The Shamrock Incident

He left in January. Every day since he’s been gone I think of him. I dream of him. But not in the way that I expected. I thought it would be longing and loving; I wanted to be hopeful for being reunited. When he said goodbye, I felt that it was for good. I sensed he would not be back with me. He kissed me and said, ‘you don’t want to be in a relationship with me.’ At the time, I argued and told him that we were in a relationship, albeit not a traditional one. Because for a couple years we popped into each others lives.

He left my home that cold night and for the next few days we texted quite a bit. He told me he would be back in September. I wanted to see him one last time. But he refused. He granted me a few hours of his time while he was back in the States and that was it. I felt lucky. Privileged. I was in his ‘club’ where only the elite few were granted access. I wanted more of him physically and emotionally but I had given up expecting a thing. When he showed up I was grateful; When he disappeared previously I was sad but I knew he’d return.

This time was different. he seemed far. I felt his pain. I wanted him to be safe and free. As he said good bye in his text messages, I felt as if he was captive and honoring a commitment that he no longer believed in. He wanted a ‘normal’ life. We are both so damaged, but I thought I could be normal for him.  I made promises I was willing to keep regardless of time or distance, I love him without condition.

Still though, I  am detached and my hope for him is peace. I want him to be happy, free of obligation and free of the military.  His presence in my life has been profound. He gave me hope, made me feel confident. He inspired me and when I was high and held the razor to my wrist; he was the thought I had that kept me from slicing. I heard his voice remind me that I was a good mom and that my children did need me and that the cult of Southern Illinois would be behind me someday. Even in my most intoxicated moments where I was certain I would not be missed and that my children had what they needed, I saw him. I heard him. I felt him. I never had the courage to tell him that I understood his son. I didn’t want him to think less of me. I did not want him to know of my scars. The ways I had hurt myself my emotional cutting and physical cutting would make me seem weak. He valued strength. I would be strong for him. I would show him that I was not broken, not damaged. I would overcome and no longer be a victim. I was a mom. I had children who I did not want to disappoint.  I could hear his words, see his angry face. Quitting my life because it was uncomfortable for me was not an option. He would never forgive me for quitting my kids, even though I didn’t think they needed me, he made me see they did.

Being a mom, I thought of his mom. What had she felt? What was it like to not know where your child was, what kind of harm he was in. The choices he made had alienated everyone from him. He is in control of who is in his life and in what capacity. His mom he kept at a distance. If that were my son, I would be devastated.  I wondered to myself what kind of sacrifices had she made? How many times had she felt like quitting? Her marital life was not a walk in the park. I was sure she was, at times, afraid and alone.

It was St. Patrick’s day. GI Joe left 3 months ago and I thought of him and thought of his mom. When the weather started to clear and with GI Joe overseas and no reliable family around I thought of her. She lived a few miles away. I wanted to connect to her, to let he know she was not alone. The winter had been hard and many of us were snowed in for days.

On the surface it seemed like a genuine and natural gesture. I would bring a plant to her home, sit and visit. I was lonely after all. I was feeling lost and disconnected. While I was exactly where I wanted to be and doing exactly what I had set out to do, I was still strangely lonely. I felt drawn to GI Joe’s mom and thought that having a conversation and connecting with her would fill a void in my life.

At lunch time, I stopped over at the grocery store and bought a shamrock plant. I drove it to her home I felt for the first time that GI Joe would no the happy with this. But I was on my way and I reconsidered my visit.  I would write a note and leave the plant on her door step. As I stood there at the door, writing my note, she answered the door an invited me in. I had been there several months earlier with GI Joe and some of our mutual friends. Plus I had gone to High School with GI Joe, so she had known me 20 years ago and as recently as a few months ago. Nonetheless, she is older and struggled with her memory. She invited me in and we talked for 20 minutes or so.

I felt happy, connected. I related to her as a person. GI Joe had nothing to do with this visit aside from the fact that he was her son. So, Okay – he had everything to do with it. Subconsciously perhaps I was doing this to get closer to him. But logically, I knew it would drive him away. He values his privacy and and I knew that if he knew I went to see his mom he would have a fit. Perhaps I was driving to that end? maybe I wanted to expedite the end of our friendship. Everyone leaves me. I drive them away or they tire of me. He would leave, so this, perhaps was my way of ensuring he disappeared from my life. At least it was in my control. I love him and I like his mom. Like an anorexic controls food intake, GI Joe is a control freak. He controls who is in and who is out of his life.

This was not a physical razor but this action expertly cut me out of his life and fulfilled my need to inflict pain. I cut GI Joe out. I preemptively struck and ensured he was gone; he would have left me anyway I just made sure that it was me in control of how and when.

As I left her home I knew that would be the last time I saw her. I also knew that when I told GI Joe what I had done he would disappear forever.

My confessional email to him, unlike the several before, was immediately answered.  He was not happy. Regardless of how busy he was in the desert, he found time to tell me he was uncomfortable with my visiting his mom. My blood pressure rose and heart skipped beats. I realized the truth was there all along. He never loved me; He never really knew me. I was his go-to-girl when he was home. He, in his own protective, narcissistic way thought my visiting his mom was about him.

And with one Shamrock plant. One misguided good intention to reach out to another mom, my friendship with GI Joe was over. I violated his trust and I realized he never knew me at all.