Sweet Creatures V

There is nothing notably heroic or even virtuous about this story. I say this not to minimize the experience or its value. However, it’s a painfully familiar experience. Millions of people before me, tons after me, and even some of my peers have experienced a similar relationship. While the experience is common, “toxic relationships” deal with massive tropes, making them so entangling. Unpacking why YOU CHOSE to engage, stay and endure is the work.

I have had the wisdom of those who have come before me at my fingertips and even out of the mouths of some. Yet, I made my choices, like the rest of you do too. Wisdom is easily doled out, and perhaps that is why we keep thinking we know better than those who have come before us; that this time will be the exception. I know from various walks and my own experience that we need to walk our path even if that path is difficult. Even if that path leads you to misery. Some, even ourselves, may shake our heads in dismay at the time seemingly wasted in moving towards an apparent defeat, but some plants grow in the dark. I can recall as a child, my dad always telling my brother and me that we “love[d] to learn the hard way.” By his definition, I have learned most everything I seemingly know the hard way; but for me, the hard way is made up of stuff that sticks. Sure, with hindsight, I would’ve preferred to spend my time on this planet more economically, but the growth cost what it costs. So is it a waste? Or is it merely how we cultivate and grow our own inner wisdom?

I have let go of my guilt concerning the choices I made. I feel no anger about my past anymore. I feel no hurt anymore. I have no attachment to my past. I hold peace with what I chose, and honestly, given a chance, I’d be likely to repeat it again. It’s an itch. That itch is what contains my contribution, my responsibility, my choice, and my work.

I’ve learned that I was delusional about our relationship. I still struggle with idealistic romanticism of what was, rather than the reality of what it was. For all these years, I have maintained this illusion because it is how I “survived” our relationship. It is how I coped. To stay with someone who repeatedly reduces you, you have to delude yourself with notions of hope and change. To add to that cocktail, there was someone promising hope and change. I took the bait again and again. To evolve past this, I have had to open my eyes to see the reality of what it was. I have had to face the pain. I have had to remove hope as a word attached to someone that I could not just accept as he was. As much as I wanted and tried to make this relationship the relationship I had envisioned, it could never be that. Everything about it was not meant to last forever. It was meant to teach me.

The saddest thing I ever did was beg him to love me the way I loved him. I wish I would have had the clarity to see he couldn’t. The clarity to know I was wrong to expect it. The clarity to see and realize I didn’t need his love. That love was within me always. I am proud I held out. I find safety in knowing I tried. Honestly, even with delusion, I know it’s a testament to my strength, my capacity to give love, to see the good, and to persevere. At the time, l couldn’t understand why our love was so difficult, so smothered with complications. I had been merely asking something of the wrong person. A person who needed to find true self-love and acceptance within them before they could dole it out. I was pleading as a person who needed love and acceptance from another instead of seeing it within myself.

I am grateful every day I survived that period of my life, as there were many dark self-harming times. I am thankful I chose to continue living, loving, and holding hope and faith instead of cynicism (although there have been bouts). I have love within myself and all around me. I have so many precious relationships which bring me so much joy, depth, and love every day. For a long time, I saw my cup as bottomless, and now it overflows. I got what I wanted. I got what I knew I deserved. I got what I give. My husband is everything I could’ve dreamed and so much more. All my “delusion” with another has become a reality with my husband. All the love I shortchanged myself for all those years is now fully alive within me and all around me.

My past relationships gave me the biggest box of darkness. And I am so grateful for that darkness. It has instilled in me some of the greatest lessons of my life, which I will carry forth and hopefully instill in my child. It has born self-awareness, compassion, empathy, love, self-respect, boundaries, self-forgiveness, personal value, acceptance, and so much more. It has dulled my expectations of others, others’ opinions, the belief that love is hard, that giving up on something which clearly doesn’t work is failing. That love conquers all (realist, not cynicism).

Take from each of your experiences a lesson. Learn what you need to learn however you need to learn. Don’t kill your heart and soul to get love or make someone value you. Or do. That’s just my bit of wisdom.

There is peace and love at the end of this. And if time is a circle, well, then, I’ll see you again.

//Flame

Say his name
Then fan his flame
The one that burned you before 

You seek from him
What you possess within
Blindness reserved only for yourself

What he murders in you
Is dead in him
The pain of loss will smother you yet again

He’ll ask you to forgive and forget
You’ll think that you can forgive
But you both know that you’ll never forget
For the seen cannot be unseen

You’ll stay 
He’ll stay 

You’ll remain in the dance
You’ll once again share a path
Until there is no flame left

No sign of light
Just two heartbroken souls
Meandering through the night

Narcissism: What’s Next?

Hey All!

Ending the Narcissism series, that was never intended to be a series. I went where I was led.

Examining and researching narcissism brought me back to an old reality of which I often peer back on with nostalgia. I romanticize the good times and forgive and forg- (chaos is a mode I understand and often mistake it for comfort, so the “bad” never really factors into my nostalgia).

In examining ME and my relationships through a scientific psychological lens – everything is less rosy because the relationships are examined without my heart or nostalgiac bias. There was nothing romantic or smooth about how I functioned in those relationships or how those people functioned with me. None of it could really be defined as love. Trauma bonds, for damn sure.

However, I am grateful that it has thrust upon me evolution. Reflection. Self-awareness. Forgiveness. Grace. Humanity.

These relationships were terrific lessons, and that is how I peer back on them now.

I often share that what I hope anyone can take away from my experience is to save yourself the time I gave up so easily; however, the most I can offer you is information to make the best decision for yourself.

The hope you have in a “toxic” relationship, the hope that gets you through each day, is a fucking noose that you are slowly but surely tightening around your neck. And the narcissist you are engaged with isn’t going to ask you why you’re tightening it. They aren’t going to cut you free – they don’t even notice the rope. Your “lucky” if they even notice you.

We are taught not to quit. Not to give up on others. To have empathy for others. To lift each other up. To give. To love. To forgive. However, there must be a balance. There must be keen awareness. There must be reciprocity. We must nourish ourselves, so we can aid in nourishing others.

Once the bell has been rung, there is nothing we can do to undo our trauma. We know that. We know that we are responsible for our choices and our actions. So make a choice for yourself. You can do it. And if it’s difficult for you to leave, try to unpack what part of you needs this, wants it, accepts it? Therapy is fantastic for this. Understanding what compels you to stay can help you understand what YOU bring to the relationship. If the relationship ends and is left unexamined, you’ll only recreate the same relationship again and again.

Being in a narcissitic “toxic” relationship is a solemn place to be. However, it can change. Things can be different for you. The life and the relationship which you envision can be a reality. While in these “toxic” relationships, I had the capacity and strength to do the work, but I instead fixated all my resources on the other instead of myself. We cannot do the work for anyone else. We can only do it for ourselves. You can move through all of this and create peace. I am an example of that. It came from a lot of internal work and therapy, and from that, I am happily married to a true partner. I hope the same for you when it’s your time.

All love.
Ashley

 

Narcissism: If You Stay With A Narcissist Part II

This is the final post for this subtopic. If this topic resonates with you, I strongly encourage you to pick up Dr. Ramani’s book. She goes into waaaaaay more detail than I can possibly sum up on such a nuanced and personal topic.

I have found myself staying with a narcissist before and it’s exhausting. Plus your self-esteem is shot sooooo yeah, good times. It all feels bad because it is bad.

If this resonates with you and you haven’t read, “Sweet Creatures” (link in bio), read it over. It’s a personal essay about me seeking the apology, recognition, and redemption I had always sought out when it came to my narcissistic relationship with Jerry.

Looking back, the most valuable lesson I can share, take care of yourself, the way you take care of them. Love yourself, the way you love them endlessly. They sure sure as fuck won’t do it for you.

Please feel free to share, like, and comment! I know it’s heavy, but it can be helpful to someone.

Next week, I’ll be sharing: Narcissism: If You Leave A Relationship With A Narcissist

All love.

Ashley

What Attracts Us To Narcissists?

I could talk at length about every slide here because I have borne witness to each of these facets and have fallen for almost all of them. However, I have written at length about my relational experience. So if you are interested in seeing that more fleshed out, you can read pretty much anything I have on my website.

However, concerning this post, I want to talk about ME! C ‘MON it’s narcissism!

For a massive amount of time, I felt “ashamed” regarding how long it took me to realize the role I played in my narcissistic relationships. I was so chronically focused on “rescuing and repairing” them that I did not see:
A) how unrealistic and magical thinking I was
B) the damage it was doing to me
C) that I was a contributor

I didn’t EVER think about what I was contributing to the narcissistic relationships I participated in. Not for anything, other than simply being unconscious. Some examples of what I contributed: The enabling (drug and alcohol abuse), the assertion of control (I could see what was best for them and wanted to fix/rescue/save them), the unending forgiveness (I forgave and expected change, when change inevitably didn’t happen I stayed and forgave again and again – multiple infidelities), my fear of “failure” (I couldn’t “give up” on them – everyone else seemingly had – I couldn’t fail), lack of boundaries (tons of degrading disrespect and all of the above).

These relationships were so high maintenance, and I was so focused on keeping them “alive” that I didn’t/couldn’t focus much on anything else, even my own unhappiness. When you get so caught up in someone else, like this, you forgo paying attention to recognizing your own needs, wants & desires. I began dating Jerry December of 2003. According to my journals, by April 2004, I was “looking for a therapist,” wondering “why I was with him because he lies all the time,” and felt “I cared way too much about every detail of “our life” more than my life.” Yet, I stayed. I should’ve gone to college right out of high school. I had been accepted and claimed my spot, but when it came down to school or Jerry. I chose Jerry. We spent eight years together, which didn’t spawn from full honest love from Jerry. It came out of how great of a supply I was to Jerry, my giving and trying, my blind and futile tenacity, and Jerry’s refusal to give up a great supplier.

Luckily, by the time the next one came around (right after Jerry), Cameron, the climax came quicker and had the punch ending I needed.
Every page of these journals depicts the epic highs and lows of these relationships – the cycle of abuse, the love-bombing, the gaslighting, the devaluation & of course, rejection.

Even, after all we went through and all the time that has passed, NINE YEARS, in my “Sweet Creatures” series, I still try to redeem him – to the reader and myself. I want to find that one speck of redemption, for myself, I guess, because he sure as fuck doesn’t care what I think of him. And that redemption that I am seeking, honestly, is probably just my need for validation. Validation that the relationship wasn’t a waste. But as it goes, what you desire from others, you must find within.

In no way does my participation in these relationships justify the treatment that I received. And the same goes for anyone with which this resonates. We are meant to learn and evolve, not be abused.

All love.

Ashley

Book Post: “Almost Everything: Notes on Hope” – Anne Lamott

Book Post: “Almost Everything: Notes on Hope” – Anne Lamott

Hey!

Today the book I am sharing is Anne Lamott’s “Almost Everything: Notes on Hope”

I randomly picked this book while at the library with my kid; it seems the library is the extent of our fun outgoings these days.  

I read it in a day. Humblebrag and it’s an “easy read.” 

I found her writing inspiring as a writer because I understood her voice. Not to toot my horn AT ALL, but I saw my writing in hers. Her style. What she was expressing and what she had been through. I wrote down some quotes from the book that I found inspiring, but this book is so much different from all the spiritual books and psychological books because this is someone’s story – which, Hi, Hello – I love. There is so much we can learn from one another because nothing is unique. 

My favorite bits, “Life damages people. There is no way around it.” 

Or “…nothing has given me so many gifts of growth, expansion, and knowing myself, which is not always lovely, but it’s why I am here.” 

And my ABSOLUTE favorite, “And everything that happens to you belongs to you. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.” I swear I have said this before in one of my own essays. Lord knows – I have received so much shit for how I have written about people who were shitty to me (insert Sweet Creatures plug – link in bio).

As a writer myself, I don’t have it all figured out. Shit, I still fall for shit that I think I’ve dealt with or healed from. But I believe in the power, the importance, of sharing my/our experiences. Not because I am fucking unique or want to be popular or liked or make money, quite the contrary. 

Sharing my story has helped me heal. It’s given me the clarity to see the situation for what it is, not what I want it to be. I know if someone who reads what I write can find a pearl of wisdom or even just identify with something I say, it may be enough to help them move through what they are going through, which is also why I share these books. Their stories have helped provide clarity, a pearl of wisdom, in my healing journey.

Solidarity is another, awesome, aspect of reading other people’s stories, like this book. You see that we aren’t so different. That we have commonality with someone we don’t even know. Commonality that bridges a gap of gender, skin color, religion etc. Through solidarity and commonality we expand our empathy and hey, that’s kinda the best thing, right?

So share! Whether it’s through creating or talking or serving. Share to connect. Read other people’s stories. And maybe you’ll just find that pearl of wisdom. 

Comment, like and share and all that good stuff. 

All love. 

Ashley

Sweet Creatures – Part IV

Sweet Creatures – Part IV

We excitedly texted about meeting up again for another lunch. We both got caught up. Even exchanged Joe Dirt gifs. I felt like I had my friend back. Felt oddly validated when he texted,  “I kinda hate how much I enjoy your company.” Our hearts and heads had been closed off from each other for years, so it was nice to just be calmly next to one another. I was feeling good about seeing Jerry and he was feeling good about seeing me, “I’m still trying to process it but it feels good for sure.” We we’re getting in touch with our old selves, the good part – like the high part. It felt good to be seen through the lens of someone who has known me. Like the me from 17, the me that was worth loving by him, the me before I occupied all my current roles. It felt good to reconnect and be one with an old friend. An old enemy. An old me.  

[Now this is where I say to the drama reader, who is missing the fucking point of this story: 

I DO NOT WANT TO GET BACK TOGETHER WITH JERRY. 

My heart struggles and I’m trying to learn and grow. I’m not fucking stupid.]

::::

It was important to see our individual growth. See things had gotten better for both of us. See that both of us had changed, for the better. 

Then I got a text from Jerry:

WHY!?!?!

The only question I had, and still have, is why? Why did I get this text? Why did he text me? I could’ve been left out of this and had no fucking clue. The story could’ve been, I saw him and things went well and that’s it. But, the universe has a way of showing you exactly what you need to see. I needed to see this. Desperately. 

My family was headed to Chuck E Cheese. This text message came through while my husband was putting our daughter in her car seat. As I read it, my heart sank. I felt sadness and concern for Jerry; par for the course. Neither my husband nor I were surprised his girlfriend found out. That’s how lies work. And, I will say, in the YEARS Jerry has been lying, he definitely hasn’t gotten any better about it. More notably the lying has continued.  I read the continuing incoming stream of text messages to my husband as he drove. I continued to respond to Jerry and my husband even helped me reply to him. However, replying and helping soon turned into frustration.

Being the ill intentioned asshole that I am, I responded to his text with:

Jerry didn’t want help. Jerry needed to throw blame and bad feelings onto me so he didn’t have to be in it alone. So Jerry didn’t have to take responsibility. Jerry did not / cannot take responsibility for his actions, his choices. It’s always been Jerry’s biggest blind spot and I have one hundred percent enabled him in this behavior. I have constantly tried to save him from his self made suffering, instead of trying to understand where the suffering even comes from. He doesn’t like dealing with uncomfortable shit and uncomfortable shit is my norm. So easy peasy for me. Even though we had time, distance, growth from one another, he still needed me to play the same role I played for him for eight years, his sponge. I, as a massive sensitive empath and feeler, often over personify my responsibility to another negating my own emotions, value, and boundaries. I suck at boundaries and struggle with codependency. My biggest hurdle. Since Jerry is the exact opposite, it is yet another way in which our emotional dysfunctions serve one another.

Over the years, I’ve weeded people out who treat the empath trait as a fucking cesspool; typically narcissists. I’ve also spent years working on my lack of boundaries and codependency. So this is why the narcissistic gaslighting “this is why I never wanted to meet up” part of his text was instantly irritating. He was not responsible. I held no gun to his head. He made a choice. He made lots of choices, like the one not to tell his girlfriend he was going to meet up with me, that he was texting me, that he was emailing me, that we planned on meeting up again the day after she found our emails blah blah blah. When Jerry met me for our initial meeting, he chose the place. When he arrived, after our greeting, he said, “What would you have done if I didn’t show up? Would you have driven to my work?” Digress, I know where he works because it’s the same job he’s had since we were together. I said, “No. I would’ve sat here had a beer and gone home.”  

He chose to show up. 

But, fuck isn’t easier to not take responsibility for things going to shit for you? Isn’t it easier to not be transparent? Isn’t it easier to be the victim? Painting me as the “bad guy with bad intentions” serves both him and his girlfriend. Off shooting blame means you don’t have to deal with your own shit. The shit that makes you lie. The shit that makes you think he won’t lie again. It’s false reassurance for everyone who plays the game. Until the next lie comes around. Trust me, I know. I’ve been there. Exactly there.

You see, to me, even then the solution was clear. She wasn’t going anywhere. Even in the slight chance she did, she would be back. I’m guilty of the same. And you know what? He knew it. That’s why during this time, he’s texting me! Why isn’t he tending to what he’s so fearful of losing? Why isn’t he trying to repair? Explain? If he really thinks he going to lose her? If he really cares?

::::

People choose to stay in these relationships because on some level they serve. Whether it’s on an emotional, mental, or physical level. It’s up to the players to decide. “Normal people” will have difficultly understanding how someone can stay in a “shitty” relationship, but it’s super simple – dysfunction attracts dysfunction. To be dysfunctional you have to be unconscious, lack self-awareness, and be rooted in suffering. Awakening from your unconsciousness and identifying your dysfunction takes a shit ton of work. You have to possess clarity amongst many other things, and it’s not easy work. It took me, getting hit in the face by an ex for me to determine that if I didn’t want to continue the dysfunction, I had to stop blaming others for the miserable circumstances I found my self in (he’s also in prison now – that’s for another story). I fell in love with the people I chose. I had to choose differently. And luckily, I did. One of the most enormous epiphanies I have had in my adult life, which I want to share, is that we create our reality. Even if you just feel like a participant in someone else’s reality, you are co-creating that reality for yourself. If you don’t like how shit is going in your life, you have to change it. No one else is going to change for you or change it for you. The willingness we have to forfeit our power is insane. We think we can’t unfuck ourselves when we are the only ones who can. On it’s highest level suffering and dysfunction serve to teach the individual. Most us of find ourselves in “shitty” relationships in our first real relationships, often in our early twenties. We literally our coming out of our childhood ingrained with the downloaded emotions and beliefs of our parents and exploding with our first real sense of freedom to choose. The hope is with every relationship, you unlearn patterns that don’t serve the greater good. For example, if lying was the way you got around in your family, you will learn in a relationship lying has real consequences. The comedian Taylor Tomlinson has a great analogy regarding this growth, “You have to work on yourself in your twenties because if you don’t you’ll turn thirty and all the shitty parts of your personality will solidify and that’ll just be who you are now. Your twenties are your chance to fish trash out of the lake before it freezes over.” 

So, when you are not conscious and self-aware, you may find yourself in an unhealthy  functioning relationship and there are going to be various power plays happening.  Fighting, for example, can feel like earnestly trying. It can feel like a concerted effort in mending, growing, and holding on even when you have an inkling you should walk away. However, when we become conscious, we ask ourselves why we need/want someone to be something for you, to you? What is it that you are missing as an individual – which you require and expect someone else to fulfill for you? I am asking this of myself also. Just so we’re clear. Ram Dass has so eloquently said, “I have a choice of either trying to change the world to adhere to my model, or to let go of my model to be with the world.”  I guess it’s all context, right? What are you fighting for? What is it rooted in? Fear? Expectation? Validation? Forgiveness, even? Going deeper then we must beg the question, how much do we identify with what our needs are and what are they rooted in? On the other side of the same fighting coin, difficult conversations breed growth. However, fighting character flaws (lying, cheating, narcissism, etc.) is dumb because those don’t change because you think they should. Instead, if you find yourself trying to fight a character flaw, it should simply serve to draw attention to what’s happening may be out of alignment for you. Even with a heavily flawed individual, your attraction to them says and has to do more with you than the flawed individual.

Going deeper: Most dysfunction usually finds an origin in trauma. Most of this being childhood trauma. “The addiction to chaos begins in childhood when connection comes through shared states of chaos.” Environments of chaos look different for each individual. Whether you weren’t seen, minimized, abused, your reality was denied, and many other examples. While it is painful and difficult to address our various traumas, it is part of the work of being human. Acknowledging and dealing with our shit. However, if we don’t take personal responsibility and seek self-awareness and growth we will unconsciously perpetuate the cycle by doing as we were shown by those who parented us. So, when you get into chaos as an adult, it feels familiar, normal and most importantly manageable. So, we don’t break the cycle. We cannot even see the cycle. We just become apart of it and then perpetuate it; especially when children become involved. Although I was deeply and unconsciously in that cycle when I was with Jerry, I by the grace of God, had the foresight to know there was no way in good conscience I could be responsible for perpetuating the chaos by bringing a child into this chaos, this suffering we co-created. It was irresponsible. Morning after pills were a savior, multiple times, while in my relationship with Jerry. #plannedparenthood

Fucking Bowling League

HE’S AT HIS FUCKING BOWLING LEAGUE. HE’S AT HIS FUCKING BOWLING LEAGUE. HE’S A FUCKING IDIOT.

Listen, I love getting drunk and throwing balls in clown shoes just as much as the next nerd, but seriously, what a fucking idiot. I mean, seriously?!

I absolutely LOVE this text because it says and is EVERYTHING! Since I am much better at reading comprehension than a certain *cough cough* “Jerry” (whose name has been changed to keep him anonymous – until he outed himself on his personal Facebook – uh, thank you for the PR) let’s comprehend. Jerry’s chick is pissed because he saw me and while she is apparently leaving him “packing her things”, he is texting me. He is too busy at his bowling league to go to her and more importantly, his dogs, “I don’t know if she left, but she is taking my fucking dogs.” 

That poor, poor girl. Fuck. 

I love it. I love it because this is exactly what I needed to see. See that he treats her the same fucking way he treated me. There has been no change. He is the same. By this projection, if I had still been with him, this is where I’d be. In her shoes. My old shitty ass shoes. 

Priorities, baby. 

I understood it. The lying. It’s always what I’ve hated the most about Jerry. Anyone really. However, an injustice is not being done to the person who chooses to stay with a known liar. It’s a choice and it’s part of the Jerry package. 

I hope he racked up some strikes. Fucking bowling league.

Also, if you’re curious about my reply about him lying – hypocritical, right? Jerry owed this to me. To our previous eight-year relationship in which we got engaged. When our relationship ended, although it constantly being brought back to life, it was abrupt and there was no real conversation that happened to close it up. It just ended. And honestly, when we met up, he baaaaaarely showed up. He didn’t even say sorry. Not for a single fucking thing. He couldn’t emotionally or mentally meet me halfway, par for the course. Apologizing isn’t a matter of agreeing on our sacred value to each other, it’s a matter of moral fucking principle. You were a dick, say fucking sorry. Fuck, someone says “sorry” to you, maybe say “sorry” back. Just for fun. To see how it feels. 

“It isn’t love when another person cannot give you the space to live your own life.” – Deepak Chopra

Me. I am finally the other woman. 

Listen, Jerry did some weird stuff. I’m sure I did too, but I didn’t put on the song I wrote to propose to my ex while she’s sitting in a seat normally occupied by uh, your “girlfriend”, nor did I comment on his ass or talk about how far my seats go back (uh um) in my dented 1999 middle-aged mom car.

Straight up – all good with no car payments.

He took that call from his girlfriend while I was in the car and straight ful- blown lied to her about where he was, at his dad’s in Ontario, while driving on the 5 freeway. Offered up his weed pen to me. He legit made a mockery of his relationship with this girl in front of the worst person to do that in front of, me. I will say, his ability to be aloof really served me. Frankly, I am, for the first time ever, so grateful for that trait, but that’s because it benefited me. I don’t know her, but I feel for her. Maybe I am wrong in that? Maybe she’s different from me and this is all okay with her? I’ve been there though, and it really fucked me up. 

I did dress nice! I wore a black dress. If you know me, I live in black so that’s not like zhuzhed up. But you bet your ass I didn’t go looking like mister potato head. Which is arguably who I look like 60% of the time – even when I try not too. I did eat off his plate and pop a zit on him too.

She thinks we fucked.” 

Listen sister, I don’t know who he has you convinced that I am, but I am not about to fuck my ex fiancé, who fucked himself more than he ever fucked me, jizzed all over my carpet (yeah, I’m still bringing that up – its INSANE!), in a 1999 mom car with no tint. I have integrity and a dope ass husband.

She’ll never have to worry about me. Not then and not now. The last time was in winter 2012. I have it on my calendar – celebrate every year. I have done the dance with Jerry and I know it like the back of my hand. Last time we hung out, was fall of 2012 and I was petrified of Jerry. I had never seen him more clearly. When I was with Jerry, I was never in a darker place. Never. Self-harm. Crying all the time, alone. I had some beautiful sweet creatures pass my way during that time. Without them, I would’ve been toast. 

Also, it sucked settling. I love Jerry, he knows, I always have. But that’s what was the worst. I always loved him more than he was capable of loving me back. More than he was capable of loving himself and if you know him all he talks about is himself. He just constantly wanted to implode his life – our life. He wanted validation from other chicks. Shit, validation from anyone his poor self-esteem was in the shitter. He wanted to not be who he is. So me being a constant mirror of himself, he needed to push me away to push himself away and honestly, I fucking get it and that’s why I still love him. Dealing with your shit is really fucking difficult work and that’s even after doing the most difficult part which is acknowledging that reflection and growth are necessary pains. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Jerry was he was a great place to hide from my shit. He was so heavy that he received all the focus. I avoided dealing with my trauma (and accumulated a lot more) because I unconsciously hid behind his for years. Which is how you find yourself talking about and dealing with something from years ago in your present.

Advice corner: DO NOT SETTLE

Just because Jerry couldn’t reciprocate in a way that felt meaningful that didn’t mean that I had to give up being loved the way I deserve to; because it’s what I can give in return, ya know? Or give up using my voice to share something that happened to me, involved me because someone doesn’t like the way it makes them look – never mind it’s who they are. 

It’s nice not to feel hurt everyday. Nice to not have to pretend anymore. Nice not to fear love.  It’s nice to feel a positive change. Instead of being drained everyday. 

Commence with the draining:

“refrain from contact”

“LTD”

“of course you’d say that”

You’re contacting ME.  

The “exile myself” bit is standard in our emo ways, 2003-2008 were impactful years for him and I; I mean, look here I am talking about all this shit. The buff out bit and the foolio were Jerry’s trademarks at keeping distance. Quite different than the usual “bunny” or “bub” nicknames once bestowed upon me.

Fact is, Jerry is Jerry, and he’s going to do what he does best and that’s him. Jerry broke my heart about a billion times and never said sorry. I went back. He went back. We loved each other very much, but in very different ways which left a lot to be desired. Jerry proposed. Asked my parents even. I got a ring and I got scared. Jerry provided and took care of us. I always supported whatever he was doing – I sold his fucking merch for like five of the bands he was in. Jerry encouraged my writing which is rather ironic now since he hates it and me. I forgave him even when I hated him for hurting me. He wrote me songs. Jerry moved back from Hawaii right after I came to visit him. I went to visit him. Jerry opened my doors, held my hand, kissed my lips and all of it combined gave me all the hope in the world to believe and hold on, that things would get better that we’d work it all out and it would end the way I hoped, together. But I was never in control to get us where I wanted.

Now, I am grateful this hot mess imploded. It needed to. This is by far the most unhealthy portion of my entire life sometimes I wish it wasn’t real. I mean this whole story originated with me trying to say sorry and trying to be his friend so, I guess it’s my fault. 

::::

In 2011, I was in college getting my English degree. A professor assigned us Mary Shelley’s, Frankenstein. The book ended up having a huge impact on me. At the time, Jerry and I spoke regularly, despite being broken up, and I spoke with Jerry about the story and how much I enjoyed it. The next time we spoke he told me that he had gotten a new tattoo on his right upper thigh. Maybe it’s the left? He sent me a picture – it was a portrait of Frankenstein’s monster. He said he got it for me – to remind him of me. He hadn’t read the book. I was bummed because he got the tattoo I wanted before I could afford to get it – got it now baby. #twinsies 

To me, and what I shared with Jerry, the book is a story about a man who tries to play God. Control the uncontrollable, if you will. The story begins with Victor Frankenstein fleeing from a monster – an apparition. Frankenstein finds himself aboard a ship. While on this ship, he tells his story. As a young man, Frankenstein is a seeker of knowledge, particularly natural sciences. While studying, he begins experimentation with creating life from death – reanimating a dead body. He tried multiple times and fails several times and his work begins to take a massive toll on him, “I might in process of time (although I now find it impossible) renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption.” Frankenstein goes digging in graves and focuses all his years of study on bringing something back to life which should be dead because that is the natural order. Going against the natural order he is able to create the monster. Yet, the monster doesn’t serve him the way he intended because once the monster is alive, Frankenstein freaks the fuck out and emotionally bails on the monster so the monster leaves. In retaliation of the rejection the monster faces, from his creator, the monster kills Frankenstein’s younger brother. The monster’s final request is that Frankenstein create him a mate or he will destroy Frankenstein. Frankenstein agrees to make him a mate. In a fit of anger and guilt, Frankenstein destroys the half-finished mate for the monster in front of the monster. Enraged the monster threatens Frankenstein that he will be back for him; more specifically his future wife. And sure enough, the monster kills the one person Frankenstein loves the most; his wife. A chase ensues between the monster and Victor; predicated on revenge. Victor refuses to give up; knowing he will likely die “as no thinking person would risk their life for something like this unless it was really self serving.” Frankenstein dies. The monster realizes that his own death will serve to relieve the pain he has endured since he was given life and he disappears. 

“Victor experiences the two basic meanings of the word responsibility. He creates the monster (he causes it to exist), and therefore he has at least some responsibility for what the monster goes on to do. As the creature’s maker, Victor also has both a duty to others to keep them safe from his creation and, Mary [Shelley] seems to be saying, a duty to his creation to ensure that his existence is worthwhile. A sense of responsibility can be experienced by anyone who pours time into a project, even if that project does not result in a new life form. The reader is left to wonder whether the story could have unfolded differently if Victor were to have behaved more responsibly.”

We all understand what responsibility means, but more specifically is the concept of moral responsibility. Moral responsibility refers to the determination that a person deserves praise or blame for an outcome or state of affairs. With determined rational human beings, we can assume moral responsibility. At a bare minimum, common decency. 

What is our responsibility to the things that we create, the relationships we create, how we leave things and people? Whether in conscious or unconscious creation or resuscitation of our creation we are responsible. We can not run away or hide from it.

The final letter in the book, the monster alludes to Milton’s Paradise Lost by saying:

“But it is even so, the fallen angel becomes a malignant devil. Yet even that enemy of God and man had friends and associates in his desolation; I am alone.”

No ones hands are clean.

Citations

Johnston, Josephine. “Traumatic Responsibility · Frankenbook.”

 Frankenbook, PubPub, 30 Apr. 2018, 

http://www.frankenbook.org/pub/traumatic-responsibility/release/3.

Interlude

I am interjecting my own story to provide a bit of an interlude after talking to my editor: 

I am fervently working on revising Part IV. My feedback, from my editor was the piece “was too on the fence.” I was trying to make sense and justify Jerry’s behavior instead of calling it as it was. That’s how you stay in a boo boo relationship for eight years. I revised half of it last night. Annnnnd its taken quite a turn. So, I’m inserting this so my intentions are clear – because I know he’s going to read it; not comprehend it *cough* 

This story above all is an illustration of my self love. 

It highlights the humanness of my existence. Highlights the karmic work I have to do. 

I have compassion and love for Jerry and his humanness. So much so, that using his cover name “Jerry” makes writing this feel a tad insincere.

I am aware ego is the strongest voice in this story. My reasoning, balance. I have spent years in my head and heart sorting out all of this out. Growing from it. Learning from it. Sharing it with Jerry. Trying to understand why I care so deeply about someone who has never taken the time to understand me, to see me. 

I know there are plenty of people who can not see me or hold space for me, and that’s perfectly fine. Compartmentalize me how you will. Know I am here if you need space.

I need a space to laugh about this. Space to laugh at the absurdity. The absurdity which makes this story so human. I need a space to see that regardless of my active compassion and love for Jerry that hurt happened in our relationship and that hurt was never mended. Most of my stories have been about the ugly side of Jerry and the reason for that is writing is my cope for my undressed wounds. Ironically, what Jerry hates about what I say, is really about Jerry hating what he has done. With these stories I carve a simple space which allows me to provide the compassion and love I yearned for from him and never got, to give it to myself. A space to heal.

To Jerry, I am in the wrong either way. If I love sincerely, I am wrong. If I use my voice and don’t advert my eyes, I am wrong. Instead of staying true to Jerry, I am being true to myself.

I do not want to be together with Jerry. I simply want the pain to go away. That’s why I talk about it. Write about it.

He could not say sorry and I did not leave. 

I am grateful to Jerry everyday. He taught me how to love endlessly. He has taught me that although I can give my love easily, I must be thoughtful where I place it. He has shown me the duality of love and fear. He has shown me how critical it is to grow and where I need to grow. He has taught me how to let go. How to hold on. He has shown me my strength. He has given strength to my voice and my personal value. He has taught me compassion. He has shown me that we cannot heal anyone but ourselves and more importantly at our own time. Behind my words on this page, there is a well so deep that is rooted in nothing but love and gratitude of which Jerry has been on the receiving end since the day I met him and remains firmly in place today.