Friday, June 5, 2009

Love without pain isn't really romance...


We're in bed, lying next to each other on plaid flannel sheets, catching up on our breathing after a no-holds barred tickling match. I turn my face towards him. I've never been this happy, this content, with my life, with a man. I've been living with him for a little over two years. He's my life. We talk about marriage, about children. We're happy and growing. I never thought I would find a man who I could truly trust and love. Never thought I would find someone like him.

He looks at me and I smile. Our cat, a chubby black and white male I picked out from the pound the year before, had retreated to the chair by the bed in order to escape our wrestling.

"I want to break up."

I laugh at him, "Right, of course."

"I'm serious."

"Sure you are." He stares at me. He's not smiling. "Wait, you're serious? This isn't a joke?" starting from my throat, numbness starts to overtake me as I watch his mouth for the hint of a smile, "This isn't funny. I don't understand."

"I'm not ready for this. It's getting to that point where I need to propose or let you go. I'm still too messed up. And you're so intense. You're consuming my life and I'm not ready for that. I need to figure out the crap inside my head."

I get out of bed, the numbness expanding down into my chest, and start putting on my clothes. The bed frame that he bought for me as a surprise while I was in Alaska, the matching bedroom furniture I had to get a team to carry up the stairs in the condo to get into our bedroom when he was in New Jersey, the walls my mother, sister, and I painted while he was out of town as a surprise, our cat that he bonded so intensely with, it all becomes a featureless blur spinning out of my vision.

The cold reaches my legs ten steps from the bed and I collapse to the floor, my string pulled out.

This isn't reality.

Tears start, breathing shifts into high-gear. Ohgodithurtsohgodohgod. I start hyperventilating, something I haven't done since the abortion five years prior. The memory slides into my head of the nurses telling my seventeen year-old self that I would need to slow my breathing or I would pass out and have to stay in the clinic even longer.

I slow my breathing. Remember yourself. Where is that switch, where is that switch he told you would always be there? How do I turn this off again, it's been too long. He said I would always be able to find it. WHERE IS MY SWITCH?

I find something in me, something resembling that cold ennui that haunted me for years. It's close, I reach and I shut down. I'm stronger than this, I've been through worse than this.

No one, however, has caught me by this much surprise.

Using the doorframe, I get shakily to my feet. I'm okay. It's off. The pain is a steady echo in the back my skull but I can ignore it until I get to safety, until I get out of here.

He steps into my vision and I break, the echo turning into a roar that vibrates through my skull, shattering the foundations I so hastily laid seconds before.

I hurt. I'm yelling at him through my tears. I haven't shouted at someone since that night.

My back is against the bathroom door and I can't get my body under control and part of me is screaming inside my head that I need to get it together, that I need to gather my beast to me and get through this because I can handle this if I would just let myself.

He's talking to me, soothing tone, explaining what happened, how he's been thinking about this for the last three months, watching us interact, trying to determine what to do. That he still cares for me, but he needs to focus on himself.

It's a fountain of words streaming from his mouth. I latch on to the cadence of his voice and my tears slow, then cease. I count the seconds of my breath. Three seconds in, three seconds out.


I'm calm enough to drive. I toss some clothes into a bag. When I reach my car, I call my mother and let her know that I'm moving back in, and that I'm on my way now.

The next day, my mother, my sister, and myself show up to the condo with bags and boxes. We wipe it clean of me within a few hours. I call him to let him know we're done and he can return home.

I don't unpack those boxes for a over a year.

... ... ... ...


We're in bed together. Tan cotton sheets. We're lying on our backs, distant.

"I think this is as far as we go," he says to me.

"I know."

A single tear rolls down my cheek and I fall asleep.

... ... ... ...


We're standing in our kitchen. I'm moving out in a week. Mostly packed, it's just the kitchen and larger furniture.

"I don't want to lose your friendship."

"I'm sorry," I tell him, though I'm not and we both know that I mean that I'm sorry he treated me so poorly that I will never speak to him again once I am finally out of this apartment.

"I'm going to miss your wit and intelligence. I'm going to miss dancing with you at the clubs."

"Why did you do what you did?" and, again, we both know exactly what I'm referring to with that vague statement.

He leans against the kitchen counter, back inline with the kitchen sink.

"I thought you could take it."

"You thought I could 'take it'," images of me ripping off his head rush into my mind, but my body language betrays nothing as I continue to pack in the dining room.

"Yeah. You're so strong. You could take it. You're good with pain. I thought I could do what I wanted and you could handle it. Apparently you couldn't."

"I'm sorry I failed to see the point of sticking around in an unhealthy situation while you continued to treat me like your psychological punching bag. I'll try to do better next time." Asshole, I mentally punctuate.

The next hour and a half, while I pack, I get to listen to a whining speech from a man I never should have dated about how much he will miss my friendship.

When he goes out of town the next weekend, the weekend I'm moving out, he tricks one of his friends into staying at the apartment while he's gone in order to babysit me so I do not attempt to steal any of his belongings.

... ... ... ...


"You got drunk and cheated on me with two of your female friends?"

"I plead the fifth."

"Right. Well, this is over."

"See you, space cowboy."

He would end with a running joke.

... ... ... ...


When he slammed me in the car door the first time, I thought it was an accident.

The second time, it caught me across the chest.

The third time, I caught it in my hands.

When I ran, he caught me. I bit him. He threw me to the ground by my hair, bits of gravel stuck in my forearms.

When he locked me in his room and held me down on his bed, pressing into me with his body, I got a hand free and took my distress out on his balls. I continued to bite anything that I could sink my teeth into.

... ... ... ...


I was stupid.

Looking so desperately for a man who wasn't like the last one, I stumbled into idiocy.

It still embarasses me to realize how naive I was. To get stuck in a hotel room in the middle of the day with a man I just met? That I was so hoping would erase the taint of the previous one?

I was so innocent. So stupid. When he switched a finger for a cock, I told him to stop. I told him he wasn't wearing a condom and I did not want to have sex and he knew that, I had told him earlier.

I wasn't savvy enough to realize the situation I was in.

He didn't listen.

... ... ... ...


"Flip a bitch," he calls out, then roughly turns me onto my stomach while his friend watches from the floor.

We popped some pills and went at it, them taking turns with my body.

I still cannot get those words out of my head.

... ... ... ...


I'm lying in bed, alone. Black sheets.

Cool pillow beneath me, phone pressed against one ear.

His voice slides into me, "It's like you're designed for pain. Something about you, something about your life, it's like you've been set up for pain. This is how you are strong. This is what people see in you. An ability to handle pain."

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