Cat’s got my tongue. More literally than you even know.
There is a lot I can’t write about right now, things I am choking on but can’t quite dislodge. But in the meantime I can write about this: I can write about my grandfather dying. I am not sleeping well these days. I am haunted by ghosts.
I wrote the following post two months ago and didn’t publish it because I couldn’t for some reason, but then I just went back to it and want to publish it now, a snapshot of where I was then. The beginning of November:
Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone, gone to young girls every one,
When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn.
I am in my grandfather’s bed right now while he’s in the hospital. He’s got advanced bone cancer and is slowly dying. He also had a heart attack the other night. My uncle and I are taking turns staying with my grandma until something else gets figured out. I put my grandma to bed tonight, tucked her in and turned on the nightlight and she said “where’s Sam?” and I said “he’s in the hospital Grandma, he’ll be home soon” and she said “where are you going to sleep?” and I said “in Grandpa’s bed” and she said “where’s he going to sleep?” and I said “he’s at the hospital” and she said “why’s he at the hospital? is he okay?!” and I said “yes he will be okay, and I am here with you tonight” and she said “are you going to sleep right away?” and I said “no, I’ll be up for a few more hours” and she said “will you sit with me for a little while?” and so I did. And when I heard her quiet snoring I tiptoed out and I’ve spent the past four hours sifting through memories. Photos, so many photos. Books, letters, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, VHS tapes of family summers. Things at my grandparents’ house haven’t changed much in the past fifteen years and the space holds so much.
Where have all the young girls gone, long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone, long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone, gone to soldiers every one,
When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn.
I was reading a letter that my grandma wrote to my grandpa during the War. She wrote to him every morning and every evening even if she didn’t hear from him for days or weeks at a time. She was working for the Navy in San Francisco while he was fighting in France and Italy. Twice a day she wrote to him and the letters were always sweet, intelligent, thoughtful, and deeply worried. She’s losing her grip now, but not on him. I don’t know what she’s going to do when he dies. Today, earlier, after we were back from the hospital, she said “you know he’s always been the only man for me. He’s not going to leave me, is he?” and I said “Grandma, he would never, ever leave you.” And it’s true. Except he is, because he’s dying.
Where have all the soldiers gone, long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone, long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone, gone to graveyards every one,
When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn.
Before I came in here to write, I was standing in my grandfather’s bathroom in front of the mirror staring at myself. I was trying to see but instead I just cried and cried and cried and I watched myself cry and I didn’t look like a child. I’m not sure why that came out that way. I guess what I’m saying is, I put my grandma to bed. I spent the day talking to doctors and making phone calls to family members and negotiating with nurses to try to make my grandfather more comfortable and making sure my grandma was taking her meds and getting to the bathroom and not falling over and eating her food and getting bathed and going to sleep. I spent the day doing that and then I sobbed and wanted so much to be a child, but I’m not. I’m a fucking grown-up and I don’t want it. Take me back. I was watching myself cry in the mirror though and soon I didn’t understand anymore why I was crying and I noticed a tear trail down my neck and straight through the middle of my chest, over the ridges of my ribcage and I thought, “you look too thin” and “you look beautiful” and “you are a grown-up” all at the same time, and then I stopped crying. What is it about grief that brings out beauty?
Where have all the graveyards gone, long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone, long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone, gone to flowers every one,
When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn.
I was watching the local PBS channel a few weeks ago with my grandparents before they went to bed, before my grandfather landed in the hospital, and it was PBS’s fundraising season and so amidst appeals for money they were broadcasting a tape of a Peter, Paul and Mary reunion concert from 1986. That song came on and my grandmother started singing along, child-like and cheerful. My grandfather leaned forward and buried his head in his hands. He knows he’s dying, and he knows she doesn’t know he’s dying. And I watch and a slow ache takes over my body.
I’m not sure where this is going. He’s almost 95 and I know he has to die, and he knows it, and it’s not shocking and shouldn’t be so sad and it’s just strange and I feel all alone.
That was two months ago and my grandfather is still alive, though there have been some scares, and I still feel alone, although somewhat less so. My sister has been up a few times from southern California (and is here right now) and my whole family was here for Thanksgiving and I spent Christmas alone with my grandparents and Christmas Eve night washing my grandfather and putting him to bed and cleaning up after his incontinence and talking him through his night terrors. And he might live a few more weeks or another month or two or he might not and I don’t feel prepared, but so it goes.
Since the beginning of a new year seems as good a time as any to look back at the past 365 days and forward at the next 365, I thought I’d pop up and say some things.
2011 was a very peculiar year, full of growing pains. My graduate program has been more or less dismantled, which I have been reluctant to go into much here. I finished the spring semester excited for the summer and the following year of learning, but by mid-summer I knew that at least in the fall I would not be in classes and as of a few weeks ago, I am done with that school for good. One year of an MA under my belt and I am bitter. I was supposed to be done with my masters by this summer and instead I’ll have no degree and very few transferrable credits, and I haven’t applied to other programs yet because I loved that one so much and have no idea where I will find another one like it. So in the meantime, I’m working, trying to figure out where I’m going, what the fuck I’m doing, what matters to me. So the year began with direction, purpose, energy, excitement, momentum. And ended, here, with a grinding halt and a giant question mark.
2011 was the year of moving to Oakland, which ML and I decided to do before I found out that grad school was up in the air but which I ended up being very glad of, given that rent at our new place is $700/month less combined. And we have a house! With a yard! And wild blackberries and lemon trees, and I have a hammock and spent many fall afternoons reading in the hammock drinking lemonade. We also have a roommate (a friend of ours from before) who is pretty much my favorite person ever and I actually really like living with a roommate again. And we have a cat, Gilda, who owns all of us, and who knows to sit to get a treat. ML is trying to train her to take to a leash. So far, she’s having none of it.
2011 has been a year of a lot of personal and emotional upheaval, which has been both painful and broadening. I’m trying, probably unsuccessfully, to tow a line between taking risks and making a giant mess, and I think I’ve crossed that line in unfortunate ways at times this year. Maybe, eventually, I will go into some of these things here.
In 2011 I deepened friendships that are so meaningful to me in so many ways, and I watched one friendship between close friends crumble and am still grieving that, especially as I feel in some ways in the middle and don’t know how to support them and also give myself space to be angry at both of them and sad. In 2011 I grew apart from my parents but closer to my siblings and especially my sister who, despite being mystifyingly different from me also, still, can finish my sentences. We now live in the same state!
I came out to my grandparents this year, in the middle of everything else, and sobbed for three straight hours when my grandpa hung up on me. Not that that response was a surprise, but that there was so much of all of this other stuff stagnant inside me and unable to surface emotionally, and that when I started crying about grandpa hanging up on me it turned into crying about everything all at once and altogether. Then I brought ML to Thanksgiving with them, and with my mother and and my aunt and uncle and (gay, but not yet out) cousin and my sister and her boyfriend. And three days later my grandpa called me and told me, awkwardly and hesitantly, that ML sparkles and that he will consider her in our family. And I was like, wow, that was it? Like eight years of agonizing over this and he tells me she sparkles? I should’ve done it a lot sooner.
2011 was a year of deepening politicization and although this hasn’t been a space where I’ve really talked much about politics, current affairs, and theory much, I’m wondering whether that will change this coming year as all of those things are more present for me than they’ve been before as things I’m constantly wanting to think about, talk about, process. It was also a year in which that politicization has changed me personally, changed my sense of self and my sense of possibility in the world, and that feels exciting and that regardless of my grad program no longer existing, that energy is still simmering and I am running with it still.
Things look a lot different from this end of 2011 than from the front end. Maybe I won’t even bother trying to look forward; maybe I’ll just take this next year little by little.
So yesterday was Christmas; I’ve been in upstate New York for a week and this year is every bit as hard as last year in terms of dealing with the parents’ divorce (they just signed papers last week) only worse because my sister isn’t here. My mom kept talking to me about her frustrations with Dad and his family (his brother and sister joined us for Christmas last year and this year too) and finally I had to ask her to stop. Look Mom, I’m really happy for you that you left this marriage; you were suffering a lot and Dad wasn’t getting it, refused to take you seriously. So, I’m glad you are flying solo, getting excited about online dating, trying new haircuts, backing off the family responsibilities you’ve always bent over backward to try to hold together. And yet: the man you are walking away from is my father. I can’t walk away from him, wouldn’t ever walk away from him, despite my very complicated relationship with him. So hearing you talk so casually and insistently about putting distance between you and his family… aches. And it makes me brittle and tense, like I’m betraying half of myself to listen to it. I miss my sister, because she gets it.
The husband of one of my graduate school friends died suddenly, less than a week before Christmas. It’s continuing to make my head spin and my stomach churn. I just saw him. Less than a week before he died.
I’m a freak in my family. Breakfast Christmas morning centered around my dad, uncle and brother all trying to complain to me about the various ways queers make them uncomfortable, assuming, I guess, that I’m not one of them. Or that I should be wary of being one of them. Seeking my agreement, “yes, butch women are too masculine, I know, it’s weird, they’re just internalizing masculine tropes blah blah, right, lesbians who are femme [don't you see me? oh, I forgot, I cover myself up for you] are just insecure and they really just are trying to provoke men, and yes, effeminate men are overly dramatic, ‘too much,’ aren’t they annoying?” Instead I get defensive, feeling attacked and wanting to run away to my beloved queers of all persuasions and demonstrations. Not a one of you is too much, not for me, I don’t care how much the world sneers, you. are my family.
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal passed, and while I am pro de-militarization, I think it is so important for anti-war and anti-militarism queers to recognize how important the military is as a way to make a livable life, for queers and others. I am glad that queers in the military are now legally protected. I am okay living with perhaps a contradiction that I wish the military didn’t exist and that I’m still rejoicing the repeal of DADT.
My insurance company, already too expensive and only covering 70% of medical services, denied a whole series of claims from this fall for necessary treatments. From one day to the next I am suddenly over $7,000 in medical debt. Pre-existing condition. I do not understand how people can seriously oppose the health insurance reform this year.
I went to church on Christmas Eve for Midnight Mass (Episcopal version), as always. It’s the one service of the year I still like to go to. I’m not remotely religious, nor do I support the church in general. But I did grow up attending, and sang in the choir, and the Midnight Mass has become deeply embedded in my Christmas memories. It was this year the one place I didn’t have to feel tense, sad, uncomfortable, or responsible about or for anything related to my parents’ divorce. I found out that the reverend of the church has some kind of cancer, which unexpectedly brought tears to my eyes. Though I no longer consider the church important to me and hardly think of it these days, that man is kind and caring and the absolute embodiment of what a good church leader ought to be in my opinion. He has (despite, I understand, some disapprobation from the congregation) adamantly supported Gene Robinson (the gay Episcopal bishop in NH) and parted way with my diocese because of it. He has been an important person to my mother and has watched me grow up. When he stops presiding there, I will stop going back altogether.
So this year Christmas has somehow seemed like a year of various losses. I feel melancholy now; ML is off with her family, my sister is on the other side of the Atlantic, I’m struggling to keep my dad a part of the family somehow, and I’m trying, not for the first time of course, to wrap my head around illness, death.
And yet. I have a home in San Francisco. I have friends, I have a girlfriend who is also my very best friend in so many ways. I can’t wait to go back to school in January; I have a community that is challenging and supporting and able to hold all of me however I show up. I have this space, here when I need it (and I want it more and more), always supportive. So, I’m okay.
I hope all are well. <3
I’ve been away for the past week and a half. I’m finally back (sort of), and I am so ready for my life to resume as normal.
Last Sunday, I went to Gold Country with my family. It was beautiful. We were in a cabin about 20 miles away from Jackson, a quaint old gold rush town in the foothills of the Sierras. The weather was perfect — temperatures in the 80s, no humidity, not a cloud in the sky. There was a family of deer that lived about 50 feet from our cabin, and they would casually look up from munching leaves when we came near and then disinterestedly return to their meal. There was a swimming hole in a creek about ten minutes away, and we spent an afternoon there alternately baking in the sun on the rocks by the creek and jumping in the bitingly cold water from rocks 30 feet high. One day, we went for a hike at Devil’s Lake — it was about 4 miles to the lake, and we didn’t see a single other person that day. The trail took us up up up into the mountains and the cool lake was very welcome when we finally reached it. It’s amazing how much land there is that’s isolated — I forget that, living in the city. We took turns cooking there, so the first night was my night and I got to cook for someone other than just ML. I kept thinking that I was making too much food, but apparently 6 people can eat a lot more than 2 people can! I roasted fingerling potatoes with fresh rosemary, made a green bean and cherry tomato salad with spring onion and a light balsamic vinaigrette, and chicken marinated in lemon and garlic with a spring onion, garlic, ginger, and lemon sauce to spoon on top. Fresh fruit for dessert. I love California and its agricultural bounty! I got to read a lot too, being disconnected from the internet and my phone. Four days without being able to check my email once! I hope there will always be places on the earth that signals and cables can’t access.
And then the very same day I came back from the mountains, ML and I flew to Vermont for her sister’s wedding.
I had no idea what to expect from the wedding. I knew that it was the first time anyone in her family aside from her parents and sister were seeing her in the knowledge that she was gay. I knew that I would probably be under a bit of scrutiny because of that, though not nearly as much scrutiny as she would be under. I knew that there would be people there who would potentially be uncomfortable with us. I knew that I have ambivalent feelings about marriage, and that the last wedding I went to (of one of my best friends from childhood) felt contrived and, for me, uncomfortable. I knew that ML’s sister (who is younger than she is by a few years) is a darling, but is also pretty foreign to me. She’s 24 years old and has a career, a husband, a dog, a perfect apartment… It’s a life that sort of baffles me. So straightforward. So straight. I was a bit apprehensive about the wedding, to be frank.
But it was absolutely beautiful. A few minor bumps (throwing up after brunch the first morning because I’d been on a red-eye and hadn’t slept and the food was too much for my delicate system!, one of ML’s family’s close friends not being able to look me in the eye through an entire evening the night before the rehearsal dinner, having my feelings hurt – unintentionally – by ML’s mom the morning of the wedding, etc.), but otherwise — it was kind of indescribable. The couple obviously love each other a lot, and everyone was full of love and glowing with joy. Sounds cheesy, but it’s true. No one, aside from the one family friend, was remotely weird to me, and in fact people seemed to make an effort to be nice. The wedding was at a gorgeous lakeside location and the ceremony was simple and personal. Unlike the last wedding, this one wasn’t remotely contrived.
I did feel a bit uncomfortable. It was a bit melancholy, actually, just knowing that our wedding would be different. Of course most of the ways it would be different would be intentional, and thus would be better for us. But other ways are just side effects of queerness — the love and joy from all the guests at this wedding wouldn’t be as effortless at our (hypothetical) wedding. Of course, we wouldn’t have to invite people who would have a hard time feeling effortless about it, but then we’d be missing half of the people in our lives who we love. How do you get around that? How do you have a wedding that has everyone you love and also know that everyone there is unadulteratedly loving you and supporting you and excited and happy for you… In my family, at least, I know that that’s not quite possible. Almost, but not quite.
But. This wedding also made me want one. ML’s sister and her now-husband have been together now as long as ML and I have. (Yep, they got engaged after about 4 months of dating!) It was hard to be at that wedding and not think “this could be us getting married.” Not that we would’ve had the same wedding, but you know what I mean. I know that we love each other as much as the bride and groom love each other. I know that we have an awesome relationship. And there was something (ick alert) kind of transcendent and magical about watching the two of them make vows to each other in front of everyone they love. It felt so authentic and real and significant. I want that. And being there, it was hard not to want it now. It sorta made me feel like, if they’re doing it now, why shouldn’t we?
The truth is, I do feel ready to marry her in a way. I feel certain about her. I don’t think it’s possible to be certain about anyone forever. I think that contemplating the notion of “forever” in general — with regard to relationships or not — is dizzying. You can’t know about the future, in any regard, and that’s why trying to be certain about something in the future feels so scary. But I’m certain now. And day by day I’m more and more certain. Not certain that she’s my forever-girl, but that she’s my girl. Am I making any sense? But then the thing is, there’s no rush to get married. It’s important to me, someday, and it was a fun party and I love the idea of everyone getting together to help us celebrate each other, but that can be anytime and hopefully it will only happen once in my life so why get it over with? Anticipation is always almost as fun as the thing you’re anticipating, anyway. Plus, I have some things I have to do. Grad school starts on Friday. And before then is my birthday — tomorrow :)
I’m over how my uncle talks about “the gays” as if we were some exotic species, and asks me weird personal questions about my relationship that he doesn’t ask my sister about hers (with a guy).
I’m over having phone conversations with mi’lady about what we’re up to with our respective families that include sentences like “this would be awkward for you” or “I don’t quite know how you would fit into this.”
I’m over trying to explain to old friends from high school why I don’t want to hang out with their ultra-Christian crowd.
I’m over having my sister tell me that she’s got it worse because “at least people don’t constantly ask you when you’re getting married.”
I’m over my mom saying “just get over it, of course people act weird about something they don’t get.”
I’m over being told by my dad, yet again, that he doesn’t see how people can have the “same kind of relationship” with non-biological progeny.
I’m over how my brother finds guys who really “shove it in your face” that they’re gay distasteful.
I’m over feeling self-conscious about recommending a book or movie to someone if it happens to have a queer character or sub-theme (because what if I’M one of those people who “shoves it in your face”?).
I’m over “OMG that’s SOOOO GAY!”
I’m over being left out of conversations about what everyone in the family is up to “because it could be uncomfortable.”
I’m over censoring myself in order to avoid making other people feel uncomfortable about something that’s so vital and important to who I am.
I’m over small-town USA.
I’m over how being around our families completely squelches our ability to be sexual with each other, even by distance.
I’m over being irrelevant to her Playing Straight life.
I’m over playing it straight in my own life.
I’m over sleeping by myself.
I’m fucking over it.
I can’t wait to go home. Four more days.
Thank you all for your comments, both on this post wishing me and mi’lady happiness together after one year, and on this one, offering suggestions and advice and sympathy on my work and life situation. All of those comments were really helpful, and helped me see my situation a bit more clearly. Having folks listen and getting their input, especially folks who are in or who have been in similar situations (isn’t that everyone, though?), is so, so meaningful.
I think you’re all right. You’re right that I need to figure out what’s right for me, and do it. You’re right that I need to carefully weigh my options and have a plan. You’re right that I should decide what’s most important to me right now. You’re right that I should know that whatever decision I make isn’t wrong or right, it’s just a decision, and it’s not ultimately determinative.
So here’s the thinking I’ve been doing since reading all your comments.
- I’m not very good with money. This is for many reasons: (1) San Francisco is friggin expensive. (2) Mi’lady and I don’t live together, but we do spend many evenings together, and we haven’t yet mastered the skills involved in planning ahead meal-wise in the most cost-efficient way (i.e., we’ve found it’s oftentimes more cost-efficient to get cheap take-out than it is to buy ingredients necessary for cooking, but with a lot more planning and kitchen resourcefulness, this shouldn’t be the case). I spend WAY too much money on food. (3) Cabs, Zipcar, and Caltrain. While, yes, San Francisco has public transportation, it (a) isn’t terribly reliable if I need to be somewhere by a specific time and can’t afford to miss 3 hours of work to be there (e.g. for a doctor’s appointment); and (b) doesn’t extend in a cohesive fashion beyond SF, so that whenever I visit my grandparents in Palo Alto I spend $12 round-trip on Caltrain PLUS cab fare to/from the Caltrain station (because, hullo this is really dumb planning, the Caltrain station in SF is off in bumfuck and it takes me a good hour by public transit to get there when it’s only a 6 minute cab ride), OR I just take Zipcar, which isn’t cheap either. So I end up spending $70/month on my Muni pass and at least $150/month on cabs, Zipcar, and Caltrain, but probably more like $200. You tell me: is this reasonable?
Okay, I’ve gone on waaaaay too long about money. Next item.
- In addition to being bad with money, I’ve got excellent benefits at my job, and since I’m on prescription meds, and am currently undergoing an expensive but insured orthodontic treatment (straightening my bottom teeth, which were not-very-noticeably crooked but which were exposing my gums to decay) I’m loathe to give this up.
- I’ve got three applications pending for graduate school. This means that within a few months, hopefully, I’ll know whether and where I’m going to graduate school. This is a pretty major consideration, since it will give me a much clearer idea of what the next few years of my life will look like, and will give me a natural out of my current job.
- There’s this nagging question, though: if I don’t do it now, then when? I would love–LOVE–to have time to work on my projects I’ve been wanting to work on. One of them is getting back to playing piano much more consistently, and finding some other (queer?) folks to play chamber music with. Maybe do something fun/eclectic with it, who knows. Another is writing about this thing I’ve had in the back of my mind for years, and it’s sort of gasping for air now while I’m holding its head underwater. But what time do I have now to work on this? I don’t. What time will I have while in grad school? I won’t.
So, all these considerations in mind, here’s what I’m thinking.
Before I do anything, I need to know whether I’m capable of living on a shoestring budget. This means I need to design one, and implement it. Preemptively. While I’m still employed, all the extra money can go straight into savings. And this will take some tinkering, I’m sure. I’ll start cutting back bit by bit. Can’t cut back on rent, but I can certainly do my darndest to cut back on food and cab rides. I’ll figure out what the least I can live on is, and then I’ll plan around that.
And then I’ll make sure I know what the health and wellness resources are in San Francisco, should I be uninsured. Would I still be able to get my prescription at an affordable price? Are there therapy clinics for the uninsured/unemployed? Could I learn how to find alternative methods of therapy, like reading or doing meditation or something like that? Or at least make sure I have enough cost-free self-care and wellness initiatives to counterbalance that need?
And then I’ll think about alternative (part-time?) sources of income. Can’t rely on writing or activism, at least not yet, but there’s the substitute teaching option, and I could nanny (LOVE small children) but would need references (start off small by babysitting?), or I could bartend (anyone know of good/cheap bartending classes around SF?), or I could temp, or I could … ?
And then I’ll wait and see what happens with graduate school. I wouldn’t leave my job before early in the spring anyway, mostly because I’d need to give my employers a great deal of advance notice (out of courtesy, not legal necessity), and hopefully by then I’ll have heard back from the graduate programs. And if I know, okay, this is 5 months of living unemployed, then that seems very manageable. If I don’t get into graduate school, then I’ll have to start figuring out how I can leave my job and have a backup financial plan in place, so that I don’t find myself just indefinitely unemployed and getting increasingly depressed because of it.
But, however it turns out with regard to graduate school, I’m going to start planning now for at least a 4-month “sabbatical” either this summer (in the case of grad school) or next fall/winter (in the case of no grad school). Which means first and foremost: budgeting. Maybe I’ll start after Christmas? Turns out Christmas with divorced/-ing parents is mightily expensive. My sister and I realized that if we want them to get any gifts at all, we’ve got to be responsible for them. Sigh.
Oh! And I have the MOST amazing Christmas present to mi’lady, hence the title of this post (she now has the link to this website and reads it occasionally): a vocal effects pedal! She’s been talking about wanting one for months, in that way you talk about things you lust after but know you can’t have. They’re, gulp, pricey, but I can afford it while still living within my income and she’ll be SO happy. I’m a bit apprehensive, just because I’m not sure if it’s a model she’ll be excited about (I know nothing about such things, and only picked the model based on doing some internet research), but we’ll see… I’m giddy with excitement about giving it to her!!
I finally had time this weekend to have extended conversations with my parents, which hadn’t happened in several weeks. My dad moved out about a month ago, and when I last talked to him he was feeling optimistic, hopeful that he would be okay. And my mom was just relieved, albeit lonely, in the house they own together and raised three kids in, now all by herself.
A few weeks later and things are different. They’re both in the thick of processing. Tears, hurt, anger, disappointment, loneliness. I don’t relish the role of confidante that I seem to have fallen into for both of them. Not in the middle, exactly, since they’re not exactly tugging me in different directions. They aren’t talking about each other so much; rather, they’re each talking about themselves. And I’m glad they trust me, and in a way I’m even thirsty for details. It’s like this: maybe if I can know exactly what it was that, after 27 years, made their marriage collapse, then I can know how to avoid it myself.
It’s fear on my part, is what it is. 27 fucking years. And that’s just the years they were married — they were together for 3 years before that. 30 years. And I’m afraid.
“Honestly,” my mom says, “there wasn’t a moment during our marriage that I wasn’t thinking of leaving him.” Then why did you marry him in the first place? “I thought the things that nagged at me, the doubts, would go away. I thought he would change.”
Lesson One: people don’t change.
But why did you settle for him, then, despite the doubts? “I guess I just loved him so much that I was blinded by it. He was very romantic, you know. I thought that his love for me would inspire him to make the changes I needed him to make. But I think I didn’t really know how to ask him for what I needed.”
Lesson Two: unattended to, unmet needs grow roots and take hold, and at a certain point, the roots are too big and too deep to be dug up.
Why didn’t you try? “Try what?” To ask for what you needed? “I guess I thought I was supposed to leave them unsaid. I guess I thought it was my job to meet his.”
Lesson Three: your children will learn from you how to treat you. If you allow your own needs to be superceded by your spouse’s, then your children will learn that their own needs should be superceded by your spouse’s too. And it will take them a long, long time to unlearn that. Just like it’s taken you.
And Dad. My spirit-parent, my quasi-child. Still doing alright in your little attic apartment by yourself? “It’s hard. I feel resentful. Dismissed.”
Lesson Four: Break-ups, no matter how old you are, no matter how long the relationship was, no matter how dead it was before it finally died its final death, are, in essence, all the same.
That’s understandable, Dad. “But actually, when I really think about it, I realize that I don’t want her back. Even if she decided she wanted to try again, I don’t think I’d want to. Unless things could go back to the way they were ten years ago. Things were different then. She was different then. She’s gotten too independent.”
Lesson Five: Those bad patterns, the destructive ones, if they don’t get fixed will become such a fixture of the relationship that they are the very air it breathes, the water it drinks. And if that water dries up, the relationship dies, because it needs that water to survive.
“But you know what? I’ll be okay.”
They both said the exact same words.
Lesson Six: I’ll be okay too.