A month ago I was in a home. The home wasn't in my name, but my partner told me it was our home. Assured me after 7 years together that this was the life we wanted. Assured me that this was the life she could settle into. Assured me that we would be there for a very long time.
We picked it out together less than a year ago. We spent the summer in frustration and in joy--fixing drywall, installing our own fence posts on the back 5-acres of our lucky 10-acre plot. We sweat a lot. We ate a lot of drive-thru burritos on our way to the house each morning, our car packed with some of our dogs. Flannel and good working-man jeans on our skin. Bottles of water and coolers of food to make it through the days of work ahead of us. Her mother and father would meet us there to help with the walls and painting and decisions. It was hard. We found ourselves tired and annoyed a lot. We rushed through some of it, and then we moved in. We picked out furniture together, we sat on the steps looking at our 180-degree view of 3 different mountain ranges and had a drink, rubbed each other's backs. Kissed. Felt the future open up again. The sun set on us. We knew we had been through a hard year, moving from Virginia and changing jobs and living in her family's spare, tiny trailer. But now we could take our time again. Be in a home together. Figure it out. I knew we still had a road ahead of us. I knew I was still trying to figure out my role here in this new life, both as a partner and as an individual.
There was something under the surface I didn't acknowledge. Maybe we both didn't. I can't speak as a we anymore, and I know now I should have never said we so much. I didn't know what I thought I knew. I thought I was safe to be whole. I thought we had time to work on what was under us. I thought that with such a long love, this was normal. That with so much assurance, there was a freedom for shifts and changes, for hard times and good times. I should have spoken up more. I should have asked for more. I should have thrown away the television, made more friends, said yes to her more. I should have been happier and not shared all my doubts so often. I should have taken better care of my body, been more sensual and loving. I should have...
No, I shouldn't have.
With one fell swoop, the little things I was working toward getting the courage to talk about became something else. She didn't want to work on us. She didn't want to be with me anymore. She fell for someone else and it allowed her to quickly step up and out of us, into her own alive, excited being again. I was dumbfounded. I still am. I didn't see it coming. A month later, in Denver with a friend, my books, and the 1 dog and cat that are mine, I still don't see it coming. It's still coming. It's on me all over me and I can't stop it and I don't want to.
I say this not to shame her, though in my worst moments, it's all I can do to stop blaming. I love her more than I've loved anyone. More than I've loved anything. I loved us more than I care to admit, because it was a love that was no longer free and equal. It was a love like a slow strangle. A love like a need only I can fill. A love like a lost hiker in the mountains, out of water, without a map. Sun down, clouds rolling in. I was afraid in my love. I lost my feet. I lost my gut, my instincts, my sense of direction.
Still, I was willing to keep walking and find my way back. After a long year of us, I was ready to step into my life again. I finally had a job I loved, and I could see my career growing. After a hard year of writing (because that's the artist's life sometimes) I could see the next steps in my process. The revisions I needed to do, the new creations I was ready to make. And after a lot of no I was ready to play again as spring rolled in. I was ready to say yes and move my body. Get outdoors, let her teach me what she loved to do. Play with the dogs, escape to the mountains. I finally had weekends free for the first time in years and we could use them, together.
I wasn't given the chance. Or, I wasn't told I was already being tested. It doesn't matter now. I left because I couldn't bear her abrupt silence at the end of us. Her walls. Her need to be happy for a while, without me. I had no idea she was unhappy. I couldn't bear the shift from partner to nothing. I didn't want to wait it out. And I couldn't.
So I'm in a new city. And I feel like I've been dumped as if we'd only been dating a few months. I feel like a piece of dirt stuck to the shit on her shoe. I know nothing of how she feels or her new daily life and a month ago I was meal planning and cooking and trying to show my body more and be more accommodating and support her as she tried new things, again, as she had always done for me. I am always trying new things. I am always both happy and unhappy. I'm okay with this. It's the more true way to live, I think. I'm a tough one to love.
And I don't want to change that. Some days I walk Pablo and find the tears just come. Out in public. In the world. Alive tears with beating bloody hearts reflecting from the surface of my cheeks. I can't change that. I can't change her and I can't change me and I can't change the past or what's coming.
I had a life, I say. It was my home, too.
How did I get so easily kicked out of it all?
How can anyone do this to a person they love?
Why am I the one in a tiny room with some of my things, many of "our" things left behind, desperately searching for a new job every day, feeling good one second, sure of what's next, then another second, I'm on the floor in a puddle, trying not to call her and leave another stupid sobbing message that she'll just scoff at and tell me how much easier it makes it for her to walk away from me? Why?
I can't control a fucking thing about it all.
Which is the worst.
And also the lesson: what I can do is step into the truth of how I feel and let my life be HERE, not behind me.
This IS my life. MY life. All of the above is true. And I didn't do anything wrong. I just responded like my whole self the best I could. I do wish I could take back all the apologies, the things I took on which were not mine to take. I do wish I could tell her that I was happy, with her, that it wasn't her job to fix me or make me happier than I already was, that my life will always be a complex, intricate web of emotions and thoughts. That I believe in myself and the waves of my own life and creativity. But, it's not worth it. She doesn't want me anymore, and maybe I don't want her, either. I'm not ready to admit this, yet. I can't yet see past the next hour. I am not yet ready to let go of my love.
My life is this. I used to know this, and that's what I think I'm being thrust toward. My life was there in those walls with my beautiful dogs and goats and carefully selected gray-hued walls with my green plants and our hobbies and books and big dusty yard. In our dreams of long camping vacations together and porches and better sex and building things together and more goats and horses and chickens and gardens and finding our way out of a hard year.
No, not our.
And now my life is here, in my new bed with Pablo and Stormy. Under my skin as I search for a quick job and a new apartment, a new literary scene. In my hands as I grip the leash and walk Pablo 3 miles every morning, his new favorite thing. In the music playing and the cold Rocky Mountain air blowing through my window as Stormy purrs in the sun on the sill. In all my uncertainty, all my self-doubt, all my self-love. In all my deep deep love for her, the woman I thought was forever, the one I thought would never hurt me, who did. Who did so deeply and so harshly and so abruptly I don't quite believe, yet, that I'll love again. In these days of waiting, and reading, and swiping my credit card for a few simple pleasures because I gave away my life and my autonomy for love and now I have to say fuck it for a while until I can get a firm grip on my own days and money and desires again. In the feeling of not good enough that creeps in, from the horribly sad rejected woman in my soul who will also rise like a goddamn Phoenix and say, never again, my dear heart. Never again will you love so blindly, child. Never again will you give your needs away and doubt yourself every day to fit into someone else's life and hard-edged love. Never again will you accept not being seen. Never again will you step so far away from yourself and your art.