I’m Just Putting it Out Here



I came across this piece I wrote after completing Searching for my Wand. I love this book & who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to read it. 


 I am not a writer and have no idea how to make sense of this. It comes as no surprise that Glenda has written an entire book and I have yet to start.

We’ve been in couples therapy for six weeks and of the six sessions I have missed three. Once I really did have the flu, but once I needed to reschedule and today I had nothing to say. We’ve been told to write out the series of events that brought us here and I thought those events were pretty clear. My wife’s habitual drug addictions, Sophia’s death, and the fact that my wife chose to sleep with my best friend. I have since been told that in order to understand, forgive and move forward, I must uncover what brought these things about. Again, it seems clear cut to me, but in having read all that Glenda has written, maybe I just don’t want to know how much of this is my fault. I’d give anything to just go back and redo things.

Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking in New York on all of those nights that we spent together at the theatre. I tried so hard not to love her, and I’m not sure if it was because I somehow knew that she’d hurt me, or if it was just my misguided sense of right and wrong. I had a girlfriend at the time, waiting for me to come home. Jocelyn and I had been together for two years and I thought I loved her, so how could I be so attracted to Glenda? Sure, she was pretty, but so was my girlfriend. Glenda was smart and so was Joss, but that was where the similarities ended. Jocelyn knew exactly how her future would play out. We both did. She would finish school with a degree in business, and along with her sister, would open a chain of clothing stores geared towards the twenty-something set. We’d move to Manhattan, and I would be discovered in an off- Broadway play, only to become the next Brad Pitt. Once we were established, we’d probably get married and have a couple of kids. That was the plan. That was what felt right. So I tried my best to ignore how drawn I was to Glenda. I tried to convince myself that she was young and immature, and had no ambition. That she was like a drug, in fact. I can remember telling myself that she was intoxicating and fun, but forbidden.

When she returned to L.A., I missed her so much that I thought I was going crazy. It was Paul who eventually pointed out the obvious. I’d fallen madly in love with her. As soon as she left New York, my life became boring and predictable. Nothing excited me anymore. First I blamed it on a lack of good roles in the theatre, and then I blamed Joss. I told her she was a drag and never surprised me. Then I blamed New York itself, and left for Europe.

It was my plan to travel through France and Italy, before continuing on to London, where I would train under “real” actors. While in Italy, I reconnected with Paul and Sophia, and my life was forever changed. Paul told me I was in love with Glenda, and I all but heard angels sing. It was that powerful. He told me she was in L.A. and that he was afraid that she was falling into trouble. All I wanted to do was to fly out there and save her. Paul’s dad got me a job at the William/Morris agency, and I spent months looking for her. In retrospect, it’s hard to understand why I didn’t turn and run when I did find her. Sure, I loved her, but it was naive and crazy to think I could just remove her from the life she was drowning in. She wasn’t even recognizable. I’d never seen anyone so strung-out in my life, and it wasn’t until I heard her voice that I realized it was her. I should have known right then and there that you don’t do that to yourself unless you have some real serious demons. My roommate Josh saw it right off the bat. He told me that girls like that didn’t come with happy endings. Maybe it was ego or maybe it was guilt, because even then I couldn’t help but think she’d have never gone down that road if only I had told her that I loved her back in New York.

Not having had any experience with drug addiction, I thought I could just get her to stop. Just say no, and all of that bullshit. I thought that if I just took her back to my apartment and bought her some time and clarity, all would work out. I never considered that I could frighten her. Even as she sat there, while the police handcuffed Josh, Brian and I, and demanded to know how long we had been holding her captive, I loved her. As we were taken to jail, interrogated and threatened, I loved her. When we were finally released, I wanted nothing more than to see her. When her father told me to stay away from her, and that I’d nearly killed her, I was shocked. He said he’d get a restraining order if I went near her, and I was devastated. Josh told me to forget her, while Brian threatened to sue her, me, the police, and anyone else he could think of. My parents also pleaded with me not to go near her. I felt lost without her, but with everyone saying she was nothing but trouble I tried to stay away. Even Paul said that the timing was wrong. He said she needed to deal with her addiction on her own, before embarking on a serious relationship. But Sophia knew we would be together, and she advised me to wait. When everyone else said Glenda was a disaster, Sophia said she was wonderful. When Josh said her parents would kill me, Sophia insisted they’d come around. When my family told me she was dangerous, Sophia laughed at the thought. It was Sophia who pulled me up every time I began to think we would never get together, a thought that depressed the hell out of me.

Months later when I returned to Italy for Paul and Sophia’s wedding, I spent ninety percent of my time spying on Glenda who was also in attendance. Paul’s parents, are close friends of Glenda’s parents, and they all but begged me to stay away from her. They insisted she was finally getting healthy, but that she wasn’t healthy enough to be in a relationship.

She looked amazing. She’d gained back the weight she’d lost and her skin was radiant, smooth and inviting. It was all I could do to stay away from her. While there I’d lie in bed at night wondering what she was doing, if she were sleeping, when she’d get up, and how she would spend the day. At the reception I wanted nothing more than to dance with her, but seeing me eyeing her, Paul’s dad reminded me of my promise to leave her alone. I noticed that she was drinking a lot, but reasoned that she was in a stressful situation. Sophia had told me Glenda was convinced that I must hate her, and although I had urged her to tell her that wasn’t so, she said she wanted to wait until she could get Glenda away from her parents, who never left her side. I spent all of my time trying to come up with ways I could run into her when we got back to L.A. The fact that I ran into her at the airport before flying out was a coincidence. Seeing her by herself, flipping through a magazine, I couldn’t stay away. The second we kissed I knew she was the only girl I would ever want to kiss again. Not only that but I knew she loved me as much as I loved her, and that no matter what, we could make this work. That was without a doubt the happiest day of my life.

It didn’t take long to figure out that she hadn’t conquered her addiction to getting high. She insisted that she wasn’t “addicted” to anything, and that she just liked to have fun when going out. We went out a lot, and in her defense she was definitely a lot of fun. Nobody knew how to have a good time like she did. We laughed, danced and really knew how to enjoy ourselves. How I could have never bothered to ask why she needed to get high in order to have a good time I’ll never know. Partly it was that we were young, but partly I have to believe I was just too scared to find out. She had a sweetness about her that made it easy to ignore what was going on. She was so supportive and wanted me to be successful, not because she wanted the material things that come with success, but because she wanted me to be happy. She knew how much I loved acting and she was my greatest fan. She made me feel as though I could defy the odds while at the same time making it clear that she didn’t care if it happened over night or took years. When my family asked when I’d get a real job she defended acting. She said that without actors people would be starved for entertainment and that the world would be a miserable place. She was happy to wait tables while I worked for next to nothing in small plays and accepted local commercials. When I jumped into flipping houses on the side, she picked up a paint brush and helped. When I decided to try for my realtor’s license, just as she had run lines with me in the past, she helped me study, never doubting that I’d pass the test. We were so good together that she made me feel invincible.

I think back to those early days and I can’t believe all that’s happened. I can’t believe that I’m writing this for a virtual stranger to pick up, read and pass judgment on. I can’t believe that after all of this time, and all that we have been through, that I’m still trying to play by the rules. That I’m doing what’s practical and expected. I’m not a writer; I’m just an actor, if even that. I’m good at saying what others write for me. I’m good at doing what I’m supposed to do. But I don’t think this is something I can do.

I know I was the one who said we can’t be together, and that it was me who said we should go into counseling, but those were just lines. That’s the right thing to do when your wife betrays you. That’s how these stories go. You break up and if you don’t kill each other first, then you go into therapy for the sake of the children. That’s the responsible thing to do, only I don’t think I want to be that guy anymore. I don’t want to be the same person I’ve been all along because look where it’s gotten me. How could we have let it get this bad? How is it even possible that we could have fucked this all up?


Twenty Four Hours Later…

Twenty four hours of fighting, accusations and ultimatums, and here I sit, back where I started. I can’t do this for a stranger Glenda. I can only do it for you. Paul has suggested that I think of it as a letter, or an email, because those I can write. You have both told me to put it out there, exactly what I’m thinking, and all I keep thinking is that it’s July and we should be in Italy. That I miss Sophia more than ever and that neither of you have ever stopped to think that I lost someone too. Hell, I lost all of you. Sophia died and so did my wife and my best friend. And who would I normally turn to for help? Sophia. Her death has left this black hole that is indescribable to anyone but you and Paul. I know that because I was right there with you but you were both too blinded by your own pain to see it. And of course I didn’t let you see it because I had to be the one to do the right thing. I had to keep working, keep providing, keep saying it would be okay, but it’s not, is it? And I know, I should have told you, but I couldn’t. I had to just keep going. It’s what I do. You were unhappy and I had to fix it.

Back when you were so anxious to get married I had to be sure that we had the proper foundation in place. I wanted to marry you from the second I realized I loved you, but you don’t jump into these things, you prepare. It sounds like martyrdom now, but everything I did, I did for us. While you were apparently sitting in our living room crying to Paul that I was never going to get over your second stay in rehab, I was just thinking that I had to get this right. That if I could give us a comfortable lifestyle you’d never be tempted to go down that path again. I was an idiot.

I never stopped to consider that maybe you were just an addict. That maybe you lacked the self-control to say no to the things that could control you. I thought if I made you as happy as you made me, then everything would be alright. It’s downright embarrassing to admit that it wasn’t until after Mykaela was born and Sophia all but screamed it at me, that I was able to accept the fact that you are prone to depression. That maybe I didn’t have the power to save you from yourself. She told me my ego was out of control if I really believed that I was the guy who could singlehandedly cure postpartum depression, and your history of drug abuse. I guess I only heard the first half of what she said. I was relieved to be let off the hook though. I figured she was right, I couldn’t control your postpartum depression and I couldn’t be blamed for it either.

I was glad when you finally sought help and when you refused the drugs they suggested you take, I convinced myself that you had conquered your addictions. I thought that proved it and that we were home free. As your depression began to lift and Mykaela became such a joyful, happy baby, I told myself we were perfect again. I even loved our fights. When we’d butt heads over the kids or the house, I always admired your conviction even if I felt you were wrong.

When Paul and Sophia said they were going to move back here I was as excited as you. I don’t know if Paul ever told you but we were making plans to open a theatre. We talked about finding a place that could house a dance studio for Sophia upstairs and would have a small theatre downstairs where we could stage new and original plays. We were talking about it the night before she was killed. I thought we had it all worked out. But then I picked up the phone that day you called to tell me Sophia was gone and we all fell into a horrible black abyss. I think I could probably count on one hand how many times we have laughed since that awful day. For eighteen months now we have been crashing up against each other, doing unthinkable damage. I know I should have been aware of all of the pills you were taking but it’s dark down here, and I was trying to keep us alive. We all have our positions, even in despair. Hell, especially in despair. You turn to autopilot and there you are, doing what comes naturally. I maintained, you had to escape, and Paul got lost. Only Sophia could have reined us in and she’s gone.

I’m not tossing blame, I promise you. None of us is any better than the other, and I know that. We have all had unbelievable strength and weakness. I was in awe of how you were able to take care of Annabella and Luca when we first got to Italy. You moved them through the funeral and that first week while the rest of us sat around too stunned to breathe. I was so scared for them. I knew, or at least thought I knew, that Paul would get through because in the end he’d still have pieces of Sophia in the kids, but what did they have? Paul, of course, but as important as I have to believe a father is, he can’t replace their mother. Certainly not when they were so little. You have been there for those kids no matter what, and without you they would not be who they are now. I know that Sophia can truly rest in peace because of that. Paul has told me a million times that he’d be lost without you, and a million times I’ve thought the same. And yes, I know what you’re thinking, “You walked away, I didn’t”, but that’s not entirely true. You walked away to take care of the kids and Paul and instead of coming back to me, you pushed me further away. Maybe it’s my own fault. Maybe if I had said I was lost too, you’d have given me equal time, or maybe you’d have just burned out sooner. I don’t know. I just don’t know. I want to get past this. I want to say what’s done is done. You told me today that you can’t change the things you’ve done in the past, and I know that. You said again that you never wanted to hurt me, but that I question. Maybe you didn’t set out to hurt me but you don’t sleep with someone else, especially my best friend, if you aren’t either angry or through. If it’s true that you still love me as much today as you ever did, like you say, then I have to believe that you were trying to hurt me. Paul readily admits that a part of him hated me. Certainly you felt I was neglecting you as much as he did. We all had our roles, Glen, and mine was to make everything okay, and I didn’t. Somewhere deep down, that had to make you angry.

I love the way you describe Mykaela in what you wrote. Everyone looks at Lacey, and they think that willowy, artistic girl is a carbon copy of you, but you are Mykaela through and through. I can feel when either one of you enters a room long before I see or hear you. You are both exuberant in the way you give into every emotion with total abandon. When you are happy, I’m happy, but when either one of you is sad it breaks my heart. You can’t live with a broken heart for eighteen months. It disables you in ways you can’t even imagine.

When you picked up the girls tonight, you looked so pretty and put together, but I could see and feel your frustration when you threw your book at me and said it was your side, your version. I was torn between wanting to reread all that you had written and wanting to beg you to tear it up and write us a new beginning instead. It’s a good book, but it’s left me with more questions than answers.

I still don’t understand why you continually fall into addiction. I don’t know how you could have been taking all that you were taking and rationalize getting behind the wheel of a car, especially with the kids. I know everyone says you were numbing yourself. Paul’s told me. Reanne’s told me. Even Josh has told me. He says I keep coming at this with logic, and that logic can’t be applied to this. Sometimes I think I should swallow a ton of pills, just to see if maybe then I’d understand. But we both know that’s not me. So here I sit, just as lost and confused as ever.


About bridgetstraub

Author, Artist & Mom. First novel "Searching for My Wand" was published in December 2011
This entry was posted in Book Excerpts, My Blogs and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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