Sunday, December 4, 2011

Take a Load Off, Annie.

“Holding resentment is like eating poison and waiting for the other person to keel over.”

I'm not sure where the above quote originated, but a blogging, psychologist PhD friend of mine included it in her entry this morning on the subject of forgiving someone when you simply can't condone what they have done. That hit me hard this morning, thinking about Chris and all the drama we went through.

Last night, I realized that it was this week in 2007 when we started exchanging emails on the "dating" site we were both on. (To say it was a "dating" site is being extremely generous and kind.) Amid a wave of unattractive, blah, creepy and insulting "Hey, you're hot, I'd like to fuck you" emails I was getting from guys, into my inbox came this long, extraordinarily well-written, thought-provoking invitation to conversation from a newly divorced, recently transplanted back to Chicago, engaging man who knew who Steve Gadd was. I was highly impressed and he was beyond charming and intelligent, unlike anyone I'd ever met before, so I emailed him back and thus our friendship began.

(I sort of totally forgot about Chris' birthday on November 23rd this year, other than I got my period that day, so I jotted it down. TMI Alert for you fellas again: I got my period AGAIN this morning, December 4th. Looks like the D&C is an inevitable procedure to schedule, fuck. This is ridiculous. As usual, I digress.)

Chris and I emailed and chatted online extensively before we finally met in person on December 22, 2007. We honestly felt that we were old, best friends who just hadn't met in this life yet, and in the early days of our relationship, that was very true. We were THAT simpatico. Like I said in a previous blog, I was also sort of dating Martin, the older dude who ended up dying suddenly, and Chris was the man I ultimately chose. I'm not the type capable of dating multiple men at once. I chose Chris for a litany of reasons I've mentioned previously.

I've written extensively, though leaving out some of the more graphic details of violence and perversion that I ultimately endured at Chris' hands later in the 3 1/2 years we were together, things only my doctors and those very close to me know about, but what finds me torn and confused is how much I miss some of the tender moments and warm kindness of which Chris was capable. Trust that it leaves someone with PTSD with an even bigger ball of ick to dissect--hurt by the abuse but oddly craving the affection and care of the abuser. It's this clusterfuck of mixed up emotions that are hard to reconcile.

I thought about his capability of affection and warmth the night I went to see "The Last Waltz" with my Tatus this week. We'd been talking about Chris and the PTSD before the movie, the icky parts of the relationship, and how I would be dealing with those with my new therapist, who he said has her work cut out for her. He listened patiently. I blabbed.

Sort of separately, the film's finale is Bob Dylan, The Band and the entirety of the guests of the concert singing Dylan's "I Shall Be Released." I wrapped my arm around my Tatus, and whispered to him "I want this song played at my funeral." He responded with uncomfortable denial. "I'm serious," I said, "I want this song at my funeral." I think he thinks he'll die long before I will, given he's 55 and I'm 39, so the point of my insistence and secret request were moot, though I still can't shake this gnawing feeling I have that I will die young. That notion scares the people who love me, and is uniformly an uncomfortable thing to discuss, with anyone. I think I have that feeling partly due to depression and partly because there's just a shitload of crap wrong with my body. Literally, I have almost all of the details of what I want to happen after I die already spelled out to those whom I want involved. He seemed relieved when he was paged by the ER in the middle of the song and had to get up and leave the theater to handle someone else's emergent life or death matter.

After the movie ended and we headed back to the car, which was a couple of blocks away from the theater, my arm was in the crook of my Tatus' arm, because that's the way a gentleman walks a lady down the street, especially when she's wearing fashion-forward yet highly impractical combat boots and the gentleman walks with the speed of a roadrunner and the fashion-forward woman struggles to keep up with him. It's just polite.

Chris used to walk me down the street with my arm in the crook of his elbow too, if we weren't holding hands. I always liked that. That act, that simple gesture, always reminded me of the way John Lennon took the comparatively tiny Yoko Ono's arm in his in the video they made for the song "Woman" as they sauntered through Central Park together.

When Tatus and I were saying our goodbyes in the car when we got to my house, we hugged and kissed one another on the cheek, like we always do, because we're pals and I told him that I loved him, which I do. I wasn't about to request, and he certainly would've had no idea, that if he could've done anything in that moment that would have eased my troubled soul, it would've been to have kissed me on the forehead. He, somewhat awkward when it comes to affection in general, and me shy, asking him to kiss me on the forehead would've been sort of weird in the moment.

It's by no means a romantic or inappropriate kind of kiss. It's a calming, soothing kiss that simply implies, "You'll be alright." I later remembered how I would walk up to Chris, who towered over me at 6'3", and would just lift my head up and stand there, saying nothing. He'd kiss me on the forehead and we'd carry on with whatever we were doing. It's the kind of kiss that literally says, "Take a load off, Annie. Take a load for free. Take a load off, Annie, and put the load right on me," just like in The Band's "The Weight." It's also by no means a Chris-only, relationship-only kind of kiss. When my son and I kiss goodnight, we hug (I hug both Luke and his stuffed walrus, Walle), I kiss him usually on the shoulder, then on the cheek, then I hold my forehead up to his lips and he kisses me smack dab. That's Luke's affectionate expression of his oft-uttered "Settle down, you crazy bitch."

Am I remotely close to forgiving Chris for all the ills he brought into my psyche, into my life? No. Am I close to "just forgetting about it" or "compartmentalizing" it into the back of my mind? No. That'll take work and therapy that hasn't started yet. But now, all that negativity is compounded by missing the motherfucker. It's a difficult period of time--the time of year when we met, when we started dating, our first holiday apart in 4 years, his birthday, et al. Trying hard to focus my energy elsewhere and channel it into more positive aspirations and projects, like the UK blog I was asked to contribute my writing, which can be found at It's a blog and web site about overcoming addiction and dealing with substance abuse, so it's a good fit.

And I'm close to getting all the grad school shit uniformed for entrance this spring or at the latest, next fall. Kate's encouraging me to give painting a shot, which if memory serves, I suck at, but perhaps I was taking the wrong approach. Tatus said the other night, "Well, what else do you have to do between midnight and 5am?," implying that I do indeed put a great deal of energy into my artistic ventures--music, writing...

“Everyone has been made for some particular work, and the desire for that work has been put in every heart. Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.” —Rumi

iTunes is shuffling an AMAZINGLY poignant selection of music this morning, completely not by my choosing. It just shuffled Monty Python's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" and followed it up with the Flaming Lips' "Jesus Shootin' Heroin." Then Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man." Then Neil Young's "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)." The creepiest follow up? "White Flag" by Dido, followed by The Beatles "If I Fell," followed by Carly Simon's "You're So Vain." Each song has it's place in my framework this morning.

Ran across this quote by Hunter S. Thompson this morning, which reminded me of my self-perpetuated death idealism:

"We are all alone, born alone, die alone ... we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely, at least not all the time, but essentially, and finally alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important. I don't see how you can respect yourself if you must look in the hearts and minds of others for your happiness". — Hunter S. Thompson

Thank God I got all the obligatory chores assigned to me by my mother completed yesterday, because today I feel like a shit tornado. 5:00am woke me up with a wicked sore throat and some body aches, but I fell back asleep until 7, when I decided it was time to break out the Advil, blow my nose, make the tea and find the honey. I don't get sick-sick very often, but my son is on the outskirts of a hellish sinus infection that sidelined him from school for 4 days last week, and I was in the thick of his germs all week. Despite fastidious handwashing and blowing him kisses all week, we share space. Sometimes it's inevitable that one will catch whatever bug your housemate has. Naturally, my mother came downstairs this morning and is angry with me for not feeling well, as if catching Luke's bug is somehow my fault. I tried to drown out her "Oh shits" and "That's just great..." as I poured myself more tea.

The only thing I have to accomplish today is making it to get a hair cut at 1pm and making Luke's lunch for tomorrow, which can always be done in the morning. Otherwise, it's a stay-in-jammies, smoke less because it hurts, write out Christmas cards kind of day.

Hey, the next time you see me, if I just stand there with my head cocked a certain way, looking up you expectantly, whomever you are, male or female, do me a favor and plant a smooch on my forehead. I'll feel 100 times better.

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