Today's the day. As much as I dread the conflict that's about to happen, I need it to be over with. Like peeling off a band-aid, it needs to be done quickly. There's no reason to prolong it. Even though it will hurt, I know it needs to happen.
I left the house this morning as though I was going to work, but I just drove into town and sat at Sycamore Shoals Park where I knew no one would see me. I waited until I knew Andy had left for work and then drove back to the house.
There isn't much I wanted to take, but there were a few things that meant something to me: the quilt that grandma made me when I was a kid, the first present I ever got (a little stuffed dog mom got when she was still in the hospital with me), family photos...that kind of stuff. I cleared my clothes out of the closet and dresser and packed them into two small suitcases. Anything worth money, I left for Andy to sell...I think it's only fair.
It seems strange that all my life, almost 28 years, fits neatly into 3 Rubbermaid totes and 2 suitcases.
The fact that I travel light probably goes back to growing up how I did. Pretty much every year at tax time, the U-Haul would be rented and we'd load the truck and be gone. We had to, I guess. Dad lied so much and it was only a matter of time before people started figuring him out...then it was time to go again. He wasn't a very good person... I'm sure that's why I hate confrontation so much. Dad would be so violently angry over anything that didn't go his way, no matter how insignificant it was.
Andy has either never understood, or never cared, why yelling bothers me so much. In his family, that's practically their only means of communication. For me, though, I get sick to my stomach when I hear an argument. Andy never had a finger laid on him as a child and so he's never thought twice about raising his voice to me. The first time we ever argued, he came towards me and I flinched. He asked, almost disgustedly: "Did you think I was gonna hit you?" And the truth is, I did expect it. I think after that, for a while, he tried to tone down the yelling. But time makes people forget...some people anyway...and eventually, he didn't seem to remember how much fighting bothered me.
I'll give Andy this: he's never hit me. He's just learned to use my hatred of conflict in a different way, one where I don't disagree with him so that I don't start a fight... I almost respect how strategically he learned to use my past against me...not maliciously, but selfishly, to get his way.
Anger is the one emotion I still struggle with. I know I should be angry for the things that have happened to me in my life. But it's hard to feel angry without feeling guilt. I don't want to be like my father, and anger is what I remember most about him.
The crazy thing is that anger is what made me realize that I finally had emotions. I remember being at the house with Andy, Leonard, and another of Andy's friends, Jake. We had all been drinking, and Leonard asked me if I wanted a cigarette. This was before I smoked...and I said no, of course, and for the rest of the night, he'd blow smoke in my face at every chance he got. This was a game between us...when I was sober, it was mildly hilarious...I don't remember how it started, but when I wasn't drinking it was funny as hell. That particular day, I didn't think it was funny and I asked him to stop. And he did it again. "Leonard, stop it!" more annoyed this time. When he did it again, I had had enough and it took everything big, burly Jake had to hold me back...I was dead set on kicking Leonard's ass. ...this was the day it was decided that I couldn't drink Vodka because it made me angry... But in reality, that anger, that I had never felt before, in that moment, long before he ever kissed me, made me realize that I had feelings for Leonard.
I understand now that, aside from not wanting to be like my dad, a big part of why I shy away from anger is that I don't like feeling as though I'm not in control. And that's probably the only thing that's saved me from being an alcoholic or getting into the drugs like everyone else around me. And maybe that's another reason I don't like confrontation...because it is messy. People get mad and lose control of what they say. And I don't know what the outcome will be...I can't control it. And I'm afraid of what will be said or done in the heat of the moment.
I'm nervous now. I can't sit still. Leonard is on his way over. Andy will be home shortly after that. And then the inevitable conflict will start...and a painful ending will be the beginning of something new for all of us.