Saturday, April 21, 2007
I was walking back from the mission, reflecting on an unpleasant event that had happened while we were gone. I couldn't help but be reminded of something I had written to D, the man with whom I discovered S was cheating. When I discovered. That one message. You don't know about it yet, because it's in Part One. And I don't have Part One, because she has it. That's why this whole bloody thing starts with Part Two.
That was unpleasant, but only for a minute. It passed, that pang in my heart. I've since come to believe that its brief nature, this time, was due entirely to me being here, and not there. I even chuckled, a little, as it came to pass. Mine was the laugh of a man resigned.
And that's the point: I'm resigned because I fully realize I can't do a damned thing about it. The home me would have been compelled to send an "I miss you" email or text message to S; another desperate panicked attempt to maybe-fix-everything-just-this-one-last-time. Again. I certainly do miss her. But here, somewhere I'd rather not be, I won't say a fucking word. It doesn't change anything. Nor would telling her.
I'm still alive, though.
Friday, April 20, 2007
I miss her. Today is a bad day.
~ I had a stick that I had folded into two, and was mindlessly bringing the ends together, like an alligator mouth. Someone said, "Ducky." S used to call me that. One of a million little intimate things. I remember breaking my nose, and the stupid cast. And how in love with her I was, my heart wanting to burst every time she called me that. Especially so long after.
~ Someone said, "for cereal." I hate that, now.
~ I was tired, today. Loopy. I started saying things that made no sense whatsoever. Random words. I used to to do that as we were falling asleep, together. Mumbled insanity -- just to get her to say, "What?" And I would die laughing, in love.
I am alone. Especially today.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Hanna explained things to me. Bless her. Though I hadn't heard from Bri in some time, I had been excusing her absence. No letters did not necessarily mean that there weren't any coming. But Hanna set me straight: they haven't come, and aren't coming, because there's no Bri to speak of. Certainly not the Bri I had fashioned for myself.
I am an idiot. As I told Hanna, and I believe it: I love being in love, and the pursuit of it. I was married for seven years, and that ended. I then fell more deeply in love and was more intimate with S than I ever could have imagined myself capable of, and two years later it, too, collapsed.
And then, right there at the end... so soon after S, and just before leaving for Africa, I met another. A chance. A muse. I have so much to share. I so desperately want someone with whom to share it.
I think, ultimately, that I was so excited, so panicked, that I tried to fashion someone as I needed them, not as they were. Damn me.
I have sufficiently healed from S that I now understand that I'll be okay. No matter what. But despite this rarely comforting realization, I cannot help myself. I cannot change myself. I am who I am. I need someone with whom to share. I love life; I love my life. I just don't want it all to myself, you know?
There's no finding love in Africa, though, I'll tell 'ya.
Oh. And what inspired me to write this: here
It seems I'm not alone, despite being alone. I'm not the only one that has felt the pain I was so certain was only mine.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Before Sex, After Sex
On the surface, it looks like sex ruins things—the dynamic changes, the energy dissipates, and the tension disappears. Sometimes the relationship lasts, but most of the time, it doesn’t.
Before sex, it’s all about showing up on time and smelling nice. The sexual tension does the rest. It helps you idealize your partner to keep you motivated and on task. I can’t be the only guy to think I’m falling in love with a girl only to lose all interest after I catch my breath. While this tension will never be as high as the moment before that first penetration, it can be maintained at a healthy level with spontaneity, unpredictability, and creativity—qualities that only come as a result of effort.
Effort. I think this culture used to be about putting in effort and hard-work back when our parents were coming up, but it’s been replaced with expectation. All of us are trained to expect things. We expect to afford a nice car and house for going to college. We expect to be entertained every day . We expect the dead person to be scraped off the road in a timely manner so that we can make yoga class. The problem with expectation is that it leads to entitlement, and entitlement leads to a lack of effort. If both of you are not putting in more effort after sex, things will fade out.
The big issue with out generation is not with getting laid (we’re in a golden era for that), but with what we believe a relationship should be. He believes beauty queens should fall from the sky if he is earning six figures and she believes Prince Charming and Funny and Ambitious should sweep her into a McMansion because she is well-read and has pretty nails. “I put in this work to get where I am, so I am entitled to an amazing partner for life. I shouldn’t have to do more.” It doesn’t work like that. Guys: you are going to have to bring more to the table than flashing your extra glossy business card and offering to take girls to expensive dinners. Girls: it’s going to take more than just looking pretty and sending text messages.
People want the best without putting in work, without sacrificing, without caring. We expect to get more than we are putting in, but ask anyone in a happy marriage how it’s really done and they will tell you it’s all about the effort. You have to care and you have to try, every single day. Good luck finding someone here under the age of 30 who understands that concept. Instead of working towards real change to increase their value, most twenty-somethings instead whine about how life isn’t fair and how bad their luck is, as if there is a concerted effort by the overlords of our universe to keep them single and unhappy. You are responsible for your romantic happiness, and no one else. If there is a problem then get off your ass and do something about it, no matter how many years it takes to solve.
But even if you are willing to put in that effort, there is no guarantee you will get back it in return. The expectation mindset is so perverse and widespread in this country that you will quickly get frustrated at the inability of your romantic interests to put in an amount of work you think is necessary for something to last. It looks like we’ve gotten to the point where modern dating is about experiencing a lot of disappointment until you finally run into someone who gives a damn and shows it.17 • April 16, 2007
Thursday, April 12, 2007
I won't go into the darkened corners here. I would, but it wouldn't be fair, really. I am just a guy, at least outwardly, but I like myself and can produce a thousand reasons why I'm not just a guy. I'm different, as you are. But who isn't?
I also like to get my hands dirty. Though my occupation is more often than not very clean and office-y, I take such great pleasure in, say, fixing my car. I was immensely proud of my yard in Georgia, especially in that I did all the landscaping myself. I built a three-stall barn when I was seventeen. My hands are alternately covered in scrapes and torn cuticles and lotion and evidence of a fresh manicure. I love the sense of accomplishment, be it having vacuumed the house, planted a new Bradford pear, or translated 30 pages of Persian.
I'm definitely not too good to say hi to anyone. Ten years of Georgia, among other things, taught me the value of unsolicited public civility. Before moving, I knew all my neighbors, even if we didn't hang out on the weekends and play poker. In fact, oddly, the Guatemalan family that lived next door -- with whom I'd probably had the least contact -- told me as I was crating boxes down to my trailer that I was their "best neighbor".
Huh. My best friend was helping me. I thanked them, shrugged, and later told Scott that I barely knew them.
I'm 31 but look 25. My degree is in Middle Eastern Studies, and I hope to earn my masters in two years. I have a beautiful, precocious (we all say that, don't we?) daughter from a previous marriage. We were married seven years. There was no itch. I'm a pickup athlete. I dread the idea of running but end up loving the euphoria it produces. I'm not very good at it. I play basketball a lot; I kayak, mountain bike, etc. In fact, I just returned from the gym (tent). I love physical activity so long as it does not get repetitive (witness the basketball.)
I live because, as someone once told me, "existence is not enough." I live because I love living. It is the smallest moment of everyday life that charges me. I still get giddy. A lot. I am so easily excited by what other people would consider mundane. But they only consider it mundane because they stopped living.
My laptop is not my best friend, but it is my best friend's best friend. Seriously.
I am also a dreamer. But less of a dreamer than an optimist. And less of an optimist than someone just possessing an extraordinary amount of ambition. I do not think it is immature to still believe that I can do whatever the hell I want, become whoever the hell I want. I have recently entertained the idea of going to law school. I enjoy debating. I won a civil judgment in small claims court. It will likely not happen, because there are a thousand things that I love. Its all a matter of timing, right?
I am not crazy.
I have suffered heartbreak. And I am pained to admit that I have caused heartbreak, on one painful occasion. But I do not believe there is some great zero-sum game at play. If there was, I'd be happy in love, now. It's just life.
I've had a woman tell me, in response to my worries that something just wasn't right, that everything indeed was, and that she loves me endlessly ("as the sun and the moon are forever changing places", she wrote) and that if ever I needed to extinguish a moment of self-doubt or insecurity, that all I need to do is depend on her to wave away the fear and pain... only to discover a mere two weeks later that, in fact, I had all the reason in the world to be afraid. She lost more than her best friend; I would have laid at her feet and died to bring but a moment of pleasure to her.
I am a serial monogamist. I have never dated, with the one possible exception being a recent and fantastically interesting girl of whom I've not yet made mention. All my loves were first something else... not always a friend, but definitely not someone I met in a bar. I do not think I am capable of dating, per se.
I don't know if I'm the guy next door. I often even define myself by what I do, or what I've done, or what I enjoy or like or prefer. And I think they're all pretty damned unique. So I might be the guy next door, but that guy next door is pretty interesting, really.
I do not play guitar; I am woefully and often painfully unskilled in any meaningful art form. I am certainly not perfect, but... no one could have said it better: "I am the solution to many problems."
And I hate walls. Others have always revealed them to me when it was too late to do anything about it. If ever I could have. In fact, I am inclined to believe that in most cases, the only person that can break a wall is the person that erected it in the first place -- and, importantly, they must want to break it.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
I suspect the chaos that were the last two weeks before my departure from Maryland helped as much as anything to usher in some peace in my life.
I still miss her, and I still love her. I don't I want her anymore, though. Towards the end, with me and Scott running around like crazed people trying to force my house (and life) into boxes, I started to feel as though I was actually healing. Real healing. Scarred, of course, but not bleeding anymore.
I began to think, and say aloud, that this is all S's loss. And I realized that, in the sum total, I know that I did right. It was, in fact, all her.
My life was a wreck -- and still is, to a certain extent. But I'm comfortable enough now to say that it's her fault. It is.
I have spent a lot of time since I started moving -- and carrying through the very moment I write this -- and I have come to a neat little wrap-up. Something with which I can rest. My soul can rest. No more not knowing...
And that is... well, that is S betrayed me. She cheated on me. And it is inexcusable. It is done. We are done.
It would be different -- vastly so -- if I was just dealing with her pain, her feelings, her insecurity, her doubt. But I'm not, and I wasn't. I've had to deal with someone else, too. Even if she doesn't see it that way.
She could have left, she should have left for all her own reasons... to think, to feel, to ponder, to reflect, to end it. But she didn't. She cheated on me with someone else, and she actively and purposefully mislead me into thinking it was always just us. I am ashamed that I let myself love her as much as I did, when all the while she was playing another side. Hiding another S.
So, Requiem it is. The end of that.
And Scott, and Hanna. Bless their hearts. They stood with me -- especially Scott. Through it all. And God knows it was ugly. I was ugly.
And others. And Brianne. Who, despite her own fears, is greatly responsible for reminding me that I'm an alright guy. I can be attractive to others. That my single purpose in life was not, is not to love S. It is to love and to be loved. I know I can love. I know that I deserve to be loved. And if not someone I've just met, then someone else. It'll happen.
Scary, though, this being alone. But I can do it.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
Will he love her at her worst? Did she ever love me at mine?
How does she think that she "doesn't have to be away forever?" Does she imagine coming out with us from the house she shares with Dan? Squeezing us -- rejects -- in among her plans with him? I don't know how The Other Dan does it. I don't want to know. She can't throw us away and call us back as friends. Why would she even want to? To lessen her own guilt: See? They're okay. Does it play to some subconscious need -- the need to be needed, no matter the transgression? Has she ever really needed someone? I can't imagine what that must be like. I need her.
She called and said that she had read my questions. She told me she is ready to talk whenever I am. I can't talk with her. One minute on the phone, or the instant I saw her in person, I would be disarmed. Instantly. I can't be vulnerable to her. And I can't be angry -- I promised myself. That leaves me silent. I've tried to think of an alternative -- all I've really wanted are answers, right? And if they were lies or half-truths or "consideration for my feelings" again -- what have I gained? More of the same. I am nowhere. Perpetual.
She made a point of knowing that I had received her message saying that she loves me very much. What does she want me to do? Can she have read my journal and still thought that I could possibly have any response for that? Not hearing from her kills me. Hearing from her kills me. I wish I could hide. Somewhere with the answers I seek. Only she didn't give them to me. Every hour, every day -- I edge closer.
God? What do I do? She told me she is reminded of me everywhere. Even when she is with Mommy. Is it because of guilt? Or is it real? How can it be real? She forgot me so easily while I was deployed. She wasn't constantly reminded of me when she was telling him "I am yours forever" and "I'd wait for you forever." Which S is real? There is nothing I want more than for us to be back together. Noor-e cheshmam-e. But how can I trust? How could I possibly know? Emails. Phone calls. Home. MySpace. Work. NSTS. The mail. When I'm deployed again. Fear. Shame. Doubt. Self-loathing. She says she'd come over and "not leave." What does that mean? Until the second week of April?
I don't want to heal. I want it to grow and grow and grow and finally consume me. The end.
She insisted that she only wanted to leave me to be by herself, that she wasn't replacing me, that she just wanted to be away for a week, maybe, and then come back. She said that. How is that possible? If I didn't discover Dan and her relationship with him and the things she wrote, then in three weeks he'd be back here -- me none the wiser -- and wouldn't she be with him, not alone?
She also said that she was looking around her room at Mommy's and realized she didn't want to be there -- she wanted to be here, at "home." Is she capable, then, of separating her desire to be home from her desire to be with me? Meaning, how do I know -- how would I know that she wanted to be with me -- not just that she wanted to be home? S is my home. This place is haunted.
I think I want her to write me. And to take a long time in doing it. I can only pray that what she wrote was the truth.
I've lost 12 pounds since February 28th.
I must know and understand everything about S's relationship with Dan. But I'm afraid. I want to die without her. What does that say about me? That I spend all day thinking how I could end it, because I don't have the very person that did all this to me. I love her, endlessly.
If I had never discovered her emails to Dan -- what would have happened? I know what I would have done; I've written it already. I would have tried. Constantly. I would have died trying. Crying at Mommy's doorstep. And I wouldn't have known. I've re-read her last email to him -- at least, the last email that I have. She is addicted to him. What can ever be done about that?
If I wake to see one more sunrise, I will be perpetually afraid.
Her image and feeling follows me everywhere. I was at Antonio's, and I daydreamed her with me. I could see her. I could hear her. I could feel her. Feel her with me. I want it back. I had to go into my to-do folder to get some paperwork. She had put a sticky inside, before. It said, "More. For cereal." I cried again. I miss that so much. It hurts hurts hurts. She wrote "for cereal to Dan." I thought it was mine.
Can't she think of some way to make this all go away? So that I'd never have to be afraid again? So that I'd know I had her and she had me forever, no matter what?
As much as she seemed to be in pain last night -- and I believe it, damn me -- how would I know that she's not thinking better of it today and trying to forget me again? Writing Dan? She had done that before -- seemed so real, only to evaporate again when she has the chance to recompose her defense.
Is she asking anyone for advice? I have no one.
If she was staying in this house, and it was me living away, would she still think she loves me? Would it be easier for her to move on and forget me if she had a home to come to? Was last night only because she misses the feeling of home, not necessarily me in it? Does she truly love me, or is it just pity? She said she didn't want me here by myself. Does she not want to be the one here for me? Does she just want someone here for me? Does she think that I am as pathetic as I feel? I want to be alone. No one else can help me. No one can help me. I am alone. And the questions never stop.
I'm so afraid of being here, suppressed by all my childish fears
And if you have to leave, I just wish that you'd never leave
Your presence still lingers here, and it won't leave me alone
These wounds won't seem to heal, this pain is just too real
There's just too much that time cannot erase
When you cried, I wiped away all your tears
When you screamed, I fought away all your fears
And I held your hand through all these two years
But you still have all of me
You still captivate me, by your resonating light
Now I'm bound by the life you left behind
Your face, it haunts my once pleasant dreams
Your voice, it chases away all the sanity in me
I tried so hard to tell myself that you're gone
But though you're still with me
I've been alone all along
Why isn't she pleading? Begging? Something to show me? To prove to me? Is she real? Am I not to understand that she wants to make this right? No notes. Letters. Emails. Singing in my driveway. Nothing. Maybe she is scared? I always have been. But it didn't matter -- I would have done anything -- I did everything to prove myself to her. When I still thought I had to. I would have died for her. I still will.
What would she think if she knew that I'm constantly looking out the window? To see if she's there? And not knowing whether its because I want her to be, or afraid she is?
No one could have ever just lost what I had. Not without fault. What did I do? Or not? Baseball. I haven't heard that in a long time. I miss it. I also wonder what it meant. Will I ever?
I can't escape. She is everywhere.
I just called her. After a day of silence. I cannot stop. I don't know what to do, I swear to God. I cannot make her believe how much I love her. Nothing I say has any effect on her. I cannot make her understand that no matter what, all I want and need is her. I want to be with her forever. I will do anything, pardon and excuse and support and forgive -- all I need is to understand. So I can help. So she can help me. So I can be with her forever -- she has become my God. I am drawn, addicted, worshipful, devoted, submissive, tied, loyal -- so many things. All of them love. She hates herself, sometimes. I will die to be there for her that moment she learns she was always wrong.
Will she start seeing him when he gets back? Does she love him?
I refuse to not squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom. She made me a better person in a million ways, and I'll not stop being him. I love her. My life -- even what remains of it -- is a tribute to her. I wish I could make breakfast for her. I didn't do that enough.
I did a lot of reading today. I was supposed to go into work, but I didn't feel like it. Instead, I tried to inject some purpose into my day. I took the VW and the Suburban to Antonio's and cleared up the garage. It was exciting to see the Bus move, but it was also sad. For so long, I've wanted to share it with S. I remember how happy I felt when she promised me so long ago that she'd see me finish that project -- something again that Nichole had taken from me. And yet here I am again dealing with it by myself.
As I said, I did a lot of reading today. Mostly stupid stuff. I found a website, enotalone.com. It had lots of posted stories about relationships, breakups and heartbreak. For a little while, I felt encouraged. But in the end, all of the stories seemed unrelated to me -- no one could have had my experience. Not only because it is uniquely mine, but also because the majority of the stories seemed vain, juvenile and undeveloped. I sincerely believe that the story of Justin and S transcends.
One of the ideas -- really, the only idea -- that I learned was to establish some sort of "no-contact" rule. That doing things like I did last night, and the night before, are counter-productive. That in being miserable and constantly reminding her of how miserable I am without her only empowers her. That it won't change her mind. That though she will be trying to move on with her life, she will know that I am not. And that I am powerless. Admittedly, the idea of gathering the pieces of my life and trying to be happy as some sort of ploy to get her back is attractive -- because there is nothing I want more than to have her here with me -- but, despite the idea suggested by the authors, I find it false hope, fake reason, and empty motivation. Instead -- though it is insanely difficult not to hope -- I will try to force myself to live for my own sake, my own healing. Not hers. She has decided that she doesn't want me anymore. That I am not good enough. That she's not good enough. Whatever. It doesn't matter. But I have to breathe.
With that thought in mind, I left the house in a storm to workout. I ran and did all the things that become my habit while I was deployed. It felt great. I ran so fast -- my heart was pounding. God, it felt good. It surprised me -- it occurred to me mid-run that I've only had half a bagel all day. Just as well -- I'm getting to be in better shape that I have been in a long time. S's favorite belly, and its lint trap, has all but disappeared.
My feeling of euphoria -- brought on by the workout -- lasted me almost 30 minutes as I cooled down on the couch watching TV. Until I saw a Target commercial. I so want to run off to Target with S and follow her around the two-dollar bins. So, short-lived was my false sense of happiness. I just have to try harder -- and learn to roll with the staggering punches of my unexpected memories of her.
How I wish there was no Dan. So my memories, as painful as they are, would just be memories of us. If she calls tonight -- and I don't think she will -- I will not answer.
I love her.
She called. It was so difficult not to answer. But I didn't. She left me a message... she made a point of telling me that she would be in the city tonight. Right. Out and partying. This is the other S, I guess. maybe even the real one. The S that is not so distraught -- the S that does not want to be alone to figure things out. Instead, the S that is going to go out and drink and flirt, because she is free of me.
I wonder: does she expect me to call tonight? Broken-down, again? Maybe she made a point of telling me that she was going out in the hopes I would get angry? That would be a reasonable expectation. But I will not -- cannot do it. I feel only sadness.
I guess she doesn't feel so bad about herself after all?
My mom told me today that, despite now knowing everything that has happened between me and S, that she truly believes that we are meant to be together, and will. I hope so.
She called me; I didn't answer. She left a message saying that she needed to pick some things up for Hercules. I messaged her, saying I'd stay upstairs. I decided this after I panicked and considered driving away for a while.
She tried to get me to talk; I quietly and unemotionally refused. She asked me several times, making sure that I didn't want to talk. She also asked if she could email me at work -- I told her that I didn't want her to. All I said to her was that I love her. She left -- and came right back. I had gone upstairs to watch as she left. She asked, downstairs, if I was done.
I told her that I didn't want to talk, or message, or email. That all I had for her was love. That I refused to be her friend and would not get angry or hate her. That all I wanted was her, and since I could not have her -- or even convince her that I forgive her for whatever it is that she thinks is keeping her from loving me -- that I would suffer in silence, by myself. That I would never call her in agony again like these two recent nights. I repeated, emphatically, that I love her. She listened in complete silence. Abruptly, she said, "I love you, babe," and left. In a hurry.
I wonder what she was feeling. Because I want to take care of her. I love her, after all.
Even when I have moments of peace... well, not really peace... when I've successfully distracted myself for just a moment, when I've drawn my focus onto anything other than my pain... it is immediately replaced with hours of anguish. There is no peace, no solace, no escape. Every song on the radio -- it is about her, or me, or us. Every mindless sitcom. Everything. I have tried to put my mind in a coma, numb and unaware of my heart. Failure.
Why did she send me that message last night that she missed me? Does she really? What part of me? The part with which she used to be in love? Or just the "friend" part? Is she just alone and wants to talk? It could be me or any of a thousand people.
I had dark, compelling thoughts again today. They flooded over me. I was so close to simply closing my eyes on 270 and drifting into the barrier. I blinked for a long time. There is no healing.
I slept for an hour, though I wasn't tired, before I had to get ready to get Madison. Horrible nightmares. S and Madison. My God. I'm still shaking as I write this. My insides are dying. I wish my outside would catch up. Everything so black. My soul is shattered. Both of them were gone. I couldn't find them. No matter how hard I tried.
I don't know how much it can get worse. I am afraid. I broke everyone's rules and forced another sobbing conversation on S. It is clear she really doesn't believe how pointless and fucked my life has become. I don't want to do anything about my life -- there isn't anything to do. Without her, the notion of not having a house is meaningless. Like my life. I have no spirit. No soul remaining. Only emptiness. My secret dream -- even it -- is gone. Like everything else. She's not coming back. I've lost her forever.
"I love you, S." They will be the last words to pass my lips, so help me God.
Earlier, I asked Nichole how Jenna was doing. Nichole said that she didn't know, because they don't talk anymore. I said I was sorry. Nichole said, "You should be, it's your fault." I had nothing to say. I can't even imagine what I did to make that happen. Never mind. Seems there is a growing sense of commonality -- every woman that I touch is hurt. I always find out when it's too late to do anything about it.
I talked with Mom this morning. She has agreed to take the girls. I can't stop crying; Madison has caught me countless times. All I can ever tell her is that I miss S very much. I feel guilty, and sad, about the dogs. I will miss them very much -- even though I had come to take them for granted. I wish S and I had walked with them, together, more. It hurts to remember our walks in Georgia. Mom said that I still had hope, that there is still hope. Just as she said that, the sun broke through the clouds. Allahu'abha. Mom also told me about how she understands S and what she is dealing with. I love her.
I went to the store with Madison. I didn't have anything to eat. It was the first time since all this happened that I went. Painful. Even being in the grocery store made me feel it, heavy. Towards the end of shopping, I couldn't handle it anymore. It felt likke the walls were closing in on me. I started to panic, and I could feel myself losing patience with Madison, even though she was being fine. I had to run out -- right then. I feel guilty because I wished Madison wasn't there. So I could just die by myself. This morning, she asked again why I cried so much last night. I told her again that I just missed S a lot. She responded by saying that I still had her. I am a terrible father, because my thought at that moment was "but you're not enough." Even when she is with me -- which is rare enough -- her presence does nothing to lessen the pain. In fact, she mostly amplifies it. I see S in her.
30 minute nap. To escape reality. I dreamed of her again. Not since I was a kid have I ever remembered my dreams like this. So vivid. All my defenses are broken. I went somewhere for a security interview and polygraph. I was getting a job somewhere. The day before, I remember being a wreck. I had been called in for more questions. My polygrapher had had some inconsistent results. I went back, and I knew S would be my processor. The one who would shuffle me around through the process. She told me that I had to get my picture taken, and she led me to a room full of desktop computers. Very gray inside. There was someone else at the end of the room doing something. S had me sit in front of computer that had a webcam. She didn't speak to me coldly; she was trying to fake happiness. What has happened to us had happened in my dream, too. She sat next to me, and I collapsed. My head fell to her lap, and I sobbed. I reached out my arms around her waist and hugged -- under her shirt. I squeezed so hard. I can still feel her skin, her flesh. I brought myself as deep as I could into her lap; I dove in. She ran her hand through my hair. When my sobs became loud, she giggled in embarrassment and tried to quiet me, so the guy down at the other end of the room wouldn't hear. I woke up. I wish she were still here. To make this nightmare go away. Not just my dream. The nightmare -- the waking nightmare my life has become.
Cold and empty.
I took Maddie to the mall. She wanted to go. It was terrifying -- worse than the store we went to earlier. So many shared memories there. All of them not particularly meaningful at the time, but for my being happy and in love. Every square foot was killing me. I wonder if she remembers me accidentally revealing her sweatshirt that Christmas? We went to Ruby Tuesday's. She was hungry. While she was coloring so intently, I had opportunity to reflect. It occurred to me precisely how useless and disconnected I am. I thought about vanishing, dying, disappearing. As hard as I tried, I could not think of one person that would have depended on me.
Mom? She's healing all by herself. Taking care of Levy, too.
Levy? Becoming a bit of a loner, frighteningly. Like so many of his uncles.
Sierra? Overcame so many challenges to live her own life; still resents me for leaving home.
Scott? His life is overfull without me in it. He'd miss the idea of me, but wouldn't have to take care of me anymore.
Madison? I thought a lot about her. Her Mom is doing everything. All I do is entertain her -- sometimes badly -- part time. She doesn't need me. She been doing just fine without me. I was so proud that I taught her how to tie her shoelaces. I constantly reminded her and S because it's all I've given her in a long, long time.
S? All she wants in this world is to be away from me.
I don't think anyone would care. And it is strangling me. They'd all be better off, anyway.
I'm laying in bed in the middle of the day, trying to fall asleep. Wishing for no dreams. Hoping to sleep forever. Above me, on the ceiling, I saw the hooks. S's princess bed. So much pain. I'm so exhausted from crying. I took this week off on leave, because I can't stand going to work. There is nothing for me there. There is nothing for me here, either, but at least no one is looking at me.
She came over the night before last. I miss her. I love her. I've repeatedly broken my rules. I have no control. Over anything. Life. Me.
My understanding of what S is going through and what she is feeling has changed profoundly over the last couple of days. It nonetheless leaves me in the same dark, cold place. With no will to live but for her.
I am very scared that I am deploying and something bad will happen there. And I will not have had her, at the end. This fear covers me and all my others. I have to move in a couple of weeks. I still don't know where. It doesn't matter, really. I don't think I can do it. Nothing matters anymore. We were supposed to go together.
I didn't want to unmake the bed tonight, so I lined up all the pillows beside me. S told me that she did the same -- more than once -- but not because she was lazy like I am, but because she wanted a fake me beside her. The last time she told me this -- she was loving Dan and making me think that she loved me more than anything in the world. Even mindless TV doesn't insulate me against the pain. I wish what she said was true. I miss her. I love her. Damn me to hell. I can't be far off yet. Maybe tonight I'll sleep and never wake up. To face another day of the slow decay. How long does it take?
I miss my best friend. All of the million little things that happen and idea and feelings I have -- I can't share with her now.
I want to go on didani. I want to visit Madar and listen to her jokes. I want to see Darya wrestle with Madison. I want to see Mommy's haft-seen. I want to listen to Soroush's "Hotel California." I can't have any of it. Every aspect of my life has changed for the worse. So bleak. All of my little happinesses gone.
I set out on a narrow way, many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed to you
Every long lost dream
Led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart
They were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way
Into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you
I think about the years I spent
Just passing through
I'd like to have the time I lost
And give it back to you
But you just smile and take my hand
You've been there, you understand
It's all part of a grander plan
That is coming true
I remember squeezing her hand real tight whenever this song came on. We sang it together. Emotion. I have never felt love like that. I never will again.
S came over unannounced. It was a wreck. Or, rather, I was a wreck. When she touched me and when she kissed my forehead, I could feel her not feel. I could feel the distance. Of her making. It was as though it was fake, a show. Something she might do for a coworker or distant friend. It made it worse. When I could breathe again, I watched an episode of King of Queens. They discover that doing things apart makes them happy -- 'til the end, of course. It made me hurt, all over again. Because I already knew the lesson, and S taught me. I'd rather go see her movie together than watch one alone that interests only me. For every time we did something together that I didn't particularly want to, one of two things happened: either I ended up enjoying it myself -- and she knew I would all along, or we'd later do something together that interested mostly me. I told her when she was here how much I miss her. She can' t believe me. She did say some things that upset me more, though. She said she wants me to depend on her. I don't need to write about that here. Both of us know why that hurts -- why hearing her say that hurts. Also, she said that I was being ridiculous. She has already started. She's already successfully removing me from her heart. I'll have never been. She's probably decided that she's looking forward to me being deployed. When she said she loves me, it was different. It didn't have the meaning it's always had before.
I finally got my truck back from Antonio. It was the first time I'd driven it since I came back. I took it to the carwash that S discovered and to which she so lovingly took my truck the day I was going to Georgia last October. Which, of course, reminds me of Dan. When I was driving it to the carwash, I noticed -- as I always do when I drive it -- the "XOXO" S left on my window in lipgloss. I wonder if she noticed it when she drove my truck from Mommy's house? If she did, what was she feeling? What was she thinking? I remember the first time she put it on. The swimming pool parking lot. I miss her. Now it's gone, though, like so much else important in my life.
Maddie reminded me, again, of how much she misses S. Later, I tickled her a little, and she recalled, "Remember when me and S were tickling you, Daddy? On the sides of your belly and even under your armpit?" Then we made it home and she was so excited to see Hercules. She said that she missed him and loved him very much and that she just wanted to play with him alone for a while. This will never end.
I called Mommy for the first time last night. I didn't want to write about it. Scott sent me a text message saying that Laura got engaged today. What is wrong with me?
I'm trying to download all of her pictures from Kodak Gallery. It is taking a long time. I need them all. I remember that she sent Dan pictures she had taken -- none included me, of course. She entitled one of the folders, "Our Little Family." That one didn't make it, either. I hope I never come back from deployment.
Each night as I'm going to sleep, I hope that I'll wake in the middle of the night not because of a nightmare but because I find S has sneaked into bed with me, and there is a silent but complicit understanding that she is okay with us now, and I fall asleep knowing that I'll never have to be afraid again. Dreaming for a dream.
Today was my first real day back at work. It was horrible. I don't want to be there anymore. Seriously. She was always my anchor. For good days that I wanted to share. And bad days from which I could always count on her presence alone as respite. In and out of the buildings and our new offices at the Park, I saw Marines and EGA stickers. Everywhere. When I finally got my email account working right, among the seven thousand unread messages was one from S when she sent my translated African notebook. Pain. On two fronts. One, the email was discompassionate. Two, I can't help but realize that she was writing love letters and having phone conversations with Dan when she sent it. Meanwhile, I was stupid and in Africa, thinking that the reason for my life was waiting for me, and loving me.
She asked me, in an email, how I'm doing it, tonight. Unbelievable. I suspect that in these three weeks she has already learned that she is okay to move on. She must think that I am capable of the same. She must never have know how truly and completely I love her.
One more hit. My life bears no resemblance to what I thought I had just one month ago. Shattered. Ruined. I called her to tell her about next week. I cried, again. She keeps asking to help me. I keep refusing. She must not have thought about how hard it is to know that I need to stop needing her. Though it is impossible. My heart, my soul needs her. But I certainly cannot expect her to help me with insignificant meaningless things because it only trivializes what I once had. And that was all of her. Or so I thought. I hate what I have become.
She came over last night. She was so cold, so mean to me. I hate that she can be like that, because I know it's not real. But it hurts just as much. She said she was losing patience with my inability to unfuck my life. Horrible. Fake. I know that she knows what a disaster everything has become. She broke, at the end, and the other S came out. She tried to comfort me, to love me. I hate the wall that she can put up so easily. I hate that I was unable to help her forget it, to realize that she doesn't need it with me. I hate my life. Today began the end of me and the only life I want and can imagine. I rented storage for all my stuff, and I'll be moving out this week. I was told that I will be leaving next week. I'll be gone for a long time, if not forever. I'm scared, and the only person in the world that can help me chooses instead to hurt me even more. Pushing me to my fate. The dogs will get cleared by the vet tomorrow and will also be gone -- maybe forever -- in just a couple of days. I had Maddie again last weekend, and it was goodbye. It is goodbye to everything and everyone I ever wanted, loved, cared for and counted on. The end approaches and I've stopped pushing against it. I've lost all will.
I began the process of packing my things up today. I'm not sure why I bother. I guess I'm on autopilot. Maddie's room was the hardest. And going through the pictures. Irony, I guess, that there were a thousand pictures of Alfred and even more of The Other Dan. They didn't deserve her.
I want to tell her that she's ruined my life. I can't, though, because it used to be a cute little joke. Everything has been taken away from me.
The last time I watched this episode of Fraiser, she was sleeping next to me.