Newly landed and freshly hazed, I tried to remember how I got there. We had this special connection, so strong, M needed to remind me. Oh. Right. The girls and I were alone with M in his mom's house, a cabin on the far outstretches of the village limits. His mom was overseas on her trip with his sister and the sister's husband. I could recover here. I could yell and scream at the top of my lungs and no one would hear me, probably not even his grandfather who lived about 5 kilometers away.
I settled for getting up with a coffee and a smoke out on the flimsy dock out back where the ducks would float around and I would try not to burst into tears as my chest and stomach were as thick and heavy as well-sealed cement and my little girl would sidle up to me. The mistakes were welling up in the thousands right behind my eyes.
It was a beautiful home and breath-taking scenery, but it could have been the local dumpyard for all I was worth. My mind was pooling with the blood I had shed in my wake and teeming with barely half-formed questions. How could I fix this? How could I just... go... back? And thoughts. Oh my god, my girls are going to find out what this is. Burning, searing regret. And huge, huge doses of reality wave by wave - the girls never get to see their friends, the sights and sounds around them strange and unfamiliar now, would they ever see past my bullshit move, would they ever forgive me, would they be okay now and hate me in the future as adults. How was I going to explain this to them? How was I going to turn this huge mistake into something better?
Oh but "thank" goodness I had M. I had allowed him to be my voice of reason. I looked to him for perspective, hoping that he would have sound advice to give, or cool, soothing words to make me feel like the fire of hell wasn't as bad as it really was. And he did. Meh. He sounded the part. Meh. When we finally got the internet up and running, I knew I'd have hell to pay on every forum that I could be reached, and I did, and when it knocked the wind out of me and the rock hard ball that burned from my throat to my gut and I finally had to walk away from the computer to go cry outside, he came with me and let me cry. He wasn't in there, wasn't in the pain with me. But he watched. Red flag 546. He watched like a dutiful, expectant puppy dog and tried to offer anecdotal reminders of why we did this, why we were together, tried to remind me all the conversations we'd had. And I'd wipe my tears and try to remember that what's done is done. I appreciated his temporary cure and I'd try to fall asleep fighting the nightmares I knew were coming.
But I distinctly remember that he was rather antiseptic about the whole thing. Red flag 723. Not defining behaviours or characteristics as being inherently evil. This was a person who claimed to be as passionate about things as I was, was advocating and supportive of these BIG moves, talked high and low of grand love, used my very private and intimate beliefs to get me to talk and return such sweeping grandeur; but then, when I destroyed that life because of how all of my unreconciled/unrequieted issues felt like they could finally explode into the air, this same person met my heartache and self-destruction with a mere quizzical curiosity.
And for what.
All of that was Big Red Flag by itself. People who love people, or even people who are just well, don't agree to closing one chapter like that. They don't agree to it, they don't perpetuate it, and they certainly don't advocate it. They say normal, caring things like, "no, it's not right" and "tie up your own ends first before we get together." I don't know what I was thinking. Or how I was thinking.
By the end of the summer, the girls had decided to go back to live with their dad. Some far away part of me, wayyyyy in the back of my head, where rational thoughts barely peeped, was so ginormously relieved for them. The new home they'd be where K had gotten his new job would be foreign and stressful, too, yes, but at least there would be a fuckload more of familiarity than the current situation. They'd get to see that their dad was okay. And all of the people who were seething at me would get their triumph in knowing the girls were with the "better" parent.
After the girls' departure, M and I took what I thought was an adequate look at what to do next. His schooling was on the menu and not much else. No point in me looking for a job until I could speak the language. He vowed to take care of me.
Taking care of me meant following him to class registration, waiting in the library when he was in class, climbing in the car with his mom afterwards, and riding home together for the hell ride home (she was a terrible driver.) When I tried to object to going, I got an earful of lecture, but a few times he relented and I'd just stay at the cabin by myself all day and clean or blog or pore over how I could talk to the people I used to know.
Taking care of me meant kindly responding to his whims. Sometimes for my benefit (a fluke good thing like French class or community band or auditioning for the youth symphony) and sometimes to allegedly get my mind off the horror I was still reeling from.
Taking care of me did mean, I loathe to admit, him trying to make coffee in an ancient percolator every morning until he started classes that would leave grounds in the bottom of the cup and taste like little more than browned water.
Taking care of me meant watching him clumsily do things he'd never done before and appreciate them with my mouth shut. If I ever kindly moved to help him, though...
Taking care of me meant living with his mother once she returned from Paris and to her job as a prep school instructor and losing all sense of independence...
And all of these things are harmless in themselves, that is, until you get to a cracking point where those things matter and you consider all the damaged places from where an individual engages (or disengages) and the relationship is unhealthy to start with. But this went so far and above two wounded people.
Red flag 456, 457, 458.
I wanted to be taken care. To be felt sorry for. To be picked up off the floor. My old, whiny, wanting-a-hero self took one last kick at the can. M obliged at first. For all of the time period before leaving the small town he did. At a time where I had long put that crap away and didn't have any expectations of people giving a shit about the great many things that I was still upset and hurt about, he did. He noticed. Or at least I thought he noticed what needed noticing - my lacking career ("you need a profession, not a job"), a deep spiritual connection I was craving, not being appreciated.
But taking care of me shortly changed into the monster it would ultimately become.
Lopsided, one-sided outbursts that would reel into the cosmos.
Tremendous lack of independence.
Loss of self.