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Anger love and fear

Kim said I could write about her, and I did so for a while.

I called Kim on a Thursday evening (20 April 2006) after I got off work. I just asked her if she was okay. She said she was. I said I'd talk with her later.

I had not spoken with her since she'd returned from vacation in Holland, and her home town Nijmegen. I'd not seen her in fact since about two months before, when we'd had to stop seeing each other.

Kim sent me a text the next morning, saying she wanted to work things out with me; could she see me that day or the next. I sent back that I might be busy on Saturday, so that day was best.

One of the first things she wanted to know was why I had called her; and why only asked whether she'd been okay. She had assumed I was trying to manipulate her. I had really only wanted to know that she was doing well. And to resume contact. She caught on that one — a hint of other motivation.

She needed to go to the bank before we went for a cup of coffee. Neither of us drink coffee, but no matter.

I didn't want to sit down anywhere, though; confined for a cup of anything. I suggested we go to the park — the superlative Kilkenny Castle park.

Kim was friendly with me, after that initial skepticism.

Kim had abused me for about a month, before we cut off contact.

Kim and I are not a couple, haven't been for two years, never were (officially) since she came to Ireland last autumn — never a couple, but loving each other. She'd spend the weekends here, coming up from Thomastown where she's going to a craft school. "We're not a couple," she'd keep saying; adding, every third or fourth time for a while, "maybe we should be."

Things went a little bad around February, and I caused some of that myself. My culpability is uncertain, but I do have regrets about some of my actions, and everybody makes mistakes.

For a pure month, Kim challenged nearly everything I said, or sneered about the way I said it, or offered scouring unrequested advice about my behavior. It was shameful, and for everybody to see. She treats you like a child, a friend of mine said — and you're twice her age.

But on this occasion, Kim was mostly good to me.

We made it up to the park, up Kieran Street, Rose Inn Street, and the Parade, in the first entrance and around the back of the castle to the great lawn of the demesne.

I have a new boyfriend, she said.

That doesn't surprise me.

I knew you'd say that.

Can't you go two months without a fucking boyfriend?

I knew you'd say that.

She'd been afraid to tell me, afraid I'd find out, and didn't want to have to say it — but of course I'd expected no less, and she naturally expected that. This is an old story by now, with only minor variation. It may be different this time — but it's not, yet.

Things settled down, and we found our way up to a bench a few steps back off the grass into the trees. We talked, and it was peacable. We had a laugh, even. We touched each other; playfully, and in friendly affection.

She told me that she's considering staying in Ireland permanently. I grabbed her and hugged her when she said that. And I hope she does.

We went back to my place after the park and made some tea — for her, chamomile, and for me the good old strong Irish, black. We sat on the patio in the sun.

She questioned me, again, about why I had called her the day before. To find out if you were okay, of course. And to make contact. She viewed this with suspicion — mild, inquisitive and really just generally a little dumbfounded that this could be my motivation. Was I not trying to manipulate her? No, I assured her.

Later, the significance of her suspicion has come to stand out in highlight.

Kim has occasionally accused me of being manipulative. I've never thought much about it. Naturally, the flaw could be found in me.

But her occasional suggestion has never occured to me as legitimate criticism, and I've never confronted it any more than momentarily and argumentatively.

Now, it seems primarily important.

Now, I feel that what she saw looking outward came from inward. Her abusiveness of me, to the point that I could not visit with her — and her "surprise" discovery of another man — was a pure act of expert manipulation. So it seems.

Important, too, is the fact that Kim apparently needs to view my intentions and behavior with skepticism, because if I'm no good it's all that much easier for her to go all-clear into her next sexual relationship. So there's been a natural predisposition in our friendship for her to think of me and to treat me derisively. That's unsustainable, clearly.

__ ___ __

Kim didn't want me to go with her all the way up to the roundabout where she would hitch a lift — our accustomed walk along the river on those Monday mornings. I told her I'd walk with her as far as the cybercafe I'd told her about, and then she could go onward herself.

On goodbye, she expressed surprise that I'd been so good to her. I told her I love you, Kim.

And that's true. What I meant, of course, is "I've always been good to you" — always will, however "good" may be defined.

__ ___ __

On Saturday, I went to Wexford, as I'd planned.

I had a significant dream in Wexford. Its details are not important now — the significance was that it was a dream of anger. (I'd beaten up her new boyfriend, didn't remember it; she hadn't slept since then, and asked me to go lie down in bed with her.)

Sure, sexual jealousy. Possessiveness. But the notable point for me was the anger. And, notably, I did not express that anger to Kim in the dream.

But I must be angry with Kim. And, indeed, I am.

I think that I've been very angry with Kim for a very long time. Indeed, I think that this is near to the core of the genesis of my panic attacks. The first one, after all, was the day two years ago when we "broke up."

Anger and love, a true conflict; a traffic jam. Locked up, at a standstill, unexpressed anger may turn itself back upon me, causing self-destructive confusion and panic.

Never able to make her appreciate the consequences of her actions — and God knows, never able to hold her accountable — I've often expressed my anger in the form of exasperation. That's not good enough. It's not complete. It's probably not what she needs, either — but let's work on me right now.

__ ___ __

Stuck in a crossroads of dear love and the kind of anger that comes from a feeling of helplessness, I've never known what to do. I've never expressed my anger about her behavior; not really. I feel it now.

But I'm not afraid. Not at the moment. Not lately, really. I panicked every day for about two weeks a while ago, when we were out of contact. I sent a card to her Thomastown home, while she was in Holland, and this helped stop the fear. You'd do almost anything, sometimes, if you could end the phobia that seems to nuzzle up unannounced and for no apparent reason.

(I've had panic attacks off-and-on for the last two years. It's always associated with my behavior, somehow — my response to the environment. Small triggers like frustration with pedestrians can build a whopping swirl of unexplainable terror.)

Yeah, I'd like to find an answer for that.

I may have discovered a piece of the puzzle.

__ ___ __

Okay. That's enough for now.

— April 2006