Category Archives: Relationships

Dear Ms. Love n Happiness & The Case of the Ever Empty Heart

In this weeks installment of  Dear Ms. Love n Happiness the question comes from a dapper and endearing young man who I will refer to as Mr. Empty.  Oddly enough, Mr. Empty is far from being empty. In reality he has a huge heart and is endowed with the kinda gifts that change the world,  he just doesn’t know it yet.

Mr. Empty asks:

Dear Ms. Love n Happiness:

Why, even in a relationship, do I always feel ’empty’?  I am now in my early twenty-somethings, have been in multiple medium-term relationships, yet have not found myself filled with joy, or anything close.

Thank you,

Mr. Empty

Dear Mr. Empty,

Who are you trying to kid? This is no relationship question. I know you are far too brilliant to actually believe that any relationship or for that matter any thing external could fill up this emptiness you are experiencing. You just want me to be the boring ol hag that tells you what you already know. Fine.  Knowing full well that I am about to be trite, tired, cliché and commonplace, I am just gonna say it anyway: All those warm fuzzies you are longing to experience . . they have to come from you first.

If you are anything like most of us, you have to hear things 1 billion and a half times, so I’ll give it to you again and this may sting a little: All the girls you bed, all the money you make, all the art you create, any drug that you take will  not fill up that hole.  Duh.

Here is another little nugget of truth that may piss you off before it sets you free:  Your pain is not special. Whatever it is that is gnawing away at your insides, your childhood, something you didn’t get, something that you got you didn’t want, whatever you call your cross: It. Is. Not. Special. Neither is mine. Neither is my moms, or my lovers. Not my sisters,  not the guy on the bus who smells funny, not the asshole that broke my heart, and sadly not even the bitch that seems to have it all. None of our very painful burdens are special. What a heartless bitch, right? I know.  But think about it, they are not special because we all have ’em. Look around, from the most prestigious and powerful to those on the fringes of society, we are all running around with heavy loads to bare and trying to fill up aching holes.  And believe it or not, this is really good news!  Once I saw that this false feeling of emptiness is part of the human condition, so much of the problems power over me was taken away.

Now at this point you have a choice. Many people choose to get all dark philosopher prince on the shit and question the existence of God, don dark-colored garb, shake their fist at the heavens and write mad treatises from caves. Whatever. It’s been done. Do it again if you want. But, I think that what you really want is something different. You want to live from you heart and your soul. And this here is how I think it’s done, clearly I am still working out the kinks myself:

1) Find something you believe in with all your being and get your arse involved. 

Sure, your heart is empty and your soul is shriveled up.  But, my hand to God the best prescription  for this emptiness is to give more of yourself.  Giving  gets the heart pumping harder and your soul stretching. Its gets you out of the Philosopher King head and into your heart where the fuzzies live.  You will find, as a natural consequence of  giving to others that your own healing starts to occur.  You will realize that the cause you choose to  get fully behind is the one you need most for yourself.  (Is it a coincidence that I am writing a book about my experience as a single mom or that my dream is to start a program for broken-hearted little kids who want to write, or that my best friend helps troubled teenagers through art, or that my neighbor works with gay children?)  In short, heal others and you heal yourself.

2)  Realize that cynicism is overrated. 

You are very brilliant, and for brilliant people it’s easy to use your intelligence to find all sorts of evidence to support cynicism.  I know because I spent my entire college career doing just that.  I paid about 60k a year so I could sit around and commiserate with a bunch of other Sad Sams. We studied Nietzsche and Pound. We psychoanalyzed every halfway optimistic text within an inch of its life.  We compared horrific childhoods and told blood curdling stories about he atrocities committed in the name of faith or love. Oh- we had so many super pseudo-intellectual  reasons for our emptiness.  Our emptiness was a big, beautiful badge that we proudly wore. It was symbolic, it was artistic. It was bullshit.  I walked away with astronomical student loans and a still empty heart.

3) You gotta believe in something.

For me belief is not something I can categorize, summarize, rationalize, or intellectualize. For me, belief was something that lived inside me all along.  I just had to quit beating it down with a stick and let it come out and live a little bit.  For you, and for everyone else, belief is a personal experience. How you experience it, how you express it, how you access it could be as different as  my fingerprint is from yours.  What I do believe is universal is the fact that somewhere, maybe deep, deep, damn deep down in all of us, we know our truth. We believe in something outside of ourselves.  Life is a process where our knowing gets covered with shit. I suppose the challenge is to start shoveling the shit!

4) You gotta use your powers for good

The darkside really does not need any more help, they got that bizz on lockdown. Plus, the pay off and benefits are shitty. Mr. Empty, I would suggest that you take all your brilliance and all the energy you have put into to constructing your identity as the: intelligent, artistic, deep, emotional, wounded dark and slightly cynical man into something new. Use your  immense powers for good and build yourself as the man who experiences joy and fulfilment and lives surrounded by love.

I have a feeling joy is right around the corner. So take your remedy for a while and then lets compare notes. I  know a whole tribe of non crazy, at least in the dangerous sense, mildly cool peeps who are on the same plan.

Namaste Cuz!

♥ & ☺ ,

C.

Oh, and spreading all this love n happiness is kinda hard work, so laughing helps too.

Awkwardly Honest

When little kids are not making up wild stories or telling bald face lies, like the time in third grade I told everybody there was a dolphin living in my pool, one of the best things about them is that they are refreshingly honest. Unlike myself, who is always wearing different “hats” and often feeling like I am presenting to people, my son is completely comfortable in his own hat at all times.  One day I was risking our lives in rush hour traffic when I lost my temper in front of Leo. “What? Where do you want me to go you dumb ASSHOLE??” I holler at the guy who is incessantly honking at me as we sit in gridlock on the highway. Leo cocks his head and says, “Momma, I don’t like the way your face looks when you are mad.” Then he thoughtfully suggests, “Maybe  that guy just needs a nap? Maybe he had a bad day?”

Regretting that my mom “hat” slipped and a bit of ugly truth slid out, I think:  God, he is completely right. Schooled by a four-year old.

Sometimes I think of my son as a little Buddha, spreading truth and wisdom. And then . . . he tries to eat one of his boogers and the whole image is blown.  Sometimes his honesty and openness is more embarrassing  than inspiring. Case in point:  I call The Ex to speak with Leo who is visiting him for the weekend.  The Ex answers using the hands free function in his car and my voice is broadcast over the speakers.  I hate being on speaker phone when The Ex is around, I can just feel him rolling his eyes at everything I say, however, he insists that cell phone radiation will warp our sons brain so I deal with it.

“Hey baby, what are you doing?” I croon to Leo.

“Oh, hi Momma! We just had Mexican food!”

“Yum Mexican!”

“Momma, my dad is on a date right now.”

“Oh!” I say, a little confused, because his dad just answered the phone.

“Yeah he is on a date with  _________n.  She’s riding in our car right now.”

“Oh! Mexican.” I have to say something!

“She is really nice to me Momma, but I think it’s because she likes my Daddy.”

“Did you have cheese dip?”   Why can’t I stop talking about Mexican food?

“Yes. But Momma, I wanna tell you something! You are more pretty than ___________!”

“Oh! Okay, well I am gonna go to the grocery store now. I’ll buy some taco shells!” What is wrong with me?

I hang up the phone, absolutely mortified. Why in the world would The Ex choose to answer my call, on speaker phone no less, if he had a date in the car?

Maybe this is The Ex’s version of being refreshingly honest and breaking ’em in quick? “Hey, I have a four-year old boy! He can’t sit still in a restaurant! He says all kinds of crazy stuff! My Baby’s Momma is always gonna be around!  She is awful in awkward situations! Can you deal? ”  And I hope she can, because dating someone with children is a huge undertaking, just ask The Fiance.

I can only hope that what ever woman gets the extreme joy of having my son in her life recognizes how wonderful he his. And . . . since we are all being so refreshingly honest, I must admit, I am wearing my shallow and petty “hat” and I am happy my son says I am prettier!

 

Because this guy is always funny: 

Dear Ms. Love n Happiness: The Case of the Pessimistic Pops

Dear Ms. Love n Happiness,

I hear that you are sort of an expert on “really ridiculously dysfunctional families” and “trying your damnedest to live a good life”. I usually rely on excessive introspection when it comes to my troubles but I could sure use some help unraveling this exasperating character that some might call my father but that I prefer to call “Eeyore”.  Allow me to make a long and unpleasant story short and unpleasant. After years of being mean, stingy, unloving, and well, an asshole my father recently had some sort of soul spasm and seems to have started having normal human feelings. While that itself is moderately irritating, I can forgive and forget for the most part. The problem lies in that he insists on acting victimized by life and demanding constant pity. No matter how many times his kids call or visit him it is never enough and he makes that known every chance he gets. While I want to tell him that he is lucky that any of his kids can stand the sound of his morose voice and the sight of his disgraceful face I find myself just avoiding his calls which leads to unpleasant indignation at the inevitable email I soon receive. (Yes, Eeyore learned how to use a computer ONLY because he craved one more avenue for spreading his misery). All I want is to live a good life and be a good person. As Pooh would say, I “think think think” but all I know is that if I avoid him it only adds to the load that my sister has to endure, if I continue a relationship with him I will have to sacrifice my precious few moments of peace, and if I kill him I will go to jail. Oh, bother. I apologize for the sullen tone of this question and I promise that next time I will lighten the mood by hashing out some of the homophobic and racist comments I had to endure at Thanksgiving dinner.

Much love and kisses,

Your biggest fan 🙂

Dear Biggest Fan,

Oh bother. I sure can relate.

I wish these “characters” in our lives would just stick to the script. I mean, your inner director is  probably saying “Look, Pops, you are the asshole father. That is your role. I have learned after many years and a shitload of tears to deal with your two speeds: angry or absent. And now you go and try to add a third?  Despondent and downtrodden? CUT! This is bullshit.”

And I am right there with you. This is bullshit and it needs to stop. The only thing, and I mean the only thing that your father has a right to complain about to you is how crummy he feels that he attempted to screw up large portions of your life.

Now, as I see it there are two possible explanations for his behavior. Note the use of the word explanation not excuse.

Explanation One:  You said that your father is  having some sort of “soul spasm,’ my guess is that this  convulsing is due to the huge gaping hole inside his soul.  Your father is trying to get you and your family to fill up the hole for him. He realizes that he can no longer use angry threats to get what he wants. That does not work with a grown-ass strong woman such as yourself, so he figured how to get you where you are weakest and he is tugging at the strings of your big ‘ol heart.  But don’t you see that what he is doing is manipulation? Sometimes manipulation comes to us wearing a pretty smile, bearing gifts or in this case brushing tears off his weather worn cheeks.

Even though your father was a total shmuck, it must feel good to know that he needs you and it is probably tempting to start trying to appease him by pouring what ever we can spare into that cavernous pit in his heart.  But the truth is even if you gave everything you had, it wouldn’t work. No one else can fill up that hole for your father, he has to do the dirty work himself.

Explanation Two:  He does not even know what he is doing, to be honest your father may not even be capable of masterminding true manipulation. Chances are Pops did not have much training on how any relationship works, let alone on how to be a father.  He feels bad about the past and his aching soul hole demands to be filled up so he grasps at straws and tries what ever might work,  and apparently the Eeyore routine works. Like a Pavlovian dog he wines and cries until you give him the little scrap of food he needed to momentarily fill himself up. This will go on and on until you run out of scraps to give, because as we discussed above, these soul holes can not be filled by others.

Regardless of the motives behind his behavior, I think we can both agree that this shit needs to stop.  You have been a big enough person to forgive this man for the pain he has caused you and let him back into your life, then the very least he can do is play life by your rules!

So here is what you do, damn it: the next woe-is-me communication you get from Pops you very simply tell him, “Dad, I’m happy to hear from you but I really have to insist that we focus our conversation on positive things.” You must use your words! Whatever words those are, use them. Do not infer this, wish this, tell your friends and family about it, or  ignore him and psychically channel the words to him. You must speak up and use your voice. Why? Because first of all it feels damn good, like you are wearing the best big girl pants ever!  And because it’s true that people will treat you the way that you demand to be treated, but first you have to give them a chance by telling them how to treat you.

When it happens again you say: “Dad, I really can’t talk to you when you are being like this.” And then, DON’T. Remember Pavlov? That lil doggie has gotta learn you mean business. And as far as you sister goes, I suggest she do the same damn thing. Gang up on his ass.

And really, what’s the worst he is gonna do? Get angry? Go away? You have seen and survived both just fine. And the best? He has a moment of blinding clarity and he never darkens your door with his morose nature again and instead become the father you always wanted. Or . . . maybe something in the middle.

Trust yourself. Use your big ‘ol heart and smarts to stand up for yourself and the life that you are creating. It’s not the same old same old. It’s new and nifty and pretty damn brilliant.

♥ & ☺,

C

p.s.

Thank you so much for all your questions. Keep ’em coming. “Dear Ms. Love n Happiness” rolls around every Tuesday. I am really digging this and I hope you do too!

“Dear Ms. Love n Happness,” Like Dear Abby off her meds.

Dear Readers (all two of you),  

You lucky dog! You have experienced me bending your ear about my wack-a-do problems. Now it’s your turn.

 I thought it would be fun to experiment with a “Dear Ms. Love n Happiness” feature on my blog. Like this one: http://mslovenhappiness.com/2011/11/09/chicken-soup-for-the-soul-or-dear-ms-love-n-happiness/ and I could really, really use your help.

 Could you PRETTY, PRETTY, PRETTY please take a moment out of your crazy-ass life to do two things:

 1) Jot down a question about life and fire it off to me. @ ms.lovenhappiness@gmail.com

Don’t worry! You and anyone you speak about will remain completely incognito, unless of course you are glutton for glory.

Fear not! If you don’t have the time to craft a cutesy question, it could be a simple prompt. Think Mike Myers and Coffee Talk:  “I’ve been dating this guy for a few months and the first time I spent the night at his house he came to bed in pajamas and a breath right strip. WTF? This was an absolute deal breaker and now I won’t return his calls.  Am I shallow? ” I can take it from there. Of course if you fill inspired WRITE ON!

My areas of (supposed) expertise: Single parenting, parenting, dating, blending families, relationships, crazy ex’s, really, really ridiculously dysfunctional families, antics, rants, fun and trying your damnedest to live a good life. And!  Powered by the world-wide web and a library card, I will even do research if I don’t have the answer. I. Am. Not. Scared.

And, while I may be a snarky puss the majority of the time, I am capable of being rather kind: http://mslovenhappiness.com/2011/10/25/the-amish-instinct/ and kinda deep. Kinda. See: http://mslovenhappiness.com/2011/11/04/an-open-letter-to-my-father-the-meth-addict/

 2) Recruit a friend to do the same! Let’s face it, I am usually always stuck at a desk or chasing a toddler so getting my writing out beyond my circle has been tough. Please, let your friends, colleges and family members critic my perspective and crappy grammar! The more the merrier.

 Let’s Talk!

You are achingly beautiful and wise.

♥ & ☺,
C.
ps
This is like butta!

Chicken Soup for the Soul or Dear Ms. Love n Happiness,

Dear Ms. Love n Happiness,

You seem to have been around the block quite a few times and you certainly like to give out a lot of unsolicited advice, so I was hoping you might be able to shed some light on a relationship situation for me. I’ve been with my boyfriend for a little over a year. I’m not sure what to do anymore; I just don’t feel like he loves me. I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that makes me feel this way but sometimes his behavior make me wonder if he cares one way or another about me or our relationship.  I’ve gone out of my way to show him how much I care.  I’ve begged and pleaded for him to show me a little bit of emotion, to let me know he cares in return. When I bring it up all I get in return is a blank stare. He tells me I am dramatic, that I have watched too many romantic movies and that life is not like the Notebook or Sleepless in Seattle. So, what do you think? Am I expecting too much or am I in denial of the fact that I am being settled for?

                                    Signed,

                                                Settled

 Dear Settled,

I am intrigued by your ability to both offend and engage me in just one paragraph! I’d also like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to feel as if, even only for a moment, that I am an expert at something. If that something is icky relationships then so be it! I’d also like to qualify any advice I give with the disclaimer that I rarely know what I’m talking about and that I am much better at analyzing strangers “situations” (which, by the way is a word that gives me the Heebiejeebies ) than I am at applying the advice to my own life. But you opened up Pandora’s Box, so here goes.

I once had a boyfriend who I suspected of  settling for me. For simplicity sake, for future reference and just because I find it fun to say, I will refer to him as Mr. Wrong.

Like you, there were certain things Mr. Wrong did that made me feel like he just didn’t care. The first time I met Mr. Wrong, he saved my number in his phone with my name misspelled. At the end of our relationship it was still misspelled. Telling, no?  Just a few weeks into dating he invited me over for dinner and left me waiting outside his door for over thirty minutes while he ran to the store for beer and ground beef. Did I mention that I didn’t eat beef? Once he broke plans with me to go out to a hot new restaurant with some of his friends. He called me late at night to tell me he was bringing me a surprise.  

Surprise!  Here are my leftovers and this is a booty call.

  Eventually I would get fed up and confront him with these behaviors. His response was to tell me that I’d read one to many romance novels, which just shed further light on the fact that this guy did not know me at all. I was a Literature major and I was too busy trying to translates Chaucer’s middle English, or attempting to figure out what in the hell was wrong with Hemingway to read romance novels. Or, he would hand me this line about how it was not him, it was me. Mr. Wrong explained that the real reason that I was offended that he always used all the hot water and that he still saved voice mails from ex- girlfriends was because I didn’t love myself enough. Sounded like BS, but he was older and believed himself to be wiser so I figured he knew what he was talking about.

I swear, a guy reads one article in your O Magazine and he can twist that shit around and use it against you in ways that will make you doubt your sanity. Perhaps I was off my rocker a bit. What young, hot, smart and capable woman gives years of her life away to a guy who always uses the last of the hot water before you can shower, does not know your friends names and does not know how you take your coffee? Please, don’t buy into the load of hoo ha about why he does not know what you take in your coffee. It’s not because men are from Jupiter or because he didn’t have a close relationship with his mom. He does not know because he does not give a shit!

As much as I value my coffee, it was actually chicken soup that put me over the edge. I was struck down with a horrible stomach bug and had to speed several days and nights in the fetal position on the floor of my bathroom. When I finally recovered enough to think about how empty my belly was, yet too weak to  do anything about it myself, I put in a call to Mr. Wrong to request some chicken soup. He was out but told me that he’d wrap up shortly and bring me some soup. Hours passed. I woke up around three o’clock in the morning and stumbled across the room to retrieve my ringing phone. I had missed a phone call from Mr. Wrong. Praying he was on his way with chicken soup, saltines and ginger ale I listened to his voice mail:

“Hey, uh, they didn’t really have any soup at the bar,” he slurs, barely comprehensible over the loud music in the background, “so I brought you something else. Look outside your door. Call me when you feel better.”

I open my front door to find an ice-cold chili cheese dog, half-eaten order of french fries and a warm Bud Light tall boy. I promptly lost my shit.

I fired off a text message that read: “Take your chili cheese dog and shove it up your ass. We are over.”

The height of maturity, I know.

(Look, the cute puppy relieves tension!)

I wish I could say that at that point I walked away for good and I never dealt with anything similar again. But that would be a lie. After Mr. Wrong dropped off a peace-offering of a  case of condensed chicken soup and gave me a brilliantly crafted part apology part blame speech, I continued to stand by my decision to take less than I deserved.

 I was dedicated to drawing out my suffering. When Mr. Wrong and I did finally end, guess what? All the same crappy behaviors and feelings that were there from the beginning were there at the end and I suppose I could have saved myself a few scars and a few cans of soup along the way.

So, what does all this mean for you, Dear Settled? I recommend that you take a look at the advice that Mr. Wrong gave me many years ago. Sure, he was trying to take advantage of  the power of Oprah, but he had a point. I didn’t love myself enough to demand a good relationship. And I don’t mean demand in some sort of deranged diva way that expects the world to be handed to her on a cushion with a tiny tiara and a fillet minion. I mean, deep down, I must have not thought I deserved real love. Why else would I knock myself out begging for scraps?

Too many romantic movies and books? Please, it is not as if we expected them to stand outside our house with a boombox playing \”In your Eyes\” or haunt a wind-swept moor on our behalf à la Wuthering Heights.  We just wanted more than questions and canned soup.

And finally, I find it curious that we spent all this time worrying that they didn’t love us, wondering if they felt as if they were  settling. When did we stop to consider, perhaps we are the ones who have settled?

♥ & 🙂 ,

C.

And we could all use a lil of this in our lives. . .

An Open Letter to my Father, the Meth Addict:

I’d like to take a moment to thank you for the two gifts you gave me. One: roughly fifty percent of my DNA. Two: the image that is seared in my mind, the vision I see every time I close my eyes, of you, my father, being tased by the police. You are the perfect picture of white trash mania, handcuffed, feet bound and flailing around the parking lot of a third-rate convenience store in suburban hell.  “I’m being burned alive!” you scream, as your cracked out saucer eyes roll back in your head like some kind of epileptic monster. For a moment your eyes focus and you look at the camera that is filming your thirty minutes of derelict fame, and I can see where the drug went in and spooned out heaping portions of your soul. I can see that you are a hollow shell of the man you used to be. You thrash around more, screaming obscenities and shout “Oh God, someone help me!” Help you? Didn’t we all try? And who helps us, the charred victims you left behind on your mission to burn yourself out?

I tried to help myself by staying as far away from you as possible. For the last ten or so years you’ve been either absent or an addict, and I’ve grown accustomed to cutting you out of my life. The first time hurt, a lot. While I was busy studying my face off in college, you were busy perfecting your Methamphetamine addiction. While I was working to get a job and navigate the adult world, you were busy alienating your wife and children, driving your once successful business into the ground and picking your sores because you believed bugs were crawling under your skin. But I didn’t understand what was going on. It didn’t hurt that you are a fantastic liar and that being your daughter; I am predisposed to buying into your bullshit.  I didn’t even know what meth was, until the day I heard it speak.

One Saturday morning you were expected at my house and you never showed up. Nor did you bother to answer any of my phone calls. Sunday afternoon, after still hearing nothing from you, I began to worry. I placed a call to every hospital between your house and mine. Monday afternoon I placed a final phone call with a sinking feeling in my stomach.

You answered.

But it wasn’t you. Or at least, I thought it was not you. I thought I’d misdialed and called hell, the ranting and raw voice on the other end sounded more like a demon then my dad. You did not know where you were, or who you were. From all I could gather, you were in the woods somewhere hiding from The Faceless Men who had been following you for either days or years, you were not sure which because, as you informed me, time was not what we thought it was. After you divulged all that information to me you panicked:

 “Wait?! Are you one of them? One of The Faceless?? Did The Faceless send you? They put the bugs under my skin and now they send you to trick me. They want to lock me up; they hate me because I know the truth. I know how to fly!! Who the hell are you, you slut bitch??”

“It’s me, Dad” I whimpered, “It’s your daughter.”

“HA! Daughter. I have no daughter you Faceless bitch, I come from where they fly and I have no daughter.”

And you hung up. And I did not speak to you again for seven years. During those years you made your rounds of meth dens and prison cells and occasionally you would leave me a paranoid message from a blocked number. The first few I listened to, afterward I cried uncontrollably for hours. Eventually I learned to hit “erase” the moment I heard your demon voice coming through the receiver.

My son was about a year old when you called me and this time when you spoke where I used to hear the drugs I heard pain and regret in your voice. Eventually, you convinced me to let you back in to my life. I decided to let you in my house for a few hours. You stepped off a bus carrying a backpack and I almost threw up. Your eyes were cloudy and your hands were drawn up and shaky.  You had been chewed up and spit out.  When I could bring myself to look at you, I could detect that something was missing and that it may very well never come back.

You handed my son a stuffed zebra. I made you a plate of pasta. I took you to the playground where you watched as I pushed your grandson on a swing. Afterward we sat on my patio while you chain smoked and I listened to you talk. It was your voice again, but somewhere in the distance I could still pick out the tone of the demon.

“I don’t know how to ask this,” you said, “but, do you ever think about what we are? I mean do you ever wonder what we are supposed to be doing here?”

I stared straight ahead at the candle in front of me.

“Of course I do Dad. I have wondered every day for as long as I can remember.”

“I want to believe that we are here for something. That there is something here,” you grab where your heart should be.

Your face is distorted by candle light and the shadows of the clouds passing above.

“I do believe that. I have believed that for as long as I can remember.”

I put you back on a bus because I did not trust you to sleep even one night in my house. I put a smile on my face as synthetic and engineered as your bathtub poison and I said good-bye to you. Afterward, I cried uncontrollably for hours. I knew you were not done with the drug and I vowed to cut you out of my life again. This time the decision was not as hard. I looked at my son’s big brown eyes, the same ones I inherited from you, and I knew I’d never let him see the demon that resides in your eyes now.

The years that followed brought more of the same for you, tweaking and doing time. Occasionally I’d receive a call from a number I didn’t know and my heart would race. One day, I figured, someone was going to call and tell me you were gone for good this time. I was standing in my kitchen cooking dinner when you called again.

“What are you doing?” you asked.

“Making meatloaf,” I said.

“Oh, well, I just got out of prison.”

“Oh, well, it’s nice to know you are alive. I tell you what; if you manage to stay sober for six months you can give me a call. Otherwise, stay away.  I can’t keep losing you over and over again.”

And perhaps I should have left it there.

But I didn’t. I let you back in. But not just back into my home, back into my heart.

I looked on as you spread mulch and raked leaves with my son and fiancé. I watched you slice a cucumber in my kitchen and my heart soared.

You left my house, hugged me and said, “I love you.”  I believed you.

And then like a recurring nightmare, it started again. You didn’t show up when you said you would. Weeks passed and phone calls went unanswered. Finally I mustered up the courage to confirm what I already knew.

I open my laptop and, as I have done countless times through the years, I type your name into the search engine, followed by the word: arrested.

All the breathe in my body was beat out of me. The headline reads: “Man tased after fleeing police, kicking out cop car window. Deputy says man’s behavior consistent with meth use.”  There is a laundry list of charges including: armed robbery, attempted kidnapping, fleeing and eluding, and felony obstruction. I cannot fathom what I am reading, but as fate would have it there is a link to a video, where I can watch with my own eyes as you supply some of the best footage imaginable for a scared straight film or a public service announcement.

I’d like to tell you what you have done. I’d like to explain how you have hurt so many. I’d like for you to understand the love that you shit on the last time you went out to score. I’d like to say to you that I am ashamed to have your blood in my veins.  I’d like to convey the nausea that wells up when I think of where you are now.

 Most of all,  I’d like to tell you that all my sympathy for you dried up like one of your nasty meth scabs the moment I saw you restrained like an animal and shouting to the camera, “Show my kids this video, please, show my kids this video.” I’d like to make you see all of this and more, but it’s pointless because you are gone. I cut you out again, and this time with as little hesitation as someone cuts out a cancerous growth.

So thanks again for your contribution to my life. I’ll never know why I always valued mine immensely more than you valued you own.  Watching you destroy as much life and love as possible taught me how to grow lots of both for myself. Your disregard for your spirit and your purpose here gave me an even greater reverence for my own. I suppose that inadvertently you taught me a lot.

The last text I received from you reads, “I just want you to know, I’ll never be high again. I’ll always be there for you. Sleep tight, I love you.”

And the last words you will hear from me are: “Fucking. Liar.”

Sincerely,

Of hauntings and zombies

I adore Halloween. I was the type of girl who had her Halloween costume picked out by April. What am I talking about was? I still am. I have to stop myself from purchasing copious amounts of fish-nets and fake mustaches every year. I met my match in the man who is now my fiancé.

  We were just a few weeks into dating and I was thinking that everything was going better than I could have hoped for, in fact they were so good that it was kind of scary. You know the type of scary I mean, like in the zombie movies when the young girl is walking peacefully through the forest; she thinks, she hopes, she might just be safe this time. Everything seems so serene, but you know that guts are about to roll. And then lo and behold, a zombie falls out of the tree and eats the sweet girl’s brain. She never saw it coming. When it came to love, I was always terrified of being the girl who never saw it coming.

 After yet another scary-amazing date, we’d come back to his house. He turns rather serious and says, “I need to show you something.” Oh, boy, I think, this is bound to be a buzz kill.

I take a deep breath and say, “Ok.”

He whips out a creepy old suitcase.

My heart is racing: Damn it. I guess this is the part where he’s going to try to eat my brain?

He opens the suitcase and looks at me sideways.

I glance at him hopefully. I really like this boy and I’d prefer to spend the evening cuddling with him rather than fleeing his loft in terror. Slowly I scoot towards the edge of my seat and peer inside the creepy old suitcase.

“It’s my costume suitcase,” he says bashfully.

I start tearing through this treasure chest. Inside I find: a car phone from the 80’s, as assortment of fanny packs, gold teeth, a collection of airbrushed tee shirts, superhero capes, and more wigs than a drag queen could shake a disco stick at. I look up at him with adoration in my eyes. I am in love with this costume freak!

Now, here we are all this time later and I get the pleasure of sharing his creepy costume suitcase with him for the rest of our lives.

Sadly though, sometimes I slip up and I still act as if I am that girl wandering around in the woods in a white nightgown hoping the zombies don’t get me. Sometimes I still feel haunted. Like something rising from the dead, a situation will arise that resembles something from a dark and scary past and I start running through the woods like a big ninny, or worse firing bullets in the direction of the perceived threat.

Somehow, some way I have been infinitely blessed. He will dodge my bullets, step on my nightgown, and say: “Hey, wake up! This is not some nightmare you are reliving. This is our life.”

I snap out of the trance I was in: He’s right.

 I guess I just get haunted by the past sometimes. Really? Do I get haunted or do I haunt myself? Perhaps it is past time for me to consider that I am actually the one acting like a brain eating zombie after all. It’s a hard truth to look at, there is a lot of responsibility in stepping outta the white nightgown of victimhood, but I suppose at the end of the day I’d rather be the one doing the haunting than the haunted. I’d rather be the zombie than that dumb ass running through the woods late at night. Everyone knows that killing a zombie can be a challenge but I’m up for it.

Can’t say I would hate having this at my wedding. . .