Monday, December 28, 2015
April 16, 2015
It’s taken me a while to return to this space after dusting things off because writing about fun and festive happenings seemed frivolous in comparison to what I really wanted to say. It’s all that’s been on my mind as the year comes to a close, but I wasn’t ready to offer it up. Or rather, I wanted so badly to release it, but the right words and the energy hadn’t arrive yet.
I'd been bracing for the holidays and the sadness that I knew would come with it. I spent Christmas Eve with my family and once the night ended fairly early, I retreated to my couch and spent the next two days cocooning. I was to give myself whatever I wanted in the coming days, my therapist said. If I wanted a cookie, I would eat a cookie. I do not like cookies. I hate cookies, but I didn't object to her suggestion. Turns out I didn't need too much to feel soothed, just the feeling of coziness and something important to hold all my attention. I'd never written about the night of my breakup with A. or the things that followed save for a letter I wrote to him while I was away and now I found myself ready to process it the best way I knew how.
This year, I celebrated Christmas Day with my laptop, thoughts, and a steady stream of hot cocoa; the bag of marshmallows stayed by my side all weekend. I wrote and I wrote so many strings of letters. It seems all I needed was to start and out they came. The temperature was uncharacteristically warm for this time of year, so no snow, but we got days of rain instead. And save for a brief walk around my neighborhood on Christmas night, I just sat here in the quiet to allow my story to pour out.
And then I got sick.
In the days leading up to my breakup with A., I was stressing over my upcoming debut at the National Stationery Show. After years of working towards this goal, I wanted Porcupine Hugs to be as successful as possible at this popular New York City trade show. It was all I could think about and I was needing extra care, love, and attention as the show was just a month away.
There were other factors that played into my mounting anger and impatience towards A. in those days, but I’ll get into that another time. Just know that a refusal to help me the night before things ended between us was enough to cast yet another net of passive aggressiveness his way. After several minutes of standing in front of him in silence trying to fix our dinner salad while being reprimanded for being so selfish and inconsiderate about his time and that perhaps I'd bitten off more than I could chew, I held it in, held it in, held it in…and then I just reacted. I didn’t think or see, I just felt and that fury immediately translated into action.
"STOP IT!!" I yelled as I launched the two forks in his direction, not with the intention of hurting him, but because I was over his endless tirade. One found his neck, and just as quickly, I was pinned up against the wall. It’s been eight months since that night and I still feel guilt and shame over it. It’s a damned spot I can’t ever wash off.
I don’t know why I didn’t figure out that something else was wrong with this picture, with him and with me. Before he left for work the following morning, we were still arguing and his refusal to consider my position only made me spin even more out of control. God, it hurt. Everything was surging. One moment I was pleading that he stay for a little longer so we could talk things through and the next I’m punching the wall at rapid fire speed with no intention of stopping until he pulled me away. I hurt, I needed attention, I wanted help, but I didn't know why. I just wanted to keep releasing the inner explosions until I finally turned to lean against the wall and slid to the floor while grabbing at my hair and losing my grip. I was hemorrhaging via emotion with no idea I had a wound that needed to be plugged.
Perhaps it was sheer delusion or the fact that we’d been close to the edge before without ever tipping over, but I believed we could fix things when he returned home from work that evening. Except this time was different; it had gone too far. I won’t go into the details of that loud, awful night, but I won’t ever forget how dead and black his eyes looked when he screamed that he was leaving me over and over and over as he packed up his bags and I begged for a conversation. I refused to accept it until he finally managed to yank his backpack from my clutch and stormed out the door.
I didn’t chase after him this time. I might have if I didn’t feel so paralyzed. All I could do was crumple to the floor and reach out to someone for help. I called my sister. I called my dad. I called my best friend who lived out of town because I needed someone’s voice to hold me together until someone arrived. My father found me on the bathroom floor when he walked in, a sobbing incoherent mess, hugging my knees so tight to keep my chest from exploding. Then I’d switch and lash out at him for trying to soothe me into feeling better. He couldn’t possibly understand how much I hurt with his gentle voice and open arms. What the hell could he do for me now? So I’d take it out on the roll of toilet paper hanging in front of me, spinning and spinning and shredding it until I’d collapse onto his lap again, flying back and forth between crying and pure hatred. There was no end to this feeling.
When you’re in the state I was in, there is no concept of transiency. This hole is all you know, all you’ve ever known, and it’s where you will live forever. There is nothing that exists after this. The human mind is an amazing deceiver and I was in too vulnerable of a state to ever consider that what I was thinking and feeling wasn’t permanent. I was sure I was going to die this way. It was just a matter of time.