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Lucy and I

By Billy | January 9, 2010

The following is the exact text of a paper I wrote for a psychology class last semester.  The assignment was to write about a part of my life that affected my total development.  I wrote about the girl whom I’m having lunch with in 45 minutes.

Lucy and I

I will call her Lucy in this paper.  A year ago, I would have used her full name as if to say, “That’s her!  Everyone look at this one.  She’s the one to blame.  Everyone should know what she’s done and therefore who she really is.”  Lucy it is.  We did it to each other, Lucy and I, and we did it to ourselves.

Lucy and I became, “Lucy and I,” on May 7, 2003.  That progressed quickly into, LUCY AND I (look at us, everyone!) and then on into LUCYANDI.  LUCYANDI were inseparable. LUCYANDI were dependent.  LUCYANDI were confused. We were a single unit and we were definitely, definitely, definitely in love.

LUCYANDI knew we were in love pretty quickly.  Nobody else could really comprehend our transcendent experiences, but that was ok, we could just look to each other, rely on each other, grow with each other.  Nobody else understood.  My friends would take me aside, literally 3 on 1, my back against the wall and say, “this isn’t the Billy we used to know.  YOUANDLUCY have got to straighten some stuff out.”  They couldn’t understand.  My parents’ critiques of us were expected.  “We miss you at home and haven’t seen you for days; you always look so tired and grumpy.”  They couldn’t understand; what would my parents know about love?

You’re probably wondering at this point what I knew about love by this time.  Well, I knew a lot, thankyouverymuch.  I knew that love was patient and kind; this meant that when she’d strike me, it was my chance to prove myself — it was my chance to be her rock.  Love didn’t envy, so it was easy for me to close my eyes during entire movies because the girls on the screen might make me envious of the guys near them. Love doesn’t boast, and isn’t proud, so I found ways to belittle my accomplishments, even in my own head.  She was to be exulted and I would work behind the scenes.

Imagine you take every thing that has ever been said of love, all the powerful, whimsical, inflated, inspirational things that have ever been recorded.  Now distort them to fit the selfish mould of a lost human looking for a bit of validation, and that’s what sort of love I was in.  I took everything Paul of Tarsus wrote about love and completely misconstrued it to exclude every human being who wasn’t Lucy.  I made Romeo and Juliet look admirable.  I made up my mind and I stuck to it.

I have given so much attention to what our relationship was and why it existed to try and answer the question, “why?” that I can’t help but still ask myself, and that I have such inadequate answers for when asked by friends and family. Why did you stay in it? Because it was the loving thing to do. Beyond that, the introduction to my relationship with Lucy should contextualize why the story affects me so much to this day.

Four years is a long time.  Four years is longer than most commitments I’ve ever made.  I was a high school student for four years, but only for 1/4th of the day, 5/7ths of the week, and 3/4ths of the year.  LUCYANDI were a full time deal.  I was her boyfriend for the entire four years.   (We literally broke up 4 years to the day after we started). Four years is a long time.

At the beginning of this past summer, I was eating dinner at a local soup kitchen and was approached by a woman who claimed to be a gypsy and that she could read palms.  “You are not who you say you are.  I know your name,” she said to me.  I was more than a little perplexed and felt my privacy had been invaded as she seized my arm, felt my palm, and counted the most obvious scars on my arms.  “You… I will call you Phoenix.”  She spoke it with such conviction; I didn’t know how to respond at the time.  I am thankful now, though, because she has given me a very helpful metaphor for me to rely on.

LUCYANDI is the ashes out of which this bird has grown.

I am taking the opportunity to use this assignment to reflect on the events in my past collectively known as LUCYANDI.  How has LUCYANDI impacted the person I am today? In what ways has it affected my total development?

“Impacted the person I am today…”

I’ll warrant we should examine who “the person I am today” actually is while we look at the things that got him there. The person I am today is, as every person is every day, dynamic and changing. What is true about this today will not be true on another day, perhaps. Perhaps it will change in the next hour.

The person I am today is a person who is not willing to settle any longer for the thought of stasis. When Lucy and I were LUCYANDI, we stayed in a vacuum. Human beings grown and develop with interactions with other human beings. These interactions were lacking, especially on my end. For months of my freshman year of college, I lived (unbeknownst to my parents, her two roommates, or her parents) in her room — and often bathroom — in her apartment. I washed myself with water from the sink at 5 AM and snuck out of the apartment before her roommates were awake to take notice of my living there. I would frequently come home and stay in the bathroom with the lights off until everyone could be assumed asleep and there was no worry of a roommate walking in without knocking and seeing me there.

Lucy was uncomfortable with me talking or interacting with females. There were certain people whom she had given me a green light to talk to, but otherwise I limited my contact with people, especially girls, to virtually nothing. I remember coming to her house at the end of the day and reporting exactly how many times I had looked at, spoken to, or acknowledged another girl throughout the day and receiving a decently powered punch or a slap for each infraction.

Lucy did her best to keep me to herself. Whether done consciously for this reason or not, the seclusion I found myself in stunted our growth as people. For the four years I dated Lucy, which were exponentially oppressive as time passed, I didn’t challenge myself with the views of other people that I should have been in contact with. I didn’t learn to assimilate with the lifestyle of a random roommate who would have been my dorm roommate. During my freshman year of college, I didn’t meet hall mates from other states, cultures, religious backgrounds, sexual orientations, and education levels. As a direct response to the seclusion I experienced during the last two or three years of LUCYANDI, I now appreciate the variety life has to offer to a degree I don’t know if I ever would have reached otherwise.

Lucy hurt me. She was nearly the death of me many times over. I feel like the entire LUCYANDI event was a huge hurricane that came and swept through my emotional state of being. Everything was tested and nearly everything came down. After the storm settled, I was left with only the foundations of my house. Everything beyond the basics was in shambles or on the brink.

My sense of personal worth, first and foremost, had been obliterated. For years after the relationship I would ask myself, “What did I do to deserve what I got?” rather than telling myself, “I didn’t deserve to be beaten and controlled.” I have finally begun to see and feel the difference, but for most of the aftermath, I let her words and actions sink in. I was beaten, put into seclusion, starved, and belittled because there was surely something wrong with me, I thought, and that needed to be addressed.

My concept of self worth needed to be reconstructed in an entirely new fashion. My simple log-cabin-style home just didn’t make sense any more and I needed to design a structure more reliable and capable of enduring stress, should another hurricane sweep through. I needed to make sense of a world where people who tried to do the right thing would get broken down for their intentions.

I am a person today with a well defined opinion about the world and the way she operates. I have developed strong beliefs regarding human nature, right and wrong, cause and effect, determinism, and grace. These beliefs are the result of the introspection induced and demanded by experiences connected with LUCYANDI. I began developing many of them while hiding in her bathroom during my freshman year.

Because of Lucy, in many ways, I actually consider myself a human (a term that now carries a lot of implications). I hadn’t really considered things too much before the hurricane, and now I have refined opinions about it. Before I had just let things be. I didn’t think about my rights, my needs, or my comfort levels. Now I am conscious all the time of what I deserve as a human and what other people around me deserve as humans, too.

Because of Lucy, I am pretty good at knowing when I’m out of my comfort zone and standing up about it. I have abandoned conversations, asked people to watch their word choices, ended relationships, started dialogs with my parents, and in turn learned to be more sensitive to other people’s particular triggers and discomforts. That’s not to say I’m awesome at expressing my discomfort appropriately, as I am often on the defensive too readily, waging battles against people who aren’t actually fighting with me.

After my relationship with Lucy, I felt weak, useless, undeserving, bad (wicked), and hurt. The hardest of these to grow from has been the last one: hurt. Feeling weak and useless is a response to my position of relative powerlessness in life for many years. Undeserving and bad come from constant physical and emotional abuse. I can sit down with these and remind myself that I am strong, that I can accomplish things, that I do have goodness in me.

Being hurt is different. To feel hurt, there’s nothing I can or should really do about that. I should feel hurt. I spent two years post-LUCYANDI ignoring the fact that I was hurting. One day my friend held my by the arms and told me, “It’s okay to be hurting.” Those were some of the most important words I was ever told. I am learning these days to be hurt and to just let that be. I am learning to be alone and carry weights by myself, rather than growing restless by myself and sharing my load with every human I know. I am learning that it’s OK to be hurt and that pain isn’t always deserved.

The person I am today is one who thinks about why he’s doing things. He constantly questions his motives and whether it falls into accordance with things he’s comfortable with. He’s terrified of stepping into more pitfalls like Lucy, and is trying to balance the feeling of “I made a horrible mistake for four years,” with “as long as we choose to grow from things, they aren’t mistakes.” The person I have grown into being is a person with relentless hope, the type that of hope that exists only after you lose everything. The person I have developed into is one that sees things in a broader sense. My ego was smashed to pieces and while rebuilding it, I had a chance to see the world more objectively than the first time I set things up. This time I had a better perspective. The person I was when LUCYANDI broke up was carrying a lot of facts and not very much sense of it. I had to sit down and think about how the world works, where my source of validation and happiness came from, who was in control of my life and emotions, and what I wanted my life to shape up to be.

LUCYANDI played an intimate and vital role in my personal development. Lucy was a refining fire for me — the most painful and confusing refinement I’ve ever experienced. Nonetheless, I gained insight and found many foundational things to rely on. I have found who I am and want to be as a result of being forced into so many roles in the past. I still ache and mourn for missed opportunities, I often close my eyes during movie scenes involving domestic abuse, and I still feel wicked from time to time…

I am thankful that I am where I am now, and I can almost say that I am thankful that I got here the way I did. Regardless of how I feel about it, Lucy is huge in who I am today.

Topics: Nonfiction, This is my life | 1 Comment »

One Response to “Lucy and I”

  1. Yahallelu, Alhamdulillah, etc. | Rumbelow (rŭm’-bĭ-lō): A combination of meaningless syllables Says:
    February 26th, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    […] When I was in France, we had a week of bible discussion about Elijah. Elijah wasn’t, in my opinion, the best of prophets. He did a lot of improvisation that God hadn’t explicitly authorized, he was full of self pity, he exaggurated all of his problems, and apparently never doubted himself about these things — if anything, he doubted God when things weren’t going right. After a while, Elijah went to find some answers. He spends exactly one really long time in the desert (introspection) and then climbs up the mountains where it all started (meditation). On that mountain (in a state of meditation) Elijah meets God (). What happened was that a hurricane happened, and then a volcano, and an atomic bomb went off and all this crazy crap, but God was not in the hurricane, nor the earthquake, nor the atomic bomb, nor any of the tremendous things, but at the end, there was a “still small voice” in which Elijah finally found God. (This is all in 1 Kings 19:11ish) In our discussion groups afterwards, we started talking about when we hear God’s still small voice. … Oh, crap! I’ve never listened for God’s still small voice. As a mystic, I can’t believe that God is not in the earthquake or the napalm strikes, and in fact, the worst situations in my life are the ones through which I feel most closely connected to the divine. I realized during that first week in Taize that it’s been my habit for the last 8 years or more to listen to God in the storms, but hardly ever in the stillness. Sometimes silence (aloneness) has been a storm in and of itself for me […]