Pizza Hut after therapy. We were doing couples’ therapy to get things set on the right track. One of the important parts of the plan we talked about and put into action the first night we got back together was couples’ therapy.
Steven was a counselor with many different abilities and when I asked, he offered to work with both of us. We did one week on, one week off. One week we went in together and explored the ways we thought and felt about each other and the things that had happened in our past, and the next week I went in alone to talk about my past and my alters and work out other issues.
That week we had discussed the ways that our thought patterns were getting in our way. I assumed she thought like all the women of my past. Sorting her in the same pile as Rose, Less, Siren, and Horrid. But Bekah had an entirely new way of thinking. She did not focus on guilt. She did not focus on her own wants. She did not approach every conversation with a mindset of what she might gain or lose in that conversation.
Things were coming up I had not seen before. Things I was beginning to see that I was assigning to Bekah that did not belong to her.
I had clear and poignant memories of her hitting me. I could see the look on her face when she did it. Things I had said that had earned me a slap. I remembered clearly those moments but as we discussed them rationally and I was asked to point out other details that were happening at the same time as the slap had come, I was realizing those memories were constructed.
I vividly remembered times when we would get in heated arguments and there would be an exclamation, a moment of great stress, followed by a moment of quiet. In that exclamation I had inserted a strike. The most wild and amazing thought was beginning to occur to me. This was the only woman I had ever been around for a long period of time who had not hit me. Every memory of a strike she had given me was created in my mind. An emotion so strong that I had anticipated a hit and when it had not come, I had inserted it anyway.
This came as a revelation. A bolt from the heavens. There was a way to have a relationship with a woman without taking a slap. In my mind, in Guardian’s, a slap was the cost of doing business. I had actually brought it up in couples’ therapy so I could tell her she couldn’t do that anymore. Now it was clear that she never had. The idea was revolutionary.
So, Pizza Hut, we always did Pizza Hut after therapy, and we ordered and ate. Now let’s stop here to talk about me and pizza. Pizza and I have been tight since I was nine. I have always had it in my life. Mumble worked at pizza restaurants since I was nine and he supplemented our diet with them to help with the cost of food in our house. Pizza was a staple. I had to have pizza.
This was fine until I started working at Pizza Hut and learned everything you need to know to make a good pizza. That was when things got insane. I worked there, and helped Mumble so much that I could look at a pizza and diagnose its problems.
This cheese was still frozen when it was put on the pizza.
This dough is two hours over its expiration.
This crust was not covered with the ring before the pizza was made.
Too much rising of the dough.
Not perforated enough before cooking.
Every pizza set in front of me I could tell you what they did wrong to make this pizza subpar. So when I found a Pizza Hut I could actually count on, I got pretty excited. I asked for a comment card and told the manager I had been with Pizza Hut in one way or another for a decade, and I knew a good cook when I saw one. Whoever made this pizza was good. Very good.
The next time I came in and got the same quality, I asked the name of the cook. Then I asked for his schedule and we had our regular pizza nights.
We ate. We talked about therapy. I apologized. I usually had to apologize quite a bit after a therapy session, and then we went home. We walked in to a ringing phone.
What follows is legend. It is the moment of healing in mine and Bekah’s relationship. It is the one defining moment that told me we were right this time. That it would work out. It was all about a pocket knife. Fitting, huh?
Bliss was getting married. She did not want me there. She did not want some guy who was not going to be sticking around stuck in the back of her wedding photos. She did not want me and my “drama” and she did not really want me in the family.
Hymnal and Bliss needed me gone. They needed to finally show Bekah I was not worth it and I needed to be shuffled off. They were working on it slowly, putting pieces together and continuing their campaign from years earlier.
This wedding was the perfect moment. It was Bliss’s wedding. She could have it how she wanted and no one could stop her. If she could get her soon-to-be husband in on it, too, then all the better. There was a way to get me out of the picture and it was nestled in a blade.
Steven had told me after a few sessions that it was dangerous for me to not carry a knife on me at all times. Let’s hear that again. It was dangerous to my psyche to walk around the world without a blade. He said that I knew the real dangers of the world and without a way to protect myself I would become irrational and “jumpy.” I would start freaking out and I could have a mental break from not having a weapon to calm me and let me know that I was safe.
I had to carry a knife. I carried two. Two knives everywhere I went. One for Guardian in the right pocket, one for Assassin in the left. This was the norm. Everyone in the family knew I had to have them to feel safe.
So, watch this.
Bliss calls. “We have decided that we don’t feel comfortable with Jesse’s alters running around the bed and breakfast that we are all staying at the weekend of the wedding if he is armed. So, we are forbidding weapons of any kind. No guns or knives are allowed at our wedding.”
This is a blatant attack on me. Everyone in this family knows that I cannot go to this wedding. I will not be in the pictures. I will not be in the memories. Bliss has just officially cut me out of this family event. As if with a blade of some sort.
Take a minute and look at the precedent this sets. If I can’t be at this family gathering while armed, then that can be spread out over all family gatherings. As soon as grandkids become a thing, I will not be allowed near them. I will not be allowed at family vacations. I am completely cut out. If Bekah allows this, I can never be around her family again.
Bekah’s reaction was instant and came without a breath or thought. “If Jesse can’t carry a knife, he can’t come.” She paused a beat for drama. “If he can’t come, I’m not coming.” Another pause. She is good at this dramatic moment thing. “If he can’t come, I am not coming to your wedding.” She hung up the phone.
I had not heard much but I had heard that. I looked at Bekah and my first thought was, What have you done? You can’t draw that kind of line in the sand. This is your sister’s wedding, you have to be there. I stared at her and let out a bit of a chirp of a nervous giggle.
“You’re not going to the wedding?” I said. I laughed again.
“Fuck that,” Bekah said. She held the phone in her hand. “I need a drink. Can you get me something?” She held the phone in her hand. She knew it would ring soon.
“You have to go to her wedding. You know that, right?” I said from the kitchen sink.
“Get with me on this,” she said.
I heard it then. I had missed it the first time. The clarion call to battle. The trumpets were blaring. She had heard it before me. This was our first big one. This was the one that would define us. We were at war. At war with the idea that they could pull us apart if even for one weekend trip. We were battling the idea that anyone could have one of us without the other.
“You with me?” she asked.
I can’t tell you how many times I had asked her that. Every time I had gone into battle with my family. Every time I had gone through a terrible bout of therapy in South Towers. Every time I had gone into a Dungeons and Dragons game. When I walked her into Hell my first words were, “You with me?” It was our battle cry. And I knew my line. I had heard her say it over and over again. I handed her the water and I sat, my eyes locked on hers.
“’Til the end.”
The phone rang half a time and she answered it.
“You are not going to your sister’s wedding now?” Hymnal snapped. “He can’t carry a knife and he won’t let you go to your own sister’s wedding. Do you see how sick this is?”
“Not his call,” Bekah said. “It’s mine. If he can’t go, then I won’t be coming.”
“Put him on the phone,” Hymnal commanded.
Bekah tossed the phone across the room as I sat cross-legged on the couch. I looked at her and I nodded.
“I can’t believe you. You are really going to stop her from going to her sister’s wedding so that you can carry a knife. You are really going to do that?” Hymnal said. “Is that the kind of man you are?”
“Hymnal, listen. I was not asked, I did not weigh in. She made this decision herself without consulting me. However, I back her one hundred percent in all things. I can tell you this about the topic. My therapist says that it is dangerous for me to go anywhere without a knife. It is hazardous to my psyche to walk around, anywhere, without being armed. So, if the rule is no knife, I can’t be there. It would be dangerous to me and everyone there if I had no way of defending myself and I felt cornered. Also, if Bekah says she is not going, I am going to respect her decision.
“If you are intent on blaming me then you are going to do that, but the truth is, I am only backing her call. You want her, you have to take me.” I paused for dramatic effect. Bekah is not the only one with a sense of timing. “And my knives. Both of them.”
“Give me back my daughter,” she snapped. And in that moment, I heard it for what it was. Not only a command to hand the phone back, but to give her her little girl back. The little girl who did as she was told. The girl from my apartment who would sit and listen to her call me the Corrupter. She wanted that girl back. Wanted to be back in control.
But I could not give that girl back to Hymnal even if I wanted to. That girl was gone. She had all her weakness burned away by the fires of pain and heartache. She had her will forged with the hammer of self-sacrifice during my war with my family. She had her mind carved and etched with new ways of thinking that involved taking me as her family and stopping all who would attack that family. What had been a lump of steel was now, after years of pain and sadness, a perfectly balanced, honed weapon. The girl Hymnal wanted back did not exist. She had been replaced with a warrior. A woman who had seen battle before. Had seen emotional wreckage. This was Guardian’s fighting partner.
I tossed the phone back to Bekah and she snatched it out of the air.
“What are we going to do about this then?” Hymnal said.
“I don’t know. I’m sure you will come up with something,” Bekah said. “Goodbye mother.” She hung up.
Bekah looked at me and lifted an eyebrow.
“Fuck that,” Bekah said.
It did not take long for the phone to ring again.
“You are really going to miss my wedding for him?” Bliss snapped.
“He will be my husband. He is the love of my life. I will miss everything for him. You don’t get one of us without the other. If he is not coming, and he won’t if he doesn’t get to carry a knife, then I am not coming. The math is that simple.”
“He is unstable. He has this DID thing and who knows what will set him off. He shouldn’t be allowed to carry a knife anywhere at all, let alone around a bed and breakfast with me and our family. There will be children there. And a man with an unstable, dangerous mind will have a knife. No, it is wrong and you know it.”
“He has DID and he is not unstable. He has been through years of therapy and we know all of the alters intimately. You have not taken the time to get to know any of them so you are scared. You don’t want him there because you are afraid that you will get him in a picture and it will ruin your wedding,” Bekah said. “You are being ridiculous. I’m not coming without him. Find a way to fix this.”
“Fine, we will ask Dad,” Bliss said. “We will ask him what he thinks about the knife and I will go with what he says.”
“Better call him,” Bekah said. She hung up.
Now two things are happening here that were not made clear to me until about a month ago. One thing is that Bliss thinks she has won this war. Surely Vigil doesn’t want me there either and he will put his foot down, which will match Hymnal’s foot and Bliss’s foot, and I will not be allowed a knife. I will not be coming to the wedding and Bekah will come. That is the drama that is being played out on the other side of the phone.
The truth of the situation was made clear to me last month. Because I thought that on my side of the phone the same thing was happening. But Bekah told me the other day that Vigil’s word would not make her go. If Vigil says no to the knife thing, Bekah still isn’t going to go. She is not giving her father the power to get between us. She is giving him enough rope to hang himself. Letting him stand where he will.
At this point she was trying to see where Vigil stood.
If I couldn’t carry a knife, she would not go, no matter who said she should.
“Okay,” Bliss said.
“Okay, what?” Bekah asked.
“Okay, Dad says, ‘a man can carry a pocket knife.’”
“Goodnight, Bliss. I’ll see you in a month,” Bekah said.
The first of the great battles had been won. This was a big one. This was the first time Bekah had drawn a line in the sand between us and her family. The word was out. We were one. And we did what we thought was right.
The knife will come around again. I can’t wait for you guys to see it.
This chapter is from Reality of the Unreal Mind, Vol. 2: Normal Street.