Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York
I don't know where to start on this one, mainly because I don't really want to write it in the first place. But it seems that I've got to do a lot of things in this life that I really don't want to, like deal with my mind and some behavior patterns that are problematic, dysfunctional, and to me, sometimes just plain sad. As an example, what happened to me this week.
Looking back it all started off fairly innocuously. Marie and I were driving back from the beach - Long Beach - after visiting a friend of hers for the day. We'd gotten lost for a few hours and both our nerves were slightly fried by the time we'd made it to our neighborhood where we were supposed to drop a key to the woman's husband, who we'd been visiting that afternoon. He'd been waiting for us to arrive over our lost hours, sitting in a coffee shop directing us back towards our neighborhood off and on via his cell phone. When we arrived in the neighborhood we were driving around searching for the restaurant where he'd gone to from the coffee shop when I asked Marie why she just didn't call the guy and ask him where the hell it was she snapped, lost it and proceeded to tell me off. We were sitting at a stop light and I responded by putting the van into park - I was driving - telling her that I didn't need to deal with her shit and stepped out of the van at the intersection. I was done with the night. I didn't need that shit. I was slightly stunned as to what I'd just done and walked around the neighborhood in a daze. I didn't want to go back home and I walked to a bar around the corner from our apartment where I had a beer and a shot and thought about what'd just happened, slightly shocked by it all.
When we each got home we apologized. And I hoped it was over. It wasn't. She casually told me that although her response to my question was out of line it didn't equate to me walking out of a van that I was driving in the middle of traffic. Right. Problem was that I didn't remember having a decision. I equated my response to the experience of being in a fight. It was similar to me, like being hit by someone, there's not really a conscious thought about hitting back. Time seems to freeze. There's no sound. Then reaction. Base reaction. Fight or flight. But rather than fight with Marie, I fled. I literally felt like I'd been sucker punched by her response to me. I felt like I'd been hit in face. And I wanted to get as far away from her as possible.
The next day was a Sunday. I felt an emotional hangover immediately when I awoke. All night I'd been thinking back over my previous two relationships, my marriages, and I saw a pattern: nearly every time there was a blowout I'd left the situation. I pulled away. Like a wounded dog I'd skulk away to lick my wounds. In the beginning, with my first wife I seemed to stay in there until I saw how explosive she could become - yelling, screaming, hitting, and once even spitting in my face. And things finally got to the point that one day I hit back. After that I got away.
And that Sunday as I thought back over my relationships and looked back over the previous months that Marie and I'd been together it began to look like one big broken record playing the same song over and over again - We fight. I leave. I come back again. We fight. I leave. We do it all over again. Our relationship started taking on an eerie de-ja-vu as I began to see the conclusion that my past relationships told me was on the not to distant horizon: one of us would get tired of the others response and we'd split. And I decided that it was better sooner than later. So I decided to leave.
It felt to me like we were at an impasse on a road to nowhere. I didn't see the point. It all felt futile. It seemed to me that I was simply on a relationship merry go round, recreating the same experience over and over again. I felt like I was on a crazy ride, and I wanted off. She told me that I had to find a better way of responding. I told her that she did too. She told me to snap out of my funk, and I couldn't seem to. The thought that I was repeating the same behavior - the walking away - yet again was defeating.
And I decided that I needed to go. I told her that night before bed as she told me that she couldn't live with the air of tension that was between us. I told her that I couldn't either and that I was leaving. She slept on the couch.
In the morning when I woke up I felt like I needed to be gone before she got home as I didn't want any more confrontation or blowups. I packed my things, found the time of the bus departure and text her that I was going, and that I'd be gone before she got home. As I walked out the door she called and said that I was making a mistake, that two weeks later I'd be on my way back to New York - I could picture it; it was my pattern. She told me to wait that she was coming home soon and we'd talk about it. I put my bags in the apartment, took one of the pain pills that she had from Thailand in the cabinet. I was ball of nerves. My head was swirling. My hands were sweating. My stomach was in knots. And I went to the bar around the corner to wait for her. She took a lot longer than I thought, and the bar tender was giving me free drinks. I hadn't eaten all day, and by the time I met her at the restaurant across the street I was too drunk to talk about the things that needed to be talked about. She was upset and I was incapable of handling it all. I needed to go. I kissed her goodbye, went to the apartment to get my things and called a cab. We passed each other in the doorway as I left without saying a word.
In the cab the alcohol and the confusion started to hit me. I didn't know what I was doing anymore. And suddenly everyone was calling my phone: her best friend; her best friend's husband; my mother. I picked up my mom's call. She said that Marie had called her. I was surprised. I didn't know that Marie had her number. My mom asked what I was doing. I told her that I didn't know anymore. She told me that there was nothing for me to go back to in Texas. I knew she was right. She told me to think about it and call her back. When I picked up Marie's friend's call as Manhattan blew by my me in a dark landscape of noise, cabs and people, she asked me the same thing, "What are you doing?" And I gave her the same response I'd given my mother and the phone and the connection died out.
In the desperation soaked Port Authority bus terminal I was hit by a panoramic flood of alcohol soaked memory - me sitting with my bags packed, running on broke, a pack of cigarettes in my front pocket, running emotionally on empty, in infinite bus stations, train stations and rest stops across the span of my last 15 years or so. And as I sat on the dirty floor surrounded by and propped up by my belongings I began to cry. And I realized how tired of it all I was. I was tired of feeling like I was lost. I was tired of feeling like I didn't have anywhere to go. I was tired of feeling like I couldn't hold a relationship together. I was tired of feeling like I was victim of my insanity. I was tired of feeling like I was crazy. And between phone calls to my friend in Oregon and my mom, as my head swirled and I tried to figure out what was happening to me, my old friend suicide started to tell me that it was time to end this farce of a life. I was tired of being of fuck up. I was tired of making my mom cry. I was tired of hurting inside.
I told my friend from Oregon on the phone about wanting to die as I sat outside the Port Authority on the cold sidewalk as the people passed by glaring out of the corners of their eyes as I crouched down on the concrete smoking, trying not to shake. He told me that I was I drunk, wasn't thinking clearly and that I shouldn't get on the bus. He told me I needed to sleep. He told me that I needed to go back to Marie. He asked me if I wanted him to call her for me. I hung up the phone and text him her number. He called me back and told me to go.
I got in a cab that took me back to Marie, fading in and out of the past and the present, fear and love, consciousness and surreality as the Manhattan skyline faded ominously behind me as I the crossed the Williamsburg Bridge.
When I got to Marie's her and her friend were sitting in the apartment. Marie sat somber looking, said that she needed some help and her friend had come over. Her friend asked me what was going on, and as I tried to break it all down to her and Marie her friend patted me on the shoulder and said, "Okay." That was enough for the night. I told them that if I were going to make it, I needed help. Her friend wrote down the number of her therapist and went home. Marie and I went to bed.
And in the morning I called the number.
I need help.