Friday, May 20, 2016

Temporarily Banished

I was asleep, minding my own business in a dream that was just a dream. Only it wasn't. I see now that the dream was born of issues I may not have fully dealt with or at least an issue that remains a part of me -- as some things often do no matter how you banish them or ignore them. It became a nightmare that catapulted me into the wide awake world where I usually live with a raging anger and the same sense of betrayal and loss I felt when I ended things several years ago.

And now he's back, still a coward, still a jerk, and still upending my peace of mind.

The dreamscape is one I've visited numerous times before. It's one of several dreamscape that recur in my sleeping world.

I was in an apartment I usually don't live in when I visit that dreamscape. It was smaller than the usual digs, but comfortable with room for my hobbies and mental pursuits. I gathered the trash and picked up a bucket of water I'd used to mop the floors -- on my knees, so I knew it was a dreamscape immediately. I don't scrub floors on my hands and knees.

Anyway, I took the trash and the bucket of dirty water outside where some of my neighbors were dumping their trash and chatting (gossiping most likely) about whatever. As I dumped the bucket on the grass someone said, "Well, that's new. No one dumps such things out here. Usually use the toilet or the sink."

I ignored the comment until the other neighbors' ribbing pricked the edge of my tolerant mood the wrong way. "I felt like taking a walk and perhaps bumping into my friendly neighbors." I bit down on the sharper edge of my tongue. I didn't add that I should have walked farther or that I should've waited. I really wasn't in the mood for the usual onslaught of hurt feelings and injured cries of bruised egos and pricked self-importance. I just wanted to finish the task and go back to my cozy little nook where I could shut the door on petty minded busybodies.

Almost at the outside door reaching for the handle, he came at me from behind offering sympathy for the rude people and setting the nape of my neck tingling with upraised hair. Oh, how I wanted to escape his insincerity and his subsequent attempt at 'let's be friends and talk about us' before I gave into the urge to slap his face -- with a hand rake.

I consciously lowered my shoulders and eased the tension evident to anyone but clueless him, murmured my thanks for his attempt at empathy and slowly and deliberately opened the door. He was determined to make the most of me speaking to him at last. Sure of his welcome, grudging though it was, he stepped between me and the open door and took the bucket in hand. "Let's set this down here out of the way so we can take a walk."

I could've shoved him aside, got my bucket, and left. I didn't. Damnable manners got in the way and, if I'm to be completely honest, politeness and a smidgen of hope quickly quashed and stuffed into the nearest dark, blind niche. A moment of politeness costs nothing. Well, nothing more than lowering the thick, seemingly impenetrable wall built to keep him out and away from the shreds clinging to the remains of my heart.

"I did want to get some fresh air," I said and backed away from his outstretched hand. I'd walk a few steps but there was no way he was going to touch me. I'd slug him first.

We strolled past the goggle-eyed neighbors without a word and toward the massive tree that towered over the yard, its bottom branches so high they couldn't even brush the tops of our heads. No, not there. I veered away from his intended route and down the long lawn toward the river.

It must've dawned on him that the way he imagined our reunion I wasn't going along with the program. He stopped while I walked on. Since I continued to walk toward the river he pointed to the sky and called my attention to a shooting star. Rational mind kicked in with meteorite blazing to earth from friction as it screamed to its death, a death I had heartily wished on him a few -- million -- times since I'd last seen him.

Come to that, I don't remember him moving into the building and yet here he was. Bold as brass and twice as irritating against my skin. I resisted the urge to claw at the hives I imagined humping up the longer I allowed politeness to keep me from the cozy confines of my rooms.

Politeness can only move me so far. I'd had enough fresh air. Time to shake this hound off. Now. "Thank you for the walk." I turned about and walked toward the building. Sputtering protestations followed a few steps before he grabbed my arm and yanked me to a stop. Bristling, I hesitated just long enough for him to vomit up an apology and "I was wrong," stopping me from slapping the taste out of his mouth.

"Nice to hear you admit it. Too little, too late." I brushed his hand off me. "What now? Should I relent and fall into your arms?" He held out his arms and flashed me his patented crooked grin. "Not happening." His arms dropped as though made of lead held up too long for his puny muscles to withstand. "Thanks for the walk and the air."

"Please." The longing and desperation reeked from that one word. Tears threatened. I stopped to gain some semblance of control and he emerged from the shadows to stand in front of me. I never knew he could move that fast -- or be that decisive. He was all about over thinking everything and planning to bolt. "Please," he repeated.

"Please what?"

His head jerked back as if my fist had connected. "Please wait. Let me explain."

Angry retorts battered his limp excuses. Too much time, too much hurt, and too much silence stood between then and now. I felt my resistance waning, giving into the dis-ease I felt standing that close to him. My vision blurred with unshed tears. My stomach ached. My heart ached. Everything ached from the stifled emotions and resentment and repressed anger. Not sure which was stronger, the fury at myself for letting things get to this point or the horrible loss because he was -- and continues to be --- a coward and not being honest from the start. I should have been less naive and more cynical, but I have learned. Finally.

Suddenly, my temperature cooled . . . as it does when I have reached the outer limits of fury and anger, and the temperature around me dropped. He stopped dead in his tracks. His arms dropped to his side and he stared at me as I gathered myself, turned, and slowly walked away leaving him behind me. When I reached the building and opened the outer door I looked back. He had not moved.

I almost expected to see snow falling. The neighbors rubbed their arms and complained about the creeping cold. A few pulled their sweaters, jackets, and coats closed and moved away to go home as they shouted hurried goodbyes. I picked up the bucket and went back to my cozy apartment. I wasn't cold. I wanted to be safe inside away from prying eyes and nosy neighbors. Away from him.

It did not feel like a long time, but the expected knock thumped on the door. When I opened it he stood outside in the hall. "Why did you see me in that first time?"

"Of course I wanted to or I'd not have invited you."

He turned and walked away. We were obviously done at last.

Why is it that a man can't take a woman's word when they end? Why do they believe only a man can end it? My second husband told me that we would never end until he said we ended. I laughed at him and laughed even harder when he came back with "I asked you to marry me. It's not over until I say it's over." I told him, "But I had to say yes first." He didn't get it and I spent the next few years proving it to him when I moved away and made my family promise never to tell him how to get in touch with me or I'd not let them know either.

Not that I worried too much they would take me up on the promise to cut them out of my life. They wouldn't mind. They'd wanted to get shed of me for most of my life. I had provided what I was adopted to provide -- children of their own. My purpose was fulfilled. All they needed to do was get rid of me so their family, finally complete, could go happily on as a family without me. I was used to being alone and without family. My own birth mother didn't want me back. She had her own happy family. Oh, she loved me, but I was the past. I should stay in the past and not be a constant reminder of what she had given up. I was her child, but only by biology. She had sons now. Her daughters were part of the past. I was part of that past.

A few days later -- or hours since it was dream time -- the phone rang. I answered and confirmed I was me. He wanted to take me out, get to know me. He had been given my number. No surprise there. He knew all about the affair and he thought I might be lonely and wouldn't want to remain lonely. My girlfriend listened to my side of the conversation amused at the way I handled the caller. She was a little surprised that I was so calm, that I seemed to tease him and flirt. All I can say about that is that is my default mode: teasing, flirting, pleasant.

"Keep listening," I said and hung up.

"What was that all about?"

"He wanted to keep me company," I responded, voice tight, temperature dropping. My jaw worked as I clenched my teeth and sought to master the feeling of betrayal and anger bubbling like lava toward the surface. Our conversation was terse on my part and full of wonder and the need to get out of the blast range on the other as she sidled toward the door.

What had sounded like light-hearted banter was obviously not so light-hearted or pleasant. The caller had presumed too much and that presumption came from the man who gave him my number. A man who might as well have written it on a bathroom wall. A man I once trusted and, Goddess help me, I still loved. A man who had tossed me away without paying me off first as any good prostitute would have demanded. I never expected to be passed around like a dirty joke, but that is evidently where I found myself.

Even when it's over it's not really over. Not until the man says.

No wonder I was instantly awake last night. Betrayal and calculated disregard -- mine or someone treated that way -- always gets my attention. Had I answered wrong when I told him I let him in because I wanted him, because I wanted to be with him? Had I brought everything on myself with my feelings for him? I didn't know. I would never know. He was too much of a coward to face me or to tell me his promises and our plans were empty dreams. Had he told me, I would have still wanted him the way I've wanted anything that is out of reach -- without emotional investment. Or time. Or belief. Or trust. Or dreams of a future together.

And it would have hurt so much less.

Even the relationships that have ended and the men banished, the banishment is only temporary.

Or so it seems.

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