the-IT-crowd-moss-random-27752726-274-300He was all I knew of love, but not all I’ll ever know.

Even now, I still love him. I’m still the teenager staring up at him, his handsome jawline against the night sky a shadow puppet speaking the deepest passions I’d ever heard. I was so young, and he was larger than life, larger than reason, larger than anything my imagination had dared to create and caption “love.”  He became the definition of the word for me, and so his rage was love, his manipulation was love, his hate was love.  Like relentless elevator muzak his voice sang songs about the awesomeness of his love in the background for so long I couldn’t distinguish them from my own smooth jazz thoughts.

He used love first to pull me close, then to doubt myself too much to wander away.

“Why don’t you ever listen” he would scold, always in front of the kids, training a tiny army, another generation poisoned by contempt, “you know I know better, you can’t do anything by yourself.”

I thought it would be worse to argue.
“It wouldn’t be good for them to see their father undermined,” I reasoned. “I have a sense of duty, I believe in respect, I can’t believe it’s not butter.”
Really, it was too exhausting to fight, first against his iron will, then my own need to cling to something familiar and reassuringly, consistently cold. It was easier to agree, to believe that this was love, this was marriage, this was life.

“You expect too much” he said with disdain at my unhappiness, “you have everything you could ever want, why do you insist on complaining?”

So I loved him, unhappily, hurting like a tongue full of splinters. Hallmark wanted no part of it. I took that as a sign.

My brain calls it love to this day, confused by my actions.
“What about love?” it cries, rattling inside my skull like an idiot, “why are you leaving all this loooove?”
“Because love feels like something that doesn’t deserve a name,” I soothe back to my tortured mind, “there will be new possibility created in me and there will be no name attached, and no face. See it for the freedom it brings and stop being a crybaby.”

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