Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Storytelling, Part 1

* This is the first of a three-part series.


Prologue

It finally happened.

One man after another came into my life and ripped out a piece of me. And in their wake, I am irreparably damaged. Bruised, bleeding – the emotional equivalent of a once-formidable boxer knocked nearly unconscious and staring bleary eyed up at the ceiling from the center of the ring.

I broke.

Rising Action

David got first choice.

I’ve never been someone who could ignore the humanity of others; I see a person, and I view them as such. It’s a trait that I can guarantee you will never allow me to be employed as a soldier on the front lines, an executioner at a prison or the person tasked with pushing The Button. I don’t have the ability to forget that you are always someone’s child, someone’s friend, someone’s lover. You are always someone to someone.

So I will never understand the amount of cold calculation it took for David to look me, a woman he once loved, directly in the eyes as he piled all of my belongings in the middle of our living room floor, kept $1,000 of my money as collateral and told me he wouldn’t give it back until I got out.

Frankly, that kind of chilling compartmentalization is skill I could use. It would greatly help me if I could just turn off my emotions for two fucking seconds and succumb to hard rationality.

But I can’t. And it continues to make me hopelessly vulnerable.

All things considered, I bounced back remarkably well from that nightmare.

*   *   *

Mark took the next piece.

He was so debonair, with his long hair brushing the tips of his eyelashes. I’d never laughed harder on a date. He was the first man for whom I’d truly felt the rush of infatuation since I’d met and began dating David. And he owned his own real estate company – I can’t deny that I was beyond impressed with his credentials.

Two dates with him and my imagination exploded. I started mentally planning trips to Croatia, where he was born, and fantasizing about steamy nights spent in his fabulous Logan Circle loft.

Mark was only the fifth man I’d gone on a date with. He was also the one to teach me “He is not different; you are not special.”

We slept together and I never heard from him again.

It rattled me. I’d never before given that to someone who didn’t feel the same way about me that I felt about him. But I somehow managed to brush it off.

*   *   *

Then Jack tore out another chunk.

I knew enough to not hop right into bed with him. In truth, I didn’t even like him that much at first. But as he expressed enthusiasm for meeting my friends and told me his friends were excited to meet me, joked good-naturedly with my cousin and talked about plans with me for his birthday in several weeks, I let him in.

He further secured a spot in my heart when he told me the story of his parents’ dysfunctional marriage, his nomadic childhood, his struggles with depression. I wanted to hold him and tell him that he’d be safe with me, that I’d never abandon him.

And I’ll admit – the cookies he baked and the chocolates he hand-dipped for me were perks.

Jack was very nearly instantaneously vulnerable with me. But when I let my guard down -- a friend passed away, and I leaned on him -- it all just stopped.

I got one final text: “I’m sorry. Apparently I have my own emotional issues I need to work out.”

I didn’t have it in me to explain to my family why I couldn’t stop crying on Christmas Day 2009.

*   *   *

Of course, then there was John. I’m not sure a chainsaw could have done more damage to my soul.

John made me laugh until my stomach hurt. And more importantly, he got it. He understood what writing meant to me, what it felt like to express myself through words, through a computer keyboard – because he was a writer, too.

“You write for the same reason Picasso paints,” he once said to me.

It always made me feel like an asshole to have to gall to compare myself to an artist of that magnitude, but I couldn’t help but think, “Yeah. That’s what it feels like.”

John and I were kindreds. And when I composed pieces about him, it felt like we were cohorts, the only two on the inside of a glorious joke. I never had to be anything other than who I am with him.

But, as things do, it got complicated. John doesn’t do complicated very well. And so he froze me out.

It is devastating when someone with whom you can be fully yourself, and who can be fully himself with you, cuts off all contact.

I wouldn’t feel normal again for the better part of the next seven months.

Climax

I didn’t think I’d ever meet anyone who would live up to John.

I didn’t think I’d meet Chris.

… but I don’t even know how to describe what he meant to me.

Save to say that I loved him.

And it fucking kills me to lose him because I know I meant something to him, too. One night he described to me the unimaginable horrors of his childhood. Opening up to me like that shook him. I could see it. We both felt it.

But he’s even more skilled at compartmentalizing than David. After that night, he closed it down, tucked it away – and he was never quite the same with me.

I can’t begin to articulate how that makes me feel. I can't find the words.

And worse, now I can’t find any words that fulfill me like they used to. Every day without him is a day that the sun doesn’t shine for me. That food tastes like sawdust. That I fail to see a reason why I should even bother getting out of bed. That I daydream about sinking into the Potomac, just sinking, looking up at the sunlight reflecting on the surface and not even trying to swim.

Chris violently, passionately ripped out the last bit of me.

Blogger Sassy Marmalade came to my apartment a few weeks ago and said something that totally stuck with me: “The song is wrong – the first cut is not the deepest. They build on each other.”

Mark built on David, Jack built on that, John added more and Chris finished the job.

I’m broken.

They broke me.