I have only had one serious relationship before I was with Bryon. I have referred to him as the Anti-Bryon because he is pretty much the opposite of Bryon.
Like, a complete 180. I had often said that Bryon was the over correction of this relationship.
Whether Bryon was an over correction or not, he was the right guy for me. The Anti-Bryon was intimidated by my strong personality, Bryon wasn’t fazed. He had an equally strong, if not stronger personality.
Anti-Bryon does have an actual name but I do feel the need to protect his privacy though I highly doubt that he reads this blog.
The last time I spoke to him was during an AOL Instant Messenger Conversation while I was campaigning for George W Bush in 2004. The conversation was just like our relationship- one sided. I ended that conversation thinking that if he and I were going to be friends, he could put in some effort.
And we haven’t spoken since.
The Anti-Bryon and I started dating at the end of Fall semester our senior year of college. Our relationship was not exciting and never progressed. Not even physically.
After two and a half years, I wanted that “je ne sais quoi” that was missing.
And I wanted a boyfriend who wanted to have sex with me. Or at least kissed open mouthed.
This might be TMI but this is my blog. If you don’t like it- don’t read it.
One night, two and a half years into our relationship, I had had enough. We were getting ready for bed and
I confronted the Anti-Bryon. Anti-Bryon wasn’t particularly religious but he said that the thought of having sex with me made him sick to his stomach.
We went to bed. To go to sleep. Just to be clear.
I regret not kicking him out but my self esteem was lacking during my early 20s.
The next day, he did his thing and I had a rare day off so I drove two hours to Boston to do some shopping and to see my Grandma.
As I drove down to Boston in my 1998 Saturn that did not have a tape deck or a CD player, I flipped through the radio stations and I kept hearing “All or Nothing” by O-Town.
It may have just been a coincidence since the song was popular at that time.
I went to the shops in Downtown Crossing despite the fact there were plenty of malls in suburbia. I wanted the distraction of being “in the city”.
And in each store, O-Town was playing.
At that stage of my life, I never thought much about the esoteric but it was clear that the Universe was trying to tell me something.
Usually when I ask for a sign, I get some sort of riddle in return. Or ignored completely. But this was one of the few times in my life that Universe, or God or whoever the *bleep* is in charge (Charles, maybe?) has sent me a clear sign that’s it’s oooooover, ooooooover.
We weren’t in love. We were just friends. And this is how it ends.
After I visited my Grandma that afternoon, I drove back to Maine and broke up with the Anti-Bryon. He wasn’t heartbroken.
And neither was I, though I felt that he led me on. He had the best of me but he didn’t want the rest of me. He got a good deal but he had no intention of having a future with me. But I never took the initiative to question his intentions or lack thereof.
So why am I thinking about the Anti-Bryon?
I have zero attachment to him. I hope he is well and happy. I hope he is living his best life possible.
I seldom think about those years and when I do, all I remember is boredom. I don’t remember the Anti-Bryon as being particularly funny. The only funny thing I remember was this one time we went to the Portland Museum of Art (free admission with a student ID from the University of Southern Maine) and he came up behind and whispered “I see naked people…”
Like that kid on Sixth Sense. You know…the one who saw dead people.
That is the only funny thing I remember about the Anti-Bryon. But maybe he was funny but I spent 8 years with Bryon who was one of the funniest people I have ever met.
I am thinking about this because O-Town has been stuck in my head.
Except this time the phrase I am pondering is “I’ve had the rest of you now I want the best of you.”
I don’t think anyone has ever had the “best of me”.
I was a very hyper kid. I began to learn at a very young age that I had to dial it back a notch or two or twelve to appease people.
I was shamed for being too loud, too hyper, too dramatic, too talkative.
So I tried my best to scale it down to fit in and to please people.
I kept my light from shining as bright as it could, so I could fit in with others.
Because I was too much for people.
As a parent of a child with a bright light, it pains me to see her get scolded for being her.
It’s why I took her out of her dance class when she kept being in trouble for being too talkative and “overbearing”.
I wasn’t going to pay $65 a month to have my daughters light dimmed, especially when I am sure in the upcoming years, people will try to dim her light and they will probably do it for free. She has plenty of other activities she attends and if she wants to continue to dance, I’ll find another school that’s a better fit.
When I was dating the Anti-Bryon, I tried to fit whatever mold I thought would appease him. Looking back, he never tried to fit my mold. I loved to travel and the one time he went to Boston (the actual city, not just visiting my family in the suburbs) he was pissed at me because he didn’t want to ride on the T (that’s the subway for the non-Bostonians).
Instead of saying that this relationship was a two way street and sometimes he needed to do the things I wanted, I tried harder to please him.
But during all these acts to try to please the Anti-Bryon, I lost my authentic self.
Or I should say, my authentic self became more lost and obscured.
My authentic self had been lost since I was a child.
My authentic self continued to stay lost until I realized all my co-workers, most of whom were a little older than me, were still going out and having fun. Friday nights with the Anti-Bryon consisted of watching America’s Funniest Home Videos or AFV as it had been shortened. AFV circa 2002/2003 didn’t have Bob Saget as a host so watching it felt completely pointless. You can only watch a cat leap in the air or a guy get hit in the nuts so many times before it just isn’t funny anymore.
My coworkers taught me that being an adult was not synonymous with being boring. I remember my coworker MaryBeth (I don’t know what happened to her) told me that she thought there was a more fun version of me inside and maybe if I wasn’t dating the Anti-Bryon that that side of myself could express itself.
MaryBeth saw my authentic self.
She saw something in me that I didn’t see.
I took those words to heart. The day in Boston with O-Town happened shortly thereafter.
This all happened in summer 2003.
So I decided to move home (further up the Maine coast) and I got into politics.
Politics taught me social skills and I felt a little less socially awkward though politics in itself can be socially awkward at times. I met a lot of great people (including my husband) who are still in my life but I also had to weed through a lot of narcissistic toolbags.
I learned what I needed to learn during my political years. I made some friends that I am still friends with today. I got to travel around the country and I have had some cool experiences. It was through politics where the etiquette of fine dining and other formalities became second nature.
But I found it hard to be authentic. I couldn’t take the scheming and games. So I retired. Or at the very least, I went on an indefinite sabbatical.
Bryon came into my life and when I got my political fix by tagging along to his events.
Bryon was good for my authentic self. We spent most of our free time together, engaged in intelligent and witty conversations. We traveled. We ate good food whether it was fine dining or from takeout windows.
He encouraged me not to sell myself short and to grow career-wise. He even made me read Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In.
I definitely grew during our years together.
But I still feel like he never got the best of me.
He got the best version available at that time but it still wasn’t the best of me.
Bryon and I both had strong personalities and I would go along with whatever he wanted sometimes because it was easier.
During those years, it never dawned on me that there was a better version of myself lurking underneath.
I don’t know if it fair to myself to feel guilty for not expressing a side of personality that I didn’t know was there.
Plus we live in a society that does not foster authenticity. We care more about how we appear on social media.
I just remember sitting by his side in the ICU, mustering up strength I didn’t know I had, promising him I would be a better wife.
Coming from a Boston Irish-Catholic family, guilt is one of the few emotions that I learned to express.
I wanted Bryon be proud of me but I never got that confirmation.
After Bryon’s death, I started to question everything. Why did Bryon have to die? What is God so cruel?
I questioned everything I believed or have ever believed. I questioned the meaning of life.
I believe this is what all the New Age Guru’s call “the Dark Night of the Soul”.
I thought a lot about my life and Bryon’s life. He was his authentic self. He didn’t care if people got pissed off. He lived his truth.
He still exercised tact and decorum.
There were a few times when we were watching the Republican Presidential Primary debates and a certain candidate would say something inappropriate and Bryon would day “I can’t believe he said that. You can’t say that!”
It took Bryon’s death for me to learn how to live.
It was a time of my life where I didn’t want to live. A part of me died that Sunday morning when Bryon died.
I made the decision to keep living.
And I hope no one read that in the literal sense. I never wanted to die. I just felt dead inside.
Even with these new revelations, I continued to try to please people. People who took advantage of me. People who didn’t respect my privacy. People who used me my life’s tragedy for their gain. People who took my love and friendship for granted.
I made sure to show up to every daycare function and do whatever a Pinterest mom needed to do because I didn’t want to be the single mom who dropped the ball. Just don’t look inside my car. I don’t have it together nearly as much as I seem like I do.
The irony is, no one has openly judged me. Maybe behind my back but I don’t have the information to tell you one way or the other.
Here I am, at the age of 41 and I am finally learning that I can’t dim my light for others. My light shining brightly doesn’t affect the brightness of other lights.
We all have to live our truth.
At age 41, I finally realized that I am not going to be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s okay.
And I don’t have to drink tea I don’t like either.
And neither do you.
Don’t let anyone blow out your light.
And going forward, people can take me or leave. But I am done trying to please people.
You can take me or leave me.