The truest thing I've probably ever said about X was that I was "impressed" with her. That's how I answered when someone asked why I fell in love with her.
I've since repeated the same action. Attraction by impression.
While that word fits more than any other I can think of, the tangible result was both X and Alana made me feel larger than myself. Inspirational. Raised me up, infused me with purpose, with an all-encompassing urge to reflect the same back at them.
AJ and I had to go to Plan B yesterday. Our complex pool was closed on the hottest day of the year so far, so we went over to where X works.
"Who was that guy?" one of X's co-workers asked her after she let AJ and I into their pool area. "He's cute," she said, and...well...toting AJ around tends to elevate my looks.
"That's my Ex."
And they talked more and decided it was weird, but whatthehellyouonlyliveonce, so X asked me if I'd be interested in going on a date. I screwed up my face in disbelief. "I told her what a great guy you are," she said.
Which is decidedly different from the way she felt about me 26 months ago.
In a later, less descriptive time, I talked about "pressure." I couldn't adequately explain to Alana what I meant by that, not the way I understand it now. It has to do with that feeling of being bolstered by another and reciprocating. Giving it back as equally as it was received and, clearly, that was an area where I failed with X. I strove to fulfill her the way she did me and every step I took was in service to that end. All that focus forced outward, kinetic energy, like scaling a sheer face, that tenuous grasp on a bloodied ledge.
In a relationship that was abjectly devoid of communication, like that I had with X, this is a certain recipe for disaster. I continued to plow ahead with what I believed to be her needs, that of being provider, parent, equal partner in all matters family. That wasn't at all what she wanted. She wanted "new." She wanted adventure and grand gestures. I directed my pressure waywardly.
What transpired was, in over-inflated parlance, a Negative Chronology of Events. Every moment where, in her eyes, I failed to address her needs, became a black mark on my ledger. None of what I did do for her registered. She fixated only in those areas in which I fell short, as opposed that that which undoubtedly tended the day-to-day, the mundane, of our relationship.
That pressure has a second, more insidious to me now, ramification. The haphazard nature of my affection, my focus, was entirely directed at her fulfillment, her happiness. Its a Trickle Down Theory. Were she happy, than it would naturally follow that I, and AJ, would also remain in a similar state of bliss. What I realized afterward was that I spent so much strength tending to her needs, that I neglected my own.
I now believe this was by design. My own. Because I went and did it again.
"You do this on purpose," a friend said to me. Meaning I chose to fall in love with women who are, for lack of a better term, unavailable. To me, I mean. I think I can fall to my knees and give them everything they want. I will go to the end of the Earth for them without complaint. I will deny myself for them, not because I am selfless, but because my nature, my actions, deflect examination of me. If we are always concerned with the other, we, ourselves, become insignificant.
I want to be insignificant. I don't want people to see the shadows in me. Deflect attention, even good attention. Create a diversion. I am uncomfortable with praise. I'd rather lose myself in someone else.
And then it ends, abruptly, deafening stillness, and I'm left in a black hole. Nothing comes in. Nothing leaves.
Talking about my recent life changes, I claimed there was no epiphany, no Saul on the Road to Damascus moment. And it's true. I did not snap with a moment of perfect knowledge. I consciously trained my focus was AJ. My default position. Simple habit. But there was a seismic shift there. Our relationship has grown in the last few years, but for a month, we've been on some higher plane, some wavelength only we can hear. It's the one relationship I've had in my life where I haven't felt like I had to convince the other to join. His love is natural and unconditional, adoring and complete. And the way he feels about me is a way that I've never felt about myself.
I attuned this somehow. Our link forced it into me. These things about myself which bother me. Smoking, a nasty habit. A fucking weakness. Drinking. Home and alone. Escapism. Refusing to face me. Unhealthful. A latent self-hatred. Hastening death because there's no reason to stay.
Dramatic? Perhaps. But all fucking true. My shadows.
Loving these beautiful, dynamic, complicated women gave me a purpose and, along the line, I accepted my fate, believed I was perfectly cast for them.
Until I wasn't.
As I said, there was no bright light. My reaction was natural, not borne of revenge, of "I'll Show You!" but an organic urging I grasped without question. For myself.
It's dark here sometimes. Quiet. Today. Last night. I'm not keeping things from you any longer out of fear of what you'll think of me. The silence is the worst.
But, in the mornings, I'm not choking any more. AJ and I are light and smiling. When I sweat, I feel alive, almost like a purge. I run in place, but it doesn't feel like it.