Chapter 11: Smoke & Mirrors


Fiction. Based on a True Mother’s Advice. 17 minute read

“Oh, he never reached out to you?” mom inquired.

“No,” Angelie said.

“I thought you came to me because he contacted you.”

“No, I just want to know how you can attract a man back.”

“If he has not contacted you, just start living life again. Put it in your heart that he’ll never come back. Move on,” her mother said.

The last time Angelie asked her mother for relationship advice she had regretted it. Perhaps, it was because Angelie had mistaken her mother’s advice for kow-towing to a cheating husband. Truth be told, her mom gave her the exact advice she needed at the time because her mother could see it in her daughter’s heart that her daughter still chose Sonny. Had Angelie followed her mother’s advice, she would have still stayed with Sonny. Angelie had only chalked it off as bad advice because she did not follow directions. That’s because Angelie kept changing her mind. One day she’ll want to fight for her marriage and the next moment, she did not want the marriage at all. This back and forth, back and forth, is her bipolar. The moods had been dictating her choices, though it was undiagnosed at the time.

Perhaps, this time around, the advice is still good. Her mother was right in that it’s best to just give Rylie as much as space as can be while moving forward with her life. However, giving up hope was something Angelie still could not do. There is always hope. Moving on yes. Giving up hope no. And this time, Angelie will follow her mother’s advice. Move on.

Earlier that day, there was a meeting on the Big Book about How to Help other Fellow Alcoholics. Angelie had shared how grateful that God had intervened or else it would have been very difficult for her to maintain her sobriety with a man who still does not believe that he is an alcoholic. After her share, a man who had gotten sober right around the same time Angelie had gotten sober back in 2014, shared on his gratefulness in sobriety. He had shared stories similar to what Rylie had once shared about the times he fell off a rooftop and was hospitalized, about the time he had cracked his skull and onwards. Angelie had the impulse, the crazy idea, that perhaps this man could reach out to Rylie one day.

Right after the meeting, Angelie had asked if Charlie could meet her at Starbucks. He quickly obliged. When they were at Starbucks, he was eager to pay. Angelie later paid for the meal they shared. During the drive there, Angelie thought about how to approach the subject. She knew that he would appreciate if she had just went straight for the point and did not make any asks. He would have to offer to help if she shared authentically from that place of heart. Instead, it went something like this:

“How’s work?”

After twenty minutes of small talk about work, the follow up question became.

“So, I had told you I was in love with a man who was also drinking and using out there.”

“You and him have a lot in common—culturally and also in stories of being out. I thought if anybody would be more qualified to reach out to him, it would be you.”

There was an awkward pause.

“Where does he live?”

“Los Angeles.”

“Has he gone to meetings here?”

“Probably not, or maybe court ordered.”

“Yeah, the thing is, if I call him, and he doesn’t even know me, he may be even more inclined to get worse not better. Especially, if he knew that you were giving his information out to people just to get him to sober up.”

Perhaps, Angelie later thought, she needed to pay him for this service. She knew that there was a conflict of interest. Charlie liked Angelie. He had liked her since he first met her. She reminded him of his Vietnamese ex-girlfriend of three years. Later, he had texted her on FB messenger.

“I think you may look into sex and love addiction. My ex-girlfriend these issues so I’m familiar with that. I think you want him to get sober again so that you can be with him again.”

“He’s with another woman now. Even if he got sober, he would be with another person not me. I think he’s through with me. He’s logical remember?”

The truth is Rylie still loves Angelie very much. He just went into hiding because that is what alcoholics do. It was shame, guilt, and fear that is preventing him from coming out. He felt bad that he had called her crazy. It had been a trigger word for Angelie. Angelie had not done enough self-awareness work to have maintained sanity and serenity in the face of being called the one word that would have pushed her away.

“I base things on logic,” Charlie says. “For one, sex is important. If we don’t have great sex, then it wouldn’t work. And I have a big equipment and I know how to use it,” the foreman told Angelie. It made Angelie uncomfortable listening to this. Though it gave her insight that this is code for Charlie is highly attracted to Angelie and that is why he is telling her this. When Rylie on Angelie were on their second date, he had told her that he had a big equipment too. And when Angelie had told him that she wanted to take it slow with him when they were making out, he obliged, only to later find out during her flurry of confessions—just FB vomit all her demons, her pathologies, and confessed to him that she was a slut when it came to sleeping around with other men. it completely devastated him. He had asked her if she was okay. That she is acting crazy. She was in her manic state and when in her manic state, she is able to see past the social norms and into the future of what could be. She was breaking her heart open to Rylie, but Rylie only saw it as her pushing him away. Her scaring him away. Shortly after he had called her crazy, that evening she had wrote a short email saying that she did not want to date him and gave him a Dave Chapelle clip of how calling people “crazy” is dismissive, that Angelie felt dismissed with her feelings, her emotions, and had equated his calling her acting crazy as her honesty as crazy. Perhaps, it is. He is a logical person, and she is a self-titled crazy person. She could have made a joke about it and just gave him space to process everything, but instead she took offense and shut him down.

Irishmen are acute to hearing the hidden agenda. They are so good at detecting dishonesty. They are the shadow kings, which is why Angelie is so attracted to an Irishman.

For Rylie, he operated on logic, even though his mind had obsessed over her at one point in time. Perhaps, he still does. Perhaps, she haunts him still, but he numbs it with sex, alcohol, and work.

“I got with another girl two months after our breakup,” Charlie told Angelie. “But soon I got bored with her. She was complacent and naive.”

That was the download Angelie needed to hear that day. It was an affirmation that whoever Rylie was with, she was also complacent and naive. And Angelie had the gift of intuition the way Rylie also did. They were twin flames. She thought about the kind of regret that Rohan had with his ex-girlfriend. He had wanted to explore. He was young. But by the time he realized that it was her all along, it was already too late. She was devastated to a point where she could no longer see him the same way.

“I had told Rylie to elope to Oregon with me, and he had said yes.”

“Then after I told him that I loved him, and I told him that I wanted to travel the world with him and have kids, he got scared.”

“People don’t normally say that,” Charlie said. “If a girl said that to me after two dates, I would say ‘You don’t know me. How can you love me?’”

Angelie laughed. “That’s exactly what Rylie said.”

Breaking Open

That evening as Angelie got ready for bed, she made conscious contact with God. Please show me, God.

Please actually show me what really happened, rather than what I think happened.

A few moments later images.

Rylie researching about Angelie, curious, excited. Rylie spending his extra time after a hard day’s work to look into the project and strategize on ways to help her. Rylie, spending work time to do research for her project. Rylie, falling in love with her, spending obsessive time thinking of the perfect first date. Rylie, meeting her and knowing from the first time he saw her, how much he wanted to be with her. Rylie, terrified of the falling in love feeling. Rylie, ashamed, guilty, and clouded by the suffering of his addiction. Hating the world because he loved it so much. Rylie, seeing her harsh words, hitting him like a ton of bricks to the deep wounds—like salt on open sore. The fear, the self-loathing, the cycle of depression, anxiety, and fear, the alcoholic torments. Thinking he isn’t good enough, artistic enough, and sexually qualified enough to be with her. Thinking she is teasing him, she is out to play games, use him, torment him, another crazy girl in a world of crazy girls. Even a girl he once admired from afar, now breaking him down, cutting him down in this domination, emasculation, and victim/blame process. He can’t handle any more toxicity. He’s on the edge. Her words, “Your dad gaslight your mom,” blaming the man. She knew how to destroy his ego. To cut a man in half, to wreck him until he is reduced to nothing, and nothing he will ever do will be good enough to please her. All he wanted to do is to prove his manhood and please her. She treated him like a boy and then a toy and then a tool. He felt made wrong, blamed, and used. He’s hurting bad. He’s hurting. Her words cut deep. He does not feel like he is good enough. She shames him and highlights things about him that he already knows. He’s not good enough. He hides.

Angelie started feeling the pain of what Rylie was feeling. She starts to cry and the rain soon became a monsoon. The pain hit harder and harder. It was what he was feeling. She pictured holding him from the back burying her face onto his back, and just saying, “baby, I’m sorry.”

She got out of bed and onto her knees. She made a fist, ducked her head underneath it, and asked, “God, please forgive me. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” The sobbing plugging her ears, the snot plugging her nose, and the tears plugging her eyes to see. Hear by faith, not by sight, were the letters she read on the mirror closet that she had written during her fourth psychosis.

Please take all of the bitterness.

This time all of it.

I’m not hanging onto any of it.

Please, God, take it all away this time.

I want to fully forgive.

She remembered driving to Echo Park earlier that evening to a George Clinton Tribute party by herself. She had called it on the 101 freeway, passing Union Square exit, “God! I forgive Sonny and I forgive the woman who fell in love with him. Please may they be happy. I want see the fruits of what you want for me and my moving forward into the family that I always wanted. I forgive them. Let me move forward to build the family you want me to build.”

The next day, the AA share was on the 9th step. It was about making a conscious contact with God, and making living amends to those we have hurt. An old timer gave the story of the man who almost told his wife that he had a fling at one point with her sister. He said, you don’t get to make amends and hurt the other.

Angelie knew that her amends are backhanded and double minded.

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