The last several times I spoke with my dear friend, Ray, he was very depressed and having suicidal thoughts.  It has now been a couple of weeks since I have been able to reach him.  I am in Seattle and his last known whereabouts were in L.A.  I haven’t been able to locate him or anyone that has seen him.  He has no one, except maybe me.  I hate to think the worst, but the longer I go without any word, the more real my fear and guilt. 

Why would I feel guilt?  I offered him a place to stay until he could get his feet back under him, but that is not what he wanted.  Why would I feel guilt?  No matter how bad things got for him as long as I was alone, he had hope.  Why would I feel guilt? Not all that long ago, I found it necessary to tell him that I thought I had found someone I might be able to love.  Why would I feel guilt?  Maybe, because I think there was something more I should have done.  Why would I feel guilt?  I can’t help feeling sorry that I didn’t love him the way he wanted anymore.

So what follows is my story of a love that died inside me.  Much as I tried, once dead, I was never able to revive it.  This is my attempt to justify to myself how I could inflict such pain and hopelessness on someone I truly loved with all my heart and soul.  I also want there to be a memory of him outside of me.  This is an edited, excerpt from my journals (oh yes, I write journals too) . . .

  

When I had to leave my home in California, I left with my dog and what I could put in a POS Ford.  Thank god the dog was small!  I had the humiliating experience of having to live with my parents for a year.  I had a job I hated.  It was cold, dark and rainy that winter in Seattle.  I suffered unbelievably.  I hated my life in everyway.  I finished loving Ray that first year in the gloomy, dank Northwest. 

Ray was the catalyst for my running away to Washington.  He and I had a torrid, but toxic relationship off and on (usually off) for five years.  The ten years before that we had both been married to other people and were just friends; friends through honor and restraint (maybe, some lack of opportunity), not for a deficient in desire to rip each other’s clothes off and have mad, passionate sex.  In fact, we go back further to an acquaintance while I was still in high school.  He was already married even back then.

He and I still saw each other occasionally even after I got to Washington.  I’d stop and see him when I was in L.A. and he came up to Washington a couple of summers to work.  He even lived in my house with me and helped finish the basement as recently as two yeas ago as friends again (no sex).  We talk on the phone regularly, always have, probably always will. 

Ray is not a bad man.  Hell, when my stepfather – a fine and good man – was dying, I don’t think my mother and I could have handled the physical requirements of caring for him had it not been for Ray’s help.  Ray was even the “Knight in Shining Armor” who helped me escape a totally intolerable situation I laughingly refer to as my second marriage.  Ray is truly a pretty terrific guy.  I know if I was in trouble and he had the means to help he certainly would.

Physical attraction was never the issue between us.  It was intoxicating for both of us.  The passion was our downfall.  That and my probable mental instability could not be overcome.  The peaks and valleys were too extreme for poor, little, ole bipolar me.  I dropped down to the bottom of the well.  When we were on, I’d hook into the manic high.  We would spend much too much time just being into each other and not doing the things that needed to be done, including our jobs.  When we were off, I was frequently incapacitated.  I won’t be able to stop crying and crawl out of bed, let alone go to work. 

We would live together for a few months, then one of us would move out.  We would stay away from each other for days, maybe weeks.  Somehow, we would always end up back together.  After a few months apart, we’d be back living together again in one form or another.  I was lucky in at least working steady enough to keep the roof over our heads and meeting the basic needs of a teenager . . . $80 boots and a couple of proms dresses a year.  You know essentials and isn’t that what credit cards are for?

Ray didn’t do as well.  He had issues outside our relationship left over from his past life.  He owed the ex, the courts, the welfare system, his lawyer, the State, the IRS, and God knows who else.  He had worse than bad credit.  He couldn’t even get a bank account on his own.  There were problems with his kids, serious ones.  His transportation was unreliable.  His employment was unstable and constantly changing.  He was not having the best time of his life.  I knew that and tried to help where I could.  The system was enormously kicking his ass!

Things got worse over time in every way, except the sex.  No, to be fair it was more than just sex.  It was anytime we spent wrapped up in each other.  That did, of course, always involve sex, but there were countless hours just being together.  We would talk, laugh, play board games, watch movies, anything that was private and fit around our “mating” necessities. 

We also fought.  His drinking was a problem for me, that and my endless struggle to maintain some kind of emotional balance.  I never let him know how bad things would get for me.  I hid my depressive states from him.  We would be doing fine until something would irritate him.  He’d start being hurtful and would become emotionally abusive.  This would tear me apart until I’d finally get mad.  Then it would be my fault when I told him to go or left myself.  It felt to me like he would do it on purpose. 

Looking back, there is far too much truth to that.  It was the unhealthy way we would get time apart from each other.  Time apart is not an option when the experience involves the intensity both emotional and physical that kind of rapport affords.  The need to be bound up in each other comes to be an obsession, a corporal imperative as indispensable as water or air, but like water, you can drowned in it and like air, you can’t survive without it.  Perspective was impossible when we were together and we couldn’t stay away from each other. 

“Together” was sincerely that phenomenal, until we would hit that enigmatic saturation point, and then the break was equally destructive.  I sank deeper and deeper into the morass.  The bad greatly exceeded the good at the end.  My grasp on sanity weakened to the point of collapsing.  Eventually, I had no job and no money. 

I came to realize unless something was done to interrupt the cycle, it would destroy me.  I know it was wrong, but I mailed him a letter on my way out of town.  That was how he learned I was gone.  In a sense, I had no choice.  Had I seen him to say good-bye, I never would have left. 

I will always hold a special place in my heart for Ray.  He was my friend, my confidant, my savior, my lover, my partner, my life mate, and just maybe that one true love of my life.  He never stopped professing his undying love for me and his wish that we might someday rekindle the fire.  It was never going to happen with him and I’m coming to realize it may never happen for more than very brief periods of time with anyone for me. 

My only regret is that to save myself I may have sacrificed him.

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