Who Am I

What in the Hell is wrong with me?

Why would an adult person of average intelligence knowingly and willingly put herself in a situation that can only end in intense pain and heartbreak? What kind of person does that? A psychopath? A sadist? No. An intensely lonely person, desperate for someone to love them as much as they love the people in their lives.

I have spent every night of this weekend at B’s house. I have listened to her, I have held her while she cries, and I have genuinely tried to be a friend to her and not tell her how much it hurts. It should make me happy, even B said that herself. She loves someone who doesn’t love her back. M doesn’t love her, she never did really. She was using her for something, I don’t know what, but that’s really not important. Sound familiar? The way she is feeling right now is horrible. It hurts, and it’s numb at the same time. I know, all too well. I have been there, I am there.  However, I absolutely can not know that someone I know is hurting and not do what I can to help.

What makes me sad, though is it is very clear to me that B is either completely oblivious to my feelings, or I now mean so little to her that she doesn’t care how I feel. I have spent a week listening to her tell me how much she loves this woman, how she would do anything to get her back. She has read me text messages begging M to give their relationship another chance, All of the things I have wanted her to say to me since the day she walked away, she has said to another woman and then told me.

I don’t blame her anymore for breaking up with me. I always knew it would happen. I have a long history of not being enough for the people I care about. I wasn’t successful enough for G, I wasn’t disciplined or structured enough for K, my ex husband once told me my best isn’t good enough. I’m not pretty enough for B. I can’t change that. God knows I spend damn near an hour every morning and tons of money every month on makeup to cover up the ugly as best I can. I’m not very good at it yet, but I’m learning. I still hear her words, loud and clear every day. I don’t know if they will ever go away. I don’t know if I deserve them to.

B’s immediate problem of money and bills will be resolved by the middle of this month one way or another. I am really hoping I hear from her after that, but I really don’t know. I don’t know who I am to her anymore. I don’t know how long she will want me around this time, but I know only too well how easily I can be replaced.

Waiting

So I saw B this week. I knew it would happen eventually. It was only a matter of time. Whatever the connection that we have is, is not gone yet. I haven’t decided if that’s good or bad. For better or worse, my entire being comes alive when I am around her in a way it hasn’t in years. It’s intoxicating, and addictive and like most intoxicating and addictive things, very dangerous.

We have been talking for a few weeks, mostly in text, a few short phone calls here and there. Apparently the woman she left me for, M, isn’t as perfect as B thought and she is pretty much miserable. Yes, part of me wants to laugh and thank karma for allowing me to watch, but honestly, I can’t know that she is sad and having a hard time and not try to help. Ill advised? absolutely. Stupid? Probably. I tell myself that I am doing it because I want to be a good person, and it’s the right thing to do and that is all absolutely true. Another reason is because I want to help her. I want to see her smile and know that I helped put that smile on her face. She has an amazing smile.

So I went over on Tuesday and was able to see her dogs, who I love and miss more than I could tell you. Apparently there is an issue with M and the dogs, and it breaks my heart. She has really amazing dogs. They should be happy in their home, but then again, so should B and I really don’t think she is. It doesn’t even look like a place B would or could be comfortable anymore. It’s frilly and girly, and pink. Good God, so much pink. Her apartment before was eclectic, her art was openly displayed, it was homey and comfortable and her. I don’t know what this is, but I don’t really know who she is anymore anyway, so I guess it makes sense somehow.

We went to lunch and drank too much, and listened to old music and for a minute, it was like old times, like tons of other nights in her apartment with old music and drinks. A song we both love came on and she asked me to dance, and I lost it. We stood there, dancing in this place that I don’t belong anymore, crying together. It was heartbreaking. I kept wondering what the hell I did to get here, but I know it’s not my fault. I was, and I am, good to her. I don’t know if she would admit that, but that is unedited honesty.

I saw her again today and clearly walls have been installed since Tuesday. I took her to lunch, but she didn’t want to drink, seemed to not even want to be around me. Right before I left she told me to stop my drama. MY drama. I have spent my vacation trying to help her out of the fucktastic mess that is her life, but I have drama? Whatever.

I left in tears, and went to have a drink alone, trying to figure out how a person of reasonable intelligence can allow myself to be trampled on repeatedly. Not just by B, by everyone in my life. I really do try to be a good person. I care about people. A lot. I don’t know why I am never good enough.

I don’t know if I will see B again. I will if she wants to of course. When I was leaving on Tuesday, she promised me she will fix this, and that meant so much to me, until she read me a text she sent M today, in which she said the exact same thing. I wish I knew what she really feels, what she really thinks. For now, all I can do is wait.

On Seeing the Person you Love, Love Someone Else

When she tells you about her for the first time, she will be drunk.

Don’t react.

Keep a smile in your voice and on your face.

Use short, concise sentences, like, “It’s all good”, or , “I wish you happiness.”

Don’t say much else.

Your voice will show you are running out of air.

The anvil she dropped on your chest just landed.

You haven’t gotten good at breathing around it yet.

Realize that she doesn’t love you. She never did.

Practice saying “it didn’t work out”

and “we broke up”

until you can say the words casually, without tears.

The first time someone asks you about her,

You will feel tears form.

Make sure to cough,

let the tears be explained away by allergies.

Make yourself as busy as possible.

Wake up at five am every day, so you can go to the gym before work.

After work, go to the gym again.

Volunteer for everything, say yes to every request.

Spend hours writing, late into the night.

You know how to do this.

You’ve gotten good at being used and discarded.

You need to fill every second of every day with as much activity as possible.

The goal here is exhaustion.

The long, endless nights in a dark, quiet house are the worst.

Avoid these at all costs.

That’s when the tapes in your mind, the ones you have had since childhood, will play.

On repeat.

They will bring your deepest, darkest insecurities to you.

They will belittle you.

Demean you.

They will try to make you believe you are worthless.

When you realize they are now playing in her voice,

it will crush you.

Begin a new practice of having a drink before bed.

Just one.

Drown her voice with bourbon.

The goal here is oblivion.

The first time you see a picture of them on Facebook,

you will be physically ill.

As you wretch over the toilet bowl, your stomach will turn itself inside out.

You will realize then that in the past week you have eaten exactly

five grapes

and two saltine crackers.

That’s why you can’t get sick.

Your stomach is like the rest of you.

It can’t tell when there is nothing left.

Know through all of this, that this is not your fault.

You love someone who doesn’t love you back.

She doesn’t love you.

She never did.

She never will.

 

Liar

It comes to me in dreams,

All the things I should have said to you.

Like you are an asshat

or, how can you lie so easily?

Or, call me if you change your mind,

or, please, don’t go.

I want you to know I don’t regret a second.

I will keep my memories safe,

tucked away in a corner, and one day,

when I need them

I will take them out, and like any good writer, edit them.

I will keep the time you told me

Anywhere I am is home,

and delete the fact that you were lying.

I will keep the fun we had singing bad music,

and delete the fact that you were lying.

I will keep the time you told me you weren’t going anywhere,

and delete the fact that you were lying

And I’m crying while I write this,

but I will delete my tears too.

Because you don’t deserve them.

Because they don’t matter to you.

when you said they did, you were lying.

I know the reasons you left me.

It’s not about my past,

It’s not about my looks.

It’s about honesty.

It’s about honest, real love, and that terrifies you.

My real-ness and my honesty scared the Hell out of you

and why wouldn’t it?

You have worked so long to hide the real you.

How could you possibly be prepared

For something real to touch your soul?

The last time I saw you,

I knew I would never see you again.

But you were still playing your game, so I played along.

I watched you pull a steady stream of fish from the lake,

so proud of each catch.

I imagined being that fish,

My mouth ripped open by your hook,

saying I’m so sorry.

I’ll try harder to breathe,

out of water,

for you.

 

 

B’s Birthday

Sometimes when you do something for someone else, you end up getting much more in return. This past weekend was B’s birthday. She is a nurse in a long-term care facility, so she was working the night of her birthday. I decided to bring her dinner and surprise her. I went there, expecting to make her happy, to make her feel special on her special day. To make just another night at work a little different, a little more fun. I had no idea what I was about to witness.

I arrived at the facility, armed with a ton of food from an amazing local restaurant and a few gifts. B came to the reception area and I sat with her as she began to open her gifts. There were a few residents, but I honestly didn’t pay too much attention to them. I was pretty much oblivious, until Trudy came in. Trudy is a resident, and was clearly upset. She missed her home, she missed her family. She apparently had been upset all day, and was working herself into a panic. The receptionist said that she had tried to reach her family members for her, but they were not home. I Felt so sorry for this poor woman, the B took over. Instantly, she forgot her gifts and food. She forgot she was on break. In that moment, no one existed for B but Trudy. She sat and looked directly into her eyes and listened. She actually said very little, but she listened to every word Trudy had to say. Within ten minutes, Trudy was laughing. This sweet elderly woman who was on the verge of a panic attack minutes before was laughing and joking. That is nursing. That is a special, rare kind of gift that very few people are born with. It was truly an incredible thing to watch.

When someone is doing a job that they love, one that they were born to do, it stops being work. What B did that night will never be on a performance review. It will never be a factor in determining a raise or a salary. Most likely, no one will ever know about it. I am sure B has all but forgotten about the entire conversation, she has no doubt had countless others, with countless other residents. I know that I will not forget it, and in some way, I know Trudy will not forget it either.

To the Women Who Are Just Like Me

I remember being a young mother. I remember the joy, the pride and love I felt so deeply for my kids. Every milestone they reached, every first; first smile, first word, first step, seemed like a sign that I had made the right decision. I remember going to bed late at night, every night, and praying to a God I wanted desperately to believe in. I spent hours begging him to change me. I wanted more than anything to be “normal”. As hard as I tried, I still felt different, so I learned how to fake it. I became the person everyone wanted me to be, my husband, my pastor, my children, and I forgot about the real me. I know you understand what I mean, because you do it too, and that’s why I’m writing to you today. I want you to know I see you, and I understand exactly how you are feeling right now, because I have felt the same way. I know that no matter how many blessings you have in your life, no matter how good things are for you, you always feel like something is missing. I can tell you with certainty, that doesn’t make you bad, or selfish. You deserve to be yourself. You deserve real happiness. You deserve to live, and love on your own terms.

The beginning is scary. Beginnings are hard, at least the important ones are. I know you don’t believe me right now, but the first step is the hardest. Every step after that gets a little easier, but that first step? You will be amazed by how happy you are once you take it. It’s like walking into a well air-conditioned room after spending the day in 106 degree heat, It’s like taking a long drink of really cold water on a hot day. You will feel the relief through your entire body. Saying the words is hard, painful even, but please believe me, you will be so happy you did.

Once you have said the words out loud, it starts to become easier. Your voice will start to sound a little stronger every time, and one day you will say them and you won’t hear even one note of shame. This is a really good thing, because you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. One day soon, you will meet a woman who will make you wonder how you could have ever felt shame to begin with. You will fall in love with everything she is, and she will love you back, the same way. I’m telling you, you do not want to miss out on this! Loving her freely, and honestly, without hiding will feel like nothing you have ever felt before, and it’s nothing I can accurately describe. It has to be experienced first hand and she is waiting for you. So no matter how hard it is right now, no matter how dark the place you are right now is, don’t give up, okay? Don’t miss out on this.

Please know that I am here for you, now and always. Never forget that I am here, I understand, and I really do care.

Cosmicness

I first realized I am gay when I was 18 years old. Up until that point, I had always had “best friends” who I would become completely obsessed with, and wanted to spend all of my time with. I would become insanely jealous if my “best friend” wanted to spend time with anyone else, and eventually I would suffocate her until our friendship ended. This scenario repeated itself several times throughout high school, and somehow I never thought it meant anything. I assumed that everyone went through the same thing with their “best friends”.

Until this time, I didn’t really know many gay people. I knew one, actually. He was a good friend, but he was a boy, and although I knew what the term lesbian meant, I certainly had never met any women who admitted to being gay. This was the 1980s, and times were much different. Being “out” could mean being disowned, institutionalized, or even killed.

After high school, I took my first full time job in a nursing home. I enjoyed my job, and the people I worked with. One girl in particular. Her name was “B” and from the first day I met her, I wanted her to be my “best friend”. She was amazing. She was funny, and smart, and really good at her job. I remember thinking how obvious it was that for her, this wasn’t just a job, she really genuinely cared for the elderly residents we cared for.

She was also brutally honest, and shortly after I met her, she told me that she is gay. I remember being really curious about her life, and relationships, and having a thousand questions that I was far too shy to ask. I wanted to be around her all the time, and I was, until one day she told me that she had gotten her girlfriend a job with us and she would be starting to work with us the next night.

As upsetting as it was to be pushed to the sidelines, I will never forget watching her with “M” her girlfriend. She was so thoughtful, so attentive, making sure to think ahead, to meet every need “M” may have, before she even had them. As jealous as I was, I remember thinking I wanted someone to care about me as much as B cared for M.

Despite my jealousy, I really liked M. She was a really nice girl, and soon we were all hanging out together outside of work. Honestly, I probably would have even if I didn’t like M, I wanted to be around B enough that it wouldn’t have mattered. We started going together to a local gay bar that was known not to card people. I remember the first time I went there, I wanted to feel awkward. I wanted to feel out of place, like I didn’t belong. I wanted to feel uncomfortable seeing people of the same sex kissing, but I didn’t. It felt normal. It felt right.

One night at the bar, B and M had a fight. I don’t remember what they were fighting about, I don’t even remember if it was a big fight. I do remember that B went to the bathroom, and I followed her. In the bathroom, I sat on the sink while B paced back and forth, fuming over her argument. She stopped in front of me, and looked at me with the most adorable smile I have ever seen, and said “I’m going to kiss you.” I think I said ok? I don’t know. All I know is she kissed me, and when she did, a light bulb went off for me. I knew why I didn’t feel the way my friends did about boys, although I had had a couple of boyfriends in high school. Kissing them made me nervous and uncomfortable. Kissing B made me incredibly happy.

There was one more kiss, shortly after that, at B’s house, and then she eventually told M that she had kissed me. The fallout was devastating to me, I literally had no friends at work anymore, and I eventually quit my job.

What came next is another story, or many other stories, for another time. For now, let’s fast forward 30 years. I have been married for 20 years to a man, divorced, given birth to six beautiful children, and buried one. I have been engaged to a woman who left me for her ex shortly before we were supposed to get married, and the downward spiral my life took after that led me to move from my home in Maryland back to New Jersey. I thought my life was over. I found a job that I really love, I have my youngest son with me, and I told myself that at my age, that is enough. I was over dating, and over love.

A co worker talked me into reactivating my POF account, and I did, not really knowing why. One night I received a message, which isn’t unusual, when you are on POF you get lots of messages, but this one stood out for some reason enough to make me want to respond. We messaged for 20 minutes or so, and then said goodbye. Hours later, my heart literally skipped a beat. It was B. I don’t know exactly how I knew, but I knew. I think it was the smile. I didn’t know how to begin to tell her, so when after a week of texting she asked me to meet her at a local bar, I was determined I was never going to tell her who I am. However, alcohol acts like a truth serum sometimes, and after a beer, I I told her. Thankfully, she took the news well, and talked for hours about the “cosmicness” of the whole thing. She told me she had a picture of me, from the bar back then. She sent it to me when she went home that night.

That night was six weeks ago. Since then I have literally spent every free moment with B. The amount of things we have in common is amazing. Her kind and caring heart astounds me every day, and her ability to calm me, even in the middle of a full blown panic attack is something I have never known before.

I don’t know where this will go, or how long it will last, but today I am happy. Happier than I have been in years, and so incredibly grateful. I am grateful for the events in my life that led me here, I am grateful to B, for being quite honestly, the wold’s greatest girlfriend, and I am grateful to fate, or as I now prefer to call it, cosmicness.

Betty and Jenn 198720170531_144430