Have I ever told you I've screwed up every relationship I've ever had? Of course not. I guess I've been pretty guarded about myself. Sure, I've had some good ones, but in the end it always goes bad and it always feels like my fault. Dating all the way back to the seventh grade when I liked Tommy Fitzgerald but I was afraid to dance with him, so he danced with Ashley Cooper instead and they ended up dating for two years. She was 5'7 and blonde, how could I compete??
(Checks mirror) Oh, yeah. Well, fat lot of good it's doing me. I mean "careful what you wish for," right?
Then there was high school - the garden variety "he's just not that into you" spiel. I always felt too brainy, too snarky, not approachable enough. I was basically April from Parks & Recreation but with cat's eye glasses and a Kurt Vonnegut book tucked in my backpack. Sometimes guys would think I was their dream girl, then get disappointed with the reality of a testy, introverted bookworm. Sometimes I would just fall for the wrong guy.
I was in a relationship for a year and a half when I had the car accident that left me using a cane. Emotionally, I was a wreck afterwards and I really let it get between us. But I think I just used it as an excuse to push him away. After that I had a few disastrous dates - usually I blamed the cane - and then I stopped trying. Then eventually I went to Maine.
In the past month I feel like I've wrecked three relationships simultaneously, as if that's even possible.
Let's start with Wade. When I first met him, he seemed like, well, not my type to put it
mildly. Goofy, boyish, bit of a sophomoric sense of humor (and an
immature worldview) I thought I was going to be pulling my hair out the entire way. I could not date this person, and I could definitely not pretend to be some airhead just to make him happy. But a shocking thing happens when you plop yourself into a relationship that has already lasted years: comfort. We bickered, but ultimately he let me have my way on things that I was pretty unflexible about (that Tasha probably wouldn't have.) He saw this seismic change in his girlfriend and decided "She's still my girlfriend and I want to make her happy" and that was touching. It made me want to be a good girlfriend to him.
There was a period, from September to December, when I could fake my way through things with Wade. I was happy and comfortable and the sex was fine. (I should note that as Tasha, I'm less sensitive than I am as myself which was actually quite a hurdle to get over.) I was getting almost exactly what I needed, and my best friend was my stepsister who was a man inside. Okay that wasn't ideal but whatever. It was working.
Then came Mykal, the yoga instructor. I got into the habit of going out for coffee with him, since he makes his own schedule and I work nights. We had a lot of really great chats, although his passion for Eastern medicine and spirituality is a bit cheesy. He's still a well-read, worldly guy. But I told myself that there was a line and I would not cross it. As Tasha, I owe it to her, myself and Wade not to screw things up. But if I was smart I would have stayed the hell away. I thought I could have my cake and eat it too. After all, I've had plenty of male friends, and they never had trouble not making a pass at me (see: introverted, not approachable.) Sometimes I forget what I look like, what a smile or a friendly touch on the shoulder could mean to a guy.
And it didn't help matters that the more he turned on the charm, the more I felt butterflies.
And the more I noticed how I didn't feel butterflies with Wade. And then I felt bad about that.
Then one night in January, Mykal was driving me home from the bar, where he had popped in to see me, and we got to my building, and we just kind of looked at each other and decided to do what we both wanted.
And we just couldn't stop kissing.
And I was just so excited to be there that I started playing with his, well, you-know-what... and let him spurt all over the place.
Including, I later noticed, a little spatter that had traveled from his crotch to my pant leg.
Then I crawled into bed with Wade, but I couldn't sleep. I had this anxiety attack that Wade would wake up and decide to look in the hamper for some reason. Or that there was more that I hadn't seen. Or that Wade could smell it on me. So I got up and just started pacing around the living room in tears.
Days passed. Wade didn't seem to suspect anything, but I was pretty reluctant to see Mykal. I was texting Ty every ten minutes, which of course is a no-no because he was in school, and honestly I was abusing his goodwill anyway because, if you've been reading this since the beginning, you might know that Tyler has some pretty serious feelings for me that we've just agreed never to address... which was foolish because I needed some emotional support and he was my only option and that was so, so, so unfair of me.
So I had Tyler getting impatient with my BS, which was fair, and I had Mykal tapping his foot wondering if we were going to become anything, and I had Wade who I couldn't even look in the eye anymore.
So I cracked one night, when Wade and I were both off. I sat him down and started by asking how he felt about "us." He said he thought things were fine. I said I'd been having some doubts. He sat up... he knew exactly what that meant, because he had been suspicious of Mykal for some time.
He flew into a rage, throwing around words like "duplicitous" and "untrustworthy" and spouting off about what he assumed my defenses would have been if I were the real Tasha. I said I had no defense, and he said "No shit."
He told me to get out. I didn't want to go to Paul and Sue's -- there are enough people under that roof and I couldn't face Tyler either -- so I went to Mykal's. The only person I thought would have me.
He let me sleep on his couch, thankfully holding back his obvious curiosity about where that left us, because I simply could not handle any more drama at the time.
The next day he made me breakfast and we talked about what we wanted. I wondered how mad Tasha would be at me if I left her life with a new boyfriend she had never met before. Mykal made a very compelling case for "us," but I told him I owed it to "myself" to try to make it work with Wade.
And he said "Well if you go back to him and it doesn't work, don't bother trying to come back here."
I don't really care for ultimatums, so I told him I would see him around.
I got back to the apartment and stopped at the door. I had to remind myself what I was trying to rescue, not for me, but for Tasha. She obviously loved Wade, she had been with him for years and had a home with him. I couldn't believed I had put it in jeopardy with one careless night. I hoped it was strong enough to withstand this.
I went in and found a bunch of my clothes piled carelessly in the living room. We were not off to a good start.
When I found him, we were both in more of a state of mind to talk, but not by much. I chose my words very carefully. I told him things had been weird with me lately, and he asked why.
I said I couldn't put my finger on it.
He said that wasn't good enough.
I asked if there was any way he could forgive me, anything I could say or do.
He took a long breath and stared off into space. Like he was doing some mental math.
Finally he spoke.
"It was only once?"
I nodded and said an almost inaudible "Yes."
"And you told me right away?"
I shrugged a guilt-ridden "Couple of days."
He nodded slowly. Adding it all up.
"Sleep on the couch for a while, I guess," he said in this wounded whisper. "We'll work on it."
I wiped the tears from my eyes and I reached out to hug him. He hesitated but let me.
He went to work, and I spent the day at home cursing at myself, pacing, excoriating myself because I have more character than that, I'm supposed to be better than that.
The word "Why" rang in my ears for days afterward. That look on his face when I told him things were weird and he asked "Why." Not "why couldn't I put my finger on it," because that goes into the whole backstory of what happened to me and Tasha. But "Why did I do it?"
Why couldn't I just be happy with Wade? Just for a few months? I'm so used to being on my own, and being in this relationship doesn't take that much work, so why couldn't I resist the urge to screw it all up for one measly year?
But I felt that pain of confessing and talking it out with him... suddenly I felt closer to him than I ever had before, as guilty and self-hating as I was. I couldn't stand that I had hurt such a nice guy who was very accommodating to me. I felt the urge to make it work stronger than I had in my entire time in Pittsburgh.
I tested myself, and failed, and became determined not to do so again.
Then I needed to ask... why did he take me back? Why didn't he do the right thing and punish me for my wrongdoing? Why does he think this relationship is strong enough to survive it?
Is it because he doesn't think he can do better? Because of how I look? Is it because he loves Tasha?
Is it because he... loves me?
I don't know, I don't know. Maybe I'm crazy. I'm definitely sick with guilt and still onthe couch after 2 weeks, but we're rebuilding. And Tasha I'm sorry.
As far as wrecking this with Tyler, that's a related issue. I feel like I've taken his friendship for granted with my drama when he's got more serious things going on. When you find yourself fighting with your friend about how to be friends with them, there's a problem. There are things since the new year that he hasn't shared with you, and he hasn't even told me the depths of it, but even so, it's not mine to share.
And now, I haven't seen him almost since this thing went down, and I suspect he's in a lot of trouble but I really don't know what's going on.
But since it could potentially affect me, and the return trip to the Inn, I need him to reach out and tell me what he's got going on. We're in this together, pal. Never forget that.