So it seems nothing has changed in our lives… except for all of the changes. I look back over almost 3 years and I can see ground zero very clearly. But honestly there were signs before that milestone that bespoke of a new reality. We knew there were things going on with life as we knew it but we had no idea the depth charge that was already armed and falling toward us.
It finally blew in December of 2014 and nothing has been the same since then.
Today, yes, things are very different. Where we used to live as a couple, today we live in two separate states. Where we used to share everything, today we text and talk on the phone but we only see each other every three or four months. One of us lives completely alone, the other lives with a shadow of someone he loves very much but who isn’t entirely there anymore. It’s hard kids. Very hard indeed. And we’re trying to figure out our path whilst doing what we have to in order to move forward with life.
This is not as easy as it looks.
And while we look okay and we seem like we’re handling all of this… most of the time we’re not. We’re married but we don’t have a partner nor a real marriage. So we’re trying to figure it out. We care a lot for each other… a very big lot… and we both want to be happy but we’re not sure what that looks like anymore. There’s complications. There’s challenges.
There’s a lot of stuff.
So bear with us both. We’re figuring this out. Our reality has changed both of us. While we tried to adapt to it. Like trying to reason with hurricane season. Short answer… you can’t. Life goes on… but what it looks like in the future isn’t clear. We’re still trying but we both need to draw a map forward. So be patient with us. This is hard. Being friends. Loving each other. Wanting what’s best for ourselves and for each other. And we don’t have any idea what that is or isn’t. So we’re making it up as we go.
Life isn’t always easy… and being honest is very painful. We go on though… we always go on.
RIP David… you were loved, by so many, for not nearly long enough and the world is dimmer at your passing. But truly, your death, for those of us left behind wrought so many other things that have flooded my brain, things that I’m still trying to sort out. Things that I cannot really find the words to speak about.
You were one of us. Too young. Taken. Gone. Yet in death you reunited us. The remains of our small tribe. Beaten, battered, scarred, yet still standing. And betrayed in a way at the loss of you. Because your loss means our own mortality is very much in our minds. If you can die then our own survival becomes a question. And our certainty about survival becomes less.
I hope you’re at peace. They say you’re not in pain anymore. I’m not sure. I cannot imagine a greater pain than being dead. Being gone. Being alone. I hope “they’re” right. I hope I’m wrong about where you are now.
But “they” also say that every death is accompanied by new life and seeing us three together, I hope “they’re” right. I hope our tribe is reuniting in old age, much like we were knitted together of miscast threads in our youth. Growing old is scary. Growing old alone is worse. Death divides and unites. Death brings death, and life. Life brings hope and fear and pain and joy. Death is hard, life is harder. Life together- with the people who know all of your secrets and pain, all of your oldest dreams and fears- is easier somehow, but it’s also more scary.
Much more scary.
It’s much easier to be someone else if the people who know the real you aren’t there to point out your subterfuge. Aren’t there to say “I’m pretty sure that you’ve got on no clothes”. Aren’t there to pull off your mask and make you be real. I’m not sure that I’m real anymore. Are you? Is anyone?
Are you sure?
Your death, a haven for you from any more feelings, has for us opened up a whole chapter of nothing but for those of us left behind. Your urn led us to a cemetary filled with the life we left when we moved into adulthood full of hubris and snarls and the belief that we could walk away from our wreckage and never deal with the horrible things we had wrought in the lives of the others we were attached to like siamese twins intent on doing each other harm. Your death made us acknowledge that life. That pain. That fear. The silence of words we never could say to each other but that we needed to shout to the world. These are the things we received along with the loss of you. The terror of finally telling the truth. Comparing our stories. Remembering the same things differently.
Oh so differently.
Interestingly, your death is filled with infinite peace for you but yet ripe with complexity for those of us left behind. Sorting through our reunion, figuring out how we fit now, remembering the passion, the anger, the disappointment, the love.
Yes, the love. That we thought was gone. That’s still with us today. A living breathing thing. That wrapped us in its wings and comforted us in our loss of you. Gave us peace. Peace like it gave you.
And truthfully I almost envy you for that peace. Somehow being dead is easier. No worries. About anything. Just dead. At peace. And I hope you are. At peace that is. We will be. I’m sure. Eventually. Now that we’re reattached. Like we were years ago. You had the power to unite and to divide. I think we’re together. I hope we stay that way. Even if it’s complicated. Even if it challenges us. Even if we struggle. As long as we hang onto each other. As long as we hang onto the thread of the rope that love threw us. I hope we will.
We love you David. We mourn your loss. We wish it wasn’t you to go. One of the youngest. One of the most alive. You should have lived. You were one of the good ones. But we didn’t get to choose. You were the one who went. And you gave us the gift of each other as you left us.
So peace little brother. Rest in peace. We wish you good journeys, fair winds and following seas. We salute you from the shore of a distant life and wish you everything that we can for the dead. We wish you love.
Love. Now, before, after, forever.
So, unless you’ve been out of the country doing something fun, you’re already well-aware that my 30th High School Reunion was this weekend. If you were out of the country, why exactly was it that you didn’t take me?
Hmmmmm? (cue side-eye, and irritating eyebrow raise)
Yeah, 30 years. Wow. Hard to believe. When I graduated from High School Ronald Reagan was only 2 years into his first term, and presumably still in control of most of his faculties. Or so we think. And we all were wearing “a younger man’s (and woman’s) clothes.”
Some of us, BTW, still are, and they need to stop that shit… just sayin’.
But anyway, 30 years since I collected that diploma and since I had avoided both of the previous Reunions I hadn’t seen most of those people since… well… since June 6, 1982, my last compulsory day of attendance at Lakeland Senior High. And to be clear, that was by choice. Because I hated high school. Hated everything about it. Hated feeling awkward, ill-fitting, not a part of anything, nervous, scared, unliked… oh, did I mention awkward? Yeah that, twice, with feeling.
Yes, I really felt all that, all of the time, and I hated it. High school was where I really learned to hate cliques and social strata, because I wanted to belong so badly… but I didn’t. No way, no how.
I just didn’t.
So the angst in the roll-up to this event was unbelievable. I wouldn’t commit to buying the tickets until less than a month ago. Then after I bought them, instant regret set in. I know, WTH? But yeah, I started freaking out. Big time. All over the place. Because I’m “fluffy” today, not 100 lbs dripping wet any more. Because I’m still just as awkward at times as I was back then. Because I still don’t “belong”. Because, because, because… lather, rinse, repeat. So I freaked. Filling my Facebook feed with non-stop angst and drama over all things Reunion – little and big. Despite the fact that this event was being filed under “not that important in the grand scheme of things” for most of my classmates. For me? It was big. Nervewrackingly, annoyingly, ridiculously big.
Because I’m an idiot like that, catastrophisizing the heck out of everything. And yes, according to Bob that is a real word… his Therapist used it one time… apparently we trust PhD’s to know the Englishes better than us. Who knew? But yeah, to be blunt, I freaked. Right up until the night of the first event, still flapping and carrying on, paralyzed by fear and unable to leave the house. Yeah, really, so scared I could not get out the door. Because inside of me is still that girl who just really wants to be liked, but who doesn’t truly believe anybody will or does. Sad, right? Ridiculous, no? I mean, I am so well and truly blessed with some of the best friends a woman could hope for, and the best family in the world, and still I think people won’t like me. Maybe I’ve just found the 6 to 10 (hundred) who like weird and off-beat?
Yep, that’s it.
But I did finally leave the house, did finally get to the Football Game, did finally get to the first Reunion event, and… I had fun. Wow. How anticlimactic is that? We went to the game, then the after-party, and I didn’t get home until 1:15am. Really. That much fun. Who knew? And the next night was more of the same… more fun… with people I never connected with in the past, but I enjoyed talking and laughing with in the now. People just like me, who’ve changed and grown, and lived lives just like mine. People who have made it to the other side of adulthood with me… scarred and a little worse-for-wear, traumas big and large survived, lives lived well and badly… the Class of ’82.
The events were fun, but better was the dropping of barriers, the feeling that I could talk to anybody there, and connect with anyone. And learning that all of us had traumas and self-doubt back then, and some of us have had a really hard life since then, and none of us was immune to life handing us more than we can handle, and handling it the best we could. Yeah, sure, some of us were still trapped in the glory days, stuck in the past, a little too full of ourselves perhaps. But those were the ones I felt sort of sorry for… because after all, if the best years of your life were in high school then you’ve really had a crappy life since then and you should be pitied.
But I had fun. Despite my dire predictions to the contrary. Right up until Sunday afternoon, when I went up and joined the last group of “Diehards” and had one last drink. A toast to our collective pasts for me. We were all in it together, way back when, and all of us survived to celebrate 30 years later. That means something. Something far more important than any shallow bullshit like who was cool and who was not. Who belonged and who didn’t. We are all the Class of ’82 – we all belonged back then and we still do today.
So, if you get the chance, put aside the angst and go to your Reunion. You might not learn anything new about those people you knew way back when, and you might not make any friends that you didn’t already have, but you might learn something about yourself. And you just might have fun.
And a big thanks to Russ Rollins for sharing this on his Tumblr this AM. Moving words, thought-provoking, and just what I needed to read. it’s very true, now more than ever, as I sort this life out from what it was into what it will be. Wheat, chaff, curds, whey… sort it out, discard the stuff that doesn’t work, move forward with what does.
The first thing you need to understand is that you do not need to defend yourself if you feel you made the right decision. After all, you are an adult, you have to live with your mistakes, and whatever those mistakes cost you only you will have to pay. The second thing you should understand is that I’m not angry with you over this decision you have made, nor am I even surprised. I knew you would do this. In fact, I actually understand (probably better than you think) why you have done something that everyone in your world disagrees with so wholeheartedly.
You see, I’ve been in your situation before. I know where you are. You’re lonely. You’re unhappy. You feel trapped. And he’s the only solution you have right now. So he’s better than nothing. Better than being alone.
But is he? Is he a solution, or is he the problem?
He says he’s changed. He says things are going to be different. He says…words. Just words. Fact is, he’s been like he is for years. He hasn’t changed. Another fact is that so have you, and you didn’t change either. So if we have two people who are exactly the same, creating the same combination together, how could any other outcome be the result?
He has to have control. He has to have subservience. Before when you were with him you saw up close that when he didn’t get those two things there were problems. How does that change in two weeks? Ask yourself that. And be honest. Because when you stop and really be honest, instead of defensive, I think you’ll admit that you don’t even care whether he changed. I think that’s when you’ll tell the world with words what your actions are already saying – you believe he’s all you can find and all you deserve. You think he’s your only chance. You think it’s him or being alone. Forever.
I wish you loved you as much as so many others do. I wish you saw the beauty, the caring, the goodness we all recognize and want to protect. I wish you liked you, really really liked you, like we do. None of us are mad. We’re scared. We love you, we care about you, and we don’t want to have to identify you in a Morgue. None of us want that.
And that, when you get to the bottom of the drama and ridiculousness, is what’s wrong with everyone in your life. There are very many people who care deeply about you. Those people will all blame themselves if something catastrophic happens to you. No one in your life has any investment in him. Nobody even likes him. Let alone loves him. We saw him hurt you before. We will not forgive him. We don’t have to.
And now you are in more danger than ever before because you have done something he had not been able to do before. You have made this decision that we all hate. And now you say we’ve written you off. But you have to understand, to us you’re the one who wrote you off. By going back. By not trying to fix your life on your own. By not being an adult and accepting that decisions have consequences.
Is this the price you are willing to pay? Is he worth that? Are you sure? Is he really Mr. Right? Or is he just Mr. Right Now? Only you know. We do not. But you know what the price is to be with him. And that is what you have to pay. With your family, your friends, your grandchild. All of that. Is he worth that?
Think about it.
Just know that if it gets horrible, the door is open. But if you keep running back to him, running back to danger, eventually no one can save you. No one will. You have to save yourself. You have to love yourself. More than we do. More than he does.
More than anything.
If you choose to be with him because he is your choice, know that I am sad, but I am not surprised. I wish you love, and luck. You need both, from someone who does actually love you. Not someone who simply says the word and means something different. Love is not about control. Love is not about hurt. Love is not words.
Remember that. Always.