Alice Walker

“[T]he planting of trees demonstrates a clear intention to have a future and a definite disinterest in war.” (Excerpted from the short story “China.”)
tree-of-lifeAlice Walker also wrote, I read once on a book jacket, “Having been so dissatisfied with my own and the world’s shortcomings, I would have thought myself a suicide by 30.”

Me, too.

I’m paraphrasing her second sentiment. Typically, when a quote strikes me, I can Google it as it comes to mind later, to repeat ver batim, but I’ve never been able to find that one. It bothers me, because I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so understood – and okay, as a result of shared troubles – as I did in that moment.

When I finish the stack of books I collected at random from the community exchange I once worked in, I’m going to devote my time to her bibiography. Isn’t is remarkable that people from such disparate backgrounds, generations, and experience, can be so similarly simply human?

(I’m obsessed with leaves and trees. I’ve hand-sewn hundreds of leaves over the years and attached them to costumes of every type. I even stitched more than a hundred to a sheet to make a tent cover into a treehouse, to which I attached a dozen or more birds and butterflies. Eventually, it got too heavy for the tent to stand under its weight, and now works as a great camping blanket. It’s so beautiful. It always makes me happy.)
treehouse 2treehouse

Advertisements

Dreaming of Wherever…

It has to be a city, or even just a big town. A college town. Not for youth, but for Community Ed, and… feel.

Just the other day, Boise occurred to me. It would be really easy, not far at all. I’ve been a little overwhelmed by the drive alone, with those old lady cats of mine. I never considered Boise, because of the trauma I experienced there.

I swear to God! What is that?!

I look at patterns. If it keeps happening to me, then I’m the common denominator. It’s on me to figure out what I’m doing to attract, create, permit, or aggravate… whatever. But I had nothing to do with a random Boise State housing assignment to a coed apartment inhabited by, among others, a pervert who tried to kill me!

The fuck? How does this keep happening to me?

I’ve accepted that the chaos of my childhood has kept me glued to chaos as a kind of touchstone. I simply don’t understand it if it doesn’t hurt. It’s my job to divorce myself from that connection. If I don’t, I won’t stop repeating it. But I had nothing to do with meeting Roger T. Black, or with putting him in prison. He did that.

I’m also not responsible for a sexist institution that dismissed me and ignored reasonable complaints of alarming, disturbing behavior. “Histrionics of a woman” is such an unbearable insult. (The word itself! Hyster  – Greek – “Of the womb” = hysteria.)

“Oh, go on now. Silly, dramatic girl,” Boise State “said” to me, practically patting my pretty little head. That mentality pisses OFF!

I don’t think about it often. Almost never. When I do, I’m mad all over again that my parents didn’t direct me to sue that fucking school. Boise State endangered me, for real. I cannot believe I took out student loans for the privilege! Then I flunked out! I’m an A student, if you hadn’t guessed. If I’m doing it, I’m doing it well.

Fuck Boise State! I should have been compensated for the crime they committed against me.  They permitted that man to live with students and then took and hid the proof I gave them that he was a sexual predator!

Roger T. Black was a obese, gangrenous diabetic in his 50s (You could smell his dying flesh!) He rode around barefoot in a jazzy power chair and probably died in prison. (In fact, I’m sure he got better care in the hoosegow than he provided himself.) (And he only got 3 years for Disturbing the Peace, because he didn’t actually pull the trigger, just told the neighbor he was going to. When the police broke down his door and hauled him off, they found an arsenal of weapons and ammunition, and detailed plans of my murder drawn up in his room. As well as buckets full of his waste. He only used the girls bathroom to masturbate in, leaving a pile of cigarette ash to identify the deposit as his. Oh, he almost burned down the building, too. There were holes burned into his carpet from the many times he passed out smoking. Thanks, Boise State, for checking up on me after months of abuse and weeks of reports, evidence, and complaints.)

How did he even get near campus? He was a sexual predator, using his GI Bill – still – to “go to school,” with its endless bevy of victims. Hell, Housing will serve them up, right across the hall. BSU didn’t skip due diligence; they didn’t do any! Then they humored me when I brought aggressive, dangerous harassment to their attention, until Roger T. Black nearly killed me! Actually almost killed me. As in, he had a plan to kill me.

I could have sued them for millions, and I should have. I will never not be pissed about that. Fuck not being litigious as a sort of religious moral stance. I’m your daughter!

That said, Boise’s lovely. 🙂

The weather is similar to Salt Lake without the inversion. There’s a huge Burner community, so I can find like-minded artistic weirdos, and I’m still close enough to attend Utah events. Huge belly dance community. Several troupes commute here twice a year to perform in Salt Lake’s biannual festivals. Huge African Drum & Dance Corp. They come to our annual camp every year and invite us to their events. And Boise is probably Idaho’s only southern town not completely right-wing zombified. At least no more than I’m used to.

Boise is an hour-and-twenty from mom (and my darling toddler nephews). There are some former-Mormon high school friends in Boise to meet up with. I can visit Marko for blank drums and didgeridoo fests and general laughs. Hell, I’ll see all my Salt Lake friends more often if a visit is an occasion. It always works out that way.

Boise??? Wow! Why not!?

Spokane? Pueblo, Colorado, popped up. (?) New Mexico? (Close to Texas.)

Speaking of Texas, flights were too expensive to visit my bestie during Christmas, so I’m headed down there for a week on Jan. 10. I’m so excited to see that baby!!! She’ll be 4-and-a-half months then. She belly laughs and chatters, and holds such enchanting attention. Her 4-yr-old sister is in love with her, and interprets her coos.

I was laughing yesterday, because I sent all of my childhood Strawberry Shortcake dolls to my best friend’s daughter for Christmas. It was a little hard to do. I’ve saved them for almost 40 years! They were intended for my kids, but even when it became clear that I wasn’t having any of those… oh, my dolls! I’ve had them my whole life! The care that went into that collection! They’re pristine. They are loved, still.

Yesterday, I Googled “vintage Strawberry Shortcake coloring books,” because the 4-yr-old doesn’t even know their names. (Shame on my best friend!) This was another reason I struggled with what had already been a difficult decision to part with those ever-loving dolls. I knew my bestie, who played with them just as I did in the 80s, wouldn’t remember anything about them (much less everything). I know her little daughter has far too many toys for one child (or 10) and my dolls have already been lost in the mix. They are not being valued properly! (I loved them.) But I had them in a box, in a box. Packed away in my cedar chest for decades, bringing no one even a moment’s joy. They are more valuable being played with by a 4-yr-old I love, even when they’re forgotten by her tomorrow.

So, I thought she and I could have all sorts of fun with a naming ceremony, and meet all the other friends that aren’t in my collection, by coloring together. What I found instead were sales of nearly $40 on dolls in worse shape than the ones I passed down. I had to laugh. A play date with a little girl in Texas has more value than a dollar sign.

I’ll keep telling myself that until it’s true, haha!

Merry Xmas! Love, Xie

****

I’m looking forward to 2018. I didn’t think it was possible for anything to suck harder than 2016, after Dump’s election win (God, that hurt!), but a whole year of that man is too terrible to imagine. I mean it when I describe his presidency as an exercise in imagination. Doesn’t it feel that way to you? Like a bleak dystopian novel that can’t be real? We’ve all had to go numb just to get up in the morning! It does scare me a little to inure myself so completely. I mean, that’s how the apocryphal “it” happens. But, worst case scenario, he’s out in 3 years. (I still describe that election cycle as akin to an abusive relationship. And it’s the new normal!)

I gotta say, I never dreamed I’d be the old lady who said, “The world was too terrible a place to bring a child into,” but I feel it. Not just environmental catastrophe, disregard for human rights, indifference to rape, and near-daily mass shootings. How do we explain the dissonance between the way we ask our children to behave and the cruelty and deceit of our own nation’s leaders?

Not even those horrifying things. Parenting in the cyber age is beyond my imagination and emotional endurance. That alone. You cannot undo what gets online. The bullying there transcends my ability to understand, and I wouldn’t want to face sexting with my pre-teen. Every modern parent will. I’m out, and I’m relieved.

As a childless woman, I will never cry the tears of the damned. Worry and pain for your children is worse than anything we soloists endure alone. I can get through anything. Motherhood is its own brand of terror and heartache. I’m not sorry to avoid it.

That’s not to say that fighting against the final slamming shut of that door didn’t hurt like hell. It was hell to finally learn the plot to that story. I’m nobody’s mother. Ouch.

Jax was my attempt to slip a sperm past that gate, and that recalls Jax ‘n’ Carrie, the real reason 2017 can suck it. They nearly killed me, and they knew it. It was obvious how sick I was. I confessed as much the innumerable times I begged to be left alone – begged – and Jax was there when I swallowed a bunch of pills. I haven’t been that close to suicide since my 20s. I wouldn’t have survived them then.

Oh. That was awful. It makes me sad to remember, and I remain incredulous.

Thank god for Guys & Dolls! Praise my courage and tenacity! And talent, and beauty, and vision. I really like about me that I can find worth and beauty in damn near everything. So I keep finding it.

2018 is a true new beginning. Everything I look at and touch will be new. I’m terrified, and so excited. 2018 is the year I trust my strength, stop testing it [in unhealthy ways], and enjoy my fucking awesome life!

Happy New Year. It’s a good one this year. I hope yours is, too.

****

Oh! I forgot a photo of my most recent drum, and a whole new direction that I love!
drum
12″ on wood frame with mallet
details

It’s Over

I’m back at work – and online – for the first time since the move on Sunday.

Saturday was the culmination of all their efforts to make me pay. Officers had advised me to film them whenever they attacked me, but I didn’t know when that would be. Mostly, it was just mockery, gloating, and name-calling as I passed from room to room, if I left mine. I didn’t want to aggravate them further by recording every time I walked out, so I did my best not to, which was always their goal, to impede my ability to move freely and to make this as stressful and agonizing for me as possible.

I had given Jax my rehearsal schedule. He knew I only had Fridays and Sundays to pack. So there they were. Every weekend.

I packed the house after rehearsals and Fridays before they came “home” after the workweek, and worked in my room weekends. They spent both nights only once – that wasted weekend of late summer lightning, trashing my dishes, and box theft (#4f) – but they were there Fridays ’til late, overnight every Saturday, and throughout Sunday. Only twice did they “prep the house.” They were there to eat, drink, and make-out during movies. Sharing a house, unnecessarily, with the ex-girlfriend. For their honeymoon.

?????????????

The final hateful push was a campaign nearly as brutal as the first, and I fucked up. That woman literally blocked my movement in and out of the kitchen WITH HER BODY, twice, the night before my movers arrive and I have no choice but to get this done; I cannot hide in my room tonight. That makes 3 times she’s hindered me in some part of the home. Admittedly, it was far more egregious when she had me pinned against a table, captive in my bedroom – unwell, triggered, terrified, BEGGING – with her hand jabbing in my face and her husband blocking my exit behind her, but here she was again, obstructing unfettered movement through the home I legally occupy!

Jax had really been working me, every time I walked through any room, with every tedious little thing, like, “Did you take the garbage can?”

“I bought it when I moved in, stored the lid in the garage to keep it clean.”

“Did you take the tray with the ‘H’ on it?”

“It had been donated and was never mine to give you.”

“Just taking back another gift,” he snarked.

“I’ve given it back to the charity from whom I had no right to take it.” (I left a beautiful  mirrored tray – same size – in its place. He was getting rid of it when I moved in. I cleaned it up and loved it, but I want nothing from that house.)

*giggle giggle, She’s pathetic, darling, giggle giggle*

At one point, Talking Heads were playing when Carrie loudly crowed, “Darling, this is my faaaavorite love song, ever,” just in time to sing along. “Home… is where I want to be…”

*giggle giggle, slurpy slurpy, giggle giggle*

Just the most bizarre woman I’ve ever, heard. And a little pitchy. I do have to say, though, I enjoyed that paltry display of blissful glee, because it showed me something lacking. Girl can’t belly laugh. That guffaw was forced and creepy. Hey, not everyone laughs with their whole body. That’s fine. But she so desperately needs me to see her in this happy, exultant light, and her boisterous attempt was just… fake.

The other thing she did that amused me… I’m not kidding when I tell you, she’s nothing but an eye-roll to me. Like, why do you need me so badly? She is desperate for my attention and envy, puffs herself up whenever I’m near. It’s weird. Who cares? You will never see or hear from this stranger again. And I’m “pitiful,” remember? “Irrational.” What does my opinion matter? Why do you need the admiration of a pathetic woman?

Jax was bottling beer in the kitchen. She was oohing and ahh-ing over this craft and that. “Oh, darling! I love this one.”

“It has a note of cherry.”

“I can taste it, darling,” I’m hearing as I’m in-and-out from my bedroom to the growing pile of boxes in the front half of the living area, outside my door.

Conversation shifted, however, the moment it became clear to her that my attention was fixed for a time within earshot. Her volume increased and out of the blue, she says to her new husband, who’s enjoying a hobby, an avocation, a pursuit of pleasure, “Maybe you could come to my work and see what I do.”

There had been no related discussion of employment or anything having to do with tasks of life. Jax was showing her son how to sterilize bottle caps, and Carrie was sitting at the table, “darling” and drinking.

Apropos of nothing, “Maybe you could come to my work and see what I do.”

“Oh,” he asked excitedly. “Do they have an observation area?”

“No,” she admitted. (Then, one may wonder, why would you invite him to watch what he can’t see?) “But,” she continued. “I have to suit up to be in a 60 degree operatory…”

I went about my business and … rolled my eyes. I know you have a solid skill. I respected you once as a woman starting her life over after tragedy. Then I got to know you. Now all I see is desperation and hate, and fake fake fake fake fake.

So back to her blocking me.

At one point, Carrie was climbing the kitchen entryway. You know, just playing and larking about, but I approached and she didn’t come down. I don’t make eye-contact with her, ever. I don’t say a word. But I waited, and she remained there, suspended.

Whatever. I ducked beneath her, changed my laundry, ducked back, and walked on.

About an hour later, same thing, only this time, she’s sitting in the archway, legs up. I approached and asked neutrally, “May I?”

“Oh!” she paused, feigning surprise. “Yeah,” she answered poisonously.

She bent her knees, lowering her feet 3 inches max, forcing me to climb over her and drop into a sunken kitchen. I waited. Those feet weren’t moving further.

Grow the fuck up! What is wrong with these people!?

It’s non-stop degradation, sarcasm, and show-boating every time I pass, and now this? Again? I mean, I know it’s not the same as imprisoning me in my bedroom while you thrust your finger in my face and yell at me to get out of your house, and I am closer to stable on my meds, but it’s just so disrespectful. They’re RUDE!

I don’t understand how they’re not embarrassed to accuse me of everything they’re guilty of. Unnecessarily, to boot! At the end of the day, what are you doing here? You have an apartment. I live here until October 1st, because YOU designated my move-out date, and I found a home accordingly. I cannot believe they think I’m in the wrong, when just showing up every weekend has proven my point.

So I rolled my eyes, plunked over her, and muttered under my breath, “Fuck you.”

Oh, fuck. Oh, Christie. Oh fuck!

I avoided it all month. It’s what they were gunning for, and I walked into the shootout. They were ON ME. Stupidly, I proceeded to the laundry room, which is just a tiny utility closet off the kitchen, when Jax roared, “Whoa, whoa, whoa!”

I about-faced and booked it past him to my room. Carrie was up immediately and, just like the first weekend, chasing me. “FUCK YOU!”

“Fuck you, you bitch!” I yelled back and locked the door. Oh, Christie! Goddammit!

I stayed put for as long as I could, then figured, well, hell, I’ve done it now. I have to finish this. The only way to stay safe is to leave the room with the video recording, so I did. They followed me to the laundry room, where I got something that could be counted as evidence – although what it proves to me is just how very calculated this has all really been. I knew it, but, wow. The difference in their behavior was marked, when they knew it could be used against them.

I got heated and emotional when Jax accused me of pushing his bride that first weekend. She had me pinned in a backbend over a table in a room with no exit, and a husband filling the door frame behind her! All I remember is ducking under his armpit and running for my life. He intentionally filled that space, hands shoulder-height on the door frame, for maximum effect. Carrie not only followed me down the sidewalk, but took a left turn to continue the chase down a dead-end alley!

To this day, I consider it a miracle that my phone was right there. I don’t even remember grabbing it. And still I didn’t call the police! Still, I tried not to make trouble! I called my mother. “HANG UP AND CALL THE POLICE.”

Only when I heard her voice did I perceive the urgency. I was blind with panic, simply reacting and begging for relief.

On video, Carrie called me evil and vengeful, repeatedly, and expressed pity. Every time Jax started up, she “soothed him” quick! She could keep herself from screaming and swearing on record, but not him. And she knew it. That woman is all an act.

She criticized my hateful energy, repeatedly, and I got snide. “This? is not loving, dear.” (Christie, just don’t.) In truth, I’m pleased with how well I ignored them. I responded to very little over the last 4 weeks. (But she’s just so dumb!)

“You don’t know me!” she shot back, “But I’ve seen your behavior!” With not one thought to her own. I stood there mostly silent, recording her refusal to leave her worldview long enough to see herself yelling and pointing at a woman pinned in a closet.

“We’re both guilty,” I confessed, “but you fail to see the mirror. And that just amazes me.” That ended her, and she retreated to their room.

She did tell me to “grow some balls” as she walked away, still yelling back at me and “not dealing with it anymore.” (You never had to deal with it. You brought it. Go home.)

First, no self-respecting modern woman says such a stupid, sexist thing anymore. (Trust me when I tell you that 90% of her show has been full-on 1950s Stepford.)

Second, why would I need balls if you’re not attacking me? Is that a confession?

Finally, you have no idea the courage the last month, summer, and year have required of me. You have no idea who I am, or the power, daring, and strength in my wheelhouse. I’ve seen your behavior, too, and I’m strong enough to take responsibility for my part, get better, and never get here again.

Since meeting that woman, I’ve had to dig deeper than ever before in my life. It’s done.
I survived.

****

The next morning, Jax was up with me – at 6:30am – to govern and meddle. My colleagues arrived at 7:00. I thought he’d be civil for show, as he has been whenever a potential witness was present, but I suppose now that I had the footage of the previous night, it made no difference if there was an audience. ???

My co-worker had pulled up on the park strip in our work truck. Sure enough, Jax starts sniping about it. Then Joe comes out of the cab, recognizes Jax – he’d helped move me in 2 years ago, knows nothing of the drama – and, friendly man that he is, reaches out a hand and a Good-Morning-Hey!-How are you?

“Don’t bother,” I warned him. “He’s upset you’re on the lawn.”

Joe began to apologize. “Don’t worry about it,” I cut him short. “Let’s just get it done. Don’t talk to him. He’s not a friend. Just, let’s go!”

I had no expectation that Jax would start in on my movers, and I was nervous now.

When I rushed into the house, Jax asked my colleague if I had instructed him to pull up on the lawn. Give me an ever-loving break!

Later, he followed me out to the truck again, needling me about contact info for the upcoming utility bills. “Oh, Jax.” (Come on.) “You know my email address.”

Ridiculous, these people! Tiresome, unnecessary, punitive, juvenile, MEAN, and not the tiniest bit aware. Just cruel and petty. How are they not embarrassed?

And what do I care now?

With 3 men and me darting in, out and about like a blur, we had my kit-and-caboodle packed in no time, and on the road! I was close to tears several times, feeling their love and support. I’ve been so alone in this experience. Their kindness and generosity gave me courage when I lacked it, and faith in the world and my ability to reintegrate into a decent population of everyday folk just going about their lives. Soon!

I’m so grateful. Those good men saved me Sunday. (In honor of Carrie’s advice to grow balls, I bought water, granola bars, and nut sacks to feed my crew.)

When we finished unloading at the new place, I asked my boss to come back with me to collect the kitties. I knew it would be an ordeal to gather Penny, who is wily and hard to catch. And under their bed, I knew it. I was terrified to be alone.

Mark took my hand, put his arm around me and squeezed me tight. “Of course I will. Whatever you need.”

I guess I needed to cry then, because they rolled, those tears. And rolled again.

I’m blessed.

****

So… about the bills. I do have a question for the blogosphere. Mostly, I’m just free-writing here – especially now, to survive this month – for the purpose of workshopping my experience aloud, as it were. Helps me to sort through emotions, plans, patterns. But I really don’t know what to do with this idea.

I know Jax is planning to scan and email the bills. At this point, I think I should also scan and email my bill for at least one crisis visit to the ER. We got me there together. I think it’s right to deduct half of that from whatever I’ll owe on utilities. It never occurred to me until this last push, but… yeah. I didn’t do it alone.

There was another visit to the ER, but it was for pain. Turns out, I was having a panic attack and all I could think to do was drink water. I was pissing clear, as they say, but I legitimately felt parched, and as the pain increased, I believed that water would flush my system and help me somehow. When I got to the ER, they pushed 2 liters of saline, telling me my sodium was “impressively low.” The doctor told me, too, that I had almost no potassium in my blood, and low electrolytes generally. He literally prescribed olives and bananas for the next week(s), and ordered me to drink Gatorade.

He also recommended I permit a social worker to talk to me about anxiety. I may have written about this already, but I can’t believe it took me ’til 44 to realize that I get rolling panic attacks! I mean, I try to take responsibility for myself and I think I have a modicum of self-awareness, but I had no idea! Shocking, to be so… yeah, unaware.

I declined the “crisis visit” designation, because I just wanted to go home at that point. It had been hours. I was out of pain, but cold and exhausted. So I couldn’t sue Jax for his half of that, although it was definitely a result of the choice we made together to go off my medication.

I’ve talked to my nurse practitioner. As soon as I close my show, we’re adding another smidge of pharma to get a better handle on yet more tiny pieces flying loose from my psyche. Til then, I can’t risk not knowing what another psychotropic drug will do to my ability to memorize. Or balance.

So here’s the question. Do I pay him, or not? Part of me wants to ignore it. I owe him nothing. That is my belief. They terrorized me, and you can’t put a price tag on that. Except you can. I figure, worst case scenario is they’ll sue me in small claims. They’ll have me served at work, and I can counter-sue for the cost of my medical bills – and full punitive under the law, $2000. I feel like that would be fair compensation for what they did to me. I see them as people who tried to help kill a suicidal woman.

I pleaded for my life that first day. I was humiliated to reveal such vulnerable truths to a woman with no care for me, for the access to cruelty it might give her down the line – and just the stigma, in general – but I was terrified as she chased me down the street. I reminded her of her own connection to mental illness, her personal knowledge of its deadliness. “You are scaring me,” I begged that day. “PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE!”

And they kept at it for a month, delighted with themselves and their power to persecute. I think they’re murderers. “Grow some balls”? Woman, you have no idea how strong I am. Had I killed myself this September, the note would have had your new name on it.

On the other hand, blowing off bills will be seen as confirmation, the slap-in-the-face they crave to abdicate shared guilt. I don’t care what they think of me, but it would drag out our disgusting alliance.

I could simply sever the connection, pay, and put them on the road behind me. But I think what they did was deadly, damn-near-criminal, and I am PAID IN FULL.

What would you do?

Four For Four

I had really hoped – and moderately anticipated – that, knowing I’m leaving Sunday, they’d leave me alone-ish this weekend. Instead, Jax’s behavior is second in brutality only to the 1st weekend, when this long assault began. He’s relentless.

This morning, I had a friend coming over to pick up and store some large items I hope to sell, or move to a roomier place in the future. Jax decided I had done property damage to a cheap door with an even cheaper coat of paint. I damaged a chair, too, which belongs to him, he yelled, and I’m “not to remove any property from the premises.”

“You wanted to donate that chair when I moved in, and I gave you $20 for it.”

I don’t have a receipt. It never happened. Fine, keep your chair. Fewer reminders.

But he wasn’t done screaming. I should have just paid him when he offered a “deal” on future utility bills, because now the heat is going to be ridiculous. “You leave it running at [blanking] 80 degrees when you’re not even home!”

“I had the heat below 70 all night and turned it to 76,” I answered calmly, “so it would stay on during my shower and get a jump on the house temp.”

He knows how low I run it overnight, even in winter. I had gone for 5 minutes to get coffee for my friend and me, and forgotten to turn it down. He was home when I got back, and he’d found something “real” to fault.

I took the bait. I lost it. I told him to go ahead and sue me for the utilities. I’d counter-sue for half my medical costs when I was sick, and full civil punitive for pain and suffering. I screamed at him all over again for intentionally inflicting mental duress. I don’t know that I’ve ever screamed like that. I wish I hadn’t, but I just lost it!

LEAVE ME ALONE.

He knew how sick I was. The look in his eyes at every confrontation over the last 4 weekends haunts me. He loves it!

The thing is, he knew I was suicidal, wrestled a pill bottle out of my hands this spring. It’s much worse, in my heart, than kicking a woman when she’s down. It’s getting her down, and then dealing the death blow while she’s down there. That’s how this has felt to me. And he just keeps doing it, weekend after weekend.

He knew his behavior could kill me. He could see, that first attack, that I was more frantic and terrified than I’d ever been before, even more than when I started swallowing a handful of pills that day in April and went to the hospital.

And he keeps at it. Every weekend. Cursing, mocking, utter hatred. Delight.

He loves it! His face, the sadistic delight. I can’t unsee it. And I just lost it.

I screamed today. I don’t remember yelling like that, ever. Even in my violent childhood.

He laughed and laughed. I’ve been in my room bawling. I haven’t eaten all day.

I tried so hard to stay above this. I cannot believe what a sick, cruel, petty man he is.

Jax spent the rest of a beautiful late season day to… stick around and keep me stuck in my room? Every time I walk out, he starts again. Last year, this was his busiest time.

I threw some things in my car and drove to work to donate them, just to get out of the house. I thought about grabbing fast food, but it’s making me sick again. I was excited on my day off to make a yummy, healthy dish – and hoping he’d have gone home to his loving family by the time I returned. Instead, she had joined him here. With the kid.

I’m starving, and terrified that they’re going to spend the night tonight AND tomorrow, just to stick it to me as hard as they can before I go.

I’ll never be the same. I know I’ll be alright. The biggest improvement will come on Sunday, just getting away from the fear of “What/When/How bad/How long…?” The rest will be continued healing, but I’ll never be the same. I’m changed.

Something broke this time, deep inside. I’m not the same.

I never thought I could feel regret like this again. After each relationship – good or bad – I’ve been able to appreciate and enjoy them, able to remember the love or the learning. Except one, who nearly killed me when I was 22. 22 years later, I’m leaving Jax, who has proven much worse than the man half my life ago. 2 men. At 22, and 22 years later.

When I realized it, I cried and cried. I begged the angels, “Please don’t take my beloved 222! Please, I can’t! Don’t poison my 222. I love my 222! I need my 222.”

Near-suicide after both. The scary difference is that suicide is sad when a person is young. She had so much promise, potential, intelligence, beauty, talent. If only she’d held on to learn that it gets better. When a middle-aged woman dies of mental illness, hey, I tried. I found out. I have an illness that kills people.

Why is it okay when a person dies of diabetes or cancer, but not mental illness? We all get or have something. With my disease, I might decide someday when I’m done, and it’s still just an illness. We all die.

Not today, but I don’t have delusions about the danger. Neither do I believe anymore that my condition improves over time. I’m worse now than I was 22 years ago, with no hope, fewer options, less money, faded beauty, and now serious, chronic physical pain.

I joke that I’m far too spiteful to kill myself. “I’ll die before suicide kills me!”

It’s probably still true. I am a Taurus, and there simply isn’t stubbornness like that in another sign. “I’ll be damned if…” is a very Taurean motivation. Little can threaten my determination to get through it, by god, but I don’t know the future. I don’t want to kill myself. I don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t want this pain.

It took time but I was able, at last, to put my spin on that devastating perversion of my beloved 222. Now, I see it a wake up call to appreciate my vulnerability, and understand that I must always take care. It’s not enough to coast along in moderate health, or delude myself that I’m fine because “I’m not a tortured kid anymore.”

I have an illness that requires maintenance and vigilance, all my life. Okay is no longer good enough. The Universal Smackdown came to tell me: The time is now to choose optimum, and do the work to achieve it.

First, I have to get out of here.

I really believe the angels are telling me that it’s now or never. For years, I’ve been feeling the shift, the urgency of the work. DO IT, CHRISTIE. That’s what I started this blog for. What I’ve done instead is catalog years of me repeating the dynamic of my childhood in nearly every relationship and experience I have. It isn’t up to me what happened in my youth. It’s only up to me what happens now.

I must figure out how to flip that switch, and stop attracting and creating such ugliness.

I’m in so much pain.

I just can’t believe what Jax can do and say to a woman whose health is so precarious, when he shares 50/50 responsibility for risking that health, and 100% responsibility for abandoning her when she got sick.

Worse, he brutalized me before my meds could take full effect, knowing exactly where I was on that timeline. We were still “friends.” I thought he cared about my recovery. He helped me fall; It followed logic and love to lean on him.

Jax has known all along that his behavior had more power to do damage, precisely because of where I am mentally and emotionally. Further, he knows the layers of family trauma that coat every nerve he’s pounced on.

He knows what he’s doing. My meds might have kicked in by now, if not for constant abuse. He knows I’ve been having panic attacks, and crying for months. He enjoys it.

I just don’t understand.

Four For Four … 444 … 44  … Sturdy and built-to-last, solid, strong … 2×22 … 2222222222222222 … The first angelic hello I heard. “We’ve got you.”

Oh fucking kay.

Today Is A Bad Day

Unfortunately, it was not a little to-do about Tenants Rights. It was a bloody mess that included an ambush by 2 people emboldened by their union and united in their desire to make me pay for not being easy and sweet when my heart is ripped out of my body during a deep, deep Depression.

They came to my room and stood 2-deep side by side to tell me how it was going to be now that she’s the property owner. The exit was fully blocked. I told Jax we had a contract and I found a place accordingly, available on Oct. 1. They both began to fight me and I shot back immediately, “I’m not emotionally equipped to discuss this with you. The law is the law. Please leave me alone.”

They did not.

I told them, “I’m back on my medication, but not yet stable. I’m very emotional and vulnerable. I feel threatened. Please leave me alone.”

They didn’t.

I begged them, “Please STOP! I’m starting to panic! Please leave me alone!”

When I tried to shut the bedroom door, his wife pushed it back in on me and stepped inside. I started yelling, “Get OUT of my room! You are not my landlord!”

“She’s my wife,” Jax gloated. “This is her house.”

“Your name’s not on the mortgage,” I informed her. “I’ve never payed you rent. I don’t even know your last name. Get out of my space!”

Carried rushed through another threshold door to my sunroom, where there’s only 2 or 3 feet for me to back away. I was pinned. And now I was triggered. “You are violating my privacy! I am not equipped to discuss highly-charged issues with you! You are scaring me! PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE!”

She had her hands in my face, telling me how this is gonna happen now. I covered my ears and screamed, “I AM AFRAID OF YOU! GET OUT OF MY ROOM! YOU ARE BREAKING THE LAW! YOU CANNOT PREVENT MY EXIT! LEAVE ME ALONE LEAVE ME ALONE LEAVE ME ALONE! GET OUT!!!!!”

I paused to hear her still telling me what’s what and see her still wagging her hands in my face. “I’m calling the cops if you don’t leave my personal space. You are violating my sacred space. I don’t have to listen to you. Get OUT!”

I heard her say, “I don’t mean you harm.” (Her finger was still in my face.)

“You’re doing harm! This has nothing to do with you! It’s a contract. You can’t change that. I’m doing the best I can. GET OUT!”

They didn’t.

“I’m calling the cops! LEAVE!”

She continued. The derision and delight on Jax’s face behind her terrified me. He was so satisfied to show her the shitshow produced by clinical Anxiety. See? 

So I pushed past them both and ran outside. I didn’t want to make a scene. I’m so embarrassed that this is my life. I called my mom. I’m not thinking clearly. What do I do?

Carried followed me outside! Right when my mom answered, “Oh my gosh, MOM. Jax got married and they’re evicting me. She’s following me!”

I turned down an alley. She FOLLOWED. “What do I do? What do I do?”

“CALL THE COPS,” my mother instructed me.

The alley turns into dry grass and then an impass, so I turned and ran around Carrie, full run now, screaming, “I am begging! I am vulnerable! I am sick! I have an illness! I’m not currently stable! I can’t have this conversation! You are terrifying me!” Jax has told me things about her I should never know, so I begged. “You have a personal and tragic understanding of how deadly serious mental illness is! STOP HARRASSING ME!”

I called the cops. So did Jax.

(Her son’s father killed himself in April, and here she is 5 months later, chasing a sick, terrified, suicidal woman – begging to be left alone – down the street.)

They told them to stay out of my private room, and all of us to speak respectfully and give space in shared areas. Jax walked up while I was speaking to the officers to intimidate me and control the narrative! They just spent 20 minutes talking to them together, a couple united against a crazy woman. I mean, what a joke, eh, officer?

I’m still mad that the police let him stay and listen. I asked them to remove him. I told them he was there to intimidate. I had respected the newlywed’s time.

This woman. Jax’s wife. Evil. I had put my intention and blessings into the picture of a nice mid-western girl who’s been through some trauma. She escaped an abusive relationship and left the “scene of the crime,” as it were, got that boy out of the state where his Daddy – whatever that relationship might have been – ended it. I admired and respected her. I saw a woman who was starting over, and met a nice guy at a party.

True, it was painful for me and I didn’t handle it well all the time, but I never bore her ill will. I struggled with Jax, but ultimately loved him and wanted his happiness, too. Whenever I could, I pictured them successful, finding peace and joy together.

She actually took her hair out of her ponytail and was flipping it around from side to side like a teenager, for the cops. She never stopped playing with her hair, unless her hand was on her hip, to hip to hip to hip, and back while she threw her head back and laughed loud enough for me to hear. Repeatedly. I was agog. I mean, it was so shameless, I’d worry the police would see through it and dismiss me outright. Play the innocent, sure, but this! She beamed and wiggled, giggled and chatted it up like they were her first guests in the new home she owns. It was scary.

When I walked back into the house with the police’ reassurance that they understood they couldn’t get me out “tonight” – Are they stupid? – and they’d been instructed to leave me alone, I happened to accidentally catch her eye when I approached the front door. (Jax’s access is in back, which is really the side.) There she was smoking, foot up on a chair, looking jubilant and disgusted, shaking her head through the sneer. I was a piece of trash under her shoe, and it was ON.

A bad man will hit you. A bad woman will fuck your life.

She’s excited to play now.

Well, thanks for the boost? I tore it up packing! That’s some energy! Oh my god!

The show for me – Happy Homemaker Hour(s) – was as gratuitous as it had been for the cops. “Darling” everything. 

They decided they had to spend the night now, to watch the property. I have numerous texts over the last month, including 2 days prior, in which Jax thanks me for watching his home and loving his cat. But now it’s under threat?

Around 9 o’clock, they finished their dinner party, homemade pizzas with her 10 yr-old boy. Isn’t it fun playing house in our house? Darling.

They settled in to the family room, separated into 2 distinct living spaces, and pulled up Netflix. Jax told me to go in my room. “We’re watching a movie.”

“I’m packing.”

“Just shut your fucking door! We want some alone time.”

“Then go home. I have literally 4 days to get this done.”

“You have the whole month!” (There! The police didn’t give you your way. Now I pay.)

“With work and rehearsal, I have 4 days for this.”

“STAY IN YOUR ROOM.”

“I’m packing. That’s what I had planned today. This was my day to tear it out.”

“Go the fuck in your room! Have some fucking respect!”

“I’m not disrespecting you. I’m packing.”

“Why do you have to be such a pain in the ass!? You disgusting, fucking bitch!”

“Stop talking to me! I have a right to move about shared space, and you don’t have to be here!”

“I’m protecting my home from an irrational woman!” He’s up now and bringing it to me. I ran to my room.

“Leave me alone! You have to leave me alone!”

“You fucking coward! You are so fucking stupid!” This time he’s holding the top door jam with his fingertips, making himself big, filling the entire space. I’m trapped.

“GET OUT OF MY ROOM. I’ll call the police.”

“Call ’em!”

“I don’t want to. Just leave me alone!”

“Maybe I want the cops,” he taunts me.

“Then call them. Just get away from me.”

“Shut your fucking door and give us some god-damned space,” he growled.

“I live here!”

“This is our house! You have no right to be here! Have some fucking respect!”

“You’re wrong,” I held.

“You’re wrong!” he shot back.

“You’re right! And so am I. WE did this, and here we are. I’m leaving. Leave me alone.”

“Shut your fucking door!!!”

I just looked at him, defeated. “What, Jax, what?”

“SHUT YOUR DOOR.”

“Or what?” It wasn’t attitudinal, or mocking, just done. STOP. I’m tired.

And he shrugged. You know, the shrug guys do when they want you to see them as unsure of what their rage might produce? He was having so much fun! Like, whatever comes next might be out of my control. I can’t say.

(Jax knows what my sister’s husband did to me, the terror and trauma that reawakened and compounded in me, and what going off medication did to bring the pain of family abandonment and disregard back to the front of my thoughts. Frankly, his indifference as my boyfriend struck that nerve, too, I see now. That posture was no accident.)

“Jax.” … What are you doing?

He stood silent and relished that contemptuous smirk. Filling the entire door frame.

“Are you gonna hit me?” It was more incredulous than anything, not goading. Just, really? (I told the 2nd dispatcher repeatedly that I absolutely did not fear for my physical safety. I felt guilty that they might get that kind of a picture in their head of him. He’s an unconscionable dick but he’s not a danger to my person. Just my inner nugget.)

“Jax,” I sighed. “Come on.” I was just so done. I’m ridiculous? I’m irrational? Give me a break. This is beyond. Enough.

He lurched in further, and that was it. I was done. “You respect my space, NOW.”

He stepped inside my room, put his finger in my face, stared and shouted as loud as I’ve ever heard him, or anyone, “YOU HATEFUL FUCKING CUNT.”

“I don’t care what you think of me. I know what I think of you.”
I pushed him with my whole weight, shut and locked the door, and called the police.

When they arrived, he knocked to let me know and said, “You called the cops because I put one toe in your room? You’re a fucking joke.” They had by now stepped away from the door to wait for me on the porch. Jax taunted me unheard.

They did refuse to let him outside when he tried again to stand over me while I lodged my complaint. I waited on the porch while they talked to the happy couple. When she bid them farewell, thanking them for the work they do, she apologized that they had to bother again. “Tax dollars at work, right?” Boys…

The officers told them the same thing the first pair had. Leave her alone. But they were very indifferent and brief. Told me to make other arrangements and leave.

As if I haven’t thought of that! I have nowhere to go and no way to store my stuff and move it twice. I pleaded, “Can’t you see he doesn’t plan to obey your orders?”

“Tenant/landlord issues are civil.”

“A landlord is in breach of the law if he harrasses or threatens me! And we were domestic partners!”

Just, get another place and move sooner.

The rest of the night was spent unmolested. They put the kid in front of the TV, picked a movie for him, and went outside to smoke and drink. Now, if your property’s so at risk in my care, how is it safe to leave your child unattended with me? A woman who scares him that he hates. That’s okay with you? A kid won’t show or necessarily even know that anxiety, yet, but that is so sick, selfish, indifferent, and disgusting!

This woman is abhorrent.

They chose “Full Metal Jacket” for the 10 yr-old. When he got tired, he fought and begged and cried to go home. “Not here!” he argued, rightly. “I want to go home!” What a piece of shit mother she is. Shame on both of them.

Jax is a step-father of less than a week and that’s how he demonstrates adult conflict management, by terrorizing a woman he knows is sick and triggered. That he helped get there! That’s how a man talks to a woman? A little boy can make it safe by positing blame on the crazy woman, but deep down, could he do that to mommy? Will he?

That woman let her child witness at least one violent relationship for who-knows-how-long that doubtless occurred in a home they occupied together. She delivered her kid to this one! If something like that began in front of any child I had links to, I’d get them off property immediately. How could anything be more important to her? Shameful.

He cried to go home. “I don’t want to stay here!”

I wanted to die. I apologized to him. “These are adult issues that you shouldn’t have to see and I’m sorry for my part in it.” I don’t know if that was adult. I don’t care that a tired, whipped-around boy blames me. He’s supposed to. I just felt awful.

They came back the next night and had another play day/ cleaning party. Darling, darling, darling. The boy played on a hand-held something for hours. Jax’s girlfriend before me came over and didn’t they just laugh and laugh. She stared me down. Got it.

Every time Jax approached, I walked into my room. “Oh, grow up! I’m trying to talk to you.”

“I’m not talking to you. This is done.”

“I’m going to talk to you when I have something to say.”

“Anything that needs to be said can be communicated via text.”

“You really are insufferable.”
“Pathetic.” “Loser.” “Joke.” “Irrational.” All night.

At around 10, he handed me a generic online “3 days to Pay or Vacate.” I am paid.

Are they really that stupid? This time, having learned that they don’t even care what the cops tell them – She’s right. You have to have a judicial order to kick her out and she’ll be gone by then. Just be respectful – I really was scared.

Jax has a truck. They’re not going to put my stuff on the curb. They’re going to ruin me. It’s going to the dump. What about my cats? They’ll be prepared for me to break in the regular way, through his bedroom window, and close it. They’re going to destroy me.

I don’t qualify for Utah Legal Services. The officer I called said the same as last night. “This is civil. Call us when they violate the law.”

This is harrassement. It’s intentional, malicious torture of a woman too sick to survive it.

I was abusive first, and I apologized for it every time, even though the words were loathsome to me, so cheap and empty on my tongue. I had to. It was the truth. I fucked up again and again but every time I went low, I took responsibility.

He was abusive last, and better. Quality vs quantity, I suppose. He risked my life, but I bore down relentlessly for 2 weeks straight (plus another volley of hateful texts after the meth head tried to rob us). We’re even, but now that he’s all in with her, I’m in for it.

They’re going to empty my house on Wednesday. I am afraid of these people.

My cats are so traumatized. I hate that man.

I’m not putting the blog spin on that today. I want it out of me. This is the real journal your getting these days, and I give up. I don’t have an ounce left. I failed. I never did get there, to my best self in the context of intimacy and vulnerability. I’m done trying.

I have one job. Outlive my cats.
I admit defeat. I’m not getting up again. I say when I don’t have to anymore.

Unbearable Pain

A couple of weeks ago, a friend and I were going to attend the Arts Festival together. He had a wake later that evening for a friend and neighbor, so we were just going to spend a couple of hours enjoying the exhibits, performances, food, and music.

Instead, we got chatting and drinking with the neighbor who’d lost her boyfriend to suicide. His best friend stopped by and shared a few drinks and memories with us, and I felt like I really came to know this person. The girl brought out a book of his poetry, some really good stuff, profound and wicked. He had such a turn of phrase! I said, more than once, that I felt like I’d met him. They painted such a clear image of his particular brand of hard, sardonic living. I had a sense of his voice, his presence: Unmistakable, messy, original, intelligent.

Mostly, I regretted that this woman, whom I’d come to really enjoy and hoped to further a friendship with, had to be the one to find him. I let her know that I wanted to see her again. She was such a bright, interesting, and vivacious girl.

“I don’t mean to insert myself in your grief,” I told her, “but I so enjoy your company. I’d love to hang out again, whatever that looks like. If you need to scream and rage, I’m not afraid of that. If you just want to take a stroll and get out of your thoughts, I’m in.”

She agreed, but you know how that it.

“Whatever you do, just don’t isolate,” I asked her. “And thank you for sharing him with me. I feel like I’ve met him. I’m so sorry for his pain, and yours.”

We skipped the Arts Festival, drinking instead on the court until they left for the wake and I went home with a DVD from this gal. I’ve had it for 2 weeks and wanted to reassure her that I hadn’t forgotten. I messaged my buddy today that I’d love to get together again and pass the time, and I’d bring that movie.

He was sorry to tell me that she’d joined her fiance, the same way.

I can’t believe how I feel. I feel like the wind’s been knocked out of me. I didn’t know him, and I didn’t know her, really, just spent a few hours. But it hurts my heart.

Today, I wish to remind us all to tend very carefully to ourselves. Mental illness is real. It hurts so much, and one is never out of danger. I spent the bulk of my 20s occupied by suicidal ideation, outcries, and 2 dangerous attempts. I think, having gotten to the other side of it, I’d come to believe that it’s a young person’s problem. No. We die at any age, of any illness, and we must care for who we are, as we are. Wow. I’m just really, really sad. I ache for them. I’ve been telling these 2 strangers for the last several hours that I’m glad they’re in that beautiful place of only love, together, relieved of sorrow, and able to continue learning without the burdens and heaviness of Earth life. But I’m just so sad.

To think how much someone has to hurt to do that. I’m sad for unbearable pain.

Life is so precious and fleeting. Be kind to yourself and others.

****

Before I met this woman I’d never heard the term, “in my cups,” when referring to drinking, especially of the drowning variety. It so amused and delighted me, and painted such an amiable, tragic picture of the delicious, deceptive nature of alcoholic seduction, I felt as though I could hear this character’s voice. He was very much a character, a writer and storyteller, too, who performed his stories and even regular conversation, as I do.

I’m currently reading a fiction novel. Well, since this man and woman took their lives, twice the main character in this book has referred to getting “in her cups.” I found it curious, at first, nothing more. Just that phenomenon when you’re introduced to a word or concept for the first time and then find it everywhere. But then I about fell over when I remembered that this main character’s brother was an alcoholic who killed himself. THEN… the brother who died, I realized, had the SAME NAME as this man who committed suicide less than a month ago! So I’m absolutely flipping out when I realized that the main character’s name is the same as the woman’s! I mean, come on! That’s too much!

I feel connected to them. I’m not sure what to make of such massive compounding coincidence. There’s nothing I could have done. I didn’t even know them.

Maybe it’s just them confirming that they are there, and they are safe, and out of pain.
Maybe it’s nothing. (Of course, you know I can’t think that.)
Maybe it’s just gob-smacking WOW.

I’m glad I didn’t die by suicide. I recommit myself to that now, even though it feels unnecessary to publicly declare it. I feel like these strangers are reminding me what a gift life is and to be vigilant about our health and the choices we make. I invite all who suffer in that way to make a similar vow not to die by your own hand. Perhaps start an “other options” list or a log of things to love and live for, so that when you invariably fall back into the pain, as we do, you’ll remember that it will pass. Because it does. Do be gentle. Life is hard, and painful, and precious, and beautiful.

And FUN! And so totally worth it! I love being alive! choose happy

Choose happy. It is a choice. Choose it again and again, every time. When you fail, choose it as soon as you’re back on track and able. If you can’t choose happy in the moment, be patient and know that the time will come that you’ll be glad you trusted yourself and your beautiful determination and strength, and your RIGHT to be joyful, and got yourself to the other side of suffering one more to time to choose happy again.