The tears come at the strangest time.
Mr Incredible lies to Elastagirl about where he’s going. At airport security I flash to the last time we were at SFO… and waited for our ride that never came. I overhear someone mocking her own ‘daddy issues’. Lilith falls asleep, & I weep like I’d been desperately waiting for the opportunity behind my own back.
My mind has been racing since May. Most of the time, I don’t often even notice the ‘sad’, but I know it creeps in there. It pops out at its own random will or at moments of overflow. Sad, horror, hurt, & doubt pepper literally everything, whether I realize it or not. Now it’s my job to untangle it all, to listen and become acutely aware. I can heal, and I will. If Bart has taught me anything in the last several months, it’s that the only way to truly heal, is to feel all the big feelings. So here I go. I’m already looking forward to the day I wake up and find that it’s not such a shit show in there after all.
As I watch the sun rising over Hong Kong from my window seat, my sweet baby sleeps beside me completely unaware of how wildly different life on the other side of the world will be. I realize how deeply I need to tell the story that is the fuel to this adventure.
People often want to acknowledge what a horrible tragedy this experience has been for me. I came home from vacation to find the body of the man I married, the father of my child, dead. My worst fears manifest. So, yes, finding his body was the absolute worst, but this was obviously an awful tragedy for so many more reasons. I have my story around it, which I will tell a million times a million different ways because that’s the nature of stories. You can never change the facts surrounding a story, but the way we feel about them and the lessons we highlight are fluid. Bart’s story is obviously much bigger than me. He had family and friends all over the world. He had grandiose plans… because that’s the kind of man he was. He did NOT want to go out like this. His story absolutely deserved a different ending. A huge portion of his body was tattooed with the image of the triumphant Phoenix rising. He should have had THAT legacy. His children deserved that. I believe that he did also. I did. And speaking to the piece of this story that is mine, which is the only piece I have right to, what I don’t think most people fully grasp is that the real tragedy of this ‘Bart and Lacye ‘ saga didn’t start in May. It began two years before he died.
I never wanted to leave Bart. He was my person, my Great Love, & I married him for life. I’ve had many great, passionate Loves. Bart was the biggest, the deepest, the most ‘Right’… He was the funnest person I ever knew. He had a way of speaking to me and holding me that had me know without a doubt that we had Loved each other before, maybe many times. There was always a deep trauma piece to him. When we met, he was managing this with a dedicated, daily meditation practice. He had a tattoo on his arm, which I now have also, with words which he then lived by. “Breathe. Stay aware. As it is. This will also change.” But times got hard, as they do, and when they did… or even sometimes when life was so much fun he just wanted to push it farther and farther like it could never be enough… It was then when he would trade his mediation for high-stakes gambling or excessively use any and all party drugs. Anything to kick that adrenaline up a notch and get him to a place where he was only feeling the good bits. He was an escapist…which, without the daily meditation, became addiction, & the addictions became shameful, & the shame turned to lies. It peppered our lives at first, but slowly became an overwhelming issue. I knew he was lying when he said he was going out to look at properties and wouldn’t come home until 4am. I knew when the money would disappear that there was more to the story than he wasn’t getting paid by the people who owed him money. I’ve found him on numerous occasions at the casino when he told me he was at work. There were many more lies that I didn’t know about, but I felt them. I married Bart because our connection was deep. His lies hit me as such a betrayal of the blessing that connection was. I said in my wedding vows that he was the one I wanted to walk through the fires with. I would have held his hand through anything but lies. I begged. I wrote Love letters. I got mad. We went to therapy…. He couldn’t stop. He wouldn’t stop. He gambled every penny I ever saved. His gambling drove us to bankruptcy. He would leave me and our new baby at home for days without answering his phone or telling me where he was. So, I left. For the next 2 years, I watched him go in and out of being fabulous, Loving, healthy, wise, dedicated, patient beyond belief… to fitful, erratic, explosive, careless, wildly reckless, arrogant, completely unconscious, excessive, & distant. We fought, we cried in each other’s arms, he slept on my couch, we told each other we Loved each other… our chaos never stopped. He never pretended that he didn’t Love me and want me back. I reminded him often, manipulatively even, that I could never be with him unless he got help. I relentlessly (and foolishly) hoped that his longing to have Lilith and I back in his home as his family would be motivation enough for him to fix his life. There was always that pull to hope and then disappointment and furious anger, at myself and him. The cycle was predictable and continuous for two years.
He was never awful enough to justify leaving completely, but never stable enough to feel safe staying. Even in his darkest moment, there was always the silhouette of the King I knew was in him. And then there was our shared Love & absolute adoration of Lilith. The magical ways that he was so present as a father to her were unlike anything I have ever seen before.
Love stories are always more complicated than anyone watching could ever assume.
I Loved him. The further he would go into addiction, the more shame and terror I felt for our connection and the more isolated I would sit with that Love. I Love him still. I never gave up. Obviously, the drug deals regularly taking place in plain sight of our daughter, casino trips, fitful attempts at sleeping, mysterious bouts of suspicious behavior… it all made me desperately WISH I could. I worried for Lilith’s safety. Constantly. Every time he was late or wasn’t where he said he would be, I would fear the worst. For two solid years. I lost my joy in those years. I lost my peace. I stopped dancing and singing. I stopped taking care of myself. I lost many of my friends, and I lost myself. Bart also lost these precious things. And then one day, he didn’t return my call, & I knew immediately what I was finally coming home to for real. I no longer have to fear for his life, just now the shards of mine and Liliths.
I was lied to repeatedly and constantly for years by the Love of my life. The secrets are slowly but surely becoming less consistent in their unfolding, but I never know when a new piece to this maddeningly unfamiliar ‘behind the scenes’ puzzle of my own life will reveal itself. It’s terrifying. It’s unsettling (to say the least), and I must admit to myself that it has cracked the foundation of almost all of the beautiful faiths I hold dear. What DO I believe in? What can I trust, in all absolute certainty, will not crumble beneath my feet? I know it SHOULD be Me. That’s why I am here, on the other side of the world, seeking that solidity.
Somehow, I can’t find it in me to be mad at him. I’ve spent too much of my life being mad at him already. He lied to protect me. He lied because he was ashamed of himself. He was very sick in his addictions. He was deep in it, and the way out was complicated and scary. It always is, no matter which way you go. I’m not justifying it for him, but I do have compassion, and as much as I am able, I understand. I do NOT believe that his suffering is over because he has died. I don’t believe in easy outs. I believe that he saw how I found him, he is aware that his children are without a father, he knows that his daughter will one day understand the story of how he died, he knows that I am learning all the creepy bits he tried so hard to keep from me. Being mad at Bart was my attempt to motivate him towards change, so that THIS wouldn’t happen. It’s happened. The time for anger seems to have passed for me. Now, we mourn, Bart as deeply as any of us.
So, now I move forward without him… Part of ‘moving forward’ is deciding what to do with all the pieces that he held alone. Each new bit of information sprouts more questions I just wish so deeply he were around to answer. I just wish we could’ve fixed it together. Part of moving forward is admitting that and feeling the pain that’s in these wishes I have. I wish he wouldn’t have given up on himself. I wish he could’ve trusted me with all the broken pieces. I know that we all are responsible for our own healing. I know that I couldn’t have ‘fixed’ him, but I’m also learning that we can’t fix it all ourselves, on our own. We just can’t. Humans are pack animals. We need to lean on our tribe. We need Love & support & recognition & trust & community. We need someone to hear us and feed us when we’re too fucking sad to feed ourselves. We need someone to watch our kid and drive us to the hospital when our heart breaks on the physical level. THANK YOU! I had that support. I just wish Bart would have accepted that it was always there for him as well.
I miss you B.