|My tacky Christmas outfit, let me show you it! I'm so good at hiding the fact I'm inches away from tears.|
Today was the date was going to get married.
I was going to spend one night this weekend in Bloomington with my FWB-guy-thing, and the other in Indianapolis, stomping around with my goth friends and then traipsing into Greg’s to meet one of my favorite drag queens, Sharon Needles. That did not happen. (Love you, my darling Queen of Darkness! Our day will come!) Meanwhile, I can squeal over the fantastic photo that my friend Kiki got with Her Dark Loveliness. Friends don’t get jealous, y’alll. Friends get happy for each other’s triumphs.
What I did instead was chow on a baked potato smothered in fajita fixins, followed by my grandma’s delicious homemade peppermint bark, and sit on the couch with my mother watching TRULY AWFUL made-for-TV Christmas movies. It’s the kind of Christmas magic that storybooks only wish they could come up with, y’all. I felt a little put out with Mom initially, because she totally guilt-tripped me into spending the weekend with my family instead of with drag queens! But it was the right thing to do, because I do have to work on Christmas and I really do (surprisingly) love my family even more than genderbending, glitter, big hair, and bawdy jokes.
Then I came back from my parents’ and, forsooth, got mine fine self straight over to Ye Goodwill to prepare for my friend Augie’s tacky Christmas sweater party. We dined on cheap pizza, Skittles vodka, and in my case, Diet Pepsi mixed with Jim Beam. And I didn’t get well and truly slammed, because I basically never let myself do that anymore, and besides, there was pizza to keep from being knocked to the floor, and some of the less-moderate folks among us needed led to the bathroom to pay homage to the Porcelain Throne, or else be cleaned up if they didn’t quite make it there. I play a spectacular Party Mommy. Your drunk butt ain’t going to find your car keys if I’m around.
Well, around then is the part of the evening where I said something offensive to Augie’s sister (I meant to be helpful! Really!) because she had quadraboob going on. Well, she did. And I care about her, and she’d really have benefited that evening from a proper fit and support. She called me awful things, and I had enough drink in me that it set me off crying. And I couldn’t make myself stop. I was that squalling idiot who I take care of at parties. The one I used to be, which is pretty much why I barely drink at all these days.
I’d pushed it very hard into the back of my head, as close to forgetting it as possible. What this weekend would have been if I’d failed to realize what I did this past June, which is that I was settling. Hard. Yes, I loved the guy, but he was not The Guy and I was just trying to assuage that same fear that’d motivated me to bounce from boyfriend to boyfriend, with maybe a few weeks in between, for THIRTEEN YEARS. Nearly half my life! Nearly half, I’ve wasted on men and on boys who were all beneath me and not even a tiny bit worth all the fuss. Because I was so afraid of being unloved and alone. I’d traipse off with the first marginally attractive dude who paid me positive attention. (Nevermind the fact it took such a short time to garner some damn positive attention every time! The craziness in my head can’t be reasoned with so easily!)
It was that emptiness that was born when my Dad fell out of love with Mom, and left us and got a whole new family with a daughter my age, but prettier, and he paid more attention to her than me. And God bless my Mom, I’m still so proud of her for telling him to quit cheating, to choose his family or to hit the road! I’m so proud of her for being so brave. But he didn’t choose her. He didn’t choose us.
And to this day it takes the smallest of things to turn me back into that six year old girl whose classmates made fun of for crying so easily, because she was so full of an emptiness she didn’t understand. Or the thirteen-year-old who couldn’t even put away the clean dishes without carefully selecting which knife would help end her life, if she would just stop being such a big chicken baby and do it already.
It’s the emptiness that I fell to at 17, when ***** punched out a window because I wouldn’t go down on him, and I pulled shards of glass out of his hand and bandaged him up and didn’t leave him. The emptiness I feared returning to so badly that I let ***** lie, and cheat, and lie some more and we weren’t over until he decided we were. And then maybe a week after he left me a sobbing mess in the front lawn outside my dorm, and I had to literally be dragged back inside by several girls from my floor, I latched onto some other guy that it took me years to get over even though we really only dated for, like, four months.
The mere fact I’ve been single for several months is a victory in itself.
There, in the corner of Augie’s living room, that empty dark fear swooped down on me again, and stared into me, and I was the first to blink. This fear is the monster I try to ignore on most days so I can get some work done. I usually lose. In the wee hours of this morning, I fought the monster. I lost again. I freakin’ lost it. I sobbed, I wailed, people tried to cuddle me, people brought me paper towels to mop up the trails of mascara I was dribbling everywhere. People were generally sweet and perfect to me even though I was bringing the drama in an otherwise successful party experience. I cried til I was sober again, then drove myself home and put myself to bed and kept crying the whole time. I boo-hooed on the phone to Augie and to my FWB until, oh, probably close to 3 a.m.
I lost bigtime. I let that inner darkness bat me around like a cat with a stuffed toy.
I want to hope this was the last time I break, but it probably won’t be.
This wasn’t remnants of mourning for my marriage that won’t happen today. It was deep soul-shaking fear of being alone and unloved forever. It’s the fear that I suspect has kept me from really making a whole lot of myself and my own potential. I kept limiting myself and my career, geographically, for some dude or another. Enough! This is the year that shit stops! Sure, Zach isn’t a bad guy, and I really did love him, and that can’t just be swept out and forgotten like last night’s bottles and pizza crusts. But if he was the right one, I believe I should have felt freer, not limited. It wouldn’t have felt like a five-ton weight was off me as soon as I broke up with him.
Someday, hopefully soon, I won’t lose. Some day that dark, empty monster within me will realize it can’t lie to me and get away with it anymore, because I shine so brightly that it’s revealed just how empty and how bullshit this puffed up, prickly pack of lies really is.
In the words of one of my favorite anti-heroines, “maybe this time I’ll win.”