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Boxed Wine and Turkey Grease: A Lesson in Identification Projection

It wasn’t my finest moment. I had just run out of boxed wine and I was actively searching for a reason to explode. My veins pulsed with an overdose of fear, anger and merlot.

It was then I saw the turkey grease.

Reason number 11,284 I was mad at my boyfriend; it was June and he had still not disposed of the 18 gallon vat of turkey grease sitting on our balcony. We deep-fried that turkey over Christmas, so he had endured seven months of me complaining about it.

I just couldn’t let it go. I couldn’t let any of my resentments go. I was worried my heart might soften a little, but I was terrified that if I stopped creating problems, we would be forced to look at the real issue, which was my addiction.

Neither of us were ready for that. In fact, I’m not sure who fought harder to pretend I wasn’t drinking to excess on a nightly basis. He never asked why I took the trash out daily, or kept the alcohol in the laundry room.  As I got worse, his own drinking increased and he slept more than usual, exhausted from walking on eggshells. He floated from room to room like a phantom, reliving his childhood nightmare, playing hide-and-seek with irrational anger and alcoholism.

Of the two of us, I’m not sure who was more afraid of me.

When the Grease Hits the Fan

On this particular evening, I was especially offended that he had chosen to play golf with his friends, rather than stay home and babysit me. I felt unloved, ignored and broken. I was also reliving childhood patterns, and trying to right old wrongs. I had subconsciously recreated painful situations, hoping a different outcome would absolve my original pain.

I historically picked people who were not capable of intimacy, who reinforced my underlying belief that “I was unstable, crazy and not deserving of love.” A part of me wanted to see if I could be enough to make him stay, but another part wanted to be right. My external world became a mirror of my internal self-loathing, and any negative self-perception became my reality.

The episode began with golf clothing only, but I got increasingly less selective as the evening progressed. By the time I heard his car pull up, our deck glistened with his clothing, and grease began to drip from the second story balcony onto the driveway below.

As the rush of revenge began to diminish, the severity of what I had done became increasingly clear. I sprinted into our bedroom and pushed all of the furniture in front of the door. To this day, I’m not sure if I wanted to keep him out or lock myself in. I do know I was hurting and felt ashamed. I know I felt emotionally neglected and used. What I didn’t know was why, who to blame, or how to fix it.

Softened Heart, Stop Pretending

My addiction eliminated any possibility of true intimacy, so I settled for imposters and connected though other avenues.  Addiction lends itself more to keeping family secrets, showing love by enabling or bonding over chaos. I had become my addiction, so when he ignored my drinking, it meant I no longer existed.

He stood helpless on the other side of the door. He yelled and pounded his fists, but no matter how much noise he made, he still couldn’t reach me. There was no amount of anger, tears, insults or begging that would tear down the wall between us. He couldn’t reach me, and for the first time, he got a taste of my daily cocktail comprised of separation, rage and loss of control.

I didn’t trust my needs would be met, so I connected the only way I knew how, and I made him feel what I was feeling.-Jo Harvey

I wanted to know I wasn’t alone and someone understood my pain. I wanted my partner to act as a tuning fork, and vibrate in perfect harmony with whatever frequency I was emitting. I was the newborn unable to sleep, wailing at the top of her lungs, making sure everyone else had a restless, unpleasant night. I was the child who would prefer to be yelled at rather than ignored.

From that moment forward, we couldn’t pretend, so we didn’t last. When he finally left me, I drifted down into the lowest place of my life, where all I could do was look up and pray for a miracle. Leaving me was his most selfless and caring act of our entire relationship.

I had never felt more pain, but I knew, I was loved.

Image Courtesy of iStock

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