Rose loved Servant for the obedience he showed her and what he could give her. Her marriage with Mumble was loveless and frigid, and Servant gave her arms to wrap around herself and a soul to make her feel special.
D loved the way we made him feel about himself when we made a hero out of him in a Dungeons and Dragons game. He loved Artist for the stories he told. Loved Shadow for his cuss and his stomp. It all made for an unpredictable array of sounds and feelings that was intriguing to D. There were times when D was addicted to us. Times when he was not. But we filled a void in his life.
Aimes wanted Artist and Guardian to make her feel safe and loved. She wanted to be cared about and she wanted a soul to pour herself into.
Less needed a guardian and someone to beat on. She needed a servant to cower before her, and she needed to be made to feel important.
Siren was along for the drama and the need we had for her. She wanted to be our savior, she wanted to feel burdened. She needed for her life to be packed with variety and passion.
Job needed to have saved someone.
Chanel needed to feel as though she was saving something.
Bekah just wanted her lover back.
When we were going through the worst of the therapy, everyone wanted something. Everyone had always wanted something. They had taken and claimed and they had asked for more. When you are bitter and looking for reasons to distrust someone, you can talk yourself into anything, and you just heard me do it. I was all of these things to these people, but to all of them I was also more. However, when you don’t trust the world and you feel comforted by hate, you look at everyone and search for their motives. Everyone wants something from you. Everyone is keeping you around for their own purposes. When you are looking for it, it is all you see. They all had their motives for loving me. They all wanted something from me. If I couldn’t give it to them, they would be gone.
Back then I could explain why everyone did everything they did. But I could never explain her. There was no making sense of the motives of the only true love I was capable of feeling at the time. There was no explaining Katherine.
You want more and you’ll get it, but for now let’s tap at a few things. When Normal Street exploded and my suicide attempt hit me, I had no one to talk to and no one to count on. Except her.
She was short. We had expected bigger. She was sleek. Black and tan with a white spot on her chest and a long elegant nose. Her tail was a bit furry, just enough to show a wild side, and her focus was absolute. It was pinpoint. She loved me and would let no one get in the way of that.
I ended up limping away from Normal Street and I could not take the two dogs that Bekah and I had gotten while we lived there. I had nowhere to put them and no way to feed them, so Bekah took them. At this point is when the trouble came.
Katherine knew I was gone and she knew who to blame. She would not look at Bekah. She would not let Bekah touch her. She would not show any affection or any sign of care to her at all. This was Bekah’s fault and Katherine knew it.
She would only eat when Bekah left the room. She would sit and stare at Bekah from across the room with loathing in her eyes. Never vicious, but always angry with the one she blamed for my absence. Katherine punished Bekah every day of the three months we were not in each other’s lives.
Then one day after me and Bekah became friends again in 2001, she took me back to her house to see the dogs, and Katherine exploded. She ran to me, jumping and whining. She whined and howled.
I dropped to the floor and she jumped on me and we both cried. I had not really ever truly known how she felt about me, but here was proof.
We had another dog who was glad to see me, but then he went to Bekah. He wagged his tiny little tail and rubbed against her. But Katherine was having none of that. She kissed me, she pawed at me, and I dropped on my back and wept as she celebrated our reunion.
She had no reason. You see that, right? There was no reason for this dog to love me. I had loved her as much as I could when I had her, and I had treated her like a princess, but had done nothing to deserve this. She had no reason to love me at all but here it was.
After our emotional meeting, I sat on the couch and pet Katherine for a long time. Then after I held her and pet her and talked to her and loved on her for about an hour, she walked over to Bekah and kissed her.
See, Bekah had done her job. She had brought daddy back home. Now the healing could begin. Katherine could begin to forgive.
She had been Guardian’s only friend when Normal Street was blowing up. She had been the only one always there when it was all spinning out of control. She had jumped into my arms from the floor over and over again when I held the knife and prepared to cut. She had leapt into my lap over and over again, kissing my hand, the blade, my face. Her persistent love had saved my life that night. We will get to that, but this was a pure soul filled with love for me.
Every other soul in the world had a motive. They were all working an angle. Everyone really, behind it all, hated me. But this one animal did not. This one living being had no reason to love me but was dedicated to me completely.
Do you know what that does to a man who cannot feel love anymore? When he is telling himself that the world and everyone in it deserves to hate him, and a wet nose keeps bumping into him over and over again.
Every week I went to therapy twice. Monday would rip me open and Bekah would come pick me up. She would take me to her house and straight into the waiting embrace of Katherine. One day of restless pain, and Wednesday I was back at therapy. Then a ride from Bekah and back to the understanding and healing arms of the only thing I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt loved me.
I asked her why all the time. I asked her, when I pulled her in to kiss her and whisper to her like I used to do, “Why me? Don’t you know I’m trash? Don’t you know I’m used up and beaten? Broken and horrid? Don’t you know I’m selfish and filled with hate, and that I don’t trust anyone and I don’t deserve this? Can you see that I don’t deserve you?”
More head shaking and tail wagging. More kissing, more rubbing. Everywhere I went she looked at me. She followed me everywhere on those days, and I would drop wailing and crying, holding the only thing I was sure loved me for me and begging it to stop.
I wanted her love for me to end. Let me dry up and let me go end it all. I begged Katherine to just please let me die. Let me go. Just one time walk away from me when I come over. Just once snap at me. Give me anything to set me free from this love and let me walk off into the darkness with my hate and resolution.
Every time I asked her not to love me, she answered with a kiss. Every time I told her I was scum and a monster, she answered with a cuddle. I kept begging and she kept loving, until one day after a crippling session of therapy, I came to Bekah’s house and I walked to the couch. I dropped on my knees before her, and she rushed to one end of the couch and dove for me. She dropped right in front of my face and rolled over on her back.
“Okay, I get it. Okay, I love you. I know there must be something within me worth saving,” I whispered to her. I dropped my face on her belly and I wept. I thanked her and sobbed. I rubbed my face across her belly and told her I loved her. I told her thank you.
And she was so excited she peed in my hair.
I was taught I was worth loving by a beautiful animal that died in my arms in 2014. She laid on a steel table, riddled with cancer at the age of fourteen, her eyes filled with love as she stared at me. I propped her head up on my arm and lowered my eyes to look directly into hers.
“I love you,” I said. “Thank you for teaching me how to love myself. I will never forget you and I will be with you soon.”
She trembled once when they gave her the shot, and I sat there staring into her eyes, letting her see the one she loved more than anyone alive as she passed peacefully into darkness. They said she trembled because the solution was cold. If they had caused her any pain, I would have slit that man’s throat.
Katherine is gone now and I will never be okay with that. I will suffer without her for the rest of my life. My great teacher of self-love is gone. That wound will never close. I have waited every day for the pain to fade, but it never has.
To Katherine I say, thank you. I will always love you. I will see you again but hopefully not soon. When I get there, I will stay with you forever. Thank you for everything you were and for everything that came after you. All of this is because of you.
This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 2: Normal Street.