In Sex, Love and Obesity Part 26 I finally decided that I was going to find the courage to move out on my own. I was facing one of the biggest fears of my life. It was literally the scariest thing I’ve ever done.

I cannot even begin to explain why being on my own was so frightening to me. But when you think about it, it’s not hard to figure out.

If you read my blog Dissociative Identity Disorder – Six Women One Mind you might recall the story I told about being horribly abused in the back of dirty garage with tiny little spiders crawling all over me. That incident, while one of many, is the first time I remember abuse like that. As a result of that sort of abuse, I learned to avoid being alone. Being alone, anywhere, left the potential open for someone to hurt me. If other people were around, I was safe. When you learn self-defense tactics like this as a young child it’s hard to break out of that mindset and unlearn them.

I wish I could tell you that the story ended here. That I moved out on my own and found my internal strength and courage. But I’m being honest with you. The unfortunate truth is that the story didn’t go that way.

My fear of being alone had me tail-spinning into chaos.

After getting back from Oregon, while I was staying with Clark on weekends and my good friends during the week, I was doing much better regarding things like drugs, alcohol and sex. I was making better choices. But as soon as I moved into my own apartment that all changed. At first, I tried surrounding myself with friends. I invited the few girlfriends that Peter had not completely alienated from my life over to help me decorate and see the new apartment. My friend came to visit from Atlanta and helped me pick out a living room rug and arrange items on my shelves. Shane came to visit.

But with nobody else around my bad behaviors were sneaking back in.

I began using dating sites and meeting different guys that lived locally. That quickly escalated into my having quick meaningless flings trying to fill the void of loneliness and fear of being alone. I started drinking, smoking cigarettes and smoking weed again. It was all so much easier to do when there was nobody around holding me accountable for my actions or asking if I was okay.

I was completely unprepared for the anniversary grief that year.

I had moved into my apartment in July. July is one of the hardest months in the year for me. The fourth is the anniversary of my Dad passing away, the twentieth is his birthday. It is by far the hardest three weeks of the year for me to deal with. I had invited Atlantis out to visit the new apartment as a way of dealing with it all.

The whole visit was horrible. If I could go back and re-write the story, this is by far the one moment I would change the most. Not because I regret where Atlantis and I ended up. We’re still good friends. But, it’s one of those moments where I let my bad decisions procreate. One bad choice led to another and this one lead me right back into the lion’s den.

From the moment Atlantis arrived things were heavy and uncomfortable. He was in the middle of deciding whether he was going to take the plunge and leave his wife. I was in the middle of deciding whether I could take a chance caring about him.

Being the “other woman” wasn’t working for me.

It’s easy to validate this behavior. Having an affair with a married man that insists he is leaving. Especially when all the reasons his marriage is falling apart match all the reasons your marriage fell apart. It’s easy to look at it and rationalize that what you are doing is okay when you’ve been in the same situation and it ended up resulting in a permanent separation.

But as he sat there spending the majority of his time answering text messages from home, I felt neglected and ignored. Feelings I don’t deal with very well. Atlantis completely forgot about the grief I was experiencing. He was too busy putting out fires at home to even realize that I had brought him there specifically because I needed to not feel alone during that time.

The only time I really had his attention was in the bedroom. When I realized this, I confronted him with my feelings. If I was sure of anything at this point it was that I wasn’t going to silently sit on my feelings when it came to whoever I was in a relationship with.

Confronting this truth left me sitting there asking myself the same questions again.

When I confronted Atlantis regarding his intentions and our future his answers helped me see the light. He wasn’t ever going to leave his wife. Maybe he wanted to. Maybe he thought about it. Perhaps the time he spent with me even made him consider it more seriously. But he wasn’t going to do it. With that realization came the subsequent awareness that I didn’t want to be the side show romance he used as an escape on weekends he could sneak away. That wasn’t fair to me, and it sure as hell wasn’t fair to her.

The visit abruptly ended with me asking him to leave. The incident left me sitting on the couch asking myself the same questions I had asked of Jason and Clark. If he was so unhappy with his marriage, why hadn’t made a different choice? Why hadn’t he picked me instead? Was I that worthless to him? Why didn’t he fight for a relationship with me?

What I did next, might very well be the stupidest thing I have ever done.

Before I even type the sentence, I feel like I must justify it and explain in. I was hurting. My insides were overflowing with fear. I was alone with all sorts of feelings I wasn’t good at dealing with.  I wanted someone to wrap their arms around me, hug me and tell me that everything was going to be okay.

More than anything else, I wanted someone to love me. Really, love me. I wanted someone that was willing to fight for me. Reflecting on all of the relationships I have been in, with only one exception, I’ve never had that experience. There had only been one man in my entire life, as far as romantic relationships go, that had made me feel like he would do whatever it took to keep me. Only one that I could honestly say had done everything he possible could to be with me. Peter.

In that moment, alone, scared, spiraling into bad behaviors, trying to deal with grief and wanting so badly to not be alone, I did the stupidest thing I could have done at this point. I called Peter and asked him to come over.

All the old feels came rushing right back.

I had distanced myself from Peter for the better part of three months. I’d avoided being in a space with him. We’d had a couple in person meetings to pass items back and forth where we met in public, spoke a few moments and I got in my car and drove away again. We’d had one final meeting at our apartment once it was empty. We spoke our peace. Each expressing our final good-byes and each wishing the other well in the new romantic relationships we were perusing. Other than these meetings, I had done everything possible to not be alone in a room with him. Something inside me understood there was this chemical draw to Peter that was hard for me to resist.

It’s a chemistry I can’t explain. The moment he walked in the door I wanted to be in his arms. I wanted to believe that things could be different and that we could somehow get past the horrible things that had transpired between us. Deep inside I wanted to believe that Peter could be a better man. That we could stop fighting, that he could stop being so controlling and that we could be happy. I was instantly yearning to experience the happily ever after Peter had once sold me.

I wanted to be with someone that would fight for me.

Peter had done so much to be with me. He left his wife and relocated from another state. My mind went back to how happy we had once been.  Rewinding back to a time almost fourteen months ago right before he moved in. We were in that place where he was trying to win my heart. We were both giddy with happiness. I thought back to all the sentimental gifts he had given me. All the flowers he gave me for no reason other than to give me flowers. All the love notes and cards he’d write and leave for me to find.

Now, he was sitting there next to me on the couch wrapping his arms around me while I cried. At that moment, more than anything I wanted him to scoop me up into his arms, carry me into the bedroom and reconnect with me.

I wanted back that magic that existed between us when he made love to me. That feeling where I didn’t know where he ended, and I began.

During that conversation I told Peter I was sorry for the way things had turned out. He told me that he was sorry for the things he had done and that he had never meant to hurt me. We confessed that we both still loved one another. Shortly after that, he wrapped his arms around me to say good-bye. Peter hugging me like that, squeezing me so tightly, all I can tell you is that he felt like home to me. His arms wrapped around me was like, “I remember this, this is why I tried so hard even when it got so ugly.” When he let go, said good-bye and walked out the door, my heart broke all over again.

Leaving Peter had been the hardest thing I’d ever done.

Now, that pain felt new and fresh again. I tried to breath but couldn’t feel the air in my lungs. I picked up the phone and called him. When he answered I could tell he was still in the car on his way home.

“I didn’t want you to leave,” I confessed.

“I know. Leaving was hard for me. I wanted to stay. But I don’t know if that is the best thing for you right now.” His words were seemingly honest and genuine.

“But I wanted you to stay.”

“Let me take care of a few things and I’ll come back over.”

I knew at that moment what was going to happen next. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind. I jumped in the shower to clean up and to wash any remnants of Atlantis off me. At this point I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be in a relationship with Peter, but I knew that I wanted back the feeling that I felt when we in bed together. There is something about the connection we had through intimacy that I’ll never deny existed. When I was with Peter in that way I felt healed inside. As if he touched parts of me nobody else touched.

Maybe that feeling was something worth fighting for.

There was a moment, before he arrived when I thought to myself “This is exactly why I avoided seeing him for all these months.” I’ll admit, I knew that was the truth. I had always known that the chemistry between us was something I couldn’t resist. It wasn’t healthy for me. The sex with him was like a drug to me. It had been all along. There was a perfection I can’t even explain in the lightness of his touch. A purity that I felt in the passionate way he kissed me. A transcendence in the way my body fit so perfectly against his and an exquisiteness in the way he smelled.

When he arrived, he wrapped his arms around me and without any words at all, he kissed me. We kissed our way into my bedroom throwing our bodies down on the bed and just like that, everything fell into place again. It was like some magical fairy in a story waived a wand and I was surrounded by pixie dust and twinkling lights that shimmered with joy and happiness. I felt whole. I felt healed and complete.

There’s a moment when you are putting a puzzle together and you’ve got the boarder in place but the pieces that you need to complete the picture are strewn out on the table. My life was a puzzle in that state. Then suddenly, with Peter making love to me, all the pieces magically began moving into place and the image was clear.

In that moment, I thought “Maybe this feeling is worth fighting for.”

Maybe what Peter and I had was worth fighting for.

Peter had always accused me of not fighting for what we had. Not trying hard enough to work it out and giving up too soon. Maybe he was right. Perhaps I had blown the whole thing out of proportion. Maybe I was so used to being hurt that I allowed my fight or flight response to lead me in the wrong direction and I fled too soon.

All these things rushed through my mind as Peter and I laid on the bed together in the aftermath of our lovemaking. There was a little voice in my head saying “Don’t do this, this is a bad idea. This won’t work. This will end badly.”

Much like the first time we had made love to each other in his apartment in Massachusetts, I reminded Peter that this didn’t change anything. This was just sex. We weren’t back together.

This was just one of those “One more time for old time’s sake.” moments. I’ve always wondered if Peter knew at that moment how easily it was going to be to suck me back in.  I’ve always been curious if he saw that part of me that questioned if what we had was worth fighting for and knew he could turn it into “my entire world revolves around you.” all over again.

After he left, I kept trying to convince myself that this meant nothing. But I couldn’t shake that feeling of wholeness I felt with him. Peter had fought for me constantly. He tried to get me to stay. He didn’t just let me walk away and move on. I wanted someone willing to fight for me. But I was about to figure out that there is a big difference between someone that fights for you and someone that fights with you.

Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer and Cooper Institute Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies. Her training and coaching services are offered exclusively through GoGirl Fitness Studio.