Sometimes it feels like I’m going around in circles, trying to explain the same things to the same person who always doesn’t understand or misconstrues or gets it wrong. This isn’t my “usual” pattern; it’s not something I’ve encountered before except when in relationships in which men left bruises not only on my heart but also my flesh. I don’t know what to do. I can’t even write, and it’s not only because I’ve been sick with the flu or a cold or something that doesn’t relent and causes me to be miserable. I cannot find the words. This is an attempt to find the words, one I suspect will be unsuccessful and rambling and serve no purpose other than to confirm what I fear: I’ve lost my voice.
I don’t remember it being this difficult with Jack. We never argued, rarely disagreed. He didn’t push me away when I got too close only to reel me back in, an emotional see-saw that I have to ride every day to see which way it happens to be pointing. Guess wrong, and I’m in trouble. Guess right, and I’m the best person who ever walked the Earth. I don’t like guessing, though; I like knowing.
I’m in New Jersey, without my god box, and I’ve been here since a week ago Sunday. I’ve not slept in my bed for what seems forever, and I’m looking forward to being there tonight. I can’t take whatever it is that’s happening a moment longer. I’m exhausted not only from sickness but from being told it’s half my fault even when all I’ve done is speak my truth, my feelings, my needs. What I suspect is that I’m in a situation that needs fixing beyond my capacity, or at least a dysfunction for which I seem to be the only one looking for a cure. We are two broken walls, and I’m trying to prop up both at the same time; what happens is a collapse that takes my blame.
Love? What is that, anyhow? Everything I thought I knew has been turned upright. I’m an embarrassment of I-don’t-know-what. To admit I’ve allowed myself to be foolish once is enough, but to prove right everyone that warned me going back was risky at best? I don’t even feel like I can talk about these things to anyone; they’ve heard it all before and told me to leave good enough (gone) alone. I let my hope for my willingness to be matched in kind lead me astray. I see no willingness, only another wall, this one unbroken, this one with no door, this one that I have no strength left to climb.
In my god box—the one eight miles and an hour away on one bus, one PATH train, and one subway—sits a letter written after the breakup. I don’t remember what it says, specifically (that’s kind of the point), but I know its spirit: I want to be free of pain, rid of men who hurt me, far away from passive-aggression and an unwillingness to change or be changed. I want to be loved, cherished even, without selfishness or conditions. Every hour that passes I fear I’m asking for something that’s impossible, given the person. At what point does acceptance and understanding turn one into a doormat sitting in front of a padlocked door?
Time apart will be good. I need to know who I am alone again. No, not that. I know who I am. I need to remember to be that person, always, even if someone else says it’s not okay. I was able to be that person with Jack, despite his illnesses and despite his betrayal. I did not waver.
I need to not waver. I need to have my voice, clear and quiet or loud and clamoring, because it is me, it is mine, it is who I am. I am tired of being bruised without marks to show for it. (I’d rather almost have the marks, evidence that something had been done instead of just an uneasy feeling.)
Whether this can be fixed is something I can’t answer. I need to follow the adage to believe who someone is when they show me. I need to sit, wait, wait to be shown who is standing in front of me, see if he is everything he promised or everything I feared when I chose to go back. Like I said, it’s a see-saw. But today’s the day I at least attempt to stop guessing which direction it’s pointing and instead get off the ride, become a bystander, see what happens. What comes next isn’t up to me. I know who I am, what I’m willing to do, the lengths I’m able to traverse to find happiness. I’m not the unknown quantity. I opened my door, and now I’m going back to Manhattan to find my voice, to wait and see who the person is who walks through it.