Tag Archives: addiction

I Fucking Love The Way He Loves Me: Told From My Pedestal in Late Summer

We’ve met again. This boy and I who never seem to put the sealing wax on the envelope. We’ve spent our whole lives having missed encounters with one another. Chasing a dry leaf in an October breeze, for me. Writing sexy lyrics to a perfect song, for him.

We couldn’t be more different, or in tune. Worlds apart in all ways except heart and humor. We remain on the periphery of each other lives though. Sometimes close, sometimes absent. It’s both difficult and precious to know this is the most loved I’ll ever be. It’s the kind of love, passion, and connection I’ve always expected. His love is both a tax and reward.
I may cheat myself by comparing all love to his. It seems unfair to compare the man who knows where I’ve been to the one who wants to know where I’m going. And, as he and all my former lovers put it, I may end up alone because I don’t trust a single one of them.
He’s not a provider in a tangible sense, or like I’ve always wanted, yet he offers something others can’t. I don’t know if the latter compensates for the former. But, I fucking love the way he loves me. This is my attempt to describe it. Or, justify it. Or, prove something to myself. Or, give myself permission.

I admit that regardless of how I feel, I have trouble making that meet what I think. Thinking is where I get into trouble. I wonder often whether or not it’s possible for someone else to come along and make me feel as adored as he can. There is a man I know who is the mate for my soul. Truly my soul mate, without question. (Quite possibly the only one who thinks I have a soul.)

The standard for cellular attraction and spiritual connection is so high because of him. Us. We tried, or played with one another, throughout the years. We tested each other out, he always more honestly than I. For years he looked after me and was always around, and I was a phone call away when he got into trouble. He worshiped me, and was uncharacteristically gentle with me. I was out of reach and he was too accessible. He was risky. I was a commitment girl with high standards, he was…sort of the opposite of that. Actually, not sort of.
He shared details with me, over and over, as easily as he shared everything else. Details and honesty, and not just sometimes. He tells a story in a way that puts you in a room with him, whether you want to be there or not. Many times, over several-a-story I wanted to scream “No! Stop talking!”, but simultaneously found comfort in the closeness we had that allowed that kind of openess. He told me things he didn’t tell anyone, and I’ve been both hurt and honored by his honesty. He’s told me things I wanted to hear. And some I needed to. We lost that one day.

So, for more reasons than that, I love him from a distance and am there when he needs me. Or something.
Him arriving at my window as kids, at some ridiculous hour was not uncommon. He often ended his nights there. We’d sit in the yard, the floor of my living room, or in the woods for hours. And, we walked together. So many times he walked me home. So many footsteps and stories that ended with a surprisingly quiet and gentle hug. The smell of his signature leather jacket lingered after he left, and I always wondered what was on his 16- year-old mind on his walk home…besides my ass.
There were many nights when we just held him together. His adventures were hilarious, exciting, dark and wild…and destructive. To say he was a bad-boy would be an understatement. I’d attempt to talk him down, or up, depending on what he needed. Sometimes, I was coaxing a bottle out of his hand, other times, it was something more dangerous.

There were quite literally years of 3 a.m. phone calls, and he’d ask me to stay on the line while he fell asleep. (And I’m still here.) He needed the kind of company, or voice, that could help him get right. I like to think he reached out when he needed something soft and forgiving. But the truth is I’m not forgiving, and he reached out because he knew I would always be there. He’s quite possibly the only person I didn’t give birth to that gets my soft side, while simultaneously accepting my I’ll-fucking-cut-you side. He calls me “home” and I suspect he has reused that one a few times…just like “my queen”, “goddess” and “my wife.” He’s dramatic. But, I was a safe place to go when things were ugly, always available to listen to good news, or a place to write when he made the news. I offer him a place to send his feelings and reflections. A way to empty his heavy mind and even heavier heart. A person to share his vulnerability, ridiculous humor, and not-so-secret mean with. I am the human equivalent of confession, affair, and therapy. I’m crazy. I’d have to be. A sane thinking person would run.

Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

He offers me a pedestal, though. Oh, and don’t I just graciously let him set me on it. I stand up here…doing twirls and smiling the whole damn time. Worshipped. A completely untouchable goddess up here doing naked curtseys and soaking in the affection like warm sun rays. I fucking love the way he loves on me.
We’ve had a friendship for 24 years. A pretty sensual relationship once, and a move-in that ended abruptly. We nurtured a paper and ink romance, at times. Actual stamped envelopes & lined paper filled with more love than any journal could hold. Pen & pencil. Handwritten. We’re probably solely responsible for deforestation and USPS mail carrier job security. We’ve been hanging out, laughing, writing, and loving each other since I was 12.
I’m always here. I’m, admittedly, the fallback girl and I’ve always been okay with him sauntering in and out of my life while he finds himself. I’m a terrible partner anyway. I had space in my heart for him, but not in my life. My super-power is loyalty. My weakness is the spiritual connection to childhood that we share.
I’ve always been easy to love briefly, or..by mail. When he tires, comes to the end of a road, or can’t get what he needs, he calls…or writes. When he misses home and is lost, he reaches out. He’d say “That’s not why.”, or “I’ve always loved you.” And, in fact, we’d both be right.

Sure, I’ve felt used, occasionally. But it has in no way been a one-way relationship. We’ve both received something sweet.
A written romance. A beautiful and ugly one. Both of us in love with words of the other. The excitement of an addressed and stamped envelope in the mailbox every day never tires. He comes home to me that way, and I love it. Seven intimate pages of a handwritten story, some dreams, or plans replace an embrace at the end of a day. His with pen, mine always in pencil. Mine folded properly, his never. The opposite, according to him.

Sometimes I save them to read over tea before bed. Other times I rip them open as I close the door with my back. Some, I have never read. Even though there is a letter in my mailbox almost every day, it is still a gift and a surprise to receive each and every one, 27 years later.

The greeting is never the same, the script varies based on his mood, and his closings either make me laugh out loud or ache below my belly. Each make me smile. An old fashioned postal romance woven together by time, friendship, trust, familiarity, attraction and love. There’s a string that runs from my heart to my pencil and only he plays a chord on it. I’ve always been easy to love by mail…because the idea of me is like a love song and the actual me is…not.

His neediness has reached exhausting at times. His energy can be too great. His ego is a storm. But he’s worth it. In fact, I’m thankful to him for the opportunities I’ve had to touch pencil to paper, with frequency and at length. Right here even. His words saved me, by beckoning a written reply. But, we’d still miss each other, out here in real life.

If I was open to dating him, he’d relapse into a life I couldn’t be part of. When he was on top of his world and wanted to try, I was in a relationship. More often than not, I was available while he was…passing time. Once, after a really great year together, and only weeks after moving in, he quietly left while I slept. He left a note on the table. Yes…a note, in the night, left on the table. The irony is not lost on me. He used the same method to break my heart as he did to fill it. Left on my table.
My life was too much. Boring, rigid, sober and stale accompanied by responsibility and accountability. Not exciting. He’d say “That’s not true.” But it was suffocating him and lacked the energy and vibe he thrived on. He wasn’t going to survive in my space. I wasn’t going to survive his relapse. To this day, I can’t remember all that note said. I do remember “I’m sorry.” “Please forgive me.” and “All my love, always.” He relapsed that week and was writing to me shortly thereafter. I knew he was sorry. I forgave him and thanked him in my head.

I knew he loved me. Always would. It wasn’t even about me, or love, but it didn’t feel that way. Because he loved me, he shouldn’t have come. Because he loved me, he had to go. When it was far too late, I still ached for a better answer. I struggled to deal with the sudden death of my boyfriend before us and then the loss of us. I don’t recall a time when I felt more alone in a bad way. I spent a spell trying to undo the young picture I had of life together. Again, a truth that honored. Then I was alone in a good way.

We’ve been friends, and have grown up together. Well, I’ve grown up. He’s still the 16 year old boy that wraps me in his jacket, and tells me how beautiful I am. The boy who is wildly inappropriate, incredibly loud, and often both at the same time. He’s the boy who makes me laugh at any cost, walks me home at night and keeps me safe through many an adventure. There were things he couldn’t keep me safe from, but he would have done anything for me. Still would. He’s the kind of friend I share dark things with, and he doesn’t scare. I’m not always proud of those thoughts, but it’s good to know there’s one man who…can always make them worse. Partly, because he’s crazier than I am. Mostly because he understands me.
I watch him grow older making music, he watches me dance. I watch him build, and he watches me mother. I listen to him sing, he holds me when I cry. We drift in and out of each other’s lives in an easy way. Sometimes the out part isn’t as easy as the in. Usually it’s necessary for one of us.
He’s like Winter. When he’s not here, I know he will be. During warm months I know he’s not far off. When he comes back into my life, he’ll be intense, and harsh, and offer a brisk wake-up in emotional places I’d carelessly neglected or fail to control. He’s a warm blanket for me when I need to be nurtured, and he’s a nor’easter when I don’t. He tests my strength and I test his commitment. Our relationship is complex, yet so simple. We’re friends. Friends first, and always.
Time together and apart is like moving through seasons. Each distinctly different, each encounter beautiful in its own way, and always comes to an end. It never lasts long, but when I’m in it, it seems endless. A storm or a season, this man is a presence as large as both. You could easily get lulled into listening to the wind howl if you’re not paying attention to the temperature drop or the drifts building up. There is always more than one thing happening in a storm and he’s no exception.
He’s melodic and as enchanting as snow fall when he’s loving. He’s as explosive as thunder when he’s challenged. Dealing with and loving him requires resilience and the ability to shift course if the tide changes. The tide he rides always changes. I’m as resilient to his manipulative tendencies as as a sail is to wind. Longevity with him is not for pussies. Knowing that what he wants and what he needs is constantly at odds. Knowing what he likes can’t replace what’s good. Understanding that his ego is strong but fragile, and knowing how to nurture the boy while respecting the man is balance. He is the dark to my light. He’s the tide that changes the shore in my life.
Trusting someone so unpredictable is contrary. Him expecting trust when he knows me is contrary.
He’s not been a good friend, but he’s my best friend. He’s not been there every time I needed him, but he’s been there the few times I’ve asked him to be. He’s broken my heart several times, but he still makes me feel more loved and understood than anyone in my life. I can’t imagine a deeper connection can be made, and I wonder at whether or not it’s possible to find this in someone else.
When we connect, no time has passed. And we connect on levels that can’t be described on paper or with imagery. It helps a bit that he’s strong and unpolished. We know each other in frighteningly honest ways. There are moments when the only words that can be spoken are “I know” because he really does know, exactly, what I’m thinking or feeling, or because I really do know exactly what his eyes said. Other words or empty sentences are needless. We just know. Sometimes it’s a relief to be known so well, and other times the honesty stings. Sometimes I just tell him to shut the fuck up, which he really can’t do. Sometimes he tells me I’m completely irrational, and then surprises me with an accurate explanation of why I’m wired to react that way. He knows where I come from, why I do what I do, and has an idea of what it sounds like in my head. I appreciate that, because my crazy is wicked. Not as tough as his. Nobody has crazy like him.
I know what he’s made of. I know what he’s capable of, and it would frighten most well-adjusted people. Frankly, he’s the most explosive, selfish, abrasive and impulsive man alive, even by my measure. Yet, he’s capable of restraint-more so as he ages. He’s overwhelmingly tender, and present with me. He thinks in romantic gestures and stories, and he acts like a spoiled man child at the hint of no. He’s gentle when he wants to be, and capable of drawing and drinking the blood of anything that crosses him. And, not in a sexy Twilight way either. Given the opportunity, he’d make a torture session look like recess if I asked it if him. He’s the alpha of alphas.
He conforms to nothing, refuses to be anything less than the center of attention, and is a warrior for his family and friends. He is a spoiled, spoiled man who needs to be reminded of it…gently. He speaks in lyrics, and sings like a caged bird. He whispers with his annoying blue eyes and smiles with them, too. He makes me laugh until my cheeks and belly hurt. He moves me to tears. He enrages me. He makes music for me. In me.
He’s completely selfish. Selfish in a way that makes me marvel at his ability to be so in tune with what he loves and wants. It’s a mix of awe and disbelief. I can’t believe someone would do so much for only himself, yet I envy his ability to define so precisely what makes him happy…and then just do it. Sometimes his selfishness enrages me, and other times I truly wonder at what that must be like, even just a little.  Is there a word stronger than “selfish”?
We are so incredibly different.
He thinks I’m amazing, and so, I love him.

I love the way he loves me.

I love the pedestal he’s spent 27 years molding for me. And I take my place on it both bashful and grateful. He thinks I’m soulful, and remarkable when in fact I’m just crazy. But being made to feel that way by someone you love is amazing, and something he does. He tells me regularly that he’s proud of me. He knows that I’m jealous of his ability to live in, and appreciate, each moment-instead of working and preparing for moments that may never come. He thinks I’m a good mother, and he thinks my children are special and good because they’re an extension of me. He listens to stories about my girls, despite not being a parent, and understands how much they mean to me. He knows love, and he appreciates it.

He challenges me to let go and makes me feel better. He doesn’t meet me halfway. He comes right to me and takes my hand, because he knows that’s where I meet. On my side of the street. And he’s okay with that. He doesn’t quit on me. He pushes obstinately as if picking away paint, to make me believe in his love. When even the most persistent of men would stop, he’s warming up. He’s completely in tune with my crazy. He knows why it’s there, how it works, and when it’s likely to rise up. He knows what hurts and he’s just selfish enough to use it. He’s occasionally belligerent, believes he’s right all the time, and is incredibly smart. He knows shit I’ve never said, and remembers things I’ve long forgotten. He’s impossible to negotiate with, is an asshole when he’s tired, and could manipulate like no other when he wants something.

Our love is non-traditional, messy, beautiful, chaotic, powerful and stronger than time. If you asked him, he’d confidently tell you “She’s mine, and she knows it.” (I can actually hear his voice, his cadence, and his confidence.) He’d say I’ve always been his, like he owns my heart. He’d say he always hoped we’d end up together, and that our other relationships were just intermissions. “That shit was on loan” as we say to each other. We’ve met again.

I sincerely love the man behind this man, and he loves the woman only he thinks I am. I love what he wants to accomplish in his life. I wonder at his experiences and talent and fearlessness. I love what he dreams he can do, and I appreciate the promises he wishes he could keep. I love his charisma, shamelessness, and ability to make connections anywhere. The man, who has no dependency, accepts all risk, assumes all responsibility, and knows no boundaries. He is unapologetically raw.

When we talk I feel like me. The real one. Not the one I’ve been fighting to be my whole life. Not the one who has something to prove or to compensate for. The free, young, offensive, mean, smart, sweet and strong one that he loves.

He wants one thing from me, and it’s the one thing I can’t give him. Trust. I learned a lot from the bad alone time, and now I am just a tiny bit too excellent at being alone. There is no one I depend on for anything, because I simply don’t completely trust anyone. It sounds sad, but in my life it was an absolute asset, not a flaw. I envy people who trust, don’t project, and can resist worse case scenario planning. I’m just not one of them. I don’t want to ruin us with that, but I could.

He’s also an addict in recovery and he hails from a world I’ve spent a lifetime hating. It consumed people I once trusted, him included, it depleted me mentally, emotionally, financially and physically. People in that world let me down, brought me down and held me down. He spends most of his time with people, and in places, that trigger actual negative physical reactions for me. It’s obvious to him that I hate that world. It hurts me that I hurt him by not being more empathetic and supportive, or even less disgusted. He can’t leave there and I can’t go there and I wonder if it’s fair to either of us. He deserves a love he can invite into his world. One who’ll accept the invite and marvel at him. I’ll cut the bitch who tries, but I believe he deserves it.

I trust him only with the pieces of me that are for no one else. I trust him with knowing. I trust he’ll be dishonest. I trust we will hurt each other. I trust he’ll underestimate me. I trust his razor sharp tongue will say words I won’t be able to forget.

But, today I fucking love the way he loves me. And, when there is only an expectation of passion, we make it.

I See You, Now

Maya Angelou said “When someone shows you who they are believe them, the first time.”

It wasn’t that I didn’t believe he’s cruel. It wasn’t that I didn’t know he’s vindictive and spiteful when he’s hurt. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe his angry could lash like a whip off his tongue. I know him.

It wasn’t that I didn’t believe he could hurt me, because I handed that ability over after he wore me down with charm. I just didn’t think he would. I knew he was a narcissist, and I loved even his dark side. But I naively believed I was more than an ego salve. 

What I believed was the character in the story of us. I believed the part about me being different and special. I believed the lines of the script where I was cherished and loved. I believed he’d be gentle and loyal and noble with me. I believed he’d be strong for me. I fell in love with the scene where he’d be consistent and determined and committed and wouldn’t leave. I illustrated the page where we lived happily ever after.

In between the charm and professing of love, there were favors and manipulation and tantrums that showed me everything I needed to see.

I just closed my eyes because the vulnerable girl in me desperately wanted the story to be true.


You showed me who you are and

I tried to love the reasons

You showed me who you are and

I related like two souls meeting

You showed me who you are and

I showed up to hold the mirror

You showed me who you are and

I dismissed my aches and tremor

You showed me who you are and

I never excused or dismissed it

You showed me who you are and

I showed up to purchase a ticket

You showed me who you are and

I helped you set the stage

You showed me who you are and

I turned every single page

You showed me who you are and

I watched you leave, retreat

You showed me who you are and

I just watched the rerun, repeat

You showed me who you are and

I reread the story’s script

You showed me who you are and

I only then noticed the pages were ripped

You showed me who you are and

I believed your heart is true

You showed me who you are and

I know now I was only a Muse

You showed me who you are and

I missed the truth before us

You showed me who you are and

I always loved a good chorus

You showed me who you are and

I’m sorry it took me so long

You showed me who you are and

The tune you played…wasn’t my song

Maya Angelou was so incredibly poignant. When people show us who they are and we don’t believe them the first, the second or the third time, we have no one to blame but ourselves when we keep showing up.

I didn’t dodge a bullet.

I shot one. At myself.

Last night, the only part of me not scarred was cut open. And, today the last part of him left me.

As I say goodbye to the script of that beautiful story, this is my song for the day.



Dear Mr. Jacobs

Today, 18 years ago, I lost my boyfriend of 5 years. He was 32 with diabetes and had a massive heart attack. I was 21 and wild with a massively broken heart. 

our last day togethether Christopher Lee Jacobs 3/30/1966-9/23/1998

On Sunday, he was the best man in his friend Shawn’s wedding. On Wednesday Morning he was dead.

I drank too much champagne at the reception and was drunk. I started to feel sloppy and he wouldn’t take me home. In his defense, neither of us had a car, we took a limo and it was gone by then. But in true Heidi fashion, I left him there. I took my strappy heels off, pulled up my dress and walked barefoot out to Long Pond Road. I put my thumb out for a ride wearing a $400 dress. I took a ride from a stranger, didn’t care, and fell onto my bed to pass out when I got home. I wasn’t a drinker and couldn’t hold my liquor. I also didn’t have a lot of champagne experience.

When I woke, he was breaking basically everything in the place, angry because I’d left him. I snuck out in the same dress I’d passed out in, and didn’t come home that night. As I left he was smashing his guitar into an oil canvas he bought me for Valentine’s Day. I didn’t say a word. I was scared. I just took my keys and left.

I would see him on The Cape the following morning when I was picking up my daughter. She climbed into a cardboard appliance box in the yard, and he carried her around and played, while she talked to him from inside of it. Man, he loved that girl like crazy. He was the only daddy she knew. We met when she was 11 months old. When he came to me for forgiveness, I wouldn’t speak to him except to say it was over. It would be the last time I’d explain holes in the doors or the walls or pick up and throw things away before the baby came home.

He went outside and sat in my car with the passenger side door open for a while. I watched him through a window. He hugged our girl goodbye, and kissed her face a whole bunch before he picked up a duffel bag and handle of vodka and left for The Patriot to ferry him to Martha’s Vineyard where he worked.

It would be the last time either of us saw him alive. Later, when I went to my car, I saw that he’d written a note. In his super neat all caps printed handwriting, he wrote:

 “I’m sorry. I will wait for you, forever. Tell me when you’re ready. I love you guys.”

We didn’t have cell phones, we couldn’t have text message arguments. This was a time of landlines and pagers. He paged me 143…a lot. I never replied because there wasn’t a number to call. He was staying in a room on the island.

He died three days later, early on a Wednesday morning, on his way to work. Shawn called me at work to tell me. I thought it was a mean joke the two of them cooked up to get me on the phone.

It wasn’t a joke.

I was never quite the same after that call. I was 21.

I’m certain I left my body.

Those were some fucked up circumstances.

Man, we were fucking crazy. When we were good, we were pretty fucking sexy. We loved each other other like crazy. But when we were bad, we were bad. To say “We had some times” would be an understatement. Today, I wrote him a letter to remember him.


September 1998, Shawn’s Wedding at Brewster Garden, the last day we spent together
Hi Baby,

I’ve missed you and haven’t quite been the same since you left. I still remember you like you were here yesterday. I don’t need pictures to see your face. I think about you all the time, especially in September.  The cool air and the color of the leaves remind me of loss and of you and your champion sweatshirts over tee-shirts, paint covered jeans and high top Reeboks.

I own a house now, and I think you would hate it because the walls are uneven and made of horsehair plaster. I can remember whenever you finished a job, you’d shut the lights out, plug in a shadeless lamp, and sweep the wall with the light looking for drips or inconsistencies. My walls would make you crazy. Sometimes I stare at the lead paint trim peeling and the gap between the ceiling and moulding and wonder what it would look like if you put your hands on it.

I can remember going to work with you, and the sound it made when you tapped your brush on the inside of a paint can. I loved working with you. I can picture paint spray over baby oil and sweat on your body in the summer. I know how to perfectly care for my brushes and rollers after a project, but sometimes I just fucking throw them away. When I don’t, I imagine you’re proud of me.

I remember when you painted the Nantucket Inn and I spent a weekend there with you. We spent the nights partying with the Irish and Jamaican staff who worked there. I remember walking out to the bluffs with you, after you walked me through the Haas house that you painted in Chilmark. I still can see the entryway, the height of the ceilings, and the view from the edge of the bluff. We went to an Oak Bluff’s bar for beers, I wasn’t even old enough to drink, but you were basically an old man compared to me. I couldn’t get that house out of my head. I’d still love a home with a tiny guest house on the property some day. I remember the pickling you did on the cabinetry on Manomet Point Road in Plymouth, and the crappy little 150 sq ft studio cottage we lived in on Taylor Ave. right down the street. We kept champagne cold in a potty chair of ice and sat on crates one New Year’s Eve.

I miss staying home during the Summer with Alexis and Christopher. I miss planning his birthday parties and how excited you’d be to drive to Connecticut to pick him up. I don’t miss how sad you’d be when we left without Jess. I miss your proud daddy face, though, and how you loved to love those kids. I miss Christopher’s sweetness, his rounded nose and his dirty blonde cow lick.

I still have a brand new paintbrush of yours and an aluminum coffee mug that I took from your island VW work van. On 9/25/1998 I rode the Steamship Authority ferry over to clean out the van. I kept my round-trip ticket stub as a reminder that yours was one-way. I think I was punishing myself by making sure I felt a little bit of sad every day. It stayed inside my mouse pad at work for 17 years.When I left that job, I decided it was time to let the ticket go, too. I couldn’t give my round-trip to you. I took Alexis back once that fall to be near you and say goodbye with her. It rained and hid my tears.

I’m still pissed about you not paying the rent in our State Road condo, not telling me, and leaving me there to deal with the landlord with the kids. I still hate you for us having to stay with Mark and the wicked bitch witch Susan. I should be grateful she helped me get an apartment, but she was a hag and mean. You are so lucky we had Mark looking out for us. He was so good to you, to us. And Miss Alexandra was the sweetest girl. I didn’t keep in touch. I’m really sorry for that. I meant to. I should have tried to stay in touch with Carla and Christopher, but it hurt to see them, and I was afraid it hurt him to see me. I always hoped he’d look for me one day so I could tell him stories of you (maybe not these ones!)


Christopher and I, while you washed and vacuumed my car
If I’m being honest, your mom is a bitch. I know what a momma’s boy you were but she was awful. People really get ugly when they lose someone. Everyone in your family thought I was holding onto your “stuff”, whatever that was. Marlboro Miles, cassette tapes a leather jacket and some clothes. Baby, you didn’t have shit for “stuff”! I miss being that poor with you! Maybe if I were your mom, I would’ve needed to blame someone too, but she knows I took care of you. Maybe I should’ve given her slack for grieving, too. But I wasn’t capable of that. I had a hard time just existing in the world. Waking up, pretending to be normal and mothering was all I could do. And even that was marginal.

You were the only man to ever understand what a psycho I was when I was PMSing. When you and Mikey (was it Mikey?) were leaving for Woodstock ’94, you said “hey catch!” and threw a bottle of Pamprin to me.  I wanted to fucking kill you…but not as much as I did when you came back covered in mud with a blood sugar count over 400. You fucker.

I love remembering how young and untamed I was, and how angry you’d get at me. You loved that I was wild, but hated that I was disobedient! You’d be so angry when I walked outside in my underwear and a tee-shirt to check the mail., or laid in the sun topless in my yard. I never thought anything was wrong with either and always laughed at how mad you’d get, worried someone might look at me.


Card Night on State Road, Chris age 28, Me age 17
Remember the time I told the bartender I was 18, after a pitcher of beer and some pool at The Trading Post in Buzzard’s Bay? oops. How about the kid who threw a full beer can at you and hit my face with it? I love that you beat him up on the hood of the car before you asked me if I was okay. I was amazed it wasn’t a broken jaw. (You were always mouthing off to someone and getting us in trouble.) Getting pulled over with you in the car was always a joy, too. You were so bad!

You’ll be happy to know I’ve maintained your strict no littering rule, but you’d be disappointed at how messy my car is. Some days, I wish I had a guy that took it and vacuumed it out they way you always did when I drove the Saab. When I tought Alexis to drive, I quoted you…”Go, or don’t Go. Never hesitate. Hesitation will kill you.” which is what you always said to me when I was pulling out in a 5 speed to make a left through three lanes on Samoset St. 

Remember the year Santa brought Alexis a kitten? Yeah, that fucker lived for 16 years. I didn’t get to tell you, but that was an aweful decision. She grew up to be evil. You didn’t tell me cats live that long. I had that cat longer than I had you!

For the record, I have never smashed a plate off the head of another person since that one time I did it to you when you called me crazy. There’s some irony in that, isn’t there? And, maybe you know this, but after you died and I was cleaning out the apartment, there was still shards of glass on top of the cabinets. I laughed between tears when I packed up the few things I owned and left. Remember when I broke my hand breaking your cheek? I’m sorry about your plastic surgery, but really, you never should’ve cheated. We were such ass holes.

I miss making your lunch and tucking love notes inside it for you. I miss notes from you hidden in the house. I miss making sugar free desserts. I do not miss Jello-O! (By the way, Bill Cosby is a rapist, and there are tons of sugar free options today, besides Jell-O. And I think if you were around now, you would’ve lived a little longer and maybe been open to more good-for-you food.) I miss how happy you were to have dinner ready for you when you got home, and making you your disgusting half cream-half coffee-one equal coffee.

I miss sucking at rock & roll trivia, but I still remember that the name of The Who song is Baba O’Riley, not Teenage Wasteland, and that Jethro Tull had an electric flute. I do not miss your drinking, or your temper, or your mullet…thank you for letting me shave that off accidentally. I have never attempted to cut another man’s hair and they all have you to thank.

I miss how cocky you were at everything. I miss you teaching me to shoot pool. I miss teaching you to write in cursive. I miss your stupid air guitar to Van Halen, but I don’t miss your pegged jeans.

I miss how fearless you were and remember hopping the fence at the Melody Tent to see Robert Cray. The weekend at the Newport Folk Festival that we snuck into without tickets, blowing bubbles through the moon roof on the way there, and putting Alexis on the news truck in a pink wig during the Indigo Girls.

I miss Sega Golf and VHS Movies because I couldn’t afford cable, and the way you’d hold me from behind while I did dishes.  I do not miss mixing your insulin, your tissue trauma, worrying about your blood sugar, or giving you shots. I do not miss calling ambulances,  ER visits, and how you refused to see a doctor. I miss the good days, the good meals, the family time, and how many places we took the kids. I miss bills with both our names on them.

I remember peaceful weeknight evenings with you when we’d make coffee in our cobalt blue mugs, take a few hits off a joint on the porch and snuggle in for the night. I refuse to ever date an Aries, or a diabetic, or a guy without a license. I still have cassette mix tapes that you made for me and few songs from the 90’s don’t make me think of you. Dan Fogelberg’s Same Old Lang Syne (not the 90’s!), Ani Difranco’s Imperfectly, Aerosmith’s I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing, and Pearl Jam’s Black are some of the ones that stand out. I’ve never met a man who held the small of my back quite the way you did when we walked into a room, like I was property. I think you thought I was.

I miss how much you loved Alexis, how much you loved me.

Chris & Alexis Circa 1995 at the Hyannis Ferry, we were leaving for The Nantucket Inn

I love how many photos you took of us because if you hadn’t there might not be any of me. I remember 35mm film and having to send it off to be developed. I ordered 3″x5″s because they were cheaper. We’d get pictures in the mail and get excited over coffee at the ones that actually came out. No one prints pictures anymore.

Everyone knew you lived to live and that you were here on your terms, even if it meant a short life. I wish I could have had a little longer with you. I wish the children did, too.I’m angry at you for not taking care of yourself. I’m angry at myself for not telling you how fucking much I did still love you before you got on that boat. You still knew though, right?

I miss how you were such a good, all night hold me, snuggler.

You never let go.You would say “If I die in my sleep, I love you.” and as you kissed my neck I would laugh and make you promise you wouldn’t die next to me. “Do not die in our bed, I mean it, say you promise!. And you would say it.

And you would keep that promise.

I want to say thank you for sparing me that, but I’m not sure I’m thankful. I wish I got to hold you, the same way I did so many times on the floors of our apartments or in the grass by the harbor.

I have not been right since you left. I got pretty serious, and scared, and have spent decades worst-case-scenario planning. I say whatever I feel, so as to never miss an opportunity. I only keep close people I really love. I say or think “If I die…” a lot. 

I’m making changes though and want to love life a little like you did (Minus the jail, booze, dying young part.) Certainly not in the reckless-ride-on-top-of- a-truck-on-the-highway -going-the-wrong-way, kind of way that you did! I’m going to take care of myself a little better, but I’m going to try to relax a little. Today, thinking about you, and about how you sort of breezed through and didn’t worry much about anything has helped me a little bit.

I really miss you, Chris Jacobs. Thank you for the time I had with you. All the good. All the bad. You left us way to soon, but on your own damn terms. You helped us live while you were here. Still loving on you 18 years later you crazy fuck!


PS I still find rocks that are shaped like hearts and wonder if you leave them for me sometimes. 


At Falmouth Harbor



I recently sat across from an Anesthesiologist, during a pre-op visit. I thought I’d be in and out in a few minutes, but I ended up waiting for a bit. We talked about my sensitivity to anesthesia, I explained a past surgery, and we talked about why I was there and what he was going to use.

He went through the list of questions quickly. I drink a few times a year. I don’t use drugs. When it came up, I told him I quit smoking.

“Wow, that’s fantastic. Not easy to do at all! You should be proud of that!” He said this with a big happy grin.

“Is this guy for real?” I thought. It was genuine praise. I think he really meant what he said. I was struck by how encouraging it was. But, come on. Proud? For quitting cigarettes? He’s seriously wanting me to feel proud right now.

I wondered whether or not he’d been a smoker who recently quit. How would he know how hard it was? Why did he think it was that hard?  A doctor who smokes sounds ridiculous in 2016. In any event, I thought it was weird. Nice, but weird. I mean…it was weird that I thought it was weird. I know.

It was a positive response. So, I should be grateful for it, and I am. He could’ve said nothing. He could’ve been an asshole or shamed me for when I did smoke. In fact, I once had a cocky little egomaniac surgeon ask me about smoking a few years ago during a pre-op for a different surgery at Mass Eye and Ear. When I told him I was “more of a social smoker”, he snarked, “Seriously? Social smoking? What are you, a biker?”  Yes, you fuck, I ride a motorcycle and I socially smoke. There’s also social drinking, social fucking, and social skills…which you seem to have misplaced with your professionalism and bedside manner.

Small rant there, sorry. But my point is, this time, I’m sitting across from a smart, smiling and genuinely kind member of the medical community. This guy is dripping kindness, encouragement, and praise…all over a few cigarettes. I swear he could be a middle school principal. I don’t need this brand of happy praise, but a lot of people do.  And, while it felt awkward to me, he meant it. There’s not a question in my mind. Except one. 

One I didn’t ask. Because I was still figuring him out as I walked out to my car.I wonder how he would have answered.

“Do you respond like that if people answer “recently quit” on the drug question?”

Because, today, it seems like most people are quitting heroin by dying.

You Can’t Pull The Plug on Trauma

On Monday, I saw my mother for the first time since last year. I’ve spent the last week recovering both physically and mentally from seeing her. It took me exactly six days to realize that both my mind and my body are swimming upstream in a current of PTSD…saturated and cold and slow.

I’m anxious for no reason. My blood pressure is high. While lying in bed, I had chest pains so badly that I wondered if I could reach for the phone if it didn’t stop. Everything aches and I’m mad at my body for hooking up with my mind and turning on me.

The last time I saw my mother she was wearing her too-long white and grey hair in a pony-tail, like a child. She was handcuffed and her feet were shackled. Her translucent hazel eyes were surrounded by black and blue circles, evidently punched in the face. She was standing between two court officers who brought her into a court room to speak to a judge. In Massachusetts, under Chapter 123; Section 35 the court can involuntarily commit a person for up to 90-days if their alcohol or drug use puts them or others at risk. I don’t know why we put ourselves, or the judge through this. Everyone knows that this process is broken, that there is no real help to be had, and that she doesn’t even want help if it was available. She’s so far gone she doesn’t understand what the fuss is. It’s entirely fruitless, except that someone’s conscience is alarmed. Someone wants to help.

The concerns were shared. I listened, not surprised. No stable living situation, no electricity or heat. She was surrounded by drug dealers and prostitutes. She was stealing from people who trusted her (old people with money or prescriptions). A picture is painted for the judge. It was a shit-show, really, but I imagined he hears all matter of shit. I wondered for a minute whether he has to physically was the gross off at the end of the day? I remember supressing a “blah, blah, blah” as the facts are read off. I’m so pissed that she evokes so much anger from me, and energy from the world. I was annoyed that I was missing work and that I could hear my own blood moving somewhere between my ears. I was using a breathing technique to slow my heart and she looked like she had no idea where she was. She was blinking a lot. Pleasantly confused. Maybe she was high. I was embarrassed that she’s such a waste of resources. Appalled that she’s not already in jail for a million other reasons.   Isn’t this system sophisticated enough to be able to type her fucking name in and see everything she has ever been arrested for?   I sat. I listened. I tried to control my facial expressions. I reminded myself that I would be out of there soon. I tried to leave my body and then I saw that she was asked who I was. Someone was pointing at me. She answers with “That’s my daughter.” And inside I come undone. I give my best “I have no idea what she is talking about” face, and I begin to mentally will away the looks of pity and apology. These poor people are listening to this story of her reality like it’s terrible. And, now they’re feeling bad for me. Her addiction is not worse, people. Her judgment, morals and other guiding principles have not deteriorated. She is using drugs and alcohol to self-medicate the same way she always has, she’s just doing it in a different place now.

Once, her alcohol, cocaine, prescription and crack-cocaine addictions were masked by beautiful Cape Cod. We lived in a three bedroom one-story ranch on a cul-de-sac where we rode bikes and cought the bus at the end of the street. She smoked crack in the basement, had sex with random men in the living room, and accumulated clothes, burnt spoons and garbage like a transfer station. Now, she’s doing it in a three-family house of whores and junkies in Brockton. Nothing is different, it’s just a change in geography. But, on that day last year, someone’s conscience needed to be freed, and I was asked to be there to speak to the “history of behavior” if needed. I wasn’t needed. I should have waited outside. I could understand the desire to help, and the internal need to take action. I’ve been there, a fucking bazillion times. On that particular day they committed her for “up to 90-days” and sent her to Framingham for women. Not a treatment center. Not a mental health hospital. A jail. She was allegedly released after 5-days for passing a drug test. According to the FDA crack cocaine is detectable for 2-3 days.  Testing on day 5 makes sense right? By the time she had been arrested and brought to court, it had probably been 2 days since she used.  Genius plan.

I tried to feel sorry for her. I looked for any indication that she wanted more for herself. I wondered if she was sad, or embarrassed? I tried to look at her and force a feeling, because I know there is one somewhere. I tried desperately to come up with something other than rage and absolute disgust. It’s only a matter of time before she dies. I’m amazed she is still alive rather than sad at the thought of her life ending. I don’t know how she hasn’t been shot for stealing from the wrong person. I can’t understand how her body hasn’t failed her after so many years of constant abuse. How hasn’t her heart just stopped? I know that on some level I probably love and care about her…or, at the very least loved and cared about her.  She’s weak though.  I have no respect for weakness.  I despise people who don’t look to solve their own problems, and I’m the last person you’d want to invite to a pity party.  I would do anything to help anyone…provided they want to help themselves.  One’s mother should be an exception.  There should be some kind of natural soft spot, I think, but I could not find it.

I am void of kind emotion for her when I see her. I wonder if she wants to die every day?  Or if she uses because she wants to live…but can’t face herself every day?  I used to say that the punishment for all her wrongs might be that she has to live with herself.

I stopped reading about cocaine, addiction, helping people in recovery, how to be supportive, and how not to be co-dependent long ago. I employed every intervention technique I read, and then walked away. Attempting to hold us together hurt me. I reached the point where I hated her more than I wanted to help. It took years to break ties with her, and I still get pulled back sometimes.  It’s amazing how quickly the human brain remembers bad stuff.  It’s a bit like riding a bike.  You can always learn new things but you can’t unlearn.

On Monday of this week, I saw her again. I watched her cross the street with long wiry white and grey hair, even longer than mine, blowing around in the February wind. I quickly tied my hair up into a twist, fearing people would think we were related. Most 61 year old women would wear their hair up. Or trim it. Maybe she’s forgotten her age? More likely, she thinks she looks pretty. She looks like Gandalf. Smaller and crazier. I hear someone say she sleeps in a homeless shelter now, still smoking crack and drinking every day. The condemned house she was living in was recently raided and boarded up.  I think she looks like she has showered, so that’s good.  I guess.  She isn’t pushing a stolen shopping carriage.  That must be hard to do, I think, with all this snow.

There was a time when this woman didn’t leave the house unless her heels matched the belt that matched the hat that matched the lingerie. I want to grab her hair and make her look at herself.  I want her to see what I see, but she can’t.  Today, her clothes are too big for her now tiny body. I wonder at how much is left of her. She’s slowly disappearing. You can still tell that she was once beautiful, but her face is like a skeleton, and her skin looks grave. I imagined grabbing her face and her cheekbones turned to dust in my palms.

I don’t sit around wishing I had been loved more. I don’t wish for someone else’s life and I don’t feel regret for mine or entitlement to some other kind of life. I don’t want to understand PTSD and I don’t want to feel it either.  I was nurtured. I was loved. I was breastfed and held. I was potty trained and hugged and kissed and snuggled. I had my hair braided perfectly, long before she pulled it to punch me. I know I gave her joy long before the weight of motherhood smothered her chances of happiness. She taught me to cook before she stopped bringing home food.  She showed me that women could mow the lawn, before she proved she could not survive without a man or drugs.  She handmade Halloween costumes before she started leaving holiday decorations out year round. She told me I was smart and pretty, before she told me how much she hated me. I was kissed and touched on the forehead when I was sick before I ever had to roll her on her side to prevent her from drowning in her own vomit.  On my 17th birthday I left home and The Cape for the last time.  I took only the good stuff with me.  At least that’s what I thought.  But today, the bad shit creeps back into my head and my heart and my bones and I’m angry that she’s infiltrated.

My mother was a woman with limited to non-existent coping skills. She was wild and simple. She has always needed more love and attention than any one person could sustain. She did the best she could with what she was made of. She loved me. She loved us, the best way she knew how. To the surprise of some, I never questioned whether or not she loved me. She was once good intentioned, beautiful, passionate and fun. She just couldn’t deal. With anything.

I’m grateful to her for life. I just want out now. I want the right to decide who is in my life and who is not. I would like to never see her again. I don’t want to help her, and I don’t wish bad things for her, and in my opinion that’s relatively gracious of me. I don’t want to field calls about her. I don’t want to be asked “mother’s maiden name” on websites. I don’t want to explain each time I’m asked for medical history. I want her out of my mind, and I want the weight of her lifted from my body.  I just want my sentence to be over.

I want to draw my hands back and blow the dust away…for me…and for her. If there was a plug, I would pull it.