In part one, we explored the first people I met when I came to Oregon and told their story. We started at The Little Grey House and ended at The Church That Used to Have Green Carpet. There is a prologue to The Little Grey House that starts in The Austin Stone Cathedral, and predates The Big Yellow House by about 12 years. If you think I don’t know what I’m risking with this subject matter, I’ve already talked it out. The people in the story outside the real issue would never know or even remember everything that happened in those 12 years, because only Bryn is close enough to me to have watched me since 1997, and there are a couple of people who remember from 1990, but I would never trust them and talk about it. The conversation would mostly consist of tears and guilt because I knew they were right and I didn’t care. The big secret of childhood abuse is that we crave it. We hate ourselves because abuse makes us feel so good (physically) until the lovebombing stops. With a narcissist, it generally comes pretty quickly after they realize they can control you easily and well.
In 1997, Bryn’s big brother Matthew was 16 (which I only remember because I was impressed he could drive… I was terrible at it and still am), Bryn must have been in the neighborhood of 14, which would have made younger sister Christy about 11? 12? I don’t remember the kids’ ages in score order, but I do remember each and every way they’ve enriched my life… and every sin I committed out of idiocy or malice or both.
In retrospect, the dark and the light combine into an amazing tapestry, because we were all loved by their parents. The fact that I wasn’t actually born to them is something that none of us have ever noticed, although I did date Matthew for a few months and that was confusing for all of us. Mostly because it was the first time I’d ever been attracted enough to want to date a boy as an adult. However, I will tell you that my experience with having a 7th and 8th grade boyfriend prepared me for some of it. This is only to say that at the time, bisexuality was not as understood by straights who are not okay and queers who aren’t doing any better. If you’re bi, you get it from all sides. No wonder I chose one too early. The two women I’ve mentioned previously took care of my magical thinking on that one. Once you’ve had sex with women, there’s no going back. It changes you. The way the abuse hurt still is that Alpha abuser thought it was a cute quirk and not real. She blabbed to all her friends about me when I wasn’t sure I wanted anything known about me. She knew this. I know she did. She just didn’t think. Now those friends have participated in my sex life as well, because they thought it was funny.
It was about March of 2003 or 4 (I’ve slept since then) that I had a pregnancy scare. It was devastating and exciting, but only a scare because I had no idea where I was in my cycle and whether it was even a real thing. I took a pill anyway, just to be safe. However, the reason I took the pill is that I didn’t want there to be any chance of me being a single mom. I asked Matt to be the boyfriend, and he turned me down, but very sweetly. He said that he didn’t think he was capable of being the boyfriend. I went on to meet someone else and so did he. It was not an ending, but a blessing and releasing.
Also, men are terrible. 😉
Luckily, I never had any of those hang-ups, because men relate to me in a different way. I’m sure that will change if I become another man’s wife, because me being married to a woman shut down their defenses. Most of my male friends are tenderheart bears who would die rather than show it. I know things about them that their wives never will, and it’s because friendship deserves secrecy. I treat all conversations as confessionals so it’s not weird for them to say they hate being married or WTF ever. The things you say to your friends to handle being married… The things you say to a woman who loves you but is not in love with you… The things I say to remind them of that fact. You’re not done, you’re just frustrated. Here’s how I fixed that issue in my own marriage. See if it works for you. No refunds.
Sometimes I’m wrong. Sometimes it’s “we’ve been talking more in the last two days than we have in the last two years.” After being married for almost eight years, there’s virtually no problem I haven’t dealt with (whether it’s good or bad). I also have excellent recall of those years, so anyone who comes to me and asks for my opinion will get one already fully formed.
The most consistent problem across sexual orientation and gender is communication. Mostly “they don’t treat me the same at home as they do in public.” We’re all guilty of curating our marriages, but it’s dangerous to do that too much.
I have lived in too many fantasies to think that’s untrue. I have loved the curated versions of several people, none more than the first and the last. The first created a Beautiful Memory Picture. The second one took the picture and destroyed it right in front of my eyes. What she did differently is not allow me to live in that bubble. To date, she is the best interrupter of my life. It sounds like a dig, but she uses my ADHD like a superpower. She knows I’m listening, and to turn my attention to something else is a blessing. Just like with everyone else, sometimes I do focus on her minutiae. But it’s not because I’m in love with her. It’s just because I love her. Alpha pretended, and the fantasy lasted as long for her as it did for me.
Here are two differences between real vs. pretend:
- Alpha presented as having feelings. She does not. She knows how to imitate feelings. Omega started with a truthbomb and has never wavered because of them. Her behavior and her words match. I have a PowerPoint presentation complete with annotated bibliography (my diaries and letters of the time, all gone now but the words are still in my mind) on how to love both of them. What I did not know was that Alpha was going to destroy me and Omega is still destroying me. One put in flashbacks and triggers. One is taking them out and looking at them with me, setting fires with a blowtorch and gasoline so that I can function again.
- Alpha’s friendship started with Schrodinger’s Seduction. I can get her to do whatever I want if I install the trigger that I’m the only one that can meet her needs. That my parents were sus. Omega’s friendship was never dependent on that because she’s not looking for it. Her clinical separation with the way I could fall for Alpha (I thought it was real due to context clues and not her actual words). We were both musicians, both singers, kindred spirits. The problem was that she blamed me for years over a trigger she installed. Omega will have her ass for it if she ever meets her.
It’s good to know a dragon in human form, especially when she lets me hold onto her tail. My hand fits firmly in her claws, which she uses to massage my head when I’m sad or angry. It helps, even in fiction. My ride or die is a muscle mass of fury, and I need it. Her “lead the charge into hell” attitude has saved me from so much trauma because I listen to her and parrot her opinions on a number of subjects, most of them about me.
We are both better people than we think we are. We both tend to give an enormous amount of love without receiving it, even though it is given freely. As I mentioned, if I pick up her coffee, she’ll turn around and do it for me. When it’s something special, she’ll buy me a book she loved and wants to share. She really listens, and picks winners. Everything from Stanley Tucci to Deborah Harkness to Karin Slaughter. We also talk other media, and she’s only given one recommendation that I liked and didn’t love. I was in a bad place when I saw it, and it scared me. I just couldn’t tell her why.
I’d started hanging out at the Spy Museum, practically living there when I had a membership because I was so dedicated to studying the world of intelligence. I am less interested in writing a novel about spies and being able to use that library of images correctly. As a result, I met regular people who used to be spies. The “regular people” put me through the ringer in terms of thinking about what it might be like to actually live that life. I’d love the travel and the worldview. I think if you’re CIA you become a citizen of the world… because maybe your job is at Langley, and maybe it’s in Kandahar with terrorists or drug runners at the Texas border. CIA charter says that they only work overseas, that anything happening is the United States is FBI. The crossover comes in with things like 9/11, where enemy combatants from other countries were arriving here.
My clinical separation was non-existent at that point. I was thinking about these friends being in danger, and the show she recommended was basically as close to a procedural as you’ll get from any US Intelligence Agency. It was called “The Enemy Within.” It didn’t deserve to get canceled, because it was brilliant. I will probably borrow structure from it at some point.
What wasn’t brilliant was all of the actors appearing as my friends if I picked up that telescope. I was zooming in on the feeling that being a spy is not all it’s cracked up to be. You have to lie a lot by necessity, and you have to worry about your personal and professional lives colliding in a very, very bad way. It is not for the faint of heart, and I could have done it given my experience with Alpha. If I was in operations though, I don’t think I would have stayed long. Living that way over time wears you down. I think I would have been very happy as a Feeb, and might check on their psychological requirements. Here’s why. What bothers me the most about military and intelligence is that there’s a very real chance they’re going to die. Most of the time, with intelligence the chances are a million to one. Sometimes they’re not. If you’re in the Armed Services, the percentage of death jumps by a large margin. Spies are able to live in the shadows, but are sometimes also forward deployed. And then you have DIA, which is basically CIA except you’re in the military. And that’s where I think about dying far away from home, like Daniel almost did… and an unlikely hero of mine, Harry Windsor. It was alarming how much I freaked out when I realized that the prince was in Kandahar at the exact same time as Daniel. Both of them could have died because of a terrorist.
I could have been there because I had to cut off my emotions to survive abuse. I could have been a spy because my reality cracked in childhood. I would have been very good. It makes me feel like a monster that I know how to get what I want from nearly anyone as long as I ask it the right way, and I am well practiced in making an ask………………………..
Two things about that. I don’t want a compartmentalized life, even if it comes with trips to amazing places. I also don’t want to be cut off from my emotions, because thinking about all my secrets and lies would undo me pretty quickly.
In short, I want to forget about Alpha, because imitating the way she makes every relationship transactional and tells you she loves you every single day without being willing to do even the smallest thing is toxic. I would not want to be that person, and yet I do have those tendencies. It’s why I work so hard on my relationship with Omega. I need a friendship that is rock solid and real. That if I fall, I will hit the ground. Nothing is bottomless or worth despair over when it was. That’s because Lindsay (younger sister) doesn’t even remember what she looks like. Why should I remember all this? It’s inspiring that I may get there one day.
I would still apologize and regret if I hadn’t figured out that the relationship was a fantasy on both our parts. The story I was telling myself is that I mattered to her. The story she was telling herself is that she was the perfect mothermentorsisterfriend and I was just bipolar and acting out. She used my diagnosis effectively in the destruction of our relationship, and I won’t forget that, either. I thought she was being abused, I wasn’t crazy. I thought she’d signed up for a lifetime of being railroaded into the ground, because patterns don’t come from nowhere. She has convinced a lot of people that she’s been amazing to me, probably hoping to make me look like an ungrateful spoiled brat because she’s “given me so much.”
She loved me when it was convenient for her (read: when she needed something from me; transactional). Her other friends were blind to this fact, and she thought nothing of telling me that she’d made one friend her “pet person.”
I’m not trying to tell her story at all. I am saying that in that moment, I figured out what was being done to me, what had been done starting a few months before I turned 13. I don’t think she ever did something like this to other young girls, but I’ve seen the pattern play out with more women than I can count. The one woman before me who was brave enough to call her on it also got dumped as the friend because obviously she was crazy. If you talk to Alpha, she has never done anything wrong in the history of either relationship, and if she has said the opposite, she said it because you had something she wanted.
If her dopamine levels are low, she’ll get a hit any way she can… and in my case, it was reaching out for adoration because she knew I’d never say anything negative. Then, I got mad. So I was discarded for telling the truth and now some of my former friends think that I am mentally ill. It’s true, but not about this. Some of those triggers helped to set up my valley of vulnerability, but no one remembers that, either.
Her reality cracked, and then mine because of it.
In this case, correlation provides all of its causation, but no one looks at it except me in any regular sense. Everyone else has moved on, because she has. Here’s the thing, though. As fake as she was, she also never would have left me. If there is someone on earth that she genuinely loves, it’s me. This is because life hadn’t hit her too hard when we met. I slid in under the wire and disarmed the bomb. My ire is directed at how love was presented. Being seductive while she told me we were family and then treating me like she didn’t know what the hell was happening “must have been confusing and upsetting to you.”
Must have been? No. I deal with all this every day. Every time I talk. Every time I sigh, every time I am looking in the mirror and one of her facial expressions appears. That is the one true fact that I know people can remember. My impersonation is dead accurate.
That’s because I curated it.
Long before we ever went to the The Big Yellow House, love was based on what I could do for her, and not what she could do for me. I would not believe that had I not spent 23 years in the trap.
I said that I was going to borrow structure from Wicked, and that Alpha might not even appear in the series because I wanted to focus on my friends other than her that came to me through the relationship. Then, I realized it was unfair to throw everything out there, only telling one side of the story.
I decided to say explicitly why it was hard, because no one recognized it back then. I was 19, but arrested at 14. Then, when the trauma started resolving, I had to develop coping mechanisms. For me, it’s writing- the lead the charge into hell that Omega exhibits comes in handy when I realize “now is the time I should unleash holy hell because I’m right.” I am being a judgmental bastard right now because here’s what happened.
When I was 36, the relationship ended for good. I was too upset that not only had Alpha done this to me, she had the audacity to tell people that she just didn’t understand why I was so obsessed with her. It’s because she put every single problem we ever had on me, particularly why it was wrong for me to be in love with her because she was an adult and I wasn’t.
…….without ever taking in that I was following her lead, just like in everything else.
The exact reason I went to The Big Yellow House in the first place and even have all these memories. To that I can attribute gratitude. The rest combined malice with idiocy depending on the day. I was sat there listening for days.
It’s just that for me, there are some core memories that are damaged from certain things that have been said or done. For me, it was one of the worst days of my life. For her, it was Wednesday.