panic attack of enormous proportion, because I thought I was being treated unfairly and it caused my inner 14-year-old to come out instead of the grown woman I’ve become. Nothing that happened the day our relationship broke came from a malicious place, and the insistence that it did broke me. I was lost and angry that my injuries were not written in sand and my kindnesses written in marble, and I took it out on you, when the proper response would have been just to walk away… not to let words escalate yet again.
I was so invested in those shoots of green that I did not see how angry and hurt you still were, and how I’d never be able to calm it, no matter how hard I tried. That my sweet, small a argo had been replaced by Argo, Trademark. That I’d never be able to see into your heart of hearts again, because I’d done so much to break it over and over… ignoring that in favor of thinking that things were getting better and confiding in you as if nothing had ever happened.
But too much had.
I will always pray that you are blessed over and over in the richness with which you have blessed me, and I will always keep a door open for you whether or not you walk through it… because I can’t not. I am moving on with my life in leaps and bounds, but there will never be a time in which I forget what it was like when we were good for each other and anger never won.
Your kindnesses are written in marble. Sin cera.