Friday, February 27, 2015

Stability and Hope

I laid back in bed, and closed my eyes.  The past couple of weeks had flown by thanks to tennis matches every weekend, classes, practices, my two therapy sessions per week, and my boy drama.  I arched my back, stretching, and sighed happily, feeling content, for the first time in a long time.  I rolled over onto my side, snuggling my face into the crook of the neck of the man lying next to me.  I took a deep breath, inhaling the mixture of his natural smell and the faded cologne he had put on this morning.  He had his hand on my cheek, guiding my head up, and lightly placed his lips on mine, holding that moment in place. 


My natural instinct was to let Zach kiss me.  I kissed him back, passionately, but slowly the drowsy feeling dissipated and I became fully conscious of what was happening.

I jerked my face away, as if I’d been burned.  Zach looked at me with question, eyebrows raised.  I could barely make him out in the dim light.

“Zach... I... I’m seeing someone.”

“Oh,” he said softly.  Then more firmly, “Oh.  I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”  He shifted in the seat, away from me.  We were still under the same blanket.

“It’s okay, we aren’t officially together, and I guess we really haven’t had an exclusivity talk.”

“Do you love him?”

“I’m not... I don’t know.”

“You know, Aleah, I love you.”

I sighed.  “I know Zach.  And I love you, too.  I’m sure I always will, no matter what.”

“I’m thinking about changing my plans.”

“What do you mean?”  I furrowed my brow at him, though I’m sure he couldn’t tell.

He reached over and started running his fingers through my hair on my scalp.  One of my favorite things, ever.  “I applied to med school at Nebraska, too.  I may come back here.”

My heart stopped.  This.  This is what I have wanted.  Or had wanted?  I don’t know if I knew the answer to that.  All I could manage to utter was, “Oh, wow...”

“I want you, Aleah.  You, and only you.  I screwed up by not transferring and completing senior year here.”


“No, Aleah.  You don’t need to give me an answer, or try to say something sweet, or make me feel good about anything, or even let me down.  Right now, it is what it is.  I don’t want an answer right now.  I just want you to know how I feel, and what I want.  And please, just think about it.  Even if the answer is yes, you want me, please just think about it.”

“Okay.”  I scooted back over to him, and felt him drop his arm around me, once again, pulling me against him.

I woke up the next day, in the same position, still in Zach’s arms.  Zach had decided to stay there the week, but would stay longer, or come back if I wanted him to.  I spent time with him every day.  We didn’t talk again about med school, or feelings for each other.  But being around him felt natural, and we fell right back into old habits of holding hands, sweet kisses, silent gestures of love.  We didn’t sleep together.

I didn’t see Aaron again until Valentine’s Day.  My matches that weekend were on Friday and Sunday, so I had the whole day to devote to him.  I did drag him along to the other two teams were going head to head, so I could scope out my competition for the following day.  I wanted to do something special for him, but it’s difficult when the weather is terrible. 

I decided to rent a few of his favorite movies (Office Space, Super Troopers, and Green Mile), and have a movie “in home” theater night.  He had already insisted on taking me out for dinner to a nice place, so I let him have that.  Along with the massive bouquet of stargazer lilies he had brought me.  Afterwards we went back to my house.  Sarah was at Matt’s, and Maddie was at Gavin’s, so we had the place to ourselves.  I had set up earlier in the day before we had gotten together.  I had turned the couch and ottoman to sit directly in front of the tv so it looked like a massive couch bed, and thrown somewhere around 8-10 pillows on there with my massive down comforter.  I had bought a bunch of snacky/dessert foods that I knew he’d like (stuff for sundaes with a bunch of different toppings, fudgey brownies, popcorn). 

We both had changed and were in sweats and sweatshirts, curled up under the blanket together.  We were halfway through the first movie (Office Space), when he paused it.  I turned to look at him, and he had a very serious look on his face.  I immediately grew worried.  Maybe he hated my simplistic plan.  “What’s wrong?”

He looked intently into my eyes, and ran his fingertips down the side of my face, sending chills up and down my spine.  “Absolutely nothing.”

He leaned towards me slowly, cautiously, searching my face for any sign of hesitation.  He gently, intentionally, placed his lips against mine, and lightly kissed me.  My eyes closed in happiness and peace.  I had been waiting months for that moment.  He pulled slightly away, but my eyes were still closed, taking in every single sense that he was igniting.

The smell of his laundry detergent, the slightly sweet taste of ice cream from his lips, the burn of his hand on the side of my face causing butterflies to wreck havoc in my stomach.  My heart was speeding up, my breathing quick.

He pressed his lips against mine again, this time hungrily.  I was just as eager as he was, and I kissed back.  The tip of his tongue lightly flicked the tip of mine.  It felt like hours that we sat there making out, like teenagers.  When we were done, it didn’t seem like nearly enough time.  I couldn’t stop the big, goofy grin that was taking over my face.  Aaron stroked my cheek with his thumb, then leaned back over and kissed the tip of my nose.

He cleared his throat.  “Aleah, I know this sounds really corny and cheesy, and I’m actually sorry that this is on Valentine’s Day... but, I don’t want to see anyone else, and I really don’t want you seeing anyone else either... I guess what I’m asking, is will you be my girlfriend?”

Time froze.

I felt the past week with Zach flashing before my eyes.  The touches, the kisses, the natural ease and comfort I felt with him.  The stability.  That he could possibly be here with me, once again.

Then thinking about Aaron I felt electricity, safety, mutual adoration, and respect.  But I didn’t know if I was ready to give up Zach.

Aaron’s hands grabbed both of mine, under the covers and he squeezed.  I looked into his eyes, full of hope and excitement.  I looked away and thought of Zach’s, and how when he looked at me, they were filled with love, memories, and promises. 

I looked back at Aaron.  He was looking at me expectantly.

I knew what I needed to do.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

You're Like Coming Home

I realized with Valentine’s Day approaching that Aaron and I still hadn’t kissed.  We had been close a couple of times.  But when everything happened during the incident, I think Aaron decided to give me the space I needed.  I know that Valentine’s Day is super commercial, but the deep-down hidden romantic part of me loved it.  I pretended I didn’t.  But I did. 

Because of the trauma that had happened to me, Dean (my therapist) had agreed to start out seeing me twice a week.  I had my second session yesterday, which we took to start diving into my history with Luke.   
Also, after my first session last week, Dean had decided to have me temporarily go on Xanax to help with the anxiety I was feeling constantly, and Pristiq to help alleviate the mild situational depression.  So he reached out to a psychiatrist he partners with.  I had been taking those for almost a week and it was amazing the relief I felt.  He had been very upfront that he was using them as an initial aide, but had no intention of keeping me on them long term.  I wasn’t scared to shower when no one was home, and I didn’t feel like staying in bed every moment of every day anymore.

So anyway, because I was feeling slightly more alive, I decided to do something special for Aaron for Valentine’s Day.  I wasn’t sure what exactly, yet, and I also was definitely not ready for anything sexual.  I knew it would take a lot of trust and build up to get there.  But Aaron was having the patience of a saint. 

After my therapy session last night, I went to my parents’ house for dinner.  It was the first time I’d been back there since Christmas break.  It was good to be back with my parents.  They kept the conversation light, and asking me more about Aaron.  I guess since I wasn’t acting like the world was crushing me into a pile of mush, they finally felt like they were to ask me more “normal” questions.  I could feel myself blushing when talking about him. 

As we were finishing eating, the doorbell rang.  My parents both looked at each other, confused.  My dad got up and went to answer it.  “You guys expecting someone?” I asked, after my dad had left the room.

“Nope.  It’s Monday night, we usually just stay to ourselves during the week because of work.  And if it was Ben or Gloria, I’m sure they would’ve called first.”

I could hear voices talking, but couldn’t hear what was being said or clearly enough to tell who it was.  My dad came walking back into the dining room alone.  “Aleah, baby, it’s for you.”

I frowned, even more confused.  “Okay... who is it?”

“Just go,” my dad said, nodding his head towards the front of the house.

I walked into the foyer of the house and stopped in my tracks. 

Every emotion known to man flooded my senses.  Tears welled up in my eyes and I blinked a few times, to un-blur the image of Zach standing there.

His hands were in his pockets, his skin sun-kissed golden.  His hair also lightened.  He was wearing a button down, dark jeans, and loafers.  He looked radiant, and I could feel my heart swell.

He wasted no time striding over to me, and wrapping me into his arms, pressing his lips into my hair on top of my head.  My face was pressed into his shirt, and I started crying softly, his smell being so familiar and reminding me of home.  Not the place.

We stood likes that for minutes, him holding me tightly, letting me cry.  When I finally stopped and hiccupped, he held me out at arm’s length.  “Aleah,” he said gently.

I couldn’t even open my mouth, scared that I would start crying again.  He grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the door, grabbing a blanket out of the front closet.  I had on sweatpants and a sweatshirt.  The temperature was oddly warm for February, being in the low 50’s during the day.  It was cooled down a bit, but was still around 40. 

Once we were outside I saw he had ridden his family’s four wheeler over.  In any other time and place I would’ve smiled at this.  He knew how much I loved riding on the back of the four wheeler with him, growing up.  He got on and climbed on behind him.  I buried my face in his back to block the wind.  And without looking, I knew the familiarity of the path, and that we were winding our way back through the woods to our spot.

When we got there, we silently went into the cabin, and sat next to each other, our sides touching and my legs curled underneath of me.  He wrapped the large quilt around us and put his arm around me, pulling my body against his.

I closed my eyes, comfortable.  I started drifting off when I heard Zach start talking.  “Aleah, I’m so sorry.  I am so incredibly sorry.”

“For what?”  I sleepily asked.

“For not being here sooner.  I didn’t come home for break, and my parents didn’t tell me what happened until just a week ago.  I don’t think they wanted me to know.”

“You don’t have to apologize for that, Zach.”

“Yes, I do.  If I hadn’t gone back to Arizona this school year and transferred here like I wanted to, this would have never happened.  I could’ve been here for you and protected...”

I interrupted and stopped him by placing my finger on his lips.  “No, Zach.  Stop.  You needed to be there.  You needed to finish school there so it showed consistency and stability for your med school applications.”

“But if something more would’ve happened to you... getting into the best medical school on the planet wouldn’t have been worth that.” 

I sighed.  I knew I wasn’t changing his mind.  He pulled me even more into him. 

I felt so safe and warm.  I started to fall asleep, once again. 

But also once again, I was woken up by Zach.  But this time, his other hand was on my chin, tilting my head up towards his, and his slightly parted lips met mine.

Friday, February 6, 2015


“So, Aleah, why don’t you tell me a little about yourself, what you do for fun, if you’re working, anything that you think is interesting about yourself.”

I was sitting in a therapist’s office.  Along with the mass amounts of some of my favorite snack foods Aaron had brought over for our “Superbowl Party” to cajole me to eat, he had brought the name and number of a therapist that he had heard good things about who worked with victims of some type of sexual battery and/or rape.

When I had cried all my tears and finished snotting all over Aaron’s chest, he had gently broached the subject of therapy.  Of course, hindsight was that he brought it up while making it my idea.  “Aleah, what do you think we can do in order to help you start moving forward?”

“I don’t know.  I feel really helpless and just constantly vulnerable and on the verge of a meltdown.”

“Have you told anyone that?”

“Yeah, you.  Just now.”

He raised an eyebrow at my natural defense of sarcasm, but plowed on with the conversation.  “I mean, anyone else.”

I shook my head, nervously.  I didn’t like admitting my weaknesses. 

“Do you think if you kept talking a little, it might help?”

I shrugged my shoulders, but thought about what he said.  Although I didn’t like admitting how I was feeling to him, I felt relief in opening up to him.  I felt like maybe he could partially understand.  He waited for me, appearing to sense that I was thinking.  “Maybe.”

“If you’re stressed about something, like school work, what do you do to help alleviate it?”

I thought back to when life was normal.  “I procrastinated.  Or played games on my phone.”

“Okay, what about something a little more serious and emotional.  Like, do you have any conflict about seeing Chase and me?”

I squinted my eyes, confused.  Then it clicked, I had never told him I wasn’t seeing Chase any longer.  I was planning on telling him over Christmas break, but then...

“I did.  And when I did, I talked with my friends.”

I saw the confusion flash across his face, but he proceeded on.  “Were they able to give you good advice, or walk you through it?”

“Yeah.  They did.  It helped me process more than anything, I think...” and then I realized what he was getting at.

I think he saw the realization in my expression, because he didn’t say anything else about it.  He just took the card out of his wallet and handed it to me.  I nodded and set it on the coffee table, knowing I would call, even though I didn’t want to.

He then brought out the pizza rolls, taquitos, wings, and black olives.  And Coca Cola.  How he knew I love all of those things as guilty pleasure foods, I’ll never know, but it made me feel even more drawn to him.

We finished watching the game, and I even smiled a few times.  It felt... good.

I refocused on my therapist, Dean, and started to tell him about myself, building rapport.  He was a soft spoken, gentle soul of an older man.  If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right, and honestly. 

I wanted to get better.