January 7, 2008

Rubicon Heart: Introduction

INTRODUCTION: “Alea iacta est...”

Ru•bi•con (rōō'bĭ-kŏn')
n. A limit that when passed or exceeded permits of no return and typically results in irrevocable commitment.

My heart is like that. I’ve come to realize this over the years. I may not pass that limit very often, but when I do there is no turning back. I become immersed with it, to the point where nothing else matters. I have a Rubicon Heart, and once I commit to loving someone, I have passed the point of no return. I am in it for the long haul.

The word derives from a river in northern Italy that Julius Caesar crossed with his army, in violation of the orders of the leaders in Rome, who feared his power. A civil war followed, in which Caesar emerged as ruler of Rome. Caesar is supposed to have said, “Alea iacta est” (The die is cast), as he crossed the river.

I crossed that river in 1990. I cast my dice, and came up empty handed. I have yet to get back to the other side of that river… the river which divides a happy place and a place of despair.

I committed my heart to fall in love again, two years ago. I picked up my dice and cast it again, for the second time in my life… and I’ve come up empty again. The gamble of love is not my game… in this I am a loser, and I’ve lost belief, hope and years of my life committing to this one bet I placed in 1990. My second bet is still on the table, but the cards I’ve been dealt are not looking good. I fear what will happen when I lay my cards out on the table. What do I have left to lose? How am I going to pay the price of losing yet again?

This is the story of how I got here. This is the story of my love life, or of my lack thereof. But, before we begin you need to understand a few things about me. You need to know where I come from, and what shaped me as an emotional human being.

Growing up was never easy. I didn’t suffer tremendously or anything – there are people out there with far worse fates than mine. I do not feel sorry for myself, nor do I want others to pity me for the things I went through growing up. What happened shaped me – made me the man I am today. Some of who I’ve become is good, while other things have seriously damaged my ability to live the life I wanted to live.

This story – the “Rubicon Heart” story – is not about my childhood, or about the abuse and alcoholism I witnessed, so I will not be going into great detail about these things. I will give you an overview, a quick and to-the-point look into this part of my life, as I believe it is imperative that you know these things in order to understand the workings of my heart. If I didn’t go through the things I am about to tell you about, I would not have had such a bleeding heart… and I would not have felt so lonely and insecure about myself.

My father was an alcoholic. He was never a physical drunk, and he never laid a hand on my mother. He never laid a hand on me. But, he drank much of his life away. He drove my mother away from him, because she could not live with him. He could never hold a job for a long time, and he couldn’t bring in the money to our house.

When I was six, my mother decided to divorce him. She was from Europe, and she took me and my sister and moved across the pond… miles and miles away from my father. A year later he came over to Europe, looking to get his life back together – but things didn’t work out that way, and he returned to the States after only a couple of weeks.

I didn’t hear from him in seven years after that. Neither did my mother. He had succumbed to heavy alcoholism, and was basically just pissing his life away at the time. I don’t know much about what he went through during these years.

What my mother didn’t know when she made the decision to move back to Europe was that she was headed for a far worse existence than what she had suffered through with my father.

My sister was 20 at the time, and my mother already knew that she was experimenting with drugs. As we came to Europe, she got her own place in another city… and she quickly became more and more dependent on the drugs. It wasn’t long before she was addicted to heroin, and her life became sinister and dark.

My mother sought comfort in a new man. He seemed like a nice enough guy, but he too had a drinking problem. And, unlike my father, he had a tendency for violence when he was drunk. His drinking habits were far worse than my father’s had ever been, and the days of sobriety were few and far between.

I was eight at the time, and my life consisted of going to school, coming home to a drunken mother and step-father, and wondering how my sister was doing. I still remember those days… not wanting to come home, because I didn’t know what I would be coming home to. But, having to come home, because maybe I was needed there to protect my mother from this man.

It was a good day when I came home to see my mother and her New Man sitting at the kitchen table with a bottle of cheap booze between them, and they were talking and laughing. But, every so often, that talking and laughing would become screaming and shouting before bed time arrived.

Of course, I didn’t want my friends coming over. Of course, I didn’t want to go out with my friends all of the time, because even though I was just a child, I knew I needed to be home to protect my mother. I was the one who had to call the police when he started slapping her around. I will never forget the time she came crawling on her hands and knees into my room, bleeding profusely from the back of her head after he had pushed her to the floor and she’d banged her head against the sharp corner of the kitchen table.

“Please… call the police”, she begged me. “He’s going to kill me”.

My mother was weak. She suffered from severe depression, and she could not take care of herself. She drank because she had to in order to survive the hellish environment that was home.

I never had the chance to be a “normal” kid in school. I never had confidence. What little money my step-father brought into the household was spent on booze. I never had nice clothes, and I never had the confidence to stand up to the kids who bullied and mocked me on account of my old rags – while they confidently sported designer clothing and looked fresh and rested. I didn’t have the strength to fight back, and I became an easy target for those kids’ evil deeds.

I committed whole heartedly to protecting my mother. It was the only thing I could do. My childhood blew by, and this is what I did. In the meantime, I sat in my room – mostly by myself – and I took up writing as an avenue of freedom. I needed this to find a place where I could escape reality – a place where I could block out the screaming and shouting that was overheard from the kitchen… God I hated the kitchen. My room was my safe haven. My type-writer was my communication device.

At the age of fourteen I lost my sister. She had tried so hard to become clean, and she even moved to the town we lived in, so that she could be close to her mother. As you can understand, my mother could not give her the support that my sister needed. The drunk she was with, would also constantly put down my sister – to him she was a fucking druggie, while he was only an alcoholic, which made him that much more worthy as a human being.

My sister and he once got into a big fight when she stayed at our place one night. I loved my sister, and she kicked his ass that time. She wasn’t going to take any abuse from him, and she wasn’t going to put up with him calling her names and degrade her for being a drug-addict. She was always a good and loving person, but she was trapped in the pits of darkness that Heroin is.

She married a man who was an addict since his thirteenth birthday. He too was the kindest and most caring man that I have ever met. When my sister OD’d in the train-station restrooms, and never woke up again, he vowed to take his own life and follow her to the other side. He called us two days after my sister died, having stolen enough frozen meat to last a year.

“Would you please buy it. It will be enough so I can get some heroin and booze, so I can overdose and disappear from this world. I have no reason to be here any more”.

My mother told him that we were here for him. He was part of our family, and we still love him like one of our own. We were not going to buy the meat from him – we were not going to help him commit suicide.

The next day, they found his body on the floor of their apartment. He had taken an overdose of Heroin. He is buried next to my sister in our family grave… he never had a family of his own, as he was thrown out on the streets by his mother at the age of thirteen.

It wasn’t until I was nineteen that I could stand up against the abuse my mother suffered through. A friend of mine was over at my place that day, and we plotted to rid ourselves of my step-father once and for all. It went down like this:

My mother deliberately got on his nerves, and pushed him into starting a fight with her. Me and my friend came into the kitchen and protected her as she was being hit by him. We kicked his butt good and hard – called the police and had them take him away. We got the keys to the apartment from him, and told him never to return.

That part had been done several times before. The taking of the keys and telling him he’s out for good. This time was the one time that stuck, and my mother found the strength to stand by that decision as well.

But, the damage was already done, of course. And even without him in the house, my mother slipped deeper and deeper into her own case of alcoholism. This I had no power to do anything about.

My father… my real life father had gotten his life together back in the States. He’d found a new woman whom he married, and she was very strict and demanded of him to quit drinking. For the most part that worked, and he was building up a good life for himself with her on his side. I am forever thankful for what she did for my father – whom I never stopped loving despite not having seen much of him.

They moved to Florida, and I wanted so badly to establish a relationship with him. I decided to take the big step and move out to Florida with him at the age of 20.

This didn’t work out so well for me. I felt terrible for having left my mother behind, knowing she was probably drinking more now that I was not there. I was everything she had left in her life, and she will never get over the loss of her first child – my sister. She will never forgive herself for not having done everything she could to protect her. I am sure, however, that my sister – just like I myself – always could feel our mother’s love.

It was also during this time that my own life went down the drain. It was here that my First True Love took that Rubicon Heart of mine and crushed it beyond repair.

This is who I am, and this is what shaped me as a human being. Things are much better these days. My mother kicked the bottle out of the house 12 years ago, and has not had a drink ever since. I can’t even begin to tell you what a wonderful feeling it is not to have to worry about her having drunk herself into oblivion, and maybe even to death.

It was Christmas 12 years ago when she hit rock bottom. She’s always loved Christmas time and spending time with the family. Many Christmases up to this one, she’d spent alone at home either hung over too bad to come with us, or being flat out drunk. Her mother (my grandmother) never drank in her life, and our family does not traditionally drink together. Our family gatherings are devoid of alcohol, and cursing on account of a religious background. My Grandmother often cried and prayed to God on behalf of my mother and my Uncle’s alcoholism. Still, she never knew just how bad it was for either one of them.

This one Christmas, my mother drank consistently for 2 weeks. The day before Christmas Eve she passed out on the bedroom floor, and I had to call her sister (my Aunt, of course). My mother was already a member of the AA at this time, and she had tried really hard to straighten herself out. My aunt and I called her sponsor at the AA, and then took her to the hospital where she was admitted to detox. She went kicking and screaming, promising us that she was going to quit – she just needed one more drink and that would be it. Just one more!

She never had that one more drink. Not to this day, and I’m so proud of her. I love her with that Rubicon Heart of mine, and she is the only one to have never broken it. She is the only one to have loved me back with everything that she has to offer, and for that I am grateful. I don’t know where I would have been today without her.

Maybe without her – that time when I contemplated suicide, I would have gone through with it.

So, with this background I have prepared you for that journey. The journey through my love life. I have cried a couple of tears writing this just now. I had promised myself I would be honest with this story, and that I would not shy away from parts that are painful. So again, I crossed the Rubicon and by writing this I have passed the point of no return, and I have committed myself irrevocably to taking this journey and sharing it with you.

Alea iacta est…

The dice is cast.


Alli said...

That was beautifully written, REH! I am looking forward to reading more.

Kell said...

I'm not sure what to say, so I'm just going to say that I'll be along for the journey. If you're willing to be this honest, I'm willing to listen. You're very brave.

Lakota Princess said...

I'll read when I'm not at work sneaking quickie peeks at the blogs (grin!) - looking forward to reading it! Fabo graphics!

Dana said...

I cannot begin to tell you how parallel our lives have been. Especially this line:

I do not feel sorry for myself, nor do I want others to pity me for the things I went through growing up. What happened shaped me – made me the man I am today.

There is something eerie about reading my feelings written by another persons "pen."

I am really looking forward to your story!

RockDog said...

Very interesting read!

I always find it rather ballsy when someone can post this kind of intimate detail about their life for the world to read.

Anonymous said...

As a mother of boys myself, I feel the need to reach out and hug you. It is so unfair that you missed out on critical lessons you are to be taught by your parents. It explains so much.

I had a thought myself today that resembled your's I committed my heart to fall in love again, two years ago. I picked up my dice and cast it again, for the second time in my life… and I’ve come up empty again. The gamble of love is not my game… in this I am a loser, and I’ve lost belief, hope and years of my life committing to this one bet My love teeters in a dangerous place right now and I have decided that failure will also be the end. Love is so over rated. *L*
Keep the words rolling R.E.H., once you heal the wounds you can move along.

R.E.H. said...

Alli: Thank you. That's what I need to hear right now ;)

Kell: There would have been no point writing this if I didn't do it honestly. Thanks for reading.

Lakota Princess: Hope you'll like the read as much as the graphics ;)

Dana: It is. I believe far more have these feelings than are willing to admit it though.

RockDog: Thank You. I will admit that I am still feeling anxious and nervous about this post... it was a tough one to do, and I hope it will bring me what I sought from posting it... a little peace of mind ;)

Butterfly Girl: Sorry to hear your love life is taking a turn for the worse as well... As hard as it may be, still love is something we all need to have in our lives.

cardiogirl said...

I'm so sorry you had to live through that to become the man you are. But this is compelling reading, REH.

It's unfortunate that this is your true life story, however, it does sound like you have taken certain aspects of this situation and gleaned the best from the experience.

I'll be back for the next installment.

Jay said...

Wow! This is going to be pretty therapeutic for you I think.

g-man said...

Well written and illuminating. Looking forward to the rivers crossing so-to-speak.

Leighann said...

I'm with Jay, this is going to be incredibly theraputic for you.

As hard as it's going to be for you to write, at the end of the day you're doing your mind, body, and soul a HUGE favor.

Anonymous said...

I expect to see this on the best sellers list!

Anonymous said...

Wow, how emotional. I look forward to reading more, thanks for being willing to be honest. It can be tough (trust me, I know!).


Anonymous said...

I believe this writing will help you to move along as you've already mentioned that what happened shaped you. Greatly like your idea of being honest

I'll be following the story :)

R.E.H. said...

Cardiogirl: I believe in many ways I have become a stronger person because of all this. But, other parts of me have been hurt by this, and it is quite possibly one of the reasons I cannot fully commit in a relationship, and that when I do, I leave myself in a very vulnurable place.

Jay: Yeah, I hope so ;) It is the reason I am doing this one. To allow myself to move on, and to analyze things for myself.

All of your comments will help a great deal through all of this.

G-Man: Thank You. I've realized after publishing this just how much I've bared my soul. I do need words of encouragement right now ;)

Leighann: I sure hope this will be helpful in that therapeutic way. I still believe in doing this, but like you said - it is very hard for me right now... I will post a "reflection" post after this first installment, in a couple of days.

Preposterous Ponderings: I'd rather it not! This is for me and you guys to enjoy. If it became a best seller, I would be way to self conscious to do it the way it needs to be done.

My next novel - a fictional one - would make for a good best seller, however ;)

R.E.H. said...

Emmeline: Thank You. I understand that you have "first person" knowledge of this kind of stuff... posting personal stuff that is. You were actually one of the inspirations that made me want to do this thing.

Hope you will be enjoying my story as much as I enjoy reading yours.

Joel: Not enough honest people left in this world, is there?

I do hope that this thing will help me move on in life.

Karen said...

wow. Very open and honest. I agree that it will probably be theraputic for you to put this project together. I honestly cannot wait for the next installment.

Jay Cam said...

oh wow that was a great intro!
i'm going to look at you in a whole new way now!

write more!

R.E.H. said...

Karen: Thank You. I can't say for sure when the next installment will be ready yet. Probably next week some time.

Jay Cam: Thanks. I'm still the same ol' Ramblin' Madman I used to be... just, you know a little more about me now ;)

Anonymous said...

Oh wow! I'm totally hooked and ready for the next installment!!!

Penelope Anne said...

Powerful and I am hooked, and alng for the read. Good luck with the writing I know how difficult it can be...

Okay, I am begging my pals for a bit of help today and this week. I entered a poetry contest, part of my writing goal, and am asking you pop here: http://wannabeawritersomeday.blogspot.com/2008/01/i-am-entering-poetry-contest-yikes-and.html and if you like what you read, think about following the link at the end of the post and voting for me.
Thanks a bunch.
Your pal, Penelope

Loving Annie said...

That was beautifully written, R.E.H.
I wish you would publish this as a book.
Poignant, strong, true, honest, painful, real...
Thank you for letting me read more as your Rubicon Heart story unfolds.
I so understand the pain. The history gives it background...

Please don't give up if the love you are in this time doesn't work out. You AREN'T a loser.
I have found support and comfort her ein cyber-space on the blog that kept me alive, kept me going for one more day, when I thought I couldn't endure the pain. It is here for you,too --

Ihate to say it, because I never beleieve it when anyone says it to me (especially now that I'm almost 50) but one day it WILL work, and you will find love that loves you back. Don't quit before the miracle happens.


Loving Annie

Beautifully Profound said...

Beautifully Profound R.E.H.!

You made me cry! Beautifully written, and I cannot wait to read the rest of your story.

Have a good Tuesday REH

tt said...

Gracious! My mind is still trying to sort through everything i just read. Your story is very compelling. I'm looking forward to reading the next installment but at the same time I'm sorry there has to be a next one... but as you said, our experiences shape us into who we are. I personally hope you somehow find a way to publish what is to become a great read!
** heavy sigh-pass the tissues please**)

Tequila Mockingbird said...

awe i really want to give you a hug. this was beautifully written. *sighs* i am looking forward to the next chapter

Sparkling Red said...

I am wishing very hard for you to find someone who will appreciate your heart, and all your courage, loyalty, and caring. The world needs more people who are willing to commit.

I know what it's like to have a home that doesn't feel safe; to be the insecure kid in the playground that gets picked on for wearing cheap clothes. It takes a lot to survive that kind of past. We are heroic survivors!

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

I shed a few tears reading this. I knew I liked you. Now I know why.

Freakazojd said...

Wow, R.E.H.! I came by earlier and read this, and then ran out of time to post a "suitable" comment. And now I'm back and don't know where to start. But I must say that your writing is great, and you have a natural flow and personal style that draws the reader in. Technical stuff aside, and more importantly here, I think, I am in awe of your bravery to talk about this on your blog. I hope it brings the relief you search for. I'll definitely stay tuned.
I know how much stronger you become after having walked through flames. The refining process hurts, but you are obviously a beautiful human being on the other side of it. I hope you can have much love, joy and peace in the near (and distant!) future.

Jo said...

It's a privilege to read such an intimate story, R.E.H...thank you for sharing it; I'm definitely along for the ride.

It causes me palpable pain to hear of the things you suffered, but your fortitude & courage shine through. Out of great suffering, I believe uniquely dazzling things become possible...you have acquired things you never would have chosen to go through that hell to get--and yet they belong to you now.

Real Live Lesbian said...

I'll be crossing the river with you and reading what you are brave enough to put out here. You are a brave and strong soul for doing so. I'm impressed.

fiwa said...

R.E.H, I want to go back in time and give your younger self a hug. You have such talent, I'm looking forward to hearing your story unfold.


Samantha_K said...

I don't think you're lacking in love now, sweetheart.

If we were playing Yahtzee, and that post was your dice roll, it would surely be a full house. (That's the right game, right? Yahtzee, where the dice rolls have the names of poker hands? Suddenly feeling stupid...)

Anyway, you get my point.

Samantha_K said...

Oh wait...the best roll in Yahtzee is Yahtzee.


R.E.H. said...

Oh my goodness... this this exploded while I was a way ;)

Nice to see so many comments, and so much support.

Lets start replying, shall we?

Pookie Sixx: Glad to have reeled you in ;)

Penelope Anne: I'll be checking it out as soon as time allows... I'm a little short on that for the moment ;)

Loving Annie: Yeah, yeah... love is out there waiting for me ;)

I know, I do hate to hear that comment, but not because I don't believe in it. I do believe it is out there... I'm just sick and tired of it hiding from me ;)

Beautifully Profound: Well, I didn't mean to make you cry ;)

Thank You, for feeling that strongly from reading it.

TT: Thank You. I honestly do not want this to be published, though. I don't think that I would want to share this with the entire world... people here in my part of the blogosphere - that's cool, I can live with that... You are my friends!

R.E.H. said...

Tequila Mockingbird: I will accept your virtual hugs.

Sparkling Red: Yeah, I always had a hard time being picked on. I was so infuriated, and pissed at the world because I thought people were so stupid for not understanding what the hell was really going on in this world, and what really mattered.

Mary P. Jones: I'm a likeable guy, right? Thanks, glad I could move you to tears with my story (as awful as that sounds)

Freakazojd: you have a natural flow and personal style that draws the reader in.

You have no idea how much that means to me. I took pride in exactly what you described there, back when I still dreamed of being a famous writer some day. I am still trying hard to find my way back to writing like that comfortably... I think this blog has been a good help in getting my writing back to a higher standard.

Jo: I do believe that going through all of this has given me "privileges" in life that many other's don't have. Part of that is compassion and understanding of a lot of things that other people shy away from, because they do not understand what is really going on.

As an example... I have never looked down on addicts (drugs or alcohol), because I know the suffering these people go through. Part of the love-life story will look into that particular view.

R.E.H. said...

Real Live Lesbian: Thank You. Caesar had an army with him when he crossed it... nice to know I'm building an army of my own here to take with me ;)

Fiwa: Thank You. My younger me would've appreciated the hug. Older me appreciates the thought ;)

Samantha K: Lotsa love being sent my way right now ;)

Yahtzee is the game, you are right. And you did remember which was the best dice-roll there I see.

Jen said...

You've given me so much hope, r.e.h. Really. I can't explain here nor can I post my letter to my 13-year-old self for the same reasons. All I know is that if you can live through such a life & come out all the better. . .then so too can my niece.

Thank you.

R.E.H. said...

Jen: Wow! Thanks! If this thing can be of help to someone else too - that would be just wonderful.

Thank You!

Newt said...

THank you for sharing that part of your life. You are a beautiful writer.

R.E.H. said...

Newt: And, Thank You for reading, and commenting.

Tink said...

I finally found time to read this! Beautiful REH, just beautiful. I think a lot of us have a dark and twisted background. I never realized that until I started blogging. It's what shapes us and makes us humble. I can't wait to read more.

Elle said...

Following you from Cardiogirl's lounge -- loved the first installment, will be back for MORE! Putting you on my blogroll, if this is copacetic.

R.E.H. said...

Tink: I've noticed too that a lot of us bloggers seem to have a dark past... maybe that is why some of us started blogging in the first place, and maybe that is why we like to read about others troubles - so that we know we are not alone.

Elle: Welcome! Glad you liked the read.

You can add me to your blogroll, of course - I encourage it ;)

However... I can't seem to follow any link to find your blog.

Guilty Secret said...

Wow. I am a long way behind, but determined to catch up!

Thank you for sharing this with us. I am not surprised at all that you shed a few tears as you wrote this. I am so sorry that you lost your sister, but so pleased that both of your parents managed to turn their lives around and that your mother can be there for you now like you were there for her.

That really was beautifully-written. I can't wait to read on...

R.E.H. said...

Guilty Secret: Yeah, this was the hardest part to write (so far), and it really forced me to think about a few things I don't often think about these days.

Yes, I am also very happy that both of my parents were able to free themselves of the hell they were in.