Austin is in an “exceptional” drought. That’s as bad as it gets, so far as drought categories go. The twelve months from October 2010 through September 2011 have been the driest for that twelve-month period in Texas since 1895. That’s the exact period of my involvement with Mack.
The effects of a drought are slow and insidious. In the beginning, you welcome the sunshine and warmth. After months of no water, things start to dry up. But it happens slowly; the effects are virtually imperceptible. You don’t notice the drooping trees, the brown lawns, the creek beds that diminish to a trickle and then become bone dry. The wildfires start popping up then, and you begin to take notice. And you realize, this shit has gotten really bad. Being with Mack was like that.
In the beginning of the twelve months, like sunshine, I was warmed by his charm. I ignored the fact that he was slowly and steadily draining my energy, my optimism, my vitality. Being involved with a liar will do that to you. You spend a lot of energy rationalizing and stuffing your anger. You spend a lot of energy pretending everything is terrific. You spend a lot of energy making excuses for him. You spend a lot of energy on self-loathing. After all, only a woman with no self-respect would put up with this shit. And then you spend energy trying to dig out from the self-loathing. The trouble is, there is no way to stop the self-loathing caused by being involved with a liar and a user other than to end the relationship. Yes, you will spend lots of time telling yourself how wonderful he is to you, how he is so great in bed, how he takes the trash out and makes you breakfast on Sunday, how he loves you in spite of your faults. But just below the surface, the truth is lurking.
The truth is, he lives with another woman. He has no job. Sure he cooks you breakfast, but it’s always your groceries. And he goes home on Sunday night and cooks her dinner with her groceries. He lied to you by not telling you (until he was forced to) that he lives with another woman. You know he hasn’t had a real job, an income, in years. You know he’s made his way through life by relying on women to support him. Despite all his free time, he does nothing to contribute to society. Does he do charity work? No. Is he handy around the house? No. Does he do housework for you? Not unless you pay him to do it. You realize his promises to be your partner are bullshit. You realize the man does not want to contribute; he wants to sleep ten hours a day, eat your food, drink your alcohol, and sit in front of your television watching sports. Oh, and he has to have time to go to the gym; a gym membership you’d be paying for.
So yeah, the wildfires start springing up and you realize, this shit is really bad. But unlike the weather, I can do something about it. I did something about it. It’s been a month since I’ve seen Mack. Three weeks since the official break-up.
And this morning it rained in Austin. And rained, and rained, and rained. I imagined the rain washing away the detritus that has accumulated over the past year. I imagined it nourishing the seeds of self-respect I’ve planted over the past few weeks. I imagined it washing away the grief of losing Mack, or the illusion of Mack; the grief of losing a man who isn’t who he pretended to be and who I hoped he was.