There is a fine line between love and hate. I'm ashamed to say that a person whom I love very much and who was instrumental in shaping the woman I've become, is also the person with whom I was most angry in my life.
Michael and I met in the smoking section of our office building. We were the two loser-tobacco-addicted-holdouts in our tower, otherwise filled with healthy Southern Californians. We quickly fell in love, and I moved into his condo. After seven months of living together, I noticed a definite cooling of Michael towards me. What followed was something I didn't expect in the world of love between grown-ups where people are supposed to talk about their problems and solve them in a sane, civil, and adult manner.
One night, Michael and I went out with friends to hear some live music. It was a crowded bar, and we got separated. After awhile, I was tired, slightly drunk, and annoyed that he had disappeared. So I decided to punish Michael by leaving without him. That'll show him! I thought stupidly.
I went home and fell asleep. Waking up the next morning, I looked at Michael's pillow, which was devoid of his curly-haired head. I got up and walked through the house, thinking he'd fallen asleep in one of the other bedrooms. No Michael. I went into the garage; his car wasn't there.
I ran upstairs and called some friends. "Is Michael there?" I asked embarrassed, realizing that I sounded like a dumbass for not knowing where my own boyfriend was. After exhausting that option, I started calling the hospitals, the police station. No Michael. So I sat down in the living room in my robe and waited for the phone to ring, watching some insipid Danny DeVito movie where he was playing a mentally-challenged guy. I got angrier and angrier as the minutes ticked by (not at the movie-- at Michael). What the fuck is going on?!?
The phone rang. It was Michael calling from the car. "Are you alright? Where are you?" I quizzed him, worried sick.
"We need to talk," he intoned.
Oh, here we go.
"Right now? On the phone?" I said sharply. "Ohhhhhhh no you don't. Come home and tell me to my face." I slammed the phone down and laid on the couch.
Ten minutes later, Michael came in, wearing his clothes from the night before and sporting his sunglasses. He slumped in a chair. I sat up, hyper-alert, and lit up my millionth cigarette of the day. "Well, Michael? Talk," I snipped.
"I'm not happy. I want you to move out."
God. The adrenaline that flooded through me!
"Is it because I left last night? I was tired, so Glen gave me a ride home. Is that why you're saying this?" I quavered.
"No." A stone.
"Do you have someone else, Michael? Where did you stay last night?"
"I was at a friend's house. No, there isn't anyone else."
"Bullshit, Michael," I said, chuffing smoke like a train. "I don't believe you."
He sat looking at me, without taking off his sunglasses.
"For God's sake. Take off your sunglasses!"
He didn't. There he sat, immobile, silent.
"What am I supposed to do, Michael?"
Nothing. Like the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, he was. All's he needed was a black hood.
I stubbed out my cigarette. "Okay. I'm going to take a shower. When I come out, I want you to be gone."
I got into the shower, scared, hurt, furious. Crying. Jesus Christ. Why won't he tell me what the fuck is going on? What did I do?
When I got out of the shower, robe on, hair in a towel, he was still sitting in the same spot, a fixture.
Michael said quietly, "I'll pay the deposit for your new apartment. I'm also going to pay your moving expenses. I'll give you the money when you figure out how much you need."
I stared at him. God, he really wants me to disappear. And he's giving me the money to do it. "Fine," I snapped. "I'll call you. But you're not staying here, Michael! You're staying with your 'friend' until I leave, whoever that is. You won't be here when I am. You aren't gonna just stop by to pick up some stuff. You'll call me beforehand and I'll make sure I'm not here when you come by." I kept staring at him, waiting for him to say why he was doing this.
"Okay," he answered. With that out of the way, he got up and left.
That was the moment I became certifiably insane. It lasted for the next four months.
Anticipating my future pharmaceutical needs, Michael tactfully left a full bottle of Xanax in the kitchen cupboard. I took two of them each night and washed them down with (at least) a six-pack of beer, just to get to sleep. I packed half-heartedly. I looked for an apartment. I listened to Van Morrison and Beatles CDs. I obsessed. I fumed.
When I drove deeper into the city limits of Crazytown, I became vengeful. With a key, I scratched out my recently-engraved name on our mailbox. I tried to make Michael's day-to-day life as miserable as I possibly could. I would see Michael out around town and glare at him, just to make him squirm. I accessed his personal voicemail account and erased "important" messages. I timed my smoke breaks to coincide with his so I could ride in the elevator with him to glare and say bitchy, crazy shit. I looked through all his clothes for clues as to why this was happening-- it's a girl, it's gotta be some slut he met, there's gotta be a phone number around here somewhere. I accused him of coming over and moving stuff around the apartment when I wasn't there: "Did you come over here today? The reason I ask is because I can't find the fucking T.V. remote. I know you were over here, Michael! Did you hide the remote?!?"
God, I was so awful. I hated myself for hating him. I hated him for not loving me any more. I hated how I felt. There was a typhoon of loathing and desperation that whirled around in my brain, unrelenting, unstoppable.
Finally, I realized I needed help quickly or something bad was going to happen. I made an appointment with a shrink and told him the whole sordid, messy tale.
"What do you need to make yourself feel better about all of this?" he asked gently.
"I need to have Michael dead. That would make me so happy. I would like to see him suffer." I remember saying this and noticing the shock in the shrink's eyes.
I was so blatant, heartless, and evil. I'd become a monster.
This was, thankfully, many years ago. He and I have both moved on. One night we talked about this whole mess. I told Michael everything I'd felt during those months, except the fact I wanted him dead. I've never told him that.
Michael, if you read this, sweetie, I'm so sorry.