He was my opposite in nearly every way and like puzzle pieces we fit perfectly together. He was tall, I was short. He was blonde, I was brunette. He was extroverted, I was introverted. He was a party guy, I was a nerd. He grew up poor, I grew up comparatively rich. He spoke rapidly, I spoke slowly. He was into polyamory and swinging, I was monogamous. He was the sun to my moon, the west to my east; we opposed but complimented each other.
That’s the irony of life, contrasts highlight and unify. In the color wheel, the opposite color on the wheel is complimentary. Comic book ink artists gave the Incredible Hulk purple pants to match his gamma rayed green skin for a reason; but how did he manage to stretch those tiny pants? Spandex? I watched the original version during the 80s with my traumatized family and Spencer and I re-watched the episodes together in the early 2000s. We both liked campy pop culture because of the absurd humor. He and I bonded on 80s nostalgia. We were proud of being Generation X, despite the negative branding.
In dichotomies, opposing elements are connected by a common theme. Left and right are directions, male and female are sexes, night and day are phases of time; the opposites aren’t actually disconnected, they’re contrasted sides of one coin. Spencer and I at the core were deeply similar but we manifested on the surface differently. We agreed and disagreed constantly and passionately. We couldn’t stop yelling at each other. We were mesmerized and magnetized, encircled together like the yin and yang symbol. Each fight accumulated into new disasters. We mentally and emotionally destroyed each other, then we miraculously rebuilt ourselves. We seemed to bond more deeply after fighting, but each battle took it’s toll. We insanely fought about mundane things, the proper way to fry an egg or juice vegetables. Things that didn’t matter could destroy us in a life vs death battle. Everyday, petty differences in opinion, could turn into a gloveless boxing match. My ability to think clearly disintegrated rapidly. For the first time in my life, I began to studder and I acquired a twitch that was inspired by my constant anxiety. Eventually each day felt like a day in an insane asylum.
One time he made me hold up a heavy wall mirror, angled in an exact position, so he could pop a cystic pimple. It took a long time, “Why am I holding this mirror? Can’t you use the bathroom mirror for this?”
“I need this angle! Please help me! This cyst really hurts and could scar if I don’t pop it!”
“Won’t it scar, if you pop it? I’m getting so tired, it’s been like 20 minutes, this mirror is so heavy, my arms hurt!”
“Don’t you love me? You’d do this if you loved me. I’m not asking for much! It’s such a little thing I’m asking for! Just a minute of your support!”
“You can’t make this a condition of love, Spencer. My arms hurt and I can’t lift this anymore.”
“Fine! Leave it! You Never help me! Maddie would’ve helped me with this! She helped me all the time. She knew how important this is, she really cared about me. She even went to cosmetology school, I inspired her to, because she was so good at this! You’re so selfish! You don’t have any compassion for me. This is serious and could turn into an infection if I don’t get to it in time. You couldn’t even hold the mirror right, that’s why it’s taking so long! Maddie knew how to take care of me; you could learn a lot from her!”
“Maddie!? The self-entitled trust-fund bitch who kept you as her houseboy? Didn’t she constantly disrespect and reject you? Why don’t you go back to Maddie then! If she’ll even take you back. I’m so tired of hearing about that ho-bag slut that you had a polyamorous relationship with! Go watch her suck on another teenager’s dick again then! She’s disgusting! That’s how much she loved you! I never treated you like that! I would never want to cheat on you! Fuck you for comparing me to that pedophilic creep! Go get your zits popped by her!”
He incited more venomous anger in me then I’d ever felt in my life. I felt ashamed of expressing it, but it just poured out. So I was always leaving our apt to contain the hateful spite. No one else could trigger my love or hatred they way that he did. I’d sit outside and cry or hide out at Starbucks because they were the only place open that early after a fight. My hands would be shaking while I vented in my journal, at the cafe in SOMA. Once when a catering coworker saw me while I was in a writing frenzy I felt so embarrassed. I tried to hide my racing anxiety. Seeing someone I knew shocked me back to reality. I would try to smile and pretend normalcy while my heart was pumping adrenaline throughout my body. Fight of flight, we often did both.
Our constant crisis mode reminded me of how I felt in my childhood home. There was always a sudden outburst, of violent, extreme fighting, screams, shouting and fear permeated the starlit darkness. Then calm, surreal normalcy followed in the morning, I’d ride the yellow bus to school with puffy, tear-stained eyes in silence. At school I studied, read and interacted in a blur, then I returned home again to the never ending unknown. I learned then that life was full of potential, unpredictable danger. That danger was also the source of love, comfort and home.
Everyday was a carnival show with Spencer: joyful and volatile, uncertain, unstable euphoria with demonic rage. Life or death was hanging by a thread, which would prevail? No one knew I was being abused in my childhood home or with Spencer. He progressively became more violent. It started with him grabbing my wrists, then to pushing me to the ground, then raising his fist to my face. The worst incident I’ll save to write about in another post. He had a past history of beating up his girlfriend, I knew this but I hoped for the best. He was in mandatory anger management classes. He triggered my memories of my father beating up my mother. Subconsciously I thought I could heal that old trauma but it reopened the wound. He stayed up all night and insisted that I stay awake too. I averaged about 4-5 hrs of sleep each night. I was always sleep deprived, on edge and exhausted. I worked two part time jobs while Spencer didn’t. He didn’t try to find work. He survived on welfare checks and food stamps which they rebranded into plastic EBT debit cards. Every moment with him could be either magically blissful or violently destructive, the direction it took was sudden and unpredictable.
I broke up with and returned to him because of the overwhelming connection. We had supernatural highs, we were both so equally matched, laughing and crying together, finding refuge in each other. We were theatrically hilarious, we acted out scenes from movies, we had telepathy together, we even invented our own language. Many of my favorite moments were with Spencer. But I had to leave the relationship because I was scared for my life and his. I could see that we were uncontrollably explosive together and an fatal accident seemed inevitable. I was never this way with anyone else and I don’t imagine I could ever be with anyone this way again, to this level of intensity. That’s the good and bad of it, it was a once in a lifetime passion. It’s unrepeatable, forever lost. The death of our union feels like the greatest loss, an inconsolable loss of paradise. We echoed in each other. Time stood still for us briefly. Even now the memories still vibrate the paradox of love and rage. Our mutual childhood trauma was the source of our tragedy, but love should be a sanctuary, it should never lead to danger.