In 2017, I wrote a post called The River, which told the story of me running away from the source of my heart aching. I wasn’t really looking for anything at all, but- as history unveils- these are usually the times we find exactly what we had been missing. You feel like you know yourself or your partner well enough, but the truth is, it takes a hell of a lot longer than a year or two to get to know very important truths about any one individual. I’ve been in relationships that last three months, tops, and- being completely convinced I’ve figured out this person isn’t for me- made my escape in some form or fashion. But when I met my guy, the situation was different.
I met him at work. I remember it like it just happened. I was brand new- my first day- sitting at a long table, folding and bagging baby onesies. His tall, lanky ass came bouncing through from the printer room and my supervisor stopped him.
He came to an abrupt halt, turned on a dime and threw up his arms like Bruce Lee. “HA!”
My supervisor pointed across the table, “This is Ashley, she’s new.”
He dropped his arms to the front and back of his waist and bent halfway, bowing his head. “I’m JJ.”
I smiled- “Nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you.”
I didn’t know then how nice it really would become, or that our rollercoaster relationship would suffer peaks and valleys, prompting a lot of hateful thoughts, harshly spoken words and painful, burning tears. A lot of break-ups and reunions. I didn’t know then that it would take almost five years to get a full understanding of how nice it actually is.
At that time, he was with another girl and I was with another boy and neither relationship was working to our advantage. He was being used and I was feeling uncertain. He was one year into his relationship and I was two years into mine, and while both of us were making attempts to build our futures with these people, both plans fell completely through. My then boyfriend was living, working, and gigging in Birmingham and his then girlfriend was making plans to move to Mississippi to live close to family. A few months passed and both relationships dissolved. By that time, JJ and I were coworkers who were comfortable enough with each other that we would hide and scare each other, or upon meeting one another, would start swing dancing together. He was a goofball, and so much fun. I loved that we were able to be total idiots together when nobody was looking. It was just about the only thing that made that terrible work environment somewhat tolerable. We helped get each other through our days. Fast forward through hell and back, that’s where we are now- only our bodies are slower and we have since moved on to MUCH BETTER job situations.
When you are bipolar and on the autistic spectrum, you feel things intensely. Although it was a slow, gradual process, when I fell for JJ, I fell really, really hard. I had thoughts like we are meant to be together and everything I’ve been through led me to you, etc. He, on the other hand, has ADHD. Do you know how difficult it is to maintain a happy, cohesive, responsible relationship when two people battle these things daily?
It’s not possible! Or… maybe with a lot of time and training and patience… it is.
It took four years for me to feel secure and confident that JJ really loves me. He would get distracted regularly or interrupt me or look at other women or say inappropriate things, etc. etc. that led me to feel insecure, not only with our relationship, but with myself. The events detailed in The River was my response in feeling completely lost and simply finding myself again. And I really did. But even after that, and up to as recently as this year, I have had to take cleansing breaks from the seemingly impossible love affair, regardless of how much I truly love this guy, for the sake of my own sanity.
Out of all the popular love affairs I could compare our chemistry to, Benny and Joon sticks out the most. When you love someone so deeply, and share an other worldly chemistry with another human, shit happens. A lot of shit. A lot of wonderful, magical, unbelievable shit.
I wonder where we will be five years from right now…