Saturday, June 17, 2017

Lessons in Leaving

It has been eight months since I lost the love of my life. It’s been a ride. The last few blogs only begin to touch the surface of what has went on in my life, but one thing has remained consistent throughout the twists and turns. I missed him terribly, and nothing would make that wound heal.

One night earlier this week, I took a brief vacation from sanity and good sense and placed an ad on his Craigslist location as a missed connection. I did not say his name or mine, but I let all of my feelings out in a paragraph. How much I missed and still loved him. How I’ve never fallen out of love with him, and if he felt the same, he needed to find me.  It was rather romance novel corny. But a sense of relief swept over me as I pressed send. I had put it out in the universe. Thy will be done.

I have been re-reading the Stand by Stephen King over the past few weeks. In the book, one of the characters has a close relationship with God. She is a 108-year-old woman sent to be God’s representative as the world is rebuilt after a plague. God has a specific method of communicating with her, until one point when He goes silent. The character ends up going on this spiritual quest, and discovering that God had stopped talking to her because of her own pride. The end lesson was that she couldn’t control everything, and she needed to trust in God more, and remember the words “thy will be done.” It was a watershed moment for me as I read it. I’m always trying to force things into being, or not being. It is the human condition. But I realized with the simplistic beauty of the story that I needed to trust and accept more, and fight less. Thy will be done. Simple words, but powerful in practice.

I did not expect a reply to my Craigslist ad in his state. After all, what were the odds that 1) He’d read it, and 2) he’d figure out it was me? As someone who loves surprises, you can imagine how my jaw dropped when his response email came in within a matter of hours. After reading it, I went outside and sat on my front porch, and stared at the night sky and the fireflies. I teared up in happiness, fear, curiosity, elation. I carefully thought out my reply, and sent it.

We began texting back and forth. I was talking to my best friend, again. God was good. When he mentioned speaking on the phone, I balked. I wasn’t ready for that. It might sound strange, since I was the one who initiated contact, but I really didn’t trust myself to keep sane when I heard his voice. I didn’t trust myself not to fall in love within thirty seconds, and hop on a plane to the West. I decided to take it very slooowly, something he and I had not been good about in the twenty years we’ve known each other.  

We kept the chat light, which was ideal to me. I happily told him about some of the changes in my existence in the past few months. He said he wanted to save it for a phone conversation, but things had gone downhill for him even more, but they had just started improving. When he realized we weren’t going to be phone buddies, it slowly began to leak out.

A year ago when we rekindled our romance, he was in the middle of a divorce with a mentally ill woman. I use the word “woman” kindly. I had started referring to her as “the Thing” and ‘It” in conversation because of what she had done to him. Long (long, long) story as short as I can make it, she has borderline personality disorder, and is untreated other than her recreational drug use of different varieties. I would normally feel sorry for such a person, but she is evil personified. I will describe her character with just a short list of her antics. She uses and lies to her children to get whatever she wants or needs. She steals money and possessions. She revels in “getting even” with people who wrong her. She found a way to send her first ex and father of her first child to prison. As for my man, she had physically, mentally, and emotionally abused him. At one point, she had cheerily pushed him towards suicide. She took his car, and cut the brake lines before she gave it back to him. She tried to get him fired from his job, by spreading lies about him being a drug user, and that he had raped her. The first time he left her when she was pregnant with their child, she took a butcher knife and held it to her pregnant stomach, and began screaming for him to kill the baby. Terrified, he wrestled the knife away from her, but not before she did some damage to him. She called the police. He was arrested. He was happy to be arrested despite his innocence, because it got him away from her. When the truth came out, the state was going to press charges against her. He interfered and got the charges dropped, because he didn’t want her to have a criminal record.  

By the time I came along in his life again, they had begun the divorce process. She took every single thing from the home they shared, even trying to remove his clothes from the closet. She told him he’d never see the children again, and she’d make sure of it. Hell hath no fury like a psychotic bitch scorned. And that’s only scrapping the surface.

Had I not known him previously, I wouldn’t have touched that situation with a ten-foot pole. I hate drama, and had always refused to date an almost divorced person until the ink on the final paperwork was dry. But for him, I made exceptions. Of course I would. He was a good person who had been through agony he didn’t deserve.

We spent hours upon hours on the phone. I helped him through his trauma she had inflicted. I listened and worried as he told me about “what she had done today”. It was always something new and awful, and even though they were physically separated, she’d find ways to antagonize him. As promised, she began withholding the two children (the older was only hers biologically, but he adopted him since she had sent the baby daddy to prison, and the second was the child they had together) from him. He was devastated. Being a good father and husband was all he had wanted to be. He told me I was his angel. I knew I was the life ring afloat he was clinging to in the ocean of hellacious waters that was his life.

But the stress began to get to me. I’m an empathetic creature to the point of my own detriment, and I lost weight. Not in a healthy good way- but in a “I can’t eat because my stomach is in upheaval” way. I couldn’t focus on my job, and wasn’t sleeping much. My work suffered. When I did sleep, I began grinding my teeth on days when her drama was at a high. Still, I knew nothing that I was going through compared to his situation. He decided to come to my state for a little while and live with me, after he came here for a week. He’d be able to recharge his batteries after what he had went through, and we’d work out a plan to fight for his kids. The lease on the house they rented was up, and he chose to let it go since he was moving. But in the meantime, he wanted to save money before he moved here, so he lived in his car.

When he got to my state for a week’s vacation, it was evident he was worn to the point of a breakdown. It had it’s moments, but a good portion of the vacation and reunion was spent rebuilding him. The trauma manifested in so many ways, and of course it interfered with our own re-budding relationship. I knew it was worth it, though. I had seen him at his best when we were younger, and he was an amazing human. I just had to be there for him, and help him heal himself as best as he could.

As he left me to go back to his state, we were both in tears. He said he knew I was the light at the end of his tunnel, and he just had to make it through a little while longer. When he got home, he sank into a depression, because he had seen how good life could be with me, and he liked my state. He said he now realized what a shit hole his town was. He couldn’t wait to get out. But a month later, he broke it off with me. He needed to stay with his children. He needed some time to heal himself on his own. He had never been without a girlfriend since the first time we dated, and he had much to figure out. So on and so forth. And the rest is Craigslist (and previous blogs of mine) history.

Flash to today. We were continuing our text banter, and he dropped the bomb. Although they currently weren’t together, he had reunited with the Thing at some point. I was crushed. This was the worst thing he could have done. The absolute worst. I felt as though I had been punched in the stomach as he briefly told me of what had transpired a few months ago. Surprise, surprise, she had taken all his money, and accused him of attempted murder. He had a court date soon involving these accusations. At some point, he had had no housing, again. He thought of me every day, he said, because she wouldn’t let him forget it. I told him that shouldn’t be a shock, she had done this to him before, he should have known what he was in for.

Of course she wouldn’t let anything go and reunited as husband and wife. He had “wronged” her. He must be punished for leaving her and beginning divorce proceedings. And from everything I’ve read about the condition, some women will not stop until their ex-spouse is dead, usually by their own hand. He left her for the sixth time.

He told me he had done this to try and save his family one last time. Although I’m sure he doesn’t remember telling me, a year ago he had explained this was the reason he had gotten back with her so many times before. Justification for bullshit, and this time I knew it.

He insisted this had nothing to do with why we had ended. He explained that he would never leave his children for any amount of time, for any reason (as if that had been my idea), and I knew that his situation was complicated before we were together. And, he continued, did I think I was better than him? In his situation, would I have conquered life in the most efficient way? Did he deserve to be judged by this when he never meant to hurt me? He wasn’t making excuses, he said. He understood my pain, but he couldn’t take that away. He couldn’t take away his own, either, though. It was time to move forward.

I called my mother in tears, in order to verbally work out the whirlwind I was feeling. All of that…for nothing. All the hours I spent loving him, helping him, building him back up…just so he could go back for more. He was as sick as she was. Just a different kind.

The relationship between an abuser and victim is complicated with many layers. I know this. But after being drug into it, I had nothing but animosity for his decision to do what he did after we had been together. Allow me to quote him from September of 2016: “Are you crazy? There’s no way I’d get back with her after seeing how life and love should be, thanks to you. I’d have be insane to lose you for a third time.”

I suppose it’s good that he’s no longer with her, and claims it will stay that way. But frankly, my dear? I don’t give ten fucks for his drama, anymore. I don’t want to hear about it, anymore. It’s sad, and self-inflicted. Well, that’s kind of a lie. It actually hurts me to the core. She may just end up killing him. He deserves so much more. And at the bottom of the list, my pride is hurt. If I was so great, how he could go back to the Thing? However, I’m no longer willing to sacrifice myself for someone else. In the end, I’m all I have.

I took a deep breath, and texted him back. “I can’t say what I would do in your situation. Maybe one could accuse me of not giving enough chances in relationships. But I know what I’m worth, and I hope someday you figure that out for yourself. It’s truly freeing. Ultimately, you’re the one you have to live with 24/7, so it’s good for you to do things for yourself that would make you proud of YOU. Anyway…enough words. I’m sure you’re sick of other people’s words.” And then I changed the subject to something frivolous.

Yes, I’ll always love him. I can’t help that. But I can help how much I care to be involved, and given the circumstances, I don’t care to be involved at all, not on a deep level. I never want my sweet daughter to have to wipe tears off my face that were spilled because of him ever again. It hurts even to type this, but he can’t love and protect himself. How could I ever expect him to love and
protect me?

I think I know why the Craigslist ad was answered. Maybe. I think God was giving me the gift of closure, after I still stubbornly kept my flame for him lit. Because now I can really move on. Now I understand that he and I aren’t on the same emotional level, and he still has far to go. But it’s not my job to take him there. I like my sanity and myself too much for that. We aren’t soulmates. We were playmates.

After I post this, I’m going to go bake a cake with my hilarious daughter. I’m going to thank God for the modest, but steady pace my life has. I’m going to revel in the wonder of the new bird babies that have hatched on my porch…how amazing it is to watch life begin. I will do this with a mind that is uncluttered with someone else’s issues and pain. A mind that is free, finally.

Thy will be done.