Tag Archives: Buttface

A Eulogy to My Old Dorm

They tore my old dorm down today.

Well… I don’t know that it happened today, but it happened fairly recently – recently enough so that the equipment was still there and only the elevator shaft was still standing.  Lonely.  Like some sort of monument to what used to be there.

I didn’t know it was going to happen.  I wish I had.  I’d have gone to take photos before it came down.

I’m pretty upset about it.  And it surprises me that I feel this upset about it… it was, after all, just a building. And it’s not like I spent a whole lot of time there, preferring, instead, to be at my friends’ dorm on the other side of campus (which is, at least for the time being, still standing).

But this is where it really started for me.

I moved there, after the summer, not knowing what to expect and, really, seeing it as a means to an end since my plans were to get married to my then boyfriend right after college.  Things didn’t work out for us… we broke up while I was sitting at my desk in that dorm (he’d gone to college in Indiana).

I made friends.  Not thanks to that dorm… in fact none of my friends lived in that dorm.  But that dorm meant I did not live with my parents, I did not have a curfew, and I was free to come and go as I pleased.

I had internet access again.  And I used it.  Oh god did I use it.

While living there, I reconnected and had an (albeit short lived) affair with 1.0… who broke my heart while I sat in my desk chair (ironically the SAME desk chair I got dumped in at the beginning of the year) in January of 2002.

I can’t tell you how many dates picked me up from that parking lot and walked me to that door.  Seriously.  I lost count.  I don’t even remember all of their names (because not everyone I go out with is worthy of a nickname).

This was the dorm room I lived in when I lost an entire research paper (that was stored on a floppy drive) hours before it was due – I had to stay up all night recomposing it from memory so that I could turn it in on time.

I consequently bought a new computer the next day that had a CD Burner (cutting edge technology in 2001).

This was where, after coming in from a Psychology exam, I watched (on TV) the Twin Towers fall on September 11, 2001.  And where I listened as all of the planes that were in the vicinity of Louisville were grounded (and flew directly overhead as we were very close to the airport).

This is the dorm room where I found (after three years of no contact) Emperor Slade/Buttface, in the chat room that had replaced HotelChat.

And the dorm room where I spent hours on the phone with him.  And 1.0.

I lived in this dorm room while I dated The Professor.  This meant I didn’t spend a whole lot of time in that room, as I was either traveling up and down the road to Bowling Green, or sleeping in a random hotel off of Newburg Road, but when we weren’t driving a lot, or that week when he was on some Debate trip, that’s where I was.

This is the dorm room where I learned my real mother’s name.  And where I was given the ring she’d requested be put away for me.  And it’s the dorm room where I struggled, after finding all of that out, with what to do with the information. Ultimately I decided to do nothing – I regret that now.

I still have the bedspread that went on that bed.  I still have (and use) the green Yaffa blocks that sat in the corner.

I lived here when I made my first (secret) trip to New  York City in 2002.  Partly to see 1.0 (who had already dumped me by that time – but I still had the tickets, so I used them), but mostly to see the city.  The trip was terrifying… it was just a few months after 9/11 and with the new, tighter security measures in place, I didn’t know what I was doing.  Granted, it was also the first time I’d flown alone so I probably wouldn’t have been very good at it before that happened either.  My parents STILL do not know that happened.

My dad still has my old refrigerator in his garage.  He uses it to store cold drinks for mowing days.

It wasn’t all fun and games…

The kitchen was three floors down… so I almost never used it.

The Spring Break security staff was very lax… so lax that they let my parents in without keys (and they were the LAST people I wanted to see) in 2002.

I remember fighting for toilets (because there were only three on our floor) and for showers (there were only two on the entire floor).

But I also remember looking at the showerhead every morning… perplexed and intimidated by the “self breast exam instructions” that someone had hung up there.  I also wondered why I would ever need to do that, since I barely had any to speak of in those days, and they were regularly getting mauled by one of said boyfriends.

Oh and I hated having to wear flip flops in the shower because no one wants athlete’s foot.

And how my shower caddy never really dried out very well since it had to travel back and forth and eventually molded.

But at least my dorm room was next to the bathroom.

And the stairwell.

RIP Wellness Hall.

Guess I missed you more than I was willing to admit.

The L Word

First, to make things clear:  I do not have a problem with having, or showing, emotional love.  When I feel it, I have no qualms about and make no issue of displaying that, whether it be through random acts of kindness, generosity, PDA, etc.  I am not afraid of the emotion in and of itself.  The word, though, and in particular, the verbal EXPRESSION of the word?  Now that’s fucking scary.

I don’t think I always thought it was scary.  Like, pre-marriage, expressing it was… well… if not habitual or normal, just something that was done when I felt that way, confident that HE (whoever that recipient was at the time) felt that way also, and never fearful that the admission would ever be used against me or not reciprocated, or that the word meant to me what it meant to him.

But then, after the divorce, I fell into a string of… well… less than successful relationships with men who either misused the word or who couldn’t say it at all.  First there was Buttface, who had been saying it for the better part of ten years.  And who, once his divorce was filed for, moved up from Florida to, ostensibly, be closer to me (this is what he told me, at least, at first).  And then who suddenly, without explanation, without reason (at least as far as I could see) stopped saying it.  Now, I’ll take proper credit for not simply asking him why, and for sticking around for the better part of two years after, trying to “figure it out” when I could have moved on.  But once I realized, after all that time, that he wasn’t going to say it again, that he wasn’t going to tell me what had changed his mind, and, most importantly, that he was now dating (at thirty-one), a seventeen year old from Oklahoma, I cut my losses.  Oh, I got revenge in the end… of course… it was both warranted and necessary to the overall healing process (and of course when his cat took a shit all over the bed about a year later because the toilet-training efforts weren’t going to plan, I was pretty happy about that too). But, revenge or not, I began to realize that it was entirely possible to use that word, seem to mean it, then drop it like a really bad habit (by the way, that’s the worst comparison ever – if it’s a “habit,” that means it is not easy to break, but whatever).

Still, once I was over that, I chalked it up to bad luck, bad judgment, whatever, and decided to learn from the experience: if I was with a man who seemed to suddenly change, I would simply not tolerate it anymore, not waste as much time (god, NEVER as much time), and I would leave.  Or if I was with a man who simply would drag things out, string me along, and never progress, again, I’d leave. But, of course, I didn’t really think something worth having would be that hard to procure.  After all, I had had no problems pre-divorce.  Of course, I had been younger then, my boyfriends had also been younger (and probably less jaded), and I failed to take that into consideration.

Anyway.  After Buttface came 3.0.  THIS guy, I’m convinced, simply wasn’t capable of feeling the emotion. I loved him, or at least I am pretty sure I did (though considering the minimal amount of time it took me to get OVER him, maybe I was just in love with the idea that he was pretty well off and had a nice condo in the nicest area of Tampa), but when I said it, not only did he not reciprocate, but he used the phrase, “I’m not sold.” Or simply just told me he wasn’t there yet.  Now, if that wasn’t bad enough, once he knew how I felt, he used it against me.  If I did something he didn’t like, if I did something he couldn’t tolerate, he’d say that he was… oh… 95 percent there, but then I did that, and it knocked it down to 92.  Yes.  He was a weirdo.  But I’m dedicated.  (And that’s not always the best thing… especially when the guys I’m dedicated to are not as dedicated to me.) So I stayed.  Or at least I tried.  But when it came down to holiday time, and I didn’t want to take someone home who could not feel for me what I was able to feel for him, and I CERTAINLY didn’t want to stick around for several years, wasting MORE time on another Buttface.  So I gave him the ultimatum.  And he thought about it for a few days.  And then it finally ended when he called and said, “I just don’t think I’m going to be able to fall in love with you, hon.” When he came over to get his stuff, he was crying.  I was not crying.  Not because I did not want to, but because I had decided that he did not deserve to see it.  And I wanted to keep my dignity.  Dignity preserved.  Mission accomplished.  But I still began to wonder whether some of this was my fault, if I had lost my mojo or something, or was somehow just not doing this correctly anymore.

Moving on.

Then there was Botboy.  Botboy used the word first.  After the first vodka shipment I’d sent him.  And because, at least in my experience, alcohol is a truth serum, I believed him.  But Botboy was as jaded as I am.  I don’t think he didn’t mean it… I don’t think he intended to come home, get his stuff, and leave.  I do wonder, sometimes, if he used the fact that I loved him to his advantage to procure supplies, snacks, etc.  Especially when he bragged to me much later about how he’d used other women for this or that.  Still, I think he did love me in the only way that he knew how or was capable of – the only way he’d ever been able to love anyone before. If that were the case, he wouldn’t have been able to give me what I was looking for, and looking back on it, I know that now. But at the end of the day, whether he meant it or not then is not the point.  The point is that I DID fall for him, I DID love him, and he SEVERELY hurt me when he left.  So much so that I told myself that, moving forward, never again would I say it first, never again would I repeat it unless the man said it to me while sober, and I had SEEN the reflection of his words in his actions.

It was a year after that before I considered dating anyone else– and that was Ormsby.

And so that’s where we were… I moved back to Kentucky, into Ormsby’s apartment.  And neither he, nor I, had ever used the word with each other before. I sometimes think he was as afraid of it as I was.  I can’t tell you how many times the word was on the tip of my tongue and I didn’t say it, not only out of fear of what might happen, but also out of stubbornness.  I had said I was not going to say it first, I meant it, and for once this was a rule I was absolutely not going to break.

Except I did.  In December, a week before Christmas, when I finally found my figurative balls, and just said it.

And apparently he’d known how I felt since July.  Even before I knew how I felt.

And with that information?  He’d done absolutely NOTHING.  I mean… nothing in that he didn’t use it against me.  He didn’t give me percentage comparisons to live up to.  He didn’t start using it only suddenly stop with no explanation, and best of all, he didn’t stand me up, break his promises, or make me wonder where I stood (much).  And even when I realized it (and I can’t even tell you when that was, exactly), I still didn’t say it.  Not in July.  Not in August when we started dating.  Not in September and October when he was in Florida for work.  Not even in November when we made it Facebook official and moved in together (yes, we do everything backward).

But when I said it, he said it back.

And that’s when the curse was broken.  Because I knew he meant it.  Not because of the way he said it, not because he was drunk (he wasn’t), but because of the things he’d done up to that point that illustrated it long before those words were ever uttered.  I didn’t have to doubt, I didn’t have to question it, I just knew it.  And whatever had happened in the past that made me wonder if all of this was just “me”, or if I was as unlovable as the Darren Hayes song I listened to over and over again during the 3.0 days, it didn’t matter anymore.  Because I knew it wasn’t true.

Communication

The next four weeks, for me, are a countdown of sorts.  And partially due to this countdown and partially due to some inspiration taken from one of my friends at work, I’ve decided to do a series on the four “pillars” of a successful relationship.  These are not the only pillars, by any stretch of the imagination, and your own experiences may have you placing a higher value on some of these more than others – or even replacing some of these with others .  But from my own experience, this is what I know:

I’ve had a lot of relationships.  And in all of them, I can honestly say that the one factor that really made or broke the relationship was communication.  And when I say communication, I don’t mean the amount of communication.  I don’t need to be in contact with my significant other all day, every day, every hour, every minute, and every second.  I don’t need to know everything that person is doing, I don’t need a breakdown of every detail.

No, what I’m talking about here is communication in the sense that both people in the relationship realize what they need and they find a way to communicate that to each other constructively.  Constructive communication is meant to build up the other person, to strengthen the relationship.  When you’re talking, communicating, having a civil, constructive conversation, each person comes out of it realizing what the other person needs, issues can be resolved, things get fixed.  Without solid communication, unless you are some sort of mind-reader, there are misunderstandings, chaos, utter breakdown – and, ultimately, bitterness which leads to failure.  I suppose what I’m trying to say is quality exceeds quantity.

My marriage, for example, was a complete failure.  Things broke, in this case, because we were two incompatible people that were trying to make things work when they weren’t supposed to.  Things became intolerable and unnecessarily inflammatory because we chose the wrong ways to communicate.  Frustration over the things we could not agree on got the better of us.  Emotions ran high.  We lost our tempers.  Simple discussions became screaming matches very quickly and while the divorce was probably the most civil part of that entire relationship, that isn’t really something to be proud of.  By the time the divorce was done, we didn’t care enough to fight anymore.  We were both tired and we both wanted out.  At least, I guess, that was something we could both agree on.

I suppose in this sense, yes, there was communication, but it was the inflammatory kind.  Emotions got too tied up into it.  He was an overemotional bastard and anytime I pointed out something that I needed or something that I wasn’t getting, it was as if I was making a personal attack.  Was I perfect?  Probably not.  I have a bad habit sometimes of thinking before I speak and I did that a lot in those days.  I’m sure there were times when I really was being inflammatory and was really irritating the already touchy situation by saying things I shouldn’t have said.  (Calling him a dumbass when he said he didn’t want his children to be booksmart like me is a very good example.)

Buttface, who I’ve also mentioned before, came after that marriage.  And this was the exact opposite.  Ironically, the relationship began online.  Chat rooms don’t give you the luxury of reading body language or facial expressions.  You type.  You talk.  You get to know someone else.  And so, when he and I started to see each other post-divorces, I assumed that communication would come easily for us.  The funny thing is, we had no problems communicating… we could sit and talk for hours about the most asinine things.  Sharing the same sense of humor meant we found the same inappropriate things funny.  The good times were really good times… he was non-confrontational and didn’t seem to mind if I did what I wanted to do.  I was passive enough after the horrific marital experience to not want to press any issues that I may have been upset about.  I went into it saying I didn’t want to fight, and we didn’t fight.  Ever.

But looking back on some of the things I wrote during those days, especially as things started to fall apart, I’ve realized that while we were fine when things weren’t important, we were horrible at discussing the big things.  I was intimidated.  Conditioned, even.   I’d gotten so used to being screamed at when I tried to express things that I needed that I didn’t have the balls to rock the boat in this new situation.

And he, well, I don’t know his excuses (and I don’t care to know) but we can safely say that when it came to the big things, he was never open enough with me to just talk about it.  There were plenty of things wrong in that situation… I know that now.  He wanted things that, had he asked, I’d have happily given him.  But he never told me, and I am not a mind reader.  I was so conditioned not to push matters, and so confused about how to ask the questions I needed to ask, that I was willing to let things drag on so that they could “fix” themselves.  But that’s not how solutions are reached, either.

At any rate, while we never had a knock-down-drag-out fight about it like in my marriage, I knew something was wrong when we stopped talking at all.  The conversations about the non-important things stopped.  He became distant.  There was never a conversation about what we needed to do to work things out, there was never the conversation about what he needed versus what I needed, there was never any middle ground reached.  Things just kind of went on the way they went on – he’d hang out with me (though not sleep with me), I’d still hang out with him, we’d eat together, he’d spend the rest of his time playing video games (and I’d play occasionally too), and I’d sit there wondering where it had all gone wrong.  How had we gotten from him telling me he wanted to “keep” me, to practically ignoring me altogether with the exception to the awkward hug I’d get when I’d leave to drive home?

The passive-aggressive treatment continued until, finally, I made the discovery that he was seeing someone else.  Not one to be passive-aggressive if I have the evidence in hand, I communicated this to him immediately.  I broke it off, cleanly, and with probably more words than I’d said to him in six months.  It ended, but I was still burnt up about it.

Sometimes I think passive-aggressive communication is worse than even the abusive kind… when that’s the monster you’re dealing with, you don’t know what caused it, there are no conversations about it, things just kind of fall apart and you’re left holding the pieces and thinking my god, what the hell just happened here?  Avoidance may look like the easy way out, but I can assure you, there is plenty of drama after the fallout begins and it’s much, much worse than the drama of just “dropping the hammer” so to speak.

There are many ways to communicate with people.  And I’ve come to realize that there are, unfortunately, more negative ways than positive.  Positive, constructive communication is simple:  you know what you need, you find a clear, logical way to ask for what you need.  Then you actually listen with an open mind to what the other person has to say (that’s really, really, really important), and then, if you really want things to work, together you try to find some sort of solution.  Constructive communication is NOT attacking the other person.  Constructive communication is NOT ignoring the other person, either because you don’t care enough to discuss the issues (if you don’t care enough, seriously, you should just leave) or because you are too non-confrontational to discuss the issues.

And as I mentioned before, listening is really important too.  That’s the key to any kind of communication happening at all.  If there’s no listening, you may as well be having a conversation with a brick wall.  And when you listen, you do it with an open mind.  You take the other person into consideration.  You try to understand what they’re saying, even if sometimes they do not express it in the most eloquent of ways and even if you don’t agree.  You internalize it, and you try to see it from the other person’s perspective.  Even people with polarizing opinions are able to reach a compromise if they really try, and compromise can only be reached by really, truly, listening to what the other person has to say, and, further, caring enough to take their opinions into consideration.

Relationships aren’t one-way affairs, communication within a relationship cannot be a one-way affair.  You don’t simply wake up one morning, on the same page, with everything neatly in place and a big bow on top of it.  It would be nice, but it doesn’t work that way.

Relationships are a lot of work.  And in order for them to work, you have to want the same things.  From that same blueprint, you share a dream, you think together, and you communicate those ideas to make that happen.  When you don’t, you flounder around without direction, without purpose, and when things go wrong, because there was never a common goal to begin with, there’s nothing left to talk about.  Suddenly, you’re fighting without knowing what you’re fighting about and, mostly, out of frustration because you don’t know where it is you’re supposed to be going.  Alternately, you’re ignoring it and hoping it goes away.  Ultimately, if there was no track to travel on initially, you have nothing to get back onto when you’ve had a disagreement.

And I’ll pose a question… rhetorical, mostly, though I would kill to know the answer to it if there even is one:  If communication is so easy in the beginning, if we can open up to each other, and talk, and share ideas, then why does it always seem that when we become “settled” into something, things become harder?  That something about the spark of the communication is lost?  Do we stop listening?  Do we become complacent?

Sure it’s easier to be passive-aggressive.  It’s easier to be inflammatory.  It’s easier to leave what is hard and go back to the beginning with someone new, where things are easy and uncomplicated.  But what happens when that gets hard, too?  When you have to find that blueprint? Do you keep jumping from place to place or do you try to make it work?

After all, doesn’t the old saying go:  Nothing worth having is ever easy?