It’s October, 2013 and I’m about to leave for Italy with the gentleman I often refer to as ‘both my greatest tormentor and greatest teacher’. It’s already been a year of great tumult at that point – complete with all the classic roller-coaster-and-eggshell-walking red flags which are common in BPD relationships…all of them completely missed and overlooked on my part. Denial was quite the luxury then. I remember talking to my best friend before that trip. She was concerned for my well being and happiness like only a best-friend-since-high-school can be, and in a moment of brilliant foreshadowing and wisdom, she said to me, “It’s not like you’re going to Applebee’s with this guy…”
That trip turned out to be somewhat of a microcosm of the entire relationship. Every major theme and dynamic that ever played out in the entire relationship – before or after – played out in those 7 or 8 days. Highs through the stratosphere and lows that felt like actual death. I was punished…I witnessed acts of self harm…I was abandoned – both emotionally and physically, granted one has no choice but to eventually return to the hotel when one is 8,000 miles from home, so that one might not qualify. But I also came away with moments of the kind of intimacy where two souls transcend time and space and meet each other in some joyous and wondrous place. Then again, I did drink a lot of Bellini’s that week.
The memories are tricky with that kind of polarity involved. Part of me, part of the time, wishes I never went on that trip…wishes I could erase everything. In those moments, I would gladly give back the good stuff if it meant I could also give back the painful scars that relationship left. Of course, life doesn’t work like that. I can’t erase anything. It happened. And I have both the scars and the memories to prove it. I also have the photographs. Posting these for the world to see is about reclaiming those memories and those places as my own. Peeling apart the “us” that created them and leaving myself with the “me” that was there…and is here now…and owning the experience as my own and part of my life. It’s tricky…I want to be able to look at the photos and enjoy them, and have some space for emotions to well up besides overwhelming pain, sadness and loss. I went to Italy and it surely must be one of the most extraordinary and magical places on this earth. I have that.