I’m living in Manchester this year. This is a city proud of its rock’n’roll. And the Joy Division song of that shares a title with this post has been stuck in my head for perhaps obvious reasons.
We’re not sleeping in the same bed right now. Or rather, she’s sleeping on the bed, and I’m sleeping on the skanky pull-out couch. (It’s a furnished apartment and no, it’s not our skank.) I chose the couch just like I chose the other terms of our ... distance? Space? Estrangement? None of those seem quite right.
don't cheat on me-tell me first. and kick me out. don't leave me.
She’s choosing this distance and honestly I don’t blame her. (Let’s call her T.) We were kids together, we were high school sweethearts (in the fucking closet), and in college we were both experimenting and playing and exploding like college kids everywhere. And then it all went downhill, I fell into patterns of shame and fear so paralyzing I still cannot really understand it. (Of course the periodization here is too neat. But it works for narrative purposes.) (That sentence before the first parentheses. Yeah, that one. That’s a comma splice error. My probably closeted totally brilliant hardass high-school English teacher taught me to loathe those. She died of cancer my senior year. And although I still grieve for her, deeply, I’m surprised to discover I’m just embracing the old comma splice error these days. I love it like crazy.)
So my lovely T. really married someone just starting to stumble down a spiral of misery. We were married, in a rather lovely commitment ceremony, when I was 22 and she was 23. Of course she could have left me. Of course it’s not all my fault. But this is my blog, not hers, so to the extent I can, I’m going to respect her right to tell her own story.
For the first few weeks after the breakthrough moment where I realized what this albatross was that had been hanging around my neck all this time—for those few, sweet weeks, it was brilliant. It was sex almost every day (interrupted by bleeding and colds, damn), doing things we’d never done before. It was long conversations and ecstatic walks and sobbing to Melissa Etheridge’s “This War Is Over.” And then I guess it all hit her, how she should have left me long ago, really, and lots of other stuff. It’s hard not to compromise her privacy here but basically staying with me, and enabling all my misery and dysfunction, replicated something really quite bad from her childhood family, in addition to being just objectively bad. She wanted space, to think, to figure out who she is, to make sure she’s staying in this out of love and intention. She told me today she wants our relationship to be between “selves freely given and not lightly taken,” and that she wants to fall in love with me again, “for real, the new you, the one I never knew at all.”
Right. Ok. I’m trying.