Excerpt from Licking Honey Off a Razor Blade by Valerie Grimes
In an effort to make us feel normal to me, I insisted on him going out in public with me, which was risky. My dad would have said, ‘That man is a loose cannon.’
He resisted because he was uncomfortable, but I persuaded him to go to the grocery store, I enticed him, “I’ll buy you some groceries, and we can make dinner together.” I had so many fantasies about he and I being a normal couple, even living together. These trips to the store made it feel real. We could be the happy sexy couple for an hour or so.
When he agreed, I made damn sure it was memorable for him. I flirted with the vegetables, kissed and teased him all over the store.
I loved being seen with this man.
During most trips out he was kind to everyone, well mannered and full of energy. People were drawn to him. He was normally great, unless, someone looked at him the ‘wrong’ way.
Which is what happened this night in that store in the gay community of Dallas. Still smiling from our experience, I now found myself in the middle of what could have been a fistfight in the check out aisle because a man was starring at him. I managed to talk him down, buy the groceries and then get him outside without a fight.
On the way to his truck, I told him I was going home after I helped him unload the groceries.
We got in his truck, but he just sat there silently staring ahead, I waiting patiently, and then he began to cry. He cried and said he was really sorry for what he did and admitted he was relieved that I called him on it and wasn’t going to put up with his behavior. I saw were more and more glimpses of getting well for both of us. I was feeling stronger and feeling an urge to protect and care for myself with as much love and care as I was showing to him, and he was sharing more with me, feeling his fears, crying and recalling the old stories. But I knew I needed to go home and not reward him for the bad choice he had made.
We would have two or three good weeks together, with each of us taking care of our personal needs. I would stay home more, and he would detox and go on job interviews. But then he’d blow up. Like the time we went to see a movie. In two years we had never been to a movie, mainly we went to bars or for a two AM snack at Whataburger. So when he suggested a movie, it was one of those flashes of normal, the stuff that gave me confidence in a future with him. Looking back, I see how he carefully orchestrated those times that kept me wanting more. Like always, we drank before we went out.
On the way we stopped at the CVS pharmacy, he needed sleeping pills. I went in with him, another chance to be seen with the man with the winning smile. He was always very generous even though he had limited access to cash. An older Hispanic woman at the store check out appeared to be struggling finding enough money in her purse to pay for her purchase. He had a big heart and fished a twenty out of his pocket.
He had no worries about his needs and how he would buy booze the next day because I had an even bigger heart. He gave his money to her, and I really loved that about him.
As we walked from the parking garage to the movie theatre, he made sure he walked on the traffic side of the sidewalk. He said it was to protect me. He opened doors for me and was kind to the ticket taker. He also greeted some of the other movie-goers. He could be very outgoing and friendly and then cower like a frightened puppy in a thunderstorm. The theatre was a thunderstorm for him.
The movie was one of a deep subject that I was interested in. I paid for the tickets and the drinks. About twenty minutes into the movie, he became restless. At first I ignored it, but I could sense the others around us were annoyed. I gave him my credit card so he could go get beer. He was okay for about thirty more minutes.
He startled me, “LET’S GET OUT OF HERE. THIS MOVIE IS FUCKED!”
I whispered back, “No, I paid for this movie, and I want to see it. You leave.”
He did. In defiance I sat there and watched as he stumbled out, knowing my keys and phone were in his truck. All I had on me was my credit card and lip-gloss. I couldn’t stay so I followed him out. We walked silently to the truck got in and that is when I lost it, “Sal! What the hell? What is wrong with you? I want a boyfriend that I can see a movie with. You’re crazy. I hate you. I hate you so much I don’t even want to be in this truck with you right now. I am so angry at you!” Then, because I had been drinking too, I got out and stood in the parking lot as he drove off.
I walked around the block a few times, thinking he would come back for me, but after twenty minutes I realized I was stranded. What an eerie feeling to be without any money and no car. How in the hell would I get home? A valet asked if I needed my car and I thought, ‘Yeah, but I don’t think you can run that far to get it’. He called me a cab.
It was an eight-dollar cab fare to Sal’s apartment, and I kept apologizing to the driver for being such a cheap fare and then using my card to pay. I tipped him five dollars and got out. Armed with my lip-gloss, I tried the main door but it was locked. The side doors that lead to the apartments are always locked unless they are propped open. That night I was lucky a couple of smokers had. I knew he was there because his truck was there, also locked. My heart was beating fast, my face red, I was so mad, not at him but at myself for allowing anyone to treat me like that, mad that I had not liked myself enough that I would even consider being with him. Mad at myself for drinking too much. What was I trying to prove? What was I doing with him? What was wrong with me?
All those thoughts boiling and with rage, I banged on the door, he opened the door quickly with a look of annoyance. I ignored him, walked in got my purse but needed him to unlock his truck so I could get my phone. He did it from the upstairs window and watching me as soon as I had my phone and shut the truck door, he locked it again and turned off his light.
And again, as I drove west towards home, felt this peace flow over me, I was going home again, where I was safe, where I could heal, where I would gain clarity about the questions that swirled around my head.
After that night I decided to call my hypnotist to get some help sorting out my thoughts. Being a hypnotist myself, I was aware of what I was doing, but since the behavior was subconscious I had little control over it one-hundred percent of the time.
The hypnotist in me could see that internal conflict created by two opposing aspects of myself: one craved fun, wanted an exciting life with him and knew I could change him. The other part wanted nothing to do with him and was ready to be independent and free. The first part won most of the time because there was more emotional payoff for the behavior, and there was a need being met, to prove I would be able to communicate with him, and get him to love me. I also did not value myself as much as I thought, did not see myself yet as the one that he should have been proud to be seen with. I didn’t need him to be noticed or be special, I already was.
After a week of so he called to say he missed me. We actually talked a while which was something he detested worst than that movie.
He said he felt couldn’t trust me, and I admitted to him that I couldn’t depend on him.
He admitted he enjoyed pulling me along only to punish me by dropping out of sight for a while. Then he would come back and draw me in again. I allowed it because I always felt it was me that needed to do something better, say something a new way, or try another approach to get the reaction I needed to feel loved.