In August of 2010, after a 5 year "hiatus" Sara Jayne and I reconnected. She was going through a rough time in her marriage (the details of which are best left to her to divulge or not as she sees fit) and I was trying to be supportive.
I had always loved her, since the days of UseNet, when I didn't even know what she looked like.
To make a hopelessly convoluted long story short, by the time she flew into SF for a job related visit, we were thoroughly re-connected. Roni and she fell in love as well, something I had seen a glimmer of back in 2005 when I had last seen... or pretty much heard... from her.
Around this time I got depressed.
I've battled depression all my life. Seriously, since being a young (as in 8) boy, I would just feel... defeated. It didn't help that I was poor, abused (step-father, bullies, and even various authority figures who didn't like that I could think and ask questions when I thought something didn't make sense... not out of some sense of rebellion, mind you, but because I was legitimately confused), and without much in the way of a support system.
It can last as little as a few days to a few months. The latter has been, mercifully, rare, the last bad bout being nearly 18 years ago, when A good friend, my grandmother, and a lover all died within a 4 month period. It was that period of complete nastiness that led to my diagnosis for ADHD, and the beginnings of my road toward sorting out my life before... and since.
This time it lasted nearly 14 months.
At least the last, really bad set was due to a lot of factors beyond my control -- unmedicated and grieving, I lost my way. This time it seems like, even as things seemed to fall into place and she moved from the UK into our home, that I had no good reason for it.
That's the worst part -- knowing that it isn't "real" in the sense of a root cause, that it's your biochemistry making everything dark and hopeless. Knowing is supposedly half the battle, but nothing I said, did or tried seemed to be making a dent in it.
THe more that SJ was disappointed that living with me wasn't what she expected -- I wasn't affectionate enough, the sex fell off to almost nothing (which, for people who know me, is never a good sign), and even though I was clear that it wasn't about her, she took it to BE about her.
Around September of last year, SJ lost her job with the company she had been telecommuting with for several years. When she saw the writing on the wall, I tried to tell her not to worry about getting a new job, that we could more than afford to have her wait until the right thing came along. Her response was to get a job within 48 hours with a company that wanted to fly her around the world for weeks at a time.
I was stunned. I thought that her being around more would give me a chance to work through things with her -- now, she was barely around even online. I tried to tell her that I needed her to come home, to work on things, but her response was that her job needed her, and that things would settle down.
THe worst part was Thanksgiving. I thought we would have her for a whole week, including the four day weekend. Instead, we got her for a few days, and she left the Saturday morning after thanksgiving with little notice. I think that's when I cracked.
This was the worst part of it all -- trying to get some sort of schedule out of her was impossible, as her boss at the time was not giving her one. I would like to think that having some clear idea of when I would see her again might have helped, but maybe I'm just rolling myself. As it is, I started to panic more and more, trying to hold it together at work so hard that I had no energy left when I got home. The fights with everyone... Roni, SJ, even Kim (for christ sake!) got really bad at times.
Then there was Erika. Her worst crime was bing confused and scared, not just of her future as she finally graduated with her masters degree, but over what she wanted vis a vis Roni and myself. I was willing to let her figure it out, but Roni wasn't... and the arrival of SJ broke Erika's heart, as she was finally getting her own shit together and hoping she could rekindle something with Roni and me.
Roni had decided, with SJ's backing, that I shouldn't see Erika any more. That put me into an even worse place -- someone I loved and cared for was now suddenly off limits, and not even permitted in the house I was paying for all three of us to live in. Or at least two of us, with one person visiting on rarer occasion.
Thus it was in mid december, drowning in my own angst, ennui, and other french diseases of the soul, wrapped so tightly in depression that I felt spiritually mummified, I begged Erika to come see me.
They always ask the question ("they" being the seemingly infinite number of questioners in the face of apparent self-sabotage and stupidity) "what were you thinking?!". Bluntly, I wasn't. I wasn't thinking about hurting anyone, or defiance, or... ANYTHING. I was suffering, confused, and no longer knew what the fuck to do. Desperation can be the father of invention, or the godfather of destruction... and there's no way of knowing which relative you'll get.
In this case, not only did I make a mistake in begging her to come down (she really wouldn't have if I hadn't practically demanded it, pushing the fact that I was looking for any rope whilst drowning), I even made it possible for Roni to find out, and thus SJ.
I had successfully managed to cheat while being polyamorous. A special (as in short school bus) skill.
If I am completely honest with myself, it was over from that point forward, but I was still flailing about, trying to hold together an exploding building with my bare hands. I so completely crashed that I don't remember much of the holidays at all -- Christmas 2011 will always be a lost weekend to me. Even now, months later, I can't talk about the details I DO remember, except to once again apologize, publicly, to everyone involved, including Michele who was caught in the cross fire of my thrashing.
I hate feeling shame. It's an emotion I believe we're all taught by religions more interested in control than teaching people how to do the right thing. But I feel shame for what I did in december beyond my meager ability in word-smithing to express.
If for no other reason than that shame and horror at what I had done, I resolved (yes, an interesting choice of wording considering it was the new year!) to get myself to my doctor and tell him that I was in deeper trouble than I had let on over the last year. I often wonder what would have happened differently if I had done this six months earlier, or even 3 months, or if it would have turned out the same way via a different road.
As it stands, SJ never really came home after November. I tried to fix things, but she was intensely focussed on my betrayal, of not being willing to be "abused" by my behavior, and generally doing everything she could to avoid me.
I am not excusing my part in this at all. But once she said that she considered my behavior "abuse", a bit of a hot button for me considering my past experience with being abused... well, it was not my best reactions. And still isn't.
I tried again today, meeting her at Rudy's in downtown Oakland. She had gotten yet another crappy job in Stockton after the dickwads she was working for, having squeezed her dry over a mere 4 months, had dropped her on her head. Lately it's all been about how hard its is, how much she hates the commute, her living arrangements... well, it became clear to me she was never going to come back, and that her attempts to communicate were more about her trying to avoid breaking up than working on fixing things between us.
She keeps focussing on Erika, like somehow that's the problem. She would rather be angry with her, or focus on the fact that I realized that cutting Erika off was no more an option than cutting her off during those five years I never heard from her, then deal with the pain I was going through and the fact that I was the one who screwed up. No one induced me to "betray" her. But instead of stealing with me directly, I get a passive aggressive attempt to make this about something with little to do
I've spent the last several months trying to piece things back together, only to find that nothing had changed for her. She had set a bar so high that I couldn't meet it in an attempt to make this a case of her not being able to work on things.
THe meal ended badly, and that was mostly my fault. Having buttons pushed when I felt my heart breaking -- again -- is not me at my best. But even in the end, I tried to get her to talk to ME, to try and figure things out, but she kept reverting to the idea that it was all about how I wanted to still see Erika, and that was somehow a symbol of my betrayal.
I tried to get her to at least face me and break it off with me, to tell me she didn't want to see me again. SHe refused, trying to tell me she still loved me and "still wanted to be in my life". That was good enough -- she never had any intention in fixing things. And when she threatened to call the police if I tried to continue talking with her, or that Tofu would "defend" her if I was still there when he got there, or... well, let's say she kept trying to get me to fight the entire time, even when (as instructed) I said goodbye, turned and walked away. "Sure, maybe other people will let you get away with everything, let you stick your dick wherever you like..."
I bit my tongue and walked away. Maybe I should have done that after leaving Rudy's. Maybe I should have walked to the car and hid.
But that was more of the same, wasn't it? Letting her run away from every hard conversation, cutting me off repeatedly when I tried to explain myself, talk to her about what was really going on with me. She wanted this to be about her own depression and pain, the abuse that she suffered before she even saw me again, the fact that I betrayed her... and that she was intent on forcing me to do something that broke me in the first place.
It's over between us. After knowing her longer than I've known Roni... nearly 18 years. I managed to piss off a great friend, a wonderful lover, a beautiful person, to the point where she couldn't even let me say ANYTHING to explain myself. Hooray, ME! I'm the douchebag this time. I can't excuse it, and I really can't explain it, apparently.
On top of it, she's accused me of abuse. Having seen the pattern of abuse/apology/apparent contrition/amends/and backsliding that abusers appear to universally subject their victims too, that puts me in the position of either agreeing to demands that would only encourage that pattern, or having the courage to let someone go that I love and care about even though their opinion of me is completely incorrect. My only hope was that she was willing to hear me out and work on addressing the things that were broken. Since that's not going to happen, I have to be the better (not good, great, or whatever, only BETTER) person and let her go.
I'm heart-broken it couldn't be a mutually agreed upon thing, that it had to be angry and bitter. I'm horrified that now Roni is caught in the middle, and will be heart broken when, much as Val did back in 2004, SJ drops Roni the same way because she's associated with ME. But I can no longer allow her to punish me this way. If she's got things to resolve, then it's clear she does not want my help or support in doing so. If she feels she has to live in a crappy Sacramento apartment with people who make her crazy, that's her choice. If she feels better thinking it's all my fault -- I said this to her face,m and I say it now -- then great, she wins, it's all my fault. I somehow "chose" all of this, despite not knowing I had.
All I can do now is move forward with my life, and wish her all the best. I may never see her again, or hear her voice, and that's a horrible feeling when you love someone. But at least I can find some closure, and continue working on myself and pull through this. I can't go back, but I can't wait for her to decide I'm worth the effort -- if she truly believes our differences to be irreconcilable, then there's nothing left to be said.
Goodbye, Sarah Jayne. I love you, and always will.