Stages of Grief


Are You Crazy When You’re Right? 3

 

Most of you know the one side of the breakup: David/Romeo cheated. I know about 8 women, but other women are like roaches: for every 1 you see, there are 20 in the walls. I know that there’s more, but I don’t care to find out the details. I have alluded to The Dark Days and tried to make clear that I am far from blameless in our demise, but I have been too scared and ashamed and just generally clueless about how to talk about those things in great detail. In this version, I am a hero or a damsel or both. This was the story the world told me after my viral post. I was “admirably vulnerable” and “savage AF” and “standing up for all women” and did what others “wished” they had had the “courage” to do.

On the flip side, I’m prone to rewriting history to be the villain or martyr or both as well. The upside to taking all of the blame for what went wrong in a relationship (“Because I ____ that’s the only reason he _____ , so really this is all my fault.”) is that you don’t have to remember to wash your hair or shower or return phone calls because the ensuing depression is debilitating and trying to function is out of the question. This is the story I’ve been dancing with for the last 8 months. Since I found out about the other women in May, I have found every way possible to blame myself.

If I took all of the blame, that was infinitely easier for me to process and fix:

I am broken. I broke us. I need help. I will get help. I’ll go get help right now, actually- babe, you just stay right where you are. Now that I’m better, we can get better. Now we are better. Look! Everyone see how much better we are!

…Right?

But here’s the thing: both versions are true but neither are complete.

Back when I taught English, I would tell my students all the time that fairy tale hero and damsels and villains and martyrs don’t exist past kindergarten. In the really engaging stories- just as in really facinating people- there are hero that are deeply flawed, damsels that don’t want rescuing, villains that have emotional baggage giving them every reason to be even more twisted than they already are, and martyrs that are absolute monsters. Sometimes the main character can be all four at once. It’s not just complicated, it’s complex. But it’s closer to complete.

And so the other day when I was perfectly calm and telling David/Romeo that I had now made no less than 20 attempts to come to an amicable and fair resolution with our business, and he was backing us both into a corner that could only result in a nasty courtroom drama, he told me he wasn’t going to talk to me unless I calmed down.

“I’m calm,” I replied earnestly.

I was calm. I wouldn’t say I was even irritated, just explaining the facts.

And then it all hit me like wave made of rocks and garbage and all of a sudden I wasn’t calm at all anymore. I put down the phone and ended the conversation as it all started to be complicated and complex but more complete.

Let me back up…

I threw a glass.

One night shortly after I had moved in, Romeo and I had entire too much to drink at one of his work parties, we came back to the house and found ourselves discussing politics. If you read my previous post, you’re already aware of what a total asshole I am capable of being when it comes to politics. He’s just as big of a stubborn, inflammatory asshole but in my opinion he is even more insufferable because… well because he’s wrong, but also because he thinks he needed to convert me to Team Red, when I had long ago given up the idea of converting him to Team Blue and just wanted him to at least try to see my side of the conversation. But I digress.

We started fighting about politics, I started crying because that’s what drunk girls do when they “can’t even” but also what normal girls do when they’re still hormonally flooded from their new IUD and emotionally exhausted because in the past two weeks they have left everyone and everything they know- no matter how happy they are about that decision. And as I’m trying to explain this to David/Romeo, he starts in on me.

“Oh boo hoo, it’s so sad,” he said in a mocking cry voice. “It must be so hard to come move into a big, beautiful home. Fuck you are so crazy and ungrateful- you said you wanted to move here. Move back to Houston- I don’t give a shit. It’s better than listening to you bitch about it all the time (ahem- less than two weeks). Byyyyyye,” he nastily intoned as he pulled the covers over his head and told me to “drive the fuck home then.”

I threw a glass that shattered at the wall over his head. Good choices suffer when your primal brain is on overdrive screaming “WHO THE FUCK EVEN IS THIS GUY????”

He saw the most raw, terrified, wild-animal-scratching-and-hissing-in-the-corner version of me. He saw it over and over during The Dark Days.

 

Eventually that’s all he ever saw. Signs of emotion were treated as an attack. Any hint of humanity was accused of being crazy. Valid concerns were treated as verbal abuse. Even at my best and brightest, he would find ways to make me feel like I was never enough and always too much.

And the entire time, the question remained “who the fuck even is this guy?”

I would watch him lie to his own mother or best friend or boss so casually that it gave me goosebumps.

I saw him calculate people and calculate money and always choose money over people and the ease of those decisions would consistently leave me speechless.

Honestly I can list more things that I even feel comfortable with right now because I’m not trying to run his name through the mud, I am just trying to reconcile what’s complicated and complex and complete.

When my beloved Dr. Jekyll showed glimmers of Mr. Hyde behind his eyes, I would lose it. I would scream and say things that make my heart hurt to think about now and generally act like a crazy bitch. I would be overwhelmed with what can only be described as genuine terror and it always reared it’s ugly head while scratching and hissing like a wild animal unsure of what her captor is keeping her around for. If he could dispose of all of these other relationships and use all of these other people as stepping stones and emotional scratching posts without a second’s though, nothing was stopping him from doing the same to me.

So I’m left with this one haunting question…

Are you crazy when you’re right?

 


Restoring to Factory Default Settings

Today I sold my last piece of furniture.

Last night I sold my bedroom set. Two weeks ago I sold my couch and a book shelf. Two weeks before that I sold 2 TVs, 2 bedside tables, a leather chair, a storage bench, 4 lamps, another bookshelf and this really cool alarm thing that simulates a sunrise so that you don’t have to wake up in the dark. Four weeks before that I had a temper tantrum themed yard sale and sold every spatula, picture frame, coffee cup, pillow, pair of shorts… everything every THING that I had. Two months before that I sold a bed frame. But that was because I had found out Romeo/David had slept with Erin Black in that bed, and I made him buy us a new one.

Maybe that counts as the same type “everything must go” tantrum.

Maybe it doesn’t.

But today the last piece of furniture- the last item I had that couldn’t just fit in the back of my Corolla, take two rights and go straight on ’till morning- walked out the front door for $225.

I’m not going to lie- I panicked a little bit.

Wait, no, if I’m not going to lie- I panicked a lot.

I’ve been counting down to this moment for 11 weeks. How could I get rid of everything? How could I unload the memories and recoup the cash and make it not my problem anymore? How could I find the freedom that I was SURE would come once it was all just out of my face? How could I untether myself from a 5 bedroom house worth of stuff that I had been collecting for the better part of the last decade with the belief that “well sooner than later I’ll be married, with a bigger house, and we’ll have kids, so I’ll need this Calphalon pan set/ Dyson vacuum/ suede sectional couch/ 52″ TV as an investment in my future.”

I had the house. I had the stuff. I even had the paper doll “husband” to match.

I also had panic attacks that I would never be enough to make him happy. I had medication induced nightmares and weeks without sleep and 4:00am debates with myself about which was worse. I had what can only be described as toddler level meltdowns because I could never cook the spinach the way he liked it which bothered me infinitely more than it bothered him. I had eerie, unfounded fits of anxiety that he had one foot out the door- those turned out to be right though.

I can only describe it as an out of body experience when you realize that you thought owning 800 thread count sheets could save you from the other shoe dropping. And it drops anyways as you sit in bed on these beautiful sheets and read the Facebook message that would send you down the rabbit hole and don’t know if you feel more betrayed by the lies the sheets told you or the lies the paper doll told you.

So here I am on the eve of my 32nd birthday.

Feeling the least excited about my birthday that I’ve felt since my parents bought themselves a new car for my 16th birthday. (No, they did not keep the old one for me. They traded it in. Showed up at my 16th birthday party in a new car… for themselves. All my friends started jumping up and down in excitement “for me.” Two days passed before I realized they weren’t playing a joke on me. If you ever wondered where all this deep seated dysfunction comes from, remember those are the people that raised me. Parenting Tip: You have roughly 6,570 days of raising your child. Buy a new car for yourself on literally any other day. Good talk.)

I digress.

Here I am on the eve of my 32nd birthday.

I launched my new professional organizing business today. It’s doing well so far. And I don’t know if it’ll be enough to put food on the table.

I should be getting final close out money from David this week. And it’s exactly enough to pay off the last of my remaining debt.

I accidentally died my hair dark lilac. And it should wash out before the end of the month and back closer to my natural color.

I own exactly 17 shirts, 8 dresses, 4 skirts, 8 pairs of pants, 11 pairs of shoes, and some makeup. Oh and a juicer that I just really love. And that’s literally it. And I don’t have a lease or a mortgage.

I have no less than 30 In Case of Emergency friends that I could and would call about a flat tire at 3:00am and know without a doubt they would be there. And every one of those people has their own In Case of Emergency that they would call before me.

I will see 1 of the 4 members of my family for a “Thanksgiving celebration” that we already promised will most likely be gumbo and wine. And I don’t have to see all of the other family members that I generally spend weeks working up anxiety about “how will the holidays go this time?”

I don’t have a partner that loves me and will wake me up to pancakes with a candle in it while singing happy birthday. And I don’t have a paper doll.

I don’t say all of this because I hope to throw a pity party en lieu of a birthday party. In fact, some of these things are pretty damn wonderful. (I’m looking at you Nordstrom credit card- don’t let the door hit ya’ where the good Lord split ya’!)

I say all of this because today when I watched that dresser pull away from the driveway and just hours later launched my website, I realized that like it or not, I have achieved a full factory reset. Two years ago- to the day- I started this blog and it was all about teaching, adventures and misadventures in love, dysfunctional family, and a halfhearted attempt at finding myself during a heartbreak.

And now…

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What Did the Skeleton Order With His Coke?

 

…a mop.

Get it?

See. I’m still funny.

Halloween is hands down my favorite holiday. When you have a crazy family, Thanksgiving and Christmas is more likely to give you a series of mini-strokes than the warm fuzzies, plus October is when the weather in Texas is finally tolerable for extended periods of time.

And Laffy Taffy, y’all. I’ve had 50 today and it’s not even noon.

Last year Halloween was a nightmare for me. I was right in the grip of The Dark Days, and all I wanted was to dress up as something sexy and host a party at our house that would remind David how fun and cute and pulled together I was. Instead, I ruined the chili, no one came because I only knew like 3 people in San Antonio and David put off telling his friends until last minute, and the day before I got a haircut that looked like a child did it with school scissors. In the dark. With his feet.

funny-halloween-quotes-4

So for two days straight we fought because he didn’t want to wear a costume, I was stressed no one would come, and he laughed at me for crying about my haircut- which was really me crying about feeling so utterly uprooted from Houston and not having my hair stylist around… or my boss or students or coworkers or roommates or my friends or my favorite yoga instructor or my dry cleaner or my church or my favorite running trail… or you get the point.

Instead of being something sexy, I was a witch. And also I dressed up as a witch.

This year though… this year I feel like I’ve given up on trying to be cute and fun and pulled together. There’s some undeniable low key depression going on, but also I’m just exhausted. I’m exhausted of being always too much and never enough. I’m exhausted of thinking about how I screamed and slammed doors and was a heinous bitch during that haircut fight, and most of all I’m exhausted of the endless death spiral of wondering, “what came first, his awful or my awful?” and always trying to find ways to give or take blame. As if that would make it make sense? And take the pain away?

Right?

So this year for Halloween, I will be not dressing up for the very first time. I’ve been dressing up in hundreds of roles over the years…

Baby Pumpkin, Baby Bat, proud big sister, protective big sister, Flapper, Cowgirl, School Girl, straight A student, smartass student, Cheerleader, cheerleader, Sexy Teacher, sexy librarian, teacher of the year, Wonder Woman, wondering woman, wandering woman, Queen of Hearts, protector of my heart, unabashed giver of my heart, self-inflicted breaker of my heart, Sexy Pumpkin, Bride, bride to-be, 1950s Housewife, 1950s housegirlfriend, Eve, temptress, the downfall, the accused, Tinkerbell, Hippie, hippie, Sexy Witch, Witch, witch, monster…

aaaaaaaand I’m straight up tapped out.

I’m going as an unapologetically heartbroken, strong, brave, terrified, exhausted woman who gave away two overflowing boxes of costumes to a middle school theater department in a fit of rage that freed her from a lie of a life, 95% of her worldly possessions, and any clue whatsoever on how to ever go back to dressing up and pretending.

Not that I’d want to anyways.

 


Montana 2

We moved everything out of our storage unit. We had a cop there the entire time to supervise because we can’t even be in the same room as each other without needing a chaperone. We each opened up boxes that 10 months ago I had foolishly lovingly packed without even the slightest possibility in my mind that when they were unpacked would be anywhere other than the home we would build as newlyweds.

His sweatshirts were wrapped around my pie plates. My throw pillows cushioned framed photos of him with his father. It was an excruciating reminder of how willingly and completely I had intermingled our lives.

So item by item we sorted. You take the bowls and plates, I’ll take the wine glasses. Give me the frames and throw the photos in the trash.

When people say “thank God you at least didn’t marry him,” it’s these moments that make me my throat clench. Why would that be better, exactly? Because I would have a paper and a party that made my promise of forever more valid? I’m not trying to scoff at the sanctity of marriage at all, but when I moved to San Antonio, I made a promise to him:

“Where you go, I will go. Where you stay I will stay. Your people are my people. Your God will be my God. And where you die, I will die and there I will be buried.” 

Ruth 1:16-17

I meant it. He was going to be my forever. The ring and the dog and pony show that are most weddings didn’t mean as much to me as this promise because I foolishly lovingly believed him when he said this was his promise to me too.

So that’s why after every box was unpacked and repacked to send us off into our separate lives, after the phone lines had been split up, after the initial financial reconciliation had been taken care of, I was stuck in purgatory. I wanted to hate him. I wanted the strength and the venom and the decisiveness that I had on Labor Day to come back. I wanted to be enraged and indignant and strong, but I was splintering into infinitely smaller pieces with every box he so cooley loaded into the moving van without even the slightest sign of heartache. Meanwhile the voice in the back of my mind kept falling to her knees, pounding the ground and wailing,

“HOW COULD YOU? HOW COULD YOU? HOW COULD YOU? HOW COULD YOU?”

We were walking away, presumably seeing each other for the last time, and he made a joke about asking if he could borrow some money for gas; for a glimmer of a second, we felt like us again. I laughed because it was the first moment that felt normal in over a month. He smiled because he only loves me when I let my guard down. We both for a moment lived in a world where my insurance policy wasn’t so extremely effective. He wrapped his arms around me and I collapsed into his chest, not knowing how I was going to ever stop loving him.

That night I dreamed that after that hug, instead of awkwardly wiping our cheeks and going our separate ways, we both got in his truck. We left everything in the moving van. We threw our phones out the window. We drove for two days straight until we got to Montana. We found a little cabin in the woods with no TV or internet. We went to counseling and read books about forgiveness, infidelity, anger, and communication. We cried and talked and talked and cried. We spent mornings in bed like we used to. We did the ugly emotional work together. We asked questions like “how did we get here” and “whywhywhywhywhy” and didn’t walk away when we didn’t like the answers. We fought and screamed and we apologized and things got worse before they got better but this time instead of turning away, we turned toward each other. We took the broken pieces and instead of rebuilding, we built something new. Stronger. Smaller. More compact and less likely to blow away. Not as big and beautiful for spectators, but infinitely more stable and shatterproof. We disappeared for 6 months until we were ready to tell everyone that no matter how crazy the past had been, we weren’t giving up.

We kept our promise.

And then I woke up.

 


I’m Just Trying to Not Cut My Ear Off 2

So here’s the deal…

I’m not funny right now. I’m sad. I’m exhausted. I’m overwhelmed. I’m fucking furious. I’m using literally every iota of energy in my body to not answer truthfully when the UPS guy asks how I’m doing. When I should be figuring out what city to live in, what job to find, how to emotionally and logistically recover from this gut wrenching betrayal, instead I’m having to set bite size life goals for myself:

Last Week: Get out of bed every single day.
This Week: Get back to a workout routine.
Next Week: Make it through an entire yoga class without crying.

And yet the pressure to whip up something witty and endearing for this blog is suffocating me. I’m a one trick pony you guys- I’m good at writing one thing- the truth. So when I can’t tell my truth, I don’t write. I hide. I pout. I drown. I congratulate myself for mastering the silent sob so that that the sweet woman on the mat next to me isn’t disturbed by the tears that are pooling on my mat during downward facing dog. I do things like go into job interviews and promisepromisepromise myself that I will not use the phrase “cry under my desk” and then accidentally end up word vomiting about how going back into teaching right now would feel like an excuse to hide from the emotional work that I need to do and that thanks, but no thanks, I just can’t yet.

vincent_van_gogh_-_national_gallery_of_art

I’m going to need you to just think of this as my Blue Period.

I’ll recover because I have to. That’s how it works. You get up, go through the motions, and eventually the hyper awareness that you are mourning not just a past but an unclaimed future calms down.

I’ll do the ugly work and one day I’ll wake up and for a few hours I’ll feel like myself again, and maybe I’ll want to write to share it with you guys, or maybe I’ll just relish a few hours of meaning it when I say “I’m good, thanks for asking. How are you?”

For those of you that like picking at scabs, this Blue Period is for you. But if you need some Sunflowers in your life, check out one of these old posts and try to remember that I don’t always sound like a series of rejected My Chemical Romance lyrics.

 
(Yes, I’m noticing the theme here. I’ll add it to the agenda for my therapist…)


Greetings From Italy; Wish You Weren’t Here 1

You’re everywhere, you know.


I saw you today on the Ponte Vecchio. You were kissing your wife on the forehead and scooping your baby boy from her arms to help free her hands so she could get something from her purse. I wondered how many times you had cheated on her and with how many women and if she knew and if she wished she didn’t and if you were sorry and if you were going to do it again anyways.

I heard you later comforting your wife when she couldn’t find one of her shopping bags and was obviously very anxious and probably overreacting and starting to snap at you. You were calm and patient and kind, and I saw how you were able to stay so outwardly loving because you had checked out completely and in your mind you were falling asleep next to a woman who didn’t know you or trust you enough to reveal the ugly parts of her yet, and so you both pretended that she had none and that you were strong and deserved a life of no ugly parts.

Every breath I took smelled like my face was buried in your chest. Too many nights of sleep and sweat and laundry detergent wrapping us up in into a blurred scent that can’t be untangled. I bought a new dress so that it didn’t smell like you. Like us. Then I smelled you on my own skin.

Then again you sat at the table across from me while Nicole and I ate pizza on the steps of the piazza. This time you saw me too and looked at me like you were undressing me with your eyes while your cute, young girlfriend was turned talking to a friend. On some level of consciousness you weighed the benefits of staying with her or trying to sleep with me… or deciding to do both. I wondered how many times I had been the cute, young girlfriend who had no idea she was holding your hand while at that same moment you were calculating just how far you could test my love.

I felt like I was being choked from inside my own body when I felt you reach back to grab my hand at the market. You were leading me through the crowds at the Pikes Place market in Seattle after your graduation, and I was aware of how safe and excited and in love I was then and how terrified and confused and in love I am now. I pretended the smell of the meats made me sick and walked out so I could catch my breath. It’s been a few hours but I’m sure any minute now I’ll catch it.

So I tried eating gelato. Tried another bite of pizza. Tried smoking. Tried drinking Prosecco and espresso and wine until my last safe sense became overloaded and didn’t have room for you to show up unannounced and uninvited.

But now the room spins and the clock spins and world spins and yet here you still are.

Everywhere.


“The Truth Will Set You Free…” 4

gloria-3

Let me start by saying this: this is my 7th draft that I have started tonight.

The first 6 were abandoned because they didn’t feel real, or honest or just … enough. They offered a very inadequate, some what glib look at a snapshot of my last few days/weeks/months and all felt as inauthentic as bad botox- in order to keep the peace and be polite everyone will pretend they didn’t notice, but get real Monica Geller- your eyebrows didn’t move after season 7. Nobody is fooling anyone.

So here I am. Promising to tell the truth, when the truth is ugly, and complicated, and not necessarily the same truth that anyone else has or even the same truth that I’ll have tomorrow. I’m still not even sure I know what the “truth” of this whole mess is, because I’ve spent the better part of two and a half years subconsciously doing everything in my power to protect myself from the truth.

At some point, the truth became my biggest fear and my mortal enemy. 

Tonight I’m refusing to let myself hide from the truth any longer. Pour yourself a glass of wine, light up a smoke, or just hunker down, because the truth is too real to be pretty.

The truth is that I loved a man that was sleeping with what I discovered to be no less than 8 other women over the course of our relationship.

The truth meant that I loved him with all of my heart and no matter what anyone says and no matter how it looks, I know he loved me with all of his.

The truth is that his love is dark and twisted and selfish and broken and slowly destroyed me.

The truth is sometimes I look back at all the awful things I said and did, and the heinous bitch I was to him during The Dark Days, and I think I deserve everything I got and more.

The truth is there are no less than a thousand moments that I look back on as pivotal chances to be more calm, gracious, beautiful, quiet, supportive, loving that would have saved us from ourselves.

The truth is there’s no use in praying and pleading to change the past.

The truth is I’m not sure anything could have saved us from ourselves.

The truth is the same day that he told me that he wanted only me, he slept with someone else- not even 24 hours passed.

The truth is I never for a second doubted his faithfulness.

The truth is after I found out about the first 6 girls all at once, I told him I would forgive him of anything but he had to come clean- had to tell me all of them and he swore on his dead father’s life that I knew about all of them.

The truth is there was one more.

The truth is when I asked him why I didn’t just tell me about her then, he told me he “forgot.”

The truth is that after I found out the first time, I told him I wanted access to our shared phone account and he wouldn’t give it to me.

The truth is that after he refused, deep down I knew it was still happening but did everything in my power to keep that voice medicated and meditated so that it wouldn’t wake up.

The truth lead me to drive my little beat up Corolla like the mother fucking bat mobile to San Antonio in the middle of the night because something in my soul woke up for a brief moment and told me that I couldn’t lie to myself about what I saw with my own eyes and that I had to, GODDAMNIT I HAD TO LOOK HIM IN THE EYES SO HE KNEW I KNEW.

The truth is I prayed the entire 3 hour drive there not that I would come home to him alone, but that I would come home to them in our bed so that I could finally set us both free.

The truth is he tried to lie even after he was caught- even after I saw him leaving the hotel room that was under her name, he tried to deny it for a solid week.

The truth is that I wrote that infamous Facebook post because I knew I would forgive him; it was the insurance policy I took out against myself to make sure I didn’t go back once I calmed down.

The truth is I sometimes wish I never wrote it so that I could back to being his favorite, if not his only.

The truth was I didn’t want to walk away, and sometimes I wish I had never found out.

The truth is sometimes I hate myself for wishing that.

I’ll throw my hat into the ring at an attempt at funny or witty again another time. But the truth is today, I have emotional vertigo; I don’t know which way is up or down or back or forward. I don’t trust my own instincts anymore and my truth morphs and changes and in the same second can go from damning to freeing to damning again. People keep giving me advice and comfort but it’s like when you’re so drunk at a party that you can hear your friends all talking about and around you while your head hangs in the toilet, and you kind of wish they would leave you alone to slowly die in peace, but you’re also so thankful they’re there because you’re literally not sure you would survive without them, even if they do keep trying to stick their fingers down your throat when you just want to sleep. Yes, I know I’ll feel better tomorrow if I get it all up now, but also I’m not sure I’m ready.

*Pours self another glass of wine.*

Goodnight.


Just Because I Hate Him Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Love Him 3

Rejected titles for this entry include:

  • Is This What a Stroke Feels Like?
  • I Promise I Didn’t Type This on the Toilet
  • WHATTHEMOTHERFUCKINGWHAT?????

 

Y’all… you have no idea how anxious I am about this post. Like had to stop and buy my first pack of cigarettes in three weeks type of anxious. Been avoiding opening this blog to the point that my friends and friends of friends are straight calling me on my disappearing act bullshit type of anxious. Like spending too much time in the bathroom, and I’m not even hungover, so you know I’m not playing around type of anxious. (more…)


Romeo Part 4: Star-Crossed 13

Continued from Romeo: Part 3.

This is hard. I do and I don’t want to write this:

1. When I’m done, that means his chapter in my life is done. I know it’ll bring me some closure, but I still feel a little like I’m putting the nail in a coffin of someone that the smallest part of me refuses to believe is dead.

2. I promised to only ever be honest with you guys, but being honest with myself through these posts has been incredibly hard; I don’t want to over romanticize or under value. I can’t pretend I have answers because truthfully I feel left with more questions than anything. (more…)


Romeo Part 3: Welcome Home 6

Continued from Romeo: Part 2

Romeo and I were falling fast, but not recklessly. We decided pretty much immediately that we were going to be exclusive and that yes, long distance was going to be hard, but that if any two people in the whole world could make it work, it would be us. (more…)