Working, not Breaking

So I had a bunch of things I was thinking about writing about while I binge How to Get Away with Murder on Spring Break. Then there was a scene in this episode where Annalise (Viola Davis) is in an AA meeting. And I thought of my father.

My Boyfriend and I got into a fight  a few weeks ago. It’s the closest we’ve ever come to breaking up. I’ll explain.

We were at a party, surrounded by people with whom I was having tension–his friends. I was surrounded by alcohol–a thing I have so many negative feelings about that I work to process every day. My Boyfriend, while he knows about them, doesn’t get it. He hasn’t had the kind of experiences I’ve had with alcohol. I’m happy he hasn’t. But that can make things difficult.

The party became too much for me almost immediately. I couldn’t handle it. I walked home alone. Try as I might, my brain wouldn’t stop. The panic felt overwhelming. I was alone, with my brain running in circles it hadn’t gone in quite awhile. And I tried to let him have his fun, I did, but I couldn’t.

So I called him. Told him I needed him to come home. And he was drunk on the other end, I could tell. But he loves me, so I figured he’d come back when I told him I needed him.

He didn’t.

Or, I mean, he did. Like three hours later.

And we talked about it the next day. I got mad, he apologized.

“I should have come home,” he told me.

But when I demanded to know why he didn’t come home earlier, he couldn’t give me anything worth anything. Because “I was playing Beer Pong,” just doesn’t compare to “My girlfriend needs me” in my opinion.

“It’s going to take time for me to forgive you,” I finally said. “You’re going to have prove yourself to me.”

Weeks later, we were riding home to Spring Break. And for some reason, that night crossed my mind. And I turned down the radio.

“I’m not meaning to start a fight, but I told you it was going to take time for me to forgive you. And I think you deserve to know that I haven’t forgiven you, yet.”

And he got mad. When I tried to grab his hand, he pulled away.

“That was weeks ago and I think there’s a bigger problem if you’re still holding on to it.”

And I laughed. “With me? Oh yeah, definitely.”

I think maybe we probably almost broke up again, in the car. Which would’ve broken my rule, so I’m glad that didn’t happen.

“You picked beer over me,” and I hate to admit that my voice broke when I started to yell, but it did. “And a lot of people have picked beer over me, my entire life.”

He got quiet. And all the anger I had felt from him before changed.

All the anger in me shifted. “I’m not angry at you. I’m scared. That that’s going to become normal.”

When the fighting is over, we always ask each other. “Do you have anything else you want to say?”

Normally it’s nothing big. Quiet I love you’s. Hand kisses. Hugs and I’m sorry’s.

But this time it smacked me.

“I didn’t realize that it was about more than just me.”

I always know about the things that make us different. Like he’s Catholic, and I love writing. But I forget about the bigger things that make us different. I think he usually forgets them too.

Alcohol, to him, means a fun night. Alcohol, to me, means my father forcing my sister to drive his car when she was twelve, while she was crying. It means my father dragging my mother through a verbal slew so awful I can’t believe I ever trusted one awful thing he said to me about her. It means my mother throwing her wedding ring out the window at 3AM. It means broken doors being replaced five times in ten years. It means broken windshields from my mother’s feet, scratches across my stepdad’s face, holes in walls (and ceilings and cabinets).

So we’re working on it. I’m working on realizing that I have no reason to believe that my Boyfriend is like my Parents. He’s working on realizing that I didn’t grow up like him.

We’re working, not breaking.

I kind of, maybe, definitely want to marry him.

Pretty sure the feeling’s mutual.

-HH

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