Thursday, 31 January 2008

The cult of Jacob.

Several readers have sent me notes of concern recently.

How I could forget Jacob so quickly, how I could move on? What am I doing to the kids? Why I can write so flippantly about fun moments after my husband died? And didn't we go through all this before and you're a fucking fake and Jesus Christ are you ever fucked up.

My therapists thank you. The bills for just one will cover the cost of a small villa on the French Riviera.

You know, if I had any idea my life would unfold like this when three years ago I was writing that Cole was working long hours and gee I hated shoveling snow but he came home and did it for me, I might never have started at all. Do you think it's easy having it all out there? I can't even walk away from it now because every last person who comes to read gets their update and if I don't write the assumption will be made that I finally did myself in.

Well, fuck you too, as long as things go well and I keep working so hard I think I can and will overcome that urge. I think I already have. How many of you are just waiting for that?

You're so smitten with Jacob that you forgot the central points involved in his takeover of my life. Encouraging poor opinions of Cole. He never let up the pressure on me. And then when I fell for him he took over everything. All of the sudden my friends were limited in their access to me. He encouraged me to drop several if not most of them. My car was sold. Cole was painted out to be a monster, when he was nothing more than a man with a violent streak a mile wide that was nothing I couldn't handle but he was dead so Jacob had free reign to paint him black.

I was stripped of my own opinions and reduced to a shivering, weakened doll while Jacob used his heavy handed charming approach to fix my life. He was going to take over and fix all of it. He would be a better man, a better father, a better husband and a better friend and God only help you if you disagreed with that. And then little by little it fell apart around him as I got worse with him instead of better.

He couldn't fix things, it just wasn't falling into place and his facade began to crumble. His self-esteem took a dive, he started making mistakes and he began to hate me for his obsession. His obsession with me, I don't even know how it began or what happened to it but it consumed him and then he decided he would drive me insane while still fixing everything and I would be fully dependent on him and it would hurt both of us and he could no longer make any sense of anything and he couldn't get rid of my friends and it got too hard and then he cracked and he stepped off a building and died and left me here alone, in amazingly poor mental condition and I've spent the last three months in therapy five times a week learning how to be human again.

He was my David Koresh, my very own Jim Jones, a live, in the flesh psychopath masquerading as the most amazing human being I've ever known. Of course he's still on a pedestal, I am mostly still under his spell even though it's been carefully dismantled piece by piece. I still love him. My God, had he not sent all these journals and the letters that he did I would still be in the dark. He knew what he was. He knew he hurt me. He knew he was a monster in his own right and he'll never be able to change that now just like Cole can't change the picture painted of him anymore. They won't get better, they're dead.

But I will get better. I want to.

I'm alive.

I want to be normal and I want to be in love and if that's with Ben, then it will be wonderful and if it isn't then that's okay too. If you can't handle reading or you don't understand how so much could go wrong in such a short while then trust me, you are not alone there, but please, for the love of God stop writing to me to tell me how awful you think I am.

Because I don't write for you.

I do it for me.

Find the road.

Yesterday's carnelian mittens and rose cheeks gave way to silver and gold notes from a lengthy before-dinner guitar lesson and then slid easily into blue and lavender dreams, restless sleeps for kids with colds (again).

Last night brought a new song and a new revelation, for if Cole was the keeper of the Zeppelin catalogue, Ben is the finder of their lost tracks, multiple takes and rare alternative versions, painstakingly seeking out every last recording the band has ever made. When he took me to bed somewhere around nine, early because I am trying to sleep enough instead of hardly at all, it was to the strains of a new and wonderful but old familiar song I knew well that I lay in Ben's arms while we did things that are new and different and so very right for us. Perfect for us.

The song was In the Light. Only this version is called In the Morning and I made a note inside my head to ask him about the song today, as I tried not to cry out as he easily found that one amazing place between not enough and too much.

Somewhere around midnight we fell asleep to the strains of The Rain Song, and it occurred to me that not only do I not feel homesick when I'm with Ben, but I also don't feel frustrated by him, I'm not trying to force him to do things he shouldn't, nor am I trying to get him to stop doing things I don't want him to do. Sleeping with him is a perfect match of skill and experimentation, of want and energy, of just the right level of perversity and gentleness. We match. Uncannily so.

Which leaves me kind of speechless, actually.

    Though the winds of change
    may blow around you,
    but that will always be so
    When love is pain it can devour you,
    but you are never alone
    I would share your load.
    I would share your load
    Baby, let me

    In the light
    Everybody needs the light.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Ambient noise.

    It's all wrong
    Don't cry
    Clear away this hate
    And we can start to make it alright

Today is a much better day, though slightly low-key, between my hands being sore and burned from the cold and the slow dissipation of the sleeping pill from my body I'm not going to do a hell of a lot. I'm all foggy but rested and loved and ready to not wake up on the low side of Bridget again any time soon if I can help it.

Can I blame this on Ben? No? It's okay, I didn't think so.

Last night was the first night I went to him since we came home from Nolan's. I crawled into his bed and right into his arms and told him about the pill and kissed him and unfortunately maybe fell asleep before the kiss was over. When I woke up he was already gone, off to work at dawn so he can leave a little early to come home.

There was a note on the table.

I love you, bee. You drool. Sleep well.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Heart-stopping dinner conversation.

Do you know why I stopped drinking? I stopped drinking so that you would take me seriously. So I wouldn't be known as the irresponsible party animal anymore. I stopped so that you would see me for who I am. I stopped because I knew that you would need me and I wanted to be able to be there for you one hundred percent. I didn't stop so that you would spend the rest of our lives thinking I can't handle anything difficult. I've been handling this and it's the most difficult thing I ever did and I did it because I wanted to show you how strong I am. Jesus, baby, to find out what kind of shape you were in at the end of an entire oblivious work day pisses me off because I could have been here. I'm here for you, why won't you come to me?

Because this isn't your responsibility. You can't fix this, Ben.

I never said I could fix it. But I can damn well hold you while you fix it yourself.

The world at night.

Sometimes I think that while I sleep, night seeps in around my edges, looking for a crack, any flaw or opening, a way inside. When I wake up I am filled with dark, with black, and I cannot see and I can't feel anything good and it hurts like hell and it takes forever to get rid of. I even tried to let a little of it out with a dull knife on a scarred thigh and I set myself back a good twenty months progress-wise but I was at the end of my wits, if I ever had any left at all, and I didn't dare call anyone for help nor would I let on that anything was wrong while Ben was still home this morning.

It wasn't until Loch phoned to tell me he had made a new template for this page and I just asked him to leave it like it was before and he asked what was wrong and I didn't know. I never know, I never have words that come out loud to tell anyone what it is. I just know that it was a black homesickness, a feeling I wish would stay away. I'd like to get better but then it comes to remind me I never will and then the hopelessness gives the black more weight and Bridget suffocates underneath it.

Loch was adamant that I share this feeling and get some help and he's pretty much been after me all day now as I flutter around the house with no words coming, the silence taunting me like a ghost.

Of course it's a ghost. It is two.

I could rest in the cold snow at the foot of the bench all afternoon, sitting on my knees, legs long asleep in the freezing wind, clutching the tiny copper box with the enamel bluebird painted on the lid in my frozen bleeding fingers wondering how they fit a man as big as Jacob into something so small but eventually someone that Loch called makes me come home and then they sit and stare at me and wonder how one little human could go so left of center and how in the hell do we bring her back and keep her here? Gosh, she doesn't weigh much, she's pretty complacent when it comes to direction, why in the hell is this happening?

It's the dark. It covers everything and I can't hide from it.

I can keep it from finding Ben, that's pretty much all I can do some days. He has his own things to deal with, I have always kept him from this.

It took forty-three minutes to pry that precious little box out of my frostbitten hands. Whoever said I wasn't strong should have really been here this afternoon.

Monday, 28 January 2008


This morning was spent in a hotel restaurant making sculptures out of the butter shells that were served alongside of my incredibly overpriced bagel and fruit, courtesy of a panicked Joel, who is in conference all this week but needed to talk to me and was in a rush, could I meet him for a quick breakfast downtown as he headed into his meetings?

Right. He took a leisurely two hours to tell me everything that is now wrong with my life while I pointedly ignored him and made a little butter astronaut guy exploring the face of the butter moon.

The maitre'd scowled at me relentlessly and I continued on while Joel tried and failed to drown out the clinking dishes. He knows damn well I have trouble with restaurant noise but it was his two hours and his hundred dollar breakfast so I let him drone on while I thought about PJ patiently waiting for me to return home, having planned to spend the day with me again, happily so. I actually messaged PJ twice and I don't believe Joel even noticed.

Joel didn't say anything I haven't told myself already. Nor did he say anything Ben and I haven't already covered at great length. Yes, we covered Bridget being half out of her mind, medicated and barely even fresh out of one therapy, still heavily invested in two others. We covered the kids and dads issue and Ben being more than friends. We've covered the incredible risk of recovery versus new and difficult relationships, and widowed people filling holes as a stop gap and temporary measures and rebounds and addictive personality types and killing friendships and Bridget's recklessness and sex addiction and life alone and life not alone and how doomed this is.

After two hours of his endless voice he came back around, wrapping up his gentle tirade with a reminder that I'm unstable, that I've just been through a lot and it isn't fair to Ben or to the kids to begin yet another relationship against the odds.

I was just about to ask him if he was prepared to break into song when I realized he contradicted himself ten times over in his closing arguments. I pointed that out and he didn't have any excuses left so I squished my poor little butternaut, got up and wished him a good day.

I believe at this point I have dealt with friends and jealousies to death and I'm not doing it anymore. Adapt or die, Joel. Everyone else did and he had fair warning that being friends with me was going to be hard and he was better off when he sat in his office on the other side of his desk dispensing pills that brought fog and relief from pain, conducting the symphony of mental health professionals who have walked in and out of my head ever since. When he was the objective band leader instead of another person looking for their cut.

You think I'm cruel? You weren't there this morning. The butternaut was so ludicrous it was the only thing keeping me from crying at the goddamned table.

Don't trash the first fucking thing that has made me happy in three fucking months. Just don't. I'm a big girl and I know the risks of what I'm doing.

I also know the rewards.

Sunday, 27 January 2008


    Hanging by threads of palest silver
    I could have stayed that way forever
    Bad blood and ghosts wrapped tight around me
    Nothing could ever seem to touch me

    I lose what I love most
    Did you know I was lost until you found me?

    A stroke of luck or a gift from God?
    The hand of fate or devil's claws?
    From below or saints above?
    You came to me

    Here comes the cold again
    I feel it closing in
    It's falling down and
    All around me falling

I opened my eyes in the dark and looked at the clock. It was three in the morning. I went down to the kitchen and Ben was already there, quietly putting on the kettle.

Why are you awake?

I don't know, I just woke up. You?

Same. Join me for a nightcap?

He held up the hot chocolate tin and I smiled and went to get two mugs. We didn't talk anymore, waiting for the kettle to begin it's quiet whistle and Ben pulled it quickly from the heat. We blew down the steam and sipped thoughtfully, staring at each other across the wide wooden table.

When we were finished Ben took both mugs and put them in the sink and then he held out his hand. I took it. He was going to walk me back to my room where the kids were sleeping.

We stopped outside the door and he pulled me back toward him and kissed me.

Oh geez, why did he have to do that? I stepped back out, closing the door quietly and began to walk toward his room instead. Next door. He didn't follow, he was rooted to the spot.

I think I'm dreaming.

Shhh, don't wake anyone.

Soon I was firmly ensconced in Ben's arms, his face jutting up over my head, his breathing quiet. His sheets were so warm. Dark brown jersey. Like a favorite t-shirt or the arms of an old friend. I moved and he lifted his head off the pillow and moved his arm up as I turned inward to face him.

You smell so good, I'll never be able to sleep.


Don't be.

I pushed my head up until I found his lips. I kissed him, a long kiss, a loving kiss. He responded easily, his arms sliding down around me. He climbed over me and kissed my neck and then my lips again and I pulled my legs up around his hips. He rolled off me promptly and reached up to turn the light on.

Bridget, I don't want us to be a casualty as friends. I can't do that.

Me neither.

And I know I always back out at the last minute but I really need you in my life and if we're just going to have a fling and ruin everything then I don't want to lose you.

So let's not let it ruin everything.

How do we prevent that?

We keep things good between us and respect each other.

I've done the fuckbuddies thing, I'm not interested in trivializing you like that.

What do you want us to be?

I'd like it if you were my girlfriend.


Jacob's dead, Bridget. And you're still alive.

Sometimes I wonder.

You feel alive to me.

Do I?


Let's just take it slow then.

Okay, I'll go sleep downstairs.

No, stay here.

I can't.

Ben, just fuck off and be here.

Bridge, if I stay here we're not friends anymore, I'll just warn you right now.

What are we going to be then?



Are you okay with that?


I nodded as he turned off the light.

He kissed me hard and pressed against me. I was caught up in his arms, so warm and strong and wanting and it felt so good. My legs found their way back to his hips and I put my arms around his neck and he wrapped his arms around me tighter and kissed me again.

Now you're in the right place, Bridge.

I wish I had a heart to give you.

You do-

I don't. It's gone, it's broken. It's not beating. I don't know where these feelings are even coming from.

He put his hand over my heart.

Right here. It's right here. It's faint but it's healing, that's all.
His voice was raw, filled with emotion and fear. I could hear his fear. Fear of losing me, losing us, the closest friendship we've both ever had in our lives. How many times have we given up on each other but not given up on each other? We could never stay away, never be apart. He kissed me gently and I know he was about to leave and so I countered his tenderness with a sudden hunger I couldn't hide. I reached the point of no return. He followed. I couldn't ride hard enough against him. We devoured each other.

For such a goof he's probably the most sexually experienced guy I have ever been with and it showed as we spent the rest of the early Saturday morning getting to know each other on a whole new plane of existence. Finally we couldn't move another muscle. He kissed me again but didn't say a word, he just held on very, very hard. We had torn at each other until there was nothing left and we realized we hadn't lost a thing.

The sun rose.

Not a thing.

I went to meet him last night too, and it was more of the same. This is all so new. It's like we're falling for each other in reverse but slowly, too. Physically first and emotions seem to trail along afterwards like wayward children. I never expected to feel this strongly for him and it shows. Every time I look at him I smiled involuntarily.

The other guys caught on fast. He didn't say a thing, and neither did I. We didn't have to. I think it was obvious. We've now drawn a huge amount of endless teasing for getting together on a snowy weekend in which we did little more than sit together in the corner of the big sectional in the great room, hunkered down into a blanket together, watching the fire, talking quietly while everyone else played outside, getting to know each other in this way, this new way, so new the tag is still attached and we're still not even sure if it fits.

Okay, that's a lie. We know it fits. Like a...oh, nevermind.

Holding bright, holding tight.

We're back. Home at last. What fun. So much to tell you but right now I'm being tortured with Duran Duran blasted through the house on eleven by my favorite nerd.

Please, Girls on Film was never a masterpiece.

The Seventh Stranger, however, was.

Whoops. I just exposed my inner dork again, didn't I?

Friday, 25 January 2008

Good things come in threes, two. (A Friday postscript).

Twenty sessions and our family therapist proclaimed us to be managing very well and we're a cohesive bunch, us three, learning to roll with the punches. We're done, we graduated, though I'm not dumb, she's on speed dial if I need anything and I set up three more monthly sessions to see us through until spring, just in case.

Well, in case I need answers, because sometimes being a parent is flying by the seat of your pants and being a single parent after something as catastrophic as the children losing two dads in two years, let's just say I'd rather endure the therapeutic microscopes than risk fucking up Ruth and Henry forever.

To celebrate a free weekend we're headed up to Nolan's with some of the boys. The kids are excited to get another (slow) snowmobile ride or six and some sleigh rides too. There's so many people going some of the guys are going to have to double-bunk. It's going to be fun. My truck is full of food. I'm full of excitement.

Geez. When's the last time that happened?

Gardening tips for the faint of heart.

    So sacrifice yourself and let me have what's left.
Lyrical cautions or simple cravish plea? Does it matter anymore?

No, does it, really?

Does it matter that I'm OUT THERE standing on the ice at 6 a.m. with him while he skates circles around me spraying me with snow from his plow stops and making me flinch every time he slams his stick down? Does it matter how I feel, does it matter if I want to be the selfish princess taking some much needed time just to stop the fucking world from moving and I can't help it if it won't? Does it matter how much he holds my hand, squeezing it so hard I grit my back teeth without realizing it. He reminds me to breathe, to not worry and to stop eating. He laughs over the last one.

It's absurd.

He isn't in charge. He needs me as much as I need him, except for the fact that we swear we don't need each other. He isn't interested in fixing things, surpassing greatness or in happily ever after, he is adamant that we should just blow off some steam in each other's arms and then things won't feel so bad. Then he laughs again, disqualifying his own words as a joke, thinking I won't see his nervousness, his deep desires, so entrenched now he is too vulnerable for castigation on my part. I wouldn't hurt him anyway but maybe I am without fully realizing it.

He is vulnerable and tenuous. He's been to his edge and come back running. He lives a different life from the rest of every human being, a carefree, adolescent existence of spontaneity and mistakes and fresh chances and thin remorse that make me envious. He is so far left of perfect he has an open charm that reads flawed and yet no one finds it off-putting in the least.

Maybe it's a lift, being with someone on an equal plane of imperfect.

Maybe it makes us perfect for each other.

Maybe he just wants to be everything Jacob wasn't and nothing like Jacob was.

That's good. Being unguarded is a breath of fresh air and not even remotely akin to the weakness I expected. Just a naked, tender truth of who we are, what we are. Human. Bent. Ugly sometimes, sometimes, not.

I've figured some things out and come out intact on the other side, slightly warped maybe. I can't keep waiting to get over Jacob, get over myself, I am learning to live with it instead. Live around it and through it and in spite of it. With help. With so much help I am drowning in good intentions, saved by grace, humbled by love.

I'm also learning that I can't replace him. I couldn't if I tried. And I no longer want to, having set myself up for failure so easily in the past I have it down to a mindless routine. There is room for Jacob to stay here as part of me.

I can do this.

I can let my heart grow back. It's like planting a seed, right? Take a little piece and bury it somewhere safe and give it plenty of love, how can it not grow? How can I not live life to the fullest while I have it laid out in front of me? It's a gift and I'm wasting it sitting in the dark.