This morning I woke up with a headache and nausea, how my depression and anxiety present. I was a psychosomatic ball of nerves because I couldn’t put my finger on the problem. That’s always the worst part- feeling crappy and not knowing why.
I didn’t have to wait long, because Facebook always sends me notifications that there are memories on which I might like to look back. Today is the memory I’m calling “Fallout 3.” Three years ago, Dana and I announced our separation, literally blowing our entire world away, the one we’d spent seven years building.
If you’re going to build a life with someone, it wasn’t a bad one. Today I am not mistaking the part for the whole. I’m employing the 80/20 rule. 80% of the time, we got the marriage we both needed & deserved. It’s the 20% that curled my hair. I think what’s making me ill today is that the divorce was the second worst thing that has ever happened to me (my mother died in Oct. of 2016), mostly because a lot of it happened at my own hand and is therefore also the worst thing I’ve ever done. It takes two to tango.
There are so many things I know now because of reminiscence that I didn’t think of then. Some of them would have helped us navigate not breaking up. Others presented facts that I’d absolutely made the right choice to let the past lie. For instance, I wish I’d apologized more for my behavior and made more efforts to change it. Also, I didn’t realize how much Dana’s DUI affected me- just how angry and miserable I was that it happened, and how I covered it all up because I thought Dana needed more support and not less… not realizing that I needed someone to support me. It was a serious lapse in judgement on her part, because it would have been so easy to take the bus or get a taxi. You can take a taxi through the drive-thru at Taco Bell. I’m sure of it. I would never in a million years say that this #dumbass attack meant that Dana had a drinking problem. Everyone has those moments they wish they could take back. She was just being cocky about driving, which happened every single day. It made my life a little bit harder, because when Dana had her license taken away, she was working graveyard at the airport and I drove her for three months straight. Being completely sleep deprived made me awfully cranky at the driver ed football coach in the front seat.
I think that was the first time a fissure happened without words to articulate it. It was under my skin, but not apparent to me or anyone else that it was happening. Later, we moved to Houston so that Dana could get an alternative certification to teach, because in Oregon, all teachers need a Master’s degree. There is definitely more than one program out there, but Dana got rejected from the one she wanted, and took no steps to either find another one or get a different job. She didn’t need one. I made enough money that I could afford to keep her in the lifestyle to which she’d become accustomed. 😛 It’s just that the problem was bigger than that. Sitting in isolation prevented her from building a life outside of our little world…. and my support system was no help. My boss told me that I should get Dana pregnant so at least she’d have something to do…. which turned into fantasies of kicking him… hard. My work life suffered because of everything that was happening at home, because I am terrible at compartmentalization. And there we have fissure number three.
I skipped over fissure number two, because the third one started in Portland and carried over. The second one was all Houston, all the time. Remember in my marriage article when I said that the cardinal rule of marriage is to say to the world that you are creating your own family, forsaking all others, and not to let your partner get hung out to dry with your first family? Well, two things about that. I got hung out to dry with both of our first families. With Dana’s, it was hard for her parents to conceive that we were married in the first place. With mine, I specifically asked Dana to keep a confidence for me at about 5:00 PM. By 9:00 AM the next day, she’d met with my family without me and spilled said confidence all over the place. Breaking rule #1 was almost it for me. I broke up with her on the spot, and told her she had enough money to do whatever she wanted to do- get her own place, go back to Virginia, whatever. Just get out.
Then, I couldn’t make it stick. I couldn’t throw away our long history of taking care of each other, and we were back together within two hours. However, I’d already had it UP TO HERE, and we were never able to regain all the ground that was lost.
At the same time all of this was happening, my truly emotionally destructive side started to show in a major way. I am excellent at making horrible choices, especially when they seem like great ideas at the time. I desperately needed a wine-and-yoga-pants girlfriend, and I found her…. it was wonderful right up until it wasn’t. Because of my abused nature, wires got crossed- I’d never been so intricately tied up in someone who was all the sweetness and light I could ever want, because I did not understand the nature of friendship between women. Over a short amount of time, I became more and more starry-eyed when I thought of her, and it wigged her the fuck out…. because even though I didn’t understand, she certainly did…. that women’s friendships were deep and close, and why would there ever need to be romance involved? Because it’s “how I was raised.”
I told her flat out that the reason I was giving her this information was because I wanted her to be sensitive to it- to hold me at arm’s length because I was having trouble with true sensory overload. I didn’t expect anything from her- I expected me to manage me. It would just take time. There was no reason to act, not ever, because I was wired for monogamy and she was wired for men. Because I was so down, the tiny bit of dopamine that “new relationship” provided was enough, because even in friendship, there’s that explosion of “oh my God you’re the coolest person ever.”
I wanted to be absolutely transparent about all of this with Dana, and I still can’t decide whether it was the right thing to do. It was all my stuff to deal with, and I felt like Jimmy Carter, not Bill Clinton. But she was a rock star, saying, when it comes to Argo, I am not threatened. I feel like I have more than proved my worth. It was so true I could have taken it to the bank and cashed it…. and, of course, because she presented herself as being so cool about it, I told her a lot more than I ever should’ve. Argo became a threat with which she thought she couldn’t compete, but there was never a game in which either one was going to win or lose.
Even so, Dana’s self-confidence slowly began to deteriorate because of this perceived slight, and I take that all on myself. It was my responsibility to work on myself, and I thought I could handle it on my own. In short, I couldn’t. Jeannie did not go back to the circle couch. It got so bad that Dana was convinced that Argo was in love with me, she just couldn’t say so… that over time, she’d eventually bend to my will. It was crazymaking. While I can be absolutely charming and adorable, I’ve never been powerful enough to change someone else’s sexual orientation. By that point, I was writing these absolutely desperate e-mails, such as could you send Dana a 12-page report with graphs and pictures on how much you like dick? It would help. Thanks. I was trying to inject humor into an awful situation, because that’s how I deal…. and then I laughed until I farted when Argo changed the subject line to “Bullet Points.” One of them was I am not a threat to your relationship. I knew that, but Dana didn’t.
We couldn’t even deal with the simple problems we were having without Dana launching the RPG of Argo somehow…. because everything came down to the fact that I was already out the door, because “Argo and I loved each other.” It brought new meaning to the word “bullshit.” Every single discussion that could have been resolved in five minutes became sulking that lasted for days.
I kick myself every single time I remember that in one fight, Dana broke the physical barrier between us by pushing me over, and I just went off like a chihuahua with a God complex. It ended with Dana’s substantial fist smashing my glasses into my face, which left a bruise under my eye and phantom pain for weeks, because again, it wasn’t just physical, but psychosomatic as well.
Berating myself doesn’t just come from my role in our physical fight, but the fact that I was STILL willing to stay married after that. It was insane. I just thought to myself that after the flood comes the rainbow, and eventually we’d get our happy ending.
Not so much, actually.
It’s not an accident that I moved to DC afterward. Our divorce ceased to weigh on me, but the loss of her friendship certainly did. I figured that even if our paths weren’t parallel, eventually they might be perpendicular, because running into each other a couple times a year was completely different than trying to rebuild what we’d lost.
In the end, it didn’t matter. I was butt-hurt that she didn’t reach out to me over Christmas break after posting on my parents’ Facebook pages until I realized that e-mail goes both ways, and told her that if she wanted to see me, I wanted to see her…. that if she didn’t, it was fine with me, because I had my own stuff to work on. It’d just be nice to catch up…. or something to that effect. I’m paraphrasing.
I did not get an e-mail back from her. I got one from her attack cat, who said not to contact Dana at all through any means…. and that was that. If this was the kind of behavior I could expect from her, I didn’t want her in my life, anyway. It was nice to receive a clear message to let go, and not be held by emotional strings. I celebrated quietly and patted myself on the back. Everything was going to be all right.
It was time to go back to my house in Megaton, while the waters of life washed over me…. knowing for sure I purified that water myself.