I saved all of my visitor passes. They are stuck to in the last page of my notebook. Inevitably, they are carried with me every where. At first, I thought, how grim. Then I thought, how pretentious. Now I think, it’s really for the best.
It was so easy to look past the erratic behavior and the disappearances. I was too quick to forgive the months dry of physical attention. It was easy to open up the box, put all of those middling doubts right in there and put the pad lock on it. Until that one day when he decided that the best place to walk to while black out drunk, in the midst of a psychotic break, bleeding, was from his place to mine, some 5 miles to the north. What can you do then?
I didn’t want to abandon him, but I knew after the first visit to the substance abuse ward at Bellevue that there was nothing there to hold on to. That the entirety of our short relationship had been built on the flimsiest of fabricated pasts. Less eloquently, I had been lied to. Repeatedly. Now I was forced into this situation where I had to be deceptive and I had to hide while I decided just what the fuck to do. Over the course of four visits, I know, four visits were far more than I should have indulged, but deep down, I’m a softie.
I finally had enough of the manipulative phone calls and questions about my cat. The fourth day I visited. I was trapped in the dim yet too bright flicker of fluorescent lights with a young girl with her obviously uncomfortable father and me with my sluggish and giant boyfriend. We were trapped because of the screams and shouts of the profane coming from the ward. A new intake patient had arrived and could not be subdued. He was placed in the “seclusion” room which happened to be right next to the “visitors room” (nee cafeteria). So, now are stilted conversations were punctuated with screams and thuds as he slammed his body into the walls. That along with the deep breathing of the older man who did not want to be there was the soundtrack as I realized that I didn’t want this to be my problem. Ever.
Maybe it was the drugs that they had him on, but I cried more than he did. I had the liberating experience of New York’s public privacy as I sobbed the L train ride home with no one bother to ask me if I was ok. I was grateful. There was no way I could have held it in and once it was done, it was. There were no more tears after that just a guilt. A guilt that gradually subsided. It wasn’t my fault or my responsibility. I wasn’t absolved, I would never do that to myself, but I was at least forgiven.