Tag Archives: recovery

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 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.