Thursday, April 17, 2008

Day One: Aftercare

There is the blank page.

There is the empty notebook, the block of time constantly rescheduled, filled in, replanned. No time to write, so busy! So busy…

I have been having a writing holiday. Taking four weeks to travel, restore my spirit, see the world with new eyes –

(that’s a lie)

Not much has happened around here, the sex has been marital, the adventures limited –


I haven’t written because I have been focusing on my marriage, on my husband, exploring Amsterdam, Paris, my sacred city Bruges, reveling in the Northern European cold, the white and startling snow that followed us from city to city, “I don’t know whether to say Merry Christmas or Happy Easter” from our tiny gay host—

(also a lie. Fact, but a lie.)

I’m debating whether to continue whoring. Continue sleeping around. Continue blogging. Continue writing—


I am afraid. For the first time in my life, I am afraid to write, afraid of what will come out – this from someone who used Columbine as material, triumph coming at last from the memories of the days when I would have done the same. I cannot eat, it is dangerous to open my mouth. Telling the first word means telling them all; I don’t know if I can stop. The poison dissolves me from the inside, wracking my guts, destroying my sleep, calling me to the Dread, the lure of the medicine cabinet, the icy road, the rope, the knife, the gun.

There is something in BDSM called aftercare. It’s when the parties involved calm down, come back to “normal”, release each other from their roles. Mostly, it’s the dominant partner bringing the submissive partner back to a place of equality and comfort, soothing their wounds, their ruffled spirit, their mind.

Ex-Lover used to be very good at this. “Good girl,” he’d say, and I felt approved, that my efforts to please him, to scream when he wanted, to fight against screaming when he wanted, were well-received, pleased him as much as they took me down the dark hallway of terror and release. For four years, he cut me open and sewed me up, told me when to do the job myself, put me back together. Not just with my clothes off, but in my head, my daily life, tormentor and refuge, hell and hope. I fucked no one else without stepping outside my body, recording the scene for him. Lately for you, too, Gentle Reader.

I debate for three and a half weeks whether to see him in Europe as we planned. There is the pleasure of making Cute Girl uncomfortable, the worry on what the time together will be like, the sense that this is senseless, there is no friendship to be had, no going back. Finally, I weep with my best friend in her foreign city, I weep with Beautiful Girl via Skype, and I change one plane ticket. I will go only to the city that finishes my trip, wait in the airport, get the next flight home I can. I tell this to Ex-Lover, first via text, then phone to be polite.

He meets me in the city, taking a train some six hours to be there. We share a room, a bed, a walk through a street festival, oranges, chocolate lemon rind, meals he orders in the language I do not speak. We sleep on separate sides, we dress in the bathroom. We see the church. We decide to go to another city, where we meant to spend time. And there we take long walks, hold hands, share candlelit dinners, look at views, have conversations. Everything is as it always was, except we do not fuck. Or kiss. And in the night he says to me, “roll over and I’ll hold you,” like he always did. He wraps his arms around me, so tightly one of us is drowning, one of us cannot breathe. Three nights next to each other, three days side by side.

And still, there is his girlfriend nervously texting, trashing my company (for which she works) on her not-so-private-as-she-thinks blog, snarking at me in email for business decisions I made after weeping and then clear-eyed asking my partner to choose, to be even-handed, to be fair fair fair enough to cut off my own finger lest she think I’m pointing at her.

And still, there is everything there always was. Right down to

I love you.

I love you, too.

And in the night his hand reaches across my body, he mumbles in his sleep,


His hand on mine, my hand on his cock,


We ride together on the train, he sees me to the bus. I lose my head, I’m nervous, I say, still yours, just a little bit. Still mine, just a little bit.

He turns three times as he walks away.

I am happy. I think I am happy. And then there is the long ride over the ocean and I pour out into emails what I do not even know is in me, I realize I am shaking in the corner, raw and beaten and the man who is excellent at making the hot girl writhe beneath his hand has no time for the bloody creature at his feet, there are new games to play, a fluffy new puppy to pat and love, and I watch everything that should have been mine (all anger comes from should thoughts), everything I need to come down, unspool, release, be let go, let out, told that was enough, that was good, it’s time to go now, watch it all be given away.

I am waiting to come down. I am waiting to be released. It’s not enough to walk away, to be my friend, to plan things that feel like dates and thread me on. I have spent four years learning to stay wired until he fades the dimmer and it is not enough to simply flip the switch.

He texts:

I feel like once you’re serious about another lover things will be easier with us…I keep hoping for simple solutions to complex problems, and that one would require nothing from my lazy ass

I can’t come without weeping. I can’t touch anyone else without remembering his hand on me, starting the recorder in my head. I don’t see another serious lover in this picture.

He is not worth it, and I know this. Beautiful Girl knows this. My best friend knows this. He knows this. I start a phone call, “Maybe we shouldn’t be friends any more.” The call finishes with plans reaffirmed, plans to talk again soon, a request for my schedule to make that happen.

So I will write. I will hide the limp and swallow back the poison and open up the vein to dip the pen. I will write for you, Gentle Reader, and for me. There are things in the notebook waiting to be shaped, notes from time with Be-My-Real-Friend and Secret Scientist and Folk Rocker and Big City Lover and Zurich. Some of them are lovely, full of drippy porn and happy laughing faces.

Thirty days. Every day. An obligation to you and myself.

And then - ?

Perhaps I will be done with him.

Perhaps I will be done with me.


Anonymous said...

Mandy -

I have nothing to add except to point out that many of us are not worth it either. I know for me I sometimes read your words and feel unworthy to even be reading them. But inspite of this, I hope you will write anyway. Because there is no question that you are worth it Gentle Writer. (And if you doubt that, re-read this post again and again and again until the doubt is assuaged....)

Thank you.

Penny said...


First of all, I'm selfishly glad you're writing. I missed you.

This post made me cry. It's a horrible feeling, almost worse than the first breaking up, to spend time w/the person who's breaking your heart.

My experience is that these attempts to feel better by reaffirming connection are only destructive. There's really no way out but through.

Your 30 days sounds like a good resolve. He, or we, may not be worth your words, but you, surely, are.

MikeCindynJoe said...

Very moving. Difficult, I'm sure but I also hope that your writing is somewhat of a catharsis. Like Penny, I too, selfishly want you to continue, but you'll have to judge if this is constructive or not.

I can only offer you this: Consider the various stages a butterfly must go through before it finally emerges "finished".

Perhaps these types of stages are necessary stops along the way to our own final destinations?

Philosophical? Yes
Comforting? I hope at least a little bit.


Numi said...

I was reading this first thing in the morning. Pre-coffee, groggy from a night spent being woken up by the cat.
About halfway through I caught myself muttering 'no no' and 'run away!'. And now I've got the Portal game quotes/memes stuck in my head. The cake is a lie!
Half-jesting so I'll stop being teared up, but. I know it's too early for you to get away, but I really hope you do. Walking away from the remnants of what was an earth shattering relationship like that.. It's not just pain. It's having to make a whole new you. That's the scary part to me, even with already having done so in the past.
He's not doing it for you, though, you know. No matter what he says or even thinks he thinks, the reason he's holding on to you like this is because it sooths *him*.
Please do hold on and find a way out.

Mandy said...

Randysrandy - I'm really honored that you would say that, thank you. I have to admit I am pleased with how this one came out - it's been kicking in my head for awhile.

Penny - thanks. Yeah, I think you're right that it's more destructive than helpful. I'm really, really hoping that at the end of 30 days I will feel less completely fucked up.

Mikecindynjoe - I like your metaphor :) Thank you.

Numi - shit, now I have to think about that really seriously. The tiny little rational corner of my soul knows you're right...