Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Rollercoaster Ride of Romance and Disappointment

Leif's relationship with D continued to be a whirlwind of a rollercoaster ride. It was only a few months into their relationship when he began to see a pattern of behavior that was to to be the biggest problem between them. Things would go well for awhile and he'd be content with their life together. Then things would go downhill, usually after a drinking bout when D would lose control. They'd only been together for less than four months when she attacked him on one of those occasions and he called the police to keep things from escalating out of control. Although he broke up with her, like later occasions when similar situations occurred, Leif didn't have the heart to tell her to leave when she had nowhere to go, and despite the problems and what he called the "drama," he didn't want to be alone and he also didn't think he could afford the apartment by himself. As time when on, and as he always did until the end, he took her back. He cared about her despite the many issues that often made him miserable, and even afraid of what might happen to him. He came to believe that she had bipolar disorder and felt things would be improved with treatment, which he helped her to get. For some months, things got much better and he was enjoying life and her company.

He realized he loved her when she didn't come home one night. By the next morning, he was frantic, but found she had come back, and that she had been in an accident and at the hospital. At one point, he took her to visit her family in Georgia and it was then he told her that he loved her. I don't know whether D ever fully believed that Leif loved her. She's had such a harsh life and had been treated so badly that I don't think she felt she deserved love and happiness, though certainly she wanted them. She loved Leif and wanted him to marry her, but he was wisely cautious. As he wrote,

State of our Union
Saturday, March 3, 2007 1:28 PM
From: "Leif Garretson"

Hey D,

I think it's time for us to talk about where things stand in our relationship and where they are going. Things have changed a lot lately, some good, some bad. Some need to change again. Some I have already talked to you about. Some I have not. Here we go.

First, I love you, and I dare say I an IN Love with you. That is a good change. At least I hope it is. In the past I merely had affection for you. I had liked you. I had enjoyed having you around. In a word, I was content. But I was not in love.

I eventually realized I loved you and that you were my best friend but that I was not actually in love with you. I stayed with you because you gave me what I needed; sex and companionship and rent money. That is what I need. I wanted Love but I had not found it. I was ready to leave you a few times because the drama and strife outweighed the benefits.

So what has changed? Well, you did. You, at least for awhile became a happy person. This was around the time you started treatment. You were being responsible and happy and silly and fun.

You say you would take a bullet for me but then you break promises to me all the time. That is a big deal to me. I have been let down left and betrayed so many times. Loyalty and reliability are a big thing to me. Aren't they to you too? Given how many people have f#%&& you over, isn't one of the best qualities about me the constancy of my reliability? Isn't that what makes you feel safe and secure? In fact, isn't the only real insecurity that you have centered around whether you can trust your heart to love me? Well, I have that fear, too. I have resisted falling in love with you consciously because I didn't want to get hurt again like I did with J by opening up my heart to a person that has let me down over and over again and can't keep her promises to me.

You want me to marry you. That is the ultimate promise. You are promising to be my beloved partner and guardian of my heart for all time. Do you expect me to be able to trust you enough to do that when I can't trust you not to buy a bottle of Bacardi on a bad day and put us both in danger and pain? Seriously. How can you expect me to make that leap of faith and not only make but accept and trust that promise from you when you can't keep a little promise like not drinking liquor. I am not even asking you to quit drinking, just stop drinking THAT! Can you ask yourself that question? How can I expect Leif to promise me his heart and believe me when I promise to love and be the guardian of it when I have broken so many other promises not to hurt him? Ask that of yourself. Use it as a way to look at yourself and decide who you want to be. Then decide to become that person.

Remember the last BSG when Baltar claimed to be a far boy from Aralon? Remember how he changed who he was to become the Virtuous Caprican right down to his voice? We that is what you can and must decide to do. Not nearly so drastic as to change your voice, though it would improve things if you stopped cussing like a sailor in public around nice people. Just decide that you are going to rise above your past and become a polite professional Classy lady that people can count on.

It really not as hard as you think. You just have to decide who you want to be and become that person. Wanna know the secret? You reinvent yourself. You decide that the person you are is not the real you. It's who you were forced to be to survive your past. The real You is better, stronger, more reliable, polite, punctual, classy; you pick the adjectives. Just decide that if you are not happy with who you are today, decide who you want to be, and become that person tomorrow.

So when I did I know that I loved you? Well I think it was about a month ago when I started to realize it. In january things were getting better. We were having more fun, really having a good time. Then it all came down.

Ok, so you f$(*& up and lost your job. That is another thing you need to embrace honey. Excuses are like assholes. Everyone has got one and they ain't good for nothing but shit. Being responsible goes right along with being reliable. You keep up your obligations no matter what setbacks you have and you keep those obligations in mind and don't do things that will make it impossible to fulfill them.

I get that you are depressed and tired and you know what? So what? It's time to be a grown up and do what you got to do. That means getting your ass out of bed no matter how shitty you feel and doing what a grown up does to survive. And to remind you, it's not just about you anymore. You want me? You got me, and I come with bills and responsibilities. You want to marry me? Show me that you are going to be there for me and have my back, and not just on your good days.

When did I know I loved you? When you had the crash. When I thought I had lost you, worried that you were gone. I was truly afraid you could be dead or raped, or who knows? I was terrified about what might have happened to you. I could not sleep. I finally left very late to get some beer to help me sleep. I was miserable with worry. When I woke up I was deeply saddened that the bed was empty and you had not slipped in in the night, safe. I woke up with a pitiful sad look of worry on my face as I prepared to go to work and keep my obligations while my heart was dead with worry.

Then I heard a sound and called out to you and you answered. I felt a rush of emotion. I didn't know if I should be mad at you, relieved, happy, all I knew was you were alive and you were home and I ran to you. I held you and tried not to crush you because I wanted to squeeze you so tight. I was so happy you were all right I just wanted to cling to you. It was all I could do to eventually pull away and go to work. I was so happy you were back and safe. It was that night and morning that I knew that I am in love with you. As they say, “You don't know what you got till it's gone.” And I want you to know when you are in your down stages that it would destroy me if I lost you.

I can't explain to you why I love you other than that you give my life meaning. You give me purpose. I read somewhere that that is what men really need. to have a purpose and to succeed at it. Well, my purpose is to help you. To save you. To love you. It's the one thing I can do that matters to someone. It's the only thing that I do that matters to anyone. You say that the world wouldn't miss you if you were gone and that no one cares. Well, I feel the same way. Other than my parents, who would mourn my passing? Would the world even notice if Leif Garretson didn't show up for life tomorrow? Doubt it would. I am not a cop, a soldier, a paramedic, a doctor. What does my life mean to anyone but you? What good am I to anyone but you? This is the question that every man battles with; what value do I have? What meaning does my life have? What is my purpose?

It's the same reason why horses carry their mounts. It gives them purpose. They know their place and that they belong there. It's the same for all men. It's the same for me. You give me purpose. A man sees his mate much like a woman sees her child. If it seems I act like a father to you at times, that is why. My purpose in life is to take care of you, to protect you from the world and yourself. It's hard. It's a battle, but it's what I do. It's what gives my life meaning, because if my life means nothing to anyone else, it matters to you. You give me meaning in my life. But the other part needed is success, and lately I haven't felt very successful in helping you. But then, all I can do is help you help yourself.

I am here to take care of you but I am not purely a charity. I have needs and I have expectations. I have responsibilities. And you have been neglecting me lately. I know I have already exhausted your attention span so I will shut up now. Felt good to write it. I just hope you read it and take it seriously.

I love you,

I don't know exactly what happened after this email (which I have heavily edited), but things did not get better. There was another breakup, despite the love he had professed, and over the same issues, but once again, Leif did not force her to leave the apartment. They came to our house for Mother's Day 2007 and D told me she was upset and hurt that Leif was dating again. He told me that he had finally come to realize that whether they loved each other or not, the relationship was dysfunctional and destructive, and he said he was trying to help her see that they did not have a future together, but to help her find one without him. I asked him how I should treat her and he said, "As a good friend of mine and my roommate." It hurt D that he was dating others and though he had broken up with her, since she was still living in his apartment, it felt wrong to her that he was seeing other women. She finally got upset enough to go to stay with a friend. I was hopeful that both of them would get on with their lives and that the relationship would be over because I was very worried about the consequences of it continuing.

However, not long after D left the apartment, on July 12,2007, Leif had the motorcycle accident and was taken to the ER. I no longer remember exactly how D found out, but she took buses from where she was staying to the apartment, packed fresh clothing for him in a backpack, and took buses to the hospital. She loved him and came to be with him. When he was released from the ER, I wanted to take him to our home so I could take care of him, but he wanted to go back to his apartment. He could not take care of himself without help at that point, and D wanted to be there to help him. I was concerned about the consequences of that, because it put the two of them back together and I feared that was not a good idea.

D did take good care of Leif for a a time. He had surgery on his shattered collarbone and was in far more pain than he expected. During that time, he enrolled in the University of South Florida, which was not far from his apartment, in an effort to use his GI BIll benefits to help out with his expenses, since he wasn't going to be able to count on D helping out with the rent.

We were going to take a trip to China and needed transportation to the airport. We knew Leif was short on cash so we figured it would help him out if we paid him to take us there rather than paying some other transport service, and asked him to come stay overnight at our house on September 15th and take us to the airport on the morning of the 16th. We left for our three week trip, not knowing until we returned that when he got home from the airport, D had been drinking again and attacked him. He took a photo of himself all scratched up, and said she had tried to grab a sword to use on him. He called the police. That was the end of them living together, but he keenly felt the loss of purpose he had found in trying to help her better her life. He again felt useless and had no focus. It was two months later in November when he sent me that email that life held more pain and misery than happiness and he had no purpose in life.

However, true to Leif's past, he continued a friendship with D and played Dungeons and Dragons with her and others just two nights before he died.

I think it's terribly sad for both of them that they couldn't have found happiness together, but this relationship is such proof that love really doesn't conquer all, that love is all too often not enough.


The photo of the contemplative Leif was taken on a PT boat taking us from Olongapo to Grande Island in the Philippines, in August 1982. Leif was seven-and-a-half years old.

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