It’s True What They Say

Of romance, we always hear the tried and trite, “It happens when you’re not looking.”

Ugh.

After Jax, I didn’t feel the least bit moved to date. I don’t know that it even crossed my mind. Guys & Dolls closed. I was tired. It was winter. I wore woobies and cuddled cats.

I was dissatisfied with the stinking hole I moved into after the breakup, and bitter that my roommate had lied about being a hoarder. (Full-on lied! Actually advertised herself as clean! Did she think I wouldn’t find out, when used cotton balls and everything else  made their way from her floor to the living room floor? This 32-yr-old woman drops garbage on the ground, in her own home!)

Nevertheless, I was content being there, all the time. I made it beautiful.

(In an interesting twist, I got a call at work from the girl’s former roommate, whose lease I was buying. She wanted to donate her couch. I’d have told her to leave it, but it was ugly. When she gave the address [sans apartment number], I knew it had to be her, though all of my dealings had been with property management and my new roommate.

It freaked her out momentarily when I called her by name, haha! She warned me that this roommate was awful, but it was too late. I’d signed the lease. I was disappointed, sure, but not too rattled. It was her deception that pissed me off. The filth that followed underscored that anger and kept it fresh. In spite of that, I did accept it on some level, and contented myself knowing it was a landing place to keep looking.)

I felt safe, and happy to be free of Jax and Carrie. I felt proud of my show and grateful for new friends, ever humbled by the life-saving experience of their companionship coinciding with the most important role of my life, the only part I ever really wanted.

I took pride and pleasure in beautifying my home. I always do, but in that apartment cesspool, it was really an accomplishment! There’s only so much you can do, but even the hoarder was amazed and inspired to explore her own decorating style (though it never moved her to minimize the biohazard that are her life and space).

I made my boundaries clear: Leave one sink empty for me. I will not be forced to move (and smell) fetid dishes in order to do my own. And keep your bedroom filth from spilling out into shared spaces. It never lasted, but whatever. Leases end.

I expected trauma to hit me after the show closed and life quieted down. I was prepared to weather it gently, accepting the process, and healing soon enough. It never came.

Guys & Dolls was so frenzied and joyful, it replaced the twitching in my nervous system after Jax & Carrie. I kept company with TV and chips ‘n’ dip.

Soon enough, I left that dungeon and the squalid girl in it (who bathes and showers up to three times a day). (If you cleaned your room, you might not feel so gross.) (If your house didn’t stink, you might not fear that you do.)

Who am I to judge someone’s brand of mental illness? Nevertheless, I don’t have to live with it, and that’s where you find me today, in my favorite home ever.

My landlords are my neighbors, and friends of 10 years. Across the street are more friends from the same time and place. There’s activity and laughter every day! I’m so happy to have people come and go. I love hosting small hot tub parties.

I ran into Galen, and that part of me started singing, too. Yeah, it’s nice to get laid regularly, but I love more that we’ve come full circle and I get to heal the parts of us broken by my needy, frightened aspect.

For the first couple of months, my healing was wrapped up in his. It was so beautiful to hold him, to earn his trust and laugh together, without need or want for anything beyond each other’s company and the moment’s joy.

Just weeks ago, I began to recognize that I’m experiencing myself in an entirely new way. I’ve never trusted anyone to love me, so I was never honest! I never loved wholly, without restraint, risking all, guaranteeing nothing, controlling no outcome.

I had no idea! I recognized fear and habitual destructive habits, but lacked any awareness that I was lying to myself, and subsequently my partner.

I’m loving in the present for the first time. It’s life-altering.

Who am I, intimately, when I don’t lead with fear? What if I needed nothing? Who would I be? How do I love when I don’t consider the risk of heartbreak, first and always?

And there they all were! Guys just started asking me out. I’m not kidding. It’s the weirdest thing. At first, I thought it must be afterglow. Blood’s pumping. Hormones are flooding. I look flush, rosy, happy, young-ish.

My vanity has required the same age or older. I need to be the pretty young thing. But young men are asking me out, and not the pups who’ve “always been attracted to older women” (said every boy attracted to the middle-aged woman he’s talking to).

My new suitors are stunned to learn my age! I’m in perimenopause, y’all, and I smoked for 22 years. I don’t look young for my age anymore.

It must be my energy. I don’t know. I don’t care.

On the heels of asking, “What is it like to be loved by me when I’m unafraid,” I decided to find out. If I meet someone “too young” or too different from me, and that exchange is easy and pleasant, coffee or dinner is in order. What was so hard about that?

I’m still selective. I’ve only given my number out twice.

The first was last month. We went out a couple of times, and I’d love to see more of him. He’s exotic (Moroccan), cosmopolitan, and sexy. Conversation flowed endlessly like liquid, but he’s going through an acrimonious divorce, and I’m just … not.

Last weekend, I went to a one yr-old’s birthday party and met my friend’s neighbor. We spent the whole time together, laughing, playing with kids, making fun of each other. It was that instant, effortless chemistry that feels familiar.

I did everything wrong. For a flirt, I’m surprisingly concrete. I guess I just think everyone’s enjoying the exchange itself, and not aiming for anything like a date.

I told him my target market: Men my age or older with long-standing, amicable divorces, healthy custody arrangements, and children open (hopefully) to a friend/family relationship with me, if not that of “stepmom.” Dare I dream? Grandchildren one day?

I told him his target market. In other words, I confessed just how likely I am to tell you how to live your life: Damn near guaranteed and within 5 minutes.

I told him my MO – break up/get back/break up/grovel, with two significant accumulations of time, though, “The 5-yr on-and-off was really just a codependent shambles.”

“Substance or emotions?” he asked.

“Both, at first,” I acknowledged. “Then drugs and desperation for the rest. It was neat.”

I even told him I have a fuck buddy! Good grief!

I should be humiliated, but I can’t wait to see him again.

“Oh my god, are we flirting?” I realized eventually.

“I hope so,” he teased.

I did have the sense to be momentarily embarrassed and walked off laughing, shaking my head. I visited with party guests I’d ignored. So did he. We made our way back to each other and kept talking, with numbers exchanged at last.

We’re going to the mountains for the total lunar eclipse. Bonfire, friends, natural hot springs on private property, no light pollution!

What a great first date!

Whole New Exit

So let me back up.

I felt sure Jax was taking his trip, because he spent the night in my house on Sunday, alone. Or meant to.

He hasn’t slept in the house for a month. Her car left; His truck has been absent as long as he has; I had no reason to believe I wasn’t alone in the house again.

After the box prank, I called my buddy to ask if I could hide yet more stuff in his stuffed shed until the move, and I unloaded all my rage and heartache over the kid and the awful parents who keep subjecting a child to that anxiety just to spite me.

“Christie, I’m still here,” Jax announced from the kitchen.

Well, naturally, I was mortified… but it didn’t last. I’m not ashamed to call bad behavior what it is. I wasn’t doing anything to him. I was experiencing my own life, and he’s impacting it. I’m allowed to shed tears and blow off steam to a trusted friend who’s getting me through this.

So… he was staying at his “old” house. We’re just 4 blocks from Trax, Salt Lake’s public transit, which goes straight to the airport from our place, in less than 15 minutes. His trip was scheduled for the next day, Mon. Sept. 18th.

He was going! Why else would he leave his family for the night? A drive first thing in the morning to the airport from their suburb could take over an hour round-trip, on a busy morning trying to get a kid to school and a woman off to work. All signs pointed to departure. I was going to be left alone! (I was a little anxious to be around her, now that she would no longer have to play “nice girl” in front of her new man, but the police had instructed me to have my phone on video, at the ready, and I planned on it.)

I wrapped up my call and set about – shaking – selecting “most important” boxes and planning to load them into my car, to deliver to Marko’s during lunch the following day. But Jax was in the driveway on the phone. Soon he got in the old caddy that sits in our drive, operating but unused, and drove away.

I didn’t pack my car for hours, awaiting his return, but he didn’t come back Sunday.

Or Monday, which was his departure date. No one came on Monday.

Today, her car was in the driveway when I got home from work. Imagine my surprise when Jax was inside, too, helping her clean.

Perhaps he had planned to go until he overheard me. I imagine he’s telling himself that I’m going to attack his innocent bride the moment she’s not protected by her big strong man, that he’s keeping me in line. (I see him falling in line.)

I suspect, however, that even he can see the act, whether he knows it or not.

(I’m understanding that a whole lot of Jax’s behavior is unconscious and convenient. Stale, old girlfriend of years lives down the street. Bright, new girl moves in and suddenly, she’s out, I’m in. Until I’m sad, stale, and old. Bright, new girl shows up at a holiday party and he marries her 2 months later over another holiday? I’m embarrassed I dated this guy!)

Deep down, though, Jax doesn’t trust Carrie not to aggravate the situation for sport, and he reasonably expects me to stand up to her, though I had already decided not to, and discussed with the police what I should do in his absence. I told them – with respect to their experience of people behaving badly – of my fear of duplicitous, dangerous women, and the fear that this might be a real one.

Perhaps he had spent the night Sunday at my house, because it was going to be ON starting Monday the 18th. They’d made such a big deal of me being displaced this week, it’s possible they were going to ramp up the pressure and discomfort, and I would have been facing a good deal more than the “2 more weeks” I was set to survive.

But he overheard me. It was the best thing for me.

I did notice that the boy was not in the home awaiting my arrival. Jax couldn’t deny that that behavior was reprehensible, and to continue to expose a frightened child to me would simply prove me right. And Jax will do anything to blame me for everything.

I did feel that sick flood of nerves I get every time they come to the home, upon seeing her car, and then finding him, but I needed to get a snack in before rehearsal, so I went to the kitchen, where they were.

Carrie was showboating; Jax was deferential. He really doesn’t remember taking that box, or her taking it, but he can’t insist anymore that it didn’t happen, because I’m right. He was that drunk. And he can’t deny their shoddy care of a boy he committed to parent. Fun-dadding in the back yard does not a quality father make.

Without any intention to do so, I shamed him into respecting me in this space.
Thank you, angels.

Rehearsal was brief (which freaks me out; We open in 3 and 1/2 weeks!) and I was home an hour earlier than they expected. That cute kid was dancing his heart out to some pumping music, on the coffee table! He saw me, jumped down, and ran to the kitchen. And Jax was ready to wrap it up, now.

“Alright, we’re done here. Let’s head home.”

But she hadn’t had enough time to shove her happy life in my face again and didn’t want to go anywhere. Trying desperately not to show me how hard he was trying to save face, and trying desperately not to have to tell her what I’d said about her shitty parenting, he played “cool” in the most sad, comical fashion.

Meanwhile, I was starving. I’d only snacked since lunch. I’d stopped at the store for late dinner. I needed to cook and be off to bed before midnight. I’m not hiding anymore!

In her mind, she’s finally got me just where she wants me, an audience! They’d started their home renovation by deep cleaning the kitchen, and she wanted to gloat. (I think she wants me to know she did theatre. Honestly.)

“Let’s go outside,” Jax said casually to his step-son.

“It’s dark,” he refused. He doesn’t want his mom alone in the house with me, bless him.

“Let’s smoke,” Jax said to Carrie.

“We’re replacing this stove, darling.” she told me her doting husband. “It’s disgusting.”

Jax chuckled at his happy new bride making her home hers. “Of course.”

Tomorrow! Get them here tomorrow! I want an estimate, now.”  *giggle, giggle*

“Tomorrow!?” *chortle, chortle* “Alright!” He picked up her purse. “I need a smoke.”

“I want that gone, and that! And this is disgusting!”

“Okay,” he obliged, certainly for the first time, because she’s saying all of this to him.

“I’ll pay for it!” she let me know. “I want these gone!” (In Brooklynese. Did she play Adelaide? I’m not kidding! Darling everything, and an accent.)

(More type-casting for Jax: Attraction to theatrical girls in need.)

Meanwhile, I’m cleaning veggies and barely containing a laugh. I mean, this girl is just stupid. She really thinks I care. Or that this is news to me! I knew they weren’t selling the minute I learned of their marriage. She wanted me out “yesterday,” because she didn’t want to pay a cent more on rent, now that she’s a homeowner.

She really is just dumb, and values her worth and that of all women only on how far looks can take them. (Like, dumb dumb: Post-it notes around the house reveal plans to “rechalk” the tub and fix “cabnets.” Perhaps she’ll have their 3rd syllable installed.)

For me, it was just a total shift. I feel sorry for her. I don’t need to. It’s none of my business, soon, and in my experience, a complex mind has a wrought a rather convoluted life. Whadya know? I do envy her! Simplicity looks nice.

People don’t do things repeatedly that don’t work. Shaking her tail has produced a desired result all her life. Hell, I’m a natural coquette. I resent that it works, because it’s sexist. I play it onstage for pleasure, and many festy personas are flirty for community entertainment, and my own. But none are dumb, because I love my brain.

For the vacuous cutie, ignorance is bliss.

Jax is a weak man, who doesn’t want a woman to “encourage his greatness,” we’ll say. He wants an easy life, sex, and love. And who can call that unreasonable?

I want so much more. Real connection is impossible for me without the whole self.

(Jax heard me tell Marko, “Their neeeeed to make me suffer their joy completely negates it, and they’re just too stupid to know it. I never loved him like that. It’s why I couldn’t begrudge him meeting a nice girl at a party who did! I wanted my friend happy, but he was never more than that and a potential co-parent. I wanted it to be more, but it wasn’t. I was settling, too. They think I’m just broken up over here, but it was never heartbreak for me. It was not dealing with me straight, and then skipping out. That’s not even a friend. That’s a lie. That’s total disregard for me as a person. It’s betrayal.”

I did also joke, “Never promise crazy a baby,” because I’m hilarious. Truly, though, I was a goner at the word go. I saw nothing else, not even how seriously depressed I was.

We were friends who loved each other, and saw an opportunity to maybe get the family thing right because it wasn’t complicated by intense romantic feelings. Instead, neither of us was bonded to the other, in spite of the intimacy we played at, and only one of us was bound to a goal, a dream, and, yes, love. The sex was disappointing, because we weren’t in love. And he’s a fat man of certain age. There.)

And I don’t fucking care. That girl’s a joke and her husband’s in his place, for both of us.

Because I’m right about what they’ve done and he can’t pretend it away anymore.

****

I’m so close to closing this chapter, I’m almost embarrassed to keep writing about it ad nauseum in blogspace, but because of the move and rehearsal, I simply don’t have time to also be recording cogent points in my journal.

I’m free-writing everything at this point just to document it for my personal progress. I’m reminded of my power and security – that connection to Source that they just won’t let me sever (They’re bigger than my big ego! I can’t fail utterly! I’M NOT ALONE) – and I still have so much to learn and chart about how I got so very far from my truth.

Also, I’m just not fucking hiding anymore. It helps me to process in this way, and I’m doing it. It’s possible I’ll send this all to the draft bin when I’m done, but I don’t know anymore if I want to “delete” him. He was a frightening lesson I needed.

I feel as far away from who I really am in this debacle, that the feeling today is almost as palpable as it was quitting cocaine 10 years ago (all by myself, thank you very much) (and my best friend, who refused to see me in the end, even when I wasn’t high). It’s as though I’m coming back into my body. I was GONE, then and now, and it’s frightening to realize that you didn’t even know it!

To have weak people victimize you when you’re vulnerable is terrifying.

(TENS YEARS CLEAN!!! I am BOSS!)

Don’t let your shield down again, but don’t let the shield be a barrier. Be wise. Be secure. Be joyful. Be brave. Be honest. You already are. 

I got this. So I created space and energy that drew sick and selfish people to me. I WAS SICK AND SELFISH. It’s Universal Law. Get up. Get out. Get right.

I’ve done it before. I know how. I already feel – in spiritual time – that this is over. Jax’s new behavior echoes my intuition. I’m safe. I’m out. It’s just a formality at this point, to leave on the 1st, and my healing this time won’t take as long as it did 10 years ago.

Luscious Jackson sang to me during the Cocaine Years, “It takes a strong man to satisfy a strong woman, yes it does.”

Well, I’ve been triflin.’ Knock it off, Christie. Don’t restore your strength to attract that strong man, but knowing that when you’re truly powerful and well again, you cannot abide the petty, for any reason, ever again.

Final Analysis

I’ve landed. I feel good. I’m back to feeling the improvements in my health. I’m back to productivity in my move and in rehearsal. I’m not distracted. I’m grooving!

I’m amazed! It took me less than a week! WOW. Well done, Christie!

This breakdown has taught me things and reminded me of things I hadn’t realized or had forgotten. The way they ended this relationship will actually help me in the end.

Right now, I feel an old ache – the one I was living with before abject terror replaced everything on earth under heaven. That sorrow for loss of a dream, for mistakes you can’t take back, for failure to love someone in action they way you felt for them in your heart. Ache. Like a breakup.

What I’m realizing, however, is that Jax did me the biggest favor. There’s satisfaction in knowing that if he were aware, he’d hate that he helped me, haha! Oh, that just made sad. Oh, this is so convoluted, ugly, and sad. All so unnecessary! *sigh*

It is what it is.

I cried all summer, and raged intermittently. I crucified him when I was angry, weak, and still deep in my illness. We made a decision together to risk me getting sick, and when I did he took off. He knows my abandonment issues. I’m not penalizing myself anymore for being exactly who I am. I’m not lying to myself anymore about my experiences, just to make them easier to bear. I’ve been telling myself that his indifference toward me in my hour of need wasn’t something he was doing to me, necessarily. It was just my own baggage, independent of him. But that’s not true. He knew exactly who I was. He turned his back on a girl he helped make sick. That happened.

I was abandoned before I knew what that was, and it’s who I am today. I’ve made a beautiful life since then, but I was sick and Jax abandoned me. The happenstance of meeting Carrie was unfortunate timing that hurt, but I didn’t hold that over him. It was the whole thing, before and after.

Yes, he’d found a new love, but he shouldn’t have left this one before he saw her safely through the bout of illness he helped create. He did it anyway. He didn’t care. I wasn’t easy or fun anymore, so I wasn’t worth it to him. Whether that was operating in him completely, or with any level of awareness, is immaterial. That’s how he left me.

As I began to recover, I appreciated knowing how disposable a woman is to him when she’s no longer cute. Fair enough. Honestly, that’s fine. But I’m not apologizing anymore for being a challenging person. I realize with some anxiety that if I want to ever feel truly partnered and satisfied myself, I’m going to have to accept another, who is, like me, complicated and deep-thinking. I hope that person is also goofy as hell and laughs with his whole body. I hope he loves to dance. I hope he’s got a nice ass.

I also don’t care if I never meet “him.” I’m getting really excited to get on with my life, with me. I’m darling. I’m smart. I’m interesting. I’m devoting the next year of this new lease to music, painting, bellydance, drumming, yoga, and downsizing.

This is the real lesson I hope to take into the future with me: to love myself as the complicated, demanding person I am. I’ve confronted this mistake before, in the early years of festival life when I pretended to be the breezy, low-maintenance hippie chick who goes with the flow. I don’t. I plan. I worry. I make lists to cross-check lists. And it takes us, too!

If everyone was just “Hey, man!” nothing would get done. With me, it lands. It sets up. It gets a beer. It dances its ass off. And finally, it leaves no trace and goes home. I am who I am, and I’m a necessary cog, goddammit. The more I try to be someone I’m not, the more nagging my real traits become, truly! Just embrace and love them, and turn them into the strengths they were always meant to be. Geez, woman!

The Universal Smackdown has precipitated a movement. Starting Oct. 1, I enter 365 days of Shucking The Superfluous Shit.

Oh, I’ve already lost 15 lbs! Thanks, assholes. No, really, thank you. That was the worst diet ever, but I’m gonna look amazing in my striptease!

(P.S Don’t gain and lose weight in your 40s! Whose neck waddle is this!?!)

Red Flags in the Rear View

I “processed” but didn’t publish Hard Day when I wrote it, but after events of the previous weekend, my first impression of Jax’s wife is relevant now. I was unimpressed with machinations meant to tell me me who’s “got him now.” (Honey, this ex don’t care.) It wasn’t easy, but have at it. I honestly wished them well. I felt empathy and compassion for her, and I loved Jax once. I wanted him to be happy with a nice girl.

My co-worker had warned me to be mentally prepared: This new girl might want me out of the way sooner than Jax promised.

“Oh, he wouldn’t do that.” I answered.

I did pause, though, considered it, and thanked her. Sadly, my co-worker was right.

Jax is the author of his own behavior, but, boy, did I get a taste of his wife! I know exactly who’s fueling this push out the door. That woman scares me! Disingenuous, manipulative, gratuitous. I don’t care, so far as she doesn’t factor into my my life after Oct. 1, but she has affected me greatly, and continues to do so now.

Those people terrorized me. Carrie is just getting what she wants how she always has. Once I’m no longer in the way of what she wants, she disappears for me. That doesn’t mean she didn’t scare me, scar me, even, but it will all be over soon.

As for Jax, he mattered and won’t go away so quickly. I’m surprised at the depth of his cruelty. There’s a place in him that feels like he has rights that he has not. I’m really trying not posit myself above him, but dear god!

I got dirty in that relationship, and I’ve learned enough to know, “There but for the grace of god go I.” We are each capable of anything. All of it. There but for the grace of god…

That said, I am seeing the red flags in his history. They seemed innocuous. They belonged to youth and arrogance, and Lord knows I’m about the most vainglorious person I know. It’s one of my primary life works, to balance the pull of superior/inferiority of an unhealthy ego. Certainly, too, my youth is nothing but error. That’s youth.

But in the part of our relationship where we regaled one another with the adventures and follies of coming up in the world, there’s one story, in particular, that didn’t sit right with me. (The other was flat-out embezzlement! As the manager of a restaurant, he was  head of a theft ring from corporate. Fuck the man, I say, as loudly as anyone, but multiple thousands of dollars?! That’s beyond indiscretions like stealing time or office supplies. I took issue, but chalked it up to getting caught in group mentality and youthful self-importance. Now it serves to remind me to be impeccable with my character.)

Jax didn’t like his friend’s girlfriend. One day like any other, the group was hanging out, and she was reading. Jax asked about her book. After she talked about it a bit, he asked to look at it. She gave it to him, telling him to be careful with it.

And because she gave him orders, he took the book and ripped it in half.

I thought that was pretty serious and, more than once in our ugly departure, I shamed him for it. I should have listened then to what he was telling me. That’s hate and entitlement. I mean, he was lucky not to be convicted of a serious crime at the restaurant, but it’s seductive to convince yourself that no one’s really suffering for your crime. This was personal, and disturbing. And there was the delight I now know!

Jax bragged about it again in Florida when we were in line somewhere with his brother, who also found it unsettling. Never once did Jax express remorse. With me, he defended it. With his brother, he shrugged and laughed.

And what was his defense? I hadn’t heard the way she talked to him, he said. It wasn’t because the book was brand new, or even important. It was just to tell him what’s what, bossing him around, because she was in charge of everyone and everything.

“You don’t get to impose intentions on her boundaries. It mattered to her.”

He dismissed it. “She was a bitch.”

“Even so, it was her property!”

“You weren’t there,” was all he had to say about it.

How dare she assert herself? was the attitude. Woman, know your place. More importantly, it was his right to put her there.

Christie! It was always there!

In fact! Our first fight! Like me, Jax has a very powerful voice, and we both yell. I’m comfortable with that, honestly. I don’t want it. I want to learn together how to disagree better than that, but I hate it when I’m the yeller and my partner is just beaten down by my volume and veracity. Jax held his own. I needed that.

We did improve. We found ways to get heated, with raised voices but not yelling, necessarily, by our standards. There was progress in our relationship that made me feel like this was a partner who could not be bullied by me, but was amenable to taking responsibility – he did sometimes, when I pointed out misapplied blame – and strong enough to make me accountable when necessary. We were good for awhile.

Our first fight, however, was a shock to each of us, I think. Neither of us had met someone who could win just by being loudest. He matched energy, and fed it, too. We went fast from pissed to shocked to rage to fury.

Finally, his screaming shocked me silent, and I paused. “Whoa, Jax!” He continued. So did I. “Jax! Stop! Jax! We can reset! … JAX!”

I really thought we could. I had never been able to settle myself in that headspace. If I could, so could he. We could! He finally out-shouted me, the first ever. And now that he had, he was getting it said. Just like my tipping point, verbal abuse was unleashed.

I finally screamed at the top of my lungs, “STOP YELLING AT ME!”

His response? “You made me.”

“I’m not responsible for you!” I screamed. “I’m yelling because I’m yelling! I can’t make you yell! Fuck you!” I stormed off and slammed my bedroom the door.

(Ugh! “Fuck off” is NOT OKAY. I also called him an asshole all the time. On better days, I just called him a jerk, but that’s not anything to be proud of. Sometimes I didn’t do any of my old behaviors! But I hate that I still haven’t figured out how to disagree with a boyfriend without disrespecting him. No, it’s fighting that different, when I get triggered. There’s something more I can apply there to HALT. Name-calling is a rung on the ladder! It’s dehumanizing, and it’s wrong.)

That day, I called my best friend in a panic, “Oh my god, is he misogynist? Does he really think I made him do it? That’s what abusers say! Is he just a child? That’s bad enough! I am not responsible for you!!!” I was alarmed and ready to call it off.

I didn’t and still don’t think that’s what he meant, and he did later acknowledge that it wasn’t up to me how he behaves. I still believe him. We were speaking in anger. And we all blame. It’s what we do. God knows I do! Impassioned, we are all the child. Patterns and beliefs come up that aren’t true. We own our mistakes, move on, and work together.

I saw that in him, the working together. It is in him. Not with me, but he’s not one-dimensional. After this weekend, though, wow. I’m more humbled and alarmed the more reflection I give it. Especially now that the threat to my belongings and babies is lifted, and the couple is back to their normal not-coming-around. I can “relax,” and the underbelly is surfacing of a 5-day terror campaign that worked.

She deserved it.

Jax was privy to the pain of the trauma with my sister’s husband 6 years ago, and before that with my family, from childhood to this very moment. I talked about it from the beginning of our intimate relationship, when fears and sorrows and confessions come out. He was there when I went through the heartbreak of “losing” my father and brother, who echoed the sentiment, She deserved it.

He held me when I cried. He knew I was suicidal. I did go to the ER for 2 crisis visits.

Right now, it feels like he didn’t comfort me because he cared, but because he was stuck in a situation where he risked a girl getting sick and she did. I imagine the whole time he wished he could go to Carrie, but she was with her ex-boyfriend. I thought I had a friend who cared that our choice was so painfully costly for me, but now he just feels like a guy who was trapped and long gone in his heart. Now I wonder if he was resentful of me already. He was partly responsible, so… “Guess I’ll suffer the bitch.” ?

What he did this weekend was worst thing anyone’s ever done to me. I’ve been back on my meds for a month now. I’m still depressed, but I have been experiencing pleasure and progress on set and at work. I’m functioning and moving forward toward optimum.

That was all derailed last weekend. I was panicked. I thought I might have to check myself in. I avoided it all summer, no matter how overwhelming the pain became, but I was ready to quit the show. I felt I could never catch up, and the fear and guilt of making myself available to a show that I cannot emotionally or physically honor right now swallowed me up. But quitting meant quitting. And my cats! Don’t get me started.

I was scared.

And that’s not looking underneath! How does one even begin? My whole life has been a sham, a joke. I’ve been so blind, careless, STUPID. I’m too old to change this. I give up! I was curled in a ball in my closet, scream crying. My cats were so scared. I couldn’t handle their panicked faces and efforts to climb up and comfort me, so I hid in the closet and shut the door. I could see their little feet pacing, and it made me cry harder. Sometimes I apologized through the wailing, and I could hear their desperate mews.

And on it went. I was in danger this weekend. I felt brutalized.

He knew. He knew what his behavior could do to to me. He’s seen it. He’s held me, contained me, comforted me, and the whole time he just wanted to get away.

Fair enough. This shit ain’t easy. But he endangered me this weekend, with malice and purpose. And she deserved it.

Mirror

stress

The same can be said of self, and it’s sobering. I’ve felt in recent years – this summer, particularly – like I’m incapable of beating back those demons. I tried. Admit defeat, and stop hoping for better. You can’t be devastated every time you fail if you don’t believe. And you stop hurting others! At this point, inflicting yourself on any intimate partner – family, lover, friend – is immoral.

Years ago, I had the insight that failure thus far was due, in part, to the verbage I applied to the battle. See? It’s a war. This is your responsibility, Christie, your fight.

I made a conscious choice to use empowering words – like toolkit in place of armor. It fit other efforts: Formerly a nonsmoker, I was now smoke free. Words have power. Words were used against the little girl, to much more disastrous effect than blows.

And now they’re her weapon. My shame, regret, and heartache. I can’t keep doing this to myself and others. Isn’t it time to say, “I tried. It’s okay to quit”? Peace can come down a different path and still be peace. Just don’t allow yourself opportunities for the stress that can trigger abuse, and you can love yourself! Solid, lasting, joyful self love.

The problem is that when I get there, I have so much love to give. I want to spill it out on everything. When I’m happy, you can see and feel the love in my home. Everything around me is cared for and pretty. (Every friend that visited after Jax and I started dating commented on how much better his house looked since my arrival. Every visitor, every time. Yeah, yeah, the touch of a woman, sure, but it was after the love was added that our home blossomed. Then he retreated to his headphones and body odor, and I grumbled and resented him, but blamed myself and tried to be different.) What would it take to put a partner in there, too, to trust him to partner me through my ugliness, and finally rise above it? Not never to face it, but to live!

There’s nothing like Christie, inspired. What does safety feel like when I believe it?

I’m not worried about that today. I really don’t think I’m going to try for that anymore. I really don’t think I have the right. Really. Wrong is wrong. This has gone on for decades. I know what I know. Is that acceptance or more draconian childishness?

Whatever.

Today, I’m just worried about tomorrow. It’s clear they consider me served. Nevermind  the paperwork and links that prove they require the signature of a district court judge. Nevermind that officers told them twice they cannot lawfully evict me or violate my person or property. They either consider themselves superior to guidelines that govern everyone else, or they don’t grasp basic instructions.

I know what’s in each box (Moving Bible), and I’m videotaping my property every day. I have to work and rehearse. I can’t babysit. If they destroy me, I have renter’s insurance. After that, I have the law.

They think they’re selling that house? I’ll own it if they mess with me.

Pray for my cats. He would leave my cats, scared but uninjured, and text me to arrange pick up. He would not put them outside!

People can fuck themselves, but animals are pure. It’s true I don’t know what Jax is capable of anymore, but I know we still match there.

Beyond that, I’m released. I was left carrying the bag. Sick notwithstanding, I abused a man who left a relationship that wasn’t working. I was aware that the long dark night of the soul was coming for me, as soon as my show closes. I was prepared to hate myself, cry, and mourn for months, years. I’m not new to this guilt and failure.

In the end, he didn’t abandon me when the worst happened. He got right in and filthy dirty. I’m not alone in that. I’m not absolved. Serious work remains, but guilt will not crush me, after all. By turning the knife, he agreed to bear half of it.

I got abusive when I got sick; He got abusive to get even. And we are equal in our crimes against each another. It’s horrible to face, but bearable now somehow, shared. Thanks, Jax. Weirdly, I mean that. Ugh, this is just so gross.

Pray pray pray pray pray.

I’m still ashamed, but I’m resolved. Fix this, Christie. You can. You’re still alive. You’re determined, and you’re strong. Get up. Get right. Anything less isn’t good enough for you.

Why I’m Single

(At a certain age you get asked that. A lot.)

Ugh.

I met this guy right after Element 11. He’s a friend of my campmate, and joined us at Crystal Hot Springs after the festival. He’s great. He lives out of town, but comes to Salt Lake all the time.

All was well. I was excited to see him. Then yesterday, as plain as a voice, I knew I would never love him. And it really bummed me out. This is that guy! This is the keeper.

But not for me.

He will never get my sense of humor. I found myself explaining, “I’m just being silly,” all the time. (To every frivolous thing I said he replied, “It’s okay. Everyone’s unique. Everyone’s perspective is valid … [this, that] ….”)

It was patronizing and weird, like he wanted to be seen as sage, wise, a leader, expansive and accepting of all. When I finally grew annoyed enough to notice the strange rift in communication, I understood that it was a fundamental difference of personality. Simple.

And dead in the water.

Yeah, I like to have deep conversations, too. Our first was wonderful. I was giddy to find a thinker who’s fun. I’m so impressed by him. I have tremendous respect for his integrity, commitment to his work, to fitness, his sense of adventure, his love of nature, art, humanity. I love his curiosity about the world. He asks serious questions.

But sometimes I’m ridiculous for its own sake. I can’t have a partner compelled to force every facet of my person into a compartment he understands completely. Let that piece be mine, if it doesn’t mirror you precisely. Guess what? If my sense of play is sometimes different from yours… “It’s okay!”

We seemed to match, with similar interests and talents. He seemed playful. But why must he turn every trivial thing I say into something profound, an opportunity to support me? Obviously, I’m not serious. Obviously, I’m playing. Obviously, based on other conversations and things I’ve said in this conversation, I think my progress through life is just fine. Every time I teased myself or poked fun at the foibles of humankind, he apologized for me.

Apologizing for a woman is another way of dismissing her. “It’s okay” so often means “shut up.”

I think much more highly of him than that. Nonetheless, I hate it when guys think they have to fix things. Do I act like I need fixing? When I’m laughing over a nice meal?

It’s bad enough when they do it and all a girl needed was to unload. At least then, I appreciate the intention, or the confusion, even. I know there’s a real difference between men and women, inasmuch as men don’t seem to understand or can’t get comfortable with the fact that sometimes the solution is just getting the words out. If a woman wants your help, you’ll know. Not because she’s raging; because she’ll ask. What we mean by “I want to feel heard” is “I want your companionship.” Be there.

And to comfort me when I’m laughing? It made no sense. In fact, I understand a little better now, my irritation. It was the opposite of being heard.

It made me fight for foolishness. Lighten up! It was the most bizarre sense of jovial aggravation. How can you be defensive and silly? I’ve never experienced anything like it. It was all I could do not to scream, “Dude! Just let me play!”

I was so excited to see him. We started the evening with a wonderful embrace, and went to a fantastic restaurant. But I couldn’t say one thing without being smothered by validation. “It’s okay” was the theme of the evening.

I KNOW!!!

Now, based on my murderous feelings yesterday, I have to recognize the likelihood that this is simply a bitchy mood swing, right? (I’m not premenstrual.) But I’m looking back over our previous dates and realizing that I’ve never heard him laugh out loud. A chortle. A chuckle. Pleasant amusement. That’s fine for some people. Some people dislike the snorting guffaw that is my personality. I’m obnoxious. I’m fine with that. But I need to know that my partner and I will laugh so hard some nights that we fall off the couch, lose our voices or bladders, and beg the other to stop being so damned funny, I might die from funny! I need it. I need to know he laughs his ass off regularly. I need him to think I’m funny. The man of my dreams thinks I’m hilarious because he is, and people tend to match in these things.

Last night’s date and I, do not.

It’s such an insufferable bummer, and I’m so over it! Everything else checks off on paper. Am I simply determined to not get what I say I want, by finding flaws where none exist? I could have it all with him! Everything I’ve dreamed of, the chance to grow a family, to be a mother, to build a stable home, beautiful and warm, filled with music. To share my life!

I don’t actually find any flaws here. We simply don’t match.

That’s not all. Last night, he crashed at my place. He has before. We don’t have sex yet, both preferring to wait for trust and intimacy. This one is special, the real deal, and I want something lasting, so for now we make out and talk and fall asleep. It’s nice.

But last night, the way he touched me drove me nuts. So respectful. So timid. I begin to understand that the constant reassurance I get from him has been the coping mechanism he’s developed to get through his own challenges, and I honor that. He succeeded! He’s constructed a life he loves. It is okay, and his internal monologue is how it got that way. He’s simply continuing what he’s found to work in his own life.

He’s also a music teacher of young children, who need nurturing and validation, and he has it to spare. He’s such a good man. Kind and gentle. A conscientious and loving man. A real man. And a great musician. He’s one of those teachers, whom dozens upon dozens of people, for the rest of their lives, will talk about. He’s the one who made the difference. It’s beautiful! He’s powerful.

So own that! Be that. Take that! You earned it. And take me, too, godammit. I want to feel desired, sure, but more disastrous was the utter lack of arousal his gentle ministrations inspired. Gross. I want to know that when the time comes, raw passion will split the world and when we finally shut the door together, we won’t reemerge for months!

Instead, I wanted him to stop touching me.

Every kiss was tender, each caress polite. That’s nice, too, but we’ve done that several times now. We know sex isn’t happening tonight, so relax and have some fun! Kiss me! Sometimes he’d migrate from my mouth to my neck but it was like he’d seen in movies he’s supposed to kiss me there, not as though he wanted to devour me.

I’m a passionate woman. I believe I can have voracious sexual satisfaction with a deeply good, courageous, honest man. I want a man with an absurd sense of humor and profound respect for life and meaning. Why should the love of philosophical thought preclude adoration of the ridiculous? All women want a man who really cares, but why has experience told me that none of those guys is good in bed? MANhandle me!

*sigh*

Next!

God, what next? Do I give up on family and go for a man set to retire in 10, who wants an attractive, intelligent companion to travel the world with? Could being grandmother to grown step-children’s babies satisfy me? Of course I’ll love and enjoy them, but truly satisfied? It may seem draconian but if the answer is no, I’d rather strike out on my own, forever, roam independently, never worry. There’s real beauty in the freedom I enjoy.

It’s not about babies, necessarily. It’s about being a mother. It’s who I am. I feel it so deeply. I’ve always known. I waited and waited because I knew I had to get myself out of the way – like my mother couldn’t as a teen mom – so that my life was about them at that point, not me. I wanted me resolved. So I got blind drunk for a decade(plus). Give me a break, I was violently abused. I hate to be common, but most of us escape through addiction. I got out of it, entirely on my own. Does it cost me everything?

I want a family.

Has it been that the only reason I ever wanted a man was for my baby?

Perhaps that’s why I’ve never found him. Men are worth more than their donation. There’s karmic irony. I’ve resented my whole life that women, especially in my culture, are seen merely as vessels to produce offspring, to clean and manage everything afterwards. Domestic servants. Keep your mouth shut and let Man exercise the power, little lady. Gross. Now I see a man only for what he can do for me. I don’t think that’s true anymore. If all I wanted was a sperm donor, I’ve met a million. I want a lover, a partner, a husband, a father, a playmate, a friend, a companion. I want my man! I want to LOVE someone! And I can’t love less than what I need.

I am who I am. High demand, I guess. But I’d rather be alone than settle. Someone might die if I settled, and I can’t guarantee it would be me.

Online Dating and Other Misadventures

Here we go again!

I got a love note from OkCupid, telling me how dismal life has been since I deactivated my account a year ago. The wheels started turning again (“Maybe…”) so, sure, hell, why not? I rejoined.

I think online dating is a young person’s game. I simply cannot force a connection with someone I meet there, even if the date is pleasant. Even with dynamic, interesting conversation. Even with a good-looking fellow. I don’t know; some kind of mental block.

And those are the rare finds. Generally, they’re of the trying-too-hard variety. Must we be Always On. Worse are those with screen names like “QualityGenes,” and I find myself wanting to remove them from the gene pool.

I know it’s hard out there, but no.

I’ll give it another week, and if all I feel is hostility for myself and all others in the gene pool, I’ll get out of the water and back in the shade.

Speaking of young people, I got chatted up (insistently pursued) by a PUPPY of 21 the other day! He was very gracious and charming about not taking no for an answer, bless him. He did eventually, but – goodness! – he really believed we needed an affair, haha!)

It was a fun flirtation, and a great boost (gorgeous young specimen, this one, looking all of 16, as far as I can tell anymore). The young’ uns asked me out en masse 5 or 6 years ago and then stopped en masse about a year ago, so it was nice to be the sexy older woman again to some young bloke wanting lessons.

Anyway, let’s be honest. I had a temporary affair in a temporary city and, nearly a month on, I’m still pining for him. I know he’s only human. He’s perfect because he was gone before either of us could show or find flaws, but… PERFECT, I’m telling you!

He. was. perfect.

*sigh*gene pool

Get After It, Hot Stuff!

So, my assignment at the dealership came to an end but then the cashier in the service department panicked that she would be alone until the new girl started back there, with month end and first of the month coming up… so off I went to the money pit.

One of the service writers is gorgeous, a stallion of a man. Like, as hot as the owner of the detail shop, with whom, incidentally, I still chat it up. In fact, I asked him this week if he’d jump out of an airplane with my friends and me on my 40th.

“That’s crazy,” he marveled. “Just yesterday my buddy said, ‘We need to go skydiving again soon.'”

“Bring him!”

“But that’s crazy,” he said again. “We were just talking about it.”

“Hm. You should pay attention to that.” (We’ve talked spirituality and “knowingness.”)

I told him the time and place, and asked if he still had my number. He put his hand on mine and winked. “I’ve still got your number.”

“As well you should,” I reminded him, placing my other hand on his. “‘Til next time, my unavailable friend.” (Still in love with ex-wife.) I hope he comes!

Back to the stallion… I’ve been tossing my hair and beaming when he comes into the office, and I’ve suspected that he’s lingering longer and longer, but I just couldn’t be the one to make the move with him. Yesterday, we got talkin’ movies. “Oh, I need to see that again!” I laughed, when he quoted “The Big Lebowski.” After lunch, he handed me the DVD. He’d gone home to get it. (God, he looks good kitted up in motorcycle gear!)

It just so happens that I have a copy of the other movie we talked about and this morning, very nearly this moment, I walked in and put it on his desk, my number included. “I know where you work,” I said. “I’m not really giving you my number to get my movie back. Unless you’re not available. And then I am.”

Tomorrow is officially my last day.

If Only Bird Shit Were My Only Problem

Leaving for work this morning… Milo won’t start.

I HAVE HAD IT!

It’s official, he’s a lemon. I’ve spent over a thousand dollars in less than 3 weeks! This time, it’s “E” for Electrical (and Expensive), because he wouldn’t auto-lock either (and I just replaced the starter).

I feel like crying. I’ve been without a car for 6 years. I could have saved the multiple thousands of dollars I’ve poured into the purchase and maintenance of this ugly piece of scrap metal and gone to freaking Europe already!

It has been awfully convenient. I’ve been eating healthier because I can make more frequent trips to Whole Foods, which isn’t close. Being lazy, I didn’t always want to bike over.

I took one trip to Idaho to see my grandma, but overall I have to admit… NOT WORTH IT. I could just take the shuttle up north like I have for the last six years, and… what? Go to Europe already!

I’m bitter.

Phil is such a jerk. He helped me pick out the car. And he’s a mechanic! In fact, the car shopping experience was the beginning of the end for us, because he was just such a jerk! He was completely irritated, put-out, and rude. If you don’t want to help, don’t say you will and then act like a victim! He wouldn’t render even the slightest opinion.

“What do you think about this one, honey?”

“I don’t know. It’s your car.”

“Right. I know nothing about cars. I was hoping your expertise could wisely direct me? Whadya think?”

“I don’t know what you want. I can’t make the decision for you.”

“You do know what I want. This price range, 4 doors, something you might trust. Would you get this for yourself? For your mom? That’s what I want.”

“I don’t know! It’s your car!”

Our first fight ensued. The second came a couple weeks later. He’s so wrapped up in himself it doesn’t occur to him to see another’s needs. When I communicated those needs, he simply did not care.

So we broke up. That’s cool. It happens. Today, I asked for his help. I figure it’s been long enough. He’s moved on. I’ll offer to pay him, and get a little savings. (He lost his job while we were dating and the grapevine let me know he’s still not working.) I texted a humorous plea, “… Sincerely, Old Christie 🙂 ” (His new gal is a Christie/y)

Nothing.

OK, that’s fine. (Immature and petty, but fine. And stupid! You need the money, you baby!) I texted again. “If not, no biggie, but please let me know so I can arrange a tow, etc. Thanks much, hope you’re well. Cheers, C”

Nothing.

Just a jerk. I don’t understand people who can’t be civil when a relationship ends. So we weren’t a forever match. So what? I’m always glad for a connection, even a fleeting one. “We really liked each other once. That rocks!” I don’t get stupid people.

(Like anyone, I have exes I hate. Like the grifter. Of course, I’m the idiot who loaned him two-thousand dollars. The serial cheater. Of course, I’m the idiot who took back time and again. The CREEP who didn’t tell me for 8 months that he doesn’t want kids, when I told him on date 3!)

So I have a stupid car I officially regret. In fact… I hate him. Yes, I said it. I hate you, MILO MILO MILO! Pththth!

I’m, Like, The Bravest!

And he’s, like, the hottest!!!

So temping at the dealership, this Adonis comes in all the time to detail our used cars. The first time I saw him I had to catch my breath. (I’m telling you, like, the hottest!) He asked where the old receptionist was. “I know nothing,” I shrugged. “I’m the temp.”

“That sounds like a movie,” he said. “‘The Temp.’ Actually,” he went on, “You look like you could be in a movie.”

Hm.

Luckily, knowing nothing, my blushing and stuttering could be explained as first-day-on-the-job incompetence and I pulled off Lovestruck pretty gracefully. I asked Darlene to help me, and he and I have been flirting ever since.

I decided I was done with waiting, so today as I wrote stock numbers and peg numbers, I grabbed a Post It and wrote my number. “So… there’s a movie I’d like you to see,” I smiled. “It’s called ‘The Temp.'”

He laughed, and then we talked and talked until I got busy and he had to get back to work. On his way out, he asked something but my phone rang again. I waved him off, saying, “We’ll talk, we’ll talk. Let’s go out.”

Weeeeeee!