Wednesday, July 13, 2005

My life as an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer

My favorite episode of Buffy is an ep called "Fear Itself." In it Buffy and her friends go to a Halloween party held at a fraternity house. The boys in the frat house draw a pentagram type symbol on the attic floor and unknowingly open a portal to another dimension, one where a fear demon named Gachnar rules and in opening the portal, they unleash Gachnar.

No one can see Gachnar they can only hear him screaming at them through the walls and he rules with fear, manifesting everyone's greatest fears. People run terrified and some end up so frightened they die, but Buffy and her pals face their fears and end up in the attic. They break Gachnar's symbol thinking that will end his hold on their world, but instead they end up clearing the way for him to come into their realm.

Smoke billows and slowly Gachnar enters, he's ugly and loud....and only a few inches tall. They stare at him for a few seconds, realizing that the great demon who terrified from beyond the realm, holds no power over them. Buffy makes fun of him and stomps him like a bug with her shoe.

And this is how it is with fear. What I was afraid of seemed so huge.

My fear of living alone scared the hell out of me. I didn't know what I'd do all alone, I thought it meant I was unloved and unwanted that no one would want to be with me. I'd knock around an apartment all by myself with no one to turn to.

My fear of CP kept me in a loveless marriage because I was afraid to stand up to him....and afraid to live my life alone. I was terrified that if I stood up to CP and finally told everyone what an abusive man he really was that it would shatter this world I'd lived in and lied about....that it would say something terrible about me....that I was weak and stayed with him because I was powerless. I thought people would hate me for lying to them.

But I faced my Gachnar in that courtroom last week and I wasn't afraid. It was the most amazing thing in the world. I was so afraid to see CP and so afraid that I would crumble on that witness stand. But once I was in there everything seemed small and normal.

The minute I walked in that room and sat down, I was calm. I knew all I had to do was tell the truth and stay my course and honor my own soul and I would be fine. And I was.

In that hour and a half, I stomped Gachnar with my shoe, because he really was only a few inches high. I made him out to be this huge, frightening monster in my mind, because he was screaming at me from behind the walls and he sounded too awful to face. But I stood my ground and face to face....it was no contest.

In looking back at the whole experience, the courtroom, my marriage, my life as Mrs. CP...it seems inconveivable that I was afraid of it all. CP, when I think of him now, is like a tired, bitter, little man. His eyes don't scare me. His hands seem weak. His large 6 foot 2 inch, 210 pound frame seems small and his words are meaningless. My fear of him is gone.

And as a consequence I am now living by myself in my apartment and it doesn't scare me. I took my kids back to their father last night and I came home.....home....to my place and I watched TV and I read some and checked my email and crawled into my own bed in my own room and slept for hours.

I didn't need to go back to my mother's because living alone doesn't equate to being alone and being here by myself is all of a sudden the most right thing I've done in my life. And I'll be here this week by myself and next week my kids will be back and fill this place up with noise and laughter and weird anime TV shows and rummy card games and it's the most wonderful experience.

This pendulum swinging back and forth between my time with my kids and my time with myself.

My therapist asked me why I was so afraid to be alone and I couldn't give her much of an answer, it was just a cold dread I felt. Then she asked me who I was going to meet when I lived alone. The answer came instantly....me. Maybe I just didn't want to meet myself, thinking I would meet that scared girl, who was left by her father, who lost her childhood and mistakenly replaced her loneliness with a husband incapable of love. What would I say to that girl...."You're a fool. You made a mistake and don't have the courage to admit it. You're afraid." Yeah, I wouldn't have wanted to meet her, and I probably would have judged her, because I wouldn't have wanted to admit my own frailties.

But that's not who I met. That not who I am anymore.

So even now, as CP is promising he'll never give me a cent and my dad told me he can't loan me anymore money and my mother bailed on me too, it doesn't frighten me. So I have no money. So I'm on my own. I don't know anyone else who would loan me money and my rent is due in a few weeks. It seems like small beans compared to facing down the biggest fears of my life.

And I know I'll be fine. I put an advertisement up on Craiglist to try and get house cleaning gigs. I added hours to my work schedule to get more money. I'm going to finally send that letter to CP's Mormon bishop with a copy of the court order in it, because my kids are Mormon and if CP isn't going to pay his support to me, I'll ask the church to. I also know that in doing that, CP will most likely get a good talking to, as Mormon men are expected to pay their child support. If they don't they are supposed to have their temple recommend taken away so they cannot attend the temple. And we all know why CP told me he wanted a divorce, because he wanted a Mormon wife to go to the temple with him. But hey....he made his bed and he set these rules and I'm playing the game.

As it turns out, I'm pretty damn good at playing it. In fact, I'm a better player than CP.

So I sit here in my little apartment, my dog is asleep at my feet, I have a day off of work and a date tonight. My friends stop by every once in a while to bring me things....like pots and pans, a chair from their extra bedroom, curtains, cups, etc. And my little apartment is filling up. The chairs don't match and the curtains are from the stone age and I have the wildest assortment of cups and coffee mugs and glasses that you could imagine, but it doesn't matter. The eclectic mix of things around my house only speaks to craziness of my life right now and everything in my home reminds me that no matter how many people I lied to about my life up until four months ago, those people care about me and my kids regardless. Every thing in my home reminds me I am not alone.

I never was.

Gachnar doesn't scare me anymore.