so much february
Only two more days left in it, though. In February. Then Japan soon after that. I can make it, I can make it. I can make it? I can make it—
Faithful reader, if reader you still are, I can’t remember where I left you dangling. But I will cut to the point—as Chaucer says, “What shoulde I peynte or drawen it on at lengthe / To yow, that ben my frend so feythfully?”:
Reader, we got back together.
I probably could have stayed resolute had he not literally been kissing my foot and saying, clear-eyed, I will say or do whatever it takes to be with you. By the time he knelt down I was laughing and trying to make him stand up; and then.
That day was actually the first day I felt no pain. I woke at noon and lay still for a long time. Then I showered, which was blissful. Then I went and got a matcha (which I could only drink half of) and the hellishly expensive Dior lipstick I’ve wanted for months (which looks more amazing on me than in the picture) (Rare Amber #526, to replace the lost-at-AWP Shiseido) (which, I only hope an indigent poet found and is using and loves it as I did). Then we met at the pub down the street and quietly made up, with a minimum of discussion.
Only, I still feel terrible. About what I cannot even say.
Over this weekend I tried to have a skillful conversation with him (partially rehearsed with therapist) in which I said as honestly as I could, I love you and I need for this to be different. It’s not about blame, I just need this relationship to be supportive and not so stressful, because I can’t handle another fight like that. It might help if you would be willing to apologize more quickly and more sincerely (without the eyeroll and exasperation and grudging atmosphere) when you are sorry you’ve said something you regret, for you to reach out to me to do that—
—and we really didn’t get anywhere, I don’t think. I don’t know. I never know. He very seldom verbally acknowledges a request (almost never?) but without exception has put them into practice. I don’t know. I think the thing is, he doesn’t really regret telling me I was rude and had an attitude. I think he still thinks he was quite firmly in the right (I was rude to ask for attention) and I still think I did nothing wrong (how else am I to make requests? how much more meek and tentative could I have been?) and since I am the one who left with celerity after his half-assed apology he regards me as the one who ought to have approached him afterward.
“Because I told you to stay!”
“First of all, how about asking not telling? Second of all, ‘Well I’m going to bed, you’d better make up your mind’ is not the same as “Please don’t go, I’m sorry and I want you to stay.”
“Well, you were rude and I really don’t know what else I could have done.”
“You could have knocked or come over.”
“You’re the one who left!”
“I left because you were hurting me. When you call me rude and tell me I have an attitude, I assume you obviously don’t want to be around me, so I leave.”
“No, I think you did it to hurt me, to get back at me.”
“I didn’t. I did it because it was hurting me and I wanted to get away from the pain.”
“I don’t know what more you want me to do.”
“Show some mercy? I was miscarrying.”
“I’m sorry.” [whispered, followed by kissing]
“Look: I know you. I watch these films and television shows with you. You’re completely intuitive; you follow every nuance of dialogue and facial expression and interpersonal subtext. You don’t miss a trick. And I know you know the difference between ‘you better make up your mind’ and ‘please don’t go, I want you to stay.’ I need a relationship that doesn’t have this level of conflict in it. I’m doing everything I can think to try. I need your help. I need us to apologize and make up more quickly—which I think would happen if we agree only to fight in person, not over text or email, for starters. Or if you had responded to my text saying I was sorry we’d fought—just one line, just ‘Me too.’”
“So why didn’t you come over instead of just sending messages?”
“I was miscarrying.”
Reader, I don’t know what I’m doing. I know that I have continued unravelling and it seems to have nothing to do with being in relationship or out of it. I still can’t really eat. (Bonus: jeans no longer like sausage casings. May soon be able to buy proper pair of jeans in former 28″ size.) Beloved, compassionate R. bought and overnighted me a new immersion blender since I’d left mine at his place—and I make smoothies and drink about half of them and can’t finish. To say my face is broken out would be to imply there are parts of the face that aren’t broken out; which would be misleading. And worst of all, I can’t sleep and I act crazy and I can’t do work, or I don’t do work, and that makes me hate myself and then, guess what, I can’t sleep and can’t do work.
Case in point: Sunday night. I somehow passed that point of being tired (you must sleep by midnight, self, or you won’t be able to sleep at all!) and instead wound up being awake all night reading, obsessively-compulsively (twenty browser tabs open at a time) about, of all things, cosmetics/body product ingredients. If you didn’t know this, there are horrible things to be learned on this topic. Finally around 6 am I fell asleep in a lather of anxiety, with a nasty sore throat, and woke at noon. Then, after sitting on the floor staring into space for an hour or so, cleaned the bathroom with a toothbrush, basically, in full-throttle, almost-weeping OCD mode; hauled out the contents of medicine cabinet and cupboards and shower and skin and threw away two boxes full of more or less scary acnegenic products. Anyway I have two boxes by the door to take to Goodwill or I don’t even know, I don’t know what you do with half-full bottles of conditioner and mousse and facial wash and moisturizer and serum which it turns out are full of pore-clogging chemicals. Then I sat on the floor in my underpants and cried until I finally texted the neighbor, ashamed, “Help?” Why didn’t I call my therapist? I’m an idiot, is why.
The neighbor came over around 4 pm and rehabilitated me enough to go to class from 5:30-8:30. Then, last night, mostly a repeat (though I fell asleep at two). I got up this morning at 8 after hitting snooze so often the cat became annoyed—got dressed, put on work clothes and a full face of makeup (cobbled together from the few remaining products I have deemed sort of acceptable until I can get more, can’t go without coverage at this point due to red and shredded disaster-face), packed my rolling book bag full of everything I need on Tuesdays (eight books, four folders full of papers, laptop, charger, Lara bar, water bottle), fed the cat, drove to school,—…; and then sat in the parking lot freaking out for almost two hours. Left messages with therapist and pdoc. Texted frantically with Rae, who kindly and wisely suggested I go home and get some sleep.
Cancelled class, ashamed and frantic.
Drove here, an anonymous coffee place where they serve matcha latte and I won’t run into anyone I know. Stomach churning. I needed to teach today from 11:30-2:30 and be in classes from 2:30-8:30. I am so behind, so behind, so behind. Instead I am—
Instead I am—
I don’t know what. I feel insane. Will I ever catch up? Why do I not work? Why do I lie in bed in a rictus of fear for hours and hours, reading about decamethylcyclopentasiloxane and trying to figure out if that’s what has caused my breakouts all these years? Did you know silicones are in almost every single cosmetic/facial/hair product, whether drugstore or department store/high-end or “natural” or or or? It’s in all of my conditioners, which is probably why I always have breakouts along my hairline and down by my ears. I’ve just gotten the perioral dermatitis under control, and now there’s something horrifyingly seborrheic in my ears of all places, and the cystic monthly breakout seems to be month-round, now, and for no good reason at all I completely PANICKED about and fixated on this actually highly minor thing, considering all the academic work I need to be doing, so why am I even in this café writing about this shit when there is so much—
With an ingredient list like this, is it any wonder the magical Korean BB cream broke me out?
I could start sobbing right now and I don’t even know why. Is this anxiety disorder, hypomania, when you can’t sleep, can’t concentrate, want to cry all the time? Is it the half-glass of wine I had Friday, the half-glass of beer Saturday, the mouthfuls of margarita from the neighbor’s experiment last night? Is it the five days of Klonopin when I was lying motionless facedown in bed taking Tylenol with water from the bathroom tap and nothing else? What is wrong with me? Why am I not okay? Why can’t I do work the way everyone else can? Why am I peppering you with questions? Who are you? Do you hate me because I am staying in a relationship which, for whatever reason, every 28 days becomes incredibly destructive and hurtful, if my hormones are a good half of the reason why?
I don’t know, I don’t know, I only know feelings. I know that the alarm always goes off too early. I know that the cat is the only purely simply warm and uncomplicated thing. I know that I am terrified I will be kicked out/have to leave the program at the end of this semester, if I can’t finish the incompletes. I know that I waste time doing things that aren’t important and I neglect things that are important. I know that I am so relieved and so ravenous for connection, after every one of these terrible days-long fight-sieges, that even though I got nothing done during them (because I was so depressed), I also get nothing done after them (because all I want to do is lie in his arms on the sofa, not put comments on papers or god forbid write). I know that I haven’t written in a year. I know that I can barely read (though I did get in about five thousand lines of Troilus and Criseyde on Sunday, sprawled on the bed, with the boy next to me programming). I know it’s my fault I’m not working, or not working enough (so much to do, so much). I know I’m a fuckup. That’s what I know.
Last night slinking out of the three-hour class (during which I sat there like a dullard typing notes dutifully but having about zero idea of what the professor was saying—I’m not strong on Shelley, only moderately so on Keats, and it was all just flying past my ears and honestly I just wanted to lie down)—I passed two fellow editors. They seemed so energetic and normal. One of them said—after giving me a hug, I must’ve looked bedraggled or sullen—that they were going to a coffee place “to work on my own stuff” after a long day at school. Work on your own stuff? What does that mean? I don’t even know anymore. I get glimpses of it, have flashes—as with my H.D. moment, two weeks ago—and then my brain swamps in and drowns that out. I’m made stupid by myself, as I always have been. Slain by my own hand. The neighbor works for hours, while I shiver and tremble and do nothing productive. I could work, if I only would. It’s that bad February weather again, that shitty unending inner winter where I lie in the snow-free ring around the pine (for tree trunks give off heat) and bellow at the moon that I tried, I really did fucking try, and she might have given me just an inch more help. Just one additional wrinkle of brain; the ability to get from P to Q. Just a slightly more resilient amygdala. Just an infinitesimally more peaceful set of relationships, or an ability to recover, bounce back from the rough patches with a surety in the belief that I am not a contemptible person no matter what anyone says about me in their moments.
But that I do not have. Me is what I have. And I have not much use for me.
All this therapy, all this spiritual self-improvement, all this art. Drowning in the finest writing that humanity has been able to summon; surrounded by friends who will overnight me an immersion blender via Amazon, who will text me in my hour of parking lot woe. I wake every morning to the blue-green sky background of that van Gogh print (my daily gospel of the possible, testament of sheer will and the bend, the drive to make something of this world) and a smiling black sleek creature, and, more often than not, a dab of sun through the curtains. I wake with body and limbs and senses intact and the youth, still, despite all the undereye wrinkles, to make something, to exercise the opportunities privilege has afforded me.
I should stop talking, and write something about Troilus & Criseyde, which I love. If I read all that in one go, even though it took me about an hour per thousand lines, I don’t have any trouble concentrating and there is nothing wrong with me so PULL IT TOGETHER WOMAN and shovel yourself out.
Not doing so great at getting up for breakfast. Dammit, Edith.