My previous relationship was a large learning experience for me, as all my relationships are, platonic or otherwise. I choose to frame them as little classrooms, micro-courses in the school of human nature and my place in it. WHile there is much to dissect about my last foray into romance, i have only one thing on my mind: that no matter how well you think you know someone, they all have secrets. Their true identity can be masked for a period of time, and the mask might not fall off until they are walking away or being shoved out the door, with any manner of debris left behind. THe person i refer to behaved in odd, disturbing, and verbally abusive ways, only to explain later that it was her medication, or that she was tired…There were other, more accurate reasons.
In my book, ISO: In Search Of, i warn against red flags and deal breakers in the relationship milieu. Yet i am as guilty as those i try to enlighten, of ignoring what i don’t want to see. Need, desire, fear–these are all powerful emotions that can alter our perception of what color that flag really is…”maybe it’s just sorta pink”…”or maybe it’s really white, and that’s just the wonderful sunshine reflecting off it”…nada. It is still a red flag. I noticed the associations, the warning signs, but chose to believe her when she explained. I didn’t listen to my gut.
Now that the relationship has met its demise (for many other pertinent reasons), i am given this postscript on the story; this symbol of my own blindness, this evidence, left at the scene which i must now catalog in my mind for future reference. Love can be like CSI.
It was almost cinematic in its unfolding…she spent a good deal of time in the upstairs guest room, working on her projects and studying for school, while i was downstairs at my desk, doing my own work. Yesterday, i was moving the recliner from the guest room, and had to flip it over to get it to fit through the doorway. I heard a clunk, and turned around. On the floor in that hallway was an almost empty bottle of Everclear.
My brain wanted to explain that away. She was upset during our several breakups and reconciliations. She was drowning her sorrows. But then, who goes and buys a huge bottle of Everclear when they need a drink? Everclear is the choice of hardcore drinkers. It’s hard to detect on the breath. It’s monstrously strong. Why not wine coolers? Why not beer?
Then i began to recall all the other incidents…the two times on the phone before she moved here, when she was obviously blotto, and trying to drive herself home; that night she went off on something innocuous and sounded like a ranting, hateful harpy; the several times during tense conversations about our rickety future when she would behave like a total wino or scream and say things that made no sense and wasn’t even on topic…only to forget it the next day, surprised at the retelling of it…
…and then it became clear. Everclear.