Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love Is In the Air (John Paul Young)

A little over two years ago, I ended a relationship with a partner who was mentally ill. When it dissolved into chaos as these things typically do with a person who refuses to seek treatment and self-medicates with narcotics, I found myself feeling like my heart had been ripped out of my chest.

Combat related PTSD is a hard nut to wrap. Civilian shinks have a hard time treating it let alone understanding it. The VA can help them, but it's badly handled and backed up. Not to mention lots of times vets hate hospitals and like many trauma sufferers, prefer being homeless because being homeless means not having to face their triggers.

My support system was amazing. I went from wanting to smash everything in the room to crying all the time over his loss. A bad relationship is like a limb with gangrene. You know you need to lose it to live, but you want to fight to keep your arm even if there are maggots crawling out of it. One friend in particular said it best, "April, he's your knight of shining armor in a suit of armor that he stole!"

When my ex left, things initially sucked. They always do. But then I discovered a renewed love for comedy. I was studying joke writing like I never had before. I was pounding open mics like a young comedian who had never been on TV, and if she was she was standing on her friend's TV set. I was watching films of old master ventriloquists. I also developed Donald J. Tramp.

I also began to explore life on my own. This was scary but this also meant not being chained to a rock. While a partner can be a rock in a good way they can also weigh you down. This meant going to the RNC as a spokes person for an anti-Trump group, being credentialed press at the debates, and work shopping a one woman show. This also meant mastering releasing a body positive book, a line of merchandise, mastering full body puppetry, and applying for my dream MFA program in creative writing.

I would have been doing none of these things if I was still with my ex. Instead, I would have been a full time caretaker to a partner who refused to seek treatment. I would have continued to justify my codependency at the sake of my own self-preservation and sanity. I would have been "that woman."

I have a great support system around me. Whether it's my mom who gives my phone number and email address to strangers bragging about my status as a celestial being. Or my two straight male housemates who are dedicated to their art and families. Or my wonderful peeps from my Monday night acting class who love comedy as much as I do. Or my friend's from the stand-up world who agonize over every punchline. Or my friends from ACT UP who are as passionate about queer politics and queer identity as I am. Or my friends from my haunted house who I miss dearly and chat with on facebook and instagram. Or my friends from my master's program who are passionate about social justice and the written word like I am. Or my friends who remembered to say Happy Valentine's Day. Or my friends who laugh at my jokes. Or my one friend in particular who sent me flowers and listens to all my dreams no matter how stupid they are. Or my boss who lets me chase my dreams and pays me and hasn't fired me yet. Or my favorite Marine or favorite Mass-hole or favorite Frank Logan or favorite anyone and everyone.

I don't need a label to define me in any way, shape, or form. Whether it is this, that, or the other. I don't have to label the way I live or love as long as I am safe and happy.

I wish the same for you, too.

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