Comforting Words: Shamed

Friday, October 20, 2006

Shamed

This is possibly the fourth version of this post and hopefully it is the last. I have been writing it in my head since last night (Thursday) after arriving in Toronto at approximately 11:00. Yes, my dear Toronto friends and wounded healers who have been emailing and calling me since my disclosure, I am in your town. I was not sure I was going to make it here. In fact I was not sure I was going to be anywhere.

On the bus this morning on my way to the office where the meeting that I am in town for is being held, I noticed that my lips were very dry. Then it struck me that my face was also very dry when I looked in the bathroom mirror of the suite that the Church’s head office had put me in. I thought it had to do with the fact that I had hurriedly packed my bag and left my moisturizer and not to mention my deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, hair oil and all of my make-up.

But the truth, the reality soon came to me.

My decision to jump on the plane, after all, came quite suddenly. This meeting was planned since April of this year and my ticket had been purchased and emailed to me a couple weeks ago. My time was booked to be in Toronto but things changed and drastically so.

The only thing that I had remembered to pack, other than clothes and underwear, was Vaseline. The irony of this is that Vaseline was recommended to me as great for dry lips by the ‘friend’ who helped to make my world quite different from how I imagined it was going to be. Thanks love.

Applying the Vaseline to my by now very cracked lips, I tried to remember the first time I was ever in this place. As the memory came to me, I cried and tried to wipe the tears from my eyes without catching the attention of the woman sitting next to me. It was a very painful memory – not unlike the one that I will forever hold about this past 10 or so days.

It was 1988 and I had decided that there was no way I could continue in a relationship in which my sense of ‘woman’ was being utterly eroded. So, although A, my daughter (yes, I am a single parent again) was only just over a year, I had asked her Dad for a divorce. After one fine beating, I took refuge at the apartment of her nanny. However, I needed to return to my ‘marital’ home to retrieve some items and while there my soon to be ex-husband broke in and raped me in front of my baby girl. When he was done, when he was satisfied with his ‘accomplishment’ he laughed and left me on the floor.

Utterly devastated, shamed and bewildered I crawled to the balcony and although I could hear A crying in the background, I was about to launch myself off. Someone, an angel, saw me and came running up the eight flights of steps in record time and pulled me off. He cleaned me up, dressed me, comforted me and helped me back to a place of dignity; however, the damage had been done.

On Wednesday last (October 18), I made another attempt to take my life. I tried to commit suicide. The damage had been done. I went right back to 1988, to the exact place of devastation, shame and bewilderment.

Making a long story short, very early Wednesday morning I left my partner in bed and went to read through my manual and notes for a marriage preparation session I was to have with a lesbian couple. As I read I felt like a fraud. Feeling very sorrowful, I shared my feeling with Judith, the partner who I had just left in bed and who had told me she wanted out of our 16-year relationship. She left the apartment immediately, although two hours early for work, saying that she could not be my friend or comfort me in any way.

I tried to go through my day as normal as possible meting with this lesbian couple and others. As I listened to and watched their expression of love I felt my energy waning. I left work early and after making a few phone calls, including to Judith, I knew that things were really going to change forever. At some level, I still had not accepted that. I was still hopeful but as the lies and mystery unraveled so did I.

Ann came over to support me as I worked through my anger and grief. She helped me as best as she could but when she realized that I was literally about to faint she said it was time to get to the hospital. So we went and as we waited in the Emergency Room, she started trying to get a hold of my daughter and Judith to let them know that she had taken me to the hospital.

Her (and my daughter’s) attempts to get hold of Judith was unsuccessful as my dearly beloved’s new “friend’ had both lied to and blocked us. Bottom line is that my partner and her shield had decided that it was purely drama on my side.

Things took a turn for the worse when I got on the phone and called this ‘friend’ myself. That was a mistake.

It was now close to one in the morning and the suspicion was that given the stress, I might have suffered a mild heart attack. Speaking to this woman, who was supposed to have also been my friend but clearly had chosen a side, I pleaded with her, reminding her that I only have Judith and my daughter in this country (Canada). She basically told me to f..k off.

What pushed me over the edge, however, was when she told me that I should be ashamed of myself for my desperate efforts to get in touch with the woman whose dream to come to Canada I had not only orchestrated but followed.

Devastated by those words, Ann dropped me home with the promise to return in fifteen minutes although I was begging her not to come back. By then I knew what I was going to do – just not how. She threatened to call the police if I did not buzz her in upon her return.

Crying, full of shame and feeling used and discarded, I went into what was our apartment and changed from my jeans to this beautiful white linen outfit Judith had purchased for me for my baptism in 2000. She also gave me a Bible with it. I wrote both her and A notes, laid their pictures beside me and started taking the pills that I thought would put me to sleep before Ann returned.

Ann is known to always be running late but not early Thursday (October 19) morning. The phone rang and it was her and she was yelling at me to let her in. I refused and she became threatening and I took more pills. Then she started to call me “love”, sweetie,” and pleaded with me to let her in and so I did.

I don’t remember much else other than hearing a man tell me how much this was going to hurt. I smiled and thought “no worse than I have been hurting since Thanksgiving buddy!”

Instructions were given to the hospital staff how to contact my family and throughout the night, apparently, they tried to call Judith and they tried to call her ‘friend’ to no avail. They got my daughter’s voice mail and left a message. It was six hours after my being rushed to the hospital before my partner of 16 years was reached. “Your daughter and her partner are on their way,” the nurse told me seemingly hopeful that knowing that would calm me.

I opened my eyes to see her entering the ‘room’ and I bawled. After looking at me for maybe about five minutes, she proceeded to tell me how done she was with me and all the reasons why. She tried to convince me that it had nothing to do with me that she just wanted to “regain her sense of self,” having been caught up in my identity for all these years. I reminded her that for all the years she was a broadcaster I was the one caught up in her show, I was the ‘girlfriend’, the ‘roommate’, and the ‘friend’. I reminded her how many times I was never introduced at functions we attended together.

The light bulb was slowly going on in my head that this was really done and so I begged her to give our 16 year the type of closure it needed. I told her that the way she has done this break up has left me feeling shattered, shell-shocked and lost. The lies from her and from her ‘friend’ but more so the shaming by her ‘friend’ had left me dirty and cheap; and so I begged her to give me closure – a ritual, a prayer or a joint session with a counselor just to honour our time together. She said that she would ask the counselor if she would see us.

As I waited to be discharged, I was praying that at least the session with the counselor would happen. In the meantime, I had to see the hospital psychiatrist before they would discharge me. I said the right words to him; convincing him that I was not going to try to kill myself upon discharge. He also shared a key insight with me. Being a Catholic hospital, this doctor was a Christian and he shared with me the story of Isaac and his well digging adventures. The moral of the story is – don’t give up, instead hold the pain as you keep on trying, fill your life with whatever you need.

It was in that moment I made the decision that I was going to be on the plane to Toronto in a couple hours after all.

To her credit, Judith picked me up from the hospital that afternoon. We got home and while I tried to pack my bag we discussed our financial obligations, drafted an agreement and signed it. I was trying to make the break and temporarily switched to my most business-like self to protect my interest as 95% of our debts are in my name.

On the way to the airport, I asked again about the possibility of a closure ritual. She refused, saying that she had taken off her ring because we were done. I think what she was saying is that that was closure enough.

Still hopeful that we could at least have a friendship, I asked whether I could call her as usual to say that I had arrived in Toronto. She said no – she wanted nothing to do with me, she did not want to talk with me and she did not want to know anything about me.

There is a wonderful truism in that movie, Brokeback Mountain, and I repeated it to her. “Judith, I wish I knew how to quit you.”

And so, as I sat on the bus this morning, discretely wiping the tears from my eyes, I realized why my skin was so dry. I also remembered the doctor saying that the only reason I am alive or not seriously injured is the fact that I took about 100 ibuprofens and about 30 aspirins. It’s the aspirins that are the killers.

As I entered the building for my meeting at 7:30 this morning (October 20) I thought to myself, “This time I will take more aspirins.” Then I went to the Chapel to pray for forgiveness: for Judith, her ‘friend’ and for myself for what I was going to do tonight.













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