TLSJ Vol.1

“Poison Apple”

Fiction. Based on a True Letter. 27 minute read

“But I still dealt with my negative emotions though. I was still dealing with drugs, alcohol, physical relationship with women, and thoughts of suicide because though I did that [forgive], I was still hurt because I was no longer experiencing my brother and the way in which other brothers experienced their brother….weddings, nieces, nephews, or whatever.”- kweisi gharreau

Poison Apple

By Mingjie Zhai

This journal entry is inspired by true events. Some of the characters, names, businesses, incidents, and certain locations and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes. Any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional. 

“Resentment is like drinking poison hoping that the other person will die from it,” *Mannie said.

She was a regular at this meeting. Hearing it gave Angelie just enough to keep her mind off herself. She was fidgety. Knees bouncing up and down like the emotions she’s riding. Just two days earlier, Angelie was driving along Euclid road. She had to make a choice between the 71 north to Starbucks or the 71 south to the beach, where she can plan to drown in liquor and then drowning in the ocean. For some reason, she went neither north nor south. She bypassed the freeway entrance and somehow wound up in AA. She was desperate that day. She didn’t walk in. She practically crawled in–making guttural noises. Sobbing. These people, whom she had judged, whom she thought were losers, whom she denied ever wanting to associate herself with –– these people–they became her people.

3 months later.

“They say God leads you to AA and AA leads you to God,” she continued. “I am better today than I was yesterday.”  Her sponsor was a beautiful, curvy, blonde. She was a teacher, she was divorced, and she was a bad ass bitch. The bastard cheated, he lied, he manipulated. Did they marry the same guy? It’s what attracted Angelie towards Rachel. She was telling Angelie her story.

Midori Sour

“So what was your part in it?” she said to Angelie.

“My part?” she was indignant. “I didn’t do anything. He’s the one who cheated.”

“There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity, to be honest,” Rachel quotes from the Big Book, the first page of chapter 5.

Angelie wants to run away. They were at Starbucks. She had her notebook open, and if it weren’t for the fact that this woman she had met just a few weeks prior was gracious enough to take the time and sit with her so that she can go over the steps, Angelie would’ve closed that notebook and walked off. Angelie didn’t know it at the time, but she was a dry drunk.

“Why don’t you read the top of page 62,” Rachel continued. Angelie felt the anxiety come up again. Nails on a chalkboard against her skin. “Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Some­times they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt,” Rachel reads. “I know your man cheated on you, but can you think of your part in the situation?” she asked.

Angelie stared at the chart she drew in her notebook. On the left column of the chart, she had written out her resentments, “Dirty Dog cheated on me,” and on the right side, just above the empty space, she drew a line and above it wrote, “My part in it.”

She was staring at that empty section under “My part in it”  like a blinking computer cursor.   “Maybe, I had gotten drunk a few times. He claimed I had hit him. He claimed I was verbally abusive, but he was just exaggerating,” she said.

Rachel looked stared at Angelie for a long time. Awkward silence. It sets in.   Angelie is still holding back. She knows it too. Her bullshit meter was being picked up by the bullshit detective. It takes an alcoholic to know an alcoholic. 

“Fine. I got drunk a lot. He was hurt by it. He says I’m verbally and physically abusive when I’m drunk, but  I don’t remember any of it. I think he exaggerates,” Angelie said.  The words come out like water, and oddly enough, she didn’t feel like her throat wasn’t so dry anymore. The shaking ceased.

“Wow, I really did a number on the poor guy. He had to clean my throw up, put up with my nasty words, and I had kicked him out of the house plenty of times,” Angelie said. “He even had to pick me up from parties a few times when I couldn’t drive home because I was so drunk. He was actually really embarrassed when I would drink and make a fool of myself in front of mutual friends. My so-called friends. They were laughing at me more than they were laughing with me,” she said.

“My friends found it amusing. I was a bully to him,” and… it suddenly hit Angelie hard.

In the blank space, left of “Dirty Dog cheated on me,” she wrote, “Verbally and physically abusive when drunk.”   Well, there you go. Action. Reaction.

The next day, Angelie was helping her mom sift through old photos of her Chinese calligraphy paintings and came across an email thread that was dated February 2012. She noticed it had been almost 4 years since her last interaction with her ex-husband and his mistress-turned-wifey-after-he-got-her-accidentally-pregnant-while-they-were-planning-a-family-that-year. She re-read the emails and realized how to mean she was to both of them, despite the cheating.

Cunts and Sociopaths

To my sociopathic ex-husband (cc’d mistress turned default wife): A few years ago you had a firecracker of a wife who always had ideas to go out, explore, & create things…she had wanted a job where she could network with adults, travel, and mix business with pleasure similar to your lifestyle,  and now you have a wife who is docile, will wait on you, and be your traditional wife to support your lifestyle like you had always wanted in me. I can never be that girl that stays home and waits for you…I am a wild one who can’t be tamed. I have too many ambitions and goals to be your doormat. Perhaps I will be so lucky as you to find a *MickyMouse like yours who will support my new business/traveling lifestyle. Congrats now that you are finally able to marry your mother.

To cunt (cc’d sociopath, cheater, trifling manipulator):   When you get your heart torn apart, you can’t ever say I never warned you. The evidence is there in the previous email. You have the copies of the checks I gave him, the recordings, and the email with the truth that he was lying to both of us the last 6 months of my marriage with him. You are a stupid CUNT for turning a blind eye and you deserve your pitiful tragic fate that will unfold in the years to come. I’ll be surprised if your happiness with him can outlast my history with him.


Her reply: Actually, I am not a mistress. I am *Damien’s wife. It was THE BEST decision I’ve made in my life.     Why should I relay anything to Damien, after being called a “rotting old mistress”? You might want to be careful about what you say. There are many women older than me.   We will not talk shit about you or your situation as we never have. We don’t need to stoop that low because we live with dignity. We also don’t need justification for how happy we are.

Angelie’s reply: You have no right to call me any names since I wasn’t the one who was sleeping around with your husband, CUNT.

Ex’s reply: Enough. I do not condone that kind of behavior towards anybody in my family. You used to be a teacher and you should know better than that. I can’t believe that you act this way and say the things you have said with your parents reading these emails. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Angelie’s reply: You can show the judge all the emails I wrote. It will all request for you to take action for your negligence. I will counter sue with personal injury and mental duress for this negligence of yours and bill you for all the bullshit u and your CUNT mistress got pregos default wife now to save your sorry face have put me through.

The back and forth between the attorneys seemed like college hazing. The back and forth between the couple seemed like a high school clique battle. It consumed all her life energy. It was pointless. 

It had been four years since they’ve exchanged those words. Today, however, Angelie re-read some of his points he made about her drinking, as if with sober goggles for the first time.

She started to cry. A surge of hatred, betrayal, and abandonment spiked through her body. Again, the turbulence. You would think she could level up through experience, build up some kind of immunity to it, but the shit never really gets weaker. It just bides its time and resurfaces when the opportunity arises. 

With 2 years of AA, a non-profit startup, and an “eat, pray, love” adventure behind her belt, Angelie had to do something. I still hate him. It’s been 4 years. I still hate her. How dare they. How cruel. Stupid cunt. Worthless sociopath.

She hits her knees. She’s sweating. Tears gushing out. A drool drip. Wailing.

“God, please use me. Break me down. Break me down to my bare bones,” she cries out. She curls into a ball.  

“Break that ego down,” she screams.   “Jesus, please break me down! Break me so open that I become soft again. Break this hard shell. I surrender my hatred. Make me like Gandhi, make me like MLK, make me like Mother Theresa. Use me. Please, God! Please use me,” she’s hysterical now.

Angelie stays there for another few minutes. Several moments went by. 

I am ready.

It took everything she had. Two years of on and off AA meetings, group therapy, Landmark, and church. With everything it took, she had crawled back.  The image of Kwesi calling Eric and Jonathan so he can tell them to their face that he forgives them for murdering his brother in cold blood. What courage.   Angelie’s situation isn’t even half as bad. What’s her excuse not to forgive?

9th Step

The first email was to her ex-husband:

Damien, I forgive you for cheating on me, lying to me and taking my money, and I apologize for calling you names. I was angry and hurt by the betrayal of the man whom I had loved.

Other than the fact that I had never cheated on you as a wife, I do admit to the following that I did at times:

  1. I was at times naggy and bossy
  2. I was at times impatient and mean.
  3. I was at times drunk and abusive.
  4. I was at times financially irresponsible.
  5. I was at times critical and judgmental
  6. I was at times not considerate of your feelings
  7. I was and still am an alcoholic.
  8. I did cheat on you twice prior to getting married. I flirted with other men when I was your wife.
  9. I had trouble taking responsibility for my own actions.
  10. There were a lot of personal challenges I was going through that were projected onto you during the last few years of our marriage and I didn’t seek personal help from it, and those were the consequences.

Having said that, Damien, based on the email two years ago, I’m glad to hear you have a woman in your life who exhibits the qualities you sought for.

She reads the definition of Love according to the Bible: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Based on that definition, I’ll admit that my actions didn’t always coincide with my words. That based on this definition, you have technically loved me more than I have loved you. During our relationship, you have exhibited kindness and patience towards me.

You never dishonored me in front of our friends and family. You were not easily angered and you kept no record of wrongs. You didn’t delight that I was hurt, and knowing who you really are, you probably hoped for the best for me. I do recall that you were crying and looking at me, hoping desperately that you could fall in love with me again. But God gave you someone who respected you, minded you. Someone who was patient. I wasn’t. Someone who was kind. I wasn’t. Not the last few years. It’s true that I easily attract men, but I realize that no matter who I was with, I still had to live with me–the spoiled inner child that didn’t want to take any responsibility–that acted on impulse and emotions. I wasn’t disciplined, especially when I was triggered. I didn’t seek coping tools for self-help, and I acted up when I was hot headed. Your wife’s right.

There are two sides to a story, and for the past year, I’ve been realizing your side of the story more. The truth is Damien, based on the definition of Love, you have loved me more than I have loved you in the relationship we were in. Now I understand why you hated during the divorce, even though you had left the relationship. I had blamed you for being a coward, but you just didn’t know what you were doing ––how to transition out of one turbulent marriage into a peaceful one. You fell in love with the beauty, the free spirit, the adventurous girl in me, but you were afraid of the other me, who was violent, mean, and abusive. You couldn’t trust me to raise your children when you were ready for a family. It wasn’t fair that you were made out to look like the bad guy when I was being the bad girl tucked behind the disguise of the woman who was cheated on in the marriage. I also realized that you loved me more than I had loved you. I became bossy and demanding, self-serving, and full of misguided self-righteousness ––like the world owed me something. The world doesn’t owe me anything.

Perhaps it’s time that I actually started loving you. And part of that love is hoping, trusting, and protecting your light spirit. I’m not perfect by all means, but at least now, I am more aware of it. I’m very grateful for the years you’ve contributed to my life. You were responsible, you provided, and you did your best to protect me and serve me. I think you did a great job, and I can only imagine what a great father you are becoming. When I was with Newton, it was like being in a relationship with myself, and I finally understood why. He and I were both bipolar, alcoholics. I get it now. I couldn’t tolerate living with myself either. I tried for 9 months and broken up with the man 3 times. We’re so creative, talented, charming and yet unpredictable, mean, and at times, abusive. Now I know that you just needed to find a woman who loved you, who stabilized you, who gave you a sense of peace and purpose.

Hey, I don’t blame you anymore. Prior to our separation, you and I both had prayed. You prayed that you would have a family and God gave you a family. I prayed for adventure, freedom, and a breaking down of a superficial existence, and that’s where  am. I’ve gone through the deep end and back, hiked the Inca trail, went on a Wanderlust east coast quest, snowboarded up and down the west coast, traveled to New Orleans, shot a few musicians in concerts, gone off the deep end in mental wards, found grace and acceptance in AA, got involved in the silicon beach tech scene, had consorted with men of all flavors, cultures, etc., and now I’m starting from scratch again with a non-profit organization. One day, I’d like to start a family and fall in love again, with a wedding, not a taxidermist office. For awhile I was looking for men that were completely your opposite–adventurous, non-committal, exciting, etc. I got to admit–it didn’t balance. Two crazies don’t make a normal.

 Like Adele, if I could find someone like you, it would be a second dream come true. We really fell hard for each other didn’t we? Those 7 years. Our best years. College, early career, new found independence. This time, I’ll get to show up as a mature, responsible, patient, and kind partner, with the right amount of spunk, courage, and beauty I’ve always had. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but this letter is just to acknowledge you for your truth. I’m sorry your father passed. I pray your mother is doing well. Kind thoughts to your daughter and “the wife” (inside joke).

God bless, Angelie

The Second Email was to her Woman who Married her Ex-husband

Hi Micky,

I forgive you for seducing and sleeping with Damien while we were still married. I admit, I do have my faults. The last few years I was with him, I was at times verbally, emotionally, and even physically abusive to him, especially when I was drunk. I’m glad he has found someone who doesn’t have an alcoholic problem.

I don’t know anything about you, but if you are more patient than I was to Damien, more kind than I was, more understanding, grounding, nurturing, and attentive to his needs, then I’m happy and grateful for you. I’m sorry for calling you all sorts of names. You’re right. I don’t know anything about you. Zilch.

You’re also right: there are three sides to a story since there was 3 people involved 3 years ago. Now you have a new 3, and I’ve since moved on. However, I never apologized for my part, which is the part where I criticized, judged, and labeled you for your actions. Only God judges. It’s not up to me. And that man you sleep with every night was the man I used to love. That man who I took for granted you now have. I never really loved him. Not by the definition in the bible anyway. It brings me joy to know that you love him the way he deserves to be loved.

God bless, Angelie

It was then and there, Angelie decided that she wouldn’t bite into the poison apple anymore. From this point forward, she’ll be eating pears.

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