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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Recovery

I like very much to make sense out of things. Particularly things that are messy. Ideally, I like to find a reasonable explanation for things before I go to bed. Which, I guess, is why I'm a habitual insomniac; some things never make sense.

For almost three months (which, in the grand scheme of things I realize is a short amount of time), I felt my "Jesusy" relationship with Jim fall apart. I felt this as definitively as whether or not I wear socks when my feet are cold in the winter, but I was too lazy to get up and find a pair. Especially since it was summer. I hated the feeling. Jim was, I thought, the one. He was it. So this whole need-for-socks feeling was very bad. Like I was sleeping next to an imposter, except I couldn't really sleep because my feet were cold and nothing made sense.

I can see now, why people stay in abusive relationships, and why drug addicts remain drug addicts until they overdose. At some point in life, we all make a decision that yields some type of euphoric sensation. For drug addicts, I suppose, it's the first high. For others it's the inexplicable intoxication of falling in love. I remember when it first happened with Jim. It was when I told him that I was broken and a complete mess, and he didn't run away with his hands over his head screaming. Brokenness can really only be attended to once it's acknowledged, and even then, it's really just shared and never quite fixed. Still, though, it felt nice to finally breathe properly; to share my insecurities and vulnerabilities - my internal mess - with someone else.

All at once (too quickly really), my inside broken bits were tenderly acknowledged and held and loved exactly as they were, and not how I wanted them to be. I felt like I was free-falling from 18,000 feet above ground, and Jim dropped out of nowhere, handed me a parachute and said, "Hey, this could be fun, can I come along?" To this day, I don't think there's anything as exhilirating or frightening as letting someone really know who you are - especially the messy parts. And this is why I forced myself to "work things out" when imposter-Jim started hanging around more often. I was completely incapable of reconciling the Jim that knew and loved me, with the Jim who moved in with me. I prayed, I wrote, I swam and I cornerned him into biweekly "are we okay"-type conversations. As his answer was an ostensible "yes", I started to think I was going nuts. At the very least I was delusional, and the whole thing scared me even more than my initial descent of 18,000 feet, because suddenly there was no one there with a parachute.

Imposter-Jim was much less sensitive than his long-distance counterpart who I'd started my relationship with; we'd visited monthly and talk on the phone for hours at a time. Once he moved here, though, he watched a lot of television, drank a lot of beer and wanted to go camping all the time. I stopped feeling delusional and reexamined my previously-acknowledged broken-bits. I decided to gather them up and build a wall between me and the Imposter. He didn't seem to notice, he was too busy reading espn.com. I thought maybe he was turning into a goat - something completely lacking in human characteristics, that likes to consume garbage and is incapable of conversation. He started to talk on the phone outside of the apartment, camp more often, and drink even more beer. He stopped making eye contact. Everything seemed forced, and when I'd mention this I was chronically assured that everything was fine. I decided to turn my wall into a fortress with the new broken pieces I accumulated, and started to assemble a few weapons of mass destruction (just in case). The thing is, even with my fortress and weapons, I was still convinced that diplomacy would work and the Imposter/goat would leave, and my fortress would be peacefully disassembled.

It was right around then that I got nuked.

Even before I found out he was cheating on me, my fortress, weapons and all, were systematically annihilated. Imposter-Jim imitated the way I walk.

It was just the two of us in the apartment. We didn't have a couch or anything, so he had the entire living room for his performance; I, his sole audience, was awestruck. It was the ugliest thing I'd ever seen. It was like watching a Discovery Channel special on liposuction when I can't find the remote in time to change the channel. Even then, I usually turn away - not merely because the sight of someone else's fat in a tube grosses me out, but because my own judgment of someone else's vulnerability makes me feel like a nauseous version of Beezlebub. The bile in the back of my throat was more a function of my own judgment than someone else's disgusting fat in a tube, and this meant I was not a good person. At the very least I had a lot of work to do.

When I watched Jim walk across the room like me, there was no remote to change him with. Besides, he was imitating me, and no battery operated anything was en route to curing a neurological disease. So I watched, as the person I loved leaned too far forward, lifted his right leg too high, and grabbed onto my shaky Ikea desk for balance. It was so accurate and so disgusting. My boyfriend was much worse than a goat. I refused to show him how hurt I was. I refused to suggest that my own horrific judgment of liposuction patients was analogous to the fourteen steps he made across our apartment, but I was aghast. Aghast that he saw me like that. Aghast that my inside broken-bits were no longer tenderly held and loved, but regarded as ugly Discovery Channel-type entertainment. Aghast that he didn't realize any of this or feel a semblance of guilt.

I don't remember what I said to him afterwards. I doubt it matters anyway. I just remember the familiar taste of bile that rose to the back of my throat, and the definitive realization that this would take much more than a self-initiated talk to recover from. My vocal chords were too tangled to speak anyway.

Jim and I were not, and never will be "okay." That's a fact I've started to digest by now, but still doesn't make any sense. The bigger question is, will I?