Seriously. I cannot wish this for you more. Maybe I should clarify: I hope you fall in love with someone who is so perfect for you that IF it turned out he WAS actually a serial killer, you would help hide the bodies.
I consider my life as a giant book with MANY chapters (think: War and Peace). There was the chapter in high school where the older boy loved me so much it scared the bejesus out of me. He made me mixed tapes and wrote me poetry. There was a chapter with my first real boyfriend when I felt safe and loved, but knew we were heading to opposite sides of the country for college, so I never fully let him in. The crazy-love chapter with the most tumultuous love-hate, passionate relationship-that-was-probably-never-a-relationship, my freshman year of college. My first son’s father who went from friend to lover to holy-shit-we’re-pregnant in the span of about two months and lasted almost three years. The reunion with my enamored mix-tape editor that I royally fubar’ed with the loss of a pregnancy and the beginning of my drinking. The chapter of the father of my daughters that spanned ten years, countless trips to court, and finally a somewhat civilized version of co-parenting that includes my fourth child who isn’t even biologically his. I’m going to just edit out the one that brought my second son into the picture, as it was short and fairly irrelevant to my point. Judge away, people, as I’m sure you’ve noticed there is not a marriage listed anywhere. I’m super fertile, and I’ll leave it at that for now.
Needless to say, I have loved and lost and loved again. Or so I thought. Everyone says that, so I apologize for the trite lead-in. My Serial Killer caught me so off guard, I think my head is still spinning. Our combined relationship history is ripe with red flags. First of all, we met in a bar. I bartend and he was a young guy I had never seen before. He was in the middle of a little pre-midlife-crisis and asked me to travel the world with him. He had just – I mean three weeks prior – ended an ELEVEN YEAR relationship. I had, five months before, finalized AGAIN that it was just not going to work with my daughters’ father. This man had zero kids. I have four. FOUR. Where were my friends, you might ask, to slap me about the head and face with a little bit of “WTF!?” They were hi-fiving my cougar ass for snagging a date with a significantly younger man, that’s where they were.
Even after I disclosed that I have not one or two – or even three – but FOUR minions, and the world traveling would be a little more difficult to coordinate than the requisition of a passport and a backpack, he seemed interested. Even when I told him I’m going to be a big-time author someday, and though I’ve gone to school for the last twenty years, I have no degree, he asked me out. Even when I told him that I am sober – and work in a bar – he said that was admirable. Even when I told him I’m a super nerd and should not be unsupervised in a bookstore because I could get lost for days and walk out broke, he asked me what my favorite book was. He asked me my favorite book. Even when my ex got in his face and screamed that I had given him “all of the diseases,” he stayed. Even though I made it clear that I am way over the bullshit and too old to play games, he didn’t flinch.
I told him all of the things. All of the scary things. I told him all of the times that my bad juju poured out of my soul, and there was nothing but darkness. I told him how afraid I am that I am completely fucking up my kids. I told him how guilty I feel because I sometimes don’t even like them, but I keep them alive because I am genetically programmed to do so. I showed him the houseplants that I will eventually kill. He met the dogs who have obviously not been to any kind of obedience school. I told him I had not cried when my mother died. I told him I have no relationship with my father, and my brother is my only true family. I showed him how broken I am and he didn’t try to fix me or ask me how I was going to get my shit together. He sees this crazy world that I love and loathe, and he listens to my tales of serendipity even though it directly contradicts his logical, engineering mind.
He watches me. He notices that I like my coffee black, and one leg out of the covers. He leaves soda water in his fridge for me, and makes sure there is a clean towel in the bathroom so I can shower after nine hours in a smokey bar. He holds me when we sleep, but not so tight I cannot breathe, and always so I can be on my good shoulder. He looks me in the eyes and sees all of the skeletons and all of the strengths that make me who I am, and I always feel like I am enough.
Here’s the kicker, and also the premise for another post, he’s got a job. A job that he goes to on a regular basis. One that is so much a big boy job, that it probably means I won’t end up supporting him. This may seem one of those, “uh, yeah, Dumbass, that’s how it’s supposed to be” facts. However, my Picker has consistently proven that it prefers men who have a slight-to-massive aversion to consistent employment. Unlike many women, and I realize I’m probably going to piss someone off, I don’t see a man’s job as a way to secure my role raising babies and making sure dinner is on the table – I do that anyway. I will always work. I will always know that I can provide what I need for my kids because for a really, really long time, that’s the only way it’s happened.
It is hard to be a strong woman. It is hard to explain that, though I do not need a man in the sense that I can manage my everyday crazy on my own, albeit in a completely unconventional manner, but that I choose to include a willing someone in that crazy. This is also a pretty good explanation for my record of unmarried serial monogamy. I never understood why couples needed a piece of paper and a big party to recognize that they have made a choice to include another person in their respective crazy. That choice still happens every single day, even with a paper and a couple of witnesses.
This man doesn’t believe in magic, or spirits, or burning sage, or my belief that numbers can “feel” good or bad, or that there is a Big Unknown that helps guide us – all things that have become the foundation that helps me make sense of my chaos and keeps me sober. He doesn’t make fun of me when I slather my kids with oils for tummy aches or boo-boo’s. He has never questioned the fact that I screenshot my phone every time I look at it at 11:11. I am absolutely transparent for the first time in my life, and he accepts all of it.
I started telling people he was a serial killer after the first date. I am really good at finding things that annoy me, and I honestly – to this day – cannot find anything about him that drives me crazy. He gets crazy legs when he’s nervous, but I have a fifteen year old who paces incessantly, so that’s nothing new. He opens doors for me, including car doors, which could have been irritating to a girl who grew up with the mantra looping through her head, “don’t insult me by doing things just because I’m a girl.” I can’t figure out what is wrong with him. So, I have determined that he is a serial killer, and definitely has a freezer full of body parts and a trail of missing persons.
There was a pivotal moment a couple of months ago, when my two year old had his first febrile seizure. My kids have all split open heads, had croupy coughs that kept me sleeping with a hand on their chests to check that they were still breathing in the wee hours, and been out of my sight for long enough that I almost sent out a search party. Until you are holding a tiny person who lived inside of you, rigid and convulsing, mouth agape and gasping for breath like a fish out of water, perfect little kissable lips turning purple without oxygen – you have never felt helpless. An ambulance ride, ear infection diagnosis and a few panicky hours later, he was schmoozing nurses for additional popcicles.
I don’t know how parents deal with much more serious illnesses and injuries. I don’t. You are stronger than I am.
In those moments of my nightmare, I wished I was as strong as I feel when I am with him. I realized as I snuggled my postictal baby on the bed of the ER, that this man could ruin me. That night, I told him it wasn’t going to work. I said we were on different pages of a different book, and he needed to find someone who could be the woman I could not. The Serial Killer didn’t take the bait.
He didn’t leave. In fact, my little bout of PTSD only brought to light the one thing that I could possibly find that might be wrong with him: he’s not afraid of me being afraid. I can’t be the “runner” because for whatever reason, he just picks up the pace and is still there. My fight reaction is strong, I assure you, but my flight is unmatched. Until now.
Even when the baby had yet another febrile seizure a couple of weeks ago, and he saw the panic firsthand, he stroked the baby’s head, rubbed my back, and drove us to the hospital. On the way, he grabbed my hand and asked if I was ok – and then asked that I not try to break up with him again. It was then that I knew there were most assuredly bodies, or at least body parts, in the freezer or the yard.
After dinner the other night, I made a joke to my fifteen year old that the Serial Killer claims to be able to make all sorts of amazing meals, but that we have no proof yet since he is always on the eating side of the meal. My son said, “Yeah, but he makes you happy.”
No truer words.
I realized that I don’t care if he’s a serial killer. I’m invested now. I’ll help him hide the bodies. I’ll buy the lye. I’ll procure the pigs.
And I hope that each of my children falls in love with a serial killer. I hope that they find someone who sees the good juju and loves them for it, and sees the bad juju as something that made them the people to love. Find yourself a serial killer. Do not settle, or think that it won’t happen. Find someone who makes you feel like you can do anything.
Including hiding bodies.