Honey, I am going out. (IV)
Updated: Apr 7
I was in the airport, asking myself how to arrange to get to work the next day if I was about to spend the night in Köln. I only received a short text from the airline, asking for patience. I didn't know if the flight was delayed or canceled due to emergencies or air traffic control. It had nothing to do with me, yet I felt like this delay had everything to do with my story.
"Just let me know how it goes in the next hours," Lucas texted, "I am currently working on something." I took out my Kindle and continued reading the book I started a week back. But I was restless, and after 20 minutes, I put the Kindle back in my purse. I went over to a charging station and plugged in my phone. I scrolled down on Instagram for 5 minutes, tapping with my left hand on the docking station. I waited and waited... and God, did I want to have another option to fly to Berlin… not only to see Lucas but also because things at work weren't so spectacular, and I didn't want to start a discussion with my boss after skipping work...unannounced.
It felt like I waited for five hours, but it was only two. I landed in Berlin short before midnight, and when I arrived at Luca's place, he was nearly asleep. The whole apartment was dark like an autumn forest on a foggy cold night. The moon had risen high enough to percolate its light through the bedroom's big windows, and I stepped slowly upon the patch of luminescence, leaving my bags behind. I rushed to the bathroom to brush my teeth, change into a t-shirt and some shorts, and pulled my side of the blanket. I don't know if the small globe of yellow luminescence that floated above the bed brightened as we were again next to each other, or my eyes got used to the mellow pearly light, but I felt how my heart was filled with warmness. We talked for a couple of minutes, more whispering than anything else, and I told him that I missed him. It was good to be back, so I fell asleep, letting the moon sort out my worries.
In the morning, we ate breakfast together, and at some point, he apologized for not being in the mood for sex the previous night. I laughed and asked him if I gave him the impression I wanted to have sex – considering I fell asleep 30 seconds after I said goodnight. He went on with his ideas, not answering my question, but reciting a speech that has been polished by someone else and has been practiced many times before. He told me that from a certain age (he's three years older than me), comfort is more important than being wild, how we should actually make a sex rule – no sex after 10 pm, and how there will be some days in the week he would rather spend on his own. I will have to be okay with having sex less often, among other things.
This wasn't a conversation I wanted to have so early in the morning, nor did I understand where all of that was coming from. On the one hand, I was flattered that Lucas thought that I was a sex goddess, but on the other hand, I was the one with a running routine and having a strict sleeping schedule. I wanted to ask him if I gave any signals I need to see him naked on the kitchen table at that very moment, trying to ease up the mood, but there wasn't any space for jokes. "This is serious, Ioana," he said, and I expected him to raise a big sign that said, "We don't do joking in this house!"
I had to leave for work soon anyhow, and I was in a hurry to finish my breakfast, so I stopped being funny.
"Do you want to sleep at my place? Since the post office is closer to me than to you?" I asked, being delighted that for once I live in the good part of the city. The letter he opened a day before was next to him on the breakfast table, and he acted like he didn't hear what I was saying. I didn't push it.
"Okay, I will come back tomorrow or the day after to pick up my luggage. Just let me know when you're home," I said.
"You can have a key from my apartment, so you can come whenever you feel like it."
"Okay, then I will come after work and give you back the key next time we meet."
"No, this is your key. You can use it any day," he said as I was putting on my shoes.
"Lucas, no," I said, a bit annoyed, "this is a one-time thing. I will only take the key because I need to get my bag later. It would be easier to bring it to work, but I don't want to give anyone any explanations about my weekend. This is your apartment. I won't come uninvited."
He kissed me goodbye, thinking I am just scared of taking our relationship one step further, but as I reached the ground floor, I called him and asked him to throw my jacket out the window.
"I was recording an audio message to a friend, and now I have to start over," he said, looking not pleased.
I – obviously – took it as a joke and just smiled.
I arrived to work, counting the hours until the day was about to be over. Something was wrong, and I couldn't put my finger on it, but since I only slept for 5 hours the previous night, I decided to ignore everything and everyone. There was a bakery next door to my office, and I went to buy a sandwich after my workday ended. My first thought was to buy Luca something sweet, but I changed my mind, as – for some unknown reason – I didn't want to be nice to him. I just… didn't like something about him on the same day he opened his apartment to me. Something was off.
Ten minutes before arriving at Luca's place, I received a message from a friend. I was paralyzed. I read it repeatedly, not knowing if I should just reply with "I'm sorry" or if I should ask questions.
The problem with communicating via text is that one can easily misinterpret what the other person said, and since this was a delicate subject, I needed some advice. "Luca, I need to see you tonight. Something is wrong, and I need to talk to you."
No reply for 30 minutes – and I was freaking out. I went back to the text from my friend and read it out loud. How am I suppose to reply to a text that says, "He tried to commit suicide. Twice. And I hate him for that. I hate him for being selfish, for giving up; I want to punch him in the face."
I walked slowly to Luca's apartment; then I took the stairs; I opened the door while my hands were shaking, put the phone on the kitchen table, and went out to the balcony. His living room is facing a big inner yard which gave me the quiet and solitude that I needed at that moment. I was in shock and heartbroken, and how does one talk to someone you barely know? How do you ask about hopelessness, and where do you find words of comfort? I needed to go home and search through all my books, find any bookmarked pages and open the Facebook pages of the psychologists I follow. I didn't have a solution, but I had a plan, or, at least, a starting point.
I was going to read things about mental health and what to say to people who are not next to you. A few friends confessed that they thought, at some point in their life, to commit suicide. A few things stopped them from attempting this - the thought of their grandma being heartbroken to lose them, the fact that death is messy, and someone else needs to clean after you, or a tiny bit of hope that things might get better in spring. And so, I learned to block my first instinct and ask, "Are you crazy? Why would you do that?" and instead, I tried to sail with them through strong winds and big waves. I learned that proximity and presence are often the most effective tactics in easing the mentally downtrodden burdens. But with people who are not next to you, how do you communicate?
Some people are very good at compartmentalizing things and stuffing emotions and memories away that they don't want to talk about or deal with. But this constant hiding has a price and can spiral into depression. And depression lies. It lies relentlessly and cruelly and seductively and convincingly. It lies day after day, night after night, making you feel the pain and the hopelessness more intense. It's not cowardly to fall prey to these inexorable lies, but not taking care of depression only leads to needless suffering. Depression has also been linked to various physical health issues, including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, and other chronic disorders.
There's a quote by David Foster Wallace about how painful it can be to live with depression and how human it is to feel that the pain can not end unless you die.
"The so-called 'psychotically depressed' person who tries to kill herself doesn't do so out of quote 'hopelessness' or any abstract conviction that life's assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e., the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire's flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It's not desiring the fall; it's terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling 'Don't!' and 'Hang on!', can understand the jump. Not really. You'd have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling."
But the text written in italic has information I didn't have in the back of my mind that day when I was staring in the peaceful courtyard. After a few minutes, I went into the bedroom and gathered all my things – the Kindle was on the side table, the charger was in a socket, the t-shirt I threw on the floor the night before was in the same place, and I took the running belt Luca agreed to borrow me. Nothing was unordinary, and after I went to the kitchen to drink a glass of water, I gasped for air. I went back into the living room to search for clues, and I felt my blood pressure rising. Someone was here on Saturday night. Someone was here on Sunday afternoon. Another woman. I rushed to the bedroom and looked for clues when it hit me: the woman slept in my pjs. Mine. Fuck this. Fuck this a million times!!! No and no and noooooooo!! I grabbed my luggage and stormed out the door. I was so angry with Luca for lying. So him "working on a Sunday night" was a code for "I am spending time with someone you don't need to know about." Fuck this and fuck him. I yelled in the empty parking lot when the handle of my Samsonite luggage broke. I couldn't drag it anymore, so I had to somehow slide it up the bridge to reach the S-Bahn. I hated everything. It was too much, and I wasn't about to keep my mouth shut. "Fuck you, Luca," I screamed. I was done. So done.
I arrived home to receive a message from him saying that he can't meet me tonight, but we can talk about my problem on the phone. I told him that my problem is him, and I don't fucking accept being just another woman he sleeps with. "Who was at your place on Saturday night, Luca?" I asked him when he called me. "What do you mean?" He tried to avoid the question, but when I started yelling, he said that the only people who visit him were his parents and some friends. They watched the football game, and I should stop being paranoid; he even sent me pics (which was true), so I should stop picking up a fight.
My blood was boiling, so I asked him once again. "Who came to your place after everybody left, who slept in my pjs, and who was there on Sunday afternoon?"
"You wouldn't understand."
"Try me." (like in this song)
"Try me," I said again.
"She's a friend, and nothing happened, I was just lonely, and I wanted to sleep next to someone and…"
"Okay, then you can sleep next to her from now on."
"I knew you wouldn't understand; it's not what you think. We actually fought on Monday morning because I spend too much time with you…you know, when I recorded the audio message, when you forgot your jacket..." And I stopped listening because Luca tended to forget I am not his therapist and that his words have the power to hurt me.
"Luca, I'll give you back the key, and you can give it to whoever you want. I can't do this tonight. Tomorrow I have a big day at work and can't show up with my eyes swollen from crying, so bonne nuit."
The next day he had the nerve to tell me that I am to blame, since he did nothing wrong and I am blowing this situation out of proportion. That he can't take having the same conversation over and over again, that he needs his freedom, and I am not willing to give it to him.
"I am giving you everything you want, including your key back, Luca."
I was the one who wasn't open-minded, he argued, and him sleeping next to someone else doesn't mean a thing; I'm too possessive, I need to chill, I don't understand how much he cares about me, etc.
"Maybe I will understand at some point. For now, I just need to give you back the key, so we can put all of this in the past," I texted Lucas, as it made no sense to unnecessarily prolong our situation. We were about the rip off the bandaid, shake hands and move on with our lives. The "u-s" wasn't anywhere close to what I wanted, so I was about to return to "I," and he to "he."
Things should have ended here, no? He needs his freedom; I am giving back the key - au revoir. But why not complicate things? Why should people take responsibility for their actions and admit when they are wrong? How easy would life be, right? As you can imagine, things didn't end here, and handwritten letters were exchanged, the key was returned, and some sort of connection was kept. But... all of that in the next post.
Until then, be kind to yourself, okay? And be kind to others. We are still living in a pandemic, and depression crawls when you least expect it. Depression waits behind the corner - don't let it take over your life or the life of someone you care about.
1. Moments that offer solace will appear again, but you need to ask for help.
Here is a link with Free Telephone Counseling Hotlines in Germany.
2. You can also offer support to those who help others.
Here's a link where you can donate a coffee and can make someone overcome a moment of desperation.
Bis später. 🗯