"in a space between heaven and earth"
My boyfriend is a sigher. Or should I say, he used to be. He calls it stuffing, gently and/or harshly, he will stuff his emotions down. He will avoid the discomfort of confrontation, until it boils him away. He will smile as he is in pain. He will not ask for what he wants.
We had a talk a few weeks ago, about stuffing. Because this hiding of emotions left him in a constant state of passive aggressiveness one weekend. I didn’t know what the fuck was wrong with him. He is usually sweet and loving and encouraging. He is the best man I know. But, when he hides from the words he really wants to say, he gets irritated and agitated.
He can’t say what he feels, because sometimes he doesn’t even know how he feels. I hear it in his breath. I cannot stand it.
I want to have an open stream of conversation.
I want it to flow, like the way a river flows gently, and then harshly, depending on its mood. I want him to tell me what he fears and how I annoy him, and why he is provoked by certain things I do.
I am not the easiest woman to live with. Sometimes, I use my addiction as an excuse, or a reason. I use it when I can’t adult, when I can’t be responsible and when I don’t want to move from a childish state of innocence and unknowing.
Some days, I don’t open my mail. I stopped opening my mail years ago. There was nothing that mattered. I couldn’t bare to pay another hospital bill, a past due credit card bill, an ambulance ride. I didn’t want it. I didn’t want to face the world. The only mail I opened was wrapped in a UPS envelope full of pills.
Yes, I got my pills from the internet, and from craigslist, and from doctors. I learned how to look deep into the interwebs and find underground communities that shared tips on how to find drugs online and how best to clear your nostril when it is stuffed full of cocaine or pill remnants or whatever the fuck else I was sticking up there.
I used to google these things, and get answers.
The point is I stopped growing. I stopped growing in my addiction. I lost time and memories. I lost friends and family members. I lost evolution.
I stopped evolving.
In some ways, I regressed into a version of myself so young, and so naïve that I was almost childlike. Yet, I was far too malicious and corrupted to be a child.
In my addiction, I stuffed like a motherfucker and then I would explode. I had no control over my temper or my anger. In thinking of the person I am today, it is almost as if I was the exact opposite. I was mean and unkind. I could be violent and dangerous. I wasn’t safe.
It wasn’t safe to be part of me.
Perhaps, this is why so many people ran from me. I get it. It makes sense. I would run from me too. But, I still felt the loneliness of abandonment. The idea, which I believed to be a fact, that no one would ever love me. Nor did I deserve love.
I was unlovable.
I am immediately brought back to my sixteen-year-old self, when I say these words: unlovable. I think of my first relationship with Brent and what it was like to be dumped and rejected and told that I am no longer loved. I think of sleeping in my parents bed. I think of being so sad that I didn’t eat.
I think of the pain of betrayal and the emptiness of loss.
I think of the moment my heart hardened, for good. I was sixteen with a heart so deceitfully hard and dark, you’d never see it at first glance. And they didn’t. The seven or so loves that came after Brent, they never saw it. I appeared soft and gentle – but there was a subtle detachment anytime we talked about love.
Love was not for me.
I will leave you far before you ever left me. And it was always that way. My love was clever and cruel, it was crafty and sly. I would write you a poem and make you fall in love with me and in moments of infatuation, I would tell you I would love you forever. I would make promises I couldn’t keep. And I would underhand your every attempt at romance.
I would leave.
The underlying truth – the idea that I was unlovable – ruled my romantic relationships for most of my life. I went through physical abuse and verbal abuse and emotional abuse. I went through late nights of hiding in a bathroom, with the door locked and closed, and someone beating it down with their fist and their head on the other side. I went through this because I was unlovable.
I didn’t know what real love was. I called every man a soul mate. I was a poet and an artist. I was a creative soul and the idea of this perfect love haunted my idea of heaven. I made you into the greatest love story of all time and then I left you at the end.
This is not to say that I was never rejected. I was most definitely rejected. But after every rejection, I moved onto another man – another hunt – another victim. I became a predator and I would hurt you, without caring.
I was the ghost. I could disappear easily, and without regret.
When I entered my fourth treatment center, I was not only signing up for a drug addiction program, I was signing up with a love addiction problem. My parents searched high and low for a place that dealt with codependency and love addiction. I was kicked out of my second and third rehab for getting in a relationship with a man and they did not want that to happen again.
I don’t know how much I believe in the label “love addict,” but I called myself that every morning at 8 A.M for sixty-four days straight. It was supposed to make me accept the fact that I had a huge problem with men. I was even put on a “no male” contract that I would not abide by. And one case manager called me a sexual predator.
A sexual predator? What the fuck had I become?
I longed for a pattern of goodbyes.
Today, at 32 years old, I stand in the first healthy and loving relationship I’ve ever had. I exist in an equal balance of love for self and love for all humans. I am both special and not special.
I don't know the meaning of true love, but I know the moments of real love.
I know love is not found in obsession and craze. It is not created in rapture and enticement. It is not about poetry and song writing or red velvet cupcakes from Sweet Lady Janes. Love is not a high; it is a gentle peace that moves slowly along your fingertips and spreads evenly into every space you occupy.
It is quiet and unbecoming. It doesn't pray on you. It prays for you.
Love is the tiniest, smallest moments of heaven.
Love is found when I watch Adam kiss our pig, Peaches goodnight. It is seen when she closes her eyes, smiles heavenly, and wags her piggy tail.
It is the feeling when all is right in the world.
Love is located in my mother and fathers eyes, and uncovered when I see the peace that exists in their souls, knowing I am safe and protected.
It is the honor of being a daughter.
Love is found in ritual and routine. It is found in staying. In communication. In understanding and empathy. Love is found in moments of non-judgment.
In a space between heaven and earth.