Nobody Reads This, Chapter Nine
Shallow ends are still deep.
When I was 19 I began dating someone younger than me. Probably mistake number one. He was still in highschool, a junior at that and we dated off and on for the better part of a year and a half. During out time together I wanted to prove myself to. . . everyone. Ryan left, he was gone and I hadn’t heard from him, and he obviously left me because I wasn’t good enough – you know, or so I told myself. So I looked to prove myself to someone. I chose Brandt. We were cast in a play together, Anything Goes at the SLO Little Theatre. He was my normal “type” as it were. Taller than me by a few inches, dark hair, blue eyes – a white boy. I don’t remember extreme details of my courtship with him. I can tell you that everything happened very fast. Within weeks words of Love and Forever were exchanged and he knew he wanted to marry me and have kids with me. He, like Ryan, told me I was the love of his life. What the hell did he know, and again – what the hell did *I* know?? I took him on a shopping spree for new clothes when he went back for his senior year and at one point we had the same shoes. Black with white stripes, I have no idea the name brand.
For Christmas I bought him a set of sheets and a comforter and blinds for his room. All shades of blue. His room was smaller than most bathrooms and he was the one who introduced me to the music of Eminem. Come Valentines of 1999 he made me dinner. I arrived at his house at whatever time he had specified and taped to the railing of the stairs that led to his front door were cut out hearts. Taped to the frame of the door and on the door were more hearts. All cut out by hand from what seemed to be a perfect stencil. In the middle of each heart were three words. Three magical, wonderful words – Brandt Loves Aiyani. I read each one as if it were new and when he opened the door to my light and brief knock the darkness of the kitchen table and living room was only altered by small candles scattered throughout. It was warm inside, and I smelled bread. He had conjured homemade pizza, or pizza-from-a-box I think if was. But the crust was fluffy and filling, the sauce was tangy and cheese dripped grease onto the bits of pepperoni he had carefully placed evenly and with precision upon the boxed good.
There were other great moments with him, truly. New Years kiss on the pier (even though I hate the ocean and was scared of the pier, I went out there for him – he was trying to be romantic, I let him). Carpet picnics at his house. After-rehearsal meals with him, holding hands, hugging. All that fun stuff. He knew I loved him, but he didn’t trust me.
Trust can be such a fragile thing. It seems so small, but it is so delicate. Some people think it’s something you give freely to someone you love and respect. Others believe it is something earned, like love and respect. I fall among those of the latter philosophy. That’s something that held me back during my time in theatre school – but that’s neither here nor there. Trust. This can also fall under the categories of do actions speak louder than words, or do words speak louder than actions. I’d love to tell you which I believe – but I think that depends on the person receiving and giving the trust. As an actor I don’t take those risks I should, but I can use the language. In life, I do the same. I’ve learned to stay at ease and not react so quickly without taking everything in account. It is a discipline my father taught me. It is the reason I can look forward and see what is to the side of me and hear what is behind me. It is the reason when I feel anger within me I take a ‘time-out” and walk away from a situation so I can cool down and listen to the others side openly. Because of this, the trust I give I hold in high regard. It is given because it is earned and I will tell you that I trust you better than I could ever show you. However, still, trust is like a thin piece of rice paper to which people always seek more in order to all it strong or have faith that it can hold its own and withstand tests. It is here, where Brandt earned my trust but couldn’t except it.
He believed I was cheating on him. He probably still does. People, and I include myself in this presumption, get their head wrapped around one thing and no matter what it cannot be shaken. They believe what they want, and sometimes it is truth and sometimes it is *their* truth – and if you stop to think about the difference, there is one.
There were two nights in particular where our relationship became obviously – dangerous…for me.
One night I made him a plate of leftovers from my moms house and took it to him in Los Osos. I have no idea what went wrong, but I can tell you this, he threw 3 steak knives at me. None penetrated my skin, they all just hit me the way an object runs into your body, say a spoon even. There were no scratches or bruises left. And I didn’t leave. I stayed to yell at him and argue with him more. I wasn’t scared, I was furious that he had lost his temper and asked him if he took his medication, he had told me he was on anti-depressants. It wasn’t until he started to choke me and swear at me that I decided I needed to get out of there. I pretended to pass out while he was choking me, and while he was scared running to find the phone to call 911 because I wouldn’t wake up, I stood up grabbed one of the knives and left his house. I ran to my car and peeled out of his driveway and he ran after me for a moment. I was pulled over on Los Osos Valley Road going 90 and I was crying with frustration. The police officer shined his light at me and asked if for my drivers license and registration and if I knew why he had pulled me over. Through the waterfall of tears I managed to answer that I was speeding. When he asked me why I was upset I picked up the knife from my front seat and showed it to him and said my boyfriend, who loves me, through this at me then choked me so I left and now I’m angry and taking it out on the road. He had immediately but calmly asked me to put the knife down and step out of the car. I did so. I leaned up against the trunk of my car, back to the car and arms crossed while he reached into my car and removed the knife. He told me to take some deep breaths – I’m pretty sure he knew I wasn’t going to try to hurt him, which is why he didn’t search me or the car – and no he wouldn’t have found anything else. After my brief bullet pointed version of what happened he got on his radio and soon another policeman arrived – at this point I did think I was in trouble. Instead the first officer introduced me and said that this other police officer would drive behind me home to make sure I was okay and then he got in his car, turned his lights on and sped off. I can only guess that it was to Brandt’s house. I never really found out what happened.
I know some of you must be thinking, why didn’t I bust out the blackbelt moves and its because I did not fear for my life. I genuinely tried to figure out what set him off and make him believe I was faithful. I was convinced he was just having an episode and although I know its not appropriate girlfriend/boyfriend behavior to throw knives – I excused it. Keep in mind, I was now 20 and still trying to prove myself to some guy. I myself was not well – this I only realized much later in life.
The second time I realized this was no good was when I was at his house, again going back and forth over a disagreement and his smacked me across my face. The first time he did it my face stung as it turned, but I slowly turned my head back, straight and unscathed. As I reached out to him with both arms as one reaches for shoulders in assurance but control he knocked my arms down and struck me again. That time it hurt a bit. As I went at him continuously to calm him I raised my voice. If you can believe it, I wanted to excuse his behavior as another outburst without his medication. The last time he struck me, which had to be in the double digits by now, I spun around and landed on a wicker chair with what should have been a cushion but what felt like pinto beans. I began to stand and saw him coming at me, scared of what he did and instead of letting him apologize he got a swift side kick to his gut knocking him back, as well as his wind. I grabbed my keys and as he left heard him cry out how much he loved me and how he didn’t understand why I could do it – he meant cheat on him, he was still wrong.
Even months after that he went out of his way to say horribly mean things to me. In fact, whenever I saw him over the next decade he made a point to relive what horrific things *I* had done to him. How he was just a kid, and I ruined Love for him. How he could never trust anyone again, or love anyone the way he loved me ever again. And it wasn’t until a couple years ago he reached out through the world wide web and took responsibility for the things he did and said. Even now we could never be friends, and I don’t want to be – but I can be cordial. I’ve grown up, he’s grown up. There is also the small yet somehow vindicating feelings of sitting down with the girl he would hook up with when we were on the outs. A girl he confused and led on with words of love and promise. A girl he’d run to and who would attempt to make it better when I refused. There’s something really quite beautiful and almost poetic about sitting across a table with her and exchanging stories and filling in blanks that makes me realize I didn’t torment him, he did that to himself. That no matter how honest or truthful or faithful I was to him, he was going to believe what he wanted and do what he wanted. And as I stare at her, this gorgeous girl I was told to hate and be jealous of all those years ago, I admire her ,and even learn about myself a little more.
Love is hard.
Trust is worse.
I don’t have to trust someone to love them
I don’t have to love someone to trust them
What I must have is a sense of balance.
I had searched in Brandt for that balance only to later find I should have been looking at myself first. I should have taken that break everyone told me to take when Ryan left but I was so hell-bent on bouncing back without any marks I didn’t realize I was drowning myself. I didn’t want everyone else to be right. I felt that somehow, because Ryan left me I had to prove that it didn’t bother me or hurt me. But it did. I wanted to feel that someone loved me and wouldn’t leave me to the point of losing who I was – a tragic mistake I’ve made a few more times since then. . .
And there are the people that are out there that will encourage me to believe that all of this happened for a reason, and I’m stronger because of it and I wouldn’t be the person I am now if it didn’t happen, and I would tell you your probably right. I may even let you go on about what *you* would have done, but what I will never be able to accept is that THAT was Love. Even as he said it to me during the “good times” it didn’t feel right, nor did it feel right saying it back. It was something I tried to convince myself of; something I tried to make myself be because I didn’t want to be alone. And that is the wrong reason to be in a relationship – I get that NOW, but then. . .I was young. Stupid. Hurt and in recovery. I’m not sorry for any of it, and yet I have regret. I’m not proud of any of it and yet I have to share about it, and I am not even convinced that after I put the last full stop on this that I will be over it.
There are some things in life that are all about going with the flow; you go where the water takes you, and that of course is based on the roaring rapids, or the serene flow of a stream. Other times you have to make the decision, you decide to tread in the water or you decide swim against the water, or with it, or you decide to get out. Its then that you find the true effect of the water. Its then that you see the clarity or muck in the water; its then that you trust yourself and your own strengths within the confines of that water. I didn’t know then that before Brandt, I was letting the water drown me. I didn’t know that during our relationship I was attempting to tread in the rapids. I stopped trusting myself and my own strengths, my own will. And if I can’t trust myself, how on earth can I offer it to anyone else. I became dependent on the ideas of what a partner should and shouldn’t be. I lost myself, and on the path back to where I first let go of who I was; on this hike – on land, I am constantly stopping and staring at the water and remembering those moments. And amidst the few dives I take into the water to apparently cool off or refresh myself, I find that I am willing to trust anyone who offers me the rope to get out – and that scares me.
Why do I reach for the rope to get out?
Who is throwing me the line?
Do they think I need them to save me?
Do *I* think I have to be saved?
Am I jumping in to prove a point again?
Am I getting out to prove a point?
Am I a coward if I jump in when my eyes are closed?
Should I open my eyes under water?
Will I only ever walk the path by the salty water?
Where is the fresh water?
If I ever find the fresh water will I want to jump in it? bathe in it? drink from it? drown in it?
And once there – will it be accompanied by a breath of fresh air?.