(To Love and Lose Part 2)
by Ryan Kinney
It started with a broken heart. Through the crack seeped liquid fire. It engulfed me, burning away all that I was. The flames shall purify me. Boil me down to my base components, and then rebuild me. From the ashes will rise a new entity.
Who am I?
Following my divorce I began an identity quest dubbed The Phoenix. It is my own personal trial by fire. Fire is the essence of life itself. As it destroys it also creates. I will create a new life from the remnants of my former, a persona not defined by another.
Chapter 1-The Quest
Depression and Suicide
“…my life before you was very chaotic and unstable. You were the stability I needed and the foundation on which I built my life. I never doubted that you would always be there for me. You were my rock. Of all the people that had disappointed me you never let me down. Yet you did, You pulled the rug out from under me without warning and the foundation upon which I built my entire life crumbled…” –email correspondence to Lisa; Nov. 21, 2008
It took four months to undo ten years of my life. A debilitating depression overwhelmed me. I never saw anything in my life, but Lisa. What did I have left without her? What would I do? Darkness clouded my heart.
A rusty blade in my hand. A message in blood written on the broken mirror.
I lay in the tub, leaking crimson life. In my haze I barely make out the words.
What does my final message to the world say? I cannot remember why it hurt so much.
In a few minutes it won’t matter anymore. What the hell did I write?
I can only think of one thing that torments me enough to drive me to this darkness.
Trailing down in letters, clotting on the wall…
“I loved you.”
This revolving drama played on a loop in my mind. I was lost, a walking corpse. All I felt was cold hollowness.
“All that is left is emptiness, an empty house, an empty soul.”-journal excerpt; Oct. 6, 2008
I so badly just wanted the hurt to stop. In my tunnel vision existence I was oblivious to those whose hearts bled for mine. All my substance and passion was gone. Lisa took my heart with her and left nothing inside. Without her my existence seemed meaningless. The cloaked figure smiled, offering me the almost irresistible temptation of sweet release.
“Do I give in to the darkness? Let it consume me”-journal excerpt
Ultimately, though, there came a day when I awoke from the fog. I was living outside myself watching this unknown drone on a worthless trek. One phrase finally broke through the shell.
“What a waste!”
The Phoenix was born in that moment. The match was struck to light the way on the difficult road to recovery.
“The pieces of my soul are on the floor for everyone to trample on.”-journal excerpt; Oct. 6, 2008
I was in over my head. I needed help. A therapist helped at first, but the relationship quickly cheapened because I was essentially paying for a friendship. Antidepressants proved to work too well. I have a manic level of natural intensity. Lexapro ignited fireworks inside my brain. Both, however, gave me the nudge I needed to help myself. Eventually, I grew beyond the need for crutches. A previously unrecognized army of supporters each lent their kindling to the fires. One day at a time I battled my inner demons until I was ready to accept happiness again.
“You will be amazed on how much of the original Ryan is back. Why? Because I'm over my depression about change because something I feared more came to fruition. I lost you. I'm doing my best to survive from that, but my past fears now seems trivial and meaningless in comparison.”-email correspondence to Lisa; Sept. 8, 2009
Denial and Desperation
“Run, Run away Ryan. Open another book, turn on the TV, surf the Net. Delve into your fantasies and escape reality. It’s how you survived your childhood…”-journal excerpt; Oct. 2, 2008
The cracks in my facade were beginning to show. I shielded myself in delusions. I lied to myself to soften the full scope of Lisa’s betrayal. I more than lied. I was absolutely sure. I trusted her with my life. I trusted a lie. I was living a lie. I betrayed myself more than she ever did. The realizations came in shards, each piece punching holes in my heart.
I wallowed in self-pity and desolation.
I yearned so badly to feel some warmth, anybody’s warmth.
The New Girls
Upon Lisa’s departure I sought to quench my loneliness in the convenient woman around me. For a moment’s time, they took pity on me.
Rebound-I immediately sought solace in the arms of a good friend. She’s always shown me nothing but love and idolization. I was ashamed for disrespecting her and our friendship. I knew full well that our brief encounters were all that would ever be between us.
Crazy Chick-She was a brute of a woman, yet conversely, very maternal and comforting. She had a unique talent for forcefully ripping out my raw emotions, breaking through the masks. As she said, though, “I’m not Lisa.” Pathetically, that’s exactly what I wanted.
One Night Stand-ups-Several brief encounters fed my addiction for attention. Like a ****** with a needle, my appetite grew. Desperation was becoming my scarlet letter.
“…but it did seem that the thing we are most proud of and the thing we are most ashamed of are but the front and the back of the same coin. They torture and thrill all at once.”-Grotesque; Natsuo Kirino
I felt guilty and *****, yet loved for but an instant. These experiences were very cathartic. I had completely lost the ability to cry, feel pain, rage, or joy. They were the prefect drug, just so that I may feel again. Without these women to reopen the wounds, the numbness would have consumed me.
“Every angel has a little devil inside them.”-Manda; 2009
What attracted me to these women was mock chivalry. Each had their own “hard luck” story. So ingrained in me is the comic book ideal of heroism that I constantly seek to rescue the damsel in distress. Women will always be my kryptonite. However, as Crazy Chick put it, “ When is it time for you to be rescued?” The divine irony is, it was they who saved me.
It too, was not to last. A long period of isolation followed, as the women grew tired of babysitting me. Another lie to myself, a band-aid on a wound desperately needing stitches.
Hers was the first light I allowed to pierce the darkness. She did more to heal me than any who said, “Yes.” Her secret, she said, “No.”
It has always been my curse to be eternally misunderstood and underestimated. I could see her scars bled the same as mine, although hers had begun to clot long ago. I am attracted to those who have a depth chiseled by adversity.
I identified with her. Her intelligence far exceeded my own, an Einstein in a circus. My eyes saw straight to her soul, seeing only the gorgeous woman she was on the inside. My friends would point out my eyes would sparkle whenever I spoke of her.
Yes, I loved her, but only in transition. We came from different worlds, but met as wounded soldiers on the battlefield. She was the catalyst to open my eyes. A sweet smile for my shredded soul.
“A worn beaten heart trapped in by bars.” From “Painless” by Tracy Reed
She held the key to my self-imposed imprisonment. My growing frustration with her opened the door for my transformation. For all her grace, all her amazing potential, she was wasting away in the same feeding trough as me.
“You can do better.”
Then it hit me…
“I can do better!”
I began to rebuild my empire. My never-queen rejected me…
I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
The Emotional Spectrum
“Stuck in a prison of abstract ideas and overpowering emotions.”-Zach; mypsace blog
1) ‘I don’t love you anymore.”
2) Letter…”I can’t wait until my divorce is over!”
3) Ryan-“So I guess this means we’re getting a divorce.”
Lisa-“Well, yeah. You knew that.”
4) “Ryan, they’re together, and have been.”
5) “I’m moving out.”
6) “By the State of Ohio, I hereby grant this dissolution.”-Judge; Dec. 30, 2008
Six bullets to my heart, six separate, devastating phrases that brought about Armageddon. I gave her a decade of my meager existence, nearly half my life. She threw me away like garbage, and couldn’t have been happier.
As the gun smoke drifted, I clutched my breast. I was frozen in horror that I’d lose myself along with her. Fear, you see, was the beginning of the end for our marriage.
I never dealt well with change. When we bought our house, the combat that ensued left me crippled. I ultimately built myself into a comfort zone again. “I don’t know what I want to do” was always an excuse for me. I lay stagnant and complacent with no true purpose or direction.
It was Lisa that first took action. She sought to elevate us from the ranks of lower middle class into which we were born. I fought her, determined to lay docked in the doldrums. “Leave me alone in my bubble.” I made attempts, but with each failure became depressed. She became frustrated and took matters into her own hands. It is obvious she loved me then. She worked effortlessly to give us a better life.
I was blind to the truth and in time Lisa lost sight of her motives. She plodded on, mechanically, no longer sure of why. She drove herself to extreme exhaustion, afraid, that if she stopped, for even a moment, she’d realize it was all for naught. She lost faith in our combined, bright vision.
So, she did the only thing she knew how. She ran away, straight to another as miserable as her. She kept running, further and further, taking greater risks. All just to not have to feel her own hollowness.
She left and my phobia ended there. What followed was a newfound fear. “I don’t know what I want to do” became “What the hell do I do?” I was afraid I was doomed to be alone the rest of my life.
“Are you ok?”
“We’re worried about you.”
“How are you, Ryan?”…
I always speak the truth. I’ve never felt so surrounded and alone in all my life.
“Like koi in a ***** pond, you can see your rage barely hiding below the surface.”-Erin Kompik
The most intense rage fueled The Phoenix. I lashed out at everything. Everyone was burned. I was ******* and the world would pay. The spectacle burned so bright it threatened to eradicate all that I was.
“I can feel bitterness and anger coming. I am fighting for control over the anger”-journal excerpt; Oct. 1, 2008
“The seams in my heart leak nothing, but hostility.”-journal excerpt; Oct. 6, 2008
“I’ve become a monster. I once loved someone so hard I would die for her. Now all I can feel is scorn and hate. My heart is twisted and black. I fear I will become the bitter man my father is. I hate myself for being so.”-journal excerpt; Sept. 30, 2008
Who was I so angry with? For all the hurt I felt from Lisa, I was most angry at myself. How could I let this happen? How could I have been so blind? My blood boiled as I berated myself. The loss I suffered left my heart festering with hatred, as nothing but fire and volatility overtook it.
“The red light of rage is violent action without consideration of consequence. It is uncontrollable. So I will unleash it.”-Final Crisis, Rage of the Red Lanterns
Then, the root of another anger broke through the fury.
“I know that you may not see it now, but time really will heal these wounds.”-Michelle Kinney
She was right. I had absolved myself of my original rage. I had forgiven her. I could forgive myself. I couldn’t be held responsible for another’s irresponsibility. The anger dissipated into the smoke. It left behind a few flickers, but I’ll not extinguish them yet. I still have a use for that rage.
“Do not be afraid to expose the darkness. Only by bringing it to the light can it ever truly be resolved.”-audio journal excerpt; Aug. 16, 2009
Love and Happiness
During my marriage, hers was the only love I let myself feel. Then, she took it with her when she left. I felt scorned and unwanted, a refuse of human waste.
I was wrong. I am a man that seeks love as an end all for my existence. Lisa unlocked my caged heart. Over the next decade I cultivated relationships with countless individuals. There was more love in my life than I ever realized. They were there when she wasn’t. My parents sacrificed everything to give me a life and family they never had. Lisa’s family had become my permanent family. She divorced me. I did not divorce them. All my friends gave all they could. Even my harsh enemies stepped off the battlefield, for they understood the casualties of this war. All of them, a shining sea of compassion, poured their hearts into mine. Their light overcame the darkness. When I finally crawled out of the pit, they got me to my feet.
“For them, I must continue.”-Naoko Takeuchi
I had to be strong. I owed it to them to survive. They gave me their love to fill in my missing pieces. For all I had been given, I could never give up or give in.
“I am meant for greatness. I am meant for happiness, for joy, for me.”-Zach; myspace blog
Picking up the Pieces
“I need to be out there.
Looking for my own life…
I need to open my mouth.
I need to be heard.
I need to live.
-Goth Girl Rising; Barry Lyga.
It was time to rebuild that which had been broken. My life was fragmented chaos. I needed an order to the chaos, or more to my tastes, organized chaos; anarchy with purpose. I learned to become a master strategist. The civil war I waged on myself demanded a general.
STEP 1-Stabalize finances.
My pact with the devil to keep my beloved home required emptying the coffers completely. How delicious the irony that I wound up working the same long weeks as Lisa. Hard work and sacrifice were absolute necessities if I was ever to afford to live again. It was Lisa that taught me that. The only difference, I must never lose sight of why. Money is not the reason for existence. I simply needed enough to achieve my goals.
“Money is nothing. It is an imaginary concept. Its only value is what we put into it. While often a necessary evil to survive, it is not important. The only possession of true value is time.”- The Most Valuable Possession; 2009
STEP 2-Tear down the Mausoleum.
My home had become a testament to a dead marriage. Lisa’s five day moving notice threw a grenade into my living space. It was disheveled and disorganized. It was no longer Ryan and Lisa’s. I had to reclaim it as my own. Out of respect for our past, I kept a few pieces of Lisa as a constant reminder. I will never forget where I’ve been.
“Your spirit helped build this place and it still flows through its walls.”-email correspondence to Lisa; Nov. 21, 2008
Physically putting my environment in order likewise put my mind into an order. As I rebuilt my home, it became the new foundation for my life. The Phoenix had a place to perch.
STEP 3-Know Happiness again.
“I seem to find that my great periods of change, evolution, and growth precede an ultimate betrayal from someone I’ve let close to my heart. Is survival mode the only way I can fuel my passion? Where do I find the love that ignites my will, yet does not drive me to complacency?”-audio journal; Aug 13, 2009
The answer, I needed to love myself again. I could not rely on someone else to complete me. I had to become independent, to be ok with being alone. I deserved to be happy, to be loved, above all, by myself.
This was going to be hard.
Not having another physical body in the house left a void. Without another heartbeat close to mine, I stopped sleeping at night. My appetite was lost and I started shedding pounds. With my depression receding, I awoke to find I was living in a desolate wasteland. What would I do in this solitary confinement?
Utilizing survival skills my mother taught me, I used it. Ever the artist, I took the pieces and created an existence. Then I improved it, again and again. Loneliness is a disease that attacks only if you let it. I had to learn to accept myself, before I could expect anyone else to. I used the loneliness to redefine and rediscover myself. I would not rely on anyone to do for me. My honor and respect for my loved ones demanded I do for myself. The stifling quiet, the sleepless nights taught independence. The silence used to frustrate and anger me. Now, I use it for peaceful reflection and meditation. Th