Category Archives: Life

He Hit Me Last Night

This is something I never talk about. I gloss over it and pretend that my boyfriend isn’t really violent, because it happens so rarely. He’s shoved me topless and shoeless down flights of stairs, left bruises from grabbing my arm when he’s been angry, but those things— I can write those off. I am shaking as I write this. Last night we were at a wedding reception in Charlottesville (his family) and the slit in my dress ripped up my bum. A girl gave me a shawl to cover it, and I entertained myself while he wandered around. I started dancing with one of his female cousins, and he became irate that the shawl (apparently) didn’t cover everything. We left. As we drove down the road, he started telling me that he didn’t want to take me home, that I deserved to walk the streets of this strange town at night. He asked me to get out of the car. I didn’t want to. He threw my cell phone out the window, and then physically tried to throw me out. The next thing I know, the police are here, he’s run off down some alley or side road, and then I was at the police office having photos taken of my bruises, bitemarks and scabs…

It’s really over, I’ve got to find a new place to live, I’ve get to get my stuff out of the home we made together and all of his buildings downtown, I’ve got to decide whether or not to drop the charges that the officers decided to file for me because I was so inebriated. My life is over.

I always promised myself that this would never happen to me; I was too smart for it, because I’d seen it happening to my mother. The really sick thing is how much I love him and how badly I want it all just to be over. I wish I could be with him again. It will never happen, and we’d both be stupid if it did. 

It did. I wrote that in 2005, while we had a temporary restraining order in place, between packing and moving my things into storage so that I could drive the 14 hours “home” to my family. The very hour the restraining order was up, we met. We talked about how much we loved each other and how tragic it was that our love was so cursed.

That night, he sent me a series of depressed and drugged suicidal texts, and I called his father to ask him to please, please check on his son.

He came by the hotel I was staying in as I rested to drive into the hazy homeward sunrise the next morning- to tell me one last time how much he loved me- while his dad waited to drive him to an inpatient rehab facility (which he never completed the program in).

I’d told a friend that was helping me move, “What do you bet I get home and find out I’m pregnant?” That is exactly what happened. “That idiot doesn’t even have to know about the baby,” my grandmother said.

I turned around, drove back, moved back in with him, and married the guy.

That is the definition of codependency.

And this is the definition of oversharing on the internet. Or is it? I broke up with and took him back more times than I can count. We divorced, he signed over full custody- and now we’re embroiled in a costly legal battle in which he’s accusing me of being a terrible mother, and asking for full custody.

There are so many women out there going through this exact same thing, and there are ways out. There are so many things I wish I could tell my 22 year old self. And my 25 year old self. And my 30 year old self.  Breaking the cycle is hard. Unhealthy love is as intense as Twilight, and we’re all more interesting than Bella. But choosing to stay in the cycle is choosing something worse than dying: it’s choosing a life without living.

It’s your choice.

The blog that doesn’t exist anymore

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Silver Linings Playbook

silverlining

In an effort to escape my current reality of sifting through the granular remnants of time, I’ve been focusing on Silver Linings Playbook this week. First, there was the audiobook. I’m not sure that I liked it, but it was interesting. Trying to delve into the complexities of life with mood disorders and other problems while explaining societal response to “problems” is a uniquely captivating – and prevalent -subject.

I didn’t have high hopes for the movie, because most of the book occurs inside the protagonist’s head, and how can a film convey all that?

Answer: not well. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good movie, it just has very little in common with the book. In the movie, he’s delusional undiagnosed bipolar with mood swings, and you find that out within the first fifteen minutes. In the book, the guy doesn’t remember the crime that landed him in the psychiatric facility until nearly the end of the story; in the film, he remembers it the entire time. In the movie, he was in the facility for eight months, while in the book he was in “the bad place” for four years.

Behavenet.com had a field day with this film, tagging it with:

Anxiety Disorders | Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder | Bereavement |boundaries | delusion | depression | dose | drug | hallucination | Mania | mental illness | mood swings | obsession | Obsessive Compulsive Disorder | persecutory delusion | psychiatric hospital | psychiatrist | psychotherapy | stress | lithium |Seroquel | quetiapine | Abilify | aripiprazole | trazodone | Xanax | alprazolam |Klonopin | clonazepam | 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine | ethyl alcohol |venlafaxine | Effexor

There’s a lot of good in the book (and even a little in the film, too). One of the best parts of both is that it actualizes the struggles many of us live with (or have lived with) in our day-to-day, validating them with the stamp of public attention. Having spent years of my life looking for answers in literature and living through a couple of dysfunctional relationships, I have to say, most of us deserve better than a silver lining, but from within a bad situation, sometimes that’s the most we can bring ourselves to hope for. We look for answers, advice, and even treatment from the outside- but all change starts within.

My favorite quotes: “Life is not a PG feel-good movie. Real life often ends badly. Literature tries to document this reality, while showing us it is still possible for us to endure nobly.”

“When I read the actual story-how Gatsby loves Daisy so much but can’t ever be with her no matter how hard he tries-I feel like ripping the book in half and calling up Fitzgerald and telling him his book is all wrong, even though I know Fitzgerald is probably deceased. Especially when Gatsby is shot dead in his swimming pool the first time he goes for a swim all summer, Daisy doesn’t even go to his funeral, Nick and Jordan part ways, and Daisy ends up sticking with racist Tom, whose need for sex basically murders an innocent woman, you can tell Fitzgerald never took the time to look up at clouds during sunset, because there’s no silver lining at the end of that book, let me tell you.”

The story reminds me of this Rilo Kiley song:

And the grass it was a ticking
And the sun was on the rise
I never felt so wicked
As when I willed our love to die

And I was your silver lining
As the story goes
I was your silver lining
But now I’m gold

 

One more quote from the book: “And I still love you in my own fucked-up way. I miss you, I really do. Can we still be friends?”


I’m a firm believer in serendipity.

Today, a dear friend and I went out meet her ex  so that he could -not spend time with their son- pick up a kitten from a recent litter belonging to her cat. 90 minutes of driving  resulted in the cat howling in their truck with no carrier for four hours while he ignored his son for as many. It all seemed familiar. It’s all about him, I thought. On the way back, this song came on the radio, and we sang along together while our sons in the backseat asked if the band was the Beatles or the Rolling Stones.

Apropos.

I saw the sign
No one’s gonna drag you up to get into the light where you belong…
But where do you belong?
I saw the sign and it opened up my mind!
And I am happy now living without you
I’ve left you, oh-oh-OH!


If that’s the aim, placing the blame…

“In self defense, I accuse the writers of fairytales. Not hunger, not cruelty, not my parents, but these tales which promised that sleeping in the snow never caused pneumonia, that bread never turned stale, that dragons could be killed with courage, that intense wishing would be followed immediately by fulfillment of the wish. Intrepid wishing, said the fairytales, was more effective than labor. The smoke issuing from Aladdin’s lamp was my first smokescreen, and the lies learned from fairytales were my first perjuries. Let us say I had perverted tendencies: I believed everything I read.” – Anais Nin, A Spy in the House of Love

“You look like Cinderella,” M told me. “Here, you have to watch this.” into-the-woods-cinderella_o_GIFSoup.com

Aghast, I stared at the screen between painting her nails with neon symbols.  “Really? She’s… really?”

I was insulted (and therefore disinterested) enough that she turned off the VHS after a couple of songs, not because Cinderella wasn’t pretty, but because she was downright dweeby looking. Insanely long hair. Glasses. Soot. I couldn’t quite turn off the refrain in my head after that, though. We gave it another shot. She made me a cassette tape of the soundtrack,  and I connected with it in ways that I’d never been able to bond with my Gloria Estefan collection. I’m amazed that I didn’t wear that tape through.

carenhighschool

Sleepover at M’s

Sure enough, not only my looks paralleled Cinderella’s: my life has as followed the path she took in  Into the Woods – a Broadway Show that entwines several fairy tales together and throws in a baker for good measure.

Cinderella didn’t exactly lead a charmed existence in her home life. Check. “The closer the to the family, the closer to the wine!” says her father. (Check plus for liquor instead.)

All Cinderella wanted was to escape the narrow confines of her existence, get out and have a good time, experience life. “I wish, more than anything… to go to the festival! And the ball!”

While out enjoying herself, Cinderella drew lots of attention from a very charming, eligible prince. (“What’s as intriguing or half so fatiguing as what’s out of reach?” he sings charmingly.)

She’s on the fence about her Prince Charming, but makes a decision, “which is not to decide.” She allows him to pursue her despite her apparent lack of interest. Taking the passive path is a temporarily easy way out, but in the long run, letting someone else direct the course of your life means that you may end up somewhere that you really don’t want to go.  She ends up being pursued right into marrying the guy, still spending her time thinking about festivals and balls (and not so much him), while he’s out enjoying the chase… of someone he doesn’t already have locked down.

Meanwhile, the other parts of the story all coalesce, bringing the characters together in the wake of the giant’s death. The giant’s wife has come down the beanstalk in pursuit of Jack, so that she can have her revenge on him for her husband’s death. The baker, a true family man, has succeeded in lifting the curse placed on his family, and now he and his wife have the child they so desperately wanted. And then the giant stomps on his wife. Squish.

In this track, all of the characters take turns blaming one another. That’s kind of like life.

Tonight I had this long, painful talk with my now-thirteen-year-old stepdaughter. This is quite possibly the first meaningful discussion that I’ve ever had with her as a young woman instead of as a little girl. I’m not sure how it began, but I remember hearing myself say “We were trying to make it work again…” as I was narrating a story, and she responded “Please don’t [try again].” It was immediately as if a ton of bricks had been lifted off of my heart.  She hastened to reassure me that she loved us and wanted to spend time with us; just not together.

Tears of joy were practically springing to my eyes at the confirmation that it was alright to let the thing lay dead. “I don’t want to,” I said. “Because it doesn’t work. I knew better a long time ago and kept trying because I wanted to make it work for you kids.”

I’d have been happy if it had ended there, but there was a rabbit trail: how do you have a relationship with your former stepchildren when you aren’t getting along with their parents? I’m culpable for plenty of things in the past. After the last video (above),  the witch proceeds to launch into song. “If that’s the aim, placing the blame, give me the aim: just give me the boy.” But the people are too “nice.”

“You’re not good, you’re not bad, you’re just nice!” Indignant at the injustice of it, she shrieks her way into a demise at her own hands.

I’ll gladly take the blame for the way things went if I can still keep a good relationship with the kids.

And Cinderella? Well, she ends up with the baker, who’s a much better fit for her.

Well I ran from him
20121223_191200in all kinds of ways.
Guess it was his turn this time.

Time thought I’d made friends with time
Thought we’d be flying
maybe not this time.

Baker, Baker
Baking a cake
Make me a day
Make me whole again
And I wonder
If he’s okay.
If you see him say hi.

I don’t pretend to deserve my baker, but I’m really hoping for a happy ending anyway.

itw

Thanks, M, for introducing me to the sountrack of my life. Love to you always, Girl, and Merry Christmas!