Why are you writing this?

memento-mori A friend once used a quote by the French artist Emile Zola to describe me: “If you asked me what I, an artist, came into this world to do, I will tell you I came to live out loud.”

She was right. I use Mr. Zola’s words because I can’t say it any better. I am not a whisper. I can be loud, passionate, dramatic, and demanding; sometimes all at once. DK called it being authentic. I want my life witnessed.

When I posted on Facebook that my story had been accepted by Oral Fixation and that I would be “telling a true, personal story to a room full of strangers” my friend Roy commented, “And that’s different from a regular Gretchen day how?”

Like many artists, my life influences my art. I could even say my life is my art. So that is one reason for writing Half Agony, Half Hope. But it is not the only one.

Another friend remarked, after reading some of the early posts on Half Agony, that she couldn’t believe I was writing a whole blog about Deke. I’m not. This is about me, for me.

It may sound like hyperbole when I say a part of me died as a result of my relationship with DK, but it isn’t.

After Tom, my life melted into The Dark Years, where I spent almost ten years flagellating myself, grieving, starving, living in a world that was bloody and then without color. Seven of those years I was celibate. Slowly, slowly, I healed until I was ready to tentatively dip my toe in the water again, open myself up once more to the possibility of love and companionship. I was vulnerable and still a little fragile, but not fearful; I was hopeful. And then DK came into my life. Against my better judgment, I fell in love with him. (But when did judgment ever have anything to do with who one loves?)

During the next four years, I went from hesitant happiness and occasional ecstasy to confusion, despair, anger and misery, sometimes all at once. I have struggled to save myself from returning to that dark place and yet preserve what I had rediscovered in myself. And if I cannot preserve it, to at least document it. Some people want to forget bad relationships (as if you really ever can). But I do not. Because although a lot of it was bad, some of it was good and some of the good was yoo-hoo good, and while it certainly wasn’t what I wanted in my life, it’s what I got.

I eventually began to feel shame and loathing for myself because I continued to love and desire this man who could lie in bed beside me one day and lie to me the next. Sadly, sometimes he even lied to me as he lay beside me. Somewhere along the way I began to feel guilt for things I had no reason to. Loving a liar is brutal on your ego and self-esteem; you begin to question everything you believe about yourself and wonder what it is you have done wrong, even when you know the answer is: nothing at all.

 Ours was a very complex relationship and the cost to me was great. Even Deke himself said that I got the short end of the stick; that he received much more from me than I ever did from him. He was right, although I’d go with something a bit stronger than ‘the short end of the stick’, like maybe ‘royally screwed’.

Hating yourself for loving someone is a terrible thing. It took me years to realize that no matter how poorly DK treated me or that I was willing to take it, the love I felt for and offered him, my earnest desire, hope and longing – for such simple things, like going to the State Fair, browsing Central Market or taking a road trip together – all of that was good. My love and desire for DK was real and beautiful. I am glad that I love with abandon, because there really is no other way to do it. DK loved that I live by my heart; perhaps because he is too fearful to do it himself.

So I am writing this memoir not only because it is what I do, but also as a love letter to myself, a celebration of the love I harbored and carefully tended, and as a eulogy for the part of me that is gone. I know I am not alone in loving passionately but unwisely. This is for all of you who do as well.

For the playlist, Why by the Eurythmics

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