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Auf Wiedersehen -- or, I'll see you in my dreams, Teil zwei

So... how was my Wednesday?  Pretty good... busy.  Well, it's been busy a lot recently...  But I got that arrangement finished for my trio.  Finally finished those damned press releases, and uploaded some of our new gigs to the website.  Still have to get some info to my accountant and check when that pesky landscaper is going to show up.  Oh yeah, and my ex-husband died.  Pass the butter, please?

I don't know if I'm just numb or in shock, but... other than an initial "woah!", that's kind of been my reaction so far.  Ambivalence in the face of death seems a little strange to me, though.  I've been trying to figure out what I feel, or make myself feel something other than... "woah."

There are rituals that widows and other family members and friends go through when someone dies.  In part, they're to reassure, in part, they're to find a crack in that numbness to make sure you realize that yes, that person is dead and is never coming back.  You wear black.  People bring casseroles and say things like "so sorry for your loss" and "weren't we lucky to have them in our lives" and other such stuff.  You plan the funeral, the burial or cremation, people are called.  Then there's a day of ceremony and everyone eats egg salad sandwiches and cries or drinks or cries AND drinks.  People know the right things to say.

Things other than "woah," which is the best I've come up with so far...

What ritual is there to mark the loss of someone who's been out of your life for almost a decade?  A person you really NEEDED out of your life.  A person it took two women's shelters, a bevy of lawyers, a whole lot of cash and the friendly people at Immigration Canada to get out of your life?  A person who, even from a continent across the ocean still stalked and harassed you until you finally learned the beauties of call display and ISP blocking?  A person who was just enough of a narcissistic psychopath to believe he could charm his way back into the country a mere couple of years ago, sending you into a frenzy of panic and erasing your tracks (not so easy in the internet age, or when your career involves being in publicly-posted places much of the time!) and enlisting the help of friends and strangers and actually thinking of hiring a personal bodyguard for the month and hoping he didn't pull another fast one and just disappear before immigration could catch up with him again (fortunately, the border guards are well-versed in dealing with con-men with criminal records, and I didn't have to hire Bubba after all).  A person who still haunts my dreams, not as much as in the beginning, when I would wake up in a cold sweat hourly, sometimes screaming, but still at least once or twice a week (no more screaming, but the cold sweat does make an appearance).

Pneumonia.  Apparently he died of a bad pneumonia.  Which leaves me wondering what the whole story is?  Because men in their 40s don't generally die suddenly of pneumonia unless there are underlying causes.  And considering that in our last year together, I lost my life savings and nearly my home up into his median cubital vein, I can think of more than a few possible underlying causes.  Theories abound.  Curiosity.  So far, the only thing I feel is curiosity.  Kind of typical for me, the needing to know the details.  Knowledge is power, there is no need for fear when you have knowledge.  At least that's always been my theory.  Doesn't necessarily make the fear go away, though...

Oh well, at least I can now rest assured that he won't come back to kill me, as Don said in one of those people-really-aren't-sure-what-to-say-but-that-might-not-have-been-the-best-choice moments.

It is true, of course.  I no longer have to live in fear of him.  Not that fear is terribly swayed by logic at the best of times, mind you.  Actually, part of me is still suspecting the news of his death is all some elaborate hoax, designed to get me to let my guard down, so he can come in for the final kill (excuse the pun... I think) without having to deal with Bubba or anyone else on his way.

I no longer have to fear him.  I no longer have to fear him.  I no longer have to fear him.

Tell that to my dreams.  He was back in there last night, despite his earthly demise, manipulating and conniving and twisting my gut every which way.  Pain doesn't automatically go away just because it isn't happening any more.  The body and mind take their own sweet time processing it all, and don't necessarily wish to stick to your schedule, let alone logic.  You can do a lot of stuff to help them along their merry way, but some things are stuck down so deep, it always takes longer than you'd hope for, especially when the injuries were overtop of open wounds overtop of semi-healed injuries overtop of barely-healed injuries...

Oh, wouldn't it be amazing if someone could take me back four decades and teach me all the stuff I know now about predators and self-care and healing???  Or go back several generations to the first fucked-up ancestor and stop that game in its tracks?

Fantasies.  I'm in reality.  But wow, those are some awesome fantasies...

There's the fantasy he would one day understand the error of his ways.  The fantasy he'd give back what he stole.  The fantasy that life would deliver up a con-artist to match his skills and take him for a ride he'd never expected.  The fantasy that "friends" would stop reporting back all the times he'd refer to me as a piece of shit on social media sites (really?  there's a reason I blocked him, people!!!)  The fantasy that maybe those shiny happy glimpses of humanity I saw in the beginning weren't just choreographed, hope-filled illusions...  I knew it would never happen, the same way I knew my father wouldn't ever have to face the consequences of his own actions.  And yet, until he died, and until Nick just died, there was still that teensy bit of hope they might...

Part of me is laughing that some people will do ANYTHING to avoid the consequences of their life choices.  Part of me thinks that's really sad.

But I'm not laughing, and I'm not sad.  I do have a craving for egg salad sandwiches, though... perhaps something is coming around?

When I was able to get him out of my house and across the ocean, there was a smudge.  There was a house "re-heating".  There was a support group that met weekly.  There were people trained in how to help you get over domestic abuse.  People knew what to do.  People knew what to say.  I knew what to do and what to say.

For this, I don't have a clue.

I do know I won't be telling my mother any time soon.  While I'm having trouble figuring out what to do or say or what I want other people to do or say, I'm pretty sure a "woo-hooo!  he's gone!!!" is not going to be it.  (As loyal readers might have figured out by now, my world is not as black-and-white a place as my mother needs it to be.)

I'm not happy he's gone.  I'm happy I don't need to panic over people publishing our house concert address any more, yes, that I will definitely give you.  But there's a tremendous disappointment that death was the only way to get there.

And, as my dreams were so quick to point out last night, he's no more gone for me than he has been over the last 9 years.  How do you say goodbye to someone you still wish would leave you alone?

How do you mourn the loss of someone you've fought to keep out of your world?

Like it or not, he was (and is) a part of my world.

You might even say that in almost killing me, he actually saved my life.  He was my final rock bottom, when I thought I had already broken through rock bottom.

In vowing to never open myself up to that again, I went through a process of healing and self-reconstruction (honestly, it was probably more like self-construction-from-total-scratch) and weeding the toxic people out of my life -- which was a process I'd begun many times before, but hadn't followed through completely.  Not that I'm 100% "there" now, but holy geez, there's a reason why people who met me in the 90s didn't recognize me in the new century...

Yes, I still have nightmares and insomnia, I'm still suffering PTSD from both the Nick years and my childhood, I still take on far too much responsibility than is healthy for me, I still get caught rescuing and allowing people to dump their crap on me -- I still have a long way to go, baybee.  But until those last couple of years with Nick, I had put my journey on hold again.  And it wasn't until his behaviour turned a funhouse mirror on my life that I was ready to set out along that path into the deepest darkest jungle, and slay me some dragons.

So, as horrible and nightmare-inducing as life with him was, I wouldn't be as far along today, as happy as I am today, if it weren't for him.  And... I can't believe these revoltingly Pollyanna-like words are coming out of me right now, but perhaps he, inadvertently, gave me the greatest gift of all.  Perhaps I should be grateful.

I'm not wearing black.  I'm not being inundated with casseroles.  There's probably nobody on the planet who could figure out the perfect words to say to me at this time.

I'm not happy.  I'm not sad.  I'm really no different than I was 24 hours ago.  But I am grateful.

I am grateful to finally be me.  I am grateful to have found my strength.  I am grateful to have found my passion.  I am grateful to finally feel safe in the world.  I am grateful to have learned how to refuse abusive behaviour.  I am grateful to have learned how to attract love and joy into my world.

I am grateful for the lessons and the teachers who brought these gifts to me.

Yes, all of them.

And now, if you would please pass the butter, I've got an egg salad sandwich to make.

Auf Wiedersehen

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