There are lies I could tell you. Lies that would seem reasonable, easy to consume. Call it emotional fast food – empty calories that leave you crashing later on. Empty promises that are a cold comfort. Temporary fixes for ever-present things. These lies would patch you up, not heal you. The bullet hole covered by a band-aid. The hurt smothered by rum. The love shoved under the rug, in the corner – down, down, down until you swear you don’t need it.
How many years have you been longing, wanting, feeling empty? How many years have you been unsmiling, absent, and feeling like there’s nothing left? Worse: you’ve lived through it standing still. Your courage is an in-drawn breath. You’ve got to exhale to make it matter. You’ve got to let go to make it count. You’ve got to drag out the truth as dirty as you know it. Pretty truths, darling, are nothing more than fancy lies. Singular dimensions that cast long shadows.
There are lies I could tell you – things I know you’d want to hear. Things that would release you under the illusion that this is nothing more than a fleeting heartbeat. Oh, yes, I’ll be alright. No, I’m not crying. No, I’m not breaking apart. No, I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. This is just what I look like when I’m smiling – don’t mind the unmet eyes and shaky hands. Don’t mind the lack of sleep. Don’t mind the fact that I can’t make it through a minute without missing you.
The truth is, no matter what happens, I knew exactly what I was doing. I knew what I wanted when I looked at you. I knew what I was facing, knew the consequences from the marrow of my bones. No one tastes fruit by accident. Forbidden is just another word for untouched. And I want to be touched. I want to feel your hands.
My secret is this: when we are apart, my heart is in winter. There’s no summer in the sky for me. I am borne of waiting, counting the days until I’m back where I’ve chosen to be. My obligations elsewhere are only that: debts. A thing owed and owing. Nothing more, nothing less.
I have given no fire to man, yet I suffer. Instead of my liver, my heart is torn out – and torn out and torn out. Have you ever seen me flinch? Have I ever worried when I’ve seen your face? Have I not given you every possibility I could offer? And all I ask of you is this: wait. Wait for me. I will come back. You’ll see.
My love, I am no small girl. There is no weakness in me, only love. I will not tell you lies. I will not tell you to let me go. Instead, I will remind you that my heart is like a pomegranate. It will feed you. It will keep you. It does not matter if you are far or near. Love is not simple, not easily explained. But, my darling, you must trust it. There is no love that can live in the shadow of fear. Leave the dark to underworld. Do not look back toward what might disappear.
Tomorrow is ours.
My heart says: Call.
My brain says: Don’t.
My fear elbows in with:
You aren’t worth it. Nobody’s going
to fight for you. Forget it.
My courage shouts:
Fight for yourself.
My insecurity muses:
How? The situation is impossible,
because you are impossible.
My pride rebels:
Fuck impossible. Impossible
is just an excuse to quit.
My lesser self reminds:
You control nothing. This is not
your choice. You’re nobody’s choice.
You’re just a fool.
Then, last, like a lunatic –
love sticks its neck out,
love steps onto the train tracks,
love stands out in the rain,
love takes a bullet,
love opens its arms,
love stops pretending it doesn’t exist:
be furious in what you pursue,
don’t leave yourself resolved to less,
and let everything break
if it must –
there’s nothing beautiful about regret.
I love you.
What will you say next?
All relationships built on choices. We choose how vulnerable we allow ourselves to be. We choose how we reveal ourselves. We pick battles. We decide when to stay, when to trust, and when we walk away. Every relationship has its own unique dynamic. No relationship just happens to you. It’s not as if you’re crossing the street and, by no fault of your own, you get hit by a lover. Nope. No. In last week’s episode of Scandal, Olivia is (initially) nowhere to be found. She’s still smarting over Fitz biting her head off (albeit accidentally – he was having a moment. Who hasn’t snapped at the wrong person in a MOMENT? Yeah, that’s what I thought. I’ll be over here in my glass house, too) and over the fact that Fitz seems jealous over Mellie’s relationship with Andrew. More on that later. I have THOUGHTS.
The episode opens with Abby (hilariously misreferred to as GABBY, by pretty much everyone) doing her best Olivia Pope impersonation, complete with a white coat. But Abby, as awesome as she is, is no Liv. Because she cannot command a room, at least not that room. And everyone from Fitz to Cyrus basically leave her standing alone, like the proverbial cheese. (Mmm, cheese.)
In possibly what might be the most ill-advised alliance in the history of what the fuck are you doing, Liv?, is Olivia taking advice from Papa Pope. Papa Pope who promises her that he will not touch a hair on Fitz’s head, when Liv asks him to swear he won’t harm Fitz. Notice the precise wording that he used. He said he wouldn’t physically harm Fitz. That is not the same thing as making sure no harm comes to Fitz. Papa Pope is clever. Papa Pope isn’t someone I’d trust, and here’s why: he is an opportunist. He’s someone who has been ousted from a position rife with power. He’s not simply going to shrug and say, “Ah, well. My life was B613. I think I’ll actually work at the Smithsonian now. Because a boring, easy life will suit me so.” HELL FREAKIN’ NO. So, as the audience, we have to assume that he’s up to no good. Worse yet, he’s manipulating his own daughter – and it’s not the first time. On the surface, it seems like Papa Pope is trying to help Liv shut down B613 by cutting off its funding. When Liv brings this ingenious plan to OPA, Huck is horrified. You don’t trust B613. And yet…
See, Liv is really off her game. She’s hurt. Her mother is apparently a terrorist. And she’s actively in pain over Fitz’s jealous reaction to Mellie doing the no-pants dance with his friend and VP candidate, Andrew. Hi, pot – I’m kettle. Because you don’t get jealous when you don’t care, right? Really? I’ve seen in happen. Someone you’re no longer with is suddenly with someone and happy – and there’s a pang of jealousy, because it’s not you making that person happy. Even though, logically, you know that the relationship was crap for whatever reason. Or, to offer a second reason, consider the devolution of the Grant Marriage: Mellie won’t let Fitz touch her. They stop being intimate (not just sex, people – they stop connecting). The audience knows why, but Fitz doesn’t. Fitz just knows Mellie won’t even look at him with warmth and that (at the time), she told him that having children changes you. That she just wasn’t into sex. And then it turns out, she just didn’t want FITZ to touch her. Andrew, on the other hand, is welcome to Sexy Town any time he wants. (For the record, Andrew and Mellie are TERRIBLE at covert sex, because they apparently have never heard of TACT, SECRECY, and LOCKING DOORS. But I digress.) It’s one thing if your wife tells you she doesn’t fancy anyone. It’s another if you come to find out that she doesn’t fancy you. Meanwhile, Andrew is sporting a shiner, Mellie won’t talk to him, and he basically tells her that he loves her in the middle of the White House hallway. Mellie actually looks shocked, because she’s spent so much time being ornamental and not functional, it doesn’t even occur to her that someone else might, or could, love her. So, yes, I’m rooting like hell for those two, because Mellie deserves to be loved, too. Don’t we all? Anyway… more on that later.
For Liv, she doesn’t know where she fits into Fitz’s life. She wears so many hats in their relationship, because she works for/with him, that it is hard to decipher where Work Liv and Lover Liv stop and start. I can’t call her a mistress, because she’s not some seedy little chippy. I can’t call her his girlfriend, because he’s never called her that. So, they’re lovers. Anyway, in a brilliant speech, Liv basically shows her vulnerability by admitting she doesn’t know who or what she is to Fitz. She doesn’t know where she belongs. She doesn’t know, exactly, how she fits into his life – she questions what role she’s really filling/playing She wonders, like we all wonder sometimes, how important we really are to someone. She comes to the relationship at a disadvantage. It’s hard to assert yourself in a relationship where the other party has a spouse. Allowances have to be made for extenuating circumstances. Especially in this situation, where all parties involved want Fitz to get reelected.
Fitz reminds Liv that the relationship didn’t just happen to her – that he didn’t happen to her. Like I said before, you don’t cross the street and get hit by a passing relationship. It’s a choice. We choose. And they’re chosen each other. They each have to deal with the odd repercussions of the confining dynamics. Fitz is wearing so many hats, too. He said before in the Rose Garden speech that if he could, he’d run away with her. So, Fitz the man? He chooses Liv. Fitz the president? That’s more complicated. Does he choose Liv the Fixer or Liv the Woman? Can he choose both? Only time will tel.
The whole Mellie/Andrew thing is quite short lived, because Fitz finally admits to Liv that in order to win, he needs Mellie. Think what you want, but their public façade is not unconvincing. With a fake tell-all book about Fitz’s sordid fake affair with a former White House staffer, and Sally Langston playing the angles like an expert, Fitz needs to consider his career over his heart. Which, by the way, is basically what EVERYONE does in this episode. Especially when Liv seduces Jake for her own gains (prompted by Papa Pope), uses him to gain access to B613, and shuts it down. Honestly, that scene between Jake and Liv was horribly unconvincing in that Jake wakes up from a dead sleep to find Liv in his kitchen, nearing shooting her – but having sex with her is so narcotic that he doesn’t wake up when she untangles herself from his arms and plays spy? Does that make Jake the worst spy ever? Yes, yes it does.
Meanwhile, the Grant campaign eventually teams up with the Langston campaign, because Governor Reston is snaking votes away from both parties, due to his, “Look! I’m awesome! I visit my murderous wife in PRISON. Saint me, quick!” Except, we all know that his wife is in prison for a murder he committed. It was a delight to see Abby and Leo, Sally’s version of Cyrus, cozy up to each other. I kind of, maybe ship them a bit.
The episode ends with B613 being shut down, just as Quinn and Charlie are staking out Momma Pope the Terrorist and her merry band of misfit bombers. (Lovely to see the angel Raphael from Supernatural, btw.) Momma Pope, honestly, feels like a one note pony, lately – she has one emotion, and it’s as if she’s stolen it from Austin Powers’ Dr. Evil. I hate how flat and one-dimensional seems to be, and I feel like Adnan’s potential (as a character) is being wasted. There was such a set up with Harrison being horribly afraid of her. They knock boots and few times, and then she’s relegated to Hot Lacky, the minor sidekick of Momma Pope. It is strange. But I digress.
With Papa Pope’s prompting, Liv shuts the shit down out of B613, leaving the organization in the dark, just as Momma Pope acquires a bomb, presumably as part of a plan to kill Fitz. Which Jake kindly spits at Liv, right after her barges into OPA, chokeholding her across the room and into a wall. He then tells her, essentially, that Fitz is going to die and it’s all her fault. And that’s the episode ending note: a bewildered Liv, hearing the worst thing ever, while all the OPA folks (including Huck – where is his Super Spyness when we need it?) gaping in total shock in horror. Except for Harrison, whose face somehow seemed to express a feeling on what looked like mild constipation. But again, I digress.
Whenever Liv is emotionally distressed, she cannot function. She was compromised during the whole Amanda Tanner debacle. When Liv starts mistrusting her gut, she starts trusting the wrong people. Namely, HER FRAKKIN’ FATHER. I do like the fact that she’s started to express herself to Fitz, despite the mess it makes. But real relationships are messy. And if you don’t expose the fears, insecurities, and difficulties you’re grappling with, that’s when things start to fall apart. The fact that Fitz and Liv argue? It’s actually a good thing.
One final thing: Andrew and Mellie. In order to get Fitz what he needs (instead of what he wants), Liv shuts that down. She informs Andrew that he has to make a choice between banging Mellie and being VP. She pointedly tells him that Mellie wouldn’t want him if he wasn’t a political player. And he can either stop having sex with Mellie or she will ruin him. Andrew chooses the VP slot, and Mellie then goes and slaps the HELL out of Fitz. Which…he pretty much deserved. Because glass house, stones. Pots and kettles. And all that jazz. *does spirit fingers*
PS. If the title of this episode didn’t make you giggle like a 13 year old, you have no soul.
There are times where I don’t know what to say – because I want to say something, but each time I think about it, the words come out all wrong. There are times where I want to reach someone, but I don’t know how. I don’t know the magic bit of phrasing that will open a door or turn on a light bulb – or even, in the toughest cases, act like a wrecking ball. Walls, in my opinion, are only necessary when you are protecting yourself from actual harm – not, say, when you are afraid. Or trying, in theory, to protect someone else. You cannot do that.
Granted, it does take courage to let someone in. It’s never entirely easy, and it can be scary. Because, at the end of the day, it leaves you vulnerable. Sometimes, we are taught that openness/vulnerability is a kind of weakness – but it’s usually only when that openness has been exploited by somebody. That does happen. And it can leave a person feeling raw and gun-shy. But I think that no matter how many times we get hurt, we get back up. We dust off our hearts and bruises, and we try again. We give people chances. We dance in the dance. We dance in the dark. We strip it all done and leave ourselves bare – because the risk is worth the potential that we gain when we do that.
I believe in people, even though humanity at large can be disappointing. I believe in letting people in, even when it isn’t pretty –even when it is downright ugly as hell. Real life and real relationships aren’t always squeaky clean. I don’t believe in perfection. I believe in flaws. And flaws are okay. And so are mistakes. Life is messy. Love is messy. And that mess, however unpredictable and difficult, can be so damn beautiful. When someone allows you to see their mess, that’s an honest connection. It can happen in small ways. It can happen in big ways. But it’s important for it to happen.
But back to my initial point: there are moments where I just don’t know what to do or say. I want to do or say something, because my first instinct is always to help or protect. If I’m claimed you as my people, part of my tribe – no matter what the circumstances – I will always want to lend you a hand, or an ear, or a hug. Whatever I can do, I want to do it. So, when I find myself in a situation where I’m not sure how to proceed, how to help, or even if that help would be welcome…it leaves me feels off-kilter. I’ve gotten better at patience in this respect, but it isn’t something that comes naturally to me. I can be the most patient person on earth, but sometimes that just goes totally out the window – and I find myself chomping at the proverbial bit. I want to fix. It is just a thing I can’t really tamp down. And, really, if I could, I wouldn’t want to. It is an important part of who I am.
This morning, I’m trying to decide if keeping quiet is the wiser course of action. It goes against everything I believe. But it is also a matter of realizing that not everything is mine to fix. And sometimes, it isn’t easy my place – or I’m not sure that it is. Relationship dynamics can be weird. Still, at the end of the day, I think it’s important for those we love to know that a) we love them and b) they’re not alone. Knowing that someone has your back, knowing that someone loves you and is just there – it makes all the difference in the world. And the truth is, if I love you, I’m always in your corner. I’m always here.
So, maybe, it’s not a matter of finding the right words, per se. Maybe it is merely a matter of letting someone know they’re loved. Something as simple as, “I love you. I’m here.” Because there are times where you really can’t do anything. But that? That reassurance? It can change the tide. It can turn the tables. I’ve said it before, that something as simple as “I love you. I’m here.” is powerful. And you can bet your heart that I believe the hell out of that.
If you’re having a bad day, a bad week, a bad whatever – I love you. I’m here. Whatever you need, whenever you need it. Lean on me. I’m stronger than I look, darlings. And if you don’t know that by now, darlings, you’re not looking at me hard enough.
I am more balance than burn,
less flame than air, and yet
my heart triumphs like a well-spread
rumor, living for the secrets it keeps
better than it keeps itself.
Have you ever counted out
the things you do not say? Have you tried
to weigh them against reality, desire
peeking out from behind patience,
fingers wrapped around
love like the hilt of a knife?
I am more heart than mind,
less earth than water, a gift
that gives until it gives out,
an echo throwing itself into the dark.
This is what I do not say:
A single word shaped
into a single weapon. I say
nothing. This is not my war,
and yet –
I want it to be.
Several times this week, I’ve had separate conversations with different friends about an odd thing: when you feel subtlety creeped out by someone. There is no overt gesture – no physical boundary crossed. And thus, in a way, there’s no evidence to point to. Nothing to hold up as a tangible example. I remember reading a lot about the crossing of physical boundaries during a lot of con discussions. One in particular, written by Maria, is an excellent example of the state of Creeperdom. Because, really, one should not need to be told to refrain from kissing, licking, grabbing, etc., the authors. I mean, where is your mother? Who taught you manners? If you paid for that class, darling, you should demand a refund. Because you are full of FAIL. But I digress.
Once, I knew this guy. He’d routinely make inappropriate sexual comments/advances. At first, I laughed it off. But after the third unwanted comment about my ass, I remember politely calling him out. And his response was not, “I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.” No, it was, “Oh, I didn’t mean it that way.” Or, “You’re being too sensitive. I’m just teasing you.” As if, basically, “Oops, you’re misunderstanding the situation,” is a) valid and b) not a displacement of blame. (Note to humanity: never do this. If you do, you lose the right to speak. GO SIT IN THE CORNER.) He would also explain, somewhat patronizingly, that he was just a flirt – that he didn’t mean anything by it. It was just his personality. That might sound good, but it’s still not okay. If someone has made you uncomfortable, especially repeatedly, that is not okay. We establish physical separations/distances/dance spaces for a reason. But it’s often much harder to establish verbal ones.
This brings me to a related issue that is also difficult to pin down: fostering false intimacy. This has happened to me. It’s happened to a good friend of mine quite recently. It’s when you meet someone, and he/she seems nice, generally normal, and not inclined to keep a dirt pit in his/her basement. Maybe pet names of a romantic nature start rapidly sneaking into conversation. Maybe there are references to sexual things, which make you quirk an eyebrow. And maybe there are instances that are an attempt to situate you and this other, previously normal person as some kind of team. “Us” and “we” are thrown around a lot. You haven’t known this person long enough for there to be a we. At this point, you might start to feel a little silly, because what are you going to say? “[So and so] is just too friendly!” As I said, it’s often difficult to pin down a reason; it’s too much of a feeling. And feelings don’t always tuck neatly into words. (It’s true. As a writer, that’s hard to admit.)
At some point, that person will attempt to escalate the communication. If you are busy or don’t have time to hang out, the other person starts behaving like a clipped scene from Fatal Attraction. This person gets annoyed if you’re not at his/her beck and call. Somehow, your unavailability has shattered expectations that you didn’t even know were a thing.
Guilt trips will be trotted out slyly. Things like, “I wish you weren’t seeing your girlfriend this weekend, otherwise we could go to the bar.” It’s not so much the verbiage as it is the tone, remember. “Why haven’t you answered my text? Is work too busy.” That has happened to a gaggle of people I know, myself included. I know that technology has made it so we’re available 24/7 to everyone we’ve ever met (even those we’ve spent decades trying to avoid – thanks, Facebook!). There are days where I miss being able to slip away, untethered to technology, but that’s neither here nor there. The why in that aforementioned question is meant to be a bit of pressure, implying that you should’ve answered immediately. The slyer implication is that you should prioritize this other person above other things. This is not polite. Again: this is you somehow failing to meet an expectation that you weren’t aware of. And that’s, honestly, unrealistic.
Personally speaking, I feel that any behavior/verbiage that makes you uncomfortable is not okay. It doesn’t matter that it could seem harmless. If it’s making you feel creeped out, it’s not cool. Often, it’s impossible to put your finger on, exactly, why it’s not right. It’s a vague feeling that creeps up your spine, without hard evidence. But this isn’t a courtroom. You’re the judge and jury here, darlings.
Just say NO to creepers. Full stop. No soft NOs. Polite benefits no one. Better yet, Creepers? STOP BEING CREEPY. So endeth the lesson, loves.
For further reading on not excusing creepers as being socially awkward, read this.