It’s easier to point a finger than take responsibility for our own actions. I could fill this page with adjectives that describe how wrong D.A. was in his treatment of me, but I’m the one who begged for more, not literally, but figuratively. (There is no sinner without a saint.) I’ve been down that road before and it got me nowhere, and I watch my mother continue in that same cycle today, and it’s called insanity.
Insanity has been described as doing the same things over and over again expecting a different outcome. The only way for us to ever change anything about ourselves is to call like it is, and I’m two hands and a napkin full, and that doesn’t always work for me, but when I’m honest with myself, it does.
Relationships require the work of more than one person; no “one” person is ever to blame for the demise of the unit, nor is one individual responsible for keeping it together. For me, there is no chance of learning more about myself without being able to truly understand my role in all my past relationships, and current relationship. We create our own biggest obstacle, and I’m downsizing.
There is apart of me that still give D.A. a lot of power, but even that is not about him, it’s about me, and I’ve painfully discovered why. Although I managed to end the relationship over a decade ago, there is still guilt and shame because during that period of my life I was the most like my mother and in some cases, worse. The process of writing about her has, as you can imagine, has brought up so much for me, including things I didn’t expect, or even want to see, but I’m slowly but surely getting to the heart of the matter. I’m not only determining how I was affected by my past, I’m also finding out things about myself that need to be forgiven the way I need to forgive her, and I know I can’t have one without the other.
I was just talking with a client the other day about how hard it is to overcome the default behaviors of our parents, and no matter how hard we try, we are always somewhat like them. And that’s exactly why my past has come back to haunt me because it reminds me of all the things I can’t stand about you know who. I was pathetic in the way I tolerated being verbally abused, and cheated on just for the sake of having a man, but I didn’t think I could do any better. I would’ve put up with anything just to keep him around because I thought he was my lifeline out of the chaotic life I knew. To break it down in very simple terms, limited funds was always to blame for the problems with my mother, D.A.’s family had money compared to ours, therefore If I dated D.A., then I could have a different life, but that was oh so wrong. I still had issues, I took the deranged model I knew and applied it but this time it included better cuisine (which totally appeals to me in a dead serious kind of way), fancier vacations, an association with an Art Deco home in an expensive zip code, an introduction to more culture (which was a good thing), and a perceived better self image. I got so caught up in it I even secretly wished his mother would adopt me; I wanted to be him, and have his life, until I knew better.
To him, I was never enough, and I believed it or else I wouldn’t have been there, but at the time privileged rejection felt better than to be discarded completely. He complained about my lack of wealth, my low profile waitressing job, average car, inexpensive clothes, my non-pedigree status, my disinterest in college, (He had a point there.) and my fat ass. What’s funny is the thing he criticized me about the most is what eventually gave me the willpower to leave, (my big ass.) Why wanted me I’m not really sure, other than putting me down, and constantly focusing on my imperfections made him feel better. (I’ve been there before too, the one who constantly judges the other, and it never works because when we close or eyes we are still who we are no matter what the other person is doing.)
He always told me I was fat, wide hipped, had rounded thighs, a big butt etc, etc.
At 19 my strong hips, legs and butt were put to task running a lap around his apartment complex at 11PM one night or else I “had” to give him an hour massage. (What ever in the world was I thinking? I wasn’t, and that was the problem.) He convinced me that I had to this or else he wouldn’t date me. He told me I was getting “BIG,” all my 5.4 inches couldn’t handle 125lbs without some spread. I was determined, in spite of myself to show him I could run a fast circle around that loop and I wasn’t about to let him get any physical satisfaction from me kneading his skin beneath my fingertips. I knew I was the loser any way you looked at it, but I was going to choose how to lose.
I cursed; cried and abruptly stomped my feet every now and then like someone with Tourette syndrome blurting out a noise as I raced clumsily around the parking lot. I was pissed, suicidal and full of self -hate but I went back for more for many years to come. This became an unhealthy theme between us that chipped away at my low-down self-esteem that left behind not only a ghastly carving, but also a chance for growth.
There was however, something about the smell of the central Florida heat rising up from the concrete, and the humid, sticky wind blowing through my hair as I ran. If only for a second, it gave me a sense of purpose, or reason to live, and when you don’t have much, the small things matter. (Hmm interesting, I’m connecting the sensation with the time I ran from my mother.) I felt helpless, but really alive.
After I graduated from high school I briefly enrolled in the local community college where my misfit ass belonged, but instead, bushy tailed, I chased D.A., my meal ticket down to Orlando Florida to an elite private school, and signed up for a class that cost more than a full load at the community college.
I strapped my queen-sized bed to the roof of my beige/gold Nissan Sentra and I headed down the Florida Turnpike. I kept my left hand out the window to hold onto the mattress and my Marlboro light, and I popped No-Doze in between hits off my bowl of weed. I stopped at the Captain D’s for fish-n-chips and cranked up Arrested Development on my stereo while in line at the drive thru, “Take me to another place, Take me to another land, Lord help me understand your plan.”
I loved Florida, I loved the heat, the sun, and the afternoon showers and sitting by the pool in December. I rolled right into the lifestyle I was searching for, baking in the sun with my, stripper cheesy, Ron Jon surf shop gold bikini during the day, and baking my brains out all night with crappy swag. I didn’t do much else other than taking a night class here and there, meeting up with girls from the “Women’s studies class,” and hitting up Kenny Rogers Chicken, and waitressing at the local spot.
(Ironically enough, he befriended a guy in the complex who confessed to him that he spent time watching girls around the apartment community using binoculars. He told him a bout this one girl in particular who sat by the pool in a gold bikini and who would occasionally run around the complex at night. Who do you think got the last laugh there? It didn’t stop him from making cruel remarks, or monitoring my daily intake of fat.)
Our arrangement of needy and needed reversed when he got into an accident that left him at my mercy. He was being an unruly, disrespectful punk one night while he was out drinking with a buddy. After vandalizing a respected building, he ran a stop sign on a scooter and was sidelined at the femur by a car. His leg braided behind his shoulder because the bone was split and was pushing it’s way out of the flesh like two heads. He had emergency surgery that night, and he cried and panted on the phone to me like a man on death row.
I spent the next few months being his nursemaid, but he resented the hell out of it, and only now, can I understand why. He was an affluent twenty two year old at a rich kids private college, he didn’t want to depend on a salt of the earth kind of girl to take care of him. He began treating me worse as a way to get rid of me because he didn’t have the courage to let me go. I raped myself of my dignity, but also made something of the crumpled mess. I found something that saved me and propelled me forward many times over, the connection between my mind and body, but it took years. To be continued.