5.20.20

That Hindsight high lasted a good minute. That was a solid period of bonhomie.

The last two months have been hard, starting with that migraine in late March, followed by this ever-loving BACK! which I pulled three days before my birthday last month. Little did I know it would go on for a month, and longer, I now expect.

Still, I felt good. Positive, happy.

Thankfully, the back pain is livable now, making its ownership of my body known mostly upon rising, of course. I ease into standing, and go about my day. Unfortunately, predictably, it’s triggered a massive fibro flare. I’ve taken it all with a sense of humor, resolve, and purpose.

I fell out of yoga after the cheilectomy (big toe surgery) in November. It’s a long, slow recovery. I passed an important date on May 11th: Six months. I can expect final swelling to be gone anytime in the next two. I did notice a nice improvement in late April. It’s consistently more comfortable, albeit just a little, and I’ll take it!

My body is so tight and resisting! This back debacle has got me back to my mat, in the privacy of my own home. The floor was always there, but I’m lazy. What can I say? I’ve been doing baby stretches every day, regardless of pain. Sometimes I just lay there, feet up, if that’s all the back will permit that day. The strain was going along, recovering nicely if slowly, when BAM! Three weeks into “getting better,” I reverted to the inability to stand, for another three days!!! At that point, my mood began to plummet. What the fuck?

It’s one thing when you can identify a cause, but I have done NOTHING in quarantine but study Spanish, stretch, and practice the guitar. Not one thing warranted this relapse, and here it was. I was immobilized.

I was fed up.

In all my complaining, I’ve avoided the real reason I couldn’t take it anymore. Penny up and popped an aural hematoma. Remember Cricket’s cute cricky ear? It resulted from surgery to correct aural hematoma! And now Penny? What the actual fuck?!

cricket in the er

“My dandruff is out of control, because I’m terrified in the emergency room, and I puffed it out of of my undercoat like a scared chicken pops out its feathers, but isn’t my cricky ear adorable?”

The tech at Banfield was stunned, having never heard of the condition in cats. It’s more common in dogs, but both my girls get to have their go at it. The kicker is that Penny’s heart murmur – rated 4 out of 6 – prevents her from having surgery. All we could do was drain and fill it back up with steroid, hoping that would reabsorb and treat it. It didn’t. Blood rushed back, darker, bigger, and angrier. Our only recourse was repeated draining and filling. My poor kitty was traumatized.

She had three appointments in a week-and-a-half. The second course has done better than the first, and I’m encouraged by that. We had a follow up appointment yesterday, that I expected would be a sign off of sorts: Continue to watch and hope the small pocket that’s left finishes draining and retreats permanently.

During Covid, I instructed Penny repeatedly not to get sick right now. I’ve kept my sense of humor about that, even while it forces me to drop my baby off all day – separated from her mom, stuck in her carrier, terrified – for a brief treatment that otherwise would have been done in-room, where I could be with her and take her home straight away. She hides under the bed now. This is so devastating for me. I’m fighting tears! My kitty doesn’t trust me. Everything she’s ever known is unsure now, and she doesn’t feel good!

(Being cooped for so many hours in her little carrier has aggravated her arthritis to a point that she won’t put weight on her front right paw! What had been, with one medicated treat per day, an almost imperceptible limp upon waking is now a heart-breaking hop!)

Penny’s old age is harder than Cricket’s. Cricky had thirteen years with one emergency that gave her the silly ear that so suited her funny offishness. Finally, there were three months at the end, when we fought but never got the better of a disease that ended her sweet, gentle life. Penny is falling apart piece by piece, and it’s brutal! A bad heart precipitates teeth that hurt, because she can’t have her annual dental cleaning under anesthesia (and I didn’t know pets need their teeth cleaned, until mine were old and started having dental problems). A mistake I made – using essential oils to freshen the air – gave her chronic bronchitis! (This was another moment I was grateful not to mother humans. The guilt is unbearable.) And now she can’t step on her front paw.

And the ear condition her sister wore so well lingers, frightening and uncomfortable.

God in heaven, let her passing be soft and beautiful like Cricket’s. Let me sing and hold her in my arms. Please. With Dr. Kpat and the beautiful Banfield team that’s taught me as much as my two girls have. They love Penny. They see more of her, because I just didn’t understand until diabetes took Cricket that they have to see the doc throughout their lives, just like we do. It seems so obvious, but I just didn’t know. They’re my first. They’re my only. They’re my world.

The team at Banfield all tell me how sweet and affectionate Penny is, how they love her little chirp. Elise delivered her to me curbside after one appointment and confided, “She’s my favorite lady.” I believe her. Penny’s the best thing on Earth. I tell her every day.

Yesterday’s appointment was to be 10-15 minutes only, thank god! Unlike the previous appointments, I could wait at the curb for her and hope to put this all behind us.

Enter Rich, my landlord. He offered a ride. I was so grateful! I hadn’t quite known what I was going to do. I couldn’t ask an Uber to wait indefinitely, could I? I imagine I would have asked for Galen’s help. But Rich offered.

I asked the night before if he was still willing . “Yep,” he assured me. “Remind me an hour before.”

“I will. Thanks so much!”

I did as instructed, and yesterday I tore my poor kitten from under the bed, shoved her in a dreaded cage, whereupon she started crying, and I ran next door to grab my ride, who wanted me to sit and watch the end of a game show! Not only would this potentially make us late, but my baby was alone and terrified right now! He rolled his eyes at me.

I sat and waited, just dying inside. When the program didn’t end but went to a final cliff-hanging commercial break, I pleaded with Richie, “We’re gonna be late!”

HE LOST IT. Rage!!! He was up and screaming. Violent, red-faced, vein-popping, murderous, immediate RAGE.

I left. He chased me. “Fine!” he screamed. “Let’s go, then! I’ll miss it cuz you can’t wait two goddam minutes!”

I went home, locked the door, and canceled the appointment. He kept screaming. I shut the windows, so he banged on the door. I got off the phone and stepped out. I couldn’t subject my already traumatized cat to that hostility. “It’s okay,” I reported, breezy. “I’ve rescheduled. Don’t worry about it.” Nothing irregular here.

That made it worse. Now he’s pacing to the garage and back, to his truck and back, to their door and back. “I emptied my whole day for you!…” (He just finished a job, and would have gone to the lake today if not for a days-long high wind event he knew was coming. He’s a Navy man with a boat on the Great Salt Lake. He knows the forecast. He was staying home.) (And he offered.)

“I’m sorry I got impatient.” Neutral face.

Still screaming, he didn’t hear me.

“I’m sorry I inconvenienced you.” Neutral tone.

“No, you’re not!” he shot back, venomous. “You enjoy it! You did it on purpose!”

I went back inside. I tried. He raged on, inside, up the stairs, to Molly’s office and kept her from working for more than an hour, screaming blame and hatred of me.

I never matched his energy. Not once. I did try briefly to break through but, having done all I could, I removed myself. This had nothing to do with me.

I did everything right. In the past, his behavior so closely resembled the dynamic of my childhood home that I’ve fallen into ineffective battles. This time, I walked away.

I’ve told him before not to treat me like this. This time, he won’t. He’ll never get close enough. They’re my landlords, not my friends. They don’t have access to anything but my apartment, with my permission.

In time it will blow over, but I’m finally permitting myself to cut Rich out of the deepest warmth of my heart. I’d already removed Molly, the true homeowner (who makes it known to both of us all the time). She’s passive-aggressive and demeaning. When held to account, she excuses herself as “blunt,” a lie that only fools her.

There’s a difference between truthful and blunt. Honesty says, “I esteem you enough to say the hard thing.” Blunt doesn’t care if it hurts you. Indeed, the right to wound is an entitlement of the rude. “Just sayin’.”

And Molly’s not even blunt. She’s cutting. I hold passive-aggressive people in utter disdain. A healthier response would be to dislike passive-aggression, but it would be dishonest. I hate the people, and I confess to feeling superior. I think it’s the weakest, most cowardly, selfish, juvenile, deluded interaction. And who do you think you are, some arbiter of everything that’s right and good? You’re an asshole. That’s blunt.

You said it. Own it.
It doesn’t take long for me to remove those who pretend away petty meanness.
Gone. Outta my heart.

The thing I hate most about passive-aggressive people is that they don’t think they’re aggressive. IT’S IN THE NAME, YOU IDIOT.

The irony is that she’s totally pleasant company. I like her! I’ve never had a relationship like that, in which there’s little regard but I enjoy the person. I take what she has to teach me (landscape architecture), and retreat when her ugliness rears its head. It makes me feel broad and open-minded, to enjoy someone I find basic and cruel, haha! Until she says something triflin’ again and then I hate her. Then I don’t care. Cuz she’s triflin’.

Rich, on the other hand, goes longer between periods of abuse. I get lulled into the friendship anew. Until the next time. And there will always be a next time. I did nothing to deserve this. There was no extra stressor, in particular, to precipitate it. (All the others I could see coming.) Out of the blue: Rage, blame, hatred.

Thankfully, we pretty much keep to ourselves most of the time. I’ll stay invisible for a good long while with this one, then reemerge eventually. I’ll weed and maintain the flowerbeds and share the garlic I planted when it harvests.

Penny is not long for this world, bless her. I’m preparing myself, tearfully. (Yesterday, not surprisingly, the dam broke. I sobbed, loudly, for half an hour, quietly on and off for the rest of the day.) Life goes on as usual, nothing that hasn’t happened before.

There’s a part of me that so desperately wants to leave, but I promised Penny I wouldn’t do that to her again, and I don’t want another roommate. I love living alone. I’m so self-entertaining. I have my little to-do lists. I’m keeping up with my 2020 goals, except stretching daily. (Thank you, back strain from hell, for keeping me on task.) I think I’m hilarious. I laugh all day long, and I have krcl. Best music on the planet!

And my tiny apartment is so pretty. So here I’ll stay, unless Molly kicks me out. I live in fear of that. It’s why I don’t push back any harder than I do. And I’m glad. I learned a lot. It makes no difference to abusive people what you to say. You don’t matter. So fuck ’em.

I couldn’t learn that in the context of my family. There’s simply no objectivity. I’m so conditioned to make room in my heart for people who harm me. (It’s a Taurus thing, too. We hold onto relationships longer than any sign. We’re loyal to a fault, staying by your side long after others would have left. If you cross that final line, and we make it very clear, you don’t exist. That’s it.)

I feel lighter having taken back their capacity to hurt me. They don’t matter. They’re exacting, insensitive people and I don’t fucking care.

I’m getting better at responding in healthy ways. I’m cutting out so many people! The time to launch is ever closer. I can feel it happening, now!

The friends I chose while I was sick and acting out of maladjusted habit are getting fewer and fewer. I get to build a community of friends who support each other, forgive their own and each other’s shortcomings, apologize and mean it, and live happy, consistently, for the love of all that’s holy! Everyone around me is as fucked up as I was. (Imagine.) How is it that I’m the only one who sees it and wants to change?

Well, I will. I am. Someday soon, my circle will mirror that back to me. How wonderful!

Molly will raise my rent again this summer. It will officially get me into the range of “house poor,” but such is life in Small Lake City anymore. Who do you think you are, SLC? San Francisco, with rents like these? Fuck you, too, while we’re at it, haha!

When Penny goes, I GO.

You know, when I realized I was going to have to do the big scary thing: Become a globe-trotting, amazing, dynamic, fearless woman of a certain age (rather than the Chief Lover and CEO of a family unit, which is what I actually thought would happen when I talked all big), I started to panic. I didn’t mean it! I didn’t mean it! I just wanted to be a mom!

Now, I’m laying the groundwork for a future I’d considered empty swagger. Instead, what I said for two decades – “If I don’t have kids, I’m moving to Bolivia and teaching English” – became my instructions to the Universe. I will teach and take a leap into the unknown, and I’m getting excited for it. Scared as hell, and so excited!

And someday, someday off in the near future, my fucking back will release, the world will reopen safely, and I will go to yoga, never to neglect my beautiful body again!

And my cat will live for a few more years, and I’ll love her so well while she’s here.

Today is hard. I feel like crying a bit, and curling up in blankies. Instead, I’ll go stretch and make a warmy soup to enjoy on this cold Spring day the wind blew in.

penny's hematoma

“My ear is full of blood and I feel lousy.”

I feel better having written this. I was in danger of having another rainy day mood. Match the weather and wallow in it. Instead, I feel empowered and… fine.

Thank you, 2020! You really are working for me! What was a playful resolution to post on every “20” became a fortuitous rescue this month from a shitty day.

Pray for kitty? Thank you.

(P.S. I’m reading Fuck It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way.)
(P.S. Fuck is my favorite word.)
(P.S. The sun came out. It’s a bright, crisp, beautiful day out there, and I’m smiling.)
fucking lady
Later that day… soup
I made rainy day soup! I even used filtered water for the base. The whole thing is from scratch, and I made it all up! Turns out, I’m a good cook. I just didn’t like my mother. That’s sad, for real, but whadya gonna do? Figure it out later!

(We passed another six-month benchmark in May: Mother hasn’t spoken to me since November. She didn’t even call after my surgery. None of them did. They’re so fucked up.)

Oh, and did I grow my own cayenne peppers, dehydrate them, and pulverize as needed in my own mini mortar and pestle? Of course I did. Fucking overachiever.

Hindsight 2020!

copper mule

I make a fine cocktail, too. I don’t have fresh limes, but I have lime juice. And why not? #drinkingsolo #pandemic2020

Ta Da!

We talk so much of resolutions and goals, but what are you proud of about 2019? What’s on your Ta Da List?

I’ve written about mine extensively. It’s the work of my life, the reason I started this blog, but it wasn’t until 2019 that I really saw results. I saw improvement, but I hadn’t yet managed to sustain it, or found a way out of my pattern: crisis/recovery/crisis/recovery.  It’s all I’ve ever known. It’s how my family relates.

I see it now, the shift. I believe in it. I’m so encouraged and excited by that! Time and again, I’ve met with resistance, rejection, assault, attack, or heartache and upset, and I’ve responded with strength and calm.

My biggest success is the biggest loss, but it was my biggest trigger – my mom – and I DID IT! Poorly, but I did it. That was a toddling argument, full of mistakes and regret. Falling everywhere, bumping, crying, anger, re-centering and starting again, in one stilted conversation. If given the opportunity, I could build mutual trust with her. We could get better at discussions of thorny or painful issues. I could build a real relationship between us, with depth and substance. I understand, too, that it’s not available. She won’t.

Acceptance was the huge Ta Da for me in 2019. I can’t force it. I love us both enough not to ask again. The sorrow, of course, is that I feel hollow and unsatisfied by such a superficial connection, and it’s the only other option to shunning. The sole interaction they permit feels uneasy to me, inauthentic, like being loved with an asterisk.

But love it is. Just as Mom doesn’t have the right erase my origin story, I can’t pretend that love isn’t love when it doesn’t behave exactly like I want it to. For now, I can appreciate that. I accept her limits for our relationship, but meaningful acceptance of this quasi-“love” from my family is beyond my skill set for now. It makes me mad. I want to open my heart to it, but I’m not there yet. Layers…

Perhaps I’ll always feel second-class. It’s still love, the only way they know how. Today, it’s insulting. “Isn’t it a shame?” they condescend. “If only she’d stop causing so much trouble, we could welcome her.” I just won’t receive their embrace. Tsk, tsk.

As for their religious estimation of me, “pearls before swine” sums it up, but I don’t mind them seeing me as Esau, tossing my birthright for sin. We both feel superior in that regard, which is sad, really, and antithetical to love, but I can only handle so much. It’s unfathomable to me how they refuse to examine their thoughts. It’s positively willful, but they don’t see the action verb in their behavior. They’re so used to believing without thinking that they’re blind to the blinders they wear.

There’s a song in Book of Mormon Musical, in which the missionaries dance to a wonderfully irreverent tune about those dreaded, creeping questions. Before allowing themselves to complete any thought, the chorus interrupts: “TURN IT OFF!”

I know plenty of Mormons who think for themselves. I know plenty of courageous, intellectually curious individuals who explore truth on their terms and land in their own place on the spectrum of orthodoxy, but my family is culty. Gross.

Look down on me, then. We share that.

Our problems are behavioral, not theological, but I can see how that refusal to look deeply at an issue came from our religious culture. I believe, too, in genetic memory. Studies show that trauma alters genes, which are then transmitted to subsequent generations. When we feel history in our bones, we really do!

I’ve found a lot of understanding and healing in that notion, and when I sit in it, I feel my ancestors. They’re in my blood, pumping and alive. Whether they’re angelic or not (They are), they’re now.

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” -William Faulker

I don’t think we’re doomed by genetic memory. In the context of ancestry, we’re all the perpetrator and the victim, and I believe we can heal our spirits and bodies in real time. For me, it’s overwhelming and so fulfilling to consider recovery in a larger framework, one that challenges my understanding of time. The cosmos itself offers too much discovery to bend my mind to, that tells me time isn’t linear. Time is both real and unreal. Can I heal the past? Yes. I’m healing me, and the past is never dead.
healing hurts

Headlong into Hindsight 2020!

It’s here! It’s here! It’s actually happening!

Did anyone else do that? Set an intention for Hindsight 2020, when they’d have all their shit figured out? Well, I did, and I marked it a long time ago. Like, 20 years or more.

The confluence of midlife and that symbolic cliché struck me long before I knew what a bitch this shift would really be. I mean, I knew it would be. My early life was painful. I knew it would be the work of my life to process all that.

I planned to have it done by next month, haha! The weird thing is, I do.

2019 was the first successful hard year I’ve had. It was productive. There were so many opportunities to state feelings of upset, anger, and fear without freaking out, and I did.

The thing I have that I didn’t before is confidence. I trust myself for the first time.

The sexual violence I experienced during festival season, culminating in Burning Man, was a trauma I only just released… last week. I didn’t realize how much of it I was still carrying around until I wasn’t.

I’ll never allow predators to remain again. I know it, because I don’t apologize anymore for my limit. I don’t question anymore if I’m worth walking away from people who don’t honor my boundaries. My safety’s not negotiable.

It’s not asking too much. Refusing another chance – when your needs have been stated and ignored, multiple times – is normal. It’s called Healthy Boundaries.

“Actions speak louder than words.” Listen, dummy!

(It takes time to learn a foreign language, and quite literally, boundaries are not my native tongue. It is what it is. I got it now. I probably have an accent that gives away my place of origin, but that’s fine.)

“Fool me once, shame on you… twice, shame on me” is too reactionary. The benefit of the doubt might enrich us both. Show me it was a slip-up, not the norm. Or don’t, but that tells me about you, not me. I’m not shamed by that.

I legit did not know that. I couldn’t connect it to emotional truth, that I really am allowed to call disrespect by its name, and walk away.

believe them

I’ll give one chance more. Fix it or confirm it. Your choice.

“Disregard those who disregard.” That’s my MO. No guilt or guess-work.

Y’all, I know my boundaries for the first time. Take that in. It’s life-altering.

Kids who grow up with abuse have to love the person(s) hurting them. Boundaries don’t form there. I forgive myself for being a perfect target, because I didn’t create the circumstances that made me a victim.

It’s weird that it took me so long. I knew what I knew what I knew… but not really. I knew what I didn’t want. I had an idea what I did. But real boundaries? I just didn’t have any. I couldn’t. I didn’t know what they were. I was ruled by fear of what I didn’t want to repeat, and terror of being found out: I can’t do better. (I’m not worthy of better!)

Well, I am. Let’s build something!

Now, the only thing keeping me from the future of my dreams is inertia. And that’s a big one for me. I’m lazy. I could blame my luxurious, indolent Taurus. I could blame a life of vigilant anxiety. (You hunker down and dip your toe in, never swimming freely.) Yeah, sure, all the things. I could blame. But I’m staring down 50. It’s now. Holy shit!

I’ve joked for decades, “My epitaph will read, ‘Lovingly gave half her life to sleep.'” If I don’t get up now, I will die never having truly committed to any life. I’m sitting, waiting for it, watching. Get UP and make it!

I feel myself very clearly looking behind me at a wild, manic, amazing first half. I see me – oh, wow – aching for that girl, understanding her, cringing and regretting her, LOVING her. I’m so strong! I survived! I fought like hell not to stick my head in the sand that shields my family from reality. I’d rather kill myself than hide from the truth. I LOVE THAT ABOUT ME. I stared down death to live honestly.

What I see now is courage. I had strength without the tools to voice it in meaningful ways. I was screaming for my very life, and that’s how it felt. What I see now is power expressing itself weakly, and it will again, but not as often, and not blindly.

I’m not as afraid as I was, even two years ago. I think that’s about where the shift took place in space and time. The last two years. In other words, now.

I see myself pivoting, with intention, 180 degrees, to look out on a tabula rasa. Its blankness doesn’t scare me. I don’t have to control right this second what might happen out there. I’m going to make what I make, and I’m excited! I want to start walking, now.

A sad truth of this change has been the adjustment of several relationships. Unfortunately, young Christie’s friends aren’t used to this middle-aged lady’s insight. I built those friendships when I was sick, and those patterns of interaction don’t work for me anymore. I’m not operating from weakness, and I’m not apologizing.

I had to leave a decades-old friendship last year. I sent a card six months later for her birthday, a love letter, really. She called. I answered, glad to put it to rest and move on, only to have her start up with justifications and explanations, and a complete lack of awareness. She was still in a fight that didn’t matter anymore. I tried to work through it – I believe in working through it – but we were talking in circles. At the end of the day she confirmed what I saw for the first time six months prior: a woman who will not share responsibility for misunderstandings. I owned my shit and wouldn’t let her off the hook for hers. I deserve friends who apologize when they’re wrong, of their own volition. I do.

She can’t. She’s not sorry. She’s comfortable in a world where I blame myself for the behavior of others. “I’m fucked up. What do I know?”

Not anymore. Level up.

I had no idea she needed to be “the healthy one” until I got better. In 22 years, we had two fights. After the first, I acquiesced (apologizing without reciprocation) because I needed her and didn’t know my worth, so I couldn’t recognize that she didn’t either. After last year’s argument, I couldn’t stay in a friendship that won’t grow with me.

I love her so much, and I know she’s out there with no clue why our friendship is over. She actually thinks it’s because we had a fight. She needs me weak, and if given the opportunity, she’d go over the minutia again, to prove her point under the guise of resolving things, when it’s long-since moot.

That friend is the keeper of my youth and beauty, of joyful exuberance, freedom, and fun! I’m still fun, can’t help it, but it’s different. I’m fun, with edge. And I love my edge! It’s wicked and sharp, still silly and laughing at my own expense, but not… young anymore. Anyway, the pictures in my mind of this sweet friend and me are footloose and fancy free, if anything ever was. We pranced through mountains singing, and swam in glacial lakes – head underwater three times or it doesn’t count – not a care in the world. She’s a hallmark of an unpolluted era. She holds my innocence, and I love her forever.

Moose Falls

Some badass chick I used to know ~ 1995

kayaking Hoback

Adventure Duo! ~ 1995

I wrote about the friendship that changed after Burning Man, the couple I introduced who got married out there and then hung out on Zafod’s art car after he assaulted me. It doesn’t hurt anymore to accept them at their level. They were friends of long standing that I thought of as intimates, but I see now a childish eagerness to make family of peripheral community. They’re friends. Their values are different from mine. Okay.

I like them. I enjoy them. I’ll seek them out at every gathering. I invest nothing more.

One more important friendship is in 2019’s crucible, on the verge of moving from sister to drinking buddy. We’re in process, and I think we’ll be okay, but my new boundaries are being met with a resistance familiar to me now. The equalizing of power imbalances doesn’t feel as hopeful and thrilling to others as it does me, it seems.

“I’m changing,” I told her. “Keep up or don’t.”

I have no delusions that my patterns and problems will go away, but I’m a different person. EMDR is hard. I hate/love it. I’m hoping to love/hate it soon, but one year in, I still can’t sleep soundly the night of a session. It’s disruptive to a brain!

I have gods-honest panic attacks now, not just the white-knuckle, jaw-clenching stranglehold I’ve had on the day-to-day. On one hand, I prefer it. It feels more honest, less monster under the bed. “Okay, you’re real. Let’s face this down and really talk to it.” On the other hand, panic attacks fucking suck.

I asked my therapist if I’m having fits now because growing new neuro-pathways has basically turned me into a toddler. He said yes, haha! It feels like it. It eases my mind a little to think of them as the tantrums of helpless child because, well, it amuses me, and because a phase is less menacing than a condition.

I don’t have a panic disorder. I have control issues, sure, but I inherited those from a scary childhood. I expect it to settle, because I also feel, for the first time, like a mature adult who can handle her shit without losing it.

I DARED, and I’m so glad I did. I see real results from intense therapy.

(Sometimes, when my practitioner passes over the hand buzzers, I still see them coming at me in slow motion. It’s the craziest thing, like I can watch how I used to “pop out,” but I stay in my body now. It makes me feel faint, and I sense my whole body, the fluttering in my gut, the tingling and numbness in my limbs of staying put instead of running away.) (At this point, as a kid, I just started screaming god-knows-what stream of consciousness, and by age 7-8, I was being mocked for how “smart” I was. I couldn’t stop the violence, but I could get in your head.)

I’m not afraid of that screaming thing in me anymore. It kept me alive. It’s the same warrior that made me willing to stare this down, and put it to rest. Real strength is nascent in me yet, but I trust it. I believe it. I can do it. I am.

It’s not my fault what happened to me, but it’s my responsibility now.
go bravelyLooking forward, the only thing I have to confront (that has nothing to do with cPTSD) is that lazy streak. I have to muster up some self-discipline! I got no time left. If I keep sitting, I will actually die waiting for my life to happen.

So, to that end, here are my plans:

Get my ESL certification in preparation for moving to Bolivia to teach English.

Finish my recovery. (Unlike Donald Trump, my bone spurs were real. You don’t get out of Vietnam. You get surgery.)

gross foot

It was so swollen under the bandages, I have to slough that skin entirely. The peeling!

Keep up Afro-Brazilian drum lessons until I can…

Return to yoga and dance!

Audition for Samba Fogo drum corps.

Restring my guitar and start online lessons.

Participate in SLC’s 3rd annual Rock Camp for Womyn.

Build the E11 Temple again (Hindsight 2020 theme!) and join an art installation crew.

Tarot… Actually learn the deck, and do readings at E11.

Cook something healthy at least once a week, for the love! (I’m skinny fat.)

Oh. BULLET JOURNAL! Why have I never done that? Oh, yeah. I’m not busy enough to need a planner. But I love lists, and I love pretty things. Boom, done. Bullet journal.

Write short blog posts. 😆

The end.

Cured!

gentle power

I didn’t believe quiet strength was available to me until 2019.

(P.S. Two fights in 22 years? [222!] … Ignoring my experience and intuition is my Achilles heel. “I’m tripping myself up” repeating old patterns of unhealthy relationships. Foot metaphors? [I fixed my toe, and relationships are changing.] I love synchronicities, and that’s too coincidental not to notice. *hi, angels*)
repeat repair

Counter-Dependency

Whoa! Just found a new word. THIS:
counter dependency

Finding this was so timely and germane, it’s a little freaky. That happens, too.

Yay! Okay. Awareness is the first step in mastery.

I have the recent success of relying on others – albeit against my will – and being embraced and befriended by them. It took about a day, but then I braved asking for continued help, for supplies, for companionship. We had fun! I’m so grateful to them.

That puts me in great stead facing this fear when it creeps up again. And it will. I’d long-since identified it, just didn’t know it had a name. I don’t know why a word should make such a difference, except, well, I love words.

It seems more concrete, universal, and surmountable with a name. Somehow, it’s comforting to know that it comes from someplace. It’s just part of the process of healing from cPTSD. I can do that. I’m a boss.

Just ask. If the answer is no, you still win. Asking for and accepting help is success.

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.

Jax knew my work and rehearsal schedules. Both are set. 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, all day and overnight Saturday, and throughout Sunday.

Every weekend.

Only twice did they “prep the house.” They were there to eat, drink, and dry hump. On the couch, in front of me. Once, when I passed to use the restroom, Jax moaned loudly, “You’re making me hard!”

Ew! (The kid was there!!!)

For their honeymoon, they chose to spend 3 weeks sharing a house with his ex.

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

GO HOME!!!!!

The final 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 crowed loudly. “Darling, this is my faaaavorite love song, ever,” then sang along: “Home… is where I want to be…”

*giggle giggle, slurpy slurpy, giggle giggle*

Just the most unclever woman I’ve ever, heard. (And pitchy.) Be more obvious.

(I celebrate imperfect expressions of art. For god’s sake, I do community theatre. I champion people! But she’s just so fucking fake, I can’t help but enjoy that she’s also not that talented. Or smart. So I can be petty. When you’re hateful, I get a kick out of it.)

I do have to say, I did enjoy her gratuitous displays of domestic bliss for showing me something. Girl can’t belly laugh. Her forced guffaw is creepy. Hey, not everyone laughs with their whole body. That’s fine. But she so desperately needs to lord her triumph over me that her exultant attempts fail. It actually does help that she’s so stupid, she thinks she has something I want.

I WANT TO BE LEFT ALONE, YOU IDIOT!

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

So… this made my night: Jax was bottling beer in the kitchen. She’s 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 get fleeting sound bytes as I’m in and out from my bedroom to the growing pile of boxes outside my door. Conversation shifted the moment she realized I 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, “Maybe you could come to my work and see what I do.”

What?

There’d been no discussion of employment or anything having to do with adulting. Jax was teaching her son how to sterilize bottle caps, and Carrie was sitting at the table, “darling” and drinking. Apropos of nothing, she boasts about her job.

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

“Well… no.” (Why then, one might wonder, did you invite him to watch what he can’t see?) “But,” she bragged, “I have to suit up to be in a 60-degree operatory…”

I walked on, rolling my eyes. Always, always rolling my eyes. She’s so dumb and obvious!

I know you have an education. I admired you once as a single mother who earned her degree and built a career. 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 – 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 three 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 and plunked over, muttering a 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 emotional and heated 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 one exit, and a husband blocking the door 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 vindictive and evil, repeatedly, and expressed her 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.

I have negative energy, she informed me, telling me more than once than I’m hateful.

“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 four 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 gesticulating at a woman pinned in a closet.

“We’re both guilty,” I confessed, “but you fail to see your reflection. And that just amazes me.” She had no rejoinder and retreated to their room, inviting me to “grow some balls,” still yelling and “not dealing with it anymore.”

You never had to! You brought it. Go HOME.

First, no enlightened modern woman says that. (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 toolkit. 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. It’s done.
I survived.

****

The next morning, Jax was up with me – 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 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 and recognizes Jax. (He’d helped move me in two years ago.) Joe knew nothing of the drama and, friendly man that he is, reached out a hand and a Good-Morning-Hey!-How are you?

“Don’t bother,” I warned him. “He’s pissed 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, punitive, juvenile, CRUEL, and not the tiniest bit aware. Just petty. How are they not embarrassed?

And what do I care now?

With three 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 nut sacks to feed my crew… and water and granola bars.)

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.

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 in September, the note could well have named you.

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. (My only physically abusive relationship since childhood.) 22 years later, Jax has proven worse than the man half my life ago. (Same is true of childhood. Bruises heal. Mental abuse sticks.)

Two men. At 22, and 22 years later.

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

Near suicide after each relationship.

The scary difference is that suicide is sad when a person is young. “She had so much promise, intelligence, beauty, talent. If only she’d held on. It gets better…”

When mental illness kills a middle-aged woman, it was a tragic, noble effort (at best). I tried. I found out. I have an illness that kills people.

Why is it okay when a person dies of diabetes, heart disease, or cancer, but not mental illness? We all 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. But 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 repeating the dynamic of my childhood in nearly every relationship and experience. 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.

Anxiety Ramping Up

I’m starting to fear the emotions of change. For so long, I’ve been gripping through the trauma and fear of “What will they do next?” that I’ve been able to avoid the heartache and loss of this home I’ve loved so much for 2 years.

And the relationship that turned so very ugly, painful, and dangerous.

I loved him. He was my best friend. All of my girls had gone. He was my whole social life, my whole private life. We were happy in that house, for a long time.

I was. It’s embarrassing to realize in hindsight how much distance he was creating all that time. I wish I’d seen that he was yet another man lacking the courage to be truthful. I asked! Of course I was aware the connection was eroding. So he’s not strong enough to offer difficult honesty. Why hide it when approached with it?

Feelings are coming. Tears are returning.

My new apartment is fine. I’ll adjust. But it’s terribly dark, and it makes me sad for my cats. More than my plants, even, it makes me sad for my cats. My sunroom was such a joy to us. I couldn’t ever get a good shot of it, but it was so colorful and joyful, a place where a new, unexpected talent presented itself. It was a magic space, until that woman cornered me there, leaning me backwards over a table, and gave me the low-down on how it’s going down now that she owns this house. “Meaning no harm,” of course, with her finger in my face.

Since then, I’ve gone fairly numb. All that’s left is panic.

Now it’s anxiety of a real and changing kind.

And I feel so much guilt and anxiety about my show. We open in two and a half weeks and I’m not even memorized! I don’t know my dances! IT’S AWFUL.

What was I thinking, offering myself to a show I had no time or right to claim availability for? My character is spot on, but I don’t know my part!

I’m trying to memorize, but I still can’t keep my mind on the task at hand.

I’m freaking out.

And Then The Weekend Happened, Part 2

I’m so tired. I can’t even come home starving from rehearsal and hope to feed myself without a curse-laden verbal assault.

The whole family was home again. The adults had thrown away Jax’s remaining food (rancid and molding, left over for more than a month) and cleaned the fridge. His dishes were washed and draining, and they had moved on to laundry.

My food was still out sitting on the table. Why?

I opened the fridge. It was clean and turned all the way down to zero. Warm. Empty. Carrie hurriedly began to put my food back in the fridge. Jax was right behind her.

I asked him how long my food – milk and dairy – had been left out. An hour.

“An hour?”

Knock it the blank off, just a blanking hour, get the blank over it, get the blank out of here, we’re cleaning the blanking house, for blank sake, leave us the blank alone. And on and on and on until I left the kitchen.

I’d had a bowl of cereal 6 hours earlier, and danced for 4 hours. I’d forgotten my rehearsal snacks. I was shaking, I was so hungry. And he just launched into me, screaming and swearing. It’s illegal for a landlord to bar me free movement about the home I occupy, but the roommate loophole permits him to do anything. So he is.

I said simply, “It is not unreasonable for me to feel like you are wantonly destroying my property, because you are,” and went to my room.

They’re taking as much pleasure from warming perishable food as they are from freezing me out. (Why hadn’t she put it away and how long had the fridge been clean before I got home?) It’s been 59 degrees in the house for 3 days, until last night, when it dropped to 58. They finally turned the heat on today, for themselves, but she was bundled in blankets and sheets the other day when they were all here, yet again. Why didn’t he turn it on then? I think they came over that time just to see how cold the drastic seasonal shift had left the house for me. They weren’t here long, to my relief.

Jax came home twice after that, alone, just in-and-out stops, to drop off/ pick up whatever. He knew how cold it was. He wouldn’t turn the heat on for me. Or for his fish, for whom he used to heat the house during the day while we were both at work, to keep their water temp stable. He’s willing to torture his own animals to make me pay.

For what? His inability to remove me legally? He chose my departure date! I secured my new home according to his plans. I didn’t do this by myself. Any of it. Trust a friend, risk my health, wait ’til October to leave a once-loving home. I do not understand.

He completely changed personalities once the marriage was official, and he’s completely taken the reins since, and great pleasure in it. I think he’s evil.

He followed me to my room, and barked mocking intentions through the door to replace my food, demanding a list of it. (Look in the fridge, if your intent is anything other than bringing hate and fear to my one remaining safe place. It’s empty, except for the food I had perfectly planned to last one week.) I told him to drop it and leave me alone, shielding myself from him with my bedroom door, as I opened the front door and left.

I ordered drive-through junk food and ate in the car, sobbing. I have nowhere to go! My friends all moved, and everyone else in my “urban family” is old and unavailable.

I’m so tired.

Only one more weekend. I won’t be alone. They won’t harass me in front of my movers.

I don’t understand. I just don’t understand. I was sick when I was mad at him, and he’s officially surpassed the length of time that I spent punishing him. I know we share responsibility for the choices we made as a couple. I know well the hideous difficulty of loving a person with this kind of illness. I was getting better. I invited him to a long talk, in which I apologized and ached for what I’d put him through. I promised it wouldn’t happen again. I was feeling the gradual effect of my meds, and putting my focus into packing, rehearsing, and moving. I was grateful to him and so sorry. Then, Carrie.

Jax alone is responsible for abandoning me when my illness got hard. He replaced me with a sociopath. He sees only the blameless damsel. I understand the satisfaction and purpose he must find in protecting her, but that has nothing to do with legally-binding contracts he made before she came along, and doesn’t consider at all the emotional promises he made. The shock has been how much enjoys torturing me under the guise of playing house. I hardly leave my room where they’re here. What’s to protect?

I’ve done nothing to these people. I’ve done everything I could to stay out of their way. They’ve created opportunities to brutalize me. I can’t stop crying today. It hurts.

Shouldn’t he be happily newly wed? Why is he so obsessed with me? Shouldn’t being in love and un-alone make it more bearable to tolerate space with a woman you hate? And why are you here if you hate me so much? If not merely to aim for my suffering, for some form of bizarre vengeance, and otherwise for the pleasure of pure cruelty? Go home! She has an apartment! I hadn’t seen him for a month until they decided to tag-team me in this gross campaign to – what? – kill me?

What a sick, small, petty, mean man. They’re here for sport. They’ve cleaned cupboards and a fridge, just a couple of hours work that could easily wait until my lease is through. He knows how clean I am. He knows I’m not leaving this place a mess. It’s not a bit about prepping their home. It’s about tormenting me while I’m in it.

They’re calculating, horrible people, and they actually have themselves convinced they’re victims of an unreasonable woman. You chose my departure date! How do you figure I have any control over this? My apartment is occupied until Sept. 30.

They’re here every weekend to party. WHY? I hadn’t seen Jax for a month, except for brief stop-ins. What’s changed? Only their first decision as a married couple, to torture a vulnerable woman – not yet stable on her meds – as a “family.”

I’m so tired. I’m worn down, depressed, and tired.

****

I came home from my binge, in a running car for over an hour, and Jax had, in fact, replaced the milk and mayo (but not yogurt, sour cream, or eggs). Why do it, if you’re just going to save face after? They didn’t think they’d get caught, is why. I’m sure he was right, that it was fine, but why? Just for the joy of doing harm, even potentially harmless harm. I will never believe that she didn’t leave the fridge on zero and my perishables out, on purpose. Jax wouldn’t have replaced a thing if I’d been none the wiser. I had come home with fresh veggies for a big, yummy hash with eggs that I’d been looking forward to all day, so I snapped a pic (ridiculed, of course) before hiding in my room.
fridgeThey left me alone after I got home the second time. But then, I didn’t leave my room.

One week. One week.

Whole New Exit

So let me back up.

I felt sure Jax was taking his trip, because he spent the night in my house on Sunday, alone. Or meant to.

He hasn’t slept in the house for a month. Her car left; His truck has been absent as long as he has; I had no reason to believe I wasn’t alone in the house again.

After the box prank, I called my buddy to ask if I could hide yet more stuff in his stuffed shed until the move, and I unloaded all my rage and heartache over the kid and the awful parents who keep subjecting a child to that anxiety just to spite me.

“Christie, I’m still here,” Jax announced from the kitchen.

Well, naturally, I was mortified… but it didn’t last. I’m not ashamed to call bad behavior what it is. I wasn’t doing anything to him. I was experiencing my own life, and he’s impacting it. I’m allowed to shed tears and blow off steam to a trusted friend who’s getting me through this.

So… he was staying at his “old” house. We’re just 4 blocks from Trax, Salt Lake’s public transit, which goes straight to the airport from our place, in less than 15 minutes. His trip was scheduled for the next day, Mon. Sept. 18th.

He was going! Why else would he leave his family for the night? A drive first thing in the morning to the airport from their suburb could take over an hour round-trip, on a busy morning trying to get a kid to school and a woman off to work. All signs pointed to departure. I was going to be left alone! (I was a little anxious to be around her, now that she would no longer have to play “nice girl” in front of her new man, but the police had instructed me to have my phone on video, at the ready, and I planned on it.)

I wrapped up my call and set about – shaking – selecting “most important” boxes and planning to load them into my car, to deliver to Marko’s during lunch the following day. But Jax was in the driveway on the phone. Soon he got in the old caddy that sits in our drive, operating but unused, and drove away.

I didn’t pack my car for hours, awaiting his return, but he didn’t come back Sunday.

Or Monday, which was his departure date. No one came on Monday.

Today, her car was in the driveway when I got home from work. Imagine my surprise when Jax was inside, too, helping her clean.

Perhaps he had planned to go until he overheard me. I imagine he’s telling himself that I’m going to attack his innocent bride the moment she’s not protected by her big strong man, that he’s keeping me in line. (I see him falling in line.)

I suspect, however, that even he can see the act, whether he knows it or not.

(I’m understanding that a whole lot of Jax’s behavior is unconscious and convenient. Stale, old girlfriend of years lives down the street. Bright, new girl moves in and suddenly, she’s out, I’m in. Until I’m sad, stale, and old. Bright, new girl shows up at a holiday party and he marries her 2 months later over another holiday? I’m embarrassed I dated this guy!)

Deep down, though, Jax doesn’t trust Carrie not to aggravate the situation for sport, and he reasonably expects me to stand up to her, though I had already decided not to, and discussed with the police what I should do in his absence. I told them – with respect to their experience of people behaving badly – of my fear of duplicitous, dangerous women, and the fear that this might be a real one.

Perhaps he had spent the night Sunday at my house, because it was going to be ON starting Monday the 18th. They’d made such a big deal of me being displaced this week, it’s possible they were going to ramp up the pressure and discomfort, and I would have been facing a good deal more than the “2 more weeks” I was set to survive.

But he overheard me. It was the best thing for me.

I did notice that the boy was not in the home awaiting my arrival. Jax couldn’t deny that that behavior was reprehensible, and to continue to expose a frightened child to me would simply prove me right. And Jax will do anything to blame me for everything.

I did feel that sick flood of nerves I get every time they come to the home, upon seeing her car, and then finding him, but I needed to get a snack in before rehearsal, so I went to the kitchen, where they were.

Carrie was showboating; Jax was deferential. He really doesn’t remember taking that box, or her taking it, but he can’t insist anymore that it didn’t happen, because I’m right. He was that drunk. And he can’t deny their shoddy care of a boy he committed to parent. Fun-dadding in the back yard does not a quality father make.

Without any intention to do so, I shamed him into respecting me in this space.
Thank you, angels.

Rehearsal was brief (which freaks me out; We open in 3 and 1/2 weeks!) and I was home an hour earlier than they expected. That cute kid was dancing his heart out to some pumping music, on the coffee table! He saw me, jumped down, and ran to the kitchen. And Jax was ready to wrap it up, now.

“Alright, we’re done here. Let’s head home.”

But she hadn’t had enough time to shove her happy life in my face again and didn’t want to go anywhere. Trying desperately not to show me how hard he was trying to save face, and trying desperately not to have to tell her what I’d said about her shitty parenting, he played “cool” in the most sad, comical fashion.

Meanwhile, I was starving. I’d only snacked since lunch. I’d stopped at the store for late dinner. I needed to cook and be off to bed before midnight. I’m not hiding anymore!

In her mind, she’s finally got me just where she wants me, an audience! They’d started their home renovation by deep cleaning the kitchen, and she wanted to gloat. (I think she wants me to know she did theatre. Honestly.)

“Let’s go outside,” Jax said casually to his step-son.

“It’s dark,” he refused. He doesn’t want his mom alone in the house with me, bless him.

“Let’s smoke,” Jax said to Carrie.

“We’re replacing this stove, darling.” she told me her doting husband. “It’s disgusting.”

Jax chuckled at his happy new bride making her home hers. “Of course.”

Tomorrow! Get them here tomorrow! I want an estimate, now.”  *giggle, giggle*

“Tomorrow!?” *chortle, chortle* “Alright!” He picked up her purse. “I need a smoke.”

“I want that gone, and that! And this is disgusting!”

“Okay,” he obliged, certainly for the first time, because she’s saying all of this to him.

“I’ll pay for it!” she let me know. “I want these gone!” (In Brooklynese. Did she play Adelaide? I’m not kidding! Darling everything, and an accent.)

(More type-casting for Jax: Attraction to theatrical girls in need.)

Meanwhile, I’m cleaning veggies and barely containing a laugh. I mean, this girl is just stupid. She really thinks I care. Or that this is news to me! I knew they weren’t selling the minute I learned of their marriage. She wanted me out “yesterday,” because she didn’t want to pay a cent more on rent, now that she’s a homeowner.

She really is just dumb, and values her worth and that of all women only on how far looks can take them. (Like, dumb dumb: Post-it notes around the house reveal plans to “rechalk” the tub and fix “cabnets.” Perhaps she’ll have their 3rd syllable installed.)

For me, it was just a total shift. I feel sorry for her. I don’t need to. It’s none of my business, soon, and in my experience, a complex mind has a wrought a rather convoluted life. Whadya know? I do envy her! Simplicity looks nice.

People don’t do things repeatedly that don’t work. Shaking her tail has produced a desired result all her life. Hell, I’m a natural coquette. I resent that it works, because it’s sexist. I play it onstage for pleasure, and many festy personas are flirty for community entertainment, and my own. But none are dumb, because I love my brain.

For the vacuous cutie, ignorance is bliss.

Jax is a weak man, who doesn’t want a woman to “encourage his greatness,” we’ll say. He wants an easy life, sex, and love. And who can call that unreasonable?

I want so much more. Real connection is impossible for me without the whole self.

(Jax heard me tell Marko, “Their neeeeed to make me suffer their joy completely negates it, and they’re just too stupid to know it. I never loved him like that. It’s why I couldn’t begrudge him meeting a nice girl at a party who did! I wanted my friend happy, but he was never more than that and a potential co-parent. I wanted it to be more, but it wasn’t. I was settling, too. They think I’m just broken up over here, but it was never heartbreak for me. It was not dealing with me straight, and then skipping out. That’s not even a friend. That’s a lie. That’s total disregard for me as a person. It’s betrayal.”

I did also joke, “Never promise crazy a baby,” because I’m hilarious. Truly, though, I was a goner at the word go. I saw nothing else, not even how seriously depressed I was.

We were friends who loved each other, and saw an opportunity to maybe get the family thing right because it wasn’t complicated by intense romantic feelings. Instead, neither of us was bonded to the other, in spite of the intimacy we played at, and only one of us was bound to a goal, a dream, and, yes, love. The sex was disappointing, because we weren’t in love. And he’s a fat man of certain age. There.)

And I don’t fucking care. That girl’s a joke and her husband’s in his place, for both of us.

Because I’m right about what they’ve done and he can’t pretend it away anymore.

****

I’m so close to closing this chapter, I’m almost embarrassed to keep writing about it ad nauseum in blogspace, but because of the move and rehearsal, I simply don’t have time to also be recording cogent points in my journal.

I’m free-writing everything at this point just to document it for my personal progress. I’m reminded of my power and security – that connection to Source that they just won’t let me sever (They’re bigger than my big ego! I can’t fail utterly! I’M NOT ALONE) – and I still have so much to learn and chart about how I got so very far from my truth.

Also, I’m just not fucking hiding anymore. It helps me to process in this way, and I’m doing it. It’s possible I’ll send this all to the draft bin when I’m done, but I don’t know anymore if I want to “delete” him. He was a frightening lesson I needed.

I feel as far away from who I really am in this debacle, that the feeling today is almost as palpable as it was quitting cocaine 10 years ago (all by myself, thank you very much) (and my best friend, who refused to see me in the end, even when I wasn’t high). It’s as though I’m coming back into my body. I was GONE, then and now, and it’s frightening to realize that you didn’t even know it!

To have weak people victimize you when you’re vulnerable is terrifying.

(TENS YEARS CLEAN!!! I am BOSS!)

Don’t let your shield down again, but don’t let the shield be a barrier. Be wise. Be secure. Be joyful. Be brave. Be honest. You already are. 

I got this. So I created space and energy that drew sick and selfish people to me. I WAS SICK AND SELFISH. It’s Universal Law. Get up. Get out. Get right.

I’ve done it before. I know how. I already feel – in spiritual time – that this is over. Jax’s new behavior echoes my intuition. I’m safe. I’m out. It’s just a formality at this point, to leave on the 1st, and my healing this time won’t take as long as it did 10 years ago.

Luscious Jackson sang to me during the Cocaine Years, “It takes a strong man to satisfy a strong woman, yes it does.”

Well, I’ve been triflin.’ Knock it off, Christie. Don’t restore your strength to attract that strong man, but knowing that when you’re truly powerful and well again, you cannot abide the petty, for any reason, ever again.

And Then The Weekend Happened

AGAIN!

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

I’m not kidding. It would be amusing if it weren’t so fucking disturbing! I’m not kidding! THEY FRIGHTEN ME.

What kind of sick people are so married to punishing a woman that they elect to spend their honeymooning time sleeping under the same roof with his ex-girlfriend?

And the boy! He literally hid from me when they were outside wasted. We startled each other in passing, and a sweet, traumatized 10-year old jumped and hid from the scary woman mommy hates! I went in my room and started bawling. What do I do?

I can’t do this. I might be able to forget him over time, but … Come on, who am I kidding? I’m complicit in the trauma of a young person and I’m sick about it.

Jax and Carrie got drunk and trashed the kitchen. I will never believe that spaghetti was unintentional. Biggest impact for mess. They used my dishes, which I had to clean to make breakfast the next morning. I woke an angry, hungover Jax, who growled a demand to stop slamming the fucking cupboards, waking the boy who’d slept on a couch mere feet outside the scary woman’s door.

“One of my cupboards closes hard. You know that.” I answered calmly. “I’m not trying to bother you.” The boy ran through the kitchen into the bedroom with mom.

When I got home from rehearsal, I resumed packing and realized the last box I’d stacked the night before was gone. I’d wondered what they were doing in the wee hours snickering outside my bedroom. I almost opened the door to find out, but I didn’t want a confrontation. I know what they’re capable of sober!

And all the while, the boy was asleep on the couch. I don’t want to scare him anymore!

They’d gone away soon enough, laughing and howling outside in a wild thunderstorm. I honestly think I know the moment they lifted that stupid box.

I’m organized. (Plus, I know what I’m up against.) I have every box numbered according to room, and I know exactly what’s in each. Furthermore, I know where each box is in the house. I have to know. In addition, most everything is in bankers boxes, for neat stacking. (Except for these people, this has been my best move EVER.) (Like, I love it.) (I call this high Organasm, and my friends tell me to give my company that name and make money getting unnatural thrills off of organizing people’s chaotic spaces.)

I had placed a light box on the tippy-top of a pile that reaches over my head, behind a chair that divides the shared living space into 2 separate areas, which has also served to neatly divide us. Almost.

They took it. I heard them taking it. They deny it. I called the cops just to document it, but I had been lulled into a false sense of security with their absence during the work week and thrown off by their party, and failed to take pictures before I left for rehearsal. I don’t suppose it would have mattered then. They took it Friday night. Congratulations, you got me. Without evidence of it being there before they left, and gone afterwards, I had no proof that they’re now actually breaking the law.

The “fun” had begun elsewhere within walking distance. They left sober, I assumed for dinner. The neighbor girlfriend’s? The fair? Whatever. The car was still in the driveway, but they were out. Great.

But when they got home near midnight – tanked, 10 yr-old in tow – and started making dinner, I realized they’d just been out partying. For the next several hours, they left me the de facto babysitter of a sleeping child. I have no obligation to this boy, but obviously if he’d been injured in any way, they were too blotto to even be aware of him, let alone able to care for him.

But I’m so irrational, they have to be on property to “protect” it.

Under any other circumstance, box theft might be a harmless prank, but nothing about these people is harmless. THEY MEAN ME HARM, and they mean for me to know it.

God, I want out.

Jax was making merry the next morning about their exploits of the night before. “Did we eat spaghetti last night?!” har har.

“Oh, yes! Darling! Don’t you remember?” haha! *hair toss

Later in the day, I went to feed his cat and noticed something. There was spaghetti sauce all over the bed. They might deny they took that box and threw it outside somewhere in the rain. They don’t fucking remember! That’s how drunk they get in the company of an innocent child that deserves at least one coherent guardian.

Well, he had me. Poor kid.

Just 2 more weeks.

Also, I’m hoping against hope to catch Jax in another bluff. He tried to blame me for having to cancel his trip to Europe. God, I hope he got on that plane today.

I hope that boy is safe, loved, and happy after this unnecessary, protracted battle ends. I know he loves baseball. He told me all about the Dodgers. I’ve seen Jax toss ball with him. He has a cat named Sparkles, 10 years old, like he is. I know his mother wants him to have music lessons, because I almost loaned him my piano. I just send my love and energy to a good, calm, joyful family for him.

I don’t know this boy. After 2 weeks, I won’t think of him much. But I’ll never forget the look in his eyes when faced unexpectedly with a woman who frightens him that he was alone with, and hid from.

I know, too, that he’s seen more pain and trauma in his young life than any adult should have to bear, much less an earnest, smart, curious child. I hope I’m part of the last of such sorrow for him. My heart hurts.

I was 10 when my mom got remarried, too. I’d never known a father before then, and that period of my life is burned on my brain. I’d just been molested, and my new step-father moved us to a new neighborhood and stopped all that. (I realize now that I stopped it, for my sister, too. I told. Still, they echo, “Shut up, Christie. Shut up.”) And, unfortunately, abuse that had been set in motion long before my shiny new stepdad entered the scene never ended, but I remember that time and age like it was yesterday.

I’m so sorry to be mixed up in this. Wrong is wrong. Wrong is worse when it hurts a kid.

And, no, I won’t shut up about it. I’m fed up with this. I’m saying so. I will always so.

THIS IS WRONG.

*deeeep breath*

Two weeks. Hang on, Christie. Breathe, pack, rehearse. Two weeks.