Shampoo, rinse, repeat…
When I’m coming home late, and tired, and stuck for anything to write about (other than boring work), I’ve been going back to my old blogs and journals to pick out ideas…
Oh my God, there are soooo many entries about he-who-shall-not-be-named!
Part of that is undoubtedly because it took me a lot of time and thought to process that experience – to properly, objectively examine it, give it a place in my past and move on. Part of that is also because the experience was so huge and changed who I was. I can see now that a lot of my writing was me trying to figure out the new reality that I found myself living. It was Wonderland – scary Wonderland – only I stayed there.
Ten. Years. Have passed.
I thought about that this past December. Ten years to the day that I had my first panic attack in a hardware store carpark. Ten years since I went back to my little flat and sat in the shower until all the hot water ran out, and then 90 minutes more.
There is no nostalgia there (hopefully that’s obvious). No pining for the past. Instead it’s good that ten years stand between then and now. I will share the things I wrote back then but they speak to the time in which they were written, and not to the woman I am now. That’s important.
So here is part of something I wrote for my counsellor back in 2006…
The last few weeks in my house were horrible. C went away on tour just after I broke it to T that it was over between us. T got really mad, which was understandable. He quit his job in Hastings in a last ditch attempt to patch it up with me – but that just made me mad too. Earlier that week I’d had to go begging to the bank to extend our mortgage so that we could pay for a builder to finish the house. We agreed to hire a builder and get the place finished and sold before we went our separate ways. With T quitting his job, that whole deal went down the toilet. I thought he was crazy to think that acting so irresponsibly and putting more pressure on me would make me love him more. He didn’t even put in his notice or claim redundancy. He just walked out. I didn’t know how we were going to pay the bills that month. I told him that, if that was the way he wanted it, he could carry his house all by himself.
I missed C every day. At the beginning of his tour, I went to visit him after his show in Hamilton. I gave him one of the rocks that I carry in the locket around my neck. I told him that I was giving him that rock because it was a part of me and I couldn’t stand to lose it. I told him that, if he worried about me while he was away, all he needed to do was look at that rock and know that I would be back for it. I told him that, one day, he would take me back to Arizona to be with all of my rocks – and then we would never be apart again.
I wrote him love letters while he was away on tour. I figured out what motel he’d be at a few days down the track and sent him letters so that they would arrive on just the right day. I couldn’t stand to be apart from him.
I slept on the couch every night for two months. And, when we had visitors during the day, I would take away the pillows and the blankets so that no one would know I was sleeping there. T even told me that he wouldn’t mind if we shared the bed, or he took the couch – but I knew that this was my fault and the couch was where I belonged. I met with the bank and the lawyer again and sorted out selling my share of the house to T. It wasn’t worth much – the house hadn’t been valued since just after we started the renovation, and a lot of our money was tied up in building products that, as yet, had not been used. I estimated that I lost about $20,000 but, with T out of work, we couldn’t afford a new valuation. And I just wanted to be out of the place. I wanted to be with C.
I had to find a little flat that would fit all of my furniture – but one that I could still afford. I didn’t want to flat with other people, because I like my stuff too much. And I had the dog to consider. As it was, I couldn’t find anything that was under $160 a week. When I finally found a place – two bedrooms, not too damp, and only $140 – I leapt at it. There was just one catch, I discovered. No dogs. Gus was really sick by that point. He had gone deaf. He had arthritis and Cushing’s disease – nothing life-threatening but it meant that he needed a lot of care. When he fell over he didn’t have the strength in his knees to pull himself up again. And the Cushing’s meant that he had to go outside to pee around twenty times a day (including, usually, twice in the middle of the night). He didn’t make any noise to alert you either – you just had to have half an eye on him all the time. Every night I woke up at soon as I heard him stir. If you weren’t there to let him out, he would pee on the floor. He couldn’t really hold it in anymore. I didn’t mind – he was still a bright, happy little dog – he was just old. I begged the landlord to let me keep him there, but they were pretty adamant. I had two choices: give up my baby or give up the only place I had found that I could afford.
It was the hardest thing that I did over that whole moving period. I convinced my parents to take Gus – with the promise that I would dog-sit any time they needed to go out. I could stand to lose my house (with all its attached dreams), and I could stand to lose T (with all those attached dreams), but I really felt like I was abandoning my dog when he needed me most. I felt like I was just an awful person. I prayed that I wasn’t making a huge mistake.
I told C that. It was a stupid thing to say. I talked to him on the phone after his show that night – while I was sitting on the floor in my new, empty bedroom, trying to bolt my bed together and crying. I asked C whether he thought I was making a mistake.
But I loved C. And C had told me before the tour that he didn’t want to be without me. He had cried – and I knew that I just couldn’t stand to hurt him. I knew that I had to get out of T’s house as quickly as possible, in order to put C’s mind at rest. I chose C over my dog. It was yet another thing I never thought I’d do for anyone.
C saved up his frustration until two days later, when he had a half-day layover near the end of his tour. His lay-over was in Tauranga, so he collected his bike and came straight to my new flat that morning. Nothing good ever came to my life from Tauranga.
He helped me move some heavy furniture that I couldn’t shift by myself. He wanted to have sex, but I had my period. So, instead, he talked to me about what I had said on the night I moved in.
He said that he was pretty upset by the suggestion that I had made a mistake in choosing him. I said that that wasn’t what I was asking, and I was sorry if he took it that way. I told him that I loved him and I really wanted to be with him, but that this whole process had been really hard for me. He said that he was wondering now whether I really loved him enough. I pointed out that I had just given up my house and my dog for him.
Just before he had to leave, he turned back and told me that I hadn’t given up my house for him. He told me that I would have left T anyway – so it didn’t really count. I told him that he was wrong – I left T because he (C) had asked me to. If I had never met him at that theatre in Tauranga, I would never have left T. C just shrugged and said that he’d never believe that. He left, and I cried again.
Clean (1 year on)
I dragged everything out from under the bed, and amongst the pile I found a blanket that I haven’t seen in a long time. It was a Christmas present to C. As I passed my hand across the soft fabric, I remembered that Christmas Day – how I gave him a huge bag full of presents, which I’d taken weeks to find, and how he proceeded to pick through them and decide what he would accept. A lot of what I’d bought was all wrong, or just wasn’t good enough for him. He left the blanket behind, lying on the floor of my bedroom. He didn’t want it. And I remember how, after I found it there, I just crumpled it up in my arms and cried…
In the end, after C and I had come to a close, I gave the blanket to Gus. He needed something warm to line his basket. He was glad to have it… That’s why it’s still under my bed, rather than given away to charity like all of the other things C left behind. I kept all of Gus’s things after he died. He was very special to me.
After I had finished cleaning, I folded the blanket up and put it back under the bed. It will stay there because it was Gus’s blanket, not C’s…
I wish I could clean everything.