Author, Musician, Engineer, Lover

Two People, Who Don’t Dance, Dancing

This is diary entry of sorts, building upon events from the epilogue of my book.

It’s been an “interesting” week, if not “good”… culminating in a tornado of “bizarre”. Disclaimer: since alcohol is a huge contributing factor to this story, I would not trust the accuracy of the statements and events within… and I would not take the actions of either parties seriously…

… but I woke up this morning at the exact same time as the girl lying next to me. She rolled over, and immediately we both knew what to say. “Whoa… what happened? That was a wild night.”

“Yeah uh… definitely uh… intense,” I proposed.

It was, we both agreed. If you heard this exchange between us with no actual knowledge of what happened the night before, you might begin imagining a movie montage of two people partying on the town… getting into trouble… drinking themselves into a gutter in a random alley… running amok.

But it wasn’t that.

It WASN’T like in another movie, where two people might fall in love and rip each other’s clothes off at the end of the night, full of wild sex, cigarettes and pillow talk.

It was NONE of that. But it was bizarre. It was bizarrely and brutally honest… passionately frank…. and sharply pointed. We were two people at WAR with each other, yet spending an entire week together for reasons that I’m not sure that either of us could understand. The first night was like some kind of superficial “let’s put the past behind us” kind of thing while we fell asleep together with our foreheads pressed together on a very uncomfortable floor in an empty spare room.

On the second night we tried to bring up our issues, barely getting anywhere, and pretended to believe the bullshit we just said to each other.

As she said things like “I never stopped thinking about you,” I pretended to believe her words, never challenging them… when I should have replied “Of course you stopped thinking of me, you hardly thought of me at all!” Instead… I simply acted polite.

When she promised me, “You’re always going to be in my life,” I should have replied, “Only if I’ll let you.”

I truthfully knew that her outreaching statements were bullshit and later mentally punished myself for not standing up to her…. And as a result, she continued to treat me as if my weakness was unattractive to her, taking advantage of my gullibility, gambling with hundreds of dollars of my money that she lost in seconds as our mutual friends looked upon us as-if our relationship was one of predator and prey.

On the 3rd night we just swept everything under the rug as-if maybe it was okay, and that we never had any issues worth resolving…. We watched dumb movies, and she fell asleep on my shoulder with physical advances sputtering out like a stubborn lawnmower engine that just didn’t want to start…

But on the 4th night… on the 4th night…. we deliberately challenged each other to extremes… She liked to MIX both negative AND positive statements. I studied a ton of psychology involving this kind of stuff in 2021, and even wrote a book about it… and recognized it as an attempt to chip away at my ability to discern what is NORMAL. If I didn’t detect it immediately, over time, I might have surrendered my control of what is normal over to HER. As she repeats and repeats and repeats positive and negative signaling, she chips away at my ability to think rationally, both in the emotional sense, and quite possibility in the logical sense… as doing this also gradually, over time, can disconnect your logical brain from your emotional brain… and people who are logically smart, can pretty easily be made to do dumb things if they are emotionally weakened. This girl loved to mix positive and negative signals, habitually, and had already done it a few times during the week.. and a few times tonight.

Having already endured some of this earlier in the evening, as I’m driving to our second destination of the evening, she once again says something triggers me. It wasn’t the first trigger of the night, but it broke the camel’s back. “I’m having a really nice time tonight, this is a great night. You’re going to make some girl very happy someday.”

I grimace as I turn the final corner into the establishment. The “me” from a year ago, the uninformed me, would have just let this statement beat me into submission. She’s saying that she’s having a great time with me, but she doesn’t want to be with me, as I prepare to foot the bill at our second establishment of the night on day 4 of sleeping in my bed. In saying this, she’s consciously or subconsciously attempting to change MY definition of normal, making me rely upon her for emotional and logical truth. I’m supposed to accept that a girl who spends weeks sleeping in my bed doesn’t have to care about my feelings… can take what she wants from me, gamble with my money, sleep in my bed, drink my booze… and when she runs off on a bender getting her rocks off however she sees fit, I’m supposed to feel guilty for missing her, wrong for feeling jealous, and ready to serve her when she returns. I know her well enough to know that’s what she wants… and whereas there are people in our morally relativistic society that see all this stuff as acceptable behavior, in the psychological realm in which I leave, this is NOT the world I want to live in.

“You’re going to make some girl very happy someday,” she says.

“No, I’m not,” I complain. “I know enough of the reality of my life to know that this is not happening. You don’t know or understand how hard I try every day. I bust my butt to make these relationships happen, but nothing ever becomes of it.”

“I wish you would stop complaining, your life is so much better than mine, your problems are nothing,” she complains.

“You think that because I have a house and a job that my life is easy? Anyone can have a house and a job who wants to do the work! In a sense, I am successful in my career, only because I’m a failure in my personal life, despite coming out here EVERY FUCKING DAY, working my ass off, trying to build human connections, relationships, and cultivating the connections that I’m making… YOU’RE the one who has it all you know!!! I have the things that ANYONE can have, but you have things I could NEVER have! You have people in your life willing to LOVE you! All your problems are the result of your indulgence! You just ate too much candy at the candy store and you want to try and tell me that a life full of candy is a horrible one, because you’ve got cavities.”

“Okay, okay, can we just stop, now? Your negativity is really bringing me down now! Let’s just have fun tonight!” she protests.

“Actually, NO! Because when you complain about my negativity, being that it is a negative reaction to abuse coming from YOU, what you’re actually doing is trying to convince me that my feelings are INVALID. I am allowed to have feelings, even if they aren’t the feelings that you want me to have! Just because I was born with man parts, doesn’t mean that I’m required to be a bulletproof, emotionless brute, who takes whatever flies at him and swats it away. I am a real person, and my emotions are VALID and they MATTER… and YOU need to understand that your actions AFFECT me… and regardless of whether you like my reactions or not, those reactions are still VALID.”

“You’re right,” she concedes. “I’m sorry. We’re having so much fun tonight, lets go have fun!”

“Yes, lets!”

Suddenly our moods are turned around, and we skip and dance our way into the karaoke bar. She dances with 2 other girls as the singers sing and we mingle. It feels like a breakthrough. I feel like she gets it now.

The “rotation” being too long here, we go to another place up the street that also does karaoke. This place is my primary hang-out. I sing seven nights a week, as therapy for all the trauma that I went through in 2021 that left me with PTSD. The girl I’m with tonight was both temporary relief from that trauma and also contributed to additional trauma when she abruptly abandoned me without warning late last year.

But she likes my singing and makes a request for a song from me. By the time they call my name, I’ve had one-too-many and I don’t give my best performance. I have a hard time hearing my voice through the speakers. She knows I’m struggling and shouts “you’re sucking!” from the bar. As I continue to falter in my performance, she gets up from her chair, walks directly up to the stage and stares me down with a stern, serious look… “you’re sucking…” she says, growling, like a boxing coach trying to incite anger in a fighter…. I stop singing the verse and stare her down from the stage with the meanest eyes I can conjure. After missing a few lines, I put the mic back up to my face, and finish the song, better than before.

We leave shortly after and go outside and the flood gates open. “You cannot break my spirit as a singer! You cannot take this away from me! You understand that this is all I have left… singing is where I derive 100% of my self-worth! You CANNOT cut me down like that!”

“Well, you were SUCKING!” she said.

“Yeah, I was, but you know, this singing stuff is all I have left. It is my final frontier before I hang myself. I NEED this place and you cannot take it away from me! I am my best self here, and you seem to be deliberately trying to cut away the only good thing left in my life. It is unwritten gospel that in Karaoke, nobody cuts down anyone who gives a bad performance. And a leader never envies, but rather celebrates, the great performances of others! I am a leader here, not because I’m the best person on that stage, but because I celebrate the community in its entirety. I need this place to counter all the negativity that YOU as well as others put me through in 2021! This is where my negativity turns into positivity, and you are not going to take it away from me, by turning it into a negative experience!”

Immediately, her mood changed to one of positivity. “You’re right, she said. We’re having a great night. A fun time. I’m loving my time with you tonight.”

“We are,” I say, “and let’s do it.”

Next thing I know she’s teaching me to two-step and I’m failing, but we’re having a good time.

For the rest of the night, she challenges me, and I stand up to her with tact and strength. Equally, when I challenge her, she does the same… and following each challenge, we celebrate each other in the purest forms of our complicated hearts. It is a night of two people, who don’t dance, dancing.

When we get home, she gets a drunk call from someone she met at a party who she didn’t even remember. As he presses her to come to some place and “hang out”, I come behind her wrapping my arm around her body. She declines his offer, doesn’t even remember who he is, and doesn’t pay much attention.

We go to bed, spooning, as had been routine. She turns to me and presses her forehead to mine. “I really like, enjoying you,” she says.

“I enjoy my time with you too, but you make it sound like I’m something you want to consume,” I complain. “You can’t do that. You can’t just use me up until I’m gone.”

“I know, you’re right. We’ve been yelling at each other all night. But this has been the most amazing night.” She presses against me more firmly. “You and I are so great together,” she says.

“Yeah, we are,” I say. “Should we be together?”

“Yeah, we should,” she says.

When we awake in the morning, it was as if neither of us moved a muscle all night long, and we were laying in the exact same position we were when we said those final words to each other before falling asleep. The morning felt renewed like a new day was coming… a new understanding of each other… but still… a complicated one.

She came storming back into my life after months of silence like a wrecking ball, determined to knock down all the new walls and foundations I had recently built up to protect myself from her…. but as we spent the whole week, pretending that we were good together, in whatever superficial, bullshit, dance we pantomimed, this night, though horribly twisted and destructive, was the first time I ever felt like we were completely honest with each other… even if the ingredients in our honest brew were completely toxic and unhealthy.

As I write this, she is still here, sleeping in my bed in the next room. There’s still a bit of a cold war between us, but I hope there are more whirlwind nights like last night, where even if I don’t like what’s in front of me, it is honest, and I’m not scared to be honest back. Knowing what’s in front of me, is a refreshing feeling.

5 Replies to “Two People, Who Don’t Dance, Dancing”

  1. Harry says:

    What a wild roller-coaster ride! An eye-opener into the reality of complicated relationships. Your story there captured the essence of the saying, “the heart wants what it wants”. We often find ourselves embroiled in romantic situations that defy logic and understanding. As a fan of Ada Loveless’s work, there are striking similarities here. The gritty realism, the unnerving vulnerability, the twisted dance of intimacy and toxicity – all poignant reminders of “How to Sacrifice your Lover”. And yet, underlying it all is an inherent yearning for connection and authenticity, which stands as testament to the paradox of human nature. It’s deeply unsettling and exquisitely captivating all at once. The love/hate dynamic is familiar terrain for those caught in the eros and chaos of romantic entanglements. Disconcerting as it may seem, thank you for sharing this intimate piece of your life.

    • Phoebe says:

      A bewitching roller-coaster indeed! Dancing on Ada Loveless’s paradoxical chords of love, sacrifice amidst authenticity-seeking. Celebrating the disconcerting.

      • Claire says:

        I absolutely agree, the ebb and flow of emotions depicted here draws a stunning parallel to the complex romantic entanglements in “How to Sacrifice your Lover”. It seems like the protagonist and his lover are both leaning in and pushing away, love laced with a hint of toxicity. It’s almost like Ada Loveless is telling his story through this piece, don’t you think?

    • Zephyr Bennett says:

      Twisting swirls of paradox, human nature dancing in chaos.

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