Inspired by Brene Brown’s Rising Strong and traditional Indian sitar, here is one of my many stories. But this one is a difficult one, one I have “reckoned” with, and am finally feeling strong enough to close out, consolidate and evolve. In many ways, I already have and am. This is the story of the trauma I faced and rose from, quietly. Now it is out. And let it be done.
It started as an online meet. Yeah, I know. Already sounding bad. Then a meeting at Starbucks. My friend Kelcie was already suspicious upon seeing him. He was wearing a shirt that said “Fighting solves Everything,” in an Affliction-style. I ignored it. I was interested in the person. Conversation was so-so, but I was intrigued. He seemed smart, decent enough to hang out with a few times. I certainly attracted him, I felt. So I continued contact, then I recoiled. Something felt off. I was at once repelled and attracted. I wanted to run, yet I wanted to hear what he would say. And I stayed. I was quietly accepting of his taken-from-movies sayings such as “I am a provider” and “I will take you away from here,” referring to my little apartment (which I actually loved). It was everything I thought I needed and deserved, and was supposed to go for anyway, right?
And I stayed with him. It was tumultuous, but I was getting into a routine with him, seeing his world, that was new and varied and rich, literally. He lived on the intracoastal. He was a professional tech guy. He knew a lot, been through a lot, was very open with me. There was a lot of give and take, passionate and unstable. He wasn’t my type, was actually sort of repulsive in some senses (claimed to be healthy but didn’t know kale, for example)… these sort of red flags that I shut off their signals out of curiosity. He was fiendishly smart and cleaned up real nice. Like a spider, or a wolf. Wolf spider? He was tough, with a generous show of vulnerability, too. All the right amounts, in all the right situations.
He showed me a lot of things, such as diving, had interesting friends and conversations.
The curiosity led me to many break downs. I called my parents sobbing on a hotel hallway floor on our first trip out of town, had a big fight the first night there. They freaked out. I reassured them though. He and I patched the first major hole in this faulty fabric. It was high high’s and low lows. Then I brought him to Brazil to meet my family, he was nothing short of a spoiled, self-entitled man-brat prick. I wanted to break up permanently after that, but curiosity… and we mended. Passed it off as international dismay…
My youthful exuberance, perhaps? High hopes? Bought in too high? Stubbornness to let go; forcing it, so that it will have to work?
Hole after hole broke out and was patched. Until finally, there were no more bad breakup-makeups – we moved past that stage. Then the shit talking started and stayed; shit-talking and disapproval of my friends and family. How they were disorganized, stupid, etc. That he couldn’t stand their chaos. Blasphemy to my ears. My heart was crushed. But I still stayed. Friends and family were concerned by my growing isolation, but they politely stood in the sidelines; like a virus, this would pass. Or so I think they hoped.
He presented himself to be magnanimous most times. The first social interactions, he convinced anyone and everyone that he was a stable guide, a sturdy dude. He threw off any unapproving feelings and doubts. But his actions told a different story. I increasingly felt withdrawn, increasingly felt like I couldn’t do anything, not even basic thought process, without first consulting him, for he was all-knowing, and he would disapprove of what I’d think, anyway.
What hooked him, or so he seemed to reveal one time in a conversation wherein I was unloading all of my hangings and self-doubts and inabilities to live up to expectations, was that I once told him that I wanted to make money. Which I did. I was young, and increasing my annual income seemed to be a worthy goal. But not at this price.
He told me to not tell me about my day, when I am such a talker. I like to talk things through. He got mad when I picked people’s brains and asked for opinions; when I was gleaning for info, feeding my curiosity. He said I should just get enough from him.
We lived nice. Ate nice. Nice furnished house, fancy shit, kept adding big toys like cars and a boat. So I couldn’t complain – the “ungrateful” line of guilt would be hooked into me.
I’m a relationship-based person. I prize the opinions of those I love, love and need feedback. He would be supportive in a sense, but then shoot me down in a very subtle, cunning, cutting way. Prop me up then emotionally kick my legs from under me, then I’d have to crawl to him for help back up.
A mental game.
And the slowness of routine.
Water erodes rock into canyons.
He would get mad if I forgot to lock all the doors. He was a doomsday prepper. Hoarded lots of big guns and ammo. Was certain that the end was near. Had a bag and everything. Watched all the preppers on YouTube, thought about all of the I just stood by and would nod at his paranoia.
And he juiced. Yes. Frequent steroid use.
I believe he had unresolved childhood traumas, but his father had stabilized in his old age, so it seemed okay. Forgiveness for all this. Forgiveness.
Take it. I have it to give. But it’s not my problem anymore. Let it off.
Towards the end, it was obvious he was losing interest, yet he still occasionally fed a “love/team” propaganda which I, in turn, would often (daily) replay in my head, thinking that we were a “power couple,” that life was great. This was good, I thought. Not ideal, but good. In my heart, I dreamt of fleeing. For a year or more, I think.
Also, near the end, anytime I would try to have a reasonable conversation and talk about and through something with him, he would say I was arguing. And then I’d have to take a defensive and state that I wasn’t, but at that point, he was out. I know I wasn’t arguing. I’d feel stifled, again. I would shrug it off, again.
His interests increasingly were not shared with me. His interesting friends and conversations weaned, and waned into different, unkind friends and more shallow conversations. I was uncomfortable. I felt displaced, confused. I wanted to do my own thing, but in that relationship, that was not an option.
He would act like it was; a carrot dangled on a string. But if I went out for it, I’d get grief.
I sought small freedoms; kayaking, walking around the neighborhood. But these activities that I once relished were laborious tasks. I was drained of joy. But I still stuck around. Wanted to leave, but didn’t feel capable?
He broke up with me at a breakfast place. He was going out with his bros on the boat to raft up, and I was going to work. Something happened, he accused me of a manipulator and got viscerally mad. At that moment, I couldn’t look at his face. It held such an ugly, odious, demonous expression that I was mentally removed from my body and told myself that it was over, I have to leave, had to RUN. He dropped me off at home, ignored my programmed apologies all day, later emailed me, telling me to “get the fuck out.”And after all that, I was very much obliged..
My friends arrived with their van and I gathered the few belongings I had. On the way to their house, we went to a nature preserve and walked for a bit. I remember a shroud being lifted so suddenly. I remember seeing the sunshine, the blue sky dappled with passing clouds, thinking, how could I have done this to myself? That was the only thought as I walked further enough away.
I can’t blame him, but it took the both of us to cause the damage that was caused. We both hurt me. I allowed too much to happen.
I was edited. Tapered. Shackled. Wings clipped. Fired in a too-hot kiln. Beaten down and broken. Beak strapped with a sticky tape. I was emasculated. Emasculated. Yes. That is a good word for what I was.
I’m now emancipated. I’m me again, with patches of dark thanks to this experience, but all the better for it. I still see and feel the grooves, the imprints of the shackles. Thankfully, they are much lighter now and continue to lighten.
Friends took me in once I was out. A world of beauty, brightness and grace, full and rich, re-presented itself to me. Floodgates had been opened. I embraced, and continue to, and will never look away from it, or my intuition, again. Such a wealth of opportunity, information and inspiration out there. One should never be caged in doubt.
Life continues to be a beautiful, endless journey of love and wisdom to me. The people I am presented with, as family and friends, are just incredible beings.
I am in the most genteel, honest, respectful, playful, yet mature and adult relationship of my life right now, with someone quite literally the opposite of this former person. My current partner is kind, supportive from a distance, caring, non-judgemental, hears and listens, just a lovely, lovely energy and person. Yet I am careful. I do not let myself play propaganda, as I feel I am conditioned to. I have to try to keep me, my needs, wants, desires, in the focal view.
This former partner recently, after over 2 years, emailed in an attempt to “catch up,” but I emailed him this, my difficult topic of a story, telling him that dating him was traumatic.I cannot welcome him to seep in again, bringing in the heaving weight of nostalgia and grimacing memories, when I have come so far and continue to grow. Silence is best. I accept this story as a part of my whole. It is integrated. But it is part of the past, and I am giving it is proper burial. Moments and highlights (good or bad) will wash in and out of focus, but I shall continue steadily down my path. The chapter is closed. It is done.
Moving on. Life is a great, wondrous thing, and I love working on an impactful, healing (for everyone) present future.
If anyone has any past experiences or traumas and falls, I adorn you with praise for your strength and courage, and wish you godspeed into recovery, recuperation and for your revolution to be all that you need it to be. Namaste.
I’ve two quotes to close.
“Tough topics are only tough for those who don’t want to approach conversation, who don’t like problematizing the status quo and nuancing the narrative.” -Monica O. Montgomery
This one talks about tough topics in a different sense, I feel. But in my application of it here, it is to help break the silence, and brush off the dust that it has accumulated. I want it to be a part of my wisdom, and not have any symptoms later on, of unresolved, calcified material. So I am nuancing the narrative, and also allowing it to change.
“Each of us
A cell of awareness
Imperfect and incomplete
With uncertain ends
On a fortune hunt
That’s far too fleet.”
Great line from Rush’s Freewill – perhaps my all time favorite verse. Beautifully written.