I have moved from first loves and nascent lessons on codependence, emotional shouldering and vulnerability, to first heartbreaks when I least expected them, in moments of bliss on summer afternoons breathing in hot, honeysuckle-scented air. You took me down when I was at my highest, throwing around words like, “impossible,” “long-distance,” and “not worth it.” I learned that I could be most easily wounded when I was most availably open, and so I changed.
My behavior, my triggers, my red-flags, my wants, my identity, adapted. I learned that this dark part of me that I had been aware of but too afraid of to fully explore could actually serve me. The ability to manipulate, to spin one hint of a feeling into a full-blown intoxicating fantasy, intertwined with who I was...for a time.
First loves turned into first unrequited obsessions. But I have never been able to build everything from nothing. A seed is necessary. A glance, a lock of stares, an embrace held a little too long with too much laughter and too many late nights with cheap hard cider. Those things add up. Alchemised by my mind into a full-blown affair, if only he would join me in the dream we could be each other’s if not forever, for the foreseeable future. More heartbreak ensued, when the fantasy I worked so hard to create and sustain on my own crumbled with questions and unsureity and pushing too hard too soon. My fault, of course. It always is. I did love you, earlier than I was ready to admit it. I loved you and I loved us together. But that beautiful vision only really existed in the bubble of those four years. The habitat of real life in the outside world could never have sustained us. Besides, I was soon to become educated in an art that had never crossed your mind as a problem, nevertheless a possibility.
Now follows years of therapy, dark periods of being forced on my knees, forced to pray for the brightness to come back to me, even if I wasn’t sure I wanted it yet. I got sober, I got into those healing, clean community rooms that would simultaneously draw me and repel me over the next several years. I adopted a strained, deprived sense of sobriety which capitalized on my little scared Taurus, whoso desperately wanted to stay isolated and alone. Being alone is always easier than being hit where it hurts most...right?
Enter family. Enter mother. Who so desperately and self-righteously needed me as she always has. “Father is dying,” she said, “you need to come home.” So I did. I spent two years there, in the dark, among the confused, righteous and weird. I even fell in love with one of them. Enter “The Sadist” who helped me to fully explore the darkness within me and experience it in other people. I learned to tolerate pain, embrace it, seek it, revel in the manipulation played back against me as a seduction tactic. Always kept at arms length, I still spun a beautiful fantasy in my head of a forever friendship based out of mutual trust and respect. I survived the death of a parent. I replayed “Fire and Rain” and cried in my lover’s arms, the same lover who had also lost a parent too young. And then I finally realized that the love for him I had so desperately tried to deny had finally burst forth…conditionally. It wanted to be returned. And so I left. I went east, with dear mother, to a land where women are not as respected, where consent is much darker and murkier when it comes to the law, where I was blamed for my own indiscretions, my own drunken state and “willing” participation when I was raped. A day later I am home again. And it’s time to move. Escape. Leave behind my mother’s energy and my lover’s lack of emotional availability. Leave behind the memory of having little to no control over my own body. Leave behind the trust fractured in multiple places. The darkness had finally overtaken the light, and so I went out in search of it.
I came back into the sun. Where my father grew up skimming the waves on the southern beaches, before all the suburban neighborhoods were “up and coming.” Where I first got sober, and began this journey towards self realization and awareness. To the city that I love, which feels like home more than the dark and the weird and the wet ever did, where my father brought himself up from nothing, where truly anything is possible because everything is always available…somewhere. I came back to heal, to take my life back as my own, to further my examination of the dark in the place that I knew would challenge it and force it to face real consequences.
And then there was you. You whom I thought I knew, who I couldn’t see the red flags of warning flying high above, who I gave my whole self to, nearly completely, and who seemed to take such good care of me in return. Then you changed, as people do. You changed and you didn’t know how to accept the change, much less accept that it does not affect your worth, your lovability. Truly, it changes everything, but you couldn’t see that, without me sticking around to take care of you and ease the transition. Unfortunately for you, that is not my job. This was not what I wanted. It was merely another challenge, another stepping stone, another refinement of my own vision. Another opportunity for clarity.
Back with myself, after so much gained and lost and lost again…how do I trust? How do I continue to have faith that I could possibly attract a brighter person? I needed the words engraved on my arm to remind me that there are always things that will be out of my control, that the only option I really have is to trust the powers that be. Trust the darkness, trust the light, believe that this history does not define me, but merely informs me. Trust that I know who I am and how to take care of myself, whatever may arise. Trust that I am resilient, and that this resilience was learned, was grown and built from nothing, over the years, by weathering trauma and challenge after trauma and challenge. Trust that there is truly nothing I can’t handle if I stay true to myself and ask for help when I need it. Trust that the man I want is out there somewhere, and that the more clear I become about what I’m looking for, the more I will be drawn to him, and he to me. After all, trust is really the only faith I have. So I choose to keep using it.