The Night We Met.
I dreamed I went back to the night we met. Not the first time we met, but the night we became We.
I returned to that night as I am now, as my 11-years-since aged self. We were at a party. Our 10-year high school reunion. I had only one purpose being there this time: You.
You were drinking beer with friends, all smiles and good times. We joked and shared beers. As you warmed up to me, I told you I have something to tell you. We went outside and sat in the cool autumn evening.
“I have a story to tell you. It’s a story about us. In another lifetime, we get together tonight. We fall in love. We get married. We have a beautiful boy with sparkling blue eyes. We spend 10 years together. These are the hardest 10 years of my life.”
You laugh at my story: “You are so weird.” “I guess you haven’t changed much since high school.” But something in you keeps you seated next to me. Keeps you listening. What I am saying seems interesting, and you think I am cute. But deeper than all that, what I say sparks something in you. What I say feels so familiar, like a memory from long ago that you just can’t fully recall.
“When we got together, I was not who I am now. Like I said, this was another lifetime. I was confused and overwhelmed by life. I had many ideas about what a good life looked like; I thought it looked like you. I was wrong; a good life actually looks like Me.
We had a powerful connection, and the sex was really good. I had been a single mom for five years, and was looking for someone, looking for something I thought was missing in my life. You were divorced, and really didn’t like being alone. We were a good fit. Our issues blended. Our life traumas matched up like puzzle pieces. In fact, this was our strongest bond: our traumas. That, and sex.
It’s called trauma-bonding, and we fused like a dysfunctional family.”
The familiarity of what I am saying grows deeper, and you can almost see images of us together, our life. You remember my smell. You remember how we bonded. You remember your dreams for us.
“We lasted for 10 years. In the beginning, I was dishonest and distant. I did some ugly things. I did not honor you. I did not honor myself. In a way, this kept you interested. But then things changed. I changed. I started telling the truth. I started looking within myself for truth and strength. You could not come with me on this journey of honesty and integrity and it broke my heart.
You see, even though we had a lot of problems, even though it was so hard for us to be honest, raw and real with each other, even though the relationship was so painful, I always saw a light in you. I always saw this beautiful strong man. This beautiful bold human being. This tender loving innocent heart. But it didn’t matter what I saw. You didn’t see it. You believed in your smallness. You believed in your limitations.
You believed in your ideas of right and wrong. You believed all the brutal things this world taught you, beat into you, about what it means to be a man. You believed in your patriarchal right to authority. You believed in my wrongness as a woman. You believed ideas of feminine servitude and subjugation. You truly believe women are lesser. You believed in fitting in, in following the rules.
You believe in laws men make, but not in the truth of your own heart. You could not face your own pain, and despised the pain of others. You see vulnerability as weakness. You simply could not see your effect on others, on me, on the kids.”
You become very uncomfortable now. Drinking your beer quickly to distance yourself from what I say. You feel angry. Yet, you remember the softness of my breasts. You remember the days and nights stretching together that made up our life. You remember houses and jobs and cars and budgets and vacations. You remember coming home to me. You remember a birth, our son.
You remember how disorientating it was to become a father. How it felt like everything you knew had been swept out from under you and you didn’t know what you were supposed to do or how to be.
You remember the powerful heartbreaking love of your son. You remember loving me. You remember hating me. So familiar, like a song you know but cannot remember the lyrics. A forgotten name on the tip of your tongue, just out of reach.
“We split up almost 10 years from this day, this moment. It was time. It was a brutal breakup. You had done a lot of damage to my daughter and our son. I had to pick up the pieces. My spark and beauty had been crushed under the oppression of the relationship. I had become so tired and sad. When we split, I became very angry. It was time for me to take my power back, time for me to be true to myself.
And honestly, you never liked my true self. I just wanted you to be a decent dad to our son and leave me and my daughter alone. Anyway, I won’t go into all the details, but we are never friends after that. Never.”
“Why are you telling me this?” You are angry now. All the things I say about you feel like rage in your belly. And below the rage are fear, shame and guilt. As if through a fog you remember the disillusion of Us. You remember anger and confusion. You remember grief that threatens to swallow you. You remember keeping busy to avoid the grief. But you also remember relief.
You remember how much easier it was not having the responsibilities of a family. And you remember being excited at the prospects of other women.
“I am telling you this because I want you to know that I loved you with the force of a billion suns. I saw beyond all your ideas and beliefs. I saw you. I see you still. I know this makes you mad.
And it’s time for me to go, but I want you to know that I loved you and I wish the best for you. That even though you will brush this off as a really weird conversation and disregard everything I say, I want you to know I will remember our other lifetime together. When we fell in love, got married and had a beautiful boy with sparkling blue eyes.
I will remember how things didn’t work out, but in a strange way, they worked out beautifully.”
I get up and leave you sitting outside in the cool autumn evening.