This is the story no one wants me to tell - that no one wants to hear. But this is my story, and The Band gives me the space where I can tell it.
I was always a dancer. Nothing else mattered to me. It was my go-to activity after a bad breakup, I focused on what I could do: dance. Dance became all I ever wanted - my happy place, my home. I knew I was missing out on dating during high school, but no man could compare to dance.
I wasn’t supposed to go to that Big Band dance. I was supposed to be in bed, but my friend dragged me out, still in my PJ’s with stage hair and make-up from an earlier performance. And if I hadn’t seen that guy who hurt me dancing at that moment, I wouldn’t have gone for a drink. If I hadn’t gone for a drink, I wouldn’t have tripped. If I hadn’t tripped, he wouldn’t have caught me. He was Chuck*, a guy I knew through a friend. Soon, he became my own nightmare.
We talked the rest of the night, soon we were always talking, always together, and I found myself falling. Three weeks later, he told me that he’d gotten back together with his ex. We were watching a movie on my couch as we talked, and somehow, that night, we ended up making out -he got in my pants. I hated myself for that: “I’m better than this,” I told myself, but an evil voice whispered, “He’s the only one who wants you. He is the ONLY one who will EVER want you.”
From an early age our son has been a ‘collector.’ On any given day, especially when joining me while running errands, I would have to pat him down, removing from his pockets bits and pieces of debris that he had found in parking lots, along grocery store aisles, and beneath clothing racks.
When I’d break down and do a thorough cleaning of his room, I would remove bags–plural–of junk. Often times I had to do this while he was out of the house to avoid melt-downs and arguments over why I was throwing away his ‘treasures.’ ‘Treasures’ being rusty bolts, broken ink pens, metal washers, smooth or shiny rocks.
After years of behavioral problems in school, having toys taken away, folding paper clips into other shapes, being a distraction to other classmates, our son was tentatively determined to have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder tendencies. At 12 he was too young to be given a definitive diagnosis. He is 18 now and has that official label. The collecting, the having to have an object to focus on like the paperclips in class, were all manifestations of his disorder.