It's easy to get things done when you don't sleep. It's still a while before I need to wake the children up for school and the laundry is finished and folded, the dishes are washed, I've had breakfast and have made six granny squares toward a scarf. I also went for an hour-long run. Alone, in the dark, against everyone's wishes because it was a better deal than staying here watching Ben and Lochlan square off.
You think some things never change? This is one of those things. Lochlan and the chip on his shoulder flew out here so he could spend Christmas among friends. His soft place to fall is still here, after he generously gave in to Keira's wishes that Hope stay with her for the holidays, since this is their first Christmas apart. Last year Hope was a newborn, and all was well for them and this year it's a mess. He was supposed to have the baby for Christmas and he was going to come to the city for a few days and instead he's just decided to stay for the next month, using the time off he deferred from last month, arriving just in time for the children's Christmas concert tonight. Fulfilling the obligations he's allowed to, as well as the ones he shouldn't. Between the unchecked quantities of affection and the offer to be there every second of every moment, I can see why we keep going in circles.
So he comes home to bury his head in the sand and ride out his miserable holidays among people who love him but wish he would get a clue and go fix his once-perfect life. I wish he would let go. I wish he would stop causing problems, stop trying to encourage this game, and stop leaning on Ben so hard I'm waiting for the inevitable crumble.
I wish I could say any or all of this to Lochlan's face but I can't, because I don't have the guts. Because I like doubling the affection and I like the fact that he's attentive. That he worries about me first and everything else second. Fine. There. Happy now?
But I also love Ben in a way that trumps Lochlan by a million miles and Ben and I have pulled each other off the vicious cycle and we started our own pattern. No repeats. No do-overs. No end in sight. Lochlan's share has been appropriated and he missed his chance and for him to come barging into my house at eleven at night insisting that we all pick up right where we left off is cruel. I know he hurts. I know he's lost things. I know he has regrets. And I'm trying to be here for him because he has been there for me.
Over the years, Loch's blatant disregard for my feelings leaves me cold now. He can put his arms around me and pull me close and say he's sorry and he just wants things to be different and it doesn't change the fact that I have moved on. Ben was there, too. Ben has been the one, as much as he could have checked out completely with his own issues and his night job that took him away for weeks at a time, Ben has been here. With me. The whole way. In spite of everything.
So we can comfort Lochlan through his first holidays alone since becoming a father or we can all go down in flames together. We picked comfort. He is still family, and he needs us.
Even though right now? I think I wish he wasn't here.
You're not holding up your end of the arrangement, brother.
There is no arrangement anymore, Loch.
Come on, Tucker. What's changed?
She's my wife. The games are done.
You guys like games. She'll come around.
You might like to shut the hell up before I take you out. Oh, and don't call me Tucker.
Monday, 10 November 2008
Angels on the sideline again,Was it a dream? It felt like one but it wasn't.
Benched along with patience and reason.
Angels on the sideline again,
Wondering where this tug of war will end.
Gotta divide it all right in two.
Alpha, meet Omega. He's going to kick your ass.
I'm sure I said that as I was roused out of where I fell asleep on the couch. Lochlan was there, shaking me awake gently. Whispering to me. Me looking around for Ben, knowing he would be nearby, allowing things to happen that should not happen because and only because if it were reversed he would feel much the same way, that denying him access to me was the one thing in the world that ever scared him so much he broke.
Lochlan, with a long history of making me feel safe and being the first person I ever let into my heart, the one guy everyone figured I would have gone to after Jake died, only I didn't, for once. I went to Ben and Loch came around just a bit too late. But he still wants his cut and he was back with sweet apologies and open arms, trying to atone for not being here through a difficult week for me even though a long time ago I told him he didn't have to be, I told him to back down because I was happy with Ben and Loch had to work harder in his own life, that he was a father now and that had to be his first priority.
It's not the same anymore, our relationship and when Ben finally had enough, telling Lochlan it was time to go, Loch scowled at us and said of the whole group we were the biggest screwups. That we deserved each other. It hurt like hell. He made one final pitch, that I shouldn't go work for Caleb, that he heard and saw things while they both lived in Toronto that spoke of bad news only once again he was too late. He looked to Ben for confirmation and Ben just took me right out of Lochlan's arms. It was as if I was home at last. The way Ben's arms felt was like a relief, a comfort and a familiarity that spoke of home. I was home. I chose my side and I'm sticking with it. I'll stick with Ben.
Loch made a few further comments about us not lasting very long, that when I cracked Ben just cracked further, and who did he think he was, since he wasn't remotely as strong as Jacob or as perfect as Lochlan and Cole both were. Ben abruptly stopped talking to Loch and just looked at me with a question on his face. I nodded and Ben kissed me.
The kind of kiss you don't indulge in when there is someone else present. Then he let go of me and went and saw Loch out. They exchanged some bitter words in the hallway and then Ben said he knew what Loch was doing but he wasn't going to flatten him tonight because he was indeed working on himself just as we all should be.
Loch had nothing to say to that. As he was halfway down the walkway, Ben spat to his back.
You're not the alpha anymore, asshole. She isn't yours.
Lochlan kept going.
Oh, but it didn't end there. You see, all this took place after midnight, and then in the early hours of Sunday morning, Ben got up early, showered and went downstairs. I kept expecting him back. I was trying to stay awake for him. I tried to stay strong for him. I cried. I miss the way Lochlan used to be before the strain of life and death and loss took it's toll on him, too. I miss a lot of things but I'm absolutely sure of my choices because I don't lead with my head. I'll never lead with my head because my head has been messed up for a long time but my heart seems to still be under warranty. It gets broken and repaired time and time again and it hasn't failed me yet and so it wins.
After two hours he still hadn't come back so I got up and showered and went downstairs.
Ben was sitting in the living room staring into the fire, an empty glass in his hand.
What are you doing?
Trying to keep control.
He's gone, Ben.
Things come so easy to him, princess.
Not anymore, they don't.
He's right. I'm not good enough for you. I'm not enough for you.
Stop it, Ben. Isn't that what you tell me? Just stop and just be and all that simplistic crap. I'm supposed to do it, then why can't you do it too?
You know something? He's gone, princess and life is never going to be the same for you if you stay with me.
I'm not going anywhere, Ben.
I love you.
He let the glass slip out of his hand and I caught it when I caught him and I tried to hug him instead of being overwhelmed by him and I kept my arms locked tight and he didn't shake or talk or cry, he was strong and back in control and he hugged me as long as I could keep breathing for, crushed against him like that from the floor. I finally let the glass roll out of my hand and it hit the oriental rug and went rolling on one side across the room in a wide arc but Ben kept holding on.
Great, you married the Omega man. Me against the family. Wonderful.
No way. He dies at the end of that movie.
Everyone dies, Bridget.
You're going to live forever.
I'm guessing I don't have a choice.
Ben, please God, just shut up.
One more thing. I love you. You never said it back.
I love you too. And you need to go to a meeting. Okay?
Yeah, that would be a good idea.
And so yesterday he did go to a meeting and I waited in the truck and then he took me out for coffee and we poked around the bookstore for a long while and we had a normal day, refusing to be crushed under the weight of other people's expectations or other people's assumptions. And there will be a lot more slips and a lot more meetings and probably a lot more screwups before we're done in this life.
Just like everyone else.
Wednesday, 24 September 2008
I saw your light onceMy run this morning was cold because of more than just the weather. Temperature-wise it was almost perfect. Cool enough to keep my sweat cold but warm enough to strip down to a t-shirt three kilometres in and I could take my jacket off and tie it securely around my waist which gives me a slight wobble when I run and gave Lochlan pause to assume it meant I was open and ready to talk.
Did you see mine?
But not all things will pass away
You turned your light off
So I turned mine away from your sadness,
Away from the nothing that you feel for me
If I wanted to talk about Ben's drinking problem I would just talk about it instead of writing about it and then logging off, closing the browser window and walking away from it so I can see if he needs anything, pretending that it doesn't bother me when he retreats into himself, as if his pain is that much greater that he can't crawl out of himself long enough to let me help him. I want to help him, I just never know what to do because nothing works and so I just hover on the fringe of his life like a bumblebee around a garden full of wild flowers.
Loch flew out yesterday because in the brief span between the total blackout and brief, tentative sobriety Ben asked me to stop. Just stop everything. Stop letting everyone run our lives, stop letting them interfere, stop taking medications that barely work and therapies that merely spread the pain around, keeping it in the forefront and just let us be. Let us be in love, let us learn how to be happy, let us just do family things and smile more and not let the ghosts win. Not let the past be the Most Important Thing.
But then he would slip again and the snarl would return and he no longer wanted to talk or do anything except disappear and pour more liquid on his flames to try and make it stop hurting so much.
He was angry that I told people. Because I need help with this. I've never been married to an alcoholic before. I've never been married to Ben before. When we were friends, I could never understand how he made himself so easily loved and hated all at the same time. When we got married I expect that to change and it didn't.
I spent last evening following him around and watching as he turned all of our friends away. While he tried to lock down our lives even though at this point we're forced to play them out to a group vote based on the choices we've made, based on my needs to not isolate myself from more objective sources that I trust. As fast as he could turn them away, I would call them and reassure them that I was humoring his outbursts, that we are okay, and someday we might be more than okay but for today just please, please keep the peace and stay away from him so that he doesn't hurt you.
He had a few kind words for the kids, but they know and they look at me as if I make choices that will ruin their lives because they're old enough to pass judgement and they're old enough to know a total breakdown in willpower when they see it. The fragments of broken promises all over the floor was a dead giveaway.
And so I used my hearing loss as a convenient excuse not to talk to Lochlan while we ran, but just to churn the distance under my legs until I could turn despair into determination and Loch didn't have to do any convincing anyway.
I had an appointment booked this morning for therapy and I just got home from it. Just now.
It was watching Ben that convinced me not to stop. It was so much like looking in a mirror that I have no choice but to keep going forward, keep letting people in who can help me, keep going to therapy and keep taking medications that make me shake and have nightmares because for god's sake, I don't want anyone to ever look at me like I looked at him last evening. Maybe they already do and that's why I had to break one promise to keep a million others.
I was really hoping he was stronger so I don't have to be so hard. Or so cold, maybe.